This subsection contains information on and discussion of puzzles and questions related to happenings and people which are connected to the Shadow.
In [TFOH: 34, A Silver Arrow, 390], Nynaeve and Birgitte are eavesdropping on the Forsaken Conference in Tel'aran'rhiod. Rahvin says, "He [Rand] will concentrate on you [Sammael], ... If need be, one close to him will die, plainly at your order. He will come for you. And while he is fixed on you alone, the three of us, linked, will take him. What has changed to alter any of that?" So, it seems Melindhra was ordered to kill Mat with a golden bee dagger (golden bees are the symbol of Illian, where Sammael was situated), if the need arose. Mat told her that Rand was going to Caemlyn, instead of "concentrating on Sammael", and she attacked Mat right away [TFOH: 51, News Comes To Cairhien, 617], in an attempt to return his attention to Sammael.
Isam is Lan's blood cousin. Isam is first mentioned late in TEOTW. In [TEOTW: 47, More Tales of the Wheel, 595], Agelmar begins his tale of the history of the fall of Malkier. Briefly, it is revealed that al'Lan Mandragoran is the son of al'Akir and el'Leanna. Al'Akir had a brother, Lain Mandragoran, who was wed to Breyan. Lain and Breyan were parents to a child named Isam (see section 2.5.1 for the family tree).
Agelmar goes on to explain Breyan's jealousy and grief over her husband's death in the Blasted Lands, and her plot with Cowin Fairheart, hero and Darkfriend, to seize the throne for her son Isam. This plot failed, and Breyan fled south with her infant son Isam, and was overtaken by Trollocs. Their bodies were never recovered.
It was at this time that el'Leanna and al'Akir sent their own infant son, al'Lan, south to Fal Moran to safety. The Glossary of LOC places al'Lan's date of birth in 953 NE, and [Guide: 28, The Borderlands, 247] places both Lan's birth and the fall of Malkier in 953 NE. Since Isam was also an infant at this time, he was likely born no earlier than 951 NE. Thus we can surmise that these events took place no later than 956 NE.
Lord Luc is the brother of Tigraine, former Daughter-Heir of Andor, and thus Rand's blood uncle (see section 2.5.1 for the family tree). In [TEOTW: 34, The Last Village, 441] we learn that Luc is believed to have died in the Blight while ostensibly in training to become the First Prince of the Sword. Tigraine later vanished, before she'd properly assumed her throne.
Later, in [TSR: 34, He Who Comes With The Dawn, 392] we learn that Tigraine ran off to become a Maiden of the Spear with the Aiel at the directions of Gitara Moroso Sedai, some four years before Laman's Sin. The Glossary of TSR places the Aiel War, which began as a direct result of Laman's Sin, from 976 to 978 NE. Thus, Tigraine disappeared circa 972 NE. Tigraine joined the Aiel in the Waste, became known as Shaiel, fell in love with Janduin, and went on to conceive and bear Rand al'Thor (see section 2.4.10).
On the next page, we learn that Janduin, Rand's biological father, was killed on a venture to the Blasted Lands by a man who looked so like Shaiel (who was really Tigraine, Luc's sister) that Janduin would not raise his spear. This is almost certainly Lord Luc, and is in the third year of the Aiel War, 978 NE.
Finally, in [LOC: 16, Tellings of the Wheel, 277] we learn that Luc himself may have been sent into the Blight by Gitara Moroso Sedai. After his disappearance, a year before Tigraine's flight, or about 971 NE, rumors whispered that Gitara sent him to find fame, or fate, or the Dragon Reborn or the Last Battle. Given her connection with Tigraine's flight, it seems very likely that the rumors are true.
Thus the timeline as we know it is:
Slayer is some form of combination of Luc and Isam, joined in a sort of split personality. While Luc and Isam seem to have separate mental existences and identities, the wolves of the Unseen World think of the construct as Slayer because of his penchant for killing wolves in that place, so the total construct is often referred to as Slayer in discussion.
The first reference tying Luc and Isam together in any way comes from the Dark Prophecy, scrawled on the walls in Fal Dara after the Trolloc raid. The relevant stanza [TGH: 7, Blood Calls Blood, 89] says:
Luc came to the Mountains of Dhoom.
Isam waited in the high passes.
The hunt is now begun. The Shadow's hounds now course, and kill.
One did live, and one did die, but both are.
The Time of Change has come.
The exact interpretation of this stanza is uncertain, but clearly, Isam survived the Trollocs as long as circa 971 NE, when Luc went north into the Blight. Curiously, Luc and Isam would have been roughly the same age, as well. There was evidently a confrontation; one died, one lived, but both still exist in some combination.
Now, the first time we encounter Luc or Isam in person, rather than as background, is in those segments of TSR set around Perrin's trip back home to the Two Rivers.
The middle-aged Lord Luc who arrives in the Two Rivers, claiming to help the villagers with the Whitecloaks and Trollocs, is that same Luc. His age and coloring are correct, and Perrin muses that if he resembles anyone, it is Rand. A cousinly resemblance, no doubt. Luc is Rand's blood uncle.
In [TSR: 28, To the Tower of Ghenjei, 320-325] Perrin has several encounters in the Unseen World. One is with a man who tries to kill him, a man with a cold, inhuman scent to Perrin's nose. Hopper later identifies this dangerous creature as "Slayer" after Slayer leads Perrin on a chase to the Tower of Ghenjei. Then Birgitte appears. She identifies the Tower, connects it with the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn, and warns Perrin away from it and from Slayer.
Later, Perrin sees Slayer in the Unseen World looking much like Lan, dressed and styled in the Malkieri fashion [TSR: 42, A Missing Leaf, 476]. He muses that the man looked enough like Lan to be a brother. This is Slayer as the Isam persona.
In [TSR: 53, The Price of a Departure, 614-615] Perrin faces Slayer in the Unseen World, and shoots him with an arrow. Slayer disappears from the Unseen World, and when Perrin wakes up, learns that Lord Luc had suddenly run off as if wounded.
Here, Perrin connects the two. He notes the simultaneity of the wounds, and notes the same icy, inhuman smell from both of them. Traveling to the Unseen World in the flesh is said to cause a loss of one's humanity. Both these effects are hints that Slayer not only accesses the Unseen World, but does so in the flesh.
In [TSR: 56, Goldeneyes, 645-646] the Trollocs in the Two Rivers form a battle cry out of the name Isam. This is our first indication that though his activities may seem to be limited to the Unseen World, the Isam persona of Slayer can exert influence on the real world.
We don't see Slayer again until WH. The information we gain there, though, has led to considerable revision of our earlier assumptions about Slayer's nature, abilities, and role in the series.
The TSR encounter led us to conclude that Luc and Isam were parts of a single being, aptly named Slayer by the wolves he kills in the Unseen World. We know from Egwene's training what some of the properties of the Unseen World are. Relevant properties here include the loss of one's humanity (as in, a cold, icy, inhuman scent coming from both Luc and Isam) after repeatedly going to the Unseen World in the flesh, and the Unseen World's tendency to reflect the traveler's mental state.
Furthermore, since in TSR we only saw Luc in the real world and Isam only in Tel'aran'rhiod, it seemed safe to assume that Luc was the "one who lived" in the Dark Prophecy stanza, and that the dead Isam was now somehow piloting Luc's body. The logical conclusion was that Slayer could only appear as Luc in the real world and only as Isam in Tel'aran'rhiod. But this doesn't jibe at all with what we see in WH.
The first time we see him, he's not specifically named, but it's pretty obvious that the man spying on the Supergirls in [WH: 10, A Plan Succeeds, 240-241] is Luc: "A man was standing there watching, a man as tall as an Aielman, with dark red hair faintly streaked with white, but his high-collared blue coat would never be worn by an Aiel"..."his hard face seemed somehow familiar"..."'Rand,' Egwene said. 'He could have been Rand's uncle.' Of course, Elayne thought. If Rand had a mean uncle." It doesn't get much clearer than that. What's important to note is that it was Luc the girls see in T'A'R, not Isam.
The second time we see Slayer in WH is his assassination attempt on Rand, in [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 447-449]. First we see Isam, in T'A'R, studying his victims-to-be; then: "...he carefully unsheathed the two poisoned daggers and stepped out of the Unseen World into the waking. As he did, he became Luc. It seemed appropriate". Note the last sentence. It was not necessary to become Luc - just appropriate. Further down the page he muses that he had been given "many gifts", though immunity to poison or weapons was not among them. Then he steps back into T'A'R as Luc, and only switches back to Isam after talking to his mystery employer (see section 1.4.4).
Well, that blows our previous theory right out of the water. This passage demonstrates that Slayer can appear as either Luc or Isam in the Unseen World; and strongly implies (though does not state) that he can appear as Luc or Isam in the world of the flesh as well (because he was Isam when he murdered Amico and Joiya - see below).
It's worth noting here that we only see Slayer actually switching from one man to the other in T'A'R, so it's still reasonable to assume that even if he can choose to be either Luc or Isam in the waking world, he can only change from one to the other in the Unseen World.
It also seems clear that both Luc and Isam's personalities have survived intact, and that Luc is just as evil as Isam. In fact, they seem to be quite the bosom buddies.
However, this new information still doesn't cast a lot of light on how this merge of two people came to be, and in fact muddies the issue even more. If Slayer is not a case of possession, then what the hell is he? How much of Luc's future did Gitara Moroso see when she sent Luc to his doom?
(As to the last question, Mike Edenfield offers: "Note that when Elaida has a Foretelling about the Last Battle, the most she can get out of it is that 'The royal line of Andor' is involved. Mayhaps Gitara's Foretelling didn't specify which sibling needed to be sent harrying off to wherever, so she sent them both.")
[John Novak, Pam Korda, Leigh Butler]
Hopper says that Slayer is in T'A'R "in the flesh." Folks have taken this as evidence that Slayer can channel. There is no reason to suppose this. In fact, there are many reasons to think that he cannot channel.
First, we will consider the idea that Slayer can channel the TP, but not the OP. Moghedien believes that you have to be able to channel the OP in order to channel the TP. While she may be mistaken, there is no reason to assume so. Of the 30 people Moggy knows who were permitted to use the TP, all 30 were channelers of the OP. Why should Slayer be different?
Now, for the question of whether Slayer can channel at all. If Slayer could channel when he was in the Two Rivers, why didn't he? It would certainly have aided him in his missions to do away with Fain and Perrin. Even if we assume that he didn't because he would rather fail totally than chance anybody getting suspicious, why didn't he channel at Perrin in T'A'R? [TSR: 53, The Price of a Departure, 614] The only person to see would have been Perrin, and Perrin would have been dead. He used a bloody arrow to try to kill Perrin with. That was the best he could manage.
In the big battle at Emond's Field, the AS, of course, were an advantage to Perrin's side, but if Isam could channel, he could have done something to counter that advantage. He clearly didn't (of course, he'd been shot at that point, but if he could channel, he could have left, gotten somebody to heal him, and returned for the fight).
Finally, this question was answered directly by RJ at a signing. From the post-ACOS signing at Vancouver, 24 August 1996, reported by Lara Beaton: "Slayer: Can't channel. ... He has certain 'gifts' granted to him by the DO, but can't channel either the OP or the TP."
This information is corroborated by Slayer's POV in WH, in which he thinks about how "He could not use Tel'aran'rhiod the way the Chosen could..." [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 447], and that he had been given "many gifts" [ibid., 448]. Clearly, then, some of these gifts are his body-switching and traveling abilities in T'A'R, which are something equivalent to, but not the same as, entering T'A'R through a Gateway. We don't know yet what other gifts he has been given.
Why all the confusion about whether Slayer travels via T'A'R in the flesh? Well, firstly because prior to WH we didn't know there was a way to enter T'A'R in the flesh without using a Gateway, but also because of events in TSR. The first time Perrin sees Slayer in TSR Hopper tells him Slayer is there in the flesh, but the last time - when Perrin shot him - Slayer was evidently there in the old-fashioned way, by dreaming. How do we know this?
Well, the sequence of events goes like this: Perrin is sleeping. Perrin dreams the wolf dream, and sees Slayer (looking like Isam). He shoots Slayer with an arrow, producing a wound in the chest. Then: "Slayer faded, him and his cry together, growing misty, transparent, vanishing." (NOT like he stepped out of T'A'R, as he is described doing in WH, but like he woke up.) Perrin then wakes up, hears a commotion, asks what's going on, and finds out that Luc's just run off on his horse, hunched over like he's got a wound. He was NOT wounded earlier. Now, why would he have to escape from town if he was PHYSICALLY in T'A'R? He could just have run someplace else in T'A'R and exited there. Much easier, and safer. The whole scene is consistent with all the stuff we've heard before about people being wounded while dreaming in T'A'R, and having the wounds on their physical bodies.
So the issue was muddy, to say the least. The obvious question to ask here is if Slayer can step in and out of T'A'R wherever he'd like, why didn't he jump back into T'A'R from the inn after waking up, rather than riding off in the real world?
Two reasons: one, his injuries may have made him too weak to jump back into T'A'R; and two, he thought Perrin was still in T'A'R, waiting to finish him off [Scott Spiegelberg].
[John Novak, Leigh Butler]
In [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 448-449], Slayer, as Luc, uses poisoned daggers to kill a man and a woman, realizes they were not the ones he was after, and then steps into the Unseen World. There he meets his "patron of the moment", who tells him to wait before trying again and to say nothing about the matter. Luc thinks this is too bad, since he had been looking forward to killing "his nephew and the wench".
Clearly, this refers to Rand and Min (Luc is Rand's uncle), and just as clearly Slayer was ordered to kill Rand (secretly) at this patron's command. The question, then, is who's giving these orders?
Slayer's current master uses a strong disguise woven of the One Power which makes it absolutely impossible to see or hear him clearly enough for any identification. Slayer believes that his current master is a male, and that therefore he is a male Forsaken, as no other man who could channel would know him, know how to contact him, or dare to command him, though he notes that none of the Forsaken he had met had ever taken such precautions.
At that point, the surviving male Forsaken are Ishamael/Moridin, Aginor/Osan'gar, Balthamel/Aran'gar, and Demandred.
(Sammael was an early favorite for the identity of Slayer's boss, but RJ's assertion that he died in ACOS means we must reject him as a candidate (see section 1.1.1), though there is an outside possibility, I suppose, that it may be a reincarnated Sammael. There is no evidence to suggest that, though, and one would presume that if Sammy had been resurrected, Moridin would know about it and be busily reining Sammael in, just like all the other FS.)
It's unlikely that Moridin would have a motive to disguise himself so thoroughly. He's Nae'blis - who would he need to hide from? Especially since it is obviously common knowledge among the Forsaken that Moridin is already using Slayer to hunt Fain [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 316].
Demandred, on the other hand, has both a strong motive to kill Rand (personal hatred) and a good reason to want to disguise himself - to hide what he's doing from Moridin. Slayer, on Moridin's orders, is supposed to be doing something else right now (killing Fain), and commanding him to go after Rand would obviously interfere with that task [Fairfax McCandlish]. A point further in Demandred's favor is that he already had his own "kill Rand" plans set in motion in TPOD and WH (i.e. the Fearsome Foursome), so employing Slayer as a backup fits his M.O. In addition to this, Demandred's link with the Fab Four means he would have known where to tell Slayer to look for Rand; remember, up until Gedwyn, Torval, Rochaid, and Kisman put together all the clues Rand had left behind and followed him to Far Madding, none of the bad guys knew where Rand was.
Osan'gar, as Dashiva, took part in a previous attempt to kill Rand after Rand made known his intent to cleanse the Taint in TPOD (see section 1.4.10) so he has a motive to employ Slayer (and the same reason as Demandred to disguise himself). However, Osan'gar is terrified of Moridin [WH: 35, With The Choedan Kal, 646]. It's doubtful, therefore, that he would even attempt to commandeer one of Moridin's personal lackeys and risk discovery. Plus there's no reason to think he would know where to find Rand, anyway - Kisman's POV makes it clear that Dashiva had had no further contact with the Fab Four after the TPOD attack [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 441].
Aran'gar has no known motive, and is mentioned only because she might appear as a male in the Unseen World.
It is also possible that Slayer's current master is Mazrim Taim.
While Taim is not Demandred, he is most likely a Darkfriend (and possibly something more than that), which could plausibly provide him with knowledge of Slayer and how to contact him. His disguise would be motivated by preventing Slayer from knowing that someone other than a Forsaken is commanding him (not to mention keeping it secret from the Forsaken themselves). Taim certainly appears to be ambitious and ruthless enough to attempt such a subterfuge. Taim, like Demandred, also has his association with the renegade Asha'man in his favor (i.e. he could have known from them to tell Slayer to look in Far Madding).
Also, Slayer's comment about how non-Forsaken would not dare try to command him is too taunting. [Oleg Ozerov].
It is worth noting, though, that the chapter icon for "Out of Thin Air" is associated with the Forsaken (the snaky square), which suggests that Slayer's assumption is actually correct [Jean Dufresne]. But, Matt Hackell counters, "In the later books this connection has broken down far enough that it can only be corroborating evidence, not counterevidence, especially when another BIG BAD (such as Shaidar Haran, Fain, or Slayer) is in the chapter."
In conclusion, it seems that the two best candidates for Slayer's mystery employer are Demandred and Mazrim Taim.
[Pam Korda, Leigh Butler]
[Contributors: Bryon Wasserman, J. R. Feehan, Fred Van Keuls, Ryan Ward, Drew Tipson]
One loony theory that had been brought up is that SH is Ishamael re-incarnated, as one way to explain SH's more unusual attributes. Ishamael's old Trolloc nickname was Ba'alzamon, "Heart of the Dark"; while Shaidar Haran means "Hand of the Dark/Shadow." Pretty similar, although it could very easily be a coincidence. However, all of SH's attributes can be just as easily explained by assuming that he was specially created by the DO to have those attributes. Also, from the information we get about Moridin in ACOS, TPOD, and WH (see section 1.2.3), Moridin is indubitably Ishamael. To head off the obvious loony idea at the pass, recall that we've seen SH's thoughts in [ACOS: 40, Spears, 636-637], and Moridin's in [TPOD: Prologue, Deceptive Appearances, 42-44] and [TPOD: 2, Unweaving, 81-84], and they are clearly not the same person. (For one thing, Moridin has eyes, unlike SH.)
Another SH theory is that SH is a physical/corporeal manifestation of the DO, and this theory is strengthened considerably by events in COT.
In [COT: 21, A Mark, 515-518], Shaidar Haran appears in the Tower to chastise Mesaana for failing to show at the Cleansing, and in the process displays some new abilities. In addition to cutting Mesaana off from the OP and shattering her Illusion disguise, he uses something like Illusion himself: "The creature grew as it spoke, swelling in size till its head brushed the ceiling, over two spans up." He also somehow marks Alviarin as "his":
"You are marked as mine," the Great Lord rasped. "Mesaana will not harm you, now. Unless I give her permission."
It's not exactly clear what this "mark" entails; some suggestions are a Warder-like bond or possibly some type of "black cord" connection to the DO like Rand sees on Ishy and Asmodean. Ryan Ward offers, "Or [it] just branded her as really important so Mesaana (and perhaps the other Forsaken) would know not to rough her up. Sort of like the mark Cain got, maybe."
Even more interesting, SH for the first time speaks as if he were the DO: "You were summoned, and you did not come. My hand reaches far, Mesaana." And, referring to the Black Ajah, "You will find who threatens my creatures here and deliver them to me." Perhaps most telling of all, he indicates past knowledge of Mesaana, telling her "You were always... overly wasteful."
The entire scene seemed to strongly suggest that SH is the DO incarnate. Alviarin is certainly convinced of it. Not everyone else is, though.
One objection that has commonly been brought up is how can the DO be in two places at the same time, i.e. in the Pit of Doom and in Shaidar Haran? And how can the DO be imprisoned at SG if he's free to walk around as SH? It's also been pointed out that SH didn't THINK IN ALL CAPS in his POV scene, either - or when speaking to Mesaana and Alviarin, for that matter.
These objections can be addressed by being more specific about what SH could be: the avatar of the DO. The definition of "avatar" varies; the Hindu version (from which the word is derived) defines an avatar as "the descent of a deity to earth, and his incarnation as a man or an animal", but a more interesting definition (for our purposes) is "A temporary manifestation or aspect of a continuing entity." The difference between the two is subtle, but significant.
Maybe SH was a special Fade that the DO made as a receptacle for part of his consciousness. This would make him more of an extension (or maybe a familiar) of the DO, rather than the DO incarnate. Maybe the relationship is, as Christian Neubauer suggests, "SH is to the DO as Jesus is to God?" (Not in the father-son sense, but in the "three aspects, one divinity" kind of way.) All are variations on the same basic idea of the avatar.
But what about the above ACOS quote? "A faint weakness washed along its limbs. Too long away from Shayol Ghul. That tie had to be severed somehow." Wouldn't that seem to indicate SH has a will independent of the DO, since he wants to escape his tie to him?
Well, not necessarily. The quote could be interpreted as the DO remarking on how great it would be if his avatar were freer to move around without having to periodically return to SG to get "recharged". Or, alternately, maybe SH does have a separate consciousness, when the DO isn't using him as a vehicle; that doesn't cancel out the possibility that he is also an avatar of the DO.
Of course, SH could very well be just what he seems: the DO's spokesmyrddraal, and the whole "speaking as the DO" business is just a display put on to cow the DO's minions into obedience.
Either way, SH is pretty damn powerful, so now the logical question to ask is why isn't the DO using his Superfade/avatar/whatever he is to go do some real damage to the good guys, rather than just having him swat naughty Forsaken?
One suggestion is that since the DO himself is (we assume) non-corporeal, maybe SH is destined to be the physical embodiment of the DO that Rand actually fights at the Last Battle, and so is being saved up for that purpose. However, several people (myself included) have objected to this theory on the grounds that it is lame.
Another more intriguing notion is that perhaps SH's mysterious powers only work on the Forsaken - or more broadly, only on those sworn to the Shadow. Peter Reid theorizes that "by swearing to obey/follow/whatever the 'Great Lord', the DO then is granted 'control' of that person and that person's abilities whenever he wants it... remember that Fain can 'sniff out' a DF - this implies that there is something there to be sniffed. Also, recall that Ishamael was able to draw DFs directly out of their sleep into secret councils without them knowing that was possible. This would imply that he had some way of identifying them in the World of Dreams (or that place Egwene goes and sees points of light identifying sleeping people). All of this points to some sort of quasi-physical connection existing between the DO and every DF; what has been implied is that this connection grants the DO power over each DF, including the power to prevent them from sensing the True Source, etc." So perhaps it is this connection which allows SH to do all the fancy things he does to various FS; the obvious implication being that he wouldn't be able to use anything other than the ordinary Fade tricks against someone who walks in the Light.
One big unanswered question is that of the relationship between SH and Moridin. Between the two of them, who is the boss? They seem to be working in cooperation. For example, SH breaks Moggy down prior to her delivery to Moridin, and he appears to Graendal to send her to meet Moridin. We haven't seen the two of them (Moridin and SH) interact, and in the sections from their points of view, they don't happen to think about each other, so it's hard to say who exactly is in charge.
Dreadlords: Those men and women who, able to channel the One Power, went over to the Shadow during the Trolloc Wars, acting as commanders of the Trolloc forces. [TEOTW: Glossary, 662]
So, the question is, will the Shadow have similar human commanders of Trollocs for the Last Battle? If so, then who will these commanders be?
Well, Alviarin certainly seems to be up for a promotion as of COT. A very popular theory at the moment is that both she and Taim are being groomed not just to be Dreadlords, but to be new Forsaken. After all, both of them have shown more competence than some of the original Chosen.
Here are some other possibilities for the new Dreadlords:
[Karl-Johan Norén, Pam Korda]
In [LOC: 46, Beyond the Gate, 580-581], Demira Eriff of the Brown Ajah, a member of the Salidar Embassy, is attacked by a group of men dressed like Aiel. The attack occurs after she's been followed from her inn by the same group of "Aiel." She was going to meet an informant from the Caemlyn Palace, who does not show up at the appointed meeting place. Demira concludes that her informant had not received her message. As she turns to leave, a man on the street leers at her, and she ducks into an alley. The particular alley she goes into is deserted. A bit further along the alley, she runs into the men dressed as Aiel, who stab her with spears. She is severely injured, but not killed.
In [LOC: 46, Beyond the Gate, 584-586], we learn more about the attack. Right before Demira was attacked, a man came into the inn where the Salidar Embassy was known to be quartered, and "said he had seen Aiel following an Aes Sedai-- he described [Demira] exactly-- and saying they were going to kill her." Demira's Warder ran with another AS to save Demira. Demira remembers that one of her attackers told her, "Tell the other witches to stay away from the Dragon Reborn." This message, along with the fellow at the inn, and the fact that Demira's wounds missed vital organs indicate that Demira was meant to survive, and that the attackers wanted the Salidar AS to believe that Aiel were behind the attack.
We don't know for sure who ordered the attack, but we can almost be sure that the attackers were not real Aiel. For one thing, one of the attackers is "a squat fellow with villainous eyes." From all descriptions, Aiel (especially the warriors) are tall and lean, certainly not "squat." Secondly, the Aiel do not refer to the AS as "witches," nor do they refer to Rand as "the Dragon Reborn"-- that is a wetlander prophecy. Thirdly, one of her attackers is described as having "mocking black eyes". Aiel do not have black eyes [Sheryl Smith]. Aviendha mentions this specifically: "'I never saw black eyes except on a peddler until I crossed the Dragonwall'" [WH: 27, To Surprise Queens and Kings, 522].
What was the motive for the attack? We can get ideas about this from the wide-ranging results: the Salidar Aes Sedai believe that Rand arranged the attack, and retaliate. The retaliation drives Rand into leaving Caemlyn for Cairhien, and sets his mind against the group of Aes Sedai most likely to help him. He turns towards the Tower Aes Sedai, who trick him, capture him, and abscond with him locked up in a box, to be rescued by Perrin, the Aiel, and Taim. The overall result is a great deal of ill-will and distrust between Rand and the SAS, Rand and the TAS, and the AS and the Aiel. It is reasonable to conclude that all or part of this was the motive for the attack. Fomenting discord among Rand's possible allies seems to be a general goal of the Shadow's agents, so any of the Forsaken could have had a motive for setting up the attack. The Tower Aes Sedai could have organized it, in order to drive Rand away from their Salidar rivals. Taim has made efforts to turn Rand against the AS on many occasions. He could have done it on his own initiative, or perhaps Demandred arranged the attack through Taim in order to drive Rand away from the SAS, and make him vulnerable to the TAS (whose kidnapping of Rand was likely instigated by Mesaana [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 58]). This theory is attractive because Demandred and Mesaana were working together (with Semirhage, how does she fit in to this theory?) in LOC on a plan to "let the Lord of Chaos rule." That was, after all, the final result of the events triggered by the attack on Demira - chaos definitely ruled at Dumai's Wells.
First, it was a very well organized and planned attack. It is done after Demira is shadowed and possibly lured (or even Compelled) into small, empty alleys. The attack is done by people meeting her. Simultaneously, a man appears bringing the message to her Warder at the Crown and Roses. The interception may mean that other people directed the "Aiel" to their position and cleared the alleys, giving 10-20 people participating, of which at least a few must know Caemlyn very well or that some channeler was part of the group. Furthermore, the attackers must have intercepted the message to Demira's informant.
There's reason to believe that Compulsion was used:
"Turning away from the gate, her [Demira's] eyes chanced to meet those of a tall, lean-faced fellow in a carter's vest who was gazing at her much too admiringly. When their eyes met, he winked! She was not going to put with that all the way back to the inn.... She slipped into the narrow shaded gap between a cutler's shop and a tavern."
It seems like too much of a coincidence that just because some fellow leered at her, Demira chose to travel back to her inn through a deserted alley - the particular alley where the "Aiel" were waiting in ambush. The point that the ambushing team used channelers is strengthened by the fact that Demira couldn't reach saidar:
"Frantically she reached for saidar, but something else pierced her side, and she was down in the dust. That remembered face was thrust into hers, black eyes mocking, growling something she ignored while she tried to reach saidar, tried to... Darkness closed in."
Granted, she was injured, but Moghedien was able to channel with an arrow through her chest, Rahvin while being BBQ-ed and Nynaeve while about to lose consciousness from asphyxiation.
Now, it is not certain that channeling was used in the attack, either to force Demira down the alley or shield her. However, the extremely close timing involved (the message to Demira's Warder came right before she was stabbed) indicated that she did not go down that alleyway by coincidence. The leering fellow may have had a backup plan for getting her down the alley if his antics didn't work - it just turned out that they did. As for shielding, John Hamby points out that Demira doesn't feel that she's blocked from the Source, just that she's having trouble embracing the Source as two spears are driven into her. Yes, Moggy could do it with an arrow; but Moggy is stronger and more skilled, and Nynaeve is Wonder Woman.
The attack is done after the embassy had met Rand three times, with no meeting on the day of the attack. This means that the attackers had either a maximum of three days of preparation or knew about the embassy before it met with Rand.
So we have the following requirements for the group who did the deed:
By far the best candidate is Taim, either as "plain" Taim or as Minion Taim. The Asha'man fulfill every demand above, and Taim also has the political motive and chutzpah to do it. It would be strange if the Asha'man did not include people from Caemlyn (since they are based near that city), and they are being trained in the use of weapons, and they include some men who are already acquainted with weapons. Taim also knows of the embassy early because Rand tells him of it. He likely hates Aes Sedai, and is clearly interested in bringing Rand closer to him and away from all things AS. It's not much of a stretch imagining the Asha'man referring to the AS as witches either. In fact, a few days before the attack, Taim suggested arranging "accidents" for the Aes Sedai in Caemlyn [LOC: 42, The Black Tower, 545].
Apart from Taim, the other major suspects are the Tower Aes Sedai, the Whitecloaks, Padan Fain, and Joe Random Forsaken (i.e. not Mesaana or Demandred).
The White Tower AS (acting without influence from Mesaana) can be ruled out, because they would be hard pressed to simply reach a decision so fast. Pigeon to Elaida, Elaida decides, pigeon back, plan and do attack. Done in three days? No way. Also, the White Tower lacks people and organization in Caemlyn.
The Whitecloaks can also be ruled out. They have withdrawn their organization from Caemlyn, and their lower ranks would be more interested in killing AS than in subtle political maneuvering. Niall might try something like this, but the Niall POV scenes we get in LOC and ACOS show him concentrating on schemes involving Morgase, the fake Dragonsworn in Altara, and later, the situation in Tarabon - nothing involving Rand and his connections with the Tower.
Fain could have some motive to drive Rand towards dealing with the Mashadar-tainted Tower instead of the untainted Salidar AS. He does have access to DFs from Caemlyn, and the former Whitecloaks. But, as he thinks when he is reached by the report of the Gray Man attack on Rand, his resources are rather limited. He doesn't seem to have access to the number of followers required to pull off the attack. Furthermore, everything we've seen of Fain thus far has had him ingratiating himself to one powerful person, and corrupting them. The attack on Demira doesn't fit his style - it's too indirect.
An attack from Joe Random Forsaken is the most likely, next to Taim. As stated above, the Shadow seems to have a general strategy of creating discord between Rand and his possible allies. Furthermore, as Bob Kluttz points out, Demira was interested in learning about the Seals on the DO's prison [LOC: 46, Beyond the Gate, 580-581]. A couple of weeks after the attack on Demira, Herid Fel is spectacularly killed for his interest in them, and later in COT, Bashere's wife and Dobraine are assaulted on the mere suspicion that they were guarding one or more of the seals [COT: Prologue, Glimmers of the Pattern, 70 & 93]. The fate of the seals is somehow critical to the Dark One's success. If this was the main motive for the attack, Demira wouldn't have been left alive. However, it could have been an additional motive for choosing Demira as a target, rather than one of the other SAS. This idea pretty much requires whichever Forsaken planned the attack to have had a strong power base in Caemlyn. The only Forsaken of which we know this to have been true is Rahvin, and he was dead by the time the Salidar embassy arrived. However, this doesn't rule out somebody having resources we don't know about.
Quick question, quick answer: Chris Mullins writes: "I asked RJ, at the Palo Alto signing, if Moggy was raped by Shaidar Haran in ACOS. His reply was, 'Yes. Amongst other things.'"
After months of investigation by Vandene into who the hidden traitor was in the midst of Elayne’s group, the answer gets handed to them in KoD when they make their near disastrous raid on a Darkfriend safehouse. "If you are going to kill them," Marillan said as if discussing the price of bread, "spare Careane. She is one of us." [KoD: 31, House on Full Moon Street]
It seems likely that Careane murdered Adeleas either to prevent her from revealing something learned from her interrogation of Ispan, or to simply get rid of a witness. The murders have the added benefit of sowing chaos and confusion among Elayne's group.
From [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 58]:
Semirhage: "I am still waiting to hear what the Great Lord said."
Mesaana: "Yes. Are we to kill Al'Thor?"
Demandred: "...The first part of the Great Lord's message was simple. 'Let the Lord of Chaos rule.'"
Aside from the obvious interpretation of this command (namely, "go out and sow chaos"), it became clear over the course of LOC and ACOS that it also meant that, to this end, the DO had laid a prohibition on killing Rand. From that point until the end of TPOD, no Forsaken except Sammael made any direct attempt on Rand's life - and Sammy's attempt was foiled by none other than Moridin, Mr. Nae'blis himself (Moridin was the Wanderer - see section 1.2.3).
This prohibition was apparently not lifted until the Forsaken Coffee Hour in WH. Cyndane tells the FS that Rand had the Choedan Kal and planned to use them to try and cleanse saidin. Then: "'So it seems he must be killed after all,' Demandred said... 'Killed?' Moridin moved his hands as though weighing something. 'If it comes to that, yes,' he said finally" [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 318].
Seems pretty straightforward, right? Except for one thing - the attack on Rand in TPOD. If the prohibition on killing Rand wasn't lifted until WH, then why did one Forsaken and at least two Darkfriends try to kill him in the previous book?
WH answered some of our initial questions about the TPOD attack. For one thing, Dashiva's identity is cleared up - he was Osan'gar [WH: 35, With the Choedan Kal, 645]. For another, Gedwyn and Rochaid (and Torval and Kisman) were definitely Darkfriends, and Taim definitely ordered the attack [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 441]. The rest of it is not as clear-cut. What appears to have happened, from Demandred's POV during the Coffee Hour and Kisman's POV in [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 441-443], is something like this:
Taim calls in the Fearsome Foursome and sends Gedwyn and Rochaid to Cairhien, ordering them to kill Rand. G and R arrive in Cairhien and blast Rand's rooms apart. At some point during or after their initial assault, Dashiva/Osan'gar joins them, evidently with the intention of taking advantage of the situation to launch his own attack on Rand.
G and R miss Rand, of course, and after wandering around for a while Rand finds them arguing with Dashiva. Dashivan'gar sees Rand, snarls, and fires something extremely lethal-looking at Rand, who blocks it by channeling some kind of super-shield around himself. He gets knocked back down the hall, and the perpetrators use the opportunity to escape. (Kisman notes in WH that Dashiva - whom he obviously never knew was Osan'gar, by the way - had disappeared after the murder attempt, so we can safely assume that he went off alone, rather than wherever Gedwyn and Rochaid took themselves off to.)
Mere hours later, Taim shows up in Cairhien. He tells Rand (calmly) that Gedwyn, Rochaid, Torval, and Kisman have deserted. Rand tells Taim to add Dashiva to the list; the news that Dashiva participated in the attack seems to shock and anger Taim quite a bit. Then Rand sends Taim away and goes on the lam with Min.
So much for sequence of events. It's clear that Dashiva/Osan'gar really did intend to kill Rand in Cairhien; Kisman's POV in WH tells us that Taim did, in fact, order Gedwyn and Rochaid to do the same. What's not clear is whether G & R were intended to succeed. Kisman thinks to himself that he was unsure, despite Taim's point-blank order, that the Fab Four were actually supposed to have killed Rand in Cairhien. Taken at face value, the attack was not orchestrated very well, and Taim must have known that Gedwyn and Rochaid were no match for Rand unless they had the advantage of surprise, which they promptly lost by destroying Rand's rooms - after he had already left them. (Dashiva's strength is not a factor, since Taim had obviously had no idea that he would join in the attempt.)
What it all boils down to is this: Why did Taim order an assassination attempt that seemed almost designed to fail, and why did Dashiva/Osan'gar use the opportunity the attack provided to violate an order passed down by the DO himself and enforced by Moridin, of whom Osan'gar was terrified?
Well, maybe he didn't. Consider: why was the order revoked in the first place? Was Cyndane's information - that Rand was planning to use the Choedan Kal to cleanse the Taint - the cause of the reversal, as we have assumed so far? Or were Moridin's words at the meeting in WH merely confirmation of what had already been decided?
Recall that Dashiva/Osan'gar (and the Fearsome Foursome) found out Rand was planning to cleanse the Taint in [TPOD: 14, Message from the M'Hael, 306], long before the Coffee Hour in WH. What if this revelation was enough to decide the Forsaken that he had to be killed? It's clear from Demandred and Osan'gar's conversation at the meeting in WH that they had been searching for Rand rather desperately ever since the attack. Osan'gar even says, in reference to the failure at Cairhien, "'Simply probabilities... Next time, he will be killed or taken. Chance can't protect him forever'" [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 314]. This is before Cyndane talks about the Choedan Kal, and before Moridin says to kill Rand if necessary. Would Osan'gar have talked so openly about something that was still forbidden at that point? It doesn't seem likely, any more than it seems likely that Osan'gar would deliberately disobey the DO's order in such a public way as helping blow up half the Sun Palace.
So the evidence seems to indicate that the prohibition on killing Rand was removed prior to the TPOD attack, after Rand spilled the beans about his plan to cleanse saidin, and the information about the Choedan Kal from Cyndane just served as affirmation to Moridin that this was the proper course.
The only real sticking point in all this is Demandred's phrasing. He says "So it seems he must be killed after all" (emphasis mine). Not "So we are supposed to continue trying to kill Al'Thor" or "We are to try again" or something similar, as would seem logical if the order had already been revoked [Joseph Slonimsky]. This is kind of puzzling, considering he had been raging a few moments before about how "those blind fools - those idiots! - failed in Cairhien." Note, though, that Demandred being pissed about it doesn't necessarily mean he had anything directly to do with the attack or even that he wanted it to succeed; it's an ambiguous statement. It could be interpreted as meaning that Gedwyn and Rochaid and Dashiva/Osan'gar were idiots for even trying it.
One possible way of explaining the "after all" phrase: maybe the order before the Forsaken Coffee Hour was something like "capture him if you can, kill him if you have to", as Osan'gar's comment above seems to suggest, and that Demandred's question meant "so we forget about the capturing part and just kill him?".
Kisman's POV tells us Taim ordered the attack and confirms that the four Asha'man are still working for him, so there's no longer any question about that. Regardless of his allegiances, it is unlikely that Taim's order was motivated by Rand's slip about cleansing saidin (see section 1.5.6 for why). So, given that, what did Taim have to gain from ordering such a lame-assed assassination attempt on Rand?
Well, if you think about it, it's a win-win situation for Taim whether the attack succeeded or failed. If it succeeds, well, Rand's dead, leaving Taim free to seize power at the BT. And if it doesn't succeed, Taim gets a group of male channelers who are loyal to him, not to Rand, and whose actions Taim can disavow, plus the credibility to claim their desertion to Rand and be believed. Rand doesn't trust him at all; if Taim had simply shown up and reported that his four most trusted lackeys had deserted, Rand probably would have been immensely suspicious of the whole state of affairs. However, after the attack, Rand doesn't even question Taim's word.
[Leigh Butler, Doug Stanley]
The Battle of Shadar Logoth was an unqualified rout for the Shadow. Cadsuane's little band of channelers not only successfully defended Rand and Nynaeve from half a dozen Forsaken, but gave the bad guys a fair ass-kicking while they were at it, killing one FS (Osan'gar) and driving off the rest. (We're not told what if any injuries the rest of the Forsaken sustained, but it seems safe to assume that at least a couple were wounded in the battle; it doesn't seem that any besides Osan'gar were actually killed.)
So what we'd like to know is this: why were the Forsaken so badly prepared for the fight that a bunch of "half-trained children" trounced them thoroughly? Why would Moridin have them all gate in willy-nilly, with no apparent plan of attack and no conventional back-up forces of any kind?
It's been suggested that Moridin caused the fiasco deliberately - that he purposefully sent in the Forsaken unprepared, either to teach them a lesson ("NOW will you work together, dammit?"), to whittle down their numbers, or because for some unknown reason he actually wanted the Taint cleansed.
However, this doesn't seem very likely, especially the last suggestion. There's no possible benefit to Moridin or the Shadow in general to have the DO's greatest revenge on the world (the Taint) erased and Rand and the Asha'man able to channel free from the spectre of madness and a rotting death. It's clear from the various reactions at the Coffee Hour that cleansing the Taint is a Bad Thing for the Forsaken.
As for the idea that Moridin was deliberately reducing the Forsaken's numbers, it's doubtful that Moridin is that stupid or wasteful - there are few enough of the Forsaken left as it is. While it's true that the Forsaken have always schemed against each other as much as against the good guys, the whole point of the "reining in" of the FS Moridin's been doing since his reappearance is to get them to quit the backstabbing and start being an effective group of evildoers. Moridin doesn't need to kill anybody off; he's already in charge. In the same vein, Moridin also doesn't need to set up practical examples of why the Forsaken should work together when he can simply force them to do so.
Well, probably what Moridin didn't anticipate is that the Good Guys, especially Rand, finally got a clue. After all, the Forsaken's attack would have worked if Rand had tried cleansing the Taint the way he originally planned to do it - i.e. with just himself and Nynaeve. The two of them would have been defenseless if Cadsuane and Co. had not tracked Rand down and bullied him into taking them along. The only thing the FS knew was that Rand and a female channeler were there, occupied with wielding ungodly amounts of the Power, not that anyone else was with them - and since Rand made the decision to take along Cadsuane and the rest immediately before going to Shadar Logoth, the FS had no opportunity to learn of the change in plans.
Also, prior to that point, who would have thought that Aes Sedai and Asha'man would actually work together, linking to form circles? (Apparently mixed-gender circles hugely magnify the strength of the individual channelers.) How could Moridin have anticipated that Rand would let someone else use Callandor? Moridin also had no knowledge of Alivia, who outclasses Nynaeve, or of the impressive cache of angreal and ter'angreal Nynaeve and Cads had between them. [Dave Rothgery]
Finally, the way events fell out, the Forsaken didn't have any real way to formulate a plan. They didn't know when, where, or how Rand was going to make the attempt to cleanse the Taint; the only thing they could do was wait to detect gargantuan amounts of the Power being channeled, and go try and stop Rand from finishing the task.
Why didn't Moridin join the others? One fancloth-covered TP channeler could have tipped the balance [Sean T. McCulloch].
A: In [TPOD: Prologue, Deceptive Appearances, 43], Moridin recalls the disastrous result the last time he tried to confront Rand directly (i.e. he died). It's clear he's not anxious to try that again anytime soon. As for fancloth, even if anyone besides Moridin knows how to do it, it very well may require time to prepare (creating and donning a full-body suit of it), time the FS didn't have. There is also Aaron Cote's suggestion that perhaps Moridin is having the same kind of problems with channeling that Rand is (see section 2.3.16 and section 2.1.7), and that's why he was a no-show.
Q: Where were Semirhage and Mesaana?
A: Mesaana was playing hooky, and got severely punished for it. Semirhage was present, but Jordan didn't mention her.
Semirhage was present at Shadar Logoth, though not seen. You didn't see Graendal, either, though admittedly Moghedien thought of her, thinking it would be good if she or Cyndane died. If I always tried to show everyone who was present at a battle or the like, the books would be a LOT longer than they are now. And those battles would get rather boring, a list of names. Go down the checklist and make sure everyone gets mentioned. Boring. Anyway, Mesaana was the only one who tried to sit it out. By the way, Moridin also was not present, for reasons that will become self-evident as you read on.
Q: Why not gate in a horde of Trollocs, or a gholam, or at least some Darkfriends?
A: We learn during the attack on Algarin's manor in KOD that Trollocs and other Shadowspawm cannot pass through a Gateway and survive. [KOD 19: Vows]
Q: If circles magnify strength so much, why didn't the Forsaken form one?
A: Doug Stanley sums it up thusly: "Forming one circle would have been quite stupid, even if they were willing to do so. It's doubtful they could withstand an attack from Callandor even with a circle, and with Rand's forces broken up into several widely spaced groups, they would face multiple simultaneous attacks from different directions. The only defense, really, is to dodge such attacks, by running or gating, which is hardly feasible while linked."
In Knife of Dreams Rand and company come under attack by a gigantic army of Trollocs and Myrdraal at the manor of Lord Algarin in Tear, seemingly at Sammael's behest. None of the Forsaken seem to know who really ordered that army of Shadowspawn out of the Blight or how they got there. Who ordered the attack? How did 100,000 Trollocs get all the way to Tear without detection?
The first issue here is that the order was not obeyed because the man who ordered it looked like Sammael. It was obeyed because the one who gave the order had the Chosen Mark. Moridin says: "Sammael, or someone disguised as him, gave orders to the Myrdraal, and they obeyed, so it was one of the Chosen.' [KoD 3: At the Gardens] For clarity, the Chosen Mark is a sort of imprint the Dark One puts on the souls of his high chosen. RJ describes it thus:
Week 2 Question: Is the mark that Alviarin received from Shaidar Haran the same as that the Forsaken received from the Dark One? If so, is she now a Forsaken, or some sort of lesser Chosen?
Robert Jordan Answers: The mark that Alviarin received from Shaidar Haran was not the same as that given to the Forsaken, though it shares one function: Shadowspawn will recognize her as belonging to the Dark One. They will not obey her as they will the Forsaken, however, but she doesn't have to worry about one trying to kill her, either. She is not any sort of lesser Chosen. You might think of it more like the tattoo some people get put inside the ear of their dog, an identification so others will know who the dog belongs to as soon as they see it.
Moridin's point is clear--despite the fact that he looked like Sammael, the fact that he was obeyed means he was one of the Chosen (and thus had the mark). Had he not had the mark, even looking like Sammael would not have helped.
We’ve seen Fain command Myrdraal in the past, without the Mark, so couldn’t he have used his tricks again? And Fain has a lot more going for him; he has the ability to create illusions, and thus could make himself look like Sammael, he’s got an ability to control or command Machin Shin, thus providing for the way a hundred thousand Trollocs passed through the Way’s safely.
But it is the very first point, the commanding of Myrdraal, where we run into trouble. Consider the way Fain gains the obedience of the Myrdraal.
With a sigh, he seated himself on the edge of his bed. The lamps were already lit, more than a dozen, leaving no shadow anywhere. The tent was as bright inside as noonday. "Have you thought over my proposal? Accept, and you walk free. Refuse.... I know how to hurt your sort., I can make you scream through endless dying. Forever dying, forever screaming."
The chains hummed at a jerk; the stakes driven deep into the ground creaked. "Very well. The Myrddraal's voice was dried snakeskin crumbling. "I accept. Release me."
Ordeith smiled. It thought him a fool. It would learn. They all would. "First, the matter of ... shall we say, agreements and accord?" As he talked, the Myrddraal began to sweat.
Essentially, yes, he does use his abilities to gain obedience from the Myrdraal, but only in the form of giving it pain. As flashy as his methods are, they are still just a way of performing torture. It takes time for the Myrdraal to break—it even pretends to break, intending to later go back on its word.The ‘Sammael’ did not torture hundreds of Myrdraal into obeying him. He commanded, they obeyed. Fain, for all that he had going for him, could not have done that. As Moridin states that means the Chosen and their Mark.
If it wasn’t Fain, with his ability to command Machin Shin, then how did one hundred thousand Trollocs move through the waves unmolested by the Black Wind? Based on Moiraine and Rand’s fights with Machin Shin channelling does not provide the answer—the strongest channeler on earth could not have protected and shielded that many Trollocs for the time it took them to move through the Ways—and that many all at once should have attracted the Wind immediately upon entering.
One of the suggested answers for the Machin Shin problem is that the movement was staggered. Sent bit by bit and built up in Tear before initiating the attack, much like how Isam gathered forces in the Two Rivers. Unfortunately this suggestion is just as problematic as the issue it is attempting to solve. Consider;-
According to the Steven Cooper Timeline, Rand has been at the manor in Tear for 28 days. Even sending the Trollocs through the ways in small groups, to have gathered a hundred thousand in twenty-eight days they would need to send at least 7100 through at a time, which given Machin Shin's nature is as impossible as the hundred thousand. Furthermore we know pretty much every Trolloc that was sent made it to the manor in tear, or rather every Myrdraal which amounts to the same thing in a group scenario. Even sending them in groups shouldn't be possible if Machin Shin were doing its job properly.
Perhaps not. This provides the most viable answer to the Machin Shin problem—that rather than someone figuring out a way to get around it, it simply wasn’t there to cause a problem to begin with. Specifically I’m talking of its changing nature--ever since it encountered Fain in tEotW we have seen its behaviour change--waiting at Waygates, trying to force its way out and at times appearing as if it might succeed. These changes occurred within a six month period, and it has been a further year and half since then for it to continue to change.
Either way, whatever is going on with Machin Shin it did not attack the Trollocs, and that doesn’t stand as evidence that a plan was put in place by the person who ordered this attack for sending the Trollocs through in small groups. As such Moridin's comments indicate a certain degree of immediacy--he learned of it, and summoned the meeting in TAR straight away to issue his commands that the missing Trollocs be watched for. Likely within the last three or four days.
Ok, so send a hundred thousand Trollocs to kill Rand. Seems a simple enough plan, no? And indeed, as Logain states it was a close run thing. Without his Asha'men reinforcements they might have lost. Only pause for a moment a consider that--Rand had the male Choedan Kal and Callandor, and the Trollocs attacked in a neat little group that would have been right for the plucking. By all rights it should never have come to be as close as it did, only Rand's lack of foresight allowed for that.
Some point out that Rand may not have had the Choedan Kal or Callandor on him—that he had hidden them, or that Cadsuane had retained possession of them—but that’s irrelevant here. What we are discussing is the effects of the presence of these two sa’angreal would play to someone planning the attack.
The Forsaken knew Rand had the two sa’angreal with him. More importantly they had just walked away from getting spanked around by Rand and his followers due in large part to the superior preparation Cadsuane had put in place. In effect they had reason to not only be aware of the presence of those sa’angreal, they had reason to expect that Rand and those with him would be prepared to use them in the event of an attack. That Rand wasn’t is irrelevant, as is the fact that it didn’t occur to him when the attack was initiated.
From that point we have the fact that the Forsaken lived through the war known as THE war of the power. They knew what the power could do against an army unprotected by their own channelers. Effectively they had no reason to expect Rand to be an idiot, and from their perspective launching such an attack serves no purpose but to bring Rand's attention back onto the Shadow, which seems counter-productive after all their hard work on spreading dissension and causing drama amongst the light, whilst keeping the Blight as quiet as a lamb. It certainly did with Lan's.
So, for the majority of the Forsaken this attack would be an adventure in stupidity, or at the least short sightedness. Cyndane and Moghedien are the exception to this. Due to their enslavement to Moridin their resources are limited, and both have a deep obsessive hatred for one of the people present at Algarin’s manor. Cyndane also knows the trick of finding Rand through his ta’maral’ailen. So, they each have a specific motive—revenge—and both are limited in how they can enact that revenge, therefore explaining the easy ‘hit-or-miss’ nature of the Shadowspawn attack.
Moridin certainly seems concerned about letting Cyndane too close to Rand—saying that she would ‘accidentally’ kill him, and we’ve seen Moghedien detour from Moridin’s orders to try and kill Nynaeve in the past. That being said, Moridin still remains the big problem in this. When Moghedien makes her small diversion to try and kill Nynaeve she’s nearly out of her mind with fear that Moridin will know. She states “Moridin's instructions had been explicit, the price of disobedience made excruciatingly clear,” and the same again at the Cleansing—this time reinforced by Cyndane who made a similar comment about disobedience.
Moghedien’s fear at a small detour essentially rules her out—she literally is out of her mind with fear, even with her babbling to herself that he had never forbidden this. He had forbidden Shadowspawn involvement with the Light, and blatant act like subverting a hundred thousand Trollocs is a hundred fold the risk her trying to kill Nynaeve was. Cyndane likely faces the same restrictions though she has been willing to risk herself in her obsession with Rand in the past. Still, disobeying Moridin in such an open way bears such risk to either woman as to by itself make this theory unlikely.
So, without the limited resources and desperation Moghedien and Cyndane provide us with we are left wondering why the Forsaken used such a desperate plan. This leads to three options.
1. The attack was incidental.
2. They really did wish to draw Rand's attention to the North.
3. It wasn't the Forsaken.
This suggestion is that the attack itself wasn't the point--if it killed Rand, hey great, but if not who cares. The issue here is what was the real intention? If it was simply to draw suspicion on one of their fellow Chosen why wear the Sammael mask? That straight up screams disguise, and given the Chosen all clearly thought he was dead (which he is) why would any be aiming for him. Why not appear as one of the alive and active Chosen? Unless of course there was no Sammael at all, as Dominic of the Thirteenth Depository points out. Or in other words, what if Moridin was lying?
We can note there were already mind-games being played in the organisation of the room in the form of the additional chairs, so is it a far bet to suggest that this entire thing is some sort of game Moridin is playing to keep the Chosen off guard? Under this idea the attack being sent would serve the purpose of making the Chosen think they were being considered for treason, and given the Dark One’s treatment of treasonous Chosen thereby make them toe the line extra carefully.
In support of this idea, one may note that it wasn’t a stretch to figure out who the focus of the attack would be—and given Moridin can track Rand, yet makes no effort to place people at the Waygates near Rand’s position it would seem to indicate that Moridin did not care to make much of an effort to thwart the attack.
However, this idea is problematic. For one thing it seems overkill. The Forsaken had already been reined in by Shaidar Haren, and to directly underline that reining in Mesaana had been tortured for disobeying Moridin’s command to go and fight at the cleansing. Furthermore the Forsaken, those worth Moridin’s effort, anyway, were hardly cowards. They weren’t going to step back for the idea that they might be suspected of treason—especially given they all probably were contemplating treason. Aran’gar certainly was and she doesn’t bat an eye at this.
In effect the Forsaken had all been reined in as far as cheap theatrics were going to be able to achieve. Furthermore this attack serves no purpose but to refocus Rand on the north again—certainly it serves the trick with Lan. Given that keeping the light’s focus on the South and away from the Shadow is Moridin’s pet plan it seems unlikely he’d risk it for such a cheap trick.
Another point against Moridin is in the link between himself and Rand—note that he re-issues the no-kill order at the exact time the link grows strong enough to reveal itself for what it is—a link between his and Rand’s souls, as opposed to a channelling sickness side-effect of crossing balefire streams with Rand. That makes sense given what occurs to warders when their bond is broken. The bond and the link may be two distinct things, but Moridin must be at least concerned. That makes it less likely that he would wilfully risk Rand’s life before finding a way to safely break the connection.
Counter-point: Dominic of the Thirteenth Depository points out that the attack may not have been directed at Rand at all, but rather at his companions. Rand has assembled a very dangerous group and a worrying arsenal – sufficient to drive back an attack by all the Chosen but Mesaana and Moridin, without Rand himself , or the CK, even involved. Moridin may very well have qualms about letting such a group around Rand survive long enough to fight TG at his side. The real purpose of the attack may have been to destroy Rand’s “Companions”, possibly with commands issued to keep the Shadowspawn from killing Rand.
This idea would presumably imply that the effort with the Forsaken was simply a bonus. That Moridin took advantage of a pre-existing situation to serve a second purpose. However if the attack were officially sponsored by the Shadow to kill Rand’s coterie, why use Trollocs? If winnowing out Rand’s ranks was the purpose why not send the Gholam? Or even just a bunch of Grey Men? Rand may be well guarded, but his guards aren’t.
Sending a large force on the off chance of success against an enemy who could sweep them all aside like flotsam in a flood seems stupid and blunt. Moridin prides himself on the subtlety of his planning.
It can be noted that with the exception of Graendal and Aran’gar the other six Chosen have seemingly formed alliances of three. Demandred, Mesaana and Semirhage, and the apparent alliance between Cyndane, Moghedien and Moridin (remember the Forsaken don't know of the cour'souvra, though Aran'gar guesses that that might be the case). This leaves Graendal and Aran'gar in a loose position. We know Aran'gar wasn't at fault (she wonders openly if Demandred is trying to hide that he did it), but it could be Graendal.
Under this theory Graendal caused the attack, intentionally blaming it on someone others would see through in order that everyone would suspect everyone else. People acting on their own causes division in alliances—‘if they’ve done this, what else may they be doing without my knowledge?’
Still this is problematic. Moridin’s control of Cyndane and Moghedien is openly authoritative, and that makes attempting to cause dissension between them pointless. Graendal could easily guess that both women would already be scheming against Moridin, and that Moridin would be aware of it. No one likes being forced to be openly submissive, much less one of the Chosen. As for Demandred, Semirhage and Mesaana—their alliance is constantly reinforced as weak. They do not tell each other their plans; they just hold a loose agreement not to move against each other until all the rest are out of the way. Graendal’s pretty cluey, and probably picked that up.
Graendal is also no fool. There are less self-destructive ways of causing dissension without risking the cause of the Shadow itself, much less disobeying the Dark One openly, especially given the Dark One only just cracked down on disobedience. Graendal’s shown herself to be too subtle for this sort of open movement.
The only thing going for Demandred is his military background, and that in some ways stands against him, because he more than most would appreciate the stupidity of attacking Rand with a force that had no channelers. Dominic of the Thirteenth Depository also points out that his reaction to learning of the ‘Sammael’ speaks of his innocence—specifically, he blurts out that Sammael must be dead, realises that means one of them must be responsible, and backtracks to keep the idea of Sammael being alive open.
Counter-point: That could simply be good acting. Aran’gar considers that possibility.
Given her recent abuse for disobeying it would be strange for her to act now. Also no explanation for the stupidity of such an attack.
Given her plan to leash Rand, it is unlikely she would launch this attack anyway. And again there is no explanation for her to launch so stupid an attack.
I'm putting this up because I have seen it suggested, and more or less so that we can rule it out. The method of it would be that maybe one of the Forsaken was a double agent or has since decided to turn on the Shadow. Straight up it's unlikely, but as a source for this attack it’s impossible--there are better ways to warn Rand than to send an army to attack him, even if you feel certain it’s impossible that army would succeed. Some suggested Cyndane and Moghedian may fit here too, acting self-destructively out of a desire to get revenge on the Shadow for their soulbinding, but aside from the reasons above that stand against them disobeying Moridin, their obsessive hatred of Rand and Nynaeve respectively stop them trying to help Rand in anyway.
Nope. Looney bin with this one.
Or rather, it wasn't one of the old Forsaken. Firstly, we know that around book ten the Dark One was feeling remarkably dissatisfied with his Chosen. He was forced to rely on them because they were irreplaceable in their knowledge and ability, yet they were fractious and self-serving, and the previous threat of their utter annihilation was no longer available.
He responded to this in a number of ways. Reining them in tightly under Moridin, Soulbinding Cyndane and Moghedien, having Shaidar Haren go over their heads to directly interact with darkfriends like Alviarin and so on.
It's in that last one that I believe the key is, specifically Shaidar Haren marks Alviarin with a weaker version of the Chosen Mark as a sign of favour. Now, that doesn't instantly mean that he's also raising new chosen, however it does show that Shaidar Haren is elevating Third Agers, and marking them--effectively it shows that the Dark One is attempting to create methods of accessing power without having to rely on the current Chosen too heavily.
Now Alviarin only gets a weak mark, which makes sense. She is not overly strong in the power, and her education is that of a Third Ager, and we know that the Dark One values these things in his Chosen. RJ stated it thus...
The Dark One, who believes that his people from the age of Legends are in all practical ways better -- for which read better trained, more capable, and thus better able to serve him efficiently and effectively -- than the people of the present time. And he is right. In a way. They are certainly better trained, with a much wider knowledge.
So, the Dark One clearly places value on knowledge and strength, yet he can't (and doesn't) like having to rely on his current Chosen, who in recent days have caused problems with disobedience. The answer is Taim.
Firstly according to RJ he is 28 years of age in LoC, and the earliest a man can spark is 18*. This means that currently Taim has been channeling a minimum of 6 years and a maximum of around 11 years (a year has passed since LoC).
We also know something of what he was doing during the time prior to his announcing himself Dragon 2 years ago--he says that he found five men over the years who could channel, though the only one who had the courage to go beyond the training went mad after 2 years. That two years, along with the comment of 'over the years' plus the 2 years after he announced himself Dragon is why I set up the 6 year minimum, though in truth I believe it to be longer.
Now even 6 years is a long time for Taim not to be showing signs of the Taint--both the mental instability, and the physical rotting. It’s not impossible of course, and some suggest that Taim's emotional instability and hubris might be a form of highly functional insanity, but even so, it seems a long time.
This is what I suggest. Around fifteen or sixteen years ago we know that Ishamael was in one of his free cycles (he personally physically forced Jarna Milari into the ter'angreal that killed her) and that he knew at the time that the Dragon Reborn had been born, and that Tarmon Gai'don was fast approaching. At this time I believe that he set out to gather channelers--beginning by testing and training men himself directly (and probably having women trained as well, Liandrin certainly infers as much in tFoH), and then setting them to go out and train men.
Why do I believe Taim is one such? For starters we know that Ishamael did it before, during the Trolloc Wars, so it makes sense that he would do it again. Secondly we have Taim's mannerisms--comments like 'so-called Aiel', the use of the lightning bolt sigil favoured by Sammael and Be'lal, the colouring of the tiles, the use of the Lord of Chaos comment--all of which imply significant long term exposure to the Forsaken and their mannerisms.
Beyond which he actually states it, he says he found five men--he claims only one of those men went beyond the testing, and that man went mad in two years, yet this almost certainly must be a lie because we know Taim is a darkfriend--one way or another he IS a darkfriend. Thirdly, he comments to Rand that if you use too much power in testing a man for the ability, the resonance MIGHT kill him, yet if he learned this through personal experience then one of those five men died, and there is no 'might' about it. His knowledge is too exactly technical.
So that, according to this theory, is Taim's origins. From there I believe he was commanded to announce himself Dragon by Ishamael and perform atrocities to spread and heighten fear of the Dragon. Certainly that’s implied by the few comments we have about his actions in that time, of what he did to Bashere's emissaries.
1. Timing. We know that less than three days prior to the attack Taim was desperately seeking to learn Rand's location--and yes, he didn't get it from Logain, but even assuming one of Logain's men isn't a plant then there are 51 Aes Sedai who directly stated their intention to play on the rift between Logain and Taim who could have revealed it.
From there, the timing is perfect. Three days, time to go to the Trollocs, command them into the Ways, have them travel the Ways, leave at Stedding Shangtai, and make the trip from there down into northern Tear and the manor.
2. History. Taim is well known for assuming Forsaken characteristics and mannerisms. He copies their language, uses their designs (the fist holding three prongs of lightning) and colours (the use of Moridin's red and black). It would fit with his nature to appear as Sammael.
3. Modus Operendi. Whilst the attack makes no sense from one of the real Forsaken, It fits Taim. His methods are always blunt--this almost exactly matched what he did during the attack on the Sun Palace, throwing force blindly as long as it can't be traced to him with no real pause for thought or planning on the off chance that it succeed. It matches what he did with saving Rand from the Grey Man, the way he set up his inner cadre of darkfriends, the attack on Demira, the way he responded to Pevara....
Taim is blunt, and so was this attack.
Who says he’d know? Shaidar Haren’s presumed reasoning for raising a new Chosen is to provide the Dark One with resources outside the established second age power structure—Moridin may be nae’blis, may even be well trusted by the Dark One, but that doesn’t mean the Dark One will tell him everything that he is doing. Indeed, that would be against everything we’ve observed of his behaviour. Here are Semirhage’s thoughts on the matter.
Asmodean. A traitor, and so doomed, but he really had vanished, and Shaidar Haran's existence and her own orders here combined to remind her that the Great Lord worked in his own ways toward his own goals. The Chosen were no more than pieces on the board; they might be Counselors and Spires, but they were still pieces. If the Great Lord moved her here secretly, might he not be moving Moghedien or Lanfear, or even Asmodean? Might Shaidar Haran not be sent to deliver covert commands to Graendal or Sammael? Or for that matter, to Demandred or Mesaana? Their uneasy alliance—if it could be called by so strong a name—had lasted a long time, but neither would tell her if they received secret orders from the Great Lord, any more than she would ever let them learn of the orders that had brought her here, or those that had had her send Myrddraal and Trollocs to the Stone of Tear to battle those sent by Sammael
[LoC-6-Threads of Woven Shadow]
Moridin may be the greatest of the great pieces, but to the Dark One he is still a piece.
The question of why the Dark One would let Taim go his own way, or at the least warn Moridin that Taim was about when some unknown Chosen started issuing orders contrary to the Shadow’s game plan is answered by the same answer we gave for Moridin above—who's to say he even knows this is going on, and thus needed to give Moridin this information? As Demandred states "He was never sure how much the Great Lord knew of the world. He had been as startled by ignorance as by knowledge." And as to why Moridin wouldn't have gone to him with this, maybe the Dark One is too busy. He denies access to himself as he chooses. Elaida says that "...the dead appearing was the first sign, a thinning of reality as the Dark One gathered himself."
We haven't seen the Dark One in person since he began to 'gather himself', but whatever he's been doing he's still in the process of doing it.
In the end though, the Mazrim Taim theory fits motive, opportunity, and methodology, but has the weakness of forcing us to assume facts not in evidence—specifically that he has been raised to the level of Chosen.