Warning for Spoilers. So many spoilers. FO r everything.
Ok so the first thing that Faile does once she joins the party is embarrass herself, because she chose for herself the same name as Lan’s horse. Which was just hilarious. She was all indignant bc she didn’t know, and it was cute. Plus Faile is a babe with knives who won’t put up with your shit. That same phrase describes me p accurately (just ask addyaddyaintgotnodaddy), and is partially why I identify with Faile. She’s also very insecure, and that manifests itself in many ways throughout the series (The Berelain Thing freaks her out because she thinks Berelain is hotter than her, so she’s worried that she’s not good enough; she hates embarassing herself so she’s always trying to cover any emotion but anger; she goes overboard when she does express her anger because she’s trying to cover mistakes and such – these are all responses due to insecurity she feels). She’s fiery and independent, but if she cares about you, you know you’re in good hands because she will do whatever she can to protect you.
Fast forward to when she’s captured. She completely focuses on how she can escape with her people. She doesn’t sit around wondering when Perrin will get there, even though she knows he must be trying. Faile plans and thinks and does what she can to reassure the people that look up to her. Sometimes she slips and thinks about Perrin rescuing her, but she immediately corrects herself because the only thing she knows she can rely on completely is herself. Because taking it upon herself to provide the means for escape gives her and the people that look up to her hope. If she just gave in and waited for Perrin, everyone would’ve lost hope and they would likely have broken under the pressure of being Gai’shain. It’s only when she’s absolutely desperate, and there’s literally nothing possible left for her to do that she starts hoping for Perrin to show up soon. And even then, while Maighdin exhausts herself nearly to death using the Power to attract attention while they are trapped, Faile never stops talking and encouraging her, because that’s the only way she can help.
Yeah, she has her problems. The way she dealt with the Ways situation really bothered me, for one. Sometimes Faile is borderline abusive, and that’s not ok. But a lot of these behaviors are cultural. (Disclaimer: This is not intended to excuse Faile’s behavior. Just to explain it.) There are a lot of cultural differences between the Two Rivers and Saldaea, but since they’re on the same general side of the continent, this isn’t as obvious to the characters or the readers. Wetlanders and the Aiel? Obviously they’re going to have cultural differences, so the characters are more prepared for it. They can work across communication issues better when they are fully aware of the extent of the cultural differences. So the differences between Saldaea and the Two Rivers are overlooked, at least partly.
Saldaeans are weird about conflict. Faile wants Perrin to instinctively understand what she wants and the way she wants to deal with confllict, because she would reasonably expect a Saldaean man to be able to. She forgets that Perrin was never taught to guess what women think; the Two Rivers guys are all taught that women are indecipherable and they can never figure them out, so why bother? Faile wants Perrin to get visibly angry and yell, because to her, if he isn’t yelling then clearly he doesn’t think she can handle it and yell back; but Perrin avoids getting angry because he was taught that anger expressed verbally or physically can be destructive, especially with his strength.
Neither of these views are inherently better, but since we get mainly Perrin POV chapters when these conflicts occur, most readers see Faile as unreasonable while Perrin is confused.
Also, it’s very important to note that Faile recognizes when her anger/jealousy is petty and pointless. In these cases, she tries to hide it because she is fully aware that it would be silly to act on these feelings. However, Perrin can smell in her scent that she is angry, regardless of how well Faile visibly hides it. Faile is unaware of this, and Perrin doesn’t think to tell her, so he thinks she’s ridiculously angry and is refusing to talk about it, when Faile thinks that she is successfully hiding her anger. So she denies being angry when asked.
about The Berelain Thing: I’m going to start off saying that Faile, Perrin, and Berelain could have handled this better. Faile and Perrin should have talked to each other more. Miscommunication is a huge thing in this series, for all of the characters, so that’s not particularly surprising. But also Faile gets jealous so easily, it’s ridiculous. I’m not a jealous person. I don’t understand this at all. It literally makes no sense to me that someone who knows their partner cares about them would freak out when someone else makes a move on them. Perrin rejected Berelain??? So why is Faile still freaking out??????? Why did it take more than one chapter to resolve this???????? I literally do not know.
Also, Berelain needed to chill sooner. It’s way out of character for her to: a) not understand Perrin’s rejection, and/or b) not respect Perrin’s rejection. She’s politically savvy and is used to manipulating people, so… did RJ somehow forget that?? Berelain understands subtlety. She proved that in Cairhien. And it doesn’t make sense for her to continue to go after Perrin, because that would be politically disastrous if she did it to the wrong person. It would destroy her reputation. (ex: if Berelain doesn’t understand the delicate process of wooing someone, how could she understand how to properly run a country? That requires a great deal more subtlety and manipulation.) I’m still debating whether or not it was in character for Berelain to manipulate the perception of others so that everyone thinks she and Perrin slept together while Faile was gone. It’s clever, but a jerk move all the same. I dunno, I wish there was a scene where Faile talks to Berelain and is like “Hey. Chill, Ok? Thanks.” And then they could be best friends, because they are quite similar in some aspects.
Here’s a quote from a Faile POV in Path of Daggers (p633):
“By some miracle, her husband, her beloved wolf, had begun behaving as he should. Instead of shouting at Berelain or running from her, Perrin now tolerated the jade’s blandishments, plainly tolerated them the way he would a child playing around his knees. And best of all, there was no longer any need to tamp down her anger when she wanted to let it loose. When she shouted, he shouted back. She knew he was not Saldaean, but it had been so hard, thinking in her heart of hearts that he believed her too weak to stand up to him.”
tl;dr: The above quote is helpful in understanding Faile’s thought process, and I think a lot of people that dislike her just don’t understand why she is the way she is. She has her faults, but at the core she’s a good person, she’s a good ruler, and she really cares about Perrin.
My artwork for the Post it 11 show! I’m delighted to be 1 of 450 artists included in the show at Giant Robot Gallery in LA this December. Fun to just draw with pencils and no digital tools for a change. Definitely a small homage to Edward Gorey in there.