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Perrin Aybara: The character


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#1 MowbrayDeadOrAlive

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:45 AM

Throughout the WoT, hundreds of characters have come forth. Some have enticed us. Some have irritated us. And some have literally sent us to sleep. These characters have been the work of genius from Robert Jordan, something which is very difficult to do. Even Malazan or LoTR could not develop such attachment to the character. (LoTR is still my favorite series, but it focused too much on Aragorn, Sam, Frodo and Gandalf to earn attachment for others)

However, one of the characters that actually stood out for me is Perrin Aybara.

Now I know how others in the forum feel about him. A whiner who should have taken things up headstart, a selfish person who was ready to deal with the DO for Faile, a light-blinded idiot who led many of his close ones to dangerous paths (Aram, anyone?), and so on ... Accepted the guy's PoV was sort of too lengthy for once liking, but it is this guy who is actually RJ's best character, according to me.

Perrin, at the very start, was shy, careful and meticulous. He did not have the looks of Rand or mischievous genius of Mat. He was merely a blacksmith, a very humble and boring background.

Then Moiraine came and whisked them off. Rand ended up being the Dragon Reborn and Mat become the gambler, son of battles and, eventually, a Seanchan king. On the other hand, Perrin was reduced to his village, married to Faile who had abandoned her household and devoid of his original family.

In such a case, bringing Perrin up from such desolation has always been difficult from a writer's point of view. Who will like a blacksmith whose only notable thing was he could talk with wolves over the one who can channel, kill the Forsaken, shake the nations to core and challenge the White Tower itself, or the one who never loses at chances, was of mischievous sort and faced creatures like Aelfinn, Elfinn and Gollum. Still Perrin is one of the ta'veren and one of the main characters. How can one actually rise when he can't even outshine a character like Tuon?

Rand was destined to be the emperor. Mat was already in the company of nobles that gave him some ideas about leading from the front. But Perrin had no one to look forward to. Faile was acting like a rich merchant's daughter. Berelain was acting like a flaunting pr********, and Alliandre was a queen in all but in name. Even Morgase was so determined to be a servant to offer Perrin any help. A wolf can't be expected to teach him to be a king, eh?

As all the paths to embracing leadership were closed, Perrin was obviously in dilemna over it, and it was understandable that he detested it, for neither he nor his village knew how to deal with a lord. This, along with his fears of a wolf inside him, was enough to give a writer a test for his skills.

This was why RJ wrote Perrin in such a manner. There was no other way. The guy was the most complex character of all, and that meant beginning from the scratch. If you read through Perrin's PoV, you can find it a contribution to Perrin's molding character. For instance, TGH talked about Perrin's trust on Rand. TDR talked about loss of Perrin's shyness and aloofness as he starts to stand up against Moiraine. TFH talks about Perrin's commanding skills. TLoC talks about Perrin's embrace of his duty towards the world. TCoS talks about Perrin's character-change, making him take up tasks which he hasn't been doing for long. TPoD talks about beginning of Perrin's ability to attract armies. WH talks about Perrin as a lover. CoT talks about Perrin's weakness of getting too much focused. KoD is one of the main books for Perrin's character upheaval. ToM talks about how Perrin closes up weaknesses to become a good leader and general.

In all, RJ kept Perrin true, the sole character whom one can actually relate himself/herself with. With everyone else already having some history, it was remarkable from RJ to create and develop a character like Perrin.

I respect RJ's character-development only because of Rand and Perrin.

#2 Elgee

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:53 AM

You've actually made me see Perrin in a new light. *nods and ponders*

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#3 yoniy0

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 02:24 AM

Well, yeah, though I never disliked Perrin. His growth was a bit heavy-handed in ToM, but you really can't fault RJ for that.

However, he's far from the only example of personal growth in the books. Rand, you talked about, though in his case it was mostly personal decay :smile:. But both Nynaeve's and Egwene's arcs show a lot of maturing, and coming to think about it, so does Siuan's, and Moiraine's (although her story was always shrouded in mystery, so it was much subtler). I don't mean that we see them being more mature, but that we can actually see the changes happen from their perspectives (again, with Moiraine it's mostly hinted at by the things she says and does). Truly, RJ's characters are what makes tWoT what it is.
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#4 James al'Dylan

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 03:43 AM

I agree. I've always thought that Perrin was RJ's best developed character (I even wondered if there was a bit more of the author himself there). The only Perrin POV I don't like is the spiral he goes into when Faile is taken by the Shaido, which I find a bit (very) boring, but this is kind of part of the overall lull the whole series goes through. What I like about Perrin is the way he struggles with his emotions and the savagery within himself. His shame at killing comes very early on and is something that comes through very powerfully. I also like the way, like the other Two Rivers male characters, he stumbles through things but in his case pushed on by the ever ambitious Faile. He's possibly the most hen-pecked character in fantasy, which I find quite amusing! The whole dreamspike fight with Slayer was incredibly gripping in my view.

#5 dexterryu

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:58 PM

I've always enjoyed Perrin as a character. Some of his storyline dragged a bit with the Faile capture, but that was his storyline and not him.

#6 Elan Tedronai

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:07 PM

Did you hear that sound? that's the sound of me wheezing for breath as i laugh my head off. Perrin aybara the most complex character? A comatose brain dead squirrel is more complex than the wolf doofus.

Most pointless character of the major characters after elayne ofcourse. Jordan just killed him in the latter books

#7 muddasssir

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 03:47 PM

Elan come on man even I am not that focused on Egwene hate. Mowbray raised some pretty neat points there and you have to grant it. I ave personally strongly disliked ok hated his story arc since LoC but that is why I hated Faile so much. She had destroyed a perfectly good character. I also have to agree wit the characterization aspect. It has been one of the main strengths of the books. On thhe whole a good post.

#8 Elan Tedronai

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 03:59 PM

Elan come on man even I am not that focused on Egwene hate. Mowbray raised some pretty neat points there and you have to grant it. I ave personally strongly disliked ok hated his story arc since LoC but that is why I hated Faile so much. She had destroyed a perfectly good character. I also have to agree wit the characterization aspect. It has been one of the main strengths of the books. On thhe whole a good post.


some characters started off badly in the series and became better and better as it goes on.

In perrin's case it's the complete opposite. The first 4 books were very good. It went downhill from there.

I have never seen a grown man whinge and moan as much as perrin. 'Oh i dont want to be a leader waah, my beautiful faile, she's gone, the shaido took her waaah etc etc.

It was frankly nauseating to read

#9 Randommer

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 04:41 PM

Yeah I've always liked Perrin, and in general I think it was his overly drawn-out Shaido arc that irked most people more than his actual character. Though some people did think he was too emo about the wolf thing, but if he'd been doing more interesting stuff while he was at it, they mightn't have minded so much.

But what you have to give Perrin is this, imo: while other WoT characters can be relied upon to do things that you know will end badly and you just want to beat them for, Perrin tends to be pretty smart. He never really pisses anyone off, and he never really makes big mistakes. It can be kinda refreshing when you've just finished reading about Rand or Egwene being stupid again.

Have to disagree with the OP about one thing though; I think Faile has given him some pretty valuable advice about leadership.

#10 cwbys21

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 08:41 PM

I have never seen a grown man whinge and moan as much as perrin. 'Oh i dont want to be a leader waah, my beautiful faile, she's gone, the shaido took her waaah etc etc.

It was frankly nauseating to read

In fantasy, the main character's lust for power is pretty common place, so for Robert Jordan to write a character that is supposed to be so integral to the survival of the world to shy away from power is actually rather refreshing. And yes, a young man with a beautiful new wife is depressed she got kidnapped, more breaking news at 11.

#11 Suttree

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 08:54 PM

And yes, a young man with a beautiful new wife is depressed she got kidnapped, more breaking news at 11.


The breaking news to me is that he was ready to literally make a deal with the DO to get her back. With TG on the doorstep and him being so integral apparently that was pretty shocking. I understand it was his wife but that is shady, not to mention incredibly selfish.
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#12 Agitel

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:37 PM

Perrin's arc suffered simply because of how long it was. You can really tell that Jordan intended this series to be much shorter than it was when looking at his arc. It takes him thirteen books to resolve an inner conflict that started in the first one.

I like Perrin's character. I don't hate his arc. I actually like Faile and his romance with her. But ultimately the extension of this series hurt his arc. It would have been nice if he's resolved most of his inner demons far sooner.

#13 Azrayne

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 12:00 AM

I'm gonna agree with Elan, when Perrin went back to TR I expected great things, the Rebirth of Manetheren, etc, instead we got a lot of bitching about how people treat him and then a long and pointless (to the plot) chase after Faile. Perrin is just a filler character who doesn't do a whole lot of anything, and it shows in the disdain people have for him.

#14 David Selig

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 12:39 AM


I have never seen a grown man whinge and moan as much as perrin. 'Oh i dont want to be a leader waah, my beautiful faile, she's gone, the shaido took her waaah etc etc.

It was frankly nauseating to read

In fantasy, the main character's lust for power is pretty common place, so for Robert Jordan to write a character that is supposed to be so integral to the survival of the world to shy away from power is actually rather refreshing.

What? The reluctant hero/leader is one of the most overused tropes in fantasy, and Perrin's case is one of those in which this reluctance makes the least sense. He's basically beaten over the head that the Pattern itself has chosen him for it and it will be necessary for him to act in those capacities, everybody keeps telling him he's doing a great job, yet he still whines and whines and whines...

I'd say characters like Egwene and Elayne, who are openly ambitious and like to be leaders, yet are on the side of the Good and are presented (mostly) in positive light, are more refreshing.

Edited by David Selig, 10 April 2012 - 01:19 AM.

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#15 yoniy0

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 01:11 AM

I agree. Little baby-Amyrlin-Egwene was sooo cute in Ravens. You can feel the ambition coming off her in waves. However, I don't think Perrin's your typical run-of-the-mill reluctant hero. Rand fills that role better - he reluctantly accepts the yoke of responsibility when it's thrust upon him. Perrin, on the other hand, shrieks from it. He allows his followers to come along, and actually does expect their obedience when he wants something, but he doesn't feel obligated to lead when they need him. It is refreshing in the sense that's it definitely isn't a cliché, I guess.
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#16 MowbrayDeadOrAlive

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 01:28 AM

Perrin's arc suffered simply because of how long it was. You can really tell that Jordan intended this series to be much shorter than it was when looking at his arc. It takes him thirteen books to resolve an inner conflict that started in the first one.

I like Perrin's character. I don't hate his arc. I actually like Faile and his romance with her. But ultimately the extension of this series hurt his arc. It would have been nice if he's resolved most of his inner demons far sooner.


Friend, the Shaido-episode contained three main factors, all of which will play an important role later on:

1. Perrin undergoing drastic character-change;
2. Perrin's biggest weakness, which had been hidden till now unlike Rand and Mat, has been exposed;
3. Perrin's deal with Seanchan. Mind you, this thing is going to play a very important role in AMoL, especially when Rand needs to strike an alliance with the Empire;
4. Shaido thrown back to the Waste;
5. Faile's attitude-change;
6. End of Masema; and
7. Beginning of Perrin's commandeering

Personally, I think no other character had this many factors counting in. Rand's wait for Sammael stretched for 3 books, his encounter with next Forsaken took another 4 books, Egwene's WT crisis took ridiculously 8 books, Elayne's recapture of Andor took 3 books, Mat-Tuon saga took 3 books and so on ...

And this was only for one factor. In Perrin-Shaido's case, there were seven. So it was expected to take time. Anyway, personally thinking, this whole matter was wrapped up pretty well.

Well, you can't expect your protagonist to be flashy all the time. Mat and Rand are enough for that. With everyone too fast, Perrin's character in the series is a breather.

#17 Kael Pyralis

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 05:48 AM



I have never seen a grown man whinge and moan as much as perrin. 'Oh i dont want to be a leader waah, my beautiful faile, she's gone, the shaido took her waaah etc etc.

It was frankly nauseating to read

In fantasy, the main character's lust for power is pretty common place, so for Robert Jordan to write a character that is supposed to be so integral to the survival of the world to shy away from power is actually rather refreshing.

What? The reluctant hero/leader is one of the most overused tropes in fantasy, and Perrin's case is one of those in which this reluctance makes the least sense. He's basically beaten over the head that the Pattern itself has chosen him for it and it will be necessary for him to act in those capacities, everybody keeps telling him he's doing a great job, yet he still whines and whines and whines...

I'd say characters like Egwene and Elayne, who are openly ambitious and like to be leaders, yet are on the side of the Good and are presented (mostly) in positive light, are more refreshing.


cwbys21's assertion here blew my mind. I hunt through books to find a good story of an ambitious or at least capable/responsible heroes. They are incredibly rare in the fantasy genre. Though they make be becoming more common as we FINALLY get away from the Tolkien-esk stereotypical fantasy and branch out. I agree with Selig for the most part.

What may have made it a little more interesting, is if he had tested the pattern's limits. It's interesting that in the 2Rs he does almost nothing except reiterate the answers people bring to him, and they leave saying, "oh you're such a great leader!". In response, Perrin mopes around complaining. What would have been interested is if he tried doing something else. "Well, if I have to lead then I'll do it on my own terms" type thing. Maybe get frustrated at one point and purposely demand a bad decision and have the pattern fix it for him and still end up giving him the credit. Then he'd have a real reason to be fatalistically depressed. But the crybaby attitude is infuriating.
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#18 Barid Bel Medar

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 06:42 AM




I have never seen a grown man whinge and moan as much as perrin. 'Oh i dont want to be a leader waah, my beautiful faile, she's gone, the shaido took her waaah etc etc.

In fantasy, the main character's lust for power is pretty common place, so for Robert Jordan to write a character that is supposed to be so integral to the survival of the world to shy away from power is actually rather refreshing.

What? The reluctant hero/leader is one of the most overused tropes in fantasy


cwbys21's assertion here blew my mind. I hunt through books to find a good story of an ambitious or at least capable/responsible heroes. They are incredibly rare in the fantasy genre. Though they make be becoming more common as we FINALLY get away from the Tolkien-esk stereotypical fantasy and branch out. I agree with Selig for the most part.


Just in regards to this. It depends what time frame you are looking at. The reluctant hero is rather modern. Modern as in Tolkien onwards. Before that, in Medieval, Greek, Roman "fantasy" (myths and such I can count as fantasy? Beowulf and that?) it is as cwbys21 says, ambition and lust for power by the hero was commonplace.

Although, I certainly agree that it HAS become commonplace in the last 50 years or so, I just thought I would defend cwbys21 for TECHNICALLY, he does have a point. Although I am not sure if this was was meant, since the reluctant hero has become, as mentioned, rather cliché.

Edit: Please don't bother dredging up a list of every "reluctant hero" story before 1900's, yes, there were undoubtedly a lot around, but it was never enough to become cliché, proud ambitious heroes have dominated until recently.

Edited by Barid Bel Medar, 10 April 2012 - 06:47 AM.

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#19 Azrayne

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 08:34 AM

I'm curious, is there anyone who actually seriously enjoys Perrin as a character? Forget all the analysis and literary commentary, does anyone actually turn the page when reading WOT and go 'awesome, a Perrin chapter!'?

#20 Rulius

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 08:51 AM

I'm curious, is there anyone who actually seriously enjoys Perrin as a character? Forget all the analysis and literary commentary, does anyone actually turn the page when reading WOT and go 'awesome, a Perrin chapter!'?


Only in ToM did i come close. I skipped 90 percent of the Faile/Shaido arc because.. well nothing happned for what 3 books?

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