Monday, March 11, 2002

Character Parallels : Perrin



By Linda

A gentle man, careful not to hurt anyone or break anything, Perrin is the opposite of blithe Mat and destructive Rand. At Falme, he used his weapon more to fend off his attackers than to harm them, and on the road to Tear he objected to Moiraine’s calm acceptance of war casualties. His slowness to anger is one of the sources of his battle fury; emotion so long pent-up is released in a great explosion upon the enemy.

Perrin is remarkable for being a male Dreamer—a figure as rare in real-world legend as it is in the Wheel of Time world. This essay explores Perrin’s unique makeup of sky/smith god and creator/artisan on the one hand and wild man, shaman of the wolf totem and berserker on the other. The internal conflict they cause is symbolised by Perrin’s important choice between the axe of the woodsman/berserker and the hammer of the smith, being a cutter versus a shaper. The tension between Faile and Berelain is another manifestation of his inner conflict, representing as it does Perrin’s acceptance of his wild side (Faile) or repression of it (Berelain, see Faile and Berelain essay).

The resolution was long delayed while Perrin, living in the moment like any wolf, responded to the immediate needs of others to his own detriment. His great kindness and fortitude led him to put himself last until he finally realised that not facing up to his issues was harming others as much as himself.

Here is a summary of Perrin’s themes:
Choice and Love
Wildness
Strength and Temperance
War
Sky Gods
Creator/Maker
Heroes

Choice and Love

Perrin’s great reluctance to make choices that might leave one side feeling hardly done by is best illustrated by the motif of the Lovers Tarot Card, which encompasses both the Renaissance trope of sacred marriage and the more modern theme of choice.


Lovers Tarot Card

The earliest versions of the Lovers card show blindfolded Eros overseeing a pair of lovers in the rite of the “dextrarum iunctio”, the union of the right hand of the Roman senatorial class, the sacred vow of marriage (see US Games Visconti-Sforza card right). (Contrast Perrin and Faile cupping each others’ hands at their marriage ceremony, with Mat and Tuon not even touching when they made their vows.) Whatever games Eros plays, the marriage can’t be undone. But much trouble can occur within and without marriage due to the blindness of those in love. Certainly Perrin and Faile can attest to that.


By the seventeenth century, many versions of the Lovers depict a young man faced with choosing between two women while capricious Eros aims his golden bow at them (see Editions Dusserre Marseille card left). The symbolism of the motif has widened from the sacred marriage to choice—first, of the life partner, and then important choices in general. The card is symbolic of someone at a crossroads in their life where they must make a choice crucial for their maturity and integrity—and the first of Perrin’s decisions, the hammer rather than the axe, was made in Crossroads of Twilight although final understanding of the choice did not occur until Towers of Midnight. As a trial of moral strength, the Lovers card is linked with the Strength Tarot card (see below), and as a warning against the excesses of love, with the motif of Temperance (see below). For months Perrin displayed the negative side of the Lovers, dithering over courses of action until events forced him to make choices. In The Path of Daggers he had trouble even deciding who should visit Alliandre.

On one level, the Lovers represents Duty versus Love. In Perrin’s case, he had a duty to take Masema back to Rand but he chose to rescue his beloved. As it turned out, the Pattern had planned for this, so Love turned out to be the right choice. In the Last Battle, Perrin’s choice to do his duty and protect Rand rather than search for his missing love was the right choice.

On another level, the Lovers card represents the choice between two loves, or between virtue and vice. The motif of an enormously strong hero such as Hercules (and Perrin is associated with Strength, see below) faced with such a choice was popular in the Renaissance and often depicted in art (see painting right where Hercules considers Vice and Virtue).

Some of Eros’ arrows are tipped with gold and some with lead. Those struck with a golden arrow become infatuated with the being they set their eyes on, while those struck with a lead arrow are revolted (Paul Huson, Mystical Origins of Tarot). We saw this in Tear, where Berelain suddenly became interested in Perrin and in winning him from Faile, rationalising that Rand wanted her to make this alliance (Towers of Midnight, A Making). She persisted in her pursuit of Perrin despite knowing how much Perrin and Faile adore each other (and therefore the unlikelihood of any success), and their marriage made no difference to her. In Towers of Midnight, Berelain continued to be a plaything of Eros, falling suddenly for Galad, as Min’s viewing of Berelain desiring a man in white predicted. Faile is not immune to Eros’ activities either; while a captive she was pursued by an infatuated Rolan. Both Perrin and Faile have had their steadfastness as lovers tested.

Unlike Mat’s come-hither-one-and-all approach to love and sex and Rand’s at least initial amazement that women can have strong sexual feelings, Perrin accepts women’s (in his case, his wife’s) strong desire as a proper part of marriage and nowhere else. And the Lovers is a card of marriage as well as choice. His love for Faile far outweighs any attraction to Berelain he might feel, but he was believed to be not so faithful. Despite the damage to his marriage and reputation, Perrin had trouble freeing himself from Berelain, and was trapped in this (lop-sided) triangle with the two women contending over him.

Perrin dares not touch Berelain who is marked as Vice by her flirting and stalking, her placing of politics above morality, her revealing clothing and her national colour of red (Lord of Chaos, The Feast of Lights). In contrast Faile dresses modestly and in dark plain colours as befits Virtue. However, she owns a red lace fan and knows a very sexy dance—virtue is its own reward it seems! Faile’s long foreshadowed performance of the seductive sa’sara for Perrin is a parallel of Salome dancing the erotic dance of the seven veils before Herod in Matthew 14:3‒11 and Mark 6:17‒29 (see Faile and Berelain essay). Perrin is no Herod manipulated into reluctantly granting sexy Salome the head of John the Baptist, who as prophet of Christ is a parallel of Masema the Prophet of the Dragon; as befits a warrior princess and a wilding huntress, Faile took it herself (and then commanded it be kept secret from Perrin).

Another woman, Lanfear, tried to manipulate Perrin into killing a life-long friend. She claimed to be fond of Perrin, but used Compulsion as a “quick kill” rather than “winning him fairly” as she said she would have preferred to do (A Memory of Light, Light and Shadow). Lanfear tempted Perrin with the power to do good, but he was not fooled (A Memory of Light, The Wyld). What she actually wanted him to do—kill Nynaeve or Moiraine—was evil; Lanfear is vice more than Berelain ever was. Rand saw that she knew the right way, Virtue, but turned away from it for her own ends (A Memory of Light, A Shard of a Moment). Again Perrin had to choose between two women who wanted to be at his side, and again he chose Love and Virtue.

The three ta’veren showed different reactions to the theme of choice and love symbolised by the Lovers card:

  • Mat, the least touched by the Lovers motif, chose impulsively and with supernatural guidance and acted without worrying too much about the consequences;

  • Rand made considered choices and suffered greatly over the pain his actions caused; and

  • Perrin extensively considered his choices but hesitated over making any lest his actions cause pain. He is not weak, far from it, but is extremely responsible and loving. Rand, who also shows these characteristics, could have gone down this road and Perrin’s sub-thread shows us what this would have been like. Rand did, after all, take the out of not choosing between his three loves.


The most monogamous of the three ta’veren was the most tempted by women or fought over by them.

At the most profound level, the Lovers card is ultimately about the Platonic belief that divine love is the motivating power of the cosmos (Paul Huson, Mystical Origins of Tarot). Jordan/Sanderson showed this in The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold when Rand finally understood the purpose of the Cycle of Ages:

each time we live, we get to love again.

The role of choice aspect of the Lovers is also portrayed on a cosmic level in the Wheel of Time theology with alternative worlds showing how the different choices people might make, or have made, affect reality.


Courtly love

Perrin’s relationship with Faile is an interesting take on the medieval and Arthurian ideal of courtly love. Courtly love reversed the real status of women in medieval society by placing the lady above her knightly champion, giving her license to be demanding, capricious or dominating. She could even drive him away. Yet in an amusing reversal of courtly love in The Shadow Rising, it was the knight Perrin who tried to drive away Faile, his lady, so she would not follow him to the Two Rivers where he planned to hand himself to the Whitecloaks, and the two ladies who duelled over the hapless knight. Faile threatened to fight Berelain for Perrin’s dishonour (Towers of Midnight, The Strength of This Place).

In Jordan’s world women can be assertive or not as they please so some relationships do follow the conventions of courtly love. This fits in with the many Arthurian parallels in the series (see Arthurian themes and Who's Who articles), the most relevant one for Perrin being the lovers Enid and Geraint.


Geraint

Geraint was a Knight of the Round Table who won Enid’s hand and became so obsessed by her that he ceased his knightly duties. This upset Enid, who cried over it at night, which led Geraint to mistakenly believe her unhappiness was a sign she had been unfaithful to him. To take his mind off his marital problems, Geraint went back to questing like a proper knight and took Enid with him. Enid’s love and faithfulness was eventually proven and they were finally reconciled.

Perrin not only took his wife on his quest for Masema, but his stalker as well! Not surprisingly his fidelity—and that of Faile too—has been in doubt, though they have been faithful. If Perrin and Faile had put up a publicly united front, Berelain would not have been able to intrude into their relationship. Like Enid and Geraint much of their marital strain was due to poor communication especially in expressing their cultural differences. Until she matured, Faile demanded that Perrin prove himself worthy of her.

Perrin put aside his duties to concentrate on freeing Faile. He assured Faile that if she were taken it would be the ruin of him as a leader because her captors could manipulate him. Faile means everything to Perrin, as Enid did Geraint, and he would do anything to protect her (Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har). A follower of traditional chivalry, he didn’t want Faile to do her duties as she saw fit either, in case these placed her in danger, and only now has acknowledged that he must accept that his loved ones can choose to participate in dangerous tasks. In the Last Battle he suggested Faile be the guardian and deliverer of the Horn of Valere and when she was lost, feared dead, continued with his duties to protect Rand, only searching for her afterwards.

Perrin and Faile are a well-matched couple, each having a strong streak of wildness.


Wildness

The Wild Man features in many myths as companion to the hero on his quest. Typically covered in shaggy hair, he is part way between the human and non-human worlds and represents the animal side of human nature. He may have a Wild Woman as wife, and then is often found “living an idyllic existence” in the Wild far from the corruption of the world. Wild Men and Women are depicted as having an aggressive sexuality. Some Wild Men abduct noble maidens or are tamed by the love of a good woman (Carl Lindahl, John McNamara, John Lindow (eds), Medieval Folklore).

With his part man, part wolf mentality, shaggy-haired Perrin is halfway between the human world and the wild (The Eye of the World, Wolfbrother). As Galad observed:

No, this was not a man of palaces, but a man of fields and forests. A woodsman who had risen to be a lord.

- Towers of Midnight, Parley

In Perrin’s case his animal side is good, firmly on the side of the Creator, although he feels threatened by it. Leane describes him as “healthy as a young wild animal” (The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood) and Lanfear called him “my wildling” (The Dragon Reborn, Shadows Sleeping).

Uninterested in riches and luxurious surroundings, he is

not much into fancy clothes—Faile had chivvied him into buying what little he had

- Knife of Dreams, A Deal.

and his ideal is to live an idyllic existence in the remote countryside with Faile, his Wild Woman (see Faile essay), whose noble family at first suspected he appropriated her. Perrin and Faile re-celebrated their union out in the wild, and feeling “at home,” confided in each other there. Perrin has to behave in a tempestuous way to wild Faile; he is not allowed to around Berelain, who planned to instruct her courtiers to ‘civilise’ him (The Shadow Rising, Customs of Mayene).

The first hint Perrin is associated with the Wild was after Shadar Logoth when he swam the ‘cleansing’ river, landed in an isolated area and slept:

beneath a pile of cedar branches roughly cut in the dark…Most of the branches fell away as he sat up in surprise, but some hung haphazardly from his shoulders, and even his head, making him appear something like a tree himself.

- The Eye of the World, A Path Chosen

Now closely linked with the forest, his Wolfbrother talent soon emerged.

He has had much to do with wilding folk like the Tinkers and Ogier who stay in remote or lightly settled areas as much as they can. Perrin had always wanted to meet Tinkers and assessed them as wary and shy underneath like wild things (The Eye of the World, The Travelling People). They are herbivore Wild People, being vegetarians who flee to escape violence, and not surprisingly are nervous around the Wolfbrothers, who are carnivores. Perrin is like an Ogier in his slow, deliberate actions and his regret for any haste. Ogier, too, are superb artisans. Tinkers appear to mend metalwork brilliantly but we don’t see them smithing from scratch (also see Artisan section).

Like other carnivorous wild animals, Perrin is linked with hunting. His people named him Hunter of Trollocs and he went hunting frequently in Cairhien to take his mind off his marital troubles. His rooms in Tear had carvings of leopards and lions, stooping hawks and hunting scenes—all appropriate for a Wild Man, although Perrin wanted something simpler. He had to hunt down the Shaido to find Faile with the aid of his fellow Wolfbrother Elyas and the ‘savage’ or wild Aiel.

In European mythology, the Wild Hunt is a hunting party that flies through the night skies gathering souls on its way. It is led by a god, goddess or legendary person such as Odin/Woden, Gwydian, Herne the Hunter, King Arthur, or even Satan. Jordan had two positive “Wild Hunts”: the first, of the (human) Heroes summoned by the first blast of the Horn, led by the legendary Artur Hawkwing, to fight the Darkfriends, Trollocs and Myrddraal in the Shadow’s armies, and the second, of hero Wolves summoned by the last blast of the Horn, led by Perrin, the King of the Wild, to fight the evil Wild Hunt of the Darkhounds.

In folklore, the wolf is the very embodiment of wildness.


Wolf

The wolf is an ambivalent symbol. It both aids and harms humanity: the first animal domesticated, and thus one of our earliest allies, but as a wild animal, one of our oldest and most formidable enemies.

It is associated with wildness, cruelty, cunning and greed, but it is also a symbol of courage, victory or care (Jack Tressider, Symbols and Their Meanings). Wilding Perrin has shown considerable courage and care, and has achieved cunning victories, but horrified Aram and others with his ruthlessness when Faile was captured. Perrin thought that Aram became like a wolf-hound. He was right; Aram tried to kill him, believing Perrin’s wolf-like eyes marked him as Shadowspawn.

Many cultures view the wolf as evil. The Zoroastrians believed the wolf is a symbol of the evil god Ahriman (John and Caitlin Matthews, Element Encyclopaedia of Magical Creatures), a parallel of Shaitan. In Christian tradition, the wolf came to symbolize cruelty, gluttony, lust, greed and anger; the adversary of the innocent and meek Lamb. In medieval times, wolves were increasingly considered creatures of the Devil. The Whitecloaks believe that wolves are creatures of the Dark One (The Eye of the World, Children of Shadow) apparently because some Trollocs have wolf-like features, yet they don’t believe the same about goats. Some Aes Sedai believe that Wolfbrothers are creatures of the Dark One and Masema, too, was convinced that Perrin was Shadowspawn. Perrin was prepared to make a pact with the Dark One, the Devil, to get Faile back. In fact, he thought he had done so in making an agreement with the Seanchan.

Perrin was under the evil influence of Lanfear’s Compulsion to kill Nynaeve and help her bring Rand down. She thought she’d make him a sheep in wolf’s clothing obedient to her will.

The Inquisition linked the wolf with lechery, which is untrue but was believed nevertheless. The big bad wolf of folklore was a symbol both of alimentary and sexual predation. Thanks to Berelain, many associates of Perrin mistakenly believed that he was a lecher, and had been unfaithful to Faile.

Trapped by conflicting ties, one voluntary and one imposed, Perrin was forced to be “unfaithful” to either Lanfear or Faile. While Berelain tried to gain Perrin with lies, Lanfear cheated (her words) with Compulsion. Neither woman actually won Perrin. Perrin endured Berelain’s lies until Faile forced her to dispel them, but he was able to break free of the Compulsion himself by affirming his love for his wife.

The belief that humans can become wolves is widespread in myth and folklore.


Werewolf

Werewolves or lycanthropes are people believed to have the ability to shift shape into wolves. Lycanthropy may take a variety of forms: the person may physically turn into a wolf (the most usual), or their soul does while they are in a trance; their double or doppelganger becomes a wolf; or they may be linked to a real wolf or a wolf-shaped familiar with which they share experiences, including real hurts. The change may be temporary or permanent.

There is also a mental illness called lycanthropy in which the patient believes they have become an animal such as a wolf, and behaves accordingly.

Lycanthropy was usually considered a divine punishment, and the werewolf or shape-shifter was monstrous, linked with the devil and thus an enemy of god. There is a recorded exception to the association of werewolves with evil: in 1692, in Jurgenburg, Livonia in the Baltic states, a man named Thiess testified under oath that he and other werewolves were warriors, Hounds of God, who went down into hell to battle witches and demons to ensure a good harvest. He was whipped for idolatry and superstitious belief.

Many, including Aes Sedai, believe Wolfbrothers to be a creation of the Dark One. Unlike in most real-world myths, the werewolf/Wolfbrother who keeps his humanity in the Wheel of Time is a noble or good creature and not a monster. They fought the Shadow with the wolves at the Last Battle and especially countered the Dark One’s Darkhounds.

Belief in werewolves occurs in the Wheel of Time world in the Tarabon and Almoth Plains area:

He [Perrin] had heard tales from the refugees who trickled into the Two Rivers. They had old stories of men turning into wolves, stories few really believed, told to entertain children. Three claimed to have known men who became wolves and ran wild, though, and if the details had seemed wrong to Perrin, the uneasy way two of them had avoided his yellow eyes made confirmation of a sort. Those two, a woman from Tarabon and a man from Almoth Plain, would not go outdoors at night. They also kept giving him gifts of garlic for some reason, which he ate with great pleasure.

- Lord of Chaos, The Sending

Perrin considers the stories to be at least partially erroneous. Just as Perrin relishes garlic, so the belief that it repels werewolves is questionable in both real-world myth and the Wheel of Time world. (It is vampires that supposedly don’t like garlic).

Perrin and other Wolfbrothers shift shape mentally, not physically. (He would qualify for the real-world mental illness lycanthropy. That’s OK: channelling has similar aspects to schizophrenia and Mat surely has a gambling addiction). Noam, who appeared to have lost his humanity (he voluntarily surrendered it), was believed by some of his fellow villagers to have actually physically shifted shape:

“Some of them say Noam turned into a wolf—fur and all!—when he bit Mother Roon. It’s not true, but they say it.”

- The Dragon Reborn, Jarra

When werewolves return to their human forms, they are usually described as physically weakened or stressed and very mentally depressed. When Perrin comes out of the Wolfdream, he is weakened if he has entered it very strongly, and even if not, is still often stressed, in part due to anxiety about losing his humanity.

Since Perrin doesn’t physically shape-shift, but mentally becomes a wolf, communicates with wolves and has precognitive visions in the Wolfdream, he could be regarded as a shaman with a wolf totem or wolf power animal.


Shaman

The shaman is an intermediary between the human world and the spirit worlds, communicating with both living and dead to solve the problems of their group. Often described as dream doctors, shamans send their souls into the ‘dreamtime’, a mythic realm inhabited by gods and ancestors (Carl Lindahl, John McNamara, John Lindow (eds), Medieval Folklore). Their aim is to restore balance to the community and health to their people. They often have a guardian or power animal and the gift of interspecies communication, especially with their guardian animal, or shift shape into the form of that animal.

Sometimes in the shape of their animal guardians, shamans propitiate, threaten or fight the spirits who often have animal attributes as well...As Mircea Eliade points out, “’Smiths and shamans are from the same nest’, says a Yakut proverb.”

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

Perrin is both shaman and smith (see Perrin’s parallels with smith gods below). Hopper was Perrin’s wolf-guardian and teacher in Tel’aran’rhiod:

Hopper didn't owe Perrin anything, but he had saved Perrin on several occasions—in fact, Perrin realized that Hopper's intervention had helped to keep him from losing himself as a wolf.

- Towers of Midnight, To Make a Stand

As the Wolf King, Perrin led the Wolves in the Last Hunt to counter the Wild Hunt of the Darkhounds. In Towers of Midnight the wolves readied themselves for this by travelling north to the battlefield.

Wolves live partly in this world, and partly in a world of dreams and sometimes act as guides for Dreamers as well as Wolfbrothers. The Wolfdream is where Perrin feels more alive. Perrin sends his soul into the Wolfdream questing for information or scouting for battles and dangers and sometimes receives prophetic visions there. He fought Slayer there too, who, as the Shadow’s assassin and a ruthless slayer of wolves, could be likened to a human Darkhound. Perrin was warned about the dangers of Slayer by Birgitte, a knowledgeable soul of legendary status who was awaiting rebirth in Tel’aran’rhiod, the World of Dreams...

Cosmic trees recur in shamanic symbology with their branches in the sky country, their trunks rising over middle earth, their roots leading down to the underworld.

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

Min had a viewing of trees flowering all around Perrin (The Eye of the World, Strangers and Friends). The trees may represent Perrin being instrumental in rebuilding the world after the Last Battle and making the world right again—quite in keeping with the function of a shaman.

Perrin’s strong association with the wild and its flora and fauna symbolises the necessity for the Land itself to fight the Shadow that will otherwise blight it to extinction.

As well as obtaining knowledge from their power animal, shape-shifting was often undertaken in order to transform abilities or to obtain new abilities.


Berserker

Berserkers were warriors believed to change into wolves or bears to fight more effectively. They are common in Scandinavian legend and sagas and are associated with the Norse god Odin. The Norse Úlfhednar warriors dressed in wolf hides and were believed to channel wolf spirits to fight more effectively. They were resistant to pain and impervious to wounds and in battle killed as viciously as wild animals.

Perrin is a berserker in battle, and is perhaps the closest to becoming a wolf when he is in this state, something which deeply disturbs him. Yet it may be the only way he can overcome his loathing of killing. He might not be impervious to wounds, but he doesn’t wear armour either. The obtainment of enhanced battle skills links with Perrin’s parallels to generals and warrior sky gods.

The Germanic hero Beowulf who kills the monster Grendel and Grendel's mother in the Anglo-Saxon legend was possibly a berserker, but of a bear rather than a wolf. (Grendel is a parallel of Graendal, see the Names of the Shadow essay). Perrin fought Graendal in Tel’aran’rhiod and exposed her attacks on the Great Captains.

Perrin has a wolf’s head on his personal banner and this is the symbol of an outlaw.


Outlaw

In Germanic society, outlaws were described as wolves. The West Saxons considered an outlaw wolf-hearted and vicious, and he was legally outcast as a wolf’s head. 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

Two Wolfbrothers, Elyas and Noam, abandoned human society and lived among the wolves. Elyas is considered a renegade and if he falls into the hands of Aes Sedai he will be punished for killing two Warders to escape the Red Ajah’s mistaken attempt to gentle him. The Whitecloaks wanted to hang Perrin for killing two of their men.

The Aiel declare offenders outlaws and deny them sept and clan, sentencing them to be hunted as an animal—a wolf? Rand banished Perrin as part of a ruse to ensure his movements were disregarded, and the Whitecloaks regarded Perrin as 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.

This declaration of exile also meant that Perrin belonged to no group. Under Moridin’s orders to kill Perrin, Lanfear tried to get him killed by convincing Masema through his dreams that Perrin’s yellow wolf eyes indicated he was Shadowspawn.


Upuaut

Upuaut is the the wolf-headed god of Ancient Egypt, who is referred to as ‘he who opens the way’. Upuaut guides the warriors of his tribe into enemy territory. He leads the cortege at the festivals of Osiris. He was a former warrior god and is now worshipped as god of the dead. Upuaut is an ally of Osiris, and, with Anubis, one of his chief officers during the conquest of the world. As such, they both sometimes appear dressed as soldiers.

- Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology

Perrin is a Wolfbrother who guided his forces (including Two Rivers bowmen) into hostile territory and was the first to successfully make an agreement with Seanchan forces. He is the Bannerman of the Dragon as well as one of Rand’s chief military officers, along with Mat (Anubis, see Mat essay). He also led the wolves to fight the Darkhounds in the Last Hunt, something they could not have done without him:

Young Bull. This from a wolf named White Eyes. The Last Hunt is here. Will you lead us?
Many asked this, lately, and Perrin couldn't figure out how to interpret it. Why do you need me to lead you?
It will be by your call, White Eyes replied. By your howl.
I don't understand what you mean, Perrin sent. Can you not hunt on your own?
Not this prey, Young Bull.

- A Memory of Light, The Wyld

In the Last Battle, he protected Rand from Isam and Lanfear and “opened the way” for Rand to concentrate on duelling with the Dark One and sealing the Bore.


Xolotl

Xolotl was the dog-headed Aztec god of fire, death, lightning and bad luck. He and his twin brother Quetzalcoatl (a parallel of Rand, see Rand essay) were sons of the virgin Coatlicue. He guarded the sun when it went through the underworld at night.

Xolotl accompanied Quetzalcoatl into Mictlan, the underworld, to obtain fire and to gather the bones of the ancient dead which Quetzalcoatl anointed with his own blood, giving birth to present day humanity (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Perrin is Rand’s close friend or near-brother. As a smith, he is much concerned with fire (see below) and also has parallels to sky/thunder gods. Twice Perrin was crucial in saving Rand, a parallel of Quetzalcoatl. Rand went to Shayol Ghul to battle the Dark One where he shed blood and freed mankind from the Shadow, allowing a new Age to dawn. Perrin guarded Rand, a parallel of Sol Invictus while he was in the Pit of Doom.


Fenrir

In Norse myth, Fenrir the cosmic wolf was a harbinger of evil (Jack Tressider, Symbols and Their Meanings), being one of three creatures responsible for bringing about Ragnarok, the end of the world. Like the other two ta’veren Mat the Fox and Rand the Dragon, Perrin was crucial for victory over the Shadow in the Last Battle, and was forced by the Shadow into violent deeds. Perrin the Wolf King carrying his hammer was a herald of the evil and apocalyptic last days (Knife of Dreams, A Deal). He is a positive Fenrir, while Semirhage was a dark Fenrir.


Strength and Temperance

Warriors who go berserk or shape-shift gain superhuman strength and battle rage, but lack temperance, self-restraint. Faile has given Perrin something to go berserk over, but also to revert to normality for. The motifs of strength and temperance are important in Perrin’s character.


Temperance

Temperance is about moderation and mixing ingredients in the right proportion. The Temperance tarot card symbolises:

a situation in which circumstances and people must be skilfully combined for progress to continue…Success is only possible through the careful control of volatile factions.

- Alfred Douglas, The Tarot

Perrin is temperate in his living: he prefers simple things and plain surroundings and rarely drinks alcohol. Fanaticism feels wrong to him—the wrongness of the deadly infectious disease rabies and as something that should be Healed. Shamans, as healers and restorers of balance mediating between two worlds, are temperance figures. Tam shrewdly observed how Perrin was able to skilfully combine conflicting factions to great success:

That boy's put on a balancing act to impress any menagerie performer.

- The Gathering Storm, The One He Lost

Perrin considers this to be part of what any good craftsman does: moderating demands and conflict and combining elements in optimal proportions to make a great work.

The word temperance contains ‘temper’ which refers to both anger and the strengthening of metal. These things are linked with Perrin the blacksmith who always tries to keep his temper under control, lest he hurt people by accident. Faile’s capture changed this:

He had not really understood anger before Faile was kidnapped.

- The Path of Daggers, Changes

Perrin consciously forged his anger into a metaphorical hammer which he carried at the Last Battle, alongside his literal hammer that shows now is the time for even valuable tools to be used as weapons against the Shadow. Faile consciously guides her husband’s anger (Winter’s Heart, Customs) and is thus also a temperance figure (see Faile essay). He uses his love for Faile to keep him from staying in berserker mode or in Tel’aran’rhiod. The wild couple form an amusing temper/temperance duo as they test each other’s strength and make each other stronger. Perrin skilfully welded disparate groups into something strong enough to defeat the Shaido.


Strength

In most ancient myths dealing with the quest of the hero, the hero first needs a friend, often a primitive ‘wild man’ who will undertake the adventure with him. The combined talents of the hero and his friend are required to overcome the perils that lie ahead. But first they must do battle together, for only if the hero can subdue the wild man may they proceed together… This critical encounter is portrayed in the Tarot card Fortitude.

- Alfred Douglas, The Tarot

(called Strength in many decks). The outcome of the battle is not a foregone conclusion but depends on strength. Fortitude represents the necessity of self-control and steadfastness of purpose even while sorely beset. The moral strength of the character is tested.

While Jordan shows wild man Perrin participating in the quest to free mankind from the Shadow, he also places the hero’s battle to subdue the wild man internally within Perrin.

The negative aspect of Fortitude is too much or too little strength—overkill, or timidity and

the conscious suppression of instinctive needs, for fear of the potential power to destroy the veneer of civilised convention within which the insecure mind can feel safe.

- Alfred Douglas, The Tarot

Ever since he encountered Noam, Perrin has been careful not to lose his humanity and become a wolf, and at times he has deliberately suppressed his Wolfbrother instincts for fear this would occur. Perrin has a potential for overkill too, as he was forced to admit after Hopper restrained him from killing the stag at the end of the hunt in Tel’aran’rhiod (Towers of Midnight, To Make a Stand).

Hopper showed Perrin how to use his strength positively in Tel’aran’rhiod by having a strong image of who he is:

Hopper as he saw himself—which was identical to who he was. Also scents of strength and stability.
The trick, it seemed, was to be in complete control of who you were. Like many things in the wolf dream, the strength of one's mental image was more powerful than the substance of the world itself.
Come, Hopper sent. Be strong, pass through.

- Towers of Midnight, Oddities

The strength of this place, Hopper sent an image of a wolf carved of stone, is the strength of you. The wolf thought for a moment. Stand. Remain. Be you...But do not come too strongly.

- Towers of Midnight, The Strength of This Place

Yet Perrin must not overdo it and project himself in the Dream too strongly. Self-control or restraint is essential and this links back to the theme of Temperance (see above).

Perrin’s strength comes from truth, honesty, self-knowledge and love. There is nothing fake or insincere about him. It is why he’s skilled in Tel’aran’rhiod.

Perrin sees the strength of his love as also a potential weakness:

"I'd have gone much farther," Perrin admitted. "Hating myself all the way. You spoke of a lord being strong enough to resist letting himself be manipulated. Well, I'll never be that strong. Not if you're taken."
"We shall have to make certain I don't get taken."
"It could ruin me, Faile," he said softly. "Anything else, I think I could handle. But if you are used against me, nothing will matter. I'd do anything to protect you, Faile. Anything."
"Perhaps you should wrap me up in soft cloth, then," she said dryly, "and tuck me away in a locked room." Oddly, her scent was not offended.
"I wouldn't do that," Perrin said. "You know I wouldn't. But this means I have a weakness, a terrible one. The type a leader can't have.”

- Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

and as Faile reminds him, if he over-protects her that weakens her. Faile gives Perrin strength; with her at his side he could do anything (Towers of Midnight, The Strength of This Place). Berelain, on the other hand, weakened Perrin with rumours that undermined his integrity that she thought he could overcome and be stronger for it. When Perrin learned that Faile was lost during the Last Battle he continued with his duty to protect Rand, only following his wish to find Faile afterwards; the disaster did not ruin him, contrary to his fears. Far from Faile being used against him, he used his love for her against Lanfear’s Compulsion and freed himself.

Once able to use his strength in Tel’aran’rhiod, he learns the dreamer’s task of combating and destroying nightmares, as Wise Ones do. The slightest weakening results in the dreamer being sucked into the nightmare (Towers of Midnight, A Good Soup. The ultimate tests of Perrin’s strength in Tel’aran’rhiod are Slayer and the dreamspike—both are immensely strong. Perrin believes Slayer to be stronger in Tel’aran’rhiod than he, yet neither man had the strength to destroy the dreamspike there.

Perrin is noted for great physical strength, as Gaul observed:

“You are strong, wetlander. It took three men to hoist me up there.”

- The Dragon Reborn, A Different Dance

but also bears great trials with fortitude:

What could not be mended had to be endured.

- A Crown of Swords, High Chasaline

You did the job you were given, followed the road you had to follow, and that was that. There was no point complaining about blisters, or rocks underfoot.

- Knife of Dreams, The Last Knot

He even prepares himself to have the moral strength to make terrible choices:

In the last minutes, when the ravens descended on them, when all hope was gone, would he have the courage to spare her [Egwene] the death the fox had died? Light make me strong!

- The Eye of the World, Eyes without Pity

He has had to bear the grief of his entire family being killed, and then face the likely loss of Faile as well. Perrin taught Aram that a man does what he must no matter what (Crossroads of Twilight, What Must be Done).

This fits in with Perrin needing to rely on his own strength:

He figured you made your own path, and trusted in your own arms to do what needed to be done. The Pattern wasn't a thing to depend on.

- A Memory of Light, A Knack

and using it wisely.

Luhhan thinks Perrin holds it back too much.

"I ran myself ragged," Perrin said. "I pushed myself too hard." He made a fist, slamming it into the corner post of the bed. "I should know better, Master Luhhan. I always do this. I work myself so hard, I make myself useless the next day."
"Perrin, lad?" Master Luhhan said, leaning forward. "Today, I'm more worried that there's not going to be a next day."

Perrin looked up at him, frowning.

"If there was ever a time to push yourself, this is it," Master Luhhan said. "We've won one fight, but if the Dragon Reborn doesn't win his . . . Light, I don't think you've made a mistake at all. This is our last chance at the forge. This is the morning that the big piece is due. Today, you just keep working until it's done."
"But if I collapse . . ."
"Then you gave it your all."
"I could fail because I've run myself out of strength."
"Then at least you didn't fail because you held back. I know it sounds bad, and maybe I'm wrong. But . . . well, everything you're talking about is good advice for an average day. This isn't an average day. No, by the Light it's not."

Master Luhhan took Perrin by the arm. "You may see in yourself someone who lets himself go too far, but that's not the man I see. If anything, Perrin, I've seen in you someone who has learned to hold himself back. I've watched you hold a teacup with extreme delicacy, as if you feared breaking it with your strength. I've seen you clasp hands with a man, holding his hand in yours with such care, never squeezing too hard. I've watched you move with deliberate reserve, so that you don't shove anyone or knock anything over.
"Those were good lessons for you to learn, son. You needed control. But in you, I've seen a boy grow into a man who doesn't know how to let those barriers go. I see a man who's frightened of what happens when he gets a little out of control. I realize you do what you do because you're afraid of hurting people. But Perrin . . . it's time to stop holding back."

- A Memory of Light, Two Craftsmen

Strength and temperance are two major and often conflicting motifs in Perrin’s character.

But when it comes to Faile, he shows his greatest strength:

Unable to truly consider what he was doing, or of the strength it should have required, Perrin pulled the horse aside.

- A Memory of Light, To See The Answer

Perrin fears running out of strength but he IS strength.

Strength is often depicted as a woman wrestling with a lion, emphasising the overcoming or control of the wild animal side. Early tarots often showed Strength as a man or a woman breaking a column (see Il Meneghello Mantegna Tarot right)—a reference to Samson of the Bible who endured much but was able to overcome his enemies.


Samson

Samson is a Herculean figure (Hercules himself is a parallel of Rand, see Rand essay) from the Old Testament who was set apart by God for service to Him and granted tremendous strength to combat his enemies and perform heroic feats unachievable by ordinary humans: wrestling a lion, slaying an entire army with only the jawbone of an ass, and destroying a temple. His bride was given to another and eventually killed by the Philistines. He was seduced by treacherous and mercenary Delilah and weakened as a result. Since his relationships with Philistine women were his downfall, Samson was ruled by passion, showing the negative side of Strength and his need for temperance, but this unrestrained force ultimately allowed him to vindicate himself by defeating the enemies of Israel even though he died in so doing.

Perrin has been chosen by the Pattern as a ta’veren to restore events to their proper course and defeat the Shadow. The Dragon’s bannerman, he has great physical and inner strength. Like Samson he has had relationship problems: his wife was captured by the Shaido and Berelain, a Delilah figure (see Faile and Berelain essay), attempted to seduce him. She thought that spreading rumours he slept with her would strengthen her position and that overcoming these rumours would strengthen him. She was mistaken; they weakened him and her position too, since they gave Faile justification for ousting her.

Another Delilah figure, Lanfear, tried to take over Perrin’s will with Compulsion to force him into evil acts, but the strength of his love for Faile and his own belief in it allowed him to free himself.

The burden of being a Wolfbrother made Perrin’s shoulders sag at times as if he carried a weight too heavy even for their considerable width (The Great Hunt, Friends and Enemies), thus linking him to a mythological figure who literally bore a great weight, Atlas.


Atlas

In Greek mythology, Atlas was the Titan who was ordered by Zeus to support the sky (not the Earth as many believe) on his shoulders to keep it from embracing the earth. As a result, he epitomises strength and endurance. Atlas had many children, mostly daughters, including the Hesperides who tended the golden apples in the goddess Hera’s personal garden in the far west.

In one myth, Heracles liberated Atlas from his duty by building the Pillars of Hercules to hold up the sky in his place. In another, Atlas fetched the golden apples required for one of Hercules’ labours and then Heracles and Atlas each tried to get the other to hold the sky on his shoulders—and Atlas came off the loser.

Perrin’s large size and strength marks him as a titan and he is one of the three ta’veren on whom the fate of the world rests. He also has links with sky gods (see below). Neither Rand nor Perrin tried to palm their duty onto the other, but Min had a viewing that twice Perrin had to be there to save Rand (Dumai’s Wells and Shayol Ghul) (Lord of Chaos, A Threat). It is Perrin’s whole family, including his sisters, who are associated with apple orchards, since they are buried in one. Loial sang to the trees to make them ‘blessed’. The goddess Hera is a parallel of Faile (see Faile and Berelain essay).


Bull

Perrin’s strength has not gone unnoticed by the wolves, who named him Young Bull:

Stronger by far was a massive, wild bull with curved horns of shining metal, running through the night with the speed and exuberance of youth, curly-haired coat gleaming in the moonlight…Young Bull.

- The Great Hunt, Wolf brother

The bull is the strongest and most formidable of the domesticated animals. The wolves named Perrin aptly; he is normally very peaceable but is formidable and ferocious when finally roused.

In ancient Indian tradition, the great bulk of a bull supported the world (Jack Tressider, Symbols and Their Meanings). Perrin has considerable physical strength and muscle bulk and is one of three ta’veren supporting the fate of the world.

The bull has great virility and thus is symbolic of the life force. It is especially associated with lunar, solar and storm gods (Jack Tressider, Symbols and Their Meanings). Its horns, for instance, are linked with the crescent moon and its bellow and stamping with thunder and earthquakes (especially in Crete, home of the Minotaur). Perrin has a Talent for the Dream, a lunar ability. He has golden eyes, a solar attribute, and also parallels with storm gods such as Thor and Perun. As for virility, Perrin’s mother-in-law has already informed him of the number of children she expects him and Faile to produce (Lord of Chaos, Beyond the Gate).


Apis

In ancient Egypt, Apis was seen as the avatar of Osiris and the servant of Ptah, the creating god and god of artisans (Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology). Apis was venerated for his great kindness and his mercy to strangers. The movements of the Apis bull were believed to indicate the future. The body of Osiris was sometimes borne on the back of a black bull. Rand is Osiris (see Rand Essay) and Perrin one of his helpers. Perrin is creative, a maker of things (see Artisan section), and is able to see the future in Tel’aran’rhiod. A gentle, kind man, he took in thousands of refugees in the Two Rivers and in Altara.


Monthu

Monthu was a Theban war god in Ancient Egypt who represented strength, virility, and victory. He was depicted as a falcon-headed or bull-headed man holding various weapons, and encapsulates Perrin and Faile as a couple. Like any nobly-born Saldaean wife, Faile expects to go to war at Perrin’s side and said that if he falls she will take up his weapon (Lord of Chaos, The Sending).


War

Perrin has links to at least two generals, one modern and one ancient.

Omar Nelson Bradley

General Bradley (1893–1981) was one of the main U.S. Army field commanders in North Africa and Europe during World War II and a five star General of the United States armed forces. He was renowned as a polite, gentle and courteous man with a marked lack of pretentiousness.

Bradley did not receive a front-line command until well into the war, and then led troops in North Africa, Sicily and Normandy. By August 1944, his 12th Army Group consisted of four field armies and was the largest group of American soldiers to ever serve under one field commander. After World War II Bradley headed the Veterans Administration and improved the health care and education opportunities of veterans. A famous quote of Bradley’s is:

"Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than about peace, more about killing than we know about living."

- The Columbia World of Quotations

Perrin has a similar personality to Bradley, and is concerned with the ethics of war and peace and how prisoners of war are treated, and in the re-settlement of refugees. On the Field of Merrilor, Gawyn remarked on the large size of Perrin’s forces:

”He's got a good army, Egwene. A huge one.”

- Towers of Midnight, Something Wrong

Alexander the Great

In The Dragon Reborn, Lanfear manipulated Perrin’s dreams and he saw himself in strange gilded armour:

A gilded helmet, worked like a lion’s head, sat on his head as if it belonged there. Gold leaf covered his ornately hammered breastplate, and gold-work embellished the plate and mail on his arms and legs. Only the axe at his side was plain.

- The Dragon Reborn, Shadows Sleeping

Wearing them, Perrin earned great glory.

Since Perrin has a talent for the dream, he is far more likely to detect lies inserted into his dreams, so his acceptance and recognition of the armour indicates it probably has an element of truth. The lion’s head helmet was emblematic of Alexander the Great, and suggests he is a possible former or future incarnation of Perrin. Alexander III (the Great) of Macedon (356‒323 BC) was an Ancient Greek king who was one of the most successful and renowned military commanders of all time. He conquered the entire Persian Empire and was invading India when his home-sick troops forced him to turn back. As a result of his conquests, the Hellenistic culture influenced a wide area of the Mediterranean and Middle East for centuries.


Perrin

Claude Victor-Perrin (1764‒1841) was a leading French general of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars and was Marshal of France under Napoleon. His late arrival at Montereau-sur-Yonne in 1814 caused a serious falling out with Napoleon and he transferred his allegiance to the Bourbons. Perrin is one of Rand's generals and was distracted by events from following Rand’s orders, but he managed to be there just in time when Rand needed him.

Ami Perrin (d. 1561) was an influential figure in Geneva who at first supported Calvin and the Reformation in Geneva, but eventually led a party of moderation, the Libertines, against Calvin's theocracy. They were defeated by the Calvinists and Perrin was condemned to death. He escaped to Berne, where with a few supporters (Fugitifs), he continued a futile opposition in exile. Perrin Aybara is a voice of moderation (temperance), as we saw when he faced down Rand, and later the Wise Ones, about ill-treating Aes Sedai. Rand 'exiled' Perrin over it. Perrin has run foul of two theocracies: the Whitecloaks and the Dragonsworn.


Sky gods

The wolf Perrin is closest to is Hopper:

Perrin was one with Hopper. Hopper, the cub who had watched the eagles soar, and wanted so badly to fly through the sky as the eagles did.

- The Eye of the World, Children of Shadow

and Perrin himself thinks he would love to fly on a raken (Knife of Dreams, A Manufactory) so it is no surprise that Perrin has quite a few parallels to sky and storm gods. At times, he sees prophetic visions in Tel’aran’rhiod in windows in the sky.


Perun

In Slavic mythology, bearded Perun is the sky smith and god of thunder and lightning and war, and is also associated with fire, mountains, the oak, the eagle, horses and carts, and weapons (the hammer, axe and arrow). He was ruler of the sky and earth, and was often symbolised by an eagle sitting at the top of the World Tree, from which he kept watch over the world. Down in the roots of the tree lived his enemy, Veles, symbolised by a serpent or a dragon. Perun's weapons were a hammer (or a club), a battle-axe which he hurled at evil people and which always returned to his hand, and a bow from which he loosed arrows of thunder and lightning. He had another, very unusual, weapon: golden ‘apples’ of devastating lighting.

Perrin uses all of these weapons bar the last and, like Perun, doesn't carry a sword. He has certainly played his part in fighting the Shadow, which is associated with serpents (see Animal Symbolism essay). Perrin has argued with the Dragon, too, over treatment of prisoners. Horses and carts featured large in Perrin’s entourage until his Ashaman could link with the female channellers to make larger gateways:

A great many high-wheeled supply carts came through, drivers tugging the horses and shouting as if they feared the gateway might close on them—a great many because carts could not carry as much as wagons, and carts because a wagon and team would not fit through the gateway. It seemed neither Neald nor Grady could make one as big as Rand could, or Dashiva.

- A Crown of Swords, To Be Alone

He marched under the Red Eagle of Manetheren, the banner of an area renowned for its dedication in fighting the Shadow. It was Perrin who first roused the Two Rivers men to fight with their longbows and, thanks to Aes Sedai help, hurl fiery stones from catapults. In a neat reversal of Perun, Perrin hurled his axe into an oak for someone to find and make a legend about (Crossroads of Twilight, What Must Be Done).

The destructive weaves of his channellers may be the equivalent of Perun’s destructive golden apples.


Perkons

Perkons is the:

sky deity of Baltic religion, renowned as the guardian of law and order and as a fertility god. The oak, as the tree most often struck by lightning, is sacred to him.

First, he is a mighty warrior, metaphorically described as the sky smith, and the scourge of evil. His role as adversary of the Devil and other evil spirits is of secondary importance and has been formed to a great extent under the influence of Christian syncretism.

Second, he is a fertility god, and he controls the rain, an important event in the life of farmers. Various sacrifices were made to him in periods of drought as well as in times of sickness and plague. No other god occupied a place of such importance at the farmer's table during festivals, especially in the fall at harvest time…

Often depicted as a vigorous, bearded man holding an axe. In the spring his lightning purifies the earth and stimulates plant growth. Perkons also directs his thunderbolts against evil spirits and unjust men and even disciplines the gods.

-Encyclopaedia Britannica

As representative of law, order and fertility, Perkons fights evil in the form of Velnias, who slyly hides and shifts shape into various creatures and reduces the Land’s prosperity.

Perrin organised the defense and then the rebuilding and expansion of the agricultural Two Rivers. At Faile’s suggestion, irrigation was introduced to ameliorate the effects of the Dark One’s drought on crops. As Lord of the Two Rivers, Perrin represented order and stability and passed judgement in disputes and crimes. Galad was impressed that Perrin could make the Wise Ones and Aes Sedai listen to him (Towers of Midnight, Some Tea). Perrin is a vigorous bearded man who used a battle axe in war until he threw it into an oak, the sacred tree of Perkons. For a while, fighting Shaitan was of secondary importance to Perrin until Faile was rescued from the Shaido.

Perrin fought and killed the shape-shifting Slayer, described in the Dark Prophecy as a hound of the Shadow. The evil of the Shadow blighted the Land and Perrin combated it. Slayer is Perrin’s dark opposite.


Jupiter

The Ancient Roman sky god Jupiter was associated with birds, usually the eagle or the hawk, and with the oak and white ox. The statue right is of Jupiter Dolichenus who was popular as god of victory and war among the Roman legions. He stands on a bull and has an axe in his right hand and a thunderbolt in his left.

At Rome itself on the Capitoline Hill was his oldest temple; here there was a tradition of his sacred tree, the oak, common to the worship both of Zeus and of Jupiter…

In fulfilment of a vow made by their predecessors, the consuls offered to Jupiter a white ox, his favourite sacrifice, and, after rendering thanks for the preservation of the state during the past year, they made the same vow as that by which their predecessors had been bound…

Jupiter was not only the great protecting deity of the race but also one whose worship embodied a distinct moral conception. He is especially concerned with oaths, treaties, and leagues, and it was in the presence of his priest that the most ancient and sacred form of marriage (confarreatio) took place (and links back to the Renaissance motif of the Lovers).

-Encyclopaedia Britannica, Jupiter

As was mentioned above, Perrin left his axe in an oak. He is connected to the red eagle of Manetheren and to Hopper who wanted to soar like an eagle, and as Young Bull, to the ox. A “good number” of oxen pulled his wagons away from Malden until Travelling was available to his group again.

Regarding formal agreements: on the one hand, Berelain, the Paendrag hawk, tried to break his marriage oath; on the other, Queen Alliandre swore fealty to Perrin, Galad swore to accept him as his commander until the Last Battle is done, and Queen Elayne accepted Perrin’s and Faile’s offer of a multi-nation alliance. He was the first of the three ta’veren to make an agreement with the Seanchan, where in exchange for their aid in fighting the Shaido, he renounced all claims to Manetheren (Knife of Dreams, A Deal).


Zeus

Zeus is the Ancient Greek king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak.

With the aid of his brothers Poseidon and Hades, Zeus won the kingdom of the immortals from his father Cronus. Cronus had been warned that one of his children would depose him and swallowed each of them as they were born, except Zeus who was hidden away by his mother Rhea. When Zeus had grown into a young man he returned to force Cronus to regurgitate the five children he had previously swallowed. Zeus and the Olympians defeated Cronus and the Titans, and banished them to Tartarus, the abyss or pit beneath the underworld. The three victorious brothers divided the world between them: Zeus took the heavens, Poseidon the sea and Hades the underworld.

Since Rand and Perrin each have some characteristics of Zeus, and Mat has some characteristics of Poseidon and some of Hades, the correspondence of the three ta’veren and the three Olympian gods is not simple, but both groups of three worked together to overthrow an unjust regime. The Titanic Forsaken were warned via Prophecy of the danger Rand posed to them and the Pattern saw to it that he was fostered elsewhere until he reached adulthood. Tartarus sounds very like the Pit of Doom in which the ‘immortal’ Forsaken were once bound and in which the Dark One was re-Sealed.

From his exalted position atop Mount Olympus Zeus was thought to omnisciently observe the affairs of men, seeing everything, governing all, and rewarding good conduct and punishing evil.

-Encyclopaedia Britannica

He had many epithets to describe his various responsibilities:

  • Xenios: the patron of hospitality, protecting guests and strangers.

  • Horkios: keeper of oaths and truces and punisher of perjurers.

  • Agoraios: protector of the integrity of the marketplace.

  • Hikesios: protector of supplicants, especially those seeking sanctuary.

  • Kosmetas: orderer, maintainer of laws, replacing chaos with order.

  • Polieos: overseer of cities.

  • Phuxios: god of escape, helper and protector of fugitives.

  • Eleutherios: liberator, upholder of political freedoms.

  • Lykaios: wolf, as patron of the ancient festival (Lykaion) in Arcadia where young men gathered to make a sacrifice of animal entrails intermixed with a piece of human entrails. The one who consumed the human entrails was believed to turn into a wolf (Plato, Republic 8.565d). The sacred area where sacrifices were made was taboo to people, and any creature who entered it cast no shadow while therein. The loss of their shadow meant they would die within the year.


  • As his responsibilities show:

    Zeus was a wild god, a god of countrymen to whom the weather matters, but also a god of national unity.

    - Madeleine Jost, The Religious System in Arcadia in David Ogden (ed), A Companion to Greek Religion


Most of these roles are appropriate to Perrin. Perrin re-established order and prosperity in the arcadian Two Rivers and, with Faile’s aid, judged disputes and settled refugees. He was responsible for a hundred thousand or more refugees saved from slavery. His benevolence was also extended to Maighdin’s little band who were rescued and taken in by him. Perrin was outraged when Faile tried to tamper with the mayoral elections in the Two Rivers (Lord of Chaos Prologue), but perhaps would not have minded that she pressured Alliandre into fulfilling her oath of fealty to Perrin. Galina’s lies were exposed by Perrin. The ancient indirect link of Zeus to werewolves and the “shadow-free” sacred ground are especially interesting. (Also that having a shadow is necessary for humanity—choice and balance.)

Another of Zeus’ roles was to give prophecies, notably at Dodona in northwestern Greece. His male priests divined the correct actions to be taken by interpreting the rustlings of the oak leaves in the sacred grove. One is reminded of Perrin visiting the Wolf Dream to determine conditions in the Two Rivers and also waiting in Tel’aran’rhiod for Slayer to reveal himself, near an oak no less (The Shadow Rising, The Price of a Departure). Male seers are uncommon in real world folklore and also in The Wheel of Time, however Perrin is one, seeing prophetic visions in the dream.

Zeus is known for having many loves, often shape-shifting to win them, and fathering many children. His wife Hera, a parallel of Faile (see Faile and Berelain essay), was very jealous and hostile to his mistresses and their children. While Perrin is not unfaithful he was believed so, thanks to Berelain. While ever she played her game with Faile, or Perrin ogled women (Sevanna for instance), the question of his fidelity remained.


Thor

The German and Norse god of thunder and war, Thor was a highly popular god who could protect the living and the dead from the forces of evil. He was depicted as a bearded red-haired man of enormous strength. Both Rand and Perrin have elements in common with Thor: Rand his colouring and lightning-tossing abilities, and Perrin his beard, strength and weapon.

Thor’s father was Odin, a parallel of Mat (see Mat essay). Thor and his wife Sif had a daughter Thrud (‘strength’). Most of Sif’s characteristics (her long golden hair and her talent for prophecy) fit Rand’s wives better, except that her hair was all cut off by Loki. Thor’s mistress Jarnsaxa was a giant and one of the nine mothers of Heimdall (another parallel of Mat). She bore Thor two sons, Magni (‘strong’) and Modi (‘angry’).

As usual, Jordan has changed the relationships somewhat. It is Faile, Perrin’s wife, who wanted to shave all Berelain’s hair off for trying to seduce Perrin. Berelain snubbed Mat as ‘too much like her’ (The Shadow Rising, Rumours) which is amusing given that Jarnsaxa was one of Heimdall’s mothers. Thor’s children embody important issues for Perrin: anger and strength (see above).

Thor’s weapon was the short-handled hammer, Mjolnir, which never missed its target and always returned to its owner. Mjolnir had the power to cast bolts of lightning, and its main use was for fighting giants. Perrin’s hammer doesn’t return to him; it is he who re-turned to the hammer, having been disillusioned with his axe. In Towers of Midnight, he crafted Mah’alleinir, a power-wrought weapon, the equivalent of Mjolnir, and promptly used the hammer on Shadowspawn. It is an indication—as is his closeness to the Tinkers—that he fights the Shadow as much by creating as by destroying, or spiritually as well as physically.

Perrin fought Slayer in the skies in a Thor-like manner, batting his arrows aside:

Perrin chased Slayer through the skies.

He leaped from a churning, silver-black cloud, Slayer a blur before him in the charred sky. The air pulsed with the rhythm of lightning bolts and furious winds.

- A Memory of Light, The Prince’s Tabac

There was lighting all around him. When he fell through the sky he increased his body’s strength (strength again) to survive the impact:

Perrin appeared in the air a hundred feet to the side, still falling. He didn't bother to slow himself; he hit the ground, increasing his body's strength to deal with the shock of the blow.

- A Memory of Light, The Prince’s Tabac

At Ragnarok, the end of the world, Thor is destined to fight the evil world serpent Jörmungand and the two will kill each other. Serpents are a symbol of evil in the real world and in The Wheel of Time the chapter icon for the Forsaken is a snake. But the serpent also represents Time, which the Dark One wanted to kill. While both Perrin and Rand have parallels to Thor and fight the Shadow, it is Rand’s death confronting the Dark One that ended the time of the Third Age, but prevented the end of Time and the world.


Creator/Maker


Brahma

Brahma the creator is one of the three major gods in Hinduism, but there are very few temples in India dedicated to Brahma alone compared to the very large number of temples dedicated to the other deities in the Hindu trinity, Vishnu and Shiva. Shiva the destroyer is worshipped as much out of fear that he might otherwise do something bad, as out of love, and is a parallel of Rand (see Rand essay). Vishnu the preserver, Mat’s parallel (see Mat essay), is worshipped out of love. Only Brahma the creator is comparatively little worshipped.

One explanation of this involves Brahma’s relationship with females. Brahma created a female deity, Shatarupā, and immediately became infatuated with her. In Shiva’s opinion, Shatarupā was Brahma's daughter since he created her and therefore it was wrong for Brahma to be obsessed with her. He directed that Brahma should not be worshipped due to his impure desires. Thus, only Vishnu and Shiva are worshipped; Brahma is not. While Brahma is the creator, he is not necessarily regarded as God in Hinduism.

Perrin has similarities with Brahma, even in appearance, since both are bearded. Perrin’s obsession with Faile and rescuing her made him lose popularity with fans and his perceived unfaithfulness temporarily lost him admirers among his Two Rivers followers. Perrin also believes that his slowness in reaching decisions reduces people’s respect for them. He is far too human, despite his supernatural powers, to seem mythic or be semi-deified.


Blacksmith/Artisan

Perrin began the series as an apprentice blacksmith, and on his travels as an unacknowledged journeyman worked for a smith in Tear who said:

“Apprentice, he says, but the work he did today amounts to his master’s piece as far as I am concerned.”…
“Is this what you mean to do, then?” she [Faile] asked. “Did you come all this way to be a blacksmith again?”
Ajala paused in the act of pulling the yard doors closed and listened.
Perrin picked up the heavy hammer he had used, a ten-pound head with a handle as long as his forearm.
It felt good in his hands. It felt right. The smith had glanced at his eyes once and never even blinked; it was the work that was important, the skill with metal, not the color of a man’s eyes. “No,” he said sadly. “One day, I hope. But not yet.” He started to hang the hammer back on the wall.
“Take it.” Ajala cleared his throat. “I do not usually give away good hammers, but . . . The work you’ve done today is worth more than the price of that hammer by far, and maybe it will help you to that ‘one day.’ Man, if I have ever seen anyone made to hold a smith’s hammer, it is you. So take it. Keep it.”
Perrin closed his hand around the haft. It did feel right. “Thank you,” he said. “I cannot say what this means to me.”

- The Dragon Reborn, The Hammer

The smith gave Perrin the hammer as acknowledgement of his attainment and skill and encouragement to return to the craft, as well as payment. This foreshadowing was amply proven in Towers of Midnight when Perrin turned to smithing again and forged the power-wrought hammer Mah’alleinir, a parallel of Thor’s hammer (see above), but also perhaps the hammer of a Grand Master of Freemasonry (see Freemasonry essay). It is Perrin’s first major work to prove himself in the way that Mat (cannon) and Rand (cleansing the taint) have.

Many mythologies had a blacksmith god, indicating the respect and importance of these artisans. In part, it's the mystique a blacksmith has for being able to turn ore ('dross’ or ‘dirt') into metal. More importantly, the whole society depends on the blacksmiths forging their weapons and tools. (It’s why Aiel blacksmiths can’t be taken gai’shain). Note that the only weapon in Perrin’s camp that did not attack its owner during the bubble of evil was Perrin’s hammer (Towers of Midnight, Men Dream Here), indicating Perrin’s place in the Pattern as a major supporter of the Light, but also the sacred role of the Blacksmith.

At first Perrin’s making and crafting abilities were expressed in organising the armament and disposition of his forces, tempering them and himself into something stronger. Perrin reminds himself (and us) regularly of his underused potential as an artisan:

Did he even remember what a good forge hammer felt like?

- A Crown of Swords, High Chasaline

The techniques he learned in his craft have been adapted by him quite effectively to his duties. For instance Perrin says that working iron taught him not to be hasty (Crossroads of Twilight, The Forging of a Hammer) and that:

a workman should know his tools and not use them to breaking. The same went for people.

- Knife of Dreams, A Deal

Balwer thought Perrin a master craftsman in other areas besides smithing:

Facts and discoveries...they are like nuggets of gold. I could give that gold to a common banker to make coins, but I prefer to give it to the master craftsman to make something of beauty.

- Towers of Midnight, An Open Gate

But now Perrin has also made something physically, Mah’alleinir, that was needed for the Last Battle.


Reginn

Knowledgeable and skilled with his hands, the legendary Norse smith Reginn built a house of gold and gems for his father Hreiðmarr. After Loki accidentally killed Hreiðmarr’shape-changing son Ótr, the gods gave Hreiðmarr gold as compensation—gold with a curse on it, since Fafnir and Reginn killed their father for the gold and then Fafnir decided to take the lot, turned into a dragon and drove away Reginn. Reginn lived among humankind and educated them in the use of agriculture and crafts. He didn’t forget about Fafnir or the gold though and forged a sword for his foster son Sigurd to kill Fafnir with. The sword broke, but Reginn re-forged the sword of Sigurd’s father Sigmund. Sigurd killed Fafnir with it and then, when he learned that Reginn was planning to kill him for the gold, Reginn too.

Perrin is a smith like Reginn but a shape-changer like Otr. There are two characters like Loki in the series: one allied to the Light, Mat (see Mat essay), and one to evil, Mordeth/Fain. It is Fain who aimed to kill any or all of the three ta’veren, although most especially Rand, the Dragon Reborn. Rand might be a dragon, but he is not greedy like Fafnir. Note that Mordeth’s hoard in Shadar Logoth had a curse on it which nearly killed Mat and grievously wounded Rand.

Under Perrin’s and Faile’s stewardship and fostering of refugees, new crafts and agricultural methods have been introduced into the Two Rivers.


Wayland

Perrin and Faile first met at an inn called Wayland’s Forge. The inn’s name refers to Wayland, a smith of outstanding skill in Scandinavian, German and Anglo-Saxon legend who was captured by the Swedish king Nídud, lamed, and forced to work in his smithy. He was a lord of the elves, according to some legends. In revenge for his treatment, Wayland killed Nídud's two young sons and also raped the king’s daughter, then he escaped by magical flight through the air. Perrin has Travelled magically, even flown through the air in Tel’aran’rhiod. Faile’s noble family were suspicious that he had seduced Faile. Her older brothers were killed, but not by Perrin.


Hephaestus

Hephaestus (or Vulcan in Roman mythology) was the Ancient Greek god of fire, artisans and metalworking who crafted marvellous artefacts for the gods in his volcanic forge. The fire Prometheus gave to humanity was stolen from Hephaestus’ forge. Hephaestus was lame, like many smiths in mythology. Bronze Age metalworkers suffered low level arsenical poisoning presenting as lameness and skin cancers from the arsenic they added to the copper to harden it when tin was scarce, and the appearance of smith gods is an accurate depiction of this. Aphrodite, Hephaestus’ wife (a parallel of Graendal), was dissatisfied with his unattractive appearance and took Ares (a parallel of Demandred) as her lover. As punishment, Hephaestus trapped the two lovers in the act and exposed them to the ridicule of the other gods. Hephaestus is the only Olympian god to have been exiled from Olympus and to have returned.

Perrin was badly wounded in the thigh by Slayer and while not lamed, could still sense the wound:

Perrin turned as the portal closed. As he stepped, he felt a faint throbbing from his leg, where Slayer's arrow had hit him. He had been Healed of that wound, and from what he'd been able to tell, the Healing had been complete. There was no injury. But his leg...it felt like it could remember the wound anyway. It was like a shadow, very faint, almost unnoticeable.

- Towers of Midnight, Gateways

Many consider Perrin a lame character—seemingly weak due to his reluctance to make choices as was discussed above in the Choice and Love section. Both Perrin and Faile have had their fidelity questioned. Perrin was exiled by Rand as a ruse so he could contact Masema unnoticed, yet Rand was annoyed by the bone of contention Perrin chose: that Elaida’s embassy not be harmed. In the Last Battle, Perrin exposed Graendal, who was under Demandred’s command and had corrupted the minds of the Great Captains.

Ilmarinen

Originally a sky god, Seppo Ilmarinen is an immortal blacksmith and artificer from Finnish mythology. He was given the task of making the Sampo for the powerful witch-hag Louhi, Queen of Pohjola (a land often thought of as a malevolent frozen waste), in exchange for marrying Louhi’s beautiful daughter the Maiden of the North. In one version of the myth the magician Vainamoinen promised Louhi he would send Ilmarinen to Pohjola to make the Sampo for her in return for her granting Vainamoinen safe passage through her land, and then tricked Ilmarinen into going; in another version Ilmarinen went willingly in order to redeem Vainamoinen from death. Once there, Ilmarinen set up a great forge of magic fire and began his great work with the aid of the slaves of Pohjola. He made a few attempts to create something marvellous, but each time the resulting artefact was flawed, being evil and eager to kill or ill-tempered or destructive, and he destroyed it and tried again. His first attempt was a blood-thirsty cross-bow, his second a battle-hungry ship, the third an ill-tempered cow, and the fourth a destructive plough. Finally the Sampo was born, a mill of plenty or prosperity that produces grain, salt and gold which he gave to Louhi who locked it away deep underground. Ilmarinen tried to claim the maiden of Pohjola as a reward, successfully in some versions of the myth but not in others.

Perrin went willingly to guard Rand in Shayol Ghul while he battled the Dark One. Once there, he set up the Dreamspike and enlisted the Aiel and wolves to defend the area. Unknowingly he had been corrupted by Lanfear, who claimed him as hers and stole his will, but he overcame her influence and when his duty was done reclaimed his wife.

The Wolf King used his hammer to make a power-wrought weapon rather than destroy. Perrin had never made any weapons, or assisted in the making of them, previously, even though his mentor Haral Luhhan made a battleaxe for merchant’s guard, the very axe Perrin carried for so long and of high enough quality that Child Byar said it was made by a master:

He [Byar] hefted the axe and gave a surprised grunt, then whirled it in a tight arc above his head that barely missed the top of the tent. He handled it as surely as if he had been born with an axe in his hands. A look of grudging admiration flickered across his face, but by the time he lowered the axe he was expressionless once more.
"Excellently balanced, my Lord Captain. Plainly made, but by a very good weaponsmith, perhaps even a master." His eyes burned darkly at the prisoners. "Not a villager's weapon, my Lord Captain. Nor a farmer's."

- The Eye of the World, Children of Shadow

This confirms the high quality of Perrin’s training. (And that Perrin and Byar would confront each other again, as happened in Towers of Midnight). Byar admired the craftsmanship in the axe, but Perrin eventually rejected that weapon, because it can only destroy, whereas a hammer can also create. (This is a link back to the outcast Jenn who rejected the sword because it can only kill whereas a spear can obtain food; Perrin being both an outlaw and close to the Tinkers and Aiel.) Finally, he forged the “hammer of a King” or of a Grand Master.

It is interesting that the artefacts Ilmarinen made feature in the series: Mat’s crossbows, the steam wagons, the lack of fertility and the destruction of food. Perrin is associated with fertility, flowering trees and Ogier and Tinkers, and may well be involved in the Healing of the Land after the Last Battle, and the restoration of prosperity, as Ilmarinen was with his Sampo.

Perrin has married a maiden of the North, though not without some difficulties. Davram Bashere’s instructions to Perrin on how to treat his wife—carefully, yet with strength and without indulgence—is an amusing reference to a scene in the Kalevala (Runo XXIV, The Teaching of the Bride Groom).


Heroes

Ajax

Ajax, the son of Telamon the grandson of Zeus, was a Greek hero who duelled Hector in the Trojan War. He was the strongest of all the Achaeans and his special weapon was his great shield. Unlike the other warriors in the Trojan War, Ajax receives no assistance from any of the gods, just as Perrin was a non-channeller. Perrin is close friend and supporter of Rand, Lews Therin Telamon reborn, and a parallel of Zeus. He set up the dreamspike to shield Rand’s party from attack by Travelling channellers or from Tel’aran’rhiod.


Cu Chulainn

The Celtic hero Cu Chulainn has aspects in common with Perrin and also Mat (see Mat essay). Originally called Setanta, he received his name Cu Chulainn, Culann’s hound, after killing the ferocious hound guarding the home of Culann the smith in self-defense and promising Culann that he would guard Culann’s house personally until a replacement dog was reared old enough to do so.

Perrin is not a hound, he is a wolf and one who has killed a Darkhound without channelling or using power-wrought weapons. This is quite a feat as Lan acknowledged at the time. Wolves are vulnerable to Darkhounds since wolf souls can be consumed by the hounds or taken and twisted by the Shadow to form the hounds.

While Rand battled the Dark One, Perrin the blacksmith guarded his back at Shayol Ghul and drove off Slayer, hound of the Shadow. When he left his post to fight Slayer, he had Gaul and wolves guard Rand in his place.

Like Perrin, Cu Chulainn went into battle frenzies. One time he returned to Emain Macha in such a battle frenzy that his fellow Ulstermen were afraid he would kill them all. The women of Emain bared their breasts to Cu Chulainn and while he was distracted the men wrestled him into a sequence of three barrels of cold water until he cooled down.

Jordan put his own twist on this: after fighting in berserker mode at Dumai’s Wells, Perrin was much distracted by the Maidens newly taken gai’shain who were naked while awaiting suitable clothing. Faile also promised to dance the sa’sara for him one day and “boil the blood in his veins” (The Shadow Rising, A Missing Leaf).

In the legend The Cattle Raid of Cooley, Queen Medb of Connaught, her husband Ailill and their allies invaded Ulster and gained possession of the most famous bull in Ireland because Cú Chulainn was with a woman when he should have been watching the border. All the men of Ulster were afflicted with a debilitating curse that prevented them fighting Medb’s forces, except the seventeen-year-old Cu Chulainn who had to defend Ulster single-handedly. He did so, but not before Medb managed to capture the bull and take the animal to Connaught.

Elaida sent an ‘embassy’ to bring, by fair means or foul, the Dragon Reborn, chief of chiefs of the Aiel, to Tar Valon. When he was taken, Galina sent a coded message to Elaida that:

the ring has been placed in the bull’s nose.

- A Crown of Swords, Prologue

During the period leading up to the capture of Rand, Perrin was much distracted by his problems with Faile and Berelain. Rand’s rescue was not a single-handed affair, but it was organised by the twenty-year-old Perrin. Due to the Oaths, the Aes Sedai with him had to place themselves in personal danger before they were able to channel offensively. Being distracted by women is a recurring problem for Perrin. Lanfear nearly succeeded in getting Perrin to help her kill Rand’s party at Shayol Ghul, the very one that he had spent so much effort guarding.

When Cu Chulainn, Cu Roi and the Ulstermen raided Inis Fer Falga they obtained treasure and abducted Blathnát, daughter of the king of Inis Fer Falga. She loved Cú Chulainn, but when the time came to divide the spoils, Cu Roi chose Blathnat as his share and cut Cu Chulain’s hair and buried him in the ground up to his armpits when he tried to stop Cu Roi taking her. Cu Roi could only be killed in a specific way and Blathnat discovered how and betrayed the information to Cu Chulainn, who then killed Cu Roi.

When Faile was abducted, her captor Rolan tried to seduce her. During their escape from Malden, Faile distracted Rolan by calling Perrin’s name, and Perrin killed him. Faile and her fellow escapees killed their Aiel helpers:

When Perrin had barreled out of that alleyway—roaring in anger at seeing Faile and Lacile apparently being manhandled by Shaido— many things had happened very quickly. In the fray, Faile had distracted Rolan at just the right moment, making him hesitate. He'd done so out of concern for her, but that pause had allowed Perrin to kill him.
Had Faile done it intentionally? She still didn't know. So much had been going through her mind, so many emotions at seeing Perrin. She'd cried out, and . . . she could not decide if she'd been trying to distract Rolan to let him die by Perrin's hand. For Lacile, there was no such wavering. Jhoradin had leaped in front of her, putting her behind him and raising his weapon against the intruder. She'd put a knife in his back, killing a man for the first time in her life. And it had been a man whose bed she'd shared.
Faile had killed Kinhuin, the other member of the Brotherless who had protected them. He wasn't the first man whose life she had taken— nor the first one she'd taken from behind. But he was the first man she'd killed who had seen her as a friend. There was nothing else that could have been done. Perrin had seen only Shaido, and the Brotherless had seen only an invading enemy. That conflict could not have ended without Perrin or the Brotherless dead.
No amount of screaming would have stopped any of the men.

- The Gathering Storm, Embers and Ash

Faile believes that none of the men would have cooled down in time, especially not berserker Perrin. It is Faile who wanted to cut Berelain’s hair for trying to poach her man.

Perrin has parallels to two Arthurian knights: Sir Percival, innocent but skilled, and Sir Kay, Arthur’s steward.


Percival

Sir Percival or Peredur was the original hero of the Grail. In the early Arthurian Grail stories, such as Le Conte du Graal by Cretien de Troyes and Peredur Son of Efrawg in The Mabinogion, Percival was the central Grail quester and achiever, and was only supplanted by Galahad in later Arthurian tales.

Percival was a noble who was raised by his mother in the forest ignorant of the ways of men until the age of 15. He is usually depicted as somewhat childlike and ingenuous, but with great integrity and belief in doing right that surpasses those around him. Inspired by the sight of a group of knights, he travelled to King Arthur's court, to prove his worthiness as a warrior and become a knight. Percival was a good fighter because of his great strength and youthful fervour rather than any great skill or finesse, and was so successful that he was invited to join the Knights of the Round Table.

He struggled greatly against the temptations put before him (such as that in the painting, right), to the point of punishing himself by thrusting his sword through his own thigh after he lays with a temptress, even though he stopped himself before surrendering his virginity to her (Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XIV, Chapters IX, X).

Perrin was raised humbly, ignorant of weapons, warfare and politics, but has more than proved his worth. And while Perrin’s temptress Berelain did not succeed in getting him to lay down with her, she did spend the night alone with him after Faile’s abduction, and Perrin struggled with a ruined reputation for some time after. Slayer wounded Perrin badly in the thigh during their battle in Tel’aran’rhiod (Towers of Midnight, Darkness in the Tower). Perrin has also struggled with the pressure to surrender to his animal nature and to the lure of his axe. Another seductress, Lanfear, took control of his mind and he had to exert himself greatly to break free of it.

Sir Percival met the crippled Fisher King in the Grail castle and even saw the Grail, but failed to ask questions about the Fisher King's wounds and the Grail procession because he thought that so many questions would be rude. Had he asked the questions, the Fisher King, and thus the Land, would have been healed. When he learned this, he vowed to find the castle again and fulfil the quest. In later versions of the tale he was one of only two knights (the other was Sir Bors, a name the Darkfriend Whitecloak Carridin used as an alias) who accompanied Galahad to the Grail castle; he achieved the Grail, and then died.

In Cretien de Troyes’ Le Conte du Graal, a Loathly Lady (Dark Woman of Knowledge as messenger) came to Arthur’s court and berated Perceval for his failure to ask about the Grail, saying that he was responsible for the increased blighting of the Land because of this. She also told the court of a captured maiden, and how a knight might achieve “the supreme glory of the world” by rescuing her.

Perrin was aware when the sa'angreal statues (equivalents of the Grail) were used and reassured others about them. However, he asked few questions of Rand himself (the parallel of the Fisher King) until they met on the Field of Merrilor. In Towers of Midnight, Galad, a parallel of Sir Galahad, allied with Perrin until the Last Battle was done. One person he did ask questions of was Lanfear, and he used the knowledge gained from her—of the dreamspike and of Graendal’s activities—to reduce the depredations of the Shadow. Had he not exposed the Loathly Lady Graendal’s corruption of the Great Captains, tens of thousands more would have died.

Perrin chose to rescue Faile from the Shaido no matter what the cost to the world, and determined that nothing, not even the Last Battle or Rand is more important than that (Crossroads of Twilight, The Forging of a Hammer). Having achieved this, he concentrated on his proper duty of aiding Rand (The Gathering Storm, Leaving Malden) to Heal the Land.


Kay

Sir Kay was King Arthur’s foster brother and steward. He was rather rude and often taunted less well-known knights. Perrin grew up with Rand, a parallel of Arthur (see Rand essay) as Kay did Arthur, and as the Aiel observed, is Rand’s near brother. While Perrin is far more considerate than Kay, he was judged callow by the nobility at first, and in fact still regards himself in that way. He returned to defend the homeland of the Emond’s Fielders, becoming its steward in fact, and as of Towers of Midnight, A Teaching Chamber, also in name. In the Last Battle, he was put in charge of the logistics of the military camp headquarters at Merrilor.

Aybara

As for Perrin's surname, Aybara is the surname of two saints: St. Romanus Aybara and St Paul Aybara, both martyred at Nagasaki in 1628.


Moses

The Hebrew religious leader and prophet, Moses, is a minor parallel of Perrin, and also parallel of Rand (see Rand essay). Moses killed an Egyptian slavemaster that he saw beating a Hebrew and fled to Midian to avoid retribution. In Midian, he protected seven shepherdesses from harassment. Moses stayed in Midian until called by God to return to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from slavery. Pharaoh would only agree to the departure of the Hebrews after ten terrible plagues were inflicted upon the Egyptians.

Moses led the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and at Mount Sinai Moses received the Ten Commandments. Food and water were scarce at times during their long trek and they were also attacked by poisonous snakes in Edom and many perished. After wandering in the desert for forty years, Moses died within sight of the Promised Land.

Perrin killed Whitecloaks and escaped their retribution. He drove off the Dragonsworn from Maighdin and her group and offered them protection. At Malden, he rescued the gai’shain and slaves from the Shaido Aiel (ironically the Israelites are a parallel of Aiel, see The Age of Legends essay). Then his vast group began a slow exodus through Altara and Ghealdan, suffering an attack of poisonous snakes from a bubble of evil. It was the Dark One who visited terrible plagues, rot, vermin and other wrongnesses upon people. Food was scarce although Perrin’s group had less trouble with spoilage than most people did. Instead of the rod of God which Moses bore to aid his people in battle and their wanderings, Perrin has Mah'alleinir. Perrin clawed his way up Dragonmount to Witness Rand’s epiphany on the mountain top. The Shadow thought that Perrin would die by their hand (Towers of Midnight, Writings) and presumably not see the Last Battle.

_________________________________________

Written by Linda, May 2010 and updated February 2014
Contributor: Rew, Moridin_2000

5 comments:

Dr J J George said...

Where's Beowulf?

Linda said...

It's true that as a hero and probable berserker Beowulf has some similarities to Perrin, but Beowulf is bear-like rather than wolf-like. I'll add that in.

Leyla said...

Linda, as always, your essays are ABSOLUTELY brilliant. Are you perchance an English professor or something similar? It's funny, because I have written analytical essays on the wot, but you have researched and written them much better, and much more extensively than I could ever hope to have done! It is always a pleasure to read your writing -- every time I think "finally, I've gotten all the levels that Jordan put in the series", you surprise me with more! Truly a brilliant man, and you're a brilliant woman to write about these topics so eloquently.

Cheers.

Linda said...

Thank you Leyla! I'm really glad you enjoy them. Are your essays online?

I'm utterly not an English professor or anything like. Like RJ, I have read a lot, and remember and notice things too.

You are right; RJ was brilliant.

everydayshouldbetuesday said...

From Arena by Holly Jennings:

"There's a well-known Native American story about how we all have two wolves inside us fighting for dominance. One is full of hate, anger, and everything evil. The other is full of peace, clarity, and everything good. The one that wins is the one we feed."

No further citation beyond "a well-known Native American story" is given, unfortunately. Of course it would be very much in keeping with Jordan's themes to change the good-evil dichotomy of the story to one promoting balance.