Chapter 20: Dust on the Wind
Now this is more like it. We start the High Octane Nightmare Fuel
right away, as Moiraine and Lan, ie the people who know what the hell they’re doing, are separated from the rest by Mashadar, the evil spirit who corrupted Mordeth, now a fog that can smell you, and will swarm and eat you if you touch it. And then a Trolloc attack sends everyone off on their own, though Rand meets up with Mat and Thom after some close calls.
We switch out of Rand’s perspective for the first time, and go to Perrin, which is nice because so far he’s the one member of the group who’s shown no real personality. He turns out to be The Quiet One
, who’s often underestimated because of his size and liking to think a problem through before acting. I can see how hanging around Mat would make you that way. He meets Egwene, but then loses her again when they escape the city and he rides into the river everyone was supposed to meet up at. What follows is a positively agonizing sequence where Perrin struggles not to drown wearing all his heavy equipment, until he finally reaches the other side.
Back with Rand, Mat nearly sends them in the wrong direction, but luckily Thom is there to spot the star Moiraine told them to head for. I guess you can call that the Stupid Mat Moment
of this chapter. Thom quickly follows with a Crowning Moment of Awesome
taking down three Trollocs with throwing knives, then they get to the river and luck into a boat, which gets moving after another great fight as the crew wake up. Though they do have to leave the horses and most of their stuff behind.
The boat’s captain is Bayle Domon, who’s already a huge Ensemble Darkhorse
for me. He speaks in what I guess is a Carribean accent, as it fits the meter well and there’s the occasional “man,” and is completely mercenary about what happens on his ship. That means Rand and Mat have to hand over the coins Moiraine gave them, putting them that much further into her debt. Great. Thom does Lyra Silvertongue
proud with his BS about why they’re being chased by Trollocs (though Mat almost screws it all up, naturally), and they’re off to Whitebridge. Oh, and there’s a weasely crew member named Floran Gelb who’s probably going to cause some problems.
Well, this one makes up for the last chapter and then some. An exciting chase scene that also serves a useful purpose in scattering the eight heroes to the winds, the six others away from Moiraine and Lan and any clue what to do next, though at least Thom is proving his worth there. And yes, this is another thing Lord of the Rings did, but it hardly has a monopoly on that kind of thing (Dune
is actually the first story that comes to mind for me) so it doesn’t stand out as much. I also notice that Nynaeve is the one person completely unaccounted for, so I’m guessing it’ll be a while before we see her again.