1.7: Shadar Logoth, Mashadar, and Fain


This subsection contains information on and discussion of the "other evil" in Randland, that which is connected to Shadar Logoth.

1.7.1: More of the Fain

Padan Fain was a Lugard peddler, who moonlighted as a Friend of the Dark. When it came time for the Dragon to be reborn, Fain was taken to Shayol Ghul and made into the Dark One's Hound, to search out the Dragon Reborn. He followed the boys to Shadar Logoth and had a run-in with Mordeth. Mordeth tried to devour Fain's soul, but couldn't, because of the hold the DO had on him. So Fain became part Mordeth, part renegade minion of the DO. This is basically what the books tell us.

What is he up to now? Basically, playing the part of picador to Rand's bull, popping up all over the place, poking, prodding, inflaming, and generally causing trouble.

He went to the Fortress of the Light and the White Tower to sow seeds of dissension, and make sure Pedron Niall and Elaida would never join Rand. He instigated a failed assassination of Rand by his ex-WCs in Caemlyn. He might also have been responsible for the attack on the Brown AS in Caemlyn which ended up driving a rift between Rand and the Salidar AS, and sending him into the hands of Elaida's AS in Cairhien, but this could just as easily have been part of some Forsaken's plot, or a plot by the Tower AS and the Shaido to alienate the Salidar AS from Rand (see section 1.4.07).

In ACOS, Fain appeared in the company of Toram Riatin (a Cairhienin rebel), calling himself "Jeraal Mordeth", and gave Rand his second unHealable wound. He may or may not have been responsible for the evil people-eating fog that appeared in the rebel camp as well (though it was more likely another "bubble of evil").

Finally, in WH, Fain kills off Kisman, Torval, and Gedwyn in Far Madding, to keep them from getting to Rand before he does. We originally thought that the bizarre appearance of the recently dead Torval and Gedwyn walking up the stairs at the inn [WH: 33, Blue Carp Street, 615] was further evidence of Fain's powers; however, it's been suggested that this was actually an early occurence of the ghost phenomenon seen in COT (see section 1.6.3).

As far as we know, Fain still has his pet Fade.

Is Fain the Dark One's avatar?

Roy Navarre and Tony Z came up with a loony theory that Fain is actually the avatar of the DO. Roy says: "First, if you check the glossary, you will see that the DO is described as the source of all evil. Hence Mashadar must flow from the DO or the glossary is wrong. (Note that that last option has been known to happen.) Next, Myself and Tony Z presented detailed evidence suggesting that Fain is the avatar of the DO. With each broken seal, Fain gets stronger. Thus, the DO has been in our midst all this time but we just didn't know it. At first only a trace of him in Fain, but growing stronger and stronger until now his presence in Fain seems unmistakable."


Eric Ebinger counters: "Fain no longer exists. Padan Fain was summoned to Shayol Ghul, was broken and reformed into a bloodhound for the DO, as part of which he was imprinted by the DO. This happened twice at Shayol Ghul and once in a dream. Padan Fain/DO bloodhound went to Shadar Logoth and fell prey to Mordeth. Normally, Mordeth would just destroy the existing "soul/personality", but Padan Fain's having been "remade" by the DO seems to have changed things sufficiently so that there was a slow gradual merging of all of the different personalities (Fain/Mordeth/DO's imprint). The most accurate term for the combination is the name that he took: Ordeith. Over time, the Mordeth portion has gained more and more control over the gestalt. The DO's imprint has given Ordeith the unreasoning hatred of Rand, Perrin, and Mat. There doesn't seem to be much of anything of Padan Fain left. As the Mordeth fragment has gained more complete control of the gestalt, Ordeith has increased in power. The seeming relationship between the breaking of the Seals and Ordeith's power is due only to the fact that as time passes Ordeith gets stronger and as time passes the Seals break. The same relationship is evident with Rand, Perrin, Mat, Elayne, Egwene, Aviendha and Nynaeve." Note that Fain is now calling himself "Mordeth," which suggests that the Mordeth part is dominating, which makes it very unlikely that Fain is the DO's avatar.

Furthermore, as John Novak states: "If Fain is now an embodiment of the Dark One, why in Hell was Slayer hunting him down as a renegade in TSR? Does the Dark One like being hunted by his own servants?"

Finally, it's pretty apparent that if anybody in these books is the Dark One's avatar, it's Shaidar Haran (see section 1.4.05).

Will the destruction of Shadar Logoth affect Fain's powers?

Some people have suggested that the Mordeth aspect of Fain (which, as we have noted, now seems to be the most dominant part of him) will be weakened or even killed as a result of Rand blowing up Shadar Logoth.

This doesn't seem likely, though. For one thing, the wound Fain gave Rand with the SL dagger is still there, unchanged [WH: 35, With the Choedan Kal, 655], [COT: 24, A Strengthening Storm, 546]. Ben Goodman points out, "Mordeth more or less brought Shadar Logoth into being. His binding with Fain made him independent from it although he could draw power from things connected to it like the dagger. The dagger itself can be seen as a part of Shadar Logoth that survived. It was the evil rather than the location that gave Fain and the dagger their power. I don't think that there were invisible cords linking Fain and the dagger to Shadar Logoth so that when its evil is consumed by the Taint, their evil is consumed too."

It's possible that Rand's wound from the dagger cannot be Healed until the dagger itself (and possibly Fain along with it) is destroyed [Maccabeus Epimanes]. Since the wound from the dagger is still the same, it seems safe to assume both the dagger and Mordeth/Fain are (relatively) unaffected by SL's destruction.

1.7.2: Mordeth, Mashadar and Machin Shin


Mordeth was the councillor whose evil brought Aridhol to its doom. As far as we know, he was an actual person at the time of the Trolloc Wars. He was the power behind the throne of Balwen, and led Aridhol to the policy of "The victory of the Light is all....while their deeds abandoned the Light." When the city was consumed by its own evil, only Mordeth remained, bound to Shadar Logoth. One supposes that at some point he died, leaving his spirit to haunt the ruins. Mordeth's way out was to convince someone "to accompany him to the walls, to the boundary of Mashadar's power, [where he was] able to consume the soul of that person." That person was Fain, and it didn't quite work out that way, due to the DO's influence on Fain. Anyway, Mordeth no longer haunts Shadar Logoth, he is inside Fain, merged with him. [TEOTW: 19, Shadow's Waiting, 244]

Like Mordeth, Mashadar is connected with Shadar Logoth. However, Mordeth and Mashadar are NOT the same. Mordeth is/was a sentient being, an individual. Mashadar is some sort of physical manifestation of the evil nature of the city: "No enemy had come to Aridhol but Aridhol. Suspicion and hate had given birth to something that fed on that which created it, something locked in the bedrock on which the city stood. Mashadar waits still, hungering." [TEOTW: 19, Shadow's Waiting, 244] In particular, Mashadar is a slightly glowing fog. "Mashadar. Unseeing, unthinking, moving through the city as aimlessly as a worm burrows through the earth. If it touches you, you will die." [TEOTW: 20, Dust on the Wind, 249] It is not sentient. It just moves around and kills whatever it touches, in a rather painful fashion, if Liah's reaction to being touched by it in [ACOS: 41, A Crown of Swords, 660] is any indication. Mashadar, or something similar to it, may have existed prior to the Trolloc Wars. In [TEOTW: 50, Meetings at the Eye, 628], Aginor refers to the Shadar Mandarb, or the taint on it, as "An old thing, an old friend, an old enemy." [ACOS book signing: Vancouver, 24 August, 1996; report by Lara Beaton], RJ said that Mashadar appeared after everybody in Aridhol had killed one another.

Machin Shin

The Black Wind of the Ways. It is a part of the "Darkening of the Ways": "About a thousand years ago, during what you humans call the War of the Hundred Years, the Ways began to change....they grew dank and dim...some who came out had gone mad, raving about Machin Shin, the Black Wind." [TEOTW: 43, Decisions and Apparitions, 545] People who run into the Black Wind end up mad, or a mindless husk like the Ogier in [TGH: 36, Among The Elders, 435]. After TEOTW, Machin Shin gained a new feature: it somehow seeks out Rand. Whenever Rand tries to use the Ways, Machin Shin is found at the Waygate he is using. Note that this ONLY happens to Rand. When Liandrin, etc use the ways in TGH, and when Perrin does in TSR, they do not find the Black Wind waiting for them at the Waygate. This new effect is probably somehow due to its encounter with Fain in TEOTW. It seems to have picked up Fain's drive to seek out Rand. Note that it is probably NOT under Fain's control; Fain wanted Rand to follow him to Falme, but Machin Shin prevented him from doing so.

Where did the Black Wind come from? Nobody really knows. Moiraine makes some speculation in [TEOTW: 45, What Follows in Shadow, 576]: "Something left from the Time of Madness, perhaps....Or even from the War of the Shadow, the War of Power. Something hiding in the Ways so long it can no longer get out. No one, not even among the Ogier, knows how far the Ways run, or how deep. It could even be something of the Ways themselves. As Loial said, the Ways are living things, and all living things have parasites. Perhaps even a creature of the corruption itself, something born of the decay. Something that hates life and light."

Some people believe that Mashadar and Machin Shin are somehow connected, that Mashadar somehow got into the Ways through the Shadar Logoth Waygate and then became the Black Wind. This is very unlikely, for the following reasons: 1) Mashadar dates from the Trolloc Wars, Machin Shin from the Hundred Years' War. That is about a thousand years' difference. Thus, the time scale does not agree. 2) Mashadar is a slow-moving glowing fog that kills everything it touches. Machin Shin is a black, howling wind that eats your soul, but doesn't kill your body. So, there is no similarity of appearance, or effect. 3) If Mashadar could get into the Ways from Shadar Logoth, logic says it could get out of the Ways at some other point, and spread itself across Randland. This clearly hasn't happened.

1.7.3: Is Mordeth a Gholam?

[Leigh Butler, Steven Hillage]

Mat seems to think so. In WH, Noal and Mat watch the Ebou Dar gholam escape: "The creature stuck its hands into a hole left by a missing brick...Hands followed arms, and then the gholam's head went into the hole...The gholam's chest slithered through, its legs, and it was gone. Through an opening maybe the size of Mat's two hands." Noal comments that he's never seen anything like that before. "'I have,' Mat said hollowly. 'In Shadar Logoth.' Sometimes bits of his own memory he thought lost floated up out of nowhere, and that one had just surfaced, watching the gholam" [WH: 16, An Unexpected Encounter, 355].

Here's the bit Mat is thinking of: "As Mordeth dove through the air, he stretched out and thinned, like a tendril of smoke. As thin as a finger he struck a crack in the wall tiles and vanished into it" [TEOTW: 19, Shadow's Waiting, 240].

However, despite Mat's certainty and the similarity of the two descriptions, it doesn't seem possible that Mordeth is a gholam. There are lots of reasons why it's unlikely: If Mordeth is a gholam, how did he eat? It's not like people waltzed into SL on a regular basis, ripe for "harvesting". Gholam are physical beings - why didn't Mordeth have a shadow? And for that matter, how could a corporeal thing like a gholam have merged with Fain? Possession by a spirit is one thing, but how could a gholam-body merge with Fain's body? And why would it want to? Why hasn't the Ebou Dar gholam tried Mordeth's swelling-to-huge-proportions illusion that he did in TEOTW (to try and trap the boys in the treasure room) [Nevin Aiken]? If Mordeth was a gholam why couldn't he leave SL? Moiraine states, also in TEOTW, that no denizen of SL, including Mordeth, can cross her ward lines, but can't gholam melt OP flows with ease?

Additionally, the descriptions above are similar but not identical. Mordeth's evokes a smoky or misty image, while the gholam in WH (and in all other descriptions we've had), gives a far more liquid-like impression.

All these problems make the idea unlikely, but the reason why it's pretty much impossible is this: we know gholam were created by Aginor as a tool of the Dark One. If we posit that Mordeth is a gholam, then how do we reconcile this with the statement that SL evil did not come from the Dark One, but from the suspicion and hate of the people of Aridhol, who had been poisoned by Mordeth?

Mordeth, and Aridhol itself, are just as opposed to the Dark One as the forces of Light are, just in a bad way. Thus supposing that Mordeth is a gholam-- a weapon of the Dark One-- makes no sense.

1.7.4: What was up with Liah in Shadar Logoth?

How did Liah manage to stay alive in Shadar Logoth from the time she got lost in LOC to the end of ACOS?

RJ says:

"She became absorbed into the city. She was left there and she is, after all, an Aiel, one of the people better at surviving under harsh circumstances than anyone else in the world. And also her corruption by Shadar Logoth gave her *some* protection." [America Online chat session, 27 June, 1996]

What happened to Liah was probably akin to what happened to Mat when he carried the Shadar Mandarb in TEOTW. Her behavior (attacking all comers) supports this belief. I guess that being bonded to Shadar Logoth must give one some protection from Mashadar, although obviously not enough, since it got her in the end.