1. The Dark Side

This section contains information on and discussion of the Shadow, and also on the evil of Shadar Logoth.

1.1: The Forsaken: The Old Guard

This subsection contains information on and discussion of the thirteen Forsaken, in their original guises.

1.1.1: Who are the Forsaken? Where are they now?-- Updated

[Mark Looi, Erica Sadun, Pam Korda, Leigh Butler, Jennifer Liang]

During the AOL, many Aes Sedai turned to the Dark Side. The Guide tells us that "the best of them were given power and ability beyond that of others....Among themselves they were known as 'Those Chosen to Rule the World Forever', or simply 'the Chosen.'" [Guide: 5, The Dark One and the Male Forsaken, 49] In the Third Age, the term "Forsaken" is used to refer to the thirteen who were caught in the sealing of the Bore. According to the Guide [Guide: 5, The DO and the Male Forsaken, 50], those thirteen were the most powerful of the Chosen.

The 13 Forsaken (in alphabetical order) are:

  • AGINOR (M): Real name: Ishar Morrad Chuain. Aliases: Osan'gar, Dashiva. Before turning to the Shadow, he was a famous biologist. He was the second most powerful of the male Forsaken. He created the various Shadowspawn, and was apparently never involved in military operations (RJ said that the guy who created the Trollocs had no combat experience [Correspondence]). Killed at the Eye of the World by drawing too much of the One Power during a confrontation with Rand [TEOTW: 51, Against the Shadow, 634-635]. He was recycled into the body of a middle-aged Borderlander by the Dark One, and called Osan'gar. Revealed to be masquerading as the Asha'man Dashiva [WH: 35, With the Choedan Kal, 645]. Killed, again, by Elza at the end of WH [ibid., 653].


  • ASMODEAN (M): Real name: Joar Addam Nesossin [TFOH: 45, After the Storm, 516]. Alias: Jasin Natael. Before turning to the Shadow, he was a composer and musician; claimed to have joined the Shadow for the promise of eternal life, in which to practice songs and music. Thought by many to be the weakest and most cowardly of the Forsaken. Captured by Rand and shielded by Lanfear at Rhuidean [TSR: 58, The Traps of Rhuidean, 674-677]. Toast at the end of TFOH...twice! No body was found, so most people in Randland do not know he is dead, just that he has vanished. The DO is likely either unwilling or unable to recycle him, since THOSE WHO BETRAY [the DO] WILL DIE THE FINAL DEATH. The identity of his killer is unknown (see section 1.1.6).


  • BALTHAMEL (M): Real name: Eval Ramman. Aliases: Aran'gar, Halima. In the AOL, he was a historian before turning to the Dark Side. The Guide [Guide: 5, The DO and the Male Forsaken, 54] indicates that he may have run a spy network for the Shadow during the War of Power. He was notorious for being an utter lecher. Killed by the Green Man at the Eye of the World [TEOTW: 50, Meetings at the Eye, 630-631]. He has been recycled into the body of an attractive woman, and is called Aran'gar. For a time, she had infiltrated the Salidar Aes Sedai, and was acting as Egwene's masseuse.  After being discovered by Romanda, she fled.  Aran'gar's current whereabouts are unknown [KOD: A call to a Sitting 23].


  • BE'LAL (M): Real name: Duram Laddel Cham. Aliases: Netweaver, High Lord Samon of Tear. He was a lawyer in the AOL. After turning to the Shadow, he served as a general and governor. He was balefired by Moiraine in the Stone of Tear [TDR: 55, What is Written in Prophecy, 557].


  • DEMANDRED (M): Real name: Barid Bel Medar. During the AOL, played second fiddle to the Dragon until he got tired of being continually thought second-best to LTT [TFOH: 3, Pale Shadows, 76-77], [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 56-57], who he considered to be his intellectual inferior. He went over to the Shadow, where he served as a general. He hated and envied LTT intensely, and has transferred that feeling to Rand [TSR: 58, The Traps of Rhuidean, 677]. Knows how to block gateways. Current location unknown, though he is definitely involved in some manner with the Black Tower, either working through Mazrim Taim or independently (see section 1.1.5).


  • GRAENDAL (F): Real name: Kamarile Maradim Nindar. Alias: Lady Basene. Steven Cooper notes, "The nickname 'Maisia,' used by Sammael in ACOS, should perhaps be mentioned here. According to Thomas Howard, RJ explained it was a name commonly given to pets in the AOL (no wonder Graendal was not amused)." Before turning to the Shadow, she was a celebrated psychiatrist in the AOL [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 130-9], and an ascetic. In the habit of taking aristocrats and making them serve in some demeaning aspect, using enough Compulsion to fry their brains and make them useless. Currently in Arad Doman, having taken over somebody's palace, where she appears to visitors as a feeble old lady. She has one of the World's Greatest Generals, Lord Rodel Ituralde, working for her, though he doesn't know it, and has manuevered him into an offensive against the Seanchan. She seems to be underestimated by all the other Forsaken, besides Sammael. Was duped by Sammael for a short time, into following him due to his claim of being Nae'blis. She was "reined in" by Moridin and his minions. Presumed dead after Rand balefired her fortress in TGS. [TGS 37: A Force of Light]  (see section 1.1.10)


  • ISHAMAEL (M): Real name: Elan Morin Tedronai. Aliases: Ba'alzamon, Moridin. The most philosophically-minded of the Forsaken, he came up with many theories on the nature of the battle between the Creator and the DO [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 133]. Believed by many to be the most powerful Forsaken. Was partially or totally free during the Third Age (see section 1.1.8). Believed by the other Forsaken to be partially or totally mad. Frequent user of the "True Power." Killed by Rand in Tear [TDR: 55, What is Written in Prophecy, 570]. He has been recycled into the body of a dark, handsome young man, and calls himself Moridin. He has reassumed his pre-death position as Big Cheese in the Shadow's hierarchy, and seems to have most of the other Forsaken under his control. Has rescinded the order against killing Rand (see section 1.4.10).This is likely because of a mysterious link between the two that Moridin reveals to Rand in The Gathering Storm. The two mirror each other in surprising ways.


  • LANFEAR (F): Real name: Mierin Eronaile. Aliases: Selene, Keille, Silvie, Else Grinwell (in TDR), Cyndane. She was the most powerful of the female Forsaken, and was maybe the second-strongest of all. Former lover of LTT, she believes she was rudely tossed over for Ilyena. She was not famous in the AOL [Guide: 6, The Female Forsaken and the Darkfriends], when she was a researcher into the One Power. She was one of the AS who opened the Bore, apparently unwittingly. Known for interfering in others' plans, twisting them to her advantage. Tackled by Moiraine in TFOH, and fell into Finnland. She has a new body, either from dying and being recycled, or from a wish to the Finn, and is called Cyndane (see section 1.2.4). Mindtrapped by Moridin, and apparently weaker in the OP than she was as Lanfear [WH: 35, With the Choedan Kal, 649].


  • MESAANA (F): Real name: Saine Tarasind. Was rejected by the Collam Daan (a major research institution during the AOL), so instead of being a researcher she ended up a teacher, until she found a way to Teach Them All! MUAHAHAH! She has been known to plot with Demandred and Semirhage. She had been the power behind the power behind the throne in the White Tower, running Elaida through Alviarin, until her failure to show up at the Battle of Shadar Logoth in WH earned her a... demotion. Her secret identity in the Tower is as yet unknown (see section 1.1.2).


  • MOGHEDIEN (F): Real name: Lillen Moiral. Aliases: Gyldin, Marigan. During the AOL, she was a shady "investment advisor." During the War of Power, she ran a spy network. Believed to be the strongest Forsaken in Tel'aran'rhiod. She was captured by Nynaeve in Tanchico, but escaped [TSR: 54, Into the Palace, 631-3]. Captured by Nynaeve again in Salidar and forced to teach her and Elayne. Released by Aran'gar and summoned to SG, where she was severely punished, and was fitted with a mindtrap. Is now a lackey of Moridin. Current condition unknown; there is some suggestion that she may not have survived the Cleansing at the end of WH.


  • RAHVIN (M): Real Name: Ared Mosinel. Alias: Lord Gaebril. Previously held Queen Morgase in thrall via Compulsion. Balefired by Rand at the end of TFOH.


  • SAMMAEL (M): Real name: Tel Janin Aellinsar. Alias: Lord Brend of Illian. During the AOL, he was an athlete. Served the DO as a general. Was given scar by LTT, hates Rand. Always wanted to be taller. He'd managed to get hold of a number of AOL goodies from stasis boxes, and some stuff from the Kin's stash in Ebou Dar. Killed by Mashadar during his battle with Rand in Shadar Logoth at the end of ACOS; this was confirmed by RJ during the CNN chat on December 12, 2000: "Mashadar killed Sammael. Sammael is toast!" (reported by Erica Sadun and Patrick Cotrona)


  • SEMIRHAGE (F): Real name: Nemene Damendar Boann. Alias: Anath. She was a brilliant healer who took payment and pleasure in extracting extra pain from her patients; turned to the Dark Side to avoid being stilled or bound by an Oath Rod for her sadism. Has a penchant for gruesome torture. Hates Lanfear. Is very tall, with dark skin and eyes, and likes wearing black. Knows how to block open gateways.  She was captured by Rand's party and beaten by Cadsuane. With the help of the Black sister, Elza Penfell, Semi escaped and briefly held Rand prisoner with the male a'dam. Rand used the True Power to balefire her and escape. [The Gathering Storm 22: The Last that Could be Done]

1.1.2: Who is Mesaana in the Tower? -Updated

[Tony Zbaraschuck, Marc Zappala, Pam Korda, Leigh Butler, Jennifer Liang]

In LOC, we find out that Mesaana is hiding out in the White Tower [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 138]. Naturally, this leads to the question of who she is pretending to be.

RJ has had a couple of things to say on the matter. He told "Tallis" at the Harvard Coop signing [January 18, 2003] that "there are many clues as to Mesaana's identity, enough that we should figure it out before COT. He basically said that he'd full-out reveal her in upcoming books, though: '...and if you still don't know, well, you'll find out later.'"

Yeah, but we want to know now, don't we? When asked if we have actually seen Mesaana's alter ego in the Tower, RJ said, yes, we have [Robert Mee, Bailey's Crossroads signing, VA, January 23, 2003].

Of course, that doesn't narrow it down all that much, but it does at least mean that Mesaana is not likely to be some random servant in the Tower, or a sister we haven't been specifically introduced to.

There is some difficulty with the idea that Mesaana is posing as an already existing person that people know. None of the Forsaken (that we know of) have copied an already-prominent identity. Rather, they take a little-known or unknown identity and then promote themselves rapidly. Supplanting a well-known personality is not easy; it requires a total control of oneself, and the ability to copy the tiniest habits. This is especially true in the Tower, where Aes Sedai can doubtless read meaning in the tilt of an eyebrow or the tapping of a finger.

However, in [ACOS: Prologue, Lightnings, 41], Alviarin thinks "She [Mesaana] must be one of the sisters; surely she was not among servants, bound to labor and sweat. But who? Too many women had been out of the Tower for years before Elaida's summons, too many had no close friends, or none at all." Thus, Mesaana could be posing as one of the long-gone sisters, somebody who'd been gone so long that differences in personality, etc. would not seem too amiss, or one of the AS who is not known very well. (This is discussed further below.)

What other clues do we have?

  1. Lip Tapping.

    In [ACOS: Prologue, Lightnings, 41], Alviarin notes that Mesaana taps her lip with her finger while thinking. Unfortunately, numerous Aes Sedai do this, among them Leane, Alviarin herself, Nesune [LOC: 27, Gifts, 395], Theodrin [ACOS: 11, An Oath, 210], Moiraine, and Vandene. So the lip-tapping thing is a fairly useless clue, and probably a red herring to boot.

  2. Physical features.

    When Mesaana's disguise is shattered by Shaidar Haran in [COT: 21, A Mark, 516], Alviarin sees "a blue-eyed woman... a tantalizingly familiar woman who looked just short of her middle years." This strongly suggests that Mesaana is pretending to be a sister that Alviarin knows.

    Why? First, the fact that Alviarin finds Mesaana's face familiar at all means that it's part of her disguise (i.e. she's not walking around with a completely different face on). Secondly, note that Alviarin puts a definite age range to the Forsaken. Put these two facts together and then ask what factor could make someone's face somewhat familiar but not completely? Adding or removing the Ageless look, that's what.

    Mesaana's real face is not Ageless, but she would have to add Agelessness in order to pretend to be a sister. As we know from Siuan and Leane's escapades (and other examples as well), losing the Ageless look changes your appearance sufficiently to make it difficult - but not impossible - for others to recognize you. So it appears that rather than go the whole hog, Mesaana has been opting to keep her real face and just make it Ageless. There's no other reasonable explanation as to why Alviarin would only kind of recognize Mesaana's face.

    There have been objections to this idea, mainly along the grounds that keeping anything of her real face in her disguise seems like a rather large risk to take. As long as you're going to go through the trouble of making your face Ageless, why not change it completely while you're at it? [Jim Mansfield]

    Well, for several reasons. One, it's valid to assume that the more elaborate the Illusion, the more difficult it is to create and maintain over long periods of time. The first lesson in successful undercover work is to keep things as simple as possible. Two, with the reasonable supposition that no other Forsaken besides herself are going to be wandering the Tower, why would Mesaana bother? Who besides the FS would recognize her true face? Much easier and less bother and effort to Ageless-ize her real face than to make up another one. Third, there's precedent for it: Lanfear's "Selene" disguise was basically just a younger version of herself, and Egwene notes that Moggy's "Marigan" face is basically the same as her real face, except with careworn touches [LOC: 37, When Battle Begins, 489].

  3. The Great Dress Debate.

    When Alviarin is groveling before Mesaana in [TPOD: 25, An Unwelcome Return, 497], she catches a glimpse of Mesaana's skirt: "Seizing the hem of Mesaana's dress, she rained kisses on it. The weave of Illusion...did not hold completely, with her frantically shifting the skirt's edge. Flickers of bronze silk with a thin border of intricately embroidered black scrollwork showed through."

    The finery of Mesaana's dress cast further doubt on the possibility that she could be masquerading as a scullery maid or some such, though it's been pointed out that Mesaana could easily have deliberately changed into the silk in order to throw Alviarin off the scent or to test her loyalty [Dennis Higbee]. However, in COT she is wearing another silk dress, this time green "embroidered with elaborate bands of bronze." This second dress is more significant a clue than the first, as Jean Dufresne points out, because Alviarin had just pressed the panic button to summon Mesaana, which means that whatever Mesaana had to drop doing at a moment's notice, she was doing it in the silk dress. This again reinforces the idea that Mesaana is masquerading as someone who wears silk regularly, i.e. a sister.

    The bronze color of the first dress led us to look among the Yellow or Brown Ajah for Mesaana, since Aes Sedai tend to dress in their Ajah colors (though that is only a tendency, not an absolute - Alanna, for instance, has been seen wearing blue and yellow, and she's a Green). The second dress, while green, also has bronze in it, and Rich Boyé points out that Mesaana is described as wearing "russet" in her inaugural appearance in the series [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 55]. It's clear from Demandred's comments at that meeting that Mesaana was already ensconced in the Tower at that point, so it remains uncertain whether Mesaana's tendency to wear brownish colors is part of her disguise or just a personal predilection. In any case, it still factors in our consideration of who she might be impersonating.

  4. Strength.

    The last thing we should consider before moving on to specific candidates is Mesaana's strength in the Power. As a Forsaken, obviously her strength would far outstrip anyone else's in the Tower, and so must be disguised. A lot of people have used this as an argument against her pretending to be a sister, because we have had no direct evidence that you can only partially disguise your strength in the Power. Most examples of FS hiding their strength in the OP (Moggy as Gyldin/Marigan, Semirhage as Anath) have involved masking the ability completely, and indeed Mesaana does completely hide her ability when talking to Alviarin; but if Mesaana is pretending to be a sister, she clearly can't have it appear that she can't channel at all while walking around being her alter ego. Furthermore, Alviarin mentions that the others of the Chosen she had met let her sense their strength, how far above her they stood, and Mesaana was the only one who hid her ability completely [ACOS: Prologue, Lightnings, 41]. If Mesaana could partially hide her strength, why would she feel the need to hide her full strength when behind the Illusion? [Rajiv Mote]

    Therese Wikström counters the latter point: "Sisters establish a pecking order based on strength in the Power. Hence, they know pretty well how strong any other Aes Sedai is. If Mesaana is posing as an Aes Sedai, and masking her ability to channel to a degree (say, from a 15 to a 8 on a scale from 1 to 20), she wouldn't reveal her secret identity's strength to Alviarin. If she did, Alviarin would only have to search among sisters of a certain strength."

    That still does not explain, however, why Mesaana couldn't simply have chosen to appear to Alviarin showing her full strength. One possible explanation for this is that it is a side effect of reversing weaves (see section 2.3.18). Alviarin never senses any of Mesaana's channeling at all, which indicates she is reversing the weaves; if reversing hides the glow of someone embracing saidar, maybe it also hides the fact that the person can channel at all.

    John Nowacki reports that RJ said, at a post-TPOD booksigning in Washington, DC, that a channeler can hide strength as well as ability to channel, but added that few people know how to do it and the AS don't even know these tricks are possible. There is also some indirect evidence of it from Lanfear, who disguised herself as Else Grinwell to move about the Tower [TDR: 24, Scouting and Discoveries, 224-225]. Else was a novice, so logically Lanfear couldn't have simply made it appear that she had no channeling ability, but then she certainly couldn't have her walking around radiating "Strongest Female Channeler Ever!" either.

    Basically, with regard to the strength question, the evidence that Mesaana could partially hide her strength is not ironclad, but combined with RJ's say-so it'll have to do.

So who could she be?

The two main candidates for Mesaana's secret identity are Tarna Feir and Danelle.

One objection to both characters we should address at the outset is the problem of prior histories. It's pretty clear that both characters existed as "real" people in the past - Tarna for certain. There is her association with Galina, for one thing, and Pevara appears to know Tarna fairly well, commenting on her attitude toward men and when she had gained the shawl [COT: 22, One Answer, 521]. Pevara also comments that Elaida trusts Tarna, which indicates that Elaida knows her as well. As for Danelle, her insertion in Elaida's junta implies that she was a known commodity to at least a few of the conspirators. Also, Siuan knew who Danelle was, since she was monitoring her progress in the library reconstruction project. These are commonly raised as arguments against either character being Mesaana, Alviarin's thoughts notwithstanding.

However, it's been pointed out that in such a small and tight-knit community as the Tower, creating a fictitious sister out of whole cloth would have been difficult if not impossible to accomplish. It might be easier to simply torture an existing Aes Sedai into giving up all her personal details, much as Semirhage did with Cabriana Mecandes on behalf of Aran’gar. As long as we assume she's impersonating an AS, and RJ certainly seems to be steering us in that direction, then Mesaana almost had to choose to pretend to be an already existing sister.

But how does that square with our assumption that Mesaana must be using her own face as part of her disguise, as discussed above? The obvious answer to this is that either the sister in question had been gone so long from the Tower that no one remembered what she looked like, or (more likely) Mesaana happens to bear a significant resemblance to whomever she's pretending to be (in fact, that very well may have been how she decided who to replace in the first place).


Tarna is the Red emissary to Salidar who interrogates/lectures Elayne and Nynaeve [LOC: 13, Under the Dust, 232] before disappearing for three books and finally resurfacing in Dorlan outside Tar Valon, citing traffic problems and weather to explain why it took her almost four months to get from Salidar to Tar Valon [COT: 22, One Answer, 524]. In [COT: 22, One Answer, 522] we learn that she has been named Elaida's Keeper in Alviarin's place. However, she receives a POV chapter in KOD [KOD 25: Attending Elaida] which rules her out as a suspect. Which leaves us with Danelle.



Danelle is the dreamy-eyed Brown who participated in Elaida's coup in TSR. She has since been seen several times drifting aimlessly around the Tower, having been shunted to the periphery once Elaida was firmly in power.

For her:

  • She also has blue eyes.
  • She played a key role in unseating Siuan, and smirks at her at one point during the process.
  • She is dreamy and friendless, which would have made the real Danelle easy to "replace". Alviarin specifically places Danelle among the sisters with no close friends or ties when ruminating on who Mesaana could be [ACOS: Prologue, Lightnings, 41].
  • Danelle is Brown Ajah. Mesaana's tendency to wear brownish colors implies she is impersonating a Brown sister.

    Counterargument: Or it could only indicate a personal preference, as noted above.

Against her:

  • If Danelle is Mesaana, her presence at the coup is bizarre: taking direct action both in the set-up and in the execution of Siuan's overthrow is very unlike the rest of what we see of Mesaana's manipulate-from-the-shadows behavior.

    Counterargument: This can be explained by supposing either that Mesaana is ballsier than she's letting on to Alviarin, or that Mesaana did not replace Danelle until after the coup.


  • It's mentioned that Danelle wears wool, not silk [TFOH: Prologue, The First Sparks Fall, 13].
  •  After taking control of the Tower, Egwene required all the Aes Sedai to reswear the Three Oaths and say “I am not a Darkfriend” in front of witnesses. Presumably, Danelle was among them.
  • Counterargument: Mesaana isn’t a Darkfriend. She’s Forsaken. We’ve seen time and again that the Forsaken don’t even consider themselves human, much less on the same level as the other servants of the Dark One. James Luckman posits another possibility : “One of my thoughts is that it’s possible Mesaana kept whichever sister she replaced alive and in captivity--possibly as a source of information in maintaining the disguise or something. And having had warning from the Rebels (which they must have, or so many Black's wouldn't have escaped), she brought this woman out, layered her with Compulsion, and sent her out to swear and smile. Any oddness would be shrugged off as shock over the Seanchan assault/BA reveal. Later, Mesaana tucks her back in her corner and continues on blissfully.”
  •  Another possibility firmly and unapologetically in the "Loony Theory" category comes from Matt Hatch:  As we learn at the beginning of TGS, Mesaana was reeling from the capture of Semirhage and her own failures. So, she promises that the "The White Tower and those fools who rule it will shortly be mine. I will deliver not just a broken White Tower to our Great Lord, but an entire broad of channelers who—one way or another—will serve our cause in the Last Battle. This time, the Aes Sedai will fight for us!" Fast forward to the attack on the Tower and the subsequent reswearing Egwene initiates in an attempt to find all remaining black ajah. Egwene offers one explanation for the inability to locate Mesaana among the women that have resworn to the Oath Rod: "These three names were the only ones who could have been the Forsaken. But none of them fit, not at all. That gave her a chill. Was Mesaana still hiding in the Tower? If so, she somehow knew how to defeat the Oath Rod." If Mesaana is still in the Tower, Egwene fails to consider another option: Mesaana, hoping to avoid the risk of being discovered in reswearing the oaths, and desiring to avoid the binding effects known to her regarding binding rods but still wanting the freedom to affect events and salvage defeat, takes the life of an Aes Sedai that has been resworn and is now masquerading as this woman.

If we suppose Mesaana is Danelle, we see a character who played an essential role in engineering Siuan's downfall but then quickly and quietly faded into the background once it was done. This is a risky move for one of the Forsaken, but perhaps a necessary one to ensure the schism between the Aes Sedai happened as planned.
Other suspects
In The Gathering Storm, Egwene demands all sisters reswear the Oaths and affirm they are not a Darkfriend. Three sisters are unaccounted for: Nalasia Merhan, Teramina, and Jamilia Norsish. [TGS Epilogue: Bathed in Light] However, as Robert Jordan said we should be able to figure it out by COT, it seems very unlikely that one of these sisters would be the Forsaken, as their first mention in the series occurs in TGS. It’s more likely they were captured by the Seanchan during the raid without witnesses to confirm it and only mentioned as a red herring.

In conclusion, both the Tarna-as-Mesaana theory and the Danelle-as-Mesaana theory have their problems, but overall it seems that Danelle is the more likely of the two.

1.1.3: Who was "Silvie"?

[Pam Korda, Joe Shaw]

"Silvie" is the name given by the old woman Egwene meets in T'A'R in [TDR: 27, Tel'aran'rhiod, 257-259]. All the evidence indicates that she was Lanfear.

The masquerade was most likely part of the plot to get Rand and/or Mat to go to Tear. Egwene and Nynaeve were to be Be'lal and Ish's bait to draw Rand, while Liandrin and Co. were the bait to draw Egwene and Nynaeve. Of course, Rand was already on his way to Tear to stop the Forsaken's attacks through his dreams, but the girls were probably a backup in case he resisted the dreams or learned to shield them on his own. See Perrin's dream about the trap in [TDR: 43, Shadowbrothers, 426] which matches Egwene's dreams about "puppets" in [TDR: 37, Fires in Cairhien, 352-353]. Lanfear was playing along with Ish, but working towards her own goals. (Another possibility is that Lanfear sent them to mess up Be'lal and Mesaana's plan.)

The reason for ripping off Egwene's ring ter'angreal to throw her out of T'A'R was just her cruel streak; Lanfear knew she was a Dreamer since she had been haunting the White Tower as Else, and just wanted Egwene to go to the Heart of the Stone in T'A'R to make sure the girls decided to go there. Once she had accomplished that, why not send her out the hard way? After all, Lanfear claimed T'A'R as her domain (even though Moggy was stronger there), so there was no need for Egwene to learn too much about "her domain." Plus, her precious LTT reborn had once loved this girl; I'm sure she couldn't resist inflicting a little pain on her, especially since the fact that Eg was bait to draw Rand to Tear meant that he still cared about her. That must have driven Lanfear bonkers.

1.1.4: Why did Sammael claim he had a truce with Rand?

[Carolyn Fusinato, John Novak, Don Harlow]

There are two possibilities:


  1. Andris died in a pool of blood, delivering the message to Sammael that there would be no truce. Sammael lied to Graendal. Why would Sammael lie? All the Forsaken want to be Nae'blis. All the Forsaken think that Rand stands a chance at becoming Nae'blis if he caves to the Dark One. Therefore, all the Forsaken want Rand dead. The Dark One, on the other hand, most explicitly does not want Rand dead. He will punish any Forsaken who kills Rand. Therefore, all the Forsaken want to make the other Forsaken paranoid enough to bump Rand off on their own. This eliminates two contenders to the title of Nae'blis-- Rand, and whichever idiot kills him.


  2. Andris died in a pool of blood, delivering the message to Sammael that there would be a truce because someone else intervened to put Sammael off his guard while Rand readies his counter-stroke from Tear and the Plains of Maredo. Someone who knew that Sammael's emissary was meeting with Rand at that moment. Who was present? Bashere, a Saldaean named Hamad, some Aiel, and Aviendha. The evidence against this option is that Rand should have been able to feel another man channeling or have experienced goosebumps if a woman channeled, and Sammael's thoughts about manipulating Graendal [LOC: 23, To Understand A Message, 349] don't make sense if he isn't lying.

1.1.5 How do we know Demandred is not Taim? --Updated

[Leigh Butler]

Taim is not Demandred in disguise.

How do we know? Because RJ said so.

Q: "It's been said that you mentioned that Mazrim Taim is not Demandred. There seems to be some confusion on whether or not you said that."

A: "Mazrim Taim is not Demandred."

[Matthew Julius, post-COT signing, Dayton, OH, January 16, 2003]

Tim Kington concurs:

Q: "Taim is clearly not Demandred, right?"

A: (Disgusted) "I've said that before, and it's not Taim, it's Ta-eeem."

The same response was also reported on wotmania.com, in LiveJournal's Wheel of Time community, and in several emails.

You don't really expect that to end the debate, do you?

We have multiple reports from multiple independent sources all saying the same thing; evidently RJ felt that the counterevidence provided in WH (the double set of orders to the renegade Asha'man, Demandred's failure to recognize Flinn at the Cleansing) was sufficient to answer the question, and decided to stop beating about the bush on the subject. That effectively closes the topic as far as I am concerned.

FAQ policy has always been that the author's word is canon. If RJ says a thing is so, it's so. And with that I'm afraid the die-hard Taimandred fans will have to be satisfied.

(See section 1.5.6 and section 1.4.10 for more discussion on what Taim is up to.)

Okay, fine. If Demandred isn't Taim, then who is he, smartypants?

We don't know.

There have been a lot of names bandied about as possibilties; Bashere, Masema, and the mysterious Taraboner seen in Arymilla's entourage outside Caemlyn [COT: 15, Gathering Darkness, 371] seem to be the most popular.

All of these can be debunked or contested for various reasons, but it's not necessary to do so:

Q: "Have we yet seen the alter ego Demandred presents to the Third Agers on-screen?"

A: "No." (I asked twice to make sure.)

[Michael Martin, Dayton OH signing]

So, if Demandred is disguising himself as someone, it's not someone we've met in books 1-10. He might appear in either Knife of Dreams or The Gathering Storm, but hasn't done something suspicious enough to put us on his trail.

1.1.6: The Death of Asmodean (a.k.a. The Murder Mystery of DOOM)

[Karl-Johan Norén, Kevin Bartlett, Pam Korda, Leigh Butler]


[Asmodean] pulled open a small door, intending to find his way to the pantry. There should be some decent wine. One step, and he stopped, the blood draining from his face. "You? No!" The word still hung in the air when death took him. [TFOH: 56, Glowing Embers, 682]

Note: Tons of thanks to Karl-Johan Norén and Kevin Bartlett, whose comprehensive analysis of Asmodean's death Pam plundered in order to give this section the thoroughness it deserves. 

Did Asmodean really die at the end of TFOH? Did Moridin ("death") take him?

Yes, he's dead. No, Moridin did not kidnap him. First of all, RJ clearly takes this series too seriously to use such a dastardly pun. Secondly, RJ told Yancy Davis at a post-TPOD signing in Northern Virginia that Asmodean is "road kill." "He also used the line, 'He's a cat that tried to cross the tracks and didn't quite make it.' Also, when I said, 'so he won't be back' he responded, 'No, he will not be coming back.'" [Yancy Davis] Third, Aaron Bergman asked this question at a post-TPOD book-signing in New York: "In particular, I asked whether "death" was just a pun on "Moridin". He said "oh, god no" quite disgustedly." Thankfully, that's the end of that theory.


General Considerations

Now that that's out of the way, let's get on to serious discussion. First, we will consider what the general requirements are for Asmodean's murderer. Second, we will round up all the usual suspects (and some unusual ones). Then, we will examine all the general requirements in detail, and see if we can draw any conclusions from them. Next, we will eliminate suspects who couldn't possibly have done it, and those who theoretically could have done it, but who probably didn't. Finally, we will examine the cases for and against the remaining suspects.

Requirements which must be satisfied by the murderer:

  1. Means: be able to kill Asmo (a channeler) near-instantaneously
  2. Motive: have a motive
  3. Opportunity: be able to be in the Caemlyn palace at the time of the murder
  4. Be a person who Asmodean recognized, who he didn't expect to see, and of whom he was terrified
  5. Be able to dispose of the body
  6. Must know Asmodean's fate
  7. There must be a reason why it's kept a secret, by the author and the killer
  8. Be "obvious" from the instant he died (and we use the term loosely.)

Suspects (overly-complete list):

Now, on to discussion of particular requirements. We'll start off with the classic three requirements for solving any murder mystery: means, motive, and opportunity. Then, we'll consider other requirements for the particular "case" at hand.

Means: How was he killed?

Any good murder investigation begins with determining how the victim died. We are at a slight disadvantage, because there is no body to examine. The possible murder weapons are: channeling, a gholam (which, from another POV, can also be considered a suspect), the Shadar Logoth dagger, and some purely physical means, such as a knife or sword.

What we do have is a (very short) description of his death: "the word still hung in the air when death took him." This indicates that he died very quickly. He did not get a chance to even try to run away or defend himself, even with the OP.

Given that, the Shadar Logoth dagger as the murder weapon poses a problem. Although once stabbed or scratched with it the victim's death is guaranteed, the victim doesn't die instantaneously. There is enough time for the stabbed one to gasp, fall to the ground, writhe around a bit, and finally die once the Mashadar-taint spreads through his body. See the scene in TFOH where Fain kills the Accepted [TFOH: 19, Memories, 259], and the part in TGH where Mat kills the Seanchan guy [TGH: 45, Blademaster, 538]. While the latter seems to die much faster than the Accepted, he still does some writhing in agony which is not consistent with the quickness of Asmodean's death.

However, it is possible to kill extremely quickly with even a conventional dagger or knife, if you know what you are doing. A stab through the eye, for instance, or in the throat, can cause death in seconds. The problem with this, of course, is that Asmodean was a channeler. Remember, channeling is fast. Rand plucks daggers and spears out of the air in mid-flight; wouldn't Asmodean be similarly able to stop or at least deflect a knife?

Well, perhaps not. Unlike Rand, Asmodean was shielded, a shield that allowed him to channel "only a trickle". The question is whether that trickle would be enough to hold off a determined assailant who took him by surprise. Rand observed that floating a goblet across a room was about the extent of Asmodean's abilities [TFOH: 3, Pale Shadows, 73], and then later, "...wished he could see the shield Lanfear had woven. She had said it would dissipate with time, but Asmodean did not seem able to channel any more strongly now than he had the first day he was in Rand's hands. Perhaps she had lied, to give Asmodean false hope, to make Rand believe the man would grow strong enough to teach him more than he ever would" [TFOH: 52, Choices, 622]. If Asmo could barely lift a goblet, it doesn't seem likely that he would be able to stop a killing knife thrust.

This argument is somewhat contradicted, however, by yet another observation Rand makes after balefiring Rahvin and returning to the fighting outside the Caemlyn palace: "And Asmodean, sword held awkwardly and trying to look every way at once in case any Trolloc decided to turn back. Rand could sense saidin in him, though weakly; he did not think much of Asmodean's fighting had been with that blade" [TFOH: 55, The Threads Burn, 676]. The passage suggests that Asmodean could, in fact, defend himself with the OP. Consider, though, that Asmo's murderer took him completely by surprise, at close quarters, and was evidently someone Asmo was utterly terrified of; it's possible that even if Asmo did have the strength to fight off a non-channeling attacker, his shock could have frozen him for the critical moment needed to kill him with an ordinary weapon. (Note that this debate would not necessarily apply if Asmo's assailant was a gholam, since they are not only super-duper fast, but OP-resistant; however, it's unlikely that he was killed by a gholam, for reasons discussed below.)

So it's possible that Asmodean was killed by ordinary means. The more plausible murder weapon, though, is still channeling. While Asmo may or may not have been able to defend himself against conventional attack, we know he didn't stand a chance against any of the channeling suspects. The absence of a body lends more credence to the idea that the killer was a channeler, and that channeling was used in the murder (see below).

Was Asmodean balefired?

This is definitely a possibility. Certainly, any channeler who could have killed Asmo could have wanted to ensure that his thread was burned out of the Pattern.

When Demandred visits the DO in [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 13-16], the DO lumps Asmodean in with Rahvin as having "died the final death." In Rahvin's case, this means he was balefired, and the DO cannot "step outside of time" to recycle him. Of course, there are other ways in which Asmo could have died with no possibility of recycling. For one thing, the DO may have the power to recycle Asmo, but chooses not to, because he was a traitor. Also, remember that Rand severed Asmo's link to the DO, and thus the DO might not have had the power to save Asmo's soul even if he'd wanted to.

Another point in favor of the balefire idea is the similarity between RJ's description of Asmo's death and that of Be'lal in [TDR: 55, What is Written in Prophecy, 557]:


Moiraine had not stopped or slowed while he spoke. She was no more than thirty paces from him when he moved his hand, and she raised both of hers as well.

There was an instant of surprise on the Forsaken's face, and he had time to scream `No!' Then a bar of white fire hotter than the sun shot from the Aes Sedai's hands, a glaring rod that banished all shadows. Before it, Be'lal became a shape of shimmering motes, specks dancing in the light for less than a heartbeat, flecks consumed before his cry faded.

In particular, note the similarity between "flecks consumed before his cry faded" with "the word still hung in the air when death took him." This is certainly suggestive.


If Asmodean was killed by channeling, why didn't anybody sense it?

A common argument against the idea that Asmo was killed by channeling is that, if it was a man, Rand would have sensed the channeling, and if it was a woman, Rand or Aviendha would have sensed it. This isn't really a valid objection.

The range at which channeling can be sensed seems to depend on many different things: proximity, amount of OP being channeled, how much attention the senser is paying, the strength and experience of the senser, and any number of other variables (see section 2.3.5 for further analysis). In the case of Asmodean's death, we have many unknowns. We don't know how far he was from Rand and Avi when he died. He'd been walking through the palace, thinking about his situation, and there is no indication of how far he walked before opening that fateful door. It is entirely possible that he was too far away for the channeling to be detected by Rand and/or Aviendha, who were both distracted by other business. We don't know what form of channeling was used to kill him (if channeling it was)-- balefire, fireballs, inverse healing, or something we don't know about, or how easy any of those things are to sense at a distance. There are too many unknowns and uncertainties to eliminate either half of the OP as the murder weapon.

Of course, the True Power cannot be sensed by anybody. As of WH, the only Forsaken who had permission to use the TP was Moridin, but we don't know when that prohibition went into effect, and an exception to the rule could have been made for this particular assassination anyway. So the True Power is also a possibility, though a slim one - the DO seems to be rather stingy with TP permission, and none of the Forsaken other than Ishydin seem very keen on using it.

Motive: "When I know why, I'll know who."

The question of why Asmo was killed is perhaps the most complicated issue related to his death. Indeed, as the saying goes, if we knew why he was murdered, we could very likely figure out who did it. Here are the possible motives:


  1. Ordered assassination from the DO, as punishment for treachery. All the Forsaken, Slayer, and the different random minions (possibly including Taim) could be acting under this scenario.
  2. Enterprising person, deciding to kill Asmodean on their own accord, in accordance with some unknown (by us) plan. This requires that the murderer has gained the knowledge that Jasin Natael is really Asmodean.
  3. Asmodean stumbled upon his murderer by chance, i.e. the murderer was in Caemlyn and the Palace for an entirely different reason and eliminated Asmo because he discovered him/her.
  4. Ordered assassination, in order to allow Taim to show up in Caemlyn. This only works if the Minion Taim theory is true. (See Section 1.5.6.)
  5. Plot to cause confusion for Rand by killing his minions.

Note that 1, 4 and 5 can all be classified under "ordered by the DO," and 5 could also be a special case of "personal enterprise." Generally, 1, 2, 4, and 5 all involve premeditation, while 3 is just a crime of opportunity.

Any of the Forsaken could have acted under any of these motives. A random minion or Slayer would have been acting under orders, either from a Forsaken, or the DO. Taim could either be acting under orders or on his own, depending on which theory you buy. Fain could only have been acting under 3 or 5. We will now discuss the various motives:


Ordered assassination, as punishment for treachery

Now, it makes perfect sense that the DO and the various Forsaken would want to punish Asmodean for going over to Rand's side. However, if this was the sole motive for the murder, several things don't add up.

In general, people who betray the cause of the Shadow are killed in very visible, painful, messy ways, in order to send a message to others who might consider giving up the Dark Side. Examples of this are Amico and Joiya in TSR, and Ispan in TPOD. Asmodean's remains were not left behind as a lesson. Furthermore, he was killed quickly, with none of the gruesome torture experienced by other failures. The only way the method of the murder makes sense as a punishment is if it was done with balefire-- more than just dying, his thread would have been burned out of the Pattern totally. This still doesn't make perfect sense, because if it was punishment why wasn't the fact that he was balefired shared with the other Forsaken, as a warning?


With this motive, we must also address the issue of timing. Why was Asmodean killed when he was? Given that Asmodean had been "on Rand's side" for at least two months when he was killed, the question of timing must be considered, at least if the murderer is one of the Forsaken. Couldn't he have been killed far earlier? It could be argued that because Asmodean hadn't spent much time in Caemlyn (less than one day) before he was murdered, the murderer wasn't working under a carefully rehearsed plan, but acting more on a sudden opportunity. However, any Forsaken who had set out to kill Asmo would have gone to Cairhien, found out about Rand's raid, and Traveled to Caemlyn. The same applies to Slayer and possibly Taim.

If Asmodean was killed as punishment, why did the DO (or somebody speaking for it) wait so long to give the order? It's possible that changing circumstances forced the DO or a Forsaken to act.

From the DO's or the Forsaken's point of view, the two big events were Lanfear's disappearance and Rahvin's death. The killing of Asmodean is likely connected with one or both of these events. Another possibility is that Asmodean was killed in order to facilitate having Taim join Rand in LOC (this is discussed separately, below). Yet another possibility is that Asmo's death heralds Moridin's resurrection.

Personal Enterprise

Perhaps Asmodean was killed by somebody who had been planning it for a while, and had held off because he was a pet project of Lanfear's. When Lanfear vanished, whoever it was took the opportunity to remove him. (Problem with this: Lanfear claimed to her fellow Chosen that Asmo had gone over to Rand entirely of his own free will, not due to any scheme of hers.) Alternatively, the killer could have had some plan which required Asmodean's removal, and done so. This raises the question of why did they kill him when they did, rather than earlier? (See the discussion of timing, above.)


Accidental Discovery

One possibility is that Asmo was not the specific target of the killer; he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps the killer was/is spying/plotting/etc. from within the court of the Dragon Reborn. Asmodean bumped into him on his way to the wine closet, recognized him, and got killed to protect his secret. Quoting from the relevant passage: "He pulled open a small door, intending to find his way to the pantry. There should be some decent wine." Then we have, "You? No!" He was going to look for wine. He probably opened a door to an empty storeroom or hallway. It was not a wine pantry. He hadn't found it yet. If you reread the passage yourself, it seems that it may have even been an accident he ran into his killer (i.e. the killer wasn't planning on it, but since Asmodean saw him...). This motive fits well with the body being removed/destroyed. If the killing was for punishment, it would have made more sense for the body to be left, and the death widely publicized, to set an example.


So how could the body being discovered disclose something about the killer (to the other characters)? There are 3 possibilities. 1) The killer is part of Rand's entourage, and a dead Asmo could make people suspicious that there was a traitor in the ranks. 2) There is a hole in Rand's security, and a dead Asmo would inspire people to find it and patch it up. 3) The killer is hiding (not necessarily only from Rand - could also be from the Forsaken) and a dead body could start folks thinking the killer was active.

Tie-in to Minion Taim

We now know Taim is not Demandred in disguise (see section 1.1.5), so that is no longer a valid motive for Asmodean's murder. However, if it turns out, as WH suggests, that Taim is Demandred's minion, that could be just as good a motive as the Taimandred theory. If Taim is Dem's protégé, it's not unreasonable to assume that the other Forsaken, including Asmodean, knew who Taim was and probably even had seen him. Thus Asmo would have had to be eliminated to prevent him from betraying Taim's DF status to Rand.


One objection to this is that Demandred was not informed of the supposed plan to kill Asmodean on his lackey's behalf. However, we don't know for sure, if Taim is a DF, if he's working specifically for Demandred. Certainly, he couldn't have been originally (see section 1.5.6). Moridin could have ordered the hit and then only told Demandred (and/or Taim) about it later; Taim could even have killed Asmodean on his own initiative.

Simple plot to cause confusion

The killer may have killed Asmo as part of a plot to annoy or confuse Rand. The problem with this is that there are many better targets for a person with that motive. Why not go after somebody Rand actually cares about, like Mat, Avi, or Egwene? The only way this motive makes sense at all is if the killer knew Asmo's value to Rand as a teacher. In other words, the killer knew "Jasin Natael" was really Asmodean, and all the suspects who would know that have much better motives than causing confusion.


Needless to say, the murderer either was already in Caemlyn when Rand made his surprise raid, or had a way to get there at will. Furthermore, the killer must have been able to get into the Palace (and out again, with the body-- see below). Now, any of the Forsaken could have done that easily, by Traveling. Minion Taim could have done the same. Shaidar Haran could have used the shadow-travel trick to get there. Slayer could have gotten to Caemlyn as easily as any of the Forsaken, via T'A'R. Moiraine could not have Traveled to Caemlyn, but it's possible that she got there via the Finn.

In Fain's case, it is known that he was in Tar Valon (some long way from Caemlyn) about 25 days before Asmo's death. It's not that likely that he could have made it in that time by conventional travel, although he could have used the Ways; there are known Waygates in both TV and Caemlyn. There is a further problem with Fain: if he'd had any actual plan to kill Asmo, he wouldn't have been in Caemlyn; he'd have been in Cairhien. The Caemlyn attack was a snap decision on Rand's part, and could not have been expected by ANY of the suspects. Thus, if the murderer went to the Caemlyn palace with the purpose of killing Asmodean, he/she must have some method of speedy traveling, such as Traveling.

"Then I saw her face..." The Recognition Factor

Recognized by and terrified Asmo: again, any FS would be recognized. The extreme reaction implies it was somebody he never expected to see, like somebody he thought was dead. However, since Asmo was a weaselly coward, it's conceivable that any FS would terrify him, especially if he/she was about to kill him. However, we should ask why a FS would be walking around Rand's stronghold without a disguise. If the killer dropped his/her disguise to show Asmo who was killing him, why bother? Dramatic effect?

There is also reason to believe Asmodean would have recognized and possibly been terrified by both Slayer and Taim, though the case for them is not nearly as strong as for the Forsaken. This is discussed in greater detail further on, as is the case for Moiraine.

"Oh, I ain't got no bodeeee." Where is it?

No body was left behind at the murder scene. This is evidenced by the fact that nobody (except the killer, duh) seems to know he's dead. Rand certainly doesn't. He thinks Asmo ran away: "If they discovered that he had held one of the Forsaken prisoner and allowed him to escape... He would deal with Asmodean himself if the man ever turned up again." [LOC: 3, A Woman's Eyes, 92] In TPOD, Rand still thinks Asmo's alive; he initially thinks that the attack at the end of the book is Asmodean and/or Demandred [TPOD: 29, A Cup of Sleep, 565]. From this, we can conclude that he was either killed in such a way that no recognizable remains were left, or that the body was removed in order to hide the murder.


A channeler would have had no difficulty in either destroying Asmo's remains or taking them away via gateway. To all appearances, Slayer could have easily removed the body as well, by taking it with him into T'A'R. Any of the other suspects, though, would have had more than a little difficulty walking out of the Royal Palace carrying the corpse of the Lord Dragon's gleeman.

We should ask why the body (if there was one) was removed at all. The only possible reason for the corpse to be removed would be to hide the fact that the killer was around. For many of the killers, the supposed motives would have been better served by leaving a recognizable body behind. We've seen that those who betray the Dark are generally killed in ways that serve as examples to others (e.g. Joiya and Amico in TSR, Ispan in TPOD). If the goal was simply to terrify Rand, leaving the body behind would have done a better job than removing it. The "cover-for-Minion Taim" motive does give a possible reason for removing the body - a dead Asmo might make Rand suspicious.

Knowledge of Asmo's fate

Needless to say, the person who killed him must know that he's dead. This condition can be used to eliminate quite a few suspects. Any character whose thoughts indicate that he/she thinks Asmo may still be alive can't be the killer. Likewise for any character who expresses ignorance of his fate in a situation where she/he wouldn't lie.

Secrecy: Why?

Despite RJ's comments to the contrary, it is not at all obvious who did the dirty deed. One question to ask ourselves is, "WHY is RJ keeping it a secret?" The lack of action on this front in the books since TFOH pretty much demonstrates that the murder in and of itself is NOT a major plot thread, so there is no point in keeping it secret for the sake of keeping the reader in suspense. So, why is RJ keeping it secret?


One answer is that Asmo's killing is itself a clue to something else that was going on, which we didn't know about yet. This could be the return of Lanfear, Moiraine being alive, or the Minion Taim idea.

We are not the only ones ignorant of the culprit. All of the characters (except one, obviously) are also ignorant of whodunnit (if they're Forsaken), or of what actually happened (if they're Good Guys or rank-and-file DFs). So, whoever killed Asmo must have a reason for hiding it. After all, it's not like anybody would condemn them for punishing a traitor. For any of the Forsaken, this could be as simple as keeping the other Forsaken on their toes by causing uncertainty.

Obvious to the most casual observer: Say what?

RJ has repeatedly said that we should be able to figure out who the killer is. In fact, at a post-TPOD signing in NYC, he talked to Aaron Bergman about this:

I asked about Asmodean again. He said that yes, we should be able to figure it out the instant he died. He said that he thinks it's obvious now and we should definitely be able to figure it out by the end of [TPOD].
[Aaron Bergman, report from NYC book signing, 20 October 1998]

Well, RJ is obviously using the same definition of "obvious" that physics professors are wont to use. That is, it's obvious if you know the answer, and know which information is useful and which is irrelevant. It isn't "obvious" in the usual meaning of the word. Note that RJ "also claims that very, very few of the fan letters he gets are correct about [who killed Asmo]." [Post-TPOD signing, Northern Virginia, 21 November, 1998, report by John Novak.] This clearly shows that RJ's idea of "obvious" and his readers' idea of "obvious" don't really mix, do they?

However, this statement by RJ is useful in eliminating possibilities. Not even RJ could stretch "being able to figure it out the instant he died" to encompass people or things we didn't know a thing about before the killing, such as Shaidar Haran, Mesaana, or gholam.

Note that RJ's comment implies that something in TPOD should clarify the issue. One thing applicable to the suspects was the appearance of Cyndane, which did nothing but throw more fuel on the fire in the Lanfear vs. Graendal debate (see below); the other possibility is the attack on Rand in Cairhien, which Taim ordered (this is stretching it though, since the significance of the attack was not clarified for us until WH). The comment can also be used as an argument against the likelihood of suspects like Slayer and Fain, who were largely irrelevant to events in TPOD.


Elimination of Suspects

NOTE: The inclusion of Slayer as a prime suspect in Asmodean's murder forces us to re-examine our conclusions about practically every suspect on the list (and a couple of characters who weren't even originally on the list), even some of those which had been previously considered completely eliminated. This, of course, is because we not only have to consider whether Slayer was capable of the murder, but who would have hired him to do it - a role which does not require the same criteria as being the actual killer (this is discussed below).


Therefore, we will first assess, as before, whether each of the suspects could have murdered Asmodean personally, and discuss their possible involvement with Slayer separately.

Which suspects can be eliminated beyond any loony shadow of a doubt?


From [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 15-16], we see that Demandred doesn't know what happened to Asmodean: "Lanfear has vanished without a trace, just as Asmodean did." Hence, Demandred didn't kill him. Dem would have no reason to lie about such a thing, and it is doubtful whether he could lie outright to the DO, under those circumstances (bathing in the DO's presence at SG).



In [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 141], Semirhage thinks to herself, "Asmodean. A traitor, and so doomed but he really had vanished..." and later, "If the Great Lord moved her here secretly, might he not be moving Moghedien or Lanfear, or even Asmodean?" This indicates that Semirhage doesn't know that Asmodean is dead, and thus, she couldn't have killed him.


She was Nynaeve's prisoner in Salidar-- either forkroot-drugged, or bound by the a'dam, when Asmo was killed. Hence, she couldn't have been in Caemlyn.

Aran'gar, Osan'gar

They weren't recycled until the beginning of LOC, and thus were busy being dead when Asmo was killed.

Which suspects can be eliminated beyond reasonable doubt?


Mesaana visited the Pit of Doom twice in the period between Asmodean's death and her appearance in LOC, but with the DO never appearing. If she had killed Asmodean, wouldn't she have made some sort of report to the DO, especially since the DO approved of the murder? Also, in conversation with Semirhage, she has expressed doubts about whether Asmodean is really dead [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 143]: "More troubling were the Chosen who had vanished. Demandred insisted they must be dead, but she [Semirhage] and Mesaana were not so sure". She doesn't mention Asmo specifically, and so it is possible that she's only referring to Lanfear and Moggy. However, while it's not conclusive, it is circumstantial evidence against Mesaana being the murderer.


Furthermore, prior to LOC, we had not heard or seen a single thing about Mesaana. Thus, she fails the "obviosity" test--there is no way we could suspect her from the instant he died.

Shaidar Haran

First, there is no reason to think that Asmo would recognize the Superfade. It is a possibility that Shaidar Haran told Asmodean in his dreams that it would come after him, but that would almost require that Ishamael was resurrected as SH, which we know not to be the case (unless you want to get really loony and say that Moridin is Shaidar Haran). We say this since Myrddraal don't dream. Second, his motive would have had to have been a directive from the DO, and the missing body is not consistent with that. He could have gotten to the Palace quickly, using the Fade Shadow-Travel trick, and destroyed the body using the "black fire" trick he used to burn the spear in [ACOS: 40, Spears, 637] (although he'd have no motive for destroying the body-- quite the opposite). However, it doesn't seem likely that a Fade would be wandering around the Palace in broad daylight. He'd hardly be inconspicuous. Again, this suspect fails the "obvious" criterion, because we didn't even know he existed before LOC came out.



We are given very few hints in Sammael's thoughts in LOC and ACOS, and the issue is made even muddier by the game of deception he plays with Graendal. But in [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 133] we have: "Rumors! Lanfear has been aiding al'Thor since the beginning, if you [Graendal] ask me. I would have had his head in the Stone of Tear except that someone sent Myrddraal and Trollocs to save him! That was Lanfear; I am certain. I'm done with her. The next time I see her, I'll kill her! And why would he kill Asmodean? I would if I could find him, but he has gone over to al'Thor. He's teaching him!" This is in a Sammael POV section. He is also trembling with anger, which makes it quite unlikely he's feigning ignorance of Asmo's fate. Thus, it's unlikely that Sammael did the deed.


The only point in favor of this idea is that Asmo probably would have recognized a gholam, and been scared of it. However, there are more problems with this idea than there are conveniences. Firstly, it would have to have been sent by a Forsaken, which means we have to look among them anyway. Secondly, we've seen how gholam kill (Herid Fel), and it is way messier than the quick, clean way Asmo died. Since we didn't know about gholam before LOC, the gholam-as-killer theory fails the "obviosity" requirement. There's also the question of whether Asmo would call a gholam "you."

Padan Fain

The basic argument for Fain as the killer is this: He could have been in Caemlyn at the time (via the Ways, if nothing else). He would want to kill any Forsaken because they would interfere with his plans to be Rand's personal hell. However, that presupposes that Fain knew Jasin Natael was a Forsaken, which seems a very unlikely thing for Fain to know, given that he'd never seen Asmo/Natael before supposedly killing him. An alternative motive which has been proposed is that Fain killed Natael because he was trying to cause confusion and stress for Rand by disappearing a member of his retinue. However, this does not fit in with everything else we've seen of Fain's MO, which has mainly involved ingratiating himself with highly-placed people and planting the seeds of Mashadar in their minds. Plus, killing Rand's gleeman and splitting doesn't really make for much of a dastardly plot to undermine Rand's confidence. It would have been much more effective for Fain to try to kill somebody closer to Rand--one of his friends, or even one of his Maiden bodyguards. The "mistake" motive doesn't work for Fain, because we'd have to have a reason for Fain to be in the Palace, and there is zero evidence that he was doing anything in the palace--no reference to anything of the sort in TFOH or any of the following books.

Furthermore, as we discussed in the "means" section, Fain would have had to have killed Asmo with the dagger, and that isn't consistent with the way Asmo died, or the lack of a body.

Which suspects fall in the "loony but won't go away" category?

Included by long demand. What these two theories have in common is that both present initially compelling cases, centered around enigmatic characters who seem to fascinate the readership at large, but which are ultimately deemed loony because each has one or more very large problems that cannot be sufficiently explained away to include them as primary suspects. (Technically, I suppose Lanfear fits in this category more than as a primary suspect since the information we got on her in WH, but seniority gives Lanfear-dunnit pride of place, so she stays where she is.)


This is a theory which has cropped up continuously since TFOH, despite the fact that the evidence in favor of it is entirely circumstantial. Nevertheless, the number of Moiraine-dunnit fans out there means it merits examination.

Moiraine knew Natael was really Asmodean, as she indicates in her letter to Rand; she also says she understands why Rand used him, but "cannot approve" of the idea. Asmodean knew her very well and was at least intimidated by, if not actually frightened of her. He certainly would have been shocked to see her in Caemlyn, since he just saw her "die" on the docks at Cairhien earlier that day. This also provides, as it does for Lanfear's case, the reason why RJ would have wanted to keep the killer a secret (to keep us in suspense about her survival). Moiraine was powerful enough a channeler to take out Asmodean (assuming she wasn't stilled), and she's already balefired another Forsaken, Bel'al. This (circumstantial) establishment of balefire as her weapon of choice would account for why there wasn't a body left behind. Finally, knowing Rand as well as she did, Moiraine could have deduced that he would go to Caemlyn to take out Rahvin, so she would know where to look for Asmo.

Of course, how she got there is another question entirely. Some people say she escaped from Finnland and has since been lurking behind the scenes doing... stuff, and one of these things might have been killing Asmo. It's pretty obvious why this theory doesn't wash. Besides the evidence we have that she is still stuck in Finnland, waiting for Thom to rescue her (see section 2.2.6), the idea of Moiraine skulking around for five books and apparently making no attempt whatsoever to contact or help Rand or the Supergirls or anyone is absurdly out of character. This theory also begs the question of how she managed to make sure her escape put her in Caemlyn and not, say, the Tower of Ghenjei, or any other random spot. (Remember, Moiraine did not know how to Travel.)

A less loony theory on how Moiraine could have been in Caemlyn is that she only temporarily got out of Finnland. The idea is that she used one of the three wishes she presumably got from the Foxes to go to Caemlyn and kill Asmodean. The problem with arguing either for or against this idea is that it is pure speculation. There is simply no concrete evidence of any kind, at this point, to tell us what happened to Moiraine after she fell through the Foxes' door; Lanfear's information from WH is hardly helpful, and can be viewed as evidence that neither she nor Moiraine got a chance to do any wishing at all, as much as the opposite. There's also nothing to tell us why, of all things she could have wished for, would Moiraine have chosen killing Asmo as a priority? Why not simply wish to get out of Finnland, like Mat did? Of course, one can come up with counters to these questions, but they are also necessarily based on nothing but conjecture.

Lastly, this theory has the same timing problem that the "Lanfear used her wish to the Finn to murder Asmo" theory does (see below). The murder took place on the same day Moiraine and Lanfear fell through the door; if Lanfear was "held" by the Finn, it seems logical to suppose Moiraine got the same treatment, thus leaving neither woman in a position to go whack Asmodean. Once again, though, this is all speculation.

Basically, there's no way to prove or disprove this idea. If Moiraine did kill Asmo, though, this is just about the only way it could have plausibly happened, and there we shall have to leave it.

The Oath Question

The Third Oath states:

Never to use the One Power as a weapon except against Shadowspawn, or in the last extreme defense of her own life or that of her Warder or another Aes Sedai.

The Third Oath has often been used as an argument against Moiraine as the murderer, based on the assumptions that (a) a Forsaken is not Shadowspawn, and (b) a shielded Asmo wandering around looking for wine hardly counts as an imminent threat to a channeler. While the second assumption is probably quite true, unfortunately there are some problems with the first.

The main support for the idea that a Forsaken is not the same thing as a Shadowspawn is Moiraine's encounter with Bel'al in TDR. She doesn't just balefire him off the cuff; first she shouts at him, gaining his attention and thus putting herself in mortal danger. So that seemed to indicate that she needed to invoke the "last extreme defense" clause of the Oath before she could use the OP on the Forsaken. Further supporting this is that she physically tackled Lanfear at the docks, rather than use the Power in an ambush.

However, various quotes elsewhere on the subject indicate that the first part of the Oath applies to Darkfriends as well as what we more traditionally think of as "Shadowspawn", such as Draghkar, Trollocs, etc. Alanna Mosvani, after describing how she felt her Warder Owein die at the hands of Whitecloaks, tells Perrin: "'Had I been there, I could have defended him, and myself, with the Power... the Children are very nearly as vile as men can be, short of Darkfriends, but they are not Darkfriends, and for that reason they are safe from the Power except in self-defense'" [TSR: 31, Assurances, 347]. Rand has similar thoughts about Moiraine's inability to help him fight at the Battle of Cairhien: "He had not asked Moiraine - she could not use the One Power as a weapon against the Shaido, not unless they threatened her or he managed to convince her they were all Darkfriends..." [TFOH: 41, The Craft of Kin Tovere, 462]

If Darkfriends as well as Shadowspawn are fair game under the Third Oath, then certainly the Forsaken are. So Moiraine most likely just wanted to make sure Bel'al's attention was completely off Rand, in the first case, and reasoned that a physical attack was the last thing Lanfear would expect, in the second. Moiraine indicates in her letter that she still considers Asmodean a Forsaken: "Yet be careful of him. He is the same man now that he always was" [TFOH, 53, Fading Words, 638]. Thus, the Third Oath cannot be used as a defense for Moiraine.

So why is this theory loony, then?

There are three main problems with the Moiraine-dunnit scenario. The first is discussed above: all the arguments presenting Moiraine as the murderer are based on nothing more concrete than supposition - theoretical conjecture about what might have happened to Moiraine on the other side of that door. True, this can also be said of the cases for some of the other suspects as well, but the amount of virtually baseless speculation is especially egregious in Moiraine's case. At least for the other candidates we get to see what they do, say, and think after the murder; for Moiraine we have literally nothing.

The second problem with Moiraine is the "obvious" question. As noted above, if Moiraine did it there is a good reason for RJ to keep it a secret, but what exactly makes her intuitively "obvious"? We had just seen her "die" the same day, and even if you didn't really think she was dead you certainly might reasonably suppose that she was kind of busy. The rationale most commonly put forth for the "obvious" problem is that Moiraine had already killed two other Forsaken, Bel'al and Lanfear (well, thought to have killed, in the second case, but anyway). Moiraine is, in fact, the only other character at that point besides Rand and the Green Man to have killed any of the Forsaken on-screen. So here we have another Forsaken who is killed, and Rand didn't do it, and the Green Man certainly didn't do it. Ergo...

Unfortunately, while this reasoning may seem sound, it's not. It's a logical fallacy - a false analogy, to be exact. As Derek Driscoll puts it: "There's a Big Mac, a Whopper, and a Teen Burger in my house. I live with three other people. I eat the Big Mac. I eat the Whopper. The next morning, the Teen Burger is gone. By [that] 'logic', because I ate the Big Mac and the Whopper it is obvious that I also ate the Teen Burger." In other words, the only way this reasoning works is if Moiraine is the only person who could possibly have committed the crime, and as the size of this section indicates, that's hardly the case.

Which brings us to the third and largest problem with Moiraine as the murderer: the question of motive.

Moiraine's motive

Moiraine is unique among the suspects in Asmodean's murder in that she is the only Good Guy in the bunch. So, even given that the Third Oath would not be a hindrance to her, we must necessarily ask why did she suddenly decide, at this point and in this manner, that Asmo had to die?

  • Asmo was a Forsaken. Forsaken bad. Aes Sedai good. Therefore, Aes Sedai kill Forsaken whenever opportunity arises. End of story.
    While refreshingly simplistic, perhaps, this ignores the fact that Moiraine knew long before that day who and what Asmo was, and yet didn't kill him, because she knew Rand needed him.
  • What about the letter? She says she doesn't approve!
    The exact quote is "I cannot approve, but I understand. Perhaps it was the only way." It takes a pretty wild stretch of imagination to transform such a mild statement of disapproval into intent to kill.
  • Yeah, but she could have changed her mind later.
    Why? What made her change her mind?
  • Maybe she saw in the rings at Rhuidean that Asmo would be a danger to Rand later on.
    Moiraine said the rings showed her nothing after the docks at Cairhien.
  • Maybe she thought Asmo had outlived his usefulness.
    Conjecture. And how would Moiraine know whether Rand had learned all he could from Asmo yet? It's not like she and Rand compared notes on the subject.
  • Maybe she did it by accident, the way Mat got his wishes.
    Conjecture. And given what was going on at the time, why would she be thinking about Asmo, anyway?

Well, obviously this could go on forever, but the point is that all of the possible motives ascribed to Moiraine over the years are, again, based on conjecture, and therefore weak. And what's really damning about that is not so much the weakness of Moiraine's supposed motive, but how badly it compares to the strength of the motives for every other suspect.

It plays into the "obviosity" argument. The FS and Slayer all had extremely strong, obvious, intuitive motives for killing Asmodean. Every motive attributed to Moiraine has to play a game of logic dodgeball to get where it wants to go.

Also, one must ask, why would Moiraine do the deed in such a secretive and underhanded way? What in the manner of Asmodean's death benefited the Light more than it did the Shadow? How is generating more confusion and suspicion on Rand's part something Moiraine would want?

Mazrim Taim

Taim as a suspect on his own has not been nearly as popular as the Moiraine theory, mostly because of the prevalence of the now-debunked Taimandred theory (see section 1.1.5)  and the fact that most people didn't seriously start to think that he might be working directly for the Forsaken until WH (see section 1.5.6). His case is superficially even more attractive than Moiraine's, but like Moiraine's has some rather large problems as well.


Rand notes in LOC that Taim is very strong in the OP, almost as strong as Rand himself, so he certainly had the means to kill Asmo and get rid of the body. If we assume that the Minion Taim theory is true, a few other things fall into place as well. If, as the theory goes, Taim is working for Moridin, or Demandred, or both, it's reasonable to assume that the other Forsaken knew about him, and possibly had even seen him. So Asmo would probably have recognized Taim. Given that, there's your motive - to get rid of the one guy in Rand's entourage who could rat out Taim's DF status. RJ's motive for keeping the murder a secret would presumably be so he could play his game of silly buggers re: Taimandred.

As for opportunity, if the Minion theory is true Taim knew how to Travel. Or, as some people believe, he was in Caemlyn already. This brings us once again to the timing issue.

Taim and timing

As mentioned above, one of the most puzzling aspects of Asmo's murder has always been the timing of it: why was he murdered when he was? Well, the argument goes, if Taim is a DF and killed Asmo to hide that fact, then the timing fits perfectly. This has generally been put forward as the most compelling element of the Taim theory. To bolster it, it's often been pointed out that the scene immediately prior to Asmo's death is the one in which Bashere arrives to inform Rand that Taim has entered Andor.

However, the timing is not nearly as clear-cut as it seems. Asmo dies at the end of TFOH, and Taim appears in Caemlyn in the first chapter of LOC, so from the reader's point of view, the two events happen in quick succession. But this is not the case from the point of view of the characters. According to Steven Cooper's timeline, no less than 37 days pass between the the day Asmodean dies and the day Taim shows up in Caemlyn. That's quite a chunk of time. If Taim had snuck into Caemlyn and killed Asmo, why would he have waited for over a month before showing himself? (The counterargument here is that Taim would have wanted to allow time between the two events to avoid casting suspicion on himself; however, this is flimsy in that Rand would have no reason to think Taim knew anything about Asmo, and in fact doesn't even think Asmo is dead!)

However, it must be admitted that even with the month-plus lag, Taim does make more sense from a timing point of view than almost any of the other suspects.

So why is this theory loony, then?

Compelling as Taim's case may seem, there are two major stumbling blocks which keep him firmly in "loony" territory.

The first, of course, is the "obvious" issue. Prior to LOC, Taim did not appear as anything other than vague rumor; we had absolutely no firsthand information on him at all until after Asmo's death. This puts him in the same "non-obvious" category as Mesaana - even more so, since at least Mesaana has "being a Forsaken" going for her, and at the moment of Asmo's death there's no way we could have had suspicions that Taim was anything more than a random False Dragon run amuck.

The most common item raised to refute this problem is, again, the scene with Bashere and Rand preceding Asmo's death. Taim-dunnit fans point out that Taim is mentioned as being in the area, and immediately thereafter Asmo is toast, and thus it's "intuitively obvious" Taim is the killer. One must ask, though, why Bashere's info is more "obvious" than, say, Asmo thinking about Lanfear seconds before dying, or any of the other elaborate rationales concocted to explain away this problem. And why, exactly, does knowing Taim was in the area instantly lead to the conclusion that not only was he in Andor, but actually in Caemlyn, lurking yards away from both the Dragon Reborn and a man with an army of Saldaeans who want him dead? Why would we have any concrete reason to think at that point that Asmodean would know him, or that he would know Asmo or need him dead?

The second big flaw in the Taim-dunnit theory is the often-overlooked fact that the case for Taim as the murderer is an unproven theory predicated in its entirety upon another unproven theory - namely, the "Minion Taim" idea. If the Minion Taim theory is wrong, then suddenly we have no motive and no reasonable supposition that Taim and Asmo would know each other, and the entire case falls apart. Sure, we have very strong evidence supporting the Minion Taim theory, but then again, we had strong evidence supporting the Taimandred idea, too, didn't we?

Even ignoring the "obviosity" problem with Taim, until we have proof one way or the other on the Minion idea, the case for Taim is on shaky ground and remains in the loony category.

Round up the usual suspects: the viable possibilities

Having eliminated most of the suspects, either by showing that they couldn't possibly have done it, or by showing that there are many arguments against their guilt and only slim evidence for it, we can settle down to the four most likely suspects: Graendal, Lanfear, Ishamael/Moridin, and Slayer. (Note: most of the evidence discussed centers on Graendal, Lanfear, and Slayer (and his possible employers). Moridin is included in the list mainly because we don't know enough to really eliminate him as the actual killer.)


TPOD and WH make it clear that Moridin is Ishamael recycled. At this point, we don't know when he was created, and as far as we know, his first step in regaining control over the Shadow forces could have been killing Asmodean. In any case, there isn't really that much to discuss about him. He definitely satisfies means, motive, and opportunity (provided he wasn't dead at the time). He could have made himself recognized to Asmodean by using a OP disguise, although why would he bother? Body disposal wouldn't be a problem, and we have no way to know if he knows Asmo's fate (although even if he didn't kill him, it's likely that Mr. Nae'blis knows exactly what happened to the fellow). It would make sense for it to be a secret, since Moridin's existence and identity have been unknown by us and by the other Forsaken. Obviosity is not obvious, but it's within the realm of twisted possibility (Moridin is Ishy, who has come back from the "dead" twice before, so we might suspect he did so again).

On the other hand, there is absolutely no evidence in favor of him having done it, either. Note that RJ's rejection of the "pun" theory could encompass Moridin killing Asmo, as well as kidnapping him.


Up until the appearance of Cyndane in TPOD, Lanfear looked like a very good suspect. The case against her is very strong. She's a channeler, so she had the means to kill him, the ability to enter and leave the Palace undetected, and a way to dispose of the body. Since Asmo had just seen her "die" earlier in the day, he would certainly have been shocked and terrified to see her strolling around the Palace.

Lanfear's Motive

Lanfear also had the strongest motive to kill Asmo. Lanfear gave Asmo to Rand "to teach him," knowing that Asmo was about the worst (and hence the safest) Forsaken you could pick as a teacher. But he was also the one who she could be sure would react the way she wanted him to once she shielded him. It would seem that she wasn't too interested in giving Rand all the secrets of the AOL. More likely, she just didn't want him gentling or killing himself because of his ignorance (see her reaction when he draws saidin through the sa'angreal in TGH-- though that could simply be fear for her own life). Here's Asmo's take on it:


"Do you think Lanfear really intended me to teach you everything? If she had wanted that, she would have contrived to stay close so she could link us. She wants you to live, Lews Therin, but this time she means to be stronger than you." [TFOH: 3, Pale Shadows, 75].

When she confronted Rand at the docks, it is unlikely that she knew he had an angreal. Although she would certainly be hard pressed to shield him alone, it should have been no problem with an angreal, especially since he is untrained in her opinion, despite whatever he might have gleaned from Asmo. After she picked up the angreal, she attacked Rand, and he resisted. She increased her attempts to shield and hurt Rand, probably to her limit even with the angreal. But Rand (with his own angreal) held his ground. He even believed "He could end it, finish her. He could call down lightning, or wrap her in the fire she herself had used to kill..." [TFOH: 52, Choices, 631]. If Lanfear did not know that he had an angreal (she probably didn't), then she would have taken this as a very bad sign for her. Knowing that Asmodean was still "teaching" him stuff, and that she was the one who put him there, it is very likely that it would be a high priority to remove him, if Rand can foil even her strongest attempts to shield him.

Furthermore, she would have blamed Asmodean's teaching for her defeat and humiliation, and thus she'd have wanted to get revenge. She's that type of gal.

She SAID she was going to kill him

In TSR, in the Stone of Tear, Lanfear comes to Rand as Selene, and reveals herself as a Forsaken . During that conversation, she proposes that Rand allow a male Forsaken to become his teacher. She continues on her old tack of seducing Rand with power (not The Power, just power), by describing how she and he will rule the world once he has knelt to the DO. She describes her entire plan in [TSR: 9, Decisions, 129]:

"Kneel to the Great Lord, and he will set you above all others. He will leave you free to reign as you will, so long as you bend knee to him only once. To acknowledge him. No more than that. He told me this. Asmodean will teach you to wield the Power without it killing you, teach you what you can do with it. Let me help you. We can destroy all the others. The Great Lord will not care. We can destroy all of them, even Asmodean, once he has taught you all you need to know. You and I can rule the world together under the Great Lord, forever." (emphasis added)

The relevance of this quote to the matter at hand is obvious. All along, Lanfear has been planning to kill Asmodean, after he was done teaching Rand. Obviously, after the encounter at the docks, Lanfear has every reason to believe that Asmodean has taught Rand more than enough, more than she really wanted him to. In fact, if Lanfear did kill Asmodean, then this quote means that it really IS obvious who killed him. His fate corresponds exactly with Lanfear's plans for him.

The "You? No!" evidence, and how it points to Lanfear

It is obvious that Asmodean was indeed terrified of the person he saw. There are many people that Asmo would be afraid of, but it seems doubtful that anyone but Lanfear would elicit quite this response from Asmo. Although Asmo may have reason to be afraid of many people, we know that Lanfear is the person he fears the most:

"Even if he manages to convince the others that he has been a prisoner, they would still tear him apart, and he knows it. The weakest dog in the pack often suffers that fate. Besides, I watch his dreams on occasion. He dreams of you triumphing over the Great Lord and putting him up beside you on high. Sometimes he dreams of me." Her smile said those dreams were pleasant for her, but not so for Asmodean. [TFOH: 6, Gateways, 124]

Even though Asmo knows all the Forsaken would rip him to shreds given the chance, the one he has nightmares about is Lanfear.

Furthermore, just before getting whacked, Asmo was just thinking to himself about Lanfear being dead and how glad he was: "He was hardly sorry Lanfear was dead. Rahvin either, but Lanfear especially, for what she had done to him. He would laugh when each of the others died, too, and most for the last." [TFOH: 56, Glowing Embers, 681] Not thirty seconds after these thoughts pass through his mind, he opens the door and sees ... who? And he is shocked/terrified (big surprise). The combination of these things makes it seem likely that Lanfear was indeed the killer. (This scenario also plays into the "obvious" argument.)

"Obviosity" and secrecy

As discussed above, if any suspect can be said to be obviously the killer, from the moment he dies, it's Lanfear. She said she'd kill him, and he was (ironically?) thinking of her right before he died. Furthermore, the fact that his killer is still a secret, five books later, makes sense if Lanfear did it. Knowing that she killed Asmo would be a dead giveaway that she was active.

The big problem

Of course, there has to be a stumbling block. With all the great evidence in favor of Lanfear, there is a correspondingly large problem with her. Namely, as far as we know, she was extremely indisposed at the time of Asmo's death. As in trapped in another dimension.

At first we thought she was dead, and busied ourselves coming up with all manner of loony ways to get around that fact. But in WH we find out that she didn't, in fact, die upon falling through the doorway, but instead was "held" in some way by the Finn (see section 1.2.4). We don't know, of course, how long Lanfear was held in Finnland, but the imprisonment, her transformation into Cyndane (however that was accomplished) and subsequent mindtrapping all indicate that she didn't exactly have a lot of free time between the battle at the docks in TFOH and the appearance of Cyndane in TPOD. Since Asmodean was killed the very day she fell through the doorway, it seems virtually impossible that she could have gotten to Caemlyn in time to do the deed.

Old theories die hard, though, and people have come up with new loony ways in which Lanfear could still be the murderer. The most popular is that she used one of her three wishes with the Eelfinn to get to go to Caemlyn and kill Asmo, before she died and was recycled as Cyndane (if that's what happened). We don't know enough about what happened to Lanfear in Finnland to rule this idea out completely, but it seems really improbable. People (or whatever) intent on imprisoning someone don't, as a general rule, let them go traipsing about in areas over which the captors presumably have no control. Of course, we can't know that for sure.

There are (slightly) more plausible variations on this idea, however, which pertain to Lanfear and Slayer. These will be discussed below.


Next we have Graendal. Graendal has some evidence working for her. For one thing, she has tried to assure Sammael that Asmodean is dead, which makes her one of the only Forsaken to express a belief that Asmodean was toasted.

[LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 133]:

"You [Sammael] know as much as I do," Graendal said blithely, pausing for a sip from her goblet. "Myself, I think Lews Therin killed them [Asmodean, Lanfear, Moghedien]. [...] There are rumors out of Cairhien about Lanfear dying at Lews Therin's hands the same day he killed Rahvin."

[LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 134]:

[Graendal speaking] "So many of us have died confronting him. [...] And Lanfear and Asmodean, whatever you believe. Possibly Moghedien."

[LOC: 23, To Understand a Message, 348]:

"Asmodean and Lanfear are dead, and I [Graendal] am sure Moghedien must be, too." She was surprised to hear her own voice, hoarse and unsteady.

On the other hand, it should be noted that Graendal expresses as much certainty about Lanfear's demise as Asmodean's, and she sure didn't kill Lanfear. Her statements that Asmo must be dead could either be simple opinion, or she could have found out the same way that Demandred did-- from the DO.

In fact, we know that Graendal has visited the DO:

[LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 138]:

Only she [Graendal] herself knew that she had made her own journey to Shayol Ghul and down to the lake of fire. Only she knew that the Great Lord had all but promised to name her Nae'blis.

This memory includes no mention of Shaidar Haran, and furthermore, when SH appears to Graendal in [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 266], she is not familiar with him. Thus, we know that SH was not present when Graendal made this trip to the Pit of Doom, and therefore, this trip might have occurred before the Super-Fade appeared. We first saw SH at the start of LOC, so Graendal's visit could have been before Asmodean's death. The idea is that the DO may have used the reward of Nae'blis to motivate Graendal to kill Asmo.

One thing which doesn't quite fit in with this idea, though, is the bit in [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 266] when SH talks to her. He tells her, "The Great Lord thought you might not take [Moggy's and Cyndane's] word, Graendal. The time when you could go your own way has passed." This implies that Graendal HAS been going her own way, not rubbing out fellow Forsaken at the DO's order. This leaves personal initiative and accidental meeting as the only motives for her to kill Asmo.

Something Fishy in Caemlyn

[Jonathan Berlinghoff, Jamie Quinn]

One theory along those lines is the one where Graendal killed Asmo, not because she went to Caemlyn specifically for that purpose, but because she happened to be there already, hiding in the Palace, and Asmo stumbled upon her unexpectedly.

The chain of reasoning goes like this: We learn in the Prologue of TFOH that Lanfear, Sammael, Graendal, and Rahvin are plotting together. We get a clearer idea of what the plan is when Birgitte takes Nynaeve to spy on Moggy in T'A'R, who's spying on the other four Forsaken:

[TFOH: 34, A Silver Arrow, 390]:

"That has been the plan from the beginning," said a woman's melodious voice [Lanfear].
"He will concentrate on you, Sammael," the big man said in a deep voice [Rahvin]. "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."

"The three of us" being Rahvin, Graendal, and Lanfear. Moggy reiterates the plan to Nynaeve after being captured:

[TFOH: 54, To Caemlyn, 658]:

"Do you know they are drawing Rand al'Thor to attack Sammael? But when he does, he will find the others as well, waiting to trap him between them. At least he will find Graendal and Ravhin. I think Lanfear plays another game, one the others know nothing about."

Of course, their grand scheme didn't go quite as expected. Melindhra's assassination attempt on Mat failed, Lanfear went psycho at the Cairhien docks and ended up trapped in Finnland, and Rand went to Andor and killed Rahvin instead of attacking Sammael in Illian.

What does this have to do with Graendal and Asmodean? Well, it's a question of location. At the time Rand went to Caemlyn, we know Rahvin was there, obviously. We know where Lanfear and Moggy were, and we can be 99% positive that Sammael was waiting in Illian for an attack that never came. The only conspirator whose location we don't know, in fact, is Graendal.

So what if Graendal was waiting with Rahvin in Caemlyn for the signal to link up and go to Illian to confront Rand? If so, she could have just run and hid during the Rand-Rahvin showdown, and could have still been lurking about the Palace hours later, waiting for a chance to make good her escape, when Asmodean happens to open the wrong door, and...

The problem with this theory is that while the idea of Graendal and Rahvin waiting together to go to Illian may seem logical and practical, that doesn't mean it was likely to happen that way. Rahvin didn't trust any of his co-conspirators; why would he have wanted any of them hanging out on his turf for any length of time? For that matter, Rahvin was at his home base; from what we've seen of Graendal, she seems to be pretty happy to stay entrenched in Arad Doman, so why is it more logical to suppose Graendal would be with Rahvin instead of at her own center of power? And why would any of them need to be in the same place, anyway? Clearly rapid communication between the plotters was not going to be a problem, otherwise how did they expect to know that Rand was attacking Sammael quickly enough to get there to ambush him? In fact it would have been far more logical to have all four of them waiting in Illian from the beginning, but Rahvin's presence in Caemlyn (and Lanfear's in Cairhien) indicates this was not the way the plan was laid out.

In defense of this theory, it has been suggested that there is evidence that Graendal was not just hiding in the Palace, but actually helping Rahvin out, secretly, during his fight with Rand at the end of TFOH. What is the basis for this supposition?

The fish.

What fish? The fish in T'A'R which attack Rand. After Rahvin is BFed, Rand still has fish-bites which Nynaeve must Heal [TFOH: 55, The Threads Burn, 673]. Because BF erases somebody backwards, and Rahvin was erased back to before he entered T'A'R, the bites would have been un-created if Rahvin had made the fish. Thus, somebody else must have made the fish. This third party could have been Graendal.

However, this is not how balefire works in T'A'R. Joel Gilmore went to see RJ at a book signing in Australia (21 September, 1999), and here's what he found out:

I got an answer to the Rahvin/balefire/T'A'R question - when someone is BFed, the constructs they make in T'A'R do not disappear, but instead fade away slowly over time. There are lots of weird effects associated with T'A'R and balefire, such as the way the world flickers after balefire is used. I asked him just generally about it, and then he jumped straight in, gave the answer, then used the Rand and the fish example.

So, the fish were created by Rahvin, and this support must be discarded. So while it was certainly possible for Graendal to have been in Caemlyn the day of the murder, there is no evidence that says she was, and the logical reasoning that puts her there is thin at best.

An alternate version of the "Graendal lurking in Caemlyn theory" is the speculation that she wasn't there when Rahvin died, but showed up later - to ascertain he was dead, to pick over the leavings, or even to kill Asmo specifically, or any combination thereof. Note that she has ventured onto Rand's turf at least once for sure, when she had sufficiently strong motivation. After Rand took Illian, she went there to remove evidence which would tie her to Sammael's schemes [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 262].

The strongest argument in favor of Graendal, though, is that she is the only suspect without any major points against her. The only requirements which she seems to fail are 7 and 8. Namely, there is no reason for RJ to have kept it a secret for almost a decade, and there is no way Graendal is obviously the killer-- the case in her favor is mostly a process of elimination over the books following TFOH.

The Great Chat Debate

As a final note on Graendal, there seems to be a large number of people who believe that RJ has actually confirmed that Graendal killed Asmodean. The basis for this belief is the following exchange from the

CNN chat

on December 12, 2000:

Question from Vercingetorix: Why do you think everyone has a hard time figuring out who killed Asmodean? Graendal killed him.

Robert Jordan: I don't know why people have a hard time figuring that out. To me it seems intuitively obvious even to the most casual observer. The reason I won't tell people though is that I am enjoying watching them squirm entirely too much. It's probably bad for me.

Sorry, but no. Exciting as this may seem to the wishful thinkers in the crowd, RJ is NOT confirming here that Graendal is the killer.

First of all, if RJ had suddenly decided, after all this time, to spill the beans about Asmo's killer in a chat from the year 2000, then why has he continued to refuse to answer the question at any point since then? Secondly, reread what he is actually saying: "The reason I won't tell people..." Why is he saying he won't answer a question in the same breath he supposedly answers the question?

It's been made very clear that RJ has no intention of ever actually confirming who killed Asmodean, and it's just as clear that in the above quote he is simply ignoring "Vercingetorix"'s attempt at slyness, and giving his stock answer to the actual question asked.


Last but not least, we have Slayer. WH strongly suggests that Slayer is more or less the official hitman for the Shadow. That plus the light his POV sheds on his nature and abilities (see section 1.4.2) has made him a major candidate for Asmodean's killer, perhaps more likely than either Lanfear or Graendal. Let's examine the requirements as they apply to Slayer.



We now know that Slayer is able to move about T'A'R at will, in the flesh, and thus could have easily reached Caemlyn in time to do the deed, almost as quickly as any of the Forsaken.

But how did he know where to be? Like most of the other suspects, the logical place for him to look would be Cairhien. Even though he still could have gotten from Cairhien to Caemlyn quite quickly, how did he know to go there? Moving around in T'A'R gives no indication of where someone is in the real world, and it's clear from Slayer's failure thus far to track down Fain (and his mixup in Far Madding) that he doesn't have any equivalent to Amys' "need walk" to find what he's looking for. (Plus, there's no evidence that the "need walk" could find a person in the real world anyway, since only objects and wild animals are reflected in T'A'R.)

It's been suggested that Slayer may not actually have needed to find someone in the real world this time, what with Rand and Rahvin (not to mention Moggy and Nynaeve) rampaging around the T'A'R version of the Caemlyn palace and blasting the place apart a few hours before. However, this is pretty thin speculation. For one thing, Slayer can't sense channeling, and while it's true that Rahvin and Rand were also manipulating T'A'R as well as channeling, there's no evidence that Slayer or anyone else can detect that kind of thing from a distance.

Of course, the whole question is moot if whoever hired him had simply told him where to look.

Body disposal

Slayer's mastery of the Dreamworld indicates that he would have had no trouble getting rid of the body - all he had to do was pick it up and pop back into T'A'R, and voila. (People have quibbled about this, but really - if he can jump in and out of T'A'R with clothes and knives intact, and Egwene can travel through the Dreamworld in the flesh with a Bela-load of personal belongings [LOC: 34, Journey to Salidar, 465], then Slayer should be able to take a corpse with him into T'A'R.)

A good question to ask here, though, is why he would have done so. The "no body" aspect of the murder is a problem with all the suspects, but it seems especially out of character for Slayer, who appears to specialize in killing his victims as messily as possible, leaving his handiwork behind for others to enjoy - witness how he nailed Amico and Joiya's tongues to a door, and the brutal way he repeatedly stabs the couple he mistook for Rand and Min in WH. Asmodean's swift death and missing corpse do not match Slayer's M.O.

Of course, even shielded and weak as he was, Asmodean was still a Forsaken, and thus a much higher-risk target than your average victim. Slayer may love carnage, but there's considerable indication that he's also cautious, thorough, and intelligent - as a good assassin should be. Any halfway competent assassin would know when the need for haste outweighs personal preference. As for removing the body, again, Slayer is a contract killer. If whoever sent him to kill Asmodean also told Slayer to get rid of the body, then he would have done so. Thus the question of why Asmo's body was not left behind probably has nothing to do with Slayer's tastes and everything to do with the motives of his employer, and will be discussed further on.


Motive, then, is obvious - Slayer would have been acting under orders. To all appearances, Slayer's main purpose in life is to assassinate those who betray or fail the DO. We knew from TSR that he had been sent after Fain for skipping out on his (Fain's) mission, and WH informs us that he had been ordered to take out Amico and Joiya in the Stone as punishment for getting caught. It makes sense, then, that he should be sent to take care of Asmodean, the biggest traitor of them all.

Once again, the supposition that Asmo's death was an assassination brings up the question of timing - why kill him at that point? For Slayer, it could be that he had been looking for Asmodean for some time and that that was just when he happened to finally locate his victim (though that still doesn't answer the question of how he found Asmo). The only other reason that the murder could have happened when it did, if Slayer is the murderer, is because that's when his employer told him to do it. So again, the timing would have nothing to do with Slayer, and will be discussed when we get to who could have hired him.


Slayer's thoughts in [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 449] indicate a fair amount of familiarity with the Forsaken. It's been argued that ergo, the Forsaken would all know Slayer as well. More importantly, the argument goes, Slayer's role as Chief Assassin for the Dark means that not only would Asmo recognize him, but he would know why Slayer was there, and be appropriately terrified.

However, that same passage from Slayer's POV also indicates that he has not, in fact, met all of the Forsaken; the exact quote is "...none of the Chosen Luc had met had ever taken such precautions as this." There is no way to know if Asmodean was one of the FS that had met Slayer (though even if he hadn't, Asmodean could still have known who he was). There has also been a lot of contention over whether Slayer would have terrified Asmodean that much.

In short, whether Slayer fulfills the "recognition" criterion seems to depend at this point on personal opinion.


The question of means is a bit more convoluted. As discussed way, way above, many people now think it is possible that Asmodean could have been killed by ordinary means rather than channeling. Slayer is not only a professional assassin and thus, presumably, good with a knife, but [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 448] tells us he uses daggers coated in a fast-acting poison, which further ups his chances of taking out a channeler, especially one as weak as a shielded Asmodean.

Not everyone buys this, of course. One objection is that every time (that we're aware of) that Slayer has been sent to take out a channeler, it was only in situations where channeling would not be a factor: Amico was stilled, Joiya was shielded, and Rand was in Far Madding (at the time of the attempt). The implication is that since Slayer cannot channel (see section 1.4.3), his employers know better than to send him after a channeler unless he or she is sufficiently incapacitated. While this may very well be true, it's irrelevant if Asmodean's shield was too strong to allow him to defend himself, for that would simply mean that Asmo's channeling was not a factor to Slayer, just like Amico, Joiya, and Rand in Far Madding. Thus we're back to where we started, with the question of whether Asmo could fend off a non-channeler.

One example raised to prove that Asmo could have defended himself from a conventional weapon is [LOC: 1, Lion on the Hill, 68], where Bashere, without warning, throws a dagger directly at Rand, who stops it with Air. We know Asmo could at least channel flows of Air; why couldn't he have stopped a dagger the same way Rand did?

Well, for one thing, presumably there's a difference between floating a goblet around and stopping a dagger flung with lethal force. And what if the hypothetical dagger wasn't thrown at all? Could Asmo have held an entire person immobile - a powerful and determined assailant, bent on killing him, who took him completely by surprise - with enough strength to stop that attacker from stabbing him directly?

Then again, there's still the passage mentioned earlier, in which Asmo was using the Power to defend himself from Shadowspawn [TFOH: 55, The Threads Burn, 676]. Trollocs are plenty big and powerful. Given that, it appears the only real advantage Slayer would have had over any other non-channeling attacker is surprise. However, surprise is a significant advantage; it's been demonstrated elsewhere that channeling is not a guaranteed defense against conventional ambush (cf. the assault on Demira Sedai in [LOC: 46, Beyond the Gate, 580-581], and the arrow that almost killed Rand in [TPOD: 22, Gathering Clouds, 428]).

A more generalized problem with the means issue is that all our reasoning about how Asmo could have been killed by traditional weapons is essentially retconning. We thought for four books that Asmodean couldn't have been killed except by channeling; it's only with the info we have on Slayer from WH that anyone has made a serious claim that ordinary weapons could have done the job.

Knowledge of Asmo's fate

Does Slayer know that Asmodean is dead? Well, he didn't say anything about it in the one POV we've had from him in ten books, so it's rather hard to say. Of course, that in itself presents something of a problem, since in that POV Slayer is busy gloating over the murders of Amico and Joiya: "[Luc] had especially enjoyed those two Aes Sedai in the Stone of Tear… That had been Isam, not him, but the memories were none the less prized for that. Neither of them got to kill an Aes Sedai very often" [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 448]. So if Slayer is so jazzed about killing a mere Aes Sedai, wouldn't it make sense that he would be even more inclined to fondly reminisce over assassinating a Forsaken? Surely offing one of the dreaded Chosen is a bigger prize than a couple of random BA?

Secrecy and "Obviosity"

If Slayer did it, why keep it a secret? This one's pretty puzzling, since revealing Slayer as the killer wouldn't have solved anything - we'd still need to figure out who sent him. One possible answer is that RJ didn't want us to know too much at that point about Slayer's more interesting abilities - but this directly contradicts RJ's assertion that the killer should have been "obvious".

This is as good a place as any to note that at least a few of the things that WH "revealed" about Slayer are really only confirmations of traits we should have known about from hints in TSR. The most relevant one of these is his ability to move around T'A'R in the flesh. Perrin's observations about Slayer's cold, inhuman scent, combined with Amys' warnings to Egwene about traveling in the Dreamworld in the flesh and what it does to you, should have prompted the connection between the two and led us to realize that Slayer could have gotten to Caemlyn as easily as any of the channeling suspects (see section 1.4.3 for a more detailed discussion of why we were confused).

(To be fair, there is a difference between having reason to suspect Slayer might have special abilities (and people have) and having reason to be sure he does. Prior to WH, we had reason to suspect, but no reason to say for sure that he did, and thus, no grounds for reasonably basing a theory on those suspicions.)

That said, the "obvious" criterion is still the biggest problem with the Slayerdunnit scenario. That is to say, since almost no one seriously considered him as the culprit until WH, Slayer is clearly not obviously the killer at all.

However, we're using RJ's definition of "obvious" here, so who knows. Maybe RJ thought the knowledge from TSR that Slayer had been sent after Fain would make the connection between that and another assassination immediately apparent. Maybe the name, "Slayer", was supposed to be enough of a clue [Young Blandford].

If Slayer did it, who REALLY did it?

Ultimately, Slayer can be considered no more than the weapon that killed Asmodean. If Slayer is the culprit, we still have to answer the question of who hired him.

General considerations

As noted earlier, the requirements for being Slayer's employer are not the same as those for being the actual killer. For one thing, it seems clear that if we assume, for the sake of argument, that Slayer was obviously the killer, that does not mean his employer had to be obvious at the time as well. In other words, we cannot legitimately argue against, for example, Mesaana or Shaidar Haran having sent Slayer to kill Asmo on the grounds that we didn't know about them at the time (though we can argue against them for other reasons).

Secondly, whoever ordered Slayer to kill Asmo could have told him to do so at any point prior to Rand's battle with Rahvin. Therefore, we cannot necessarily eliminate anyone who was incapacitated or even dead at the time of the actual murder. This means that Lanfear and Moghedien are back in the running, and that we must now add Rahvin to the list.

(It does not, however, mean we must include Aginor, Balthamel, or Be'lal. The 'gars were not recycled until the beginning of LOC, as pointed out above, and more importantly had been dead since TEOTW. Be'lal has been dead since the end of TDR, long before Rand had acquired Asmodean as a teacher, and ain't coming back at all.)

With regard to body disposal, as mentioned earlier, the only probable reason Slayer would have removed Asmodean's body is if his employer told him to. The only candidate that we think might have a plausible reason for removing the body is Taim (see below), but given the unknowns, we can't really use this as a reason to discount the other candidates.

Another point worth considering, again mentioned above, is that the likeliest way for Slayer to have known where to find Asmodean (barring special T'A'R-disturbance-sensing powers, which we have no evidence Slayer possesses) is for his employer to have told him Asmo was in Caemlyn. There are a limited number of people who could have known where to send him. However, since we can't be positive that Slayer didn't find Asmo on his own, this argument cannot be used to eliminate candidates either, only to argue more strongly for or against them.

Factors like means and recognition are irrelevant. Thus the considerations we are left with are motive, timing, knowledge of Asmo's fate and whereabouts, and the ability to hire Slayer in the first place.

The suspects

Any of the Forsaken (besides Be'lal and the 'gars) could have hired him, as Slayer's POV in WH makes clear. Shaidar Haran is also a possibility, as well as Taim (assuming he is a DF). Fain (for hopefully obvious reasons) could not be his employer, nor could a random minion of the DO. One last possibility, also indicated by Slayer's POV, is that he could have been hired by the Dark One himself.

The "knowledge" criterion does let us narrow down the list a bit. Demandred and Semirhage can be eliminated, as they have expressed ignorance of what happened to Asmodean. Sammael and Mesaana are very unlikely candidates for much the same reason (see above). That leaves us with Rahvin, Moghedien, Lanfear, Graendal, Moridin, Taim, Shaidar Haran, and the DO. We will consider the remaining possibilities one by one.

  1. Moghedien: She could have set it up prior to being captured by Nynaeve, and it's been suggested that hiring an assassin fits with her basic cowardice, but it doesn't seem to make much sense otherwise. Asmodean posed no direct threat to Moggy, who generally only tended to take action when she saw a benefit for herself personally (before she was mindtrapped, anyway). Not to mention, sending someone to kill another Forsaken seems like an awfully proactive thing to do for a woman whose M.O. has always been to skulk about and hide when the shit hits the fan.
  2. Rahvin: Like Moggy, he could have called in the hit before the battle, and his motive would have been the same as any of the Forsaken (punishment for desertion), but having Rahvin as the employer seems kind of pointless. He's dead and gone, and won't be back, so why keep it a secret all this time? Plus we had no indication that Rahvin cared enough about Asmodean's defection to go through the trouble of hiring an assassin when he had much bigger fish to fry (like planning Rand's demise, for instance). In addition to this is the fact that Rahvin was shocked to see Rand in Caemlyn, and so obviously could not have told Slayer beforehand to look for Asmo there. However, this alone is not sufficient to completely eliminate him, since again, we don't know for sure that Slayer didn't find Asmo on his own.
  3. Taim: As noted above, Taim would have a strong motive for having Asmodean removed if we assume that the "Taim as Forsaken minion" theory is correct. The timing of the assassination would fit perfectly, and as mentioned above, it would be to his benefit not to have a body confirming that Asmo had been murdered (that might make Rand suspicious). He gains additional support as a candidate because there is a strong possibility that he is Slayer's current employer, the one who hired him to kill Rand (see section 1.4.4). Of course, the problem is that we don't know for sure whether Taim actually is a Darkfriend, or that he is the mystery employer in WH. So the case for him is mostly speculation.
  4. Shaidar Haran: There's nothing to say that he didn't order the assassination, really, but then there's nothing to say he did, either, and the prologue of LOC seems to indicate that he had been occupied with other matters up to that point (namely, the resurrection of the 'gars). And since he is more or less the mouthpiece of the DO (or the DO's avatar), any orders he might have given Slayer can probably be considered to come directly from the DO anyway.
  5. Graendal: As usual, there's nothing that really argues against Graendal. Motive is the usual, and the timing may have been inspired by Rahvin's death; if so, she would have known where to send Slayer. Also lending support to Graendal's case is the fact that, again, she is the only FS to express certainty that Asmo is dead, and also her thoughts about having no intention of challenging Rand - directly, that is. The only thing Graendal really has against her is that the DO, Moridin and Lanfear are overall more likely candidates.
  6. The Dark One: Well, the DO definitely knows Asmo is dead, but then as Lord of the Grave that's kind of his job, whether he had anything (directly) to do with the murder or not. The evidence for the idea that the DO gave this order directly to Slayer is that such a thing was apparently standard procedure before the FS were released: "[Slayer's] services were always begged, except by the Great Lord himself, and more recently by the Chosen…" [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 449]. It seems somewhat out of character for the DO to get this directly involved in the matter, but then a renegade Forsaken is a pretty big deal, so it's not completely unreasonable to assume Asmo's assassination required his personal attention (plus Slayer's thoughts indicate the DO has done so before, as well).
  7. Moridin: Assuming he was active by the end of TFOH, one of his first acts in his campaign of corralling the Forsaken could have reasonably been sending Slayer to off the traitorous one. The case for him is further strengthened by the fact that WH implies that Moridin is the one behind Slayer's standing order to kill Fain [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 316]. Without more specific knowledge of when exactly he was resurrected and what he was doing between that and his first on-screen appearance in ACOS, there is not much else to say about him, for or against.
  8. Lanfear: Many people liked Lanfear for Slayer's employer, and it's still true that of all the candidates she has the strongest motive. Further strengthening her case, as Tim Biddulph points out, is the fact that she was the only one of the FS who knew Asmodean was shielded, and thus (presumably) weak enough for Slayer to take out safely. (Remember, she told the other FS that Asmo went over to Rand of his own free will, so as far as they knew he was still at full strength.)

    However, there is a timing problem with the idea that Lanfear hired Slayer. When would she have told Slayer to kill Asmodean, and why? As discussed earlier, the thing that was most likely to have triggered her decision to kill Asmo would be Rand holding his own against her at the docks; since she mentions to Kadere that she had not been keeping tabs on Rand lately [TFOH: 52, Choices, 627], it's very unlikely that she would have made any such decision to off Asmodean before then. But if that's the case, what with all the going psycho and falling through the door and being held by the Finn, there was no time for her to send any kind of order to Slayer. One possible answer to this is that she had some kind of "kill him if you don't hear from me" standing order with Slayer [Matt Hackell], but it doesn't seem much like someone as arrogant as Lanfear to have set up contingencies for her possible demise. Another possibility is that Slayer actually met up with her in Finnland; remember that Perrin chased Slayer into the Tower of Ghenjei in TSR, which Birgitte said led to Finnland. This idea, though intriguing, seems kind of wonky (the Finn allowed her visitors? Did she get a phone call and a lawyer too?), but we don't know enough about what happened to Lanfear in Finnland to refute it. Another more minor problem with Lanfear hiring Slayer is that it seems rather out of character - the crazy gal we all know and love would have wanted to whack Asmo personally.

Hardly any of this is terribly conclusive, because there is very little information to work with. It seems, though, that the most likely candidate for Slayer's employer is Lanfear, despite the evidence against her.

1.1.7: Could Lanfear be good?

[Ruchira Datta, Pam Korda, Carolyn Fusinato, and Roy Navarre as the Lanfear Pin-up of the Month Club]

Lanfear presents a bit of an enigma. Many of her actions have led some people to believe that she is not 100% Evil. The argument is that she and Beidomon drilled the Bore into the DO's prison by accident, and only became Forsaken after that either due to the DO's direct action, or out of pride. Moreover, everyone would link her with all the DO's ravages that followed, thinking she released him on purpose, no matter what she did. Being an extremely proud person, it would be hard for her to admit that she had just made a colossal mistake.

EVIDENCE: In the "Eyes of Charn" sequence [TSR: 26, The Dedicated, 303-6], Charn perceives Mierin as a good person, and maintains this belief even after she became Lanfear. Up to TFOH (see refutation), it can be claimed that she hadn't done any inarguably evil acts. She has been deceptive-- but what would one expect from an Aes Sedai? She is jealous and possessive of Rand-- but note that she had not done anything to harm her competition, which would probably be very easy for her to do. (She met Egwene in Tel'aran'rhiod, if I recall correctly, but anyway Egwene had been eliminated from the category of "competition" by this time.) She told Ishamael in TDR that she was loyal to the Dark One and no other. But in TSR, she suggested to Rand that they supplant the DO together. As for the scene at the end of TFOH, she was insane and not responsible for her actions. She dislikes being called Mierin in the extreme. This could be taken several ways. One way to take it is that she wants her former self to be disassociated from her current evil ways-- she does not want to be reminded of what she once was, it is too painful.

REFUTATION: I have always believed that Lanfear was evil, starting way back when we first meet her as Selene in TGH. She made my skin crawl. LTT, who even the Forsaken admit was an "honest man," said that Lanfear, even when she was Mierin, loved power more than anything else. What is the DO but the ultimate temptation of power?

All of her actions in "helping" Rand have not been to further his cause against the DO, but to gain his trust and lust, so that she could control him. She does not love Rand/LTT; she wants him to be her obedient lap-dog, and to serve him up on a platter to the DO, so that she can be the most powerful of his servants. She would supplant the DO AND the Creator in a second if she could, and then be disappointed that she wasn't powerful enough. Having deceived Rand for so long, it would have been simple for her to deceive Charn, a follower of the Way of the Leaf. (It is obvious from looking at the Tinkers and the Ancient Aiel that Way-of-the-Leafers cannot believe that the world is a Bad Place with Bad People in it.)

But anyway, evidence in TFOH closes the case for good. I do not refer to the skinning of Kadere, torturing of Egwene and Aviendha, killing of many bystanders, and attempted killing of Rand, although that provides plenty of evidence in itself, insanity or no. I refer to Moiraine's vision in the Rings of Rhuidean. [TFOH: 53, Fading Words, 637] If Moiraine had not jumped Lanfear, and let her have her way, Rand would be a) dead, or b) Lanfear's love-slave, with the crippled mind of LTT. These were Lanfear's plans. They are not the plans of a good person.

Oh, and if you need further proof, recall the ecstasy with which she describes bathing in the DO's presence at Shayol Ghul. She LIKES it.

Note that Lanfear did NOT send the Trollocs who fought Sammael's Trollocs in TSR. They were sent by Semirhage, on order of the DO. The DO, it seems, has been giving Rand aid for some time now, probably in the hopes of eventually turning him to the Dark Side. Any "help" Lanfear has done for Rand was probably in view of this end. Taking credit for rescuing him is certainly not past her.

Carolyn F. adds, that in a letter she got from RJ, he said that Lanfear was fixated on possessing a man who never loved her. (I guess LTT was just using her for sex, eh?) Her desire for Rand is as much desire for power as for him personally. She could get her hands on the remote-control ter'angreal for the kick-ass sa'angreal and get credit for turning the Dragon Reborn over to the DO. She wants power for power's sake, not for Rand's sake.

Finally, Cyndane's POV in [WH: 35, With The Choedan Kal, 649] clearly indicates she wants Rand to die. (Cyndane is Lanfear; see section 1.2.4.)

1.1.8: Was Ishamael really bound?

The widespread belief in Randland is that all thirteen Forsaken were imprisoned with the DO when the Bore was sealed by LTT and the Hundred Companions. However, this doesn't seem to be entirely true. Ishamael appears bodily to LTT in the prologue to TEOTW. We know that he must really be there, because he cures LTT's insanity so that he will realize what he has done. From what we know of how channeling works, he could not have done this if he was only some kind of astral projection. That scene takes place shortly after the sealing of the Bore. So, Ishy was not bound right when the DO and the other Forsaken were sealed away.

Many events throughout the Third Age bear Ishy's fingerprints-- the Trolloc Wars (the Trollocs invading Manetheren carried the banner of Ba'alzamon), the creation and continued existence of the Black Ajah, the War of the Hundred Years. Ishy claimed to have influenced Hawkwing [TEOTW: 14, The Stag and Lion, 172]. The Third Age shows a pattern of humanity being kept in a state of disarray. Whenever the people showed signs of becoming unified (Compact of Ten Nations, Hawkwing's empire), some cataclysmic event occurred to split things up again. This worked out too well for the Shadow to be mere coincidence. Clearly, Ishy was active and in control of the Shadow's forces for quite a bit of, if not all of, the Third Age.

Then we have the research of the post-Breaking historian Aran son of Malan son of Senar (presumably an Ogier), as described in [Guide: 5, The Dark One and the Male Forsaken, 52]. This person claims that "there were sightings of, even encounters with, Ishamael after the Bore was sealed, in fact perhaps as much as forty years after." The proposed theory is that "it may have taken some years for Ishamael to be drawn fully into the trap with the other Forsaken.... Ishamael might well be thrown out of the prison holding the others and drawn back again on some regular cycle."

Next, there is the bit in [Guide: 12, The Reign of the High King, 114-5] about Hawkwing's advisor, Jalwin Moerad. Moerad was a mysterious, shady character who insinuated himself into Hawkwing's court in FY 973. Moerad exhibited "frequent long absences, a volatile temper, and a temperament that more than one observer recorded as 'more than half insane.'" Shortly after Moerad became a counselor (late summer FY 974), Hawkwing abruptly turned against the AS (who had previously had a very close relationship with Hawkwing). Moerad was contemptuous of AS. After Hawkwing's death, Moerad advised the three nobles who "came the closest to seizing the whole of Hawkwing's empire," and all three of them met untimely deaths. Finally, "Moerad never aged from the day he first appeared to the day he vanished, abruptly, some forty years later." The personality, the lack of aging, and the forty years business, along with Ishy's claim that he influenced Hawkwing make it clear that Moerad was Ishamael.

Finally and most tellingly, Josh Hildreth points out Moghedien's musings while holding Nynaeve and Elayne in thrall in Tanchico, after Ny and El tell her about the two Forsaken Rand fought in the Stone of Tear:

"So Be'lal is dead. The other sounds like Ishamael, to me. All his pride at being only half-caught, whatever the price - there was less human left in him than any of us when I saw him again; I think he half-believed he was the Great Lord of the Dark - all his three thousand years of machinations, and it comes to an untaught boy hunting him down."
[TSR: 46, Veils, 526]

So, it seems like Ishy was somehow "partially bound." That is, he was not completely locked away in the Dungeon Dimension with the rest of the Forsaken and the DO. He was definitely free right after the sealing of the Bore, and was most likely free at various points during the Third Age. Obviously, he was also the first of the Forsaken to be completely freed of the seals, by a long shot.

1.1.9: Why do we think that Anath is Semirhage in disguise? --Updated

In WH we meet Tuon's Soe'feia, or Truthspeaker, Anath. Other than having Pure Evil written all over her, what makes us think that Anath must be the long-absent Semirhage surfacing at last?

Because she says she is. After Cadsuane strips away her Illusion, Rand recognizes “Anath” and calls her out. Semi makes no move to deny it, and in fact, seems to take delight in the effect her reputation has on her captors.

“Semirhage shifted that cold smile from Rand to Cadsuane. “Why should I deny myself?” Pride dripped from every word.  “I am Semirhage.” [KoD: 27, A Plain Wooden Box].


So there you go.

1.1.10 Did Graendal Survive the Attack on Natrin's Barrow? --New

[James Luckman]

Given we never saw a body, and Brandon refused to confirm whether or not she died, it was expected that people would start theorising about her potentially living--but is there any reason to do so beyond simple nostalgia?

Something Strange...

The point that may suggest that things might have gone differently than they appeared to lies in the question--why didn't Graendal flee? Rand himself states that,  "She will vanish the moment I threaten her, running to one of a dozen other refuges she is sure to have set up." [tGS; 37, A Force of Light]

Through Ramshalan she knows that Rand not only knows precisely where she is, but is thinking about the possibility of killing her at that very moment. Even if she thinks that Rand was playing by her rules--as Rand wished her to--why doesn't she run anyway? By everything that is said about her, she should have--unless she had reason to think she knew exactly what he planned. And that's the oddity here. Nothing in what Rand gave her via Ramshalan should have been strong enough proof that he intended to play with her that she would disreguard the danger of the Dragon knowing her exact location.

She should have run. Why didn't she?

Why Didn't Graendal Run?

The explanation I gave above serves--she would have stayed if she had reason to think she knew Rand's plans, and would be able to counter them safely. So if she didn't have enough to be certain that Rand was only going to play with her, could she instead have been expecting the attack? And if so did she have clues to lead her to the specific nature of the attack Rand intended--the balefire and the compulsion test? Firstly, we have this...

"I have to peer into her eyes, see into her soul, and know that it's her that I face and not some decoy. I have to do that without frightening her into running. How? How can I kill a foe who is more clever than myself, a foe who is impossible to surprise, yet who is also unwilling to confront me?"
[tGS; 37, A Force of Light]

Whether he meant to or not, he actually lays down his desires there. Specifically he wants a way to kill Graendal before she has a chance to run, and yet ensure it leaves evidence that she did in fact die.

Still, that's fairly generic. If Graendal realised there was to be an attack, and only had that, I'd say she still would have run. Too many attack routes, no idea which one Rand might choose, and thus no way to be certain enough that she could foil it and survive. So is there anything that might have directed Graendal to Rand's method?

Why Did Rand Send Ramshalan?

So, acting under the premise of this theory--that Graendal was looking for the attack, and planning how to oppose it--then there is a question that raises itself--why did Rand send Ramshalan? It wasn't to ensure she was there, because she could easily have travelled the second he was out the door. It only served to alert Graendal that Rand knew where she was, and thus that she was in danger--which raises the chance that she would flee, one of the two things Rand stated in front of Ramshalan that he wished to forestall.

So if this violated one of Rand's desires, logically would it not being doing so in order to serve the second. In effect it points out, should Graendal have been looking for the attack, that Ramshalan was to serve as the proof of her death.

The Stepping Stone To Rand's Plans: Compulsion and Balefire

That idea that Ramshalan was sent to become the proof of her death opens up the plan. What would be assured if Rand sent Ramshalan to Graedal--she'd compel him. How would that serve as proof of her death? It gives Rand a recent piece of her work to test should she be balefired--and how unlikely would it be for her to consider that Rand would use balefire on her? Not very--he's used it before; it's highly destructive and cannot be shielded against, which fulfils his requirements that he be able to kill her before she can run.

Of course, predicting balefire as the weapon, and predicting that he'd balefire the entire palace are two different things. However it has been pointed out that Graendal was charged with making psychological warfare on Rand--that would necessitate studying him, which would mean that she would have a very, very good understanding of what how far he was gone, and thus what he was capable of.

Irrespective, she needn't have actually predicted he'd balefire the palace. She could have made a decoy masked in illusion for him to personally balefire. For her to have lived we don't need for her to have guessed everything, just enough, and once Graendal began preparing to meet an attack its next to impossible she didn't consider the possibility of balefire--this is a woman who used human blood on her letters to Inturalde despite doubting any Third Ager could tell the difference between human and animal blood--she fills her plans with redundancies.

Defeating The Compulsion Test

The first method I've seen suggested for how she might achieve this is in having tied off the web so it could unravel on its own. There is the question of why Ramshalan is completely undamaged, but then Nynaeve states that this web is lighter, or more subtle. "Yes. Rand, he's under a heavy Compulsion. There are a lot of weaves here. Not as bad as the chandler's apprentice, or maybe just more subtle."

Graendal knows everything there is to know about Compulsion, and she would know how to place a compulsion that could unravel without harming the individual. It likely wouldn't be as effective in the purpose of compelling Ramshalan, but then the suggested purpose here wasn't compelling Ramshalan, but deceiving Rand.

Of course this raises the question of timing. How did Graendal set the weave to unravel at precisely the moment that Rand balefired the palace? I've seen three answers to this: The first is that she held a inverted web which she released when she saw the palace destroyed, thereby unravelling the web. The second option is that she set the web to unravel after being delved--this is a reasonably logical idea--if Graendal perceived the compulsion would be the test, then she'd perceive it would be tested twice. Before and after. They test it before, the compulsion dissolved, Rand balefires, and then they test it again and what do you know--all gone.

The third option is that she set the weave to unravel in the face of balefire. We know from [KoD; 3, In The Gardens] that Graendal has at least some understanding of what the effects of disturbances in the pattern can be, so it’s not impossible she set the weave up to collapse in the face of the warping that resulted from the use of balefire. Note that Nynaeve says that "There are a lot of weaves here", and that she clearly doesn't understand them all. One could easily be designed to trigger and unravel in the face of the pattern rippling.

Channeler Sacrificed

The second explanation for the disappearance of the compulsion runs that Graendal either trained another woman and let her weave the compulsion, or else linked with her and used only her power to weave the compulsion (something we know to be possible from both the a'dam, and Narishma in [WH; 54, With the Choedan Kal]). I suspect if either is the case then the latter is more likely given the skill displayed in the compulsion.

After that Graendal chucks a runner, and leaves the hapless woman to her fate (likely disguised by Mirror of Mists as Graendal in case of an attack, with compelled commands to ensure she dies satisfactorily at Rand's hands), thereby successfully convincing Rand he's succeeded in killing her, when in fact he has only killed a decoy. In some ways it could be said he gave her the idea himself.

Of course this raises the problem of where Graendal came by a channeler so swiftly. I've seen two ideas suggested. One, chronologically this occurs after Aran'gar and Delana flee the rebels. Given Aran'gar's new alliance with Graendal (which Graendal helpfully mentions in the prologue), its not inconceivable that she sought out Graendal after fleeing, and that it is Delana who gets supernuked by Rand.

Two, Graendal gathers the powerful and the beautiful. It's not inconceivable then that she has snagged an Aes Sedai, Wise One, Windfinder or Ayyad. The woman herself would be under heavy compulsion, but that doesn't stop you channeling as far as we know, and women gain none of the protections from compulsion that men gain from saidin, so it wouldn't be a risk for Graendal to keep one under the level of compulsion she places on her pets.


In conclusion, that she did not run in the beginning is strange, and does indicate she thought she knew precisely what was going to occur, and thought she could deal with it. In contradiction to that, what Ramshalan told her seems to contain little in the way of proof that Rand merely meant to play with her, as Rand suggests was her deduction. Thus the fact that she did not run is a problem. From there Ramshalan's presence and knowledge could well have guided her to figuring out the specific nature of the assault.

Ultimately the only real evidence to suggest that the stated course of events--that she died--did not occur is in the relative oddities of her providing Rand with precisely what he wanted despite being made aware of that by Ramshalan, and that she did not run immediately upon realising Rand knew where she was. Her surviving does follow a logical progression, but by and large it is far more likely that events fell out precisely as they appeared to, and Graendal is dead.

1.2 The Forsaken: The New Kids on the Block

This subsection contains information on and discussion of characters who are or who may be Forsaken who are no longer in their original bodies.

1.2.1: Who are Aran'gar and Osan'gar?

We've been told since TEOTW that the DO is Lord of the Grave. It is about time he started acting it. In [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 59-61], we see "Aran'gar" and "Osan'gar," two minions of the Shadow brought back from the dead and put into new bodies. Osan'gar, at least, is one of the Forsaken; when he tells SH to stop choking Aran'gar, he thinks, "The thing had to obey one of the Chosen." [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 60]. It is a good first approximation to assume that they are both reincarnated Forsaken, and not some random Dreadlords. So, what Forsaken are available for reincarnation (i.e. are dead)? Aginor and Balthamel, Ishamael, Asmodean, Rahvin and Be'lal, and possibly Lanfear. Well, Rahvin and Be'lal died of balefire, and their souls are beyond even the reach of the DO. Asmodean was a traitor; the DO lumps him in with Rahvin as having "Died the final death" [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 15], and anyway, RJ has confirmed repeatedly that Asmo is thoroughly dead and won't be coming back.

Both the Gars were originally male. When Osan'gar tries to channel, he naturally reaches for saidin, not saidar. As for Aran'gar, she is extremely upset at being put into a woman's body, and Osan'gar thinks it is a "fine joke." Furthermore, in [TPOD: 16, Unexpected Absences, 333] Aran'gar thinks, "It was difficult now to really remember what life had been like as a man." This eliminates Lanfear. The remaining candidates are Aginor, Balthamel, and Ishamael.

Since the appearance of the Gars in LOC, we've met another recycled Forsaken, Moridin. From ample evidence in ACOS, TPOD, and WH, we know that Moridin was Ishamael (see section 1.2.3). Therefore, the Gars must be the Toxic Twosome, Aginor and Balthamel. Now our only question is which is which.

Osan'gar thinks to himself about having helped make the Trollocs and not liking the Halfmen who were an unexpected result of that experiment. We know that Aginor was very involved in creating the various Shadowspawn, and that he was unnerved by Fades, spending lots of time trying to discover how they "fade." In fact, from the Guide, we know that Aginor was the only one of the thirteen Forsaken to have worked on creating Shadowspawn [Guide: 5, The Dark One and the Male Forsaken, 50-60]. Therefore, we can conclude that Osan'gar is Aginor.

By a process of elimination, we can immediately conclude that Aran'gar is Balthamel. We have other evidence. From TEOTW and the Guide [Guide: 5, The Dark One and the Male Forsaken, 54], we know that Balthamel enjoyed "the pleasures of the flesh." That is to say, he was a real lecher. Thus, it would be a great joke to put him in a female body. Even more interesting, Aran'gar (Halima) now has a job "kneading young girls," as Mark Loy puts it-- something right up Balthamel's alley.

Finally, if all this wasn't convincing enough, we have a report from a post-ACOS book signing [Cincinnati, Ohio; 12 October, 1996]:

Someone asked RJ about the 'gars, and mentioned that he'd seen theories that Lanfear was one of the 'gars. I was expecting a RAFO, but RJ gave the guy a disgusted look, and said that "No, Osan'gar and Aran'gar are Aginor and Balthamel." The guy said, "You're confirming this, and not hinting about it?" RJ replied (I'm paraphrasing here), "I'm confirming. After all, it's pretty obvious in the books that it's those two. After all, that's what Aginor thought was so funny; Balthamel, the lecher, was stuck in a female body." [Mike Lawson]

The recycling of Aginor and Balthamel into new bodies did not come totally out of the blue. In [TEOTW: 50, Meetings at the Eye, 628], Aginor says, "Some of us are bound no longer. The seals weaken, Aes Sedai. Like Ishamael, we walk the world again, and soon the rest of us will come. I was too close to this world in my captivity, I and Balthamel, too close to the grinding of the Wheel, but soon the Great Lord of the Dark will be free, and give us new flesh..." (emphasis added)

1.2.2: What is the deal with Halima and Egwene's headaches?-- Updated

 [Pam Korda, Leigh Butler, Jennifer Liang]

In ACOS, Egwene came down with a spate of nasty headaches. The only way she can manage to get rid of them is for the lovely Halima to give her a massage. Halima just happens to be one of the DO's recycled agents, Aran'gar. Coincidence? I think not.

It's one of the oldest tricks in the book-- cause problems so you can win somebody's confidence. The evidence: Eg's headaches started the day after Logain escaped, and the day Eg and Halima had their first conversation [ACOS: 12, A Morning of Victory, 249]. Aran'gar had been trying very hard to get rid of Logain, either to gentle him again, or to kill him. In [LOC: 52, Weaves of the Power, 651] Egwene says, "They will gentle him, Siuan... That, or someone really will do what Delana has been hinting at. I won't allow murder!" Delana is by now only a pawn, voicing Halima's wishes. To Halima, Logain is dangerous, being the only one around who can sense her ability to channel saidin, or rather, her actual channeling. As soon as Logain is gone, Halima's free to make her move on Egwene.

More direct evidence that Halima is responsible for the headaches is offered in COT, when Egwene sends Halima away against her wishes in [COT: 18, A Chat With Siuan, 439]: "With remarkable timing, a dull throb began behind Egwene's eyes, an all too familiar precursor to a blinding headache..." Remarkable timing, indeed.

So, since it seems unlikely that a Forsaken with direct access to the Amyrlin Seat (or one of them, even) would settle for simply making her head hurt, the obvious question to ask is, what else is she doing? The most logical assumption to make would be that Halima is Compelling Egwene.

Is Halima using Compulsion on Egwene?

1. We see in WH some rather disturbing changes in Egwene's policy, most notably her 180 on the matter of the Oath Rod. Elayne and Nynaeve are understandably startled and dismayed by it, but Egwene seems dead set on the idea. Why the Oaths particularly, if this is Halima's doing? Well, for one thing, Moridin knows that if all the Aes Sedai are released from the Oath Rod, then his Black Ajah will be released from whatever Oaths they swore to the Shadow, as well [John Novak].

Counterargument: The Oath Rod thing is odd, but as a ploy to create chaos and disorder among the Rebel AS, it's pretty pathetic. Why only this? Why not induce Eg to do something actually damaging in the short term, like Alviarin was forcing Elaida to do? Surely there are plenty of things Halima could dream up that wouldn't topple Eg, but still make things worse for her faction? Besides, it is possible that Egwene really was influenced by Siuan's speech about the value of the Oaths, and that nothing sinister is afoot.

2. "...[Aran'gar] laughed throatily. 'My own charge is...' She pressed a thumb down on the edge of the chair as if pinning something and laughed again." [WH: 13, Wonderful News,

Counterargument: This is conveniently vague, and evidence from TPOD, WH, and COT strongly suggests that the "charge" Aran'gar is referring to is actually Sheriam (see section 1.5.4).

3. Practically everyone in the Rebel camp despises Halima, including Siuan, who is one of the few people Egwene trusts fully. Yet Egwene seems unnaturally fond of Halima, continually making excuses for her appearance and manner, and dismisses out of hand reports of Halima's strange behavior (like breaking a man's arm, for instance [COT: 18, A Chat With Siuan, 440]). Egwene's lack of suspicion with regard to Halima seems very strange, considering that she's suspicious of just about everyone else.

Counterargument: Like nobody in this series has made bad character judgments before.

4. Egwene’s headaches seem to arise whenever someone mentions Halima or Delana to her, almost as if something is trying to prevent her from thinking too much about those two. [ACOS: 11, An Oath].

Counterargument: We have no evidence whatsoever that Compulsion can be used like that, or that Aran’gar is skilled enough to do so.

No she isn't

1. Using Compulsion on someone is fraught with difficulties. Unless you are very good at it, you run a continual risk of permanently scrambling the subject's brain. Moggy comments on this in ACOS while running to take a potshot at Nynaeve in [ACOS: 30, The First Cup, 484]: "It was possible the innkeeper might lose the whole day, or wake somewhat slower of wits than she had been - so much in Moghedien's life would have been so much easier had she possessed a better Talent for Compulsion..." Considering how much difficulty all the other Forsaken except Graendal seem to have with it, it's reasonable to think that Halima might not have the finesse required to keep a subject under long-term control without doing damage.

Counterargument: There is no evidence Halima sucks at Compulsion.

Rebuttal: There's no evidence that she doesn't, either.

2. Even if Halima does have sufficient skill to avoid cooking Eg's noodle, there is still the problem of Egwene herself. Rich Boyé points out that as seen with Rahvin vs. Morgase and Moggy vs. Nynaeve, "certain people have an innate resistance to Compulsion. They may be in thrall, but the subject's subconscious instinctively seeks a way out from under the Compulsion... I have no doubt that Egwene would be one of those innately resistant people - she fought off Seanchan programming for months, recall." Additionally, Egwene tells us in [COT: 18, A Chat With Siuan, 451] that she learned the Compulsion weave from Moggy before the latter escaped; while Halima may not be aware of this fact, it still further increases the chance that Egwene would recognize that something similar was being done to her.

Counterargument: It doesn't help Egwene to know the weave if she can't sense the saidin being used to create it. And while it's reasonable to suppose that Egwene might be resistant to Compulsion, that is all it is: supposition.

3. Finally, there is the fact that Egwene simply doesn't act like someone under Compulsion. Drew Holton observes that Compulsion "really leaves you with no willpower, and also no initiative. Look at how Morgase behaved. I don't think they could keep Egwene on the Amyrlin Seat for long [...] if she was under Compulsion." Nor could someone rendered "slow" expect to hold on to the top spot among AS either.

Counterargument: Again, this hinges on the assumption that Halima doesn't have sufficient skill to Compel Eg without leaving her a drooling mess.

The last point also assumes, of course, that Halima wants to keep Egwene in the power seat. But really, every indication is that this is exactly what Halima wants. Elizabeth Cornwell points out, "given Halima's access to Egwene, I can't imagine that she wants Egwene to fail in her current plans. The proof of this being a negative one: that if Halima wanted to bring Egwene down, she certainly could have already done so in any number of ways. (Two possibilities: direct compulsion during the headache sessions to brainwash Egwene into seeing some other plan as better; having had Delana "reveal" to the SAS Hall that Egwene was Siuan's dupe and that the attack on Elaida was being pursued because of Siuan's influence)." John Novak adds, "Just killing her outright would have sufficed, too. I'm sure Halima could manage something thatwould leave no trace of foul play."

Since neither of those things have happened, we must conclude that (at least some of) Egwene's goals coincide with Halima's, at the moment. One such goal is the AS civil war. Continued conflict between the TAS and the SAS is definitely in the DO's best interest-- the two groups of AS are tied up fighting each other, instead of fighting the Shadow, or aiding the Dragon Reborn. So long as the conflict between the two factions continues, the DO's interest is served. Halima's methods may change if it starts to look like Egwene's plans for reuniting the Tower are coming to fruition, but for now she's doing what Halima wants, so why risk Compulsion if you don't need to?

A third alternative offered by several people is that Halima is only using a very light form of Compulsion on Egwene - not enough to make her actually do anything, but just enough to make her like Halima and dismiss any suspicions about her. This idea seems likely because it eliminates the problem of why Egwene isn't acting brain-fried, while also explaining her complete lack of clue when it comes to Halima's antics. Still, this seems awfully mild. It's hard to accept that Halima is using her unfettered access to Egwene just to make Eg like her.

So what is she doing, then?

When Egwene first appears in [TPOD: 15, Stronger Than Written Law, 308], she's waking from disturbing dreams that she can't recall, even though she's been trained to remember all her dreams. She also indicates this is a recent phenomenon - coinciding with her headaches, perchance? The dreams "left her wanting to run, to escape, never able to recall what from…" Then, in [TPOD: 16, Unexpected Absences, 332], while Halima's busy lugging the corpse of one of Egwene's maids into the woods, she is "thinking idly of tonight's dreams." Hers, or Egwene's?

In CoT, Egwene recovers from a Halima-induced headache without Halima's help, and the immediate result is three new prophetic dreams. Egwene even specifically thinks about how her dreams were always troubled after one of Halima's massages: "Few of her dreams were light, but these were darker than any others, and, strangely, she could never remember anything except that they were dark and troubled" [COT: 20, In the Night, 481].

Even more telling, Egwene doesn’t have any troubles with her Dreams after being taken prisoner by the Tower Aes Sedai and being removed from Aran’gar’s influence. “Strangely, she had not had one of those wretched headaches since being taken prisoner, nor any of those dark dreams that left her disturbed even though she could never remember them, but she thought she might be heading for a fine headache tonight.” [KoD 24: Honey in the Tea]. Given all this, it seems likely that if Halima is not Compelling Eg or only mildly Compelling Eg, then the purpose of the headaches is probably to interfere with Egwene's Dreaming ability. Another possibility is that the headaches are merely to give Halima nighttime access to Egwene, allowing for easier manipulation of her Dreams. “Her abilities [in Tel'aran'rhiod] were not as large as some--she could not find Egwene's dreams without the girl right beside her.” [KOD 3: At the Gardens]

One must ask, of course, how exactly Halima knows that Eg is a Dreamer. Well, Lanfear knew, for one - she was Silvie (see section 1.1.3). Also, Ben Goodman reminds us that Ishamael knew as well - he saw Eg in T'A'R [TGH: 12, Woven in the Pattern, 180], and later comments on her to "You find odd followers," Ba'alzamon mused. "You always did. [...] The girl who tries to watch over you. A poor guardian and weak, Kinslayer. If she had a lifetime to grow, she would never grow strong enough for you to hide behind." [TGH: 15, Kinslayer, 204]

This may also partially explain why Anaiya was one of the two AS Halima murdered in COT -  she was one of the few people in the Rebel camp who truly believed Eg was a Dreamer. When Egwene is disappointed that no one seems to be taking her Dream about the Seanchan seriously, Morvrin remarks, "'It might be different if Anaiya were alive [...] Anaiya had a reputation for arcane knowledge. I always thought she should have chosen Brown, myself. If she said you were a Dreamer...'" [COT: 30, What the Oath Rod Can Do, 662].

David Ulaeto comments, "This implies first that the Darkside actually recognizes that Dreaming is one of the major tools of the Lightside/Pattern/Creator for guiding events/characters. And second that the Darkside actually has the intelligence to recognize this, which I never would have dreamed was the case given past performance of the Forsaken et al."

So, maybe Halima's not so useless after all.

1.2.3: Who is Moridin? Why do we think that he is the Watcher and the Wanderer? --Updated

Why are we sure that Moridin is Ishamael returned from the grave?

In TGS, Moridin pulls Rand into the World of dreams. Rand immediately recognizes him as the man that saved him in Shadar Logoth and as Ishamael. [TGS 15: A Place to Begin ]So what has Moridin been using his new lease on life for?

The Watcher and the Wanderer

[Pam Korda, Paul Khangure]

In addition to Moridin's overt appearance in ACOS, there were two other appearances by mysterious men of the Dark persuasion in that book. First, we met the Watcher, i.e. the guy watching Graendal and Sammael in [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 356]. Then, we met Moridin in [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 417]. Finally, there is the "wanderer" that Rand met in Shadar Logoth during his fight with Sammael in [ACOS: 41, A Crown of Swords, 656]. Even before TPOD, it was reasonable to assume that all three were the same person. After all, how many mysterious True Power channelers do we need? Given that neither the "Watcher" nor the "Wanderer" appear as distinct individuals in TPOD, we have even more reason to believe that both are Moridin, who is Ishamael.Let us consider the specific bits of evidence.

The Watcher

We meet the Watcher in [ACOS, 20, Patterns within Patterns, 356-358]:

1. Obviously a Forsaken from the AOL. He knows about AOL technology - callboxes, Mask of Mirrors and fancloth, knows the Forsaken by name and appearance. He definitely knew Sammael, as opposed to knowing of him. Just a guy from the AOL is not enough; he has to be someone who interacted and got to know Sammael's strengths and weaknesses. Notice there was no fear of interfering with not just two of the Forsaken, but with a potential battle between them! Furthermore, he uses the phrase "so-called Aiel" which we have no reason to expect anybody except a relic from the AOL to use; the Forsaken are the only AOL relics in action, except Birgitte and "LTT."

2. Senses saidin being held by Sammael, skin prickles when Graendal channels. This indicates that he has the ability to channel saidin.

3. He uses the TP. Note that he does so even though he can use the OP. This indicates that he probably uses it more than your average Forsaken--he could have Traveled with the OP, but he used the TP instead. Note that by the time he left, Sam had left the vicinity, so there was no chance of him being detected.

4. He has eyebrows and eyes (i.e. he is not Shaidar Haran).

5. He has "expertise in many areas Sammael scorned. In some he favored, too."

6. He doesn't seem to have the same attitude as the "normal" Forsaken towards Nae'blis-ness. In [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 358], Sammael mentions (lies) to Graendal that he "will be Nae'blis." Graendal then stops arguing with Sam and follows him through his gateway. We then have: "The watcher smiled crookedly behind his fancloth skulker's mask. Nae'blis. That explained what had brought Graendal to heel, what had stayed her from killing Sammael. Even she would be blinded by that." It seems as if the Watcher is NOT blinded by the "Nae'blis" carrot, unlike the "normal" Forsaken.

7. Obviously, he has an interest in what Sammael and Graendal are up to, since he is spying on them.

What can we conclude from these observations? From 1 and 2, we can conclude that the Watcher is Moridin/Ishamael, Osan'gar/Aginor, or Demandred.

Aran'gar/Balthamel is out, because she thinks of herself as "she," as indicated in [TPOD: 16, Unexpected Absences, 332-333]. The relative lack of interest in Sammael's supposed Nae'blis-hood rules Demandred out. (Recall Demandred's reaction to "WOULD YOU BE NAE'BLIS?" in the LOC Prologue.) Osan'gar/Aginor/Dashiva is pretty much ruled out as well. Not only is he depicted as a terrible skulker (and a total wuss to boot) in WH, he thinks to himself about how "He had never been a soldier, not really. His talents, his genius, lay elsewhere" [WH: 35, With The Choedan Kal, 645]. This plus the description of Aginor's activities during the AOL (Shayol Ghul's resident Mad Scientist) is in direct conflict with the Watcher's thoughts about having "expertise in some [areas] Sammael favored." Aginor's only apparent realm of expertise seems to have been biology, which Sam wasn't really into.

The last, and overwhelmingly most likely, possibility is Moridin. This is indicated by the Watcher's use of the TP in a circumstance where the OP would have sufficed. Given the general attitude of the Forsaken towards the TP, it is unlikely that there are TWO such TP addicts around, and that Osan'gar is one of them. Unlike Moggy, Osan'gar didn't even consider using the True Power when he found himself shielded by Shaidar Haran. The fact that the Watcher was keeping tabs on Sammael and Graendal connect him to both the Wanderer (who interfered with Sammael and Rand's fight in SL-- something he could have only done if he knew what Sammy had been up to) and Moridin. We know Moridin was watching Sammael, because he thinks about how foolish Sam's plans are in [TPOD: 2, Unweaving, 81-82], and his minions Moggy and Cyndane seem to know about Graendal's connection with Sam when they visit her in [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 262-268]. Thus, everything points to the Watcher being Moridin.

The Wanderer

We see the Wanderer in [ACOS: 41, A Crown of Swords, 656-659]:

1. Description: Big fellow. Has a deep voice. Little older than Rand. Black coat, black hair. Rand doesn't recognize him.

2. He's most likely not a Third Age person. Knows Sammael, including how Sammael thinks. He clearly knows Sam fairly well, and thus is probably from the AOL. Furthermore, he has "never been afraid of Aes Sedai." Everybody in Randland proper (i.e. not Seanchan, not Aiel, and not Sea Folk) grows up hearing stories of Aes Sedai like those the Emond's Fielders did. Such stories engender some sort of awe in the listener, yet this guy acts like AS are no problem, and has never thought otherwise. This comment is easily understandable if he's from the AOL-- back then, he WAS an Aes Sedai, and modern AS are but "untrained children" to him.

3. He uses the TP instead of the OP (balefire, and disappears without Rand sensing saidin or saidar). This is a situation where using the TP instead of the OP could be dangerous-- it might make Rand suspicious-- and yet the Wanderer uses it. This is evidence that the Wanderer is a TP addict.

4. Even apart from his TP use, he is clearly a Minion of Darkness. He calls Rand a fool, he doesn't "care to see [Rand] die today," he doesn't "intend to carry [Rand] on [his] shoulders, or kill Sammael." He's clearly only helping Rand because it coincides with some plan of his, not because he particularly cares about Rand's well-being. He certainly doesn't like Rand; when he falls down after the crossed-streams BF incident, Rand offers him a hand, but the Wanderer refuses "with a grimace."

5. [From the RJ aol.com chat, 27 June 1996]: "Question: There is a mystery man who helps Rand in the last chapter of ACOS...is this a new character, or have we seen him elsewhere. RJ: Well, we've certainly seen him earlier in CROWN OF SWORDS."

Given that the Wanderer must be a Forsaken (#2, #3, #4), we are left with only two suspects - Demandred and Moridin. (Osan'gar is not even an outside possibility, since he is Dashiva, and Rand would have instantly recognized him.) The physical description (#1) does not match Demandred (who is not young). In fact, the description matches Moridin quite well. From [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 417-418]:

"The speaker was a tall, broad-shouldered young man in black boots and breeches, and a flowing white shirt unlaced at the top, who watched her with startlingly blue eyes ..." He has a deep voice. He has a strong chin, else he'd be worthy of Graendal's collection. He looks to be just a little older than Rand, "Not many years past twenty."

The Wanderer's size, hair color, age, voice, and fashion sense all match with Moridin's, as does his TP addiction. The attention to and interference with Sammael's plans also agree with what we know Moridin (and the Watcher) have been up to. RJ's remark that the Wanderer is somebody we saw earlier in ACOS certainly works if he is Moridin. Furthermore, his remarks to Rand, which indicate that he regards Rand as a tool or a piece in a game, bring to mind Ishamael's comments to Rand in the first three books, and also Moridin's analysis of the sha'rah game in [TPOD: Prologue, Deceptive Appearances, 42-44]. All of this indicates that the Wanderer is Moridin.

1.2.4: Who is Cyndane, and where did she come from?

[Pam Korda, Leigh Butler, Bryan Ecker]

Cyndane is a "new" character in TPOD. She appears in [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 262-268], when she and Moghedien visit Graendal to bring her into the fold. Of course, we must immediately ask, "who is she really?"

Summary of what we knew about Cyndane from TPOD:

  • Her name means "last chance" in the OT.
  • She is Moridin's other mindtrapped lackey, along with Moghedien. We know that she was already mindtrapped when Moggy met Moridin.
  • She is not impressed or intimidated by Forsaken; Graendal is startled at her haughty attitude.
  • She is short, and appears to be "striving for every inch of height".
  • Graendal senses her strength in the OP, which means she channels saidar, and Cyndane is stronger in the Power than Graendal.

These clues and deductive reasoning led to the conclusion that Cyndane is most likely Lanfear reincarnated. This conclusion is confirmed beyond doubt in WH.

During the Forsaken Coffee Hour [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 318], Demandred thinks to himself that he had been sure Cyndane was Lanfear reincarnated because of the way she referred to Rand as "Lews Therin", just as Lanfear always had, and also because of her familiarity with the Choedan Kal and the AOL in general. His certainty, however, had been shaken when Mesaana told him Cyndane was weaker in the OP than Lanfear had been.

Demandred's doubts notwithstanding, Cyndane's POV in [WH: 35, With The Choedan Kal, 641] clinches it:

"So he had found a woman to use the other access key. She would have faced the Great Lord - faced the Creator! - with him. She would have shared the power with him, let him rule the world at her side. And he had spurned her love, spurned her!"

From [TSR: 9, Decisions, 129]:

Lanfear, to Rand: "'You and I can rule the world together under the Great Lord, forever...Two great sa'angreal were made just before the end, one that you can use, one that I can. Far greater than that sword. Their power is beyond imagining. With those, we can challenge even...the Great Lord himself. Even the Creator!'"

And just in case you need more proof, we have another Cyndane POV [WH: 35, With the Choedan Kal, 648-649] in which she is shocked to discover that Alivia "was stronger than Cyndane had been before the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn held her!"

As Pam puts it, succinctly: "There is only one psycho ex-girlfriend of LTT who invited Rand to use the mega-sa'angreal with her to challenge the DO and the Creator, who was the strongest known woman channeler, and who spent time in Finnland. Her name was Lanfear. Now it is Cyndane."

So she's Lanfear. But how did she get from Lanfear to Cyndane?

The last we saw of Lanfear, she was knocked through the doorway to Foxland by Moiraine, and the doorway melted. The big question is, what happened to her that she ended up with a new body (and a mindtrap)? Up until WH we had absolutely no idea what happened to Moiraine and Lanfear after they fell through the door. WH gives us two pieces of information - that she was "held" by the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn, and that she is weaker as Cyndane than she was as Lanfear (though still stronger than Graendal). Let's look at these two tidbits and what they tell us (or don't tell us) about what happened to Lanfear in Finnland.

Held by the Finn

The word "held" implies it was against Lanfear's will (which certainly makes sense). That, of course, immediately raises the question - how did they hold her? Why could she not defend herself against them, the way Rand did against the Aelfinn (the Snakes) in the Tear doorway? (We now know which is which; see section 2.6.3)

The simplest answer is that she was stilled, and thus not in a position to put up a fight with the OP.

Stilled or not?

Koby Kobia explains: "If we recall the incident in TFOH, Lanfear was drawing deeply on the bracelet angreal when Moiraine struck. She was probably drawing every particle of the OP she could stand through the angreal, and it must have been a humongous amount because she was winning against Rand and his angreal, when Moiraine cannoned into her and clawed away the angreal as the two of them fell through the doorway. Now, an angreal allows a person to channel a lot more of the OP than the person can channel unaided. What happens if the angreal is suddenly stripped away while is person is straining to draw as much OP as he/she can?" If she wasn't able to release the Source quickly enough, she would have been stilled at the very least.

If she was stilled, this could explain why Cyndane is weaker in the Power than Lanfear was. The only time we've ever seen a channeler end up weaker than they used to be was in the case of Siuan and Leane, who were stilled and then Healed by a woman. However, it doesn't seem very likely that this is what happened to Lanfear. The only female channelers who might be willing to Heal Lanfear are Graendal, Moggy, Semirhage, or some random Black sister, and none of them know how to Heal stilling. Nynaeve didn't make her amazing discovery until LOC, and in fact, as far as we know she's still the only saidar channeler who can do it. We can be sure Nynaeve didn't Heal Lanfear. Moiraine almost certainly wouldn't have done it, either, even if she knew how (and even assuming she wasn't stilled as well). Also, if Lanfear was stilled and then Healed, why did she still end up with a different body?

If Lanfear died and was resurrected by the DO in a different body, the difference in strength doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. There isn't any real evidence to say what effect being reincarnated into a different body has on the resurrectee's ability to channel (i.e. is channeling strength a function of the body or of the soul?), but neither Moridin nor the 'gars remark on being weaker in the OP after their resurrection. However, that may not necessarily mean they aren't weaker. Moridin appears to use the TP pretty much exclusively, and we have no idea how TP-strength correlates with OP-strength (apart from the need to be able to use the OP to be able to use the TP). As for the 'gars, we've had very little in the way of POVs from either of them, so it's hard to say for sure. It's worth pointing out, though, that the first time we see them in the prologue of LOC, they're both pretty mad about the way they've been resurrected. One would think that being weaker in the OP would have been included on their list of things to scream about, if such were the case.

The Foxes might be responsible for why Lanfear is weaker as Cyndane than she was in her own body; it could have been their price for restoring her ability to channel, or their price for whatever else she asked for (if she was not stilled). Obviously, this is related to the idea that the Foxes are responsible for her new body, but how these two connect or in what fashion we're not sure. In any case, it doesn't seem like much of a price. She's weaker, yes, but still stronger than Graendal, which means she's still immensely strong in the OP even by AOL standards. If the Foxes exacted OP strength as a price, why by such a piddly amount? (Maybe Lanfear was a good negotiator, unlike Mat?) Although, as Pam points out, it's not necessarily all that piddly. If Lanfear = 20, and Graendal = 14, and Cyndane = 15, then Cyndane is still stronger than Graendal, but considerably weaker than Lanfear.

One other possibility is that it is the act of being held by the 'Finn itself that is responsible for the weakening. Moiraine thought that the Aelfinn (the Snakes) get a kind of payment for answering questions by rummaging through emotions and experiences, perhaps feeding on them. James Huckaby theorizes that perhaps "the normal exchange for items and services received from the Eelfinn is a time of enslavement or imprisonment where the Aelfinn and Eelfinn get to feed off them, and for channelers a certain amount of their channeling ability is taken or eaten as well." Maybe Lanfear finally committed suicide to get away from them, at which point the DO resurrected her as Cyndane.

Once again, we don't know enough to say for sure. The options are too many and our lack of knowledge too crippling.

However, while it is very likely that stilling was the reason why Lanfear couldn't fight the Eelfinn, it is not the sole possibility. We have no real evidence that the Finn are vulnerable to the Power. Rand's encounter with the Snakes is not conclusive; he was wielding a sword of fire, and it could have been the fire that was holding them off as opposed to the OP ("Fire to blind", etc.). It's possible that if he had tried something else (say, binding them with flows of Air), it wouldn't have worked. Plus, the Foxes gave Mat a medallion that melts OP flows. If they could do that for him, why not for themselves? It could even be that the Aelfinn - the Snakes - are susceptible to the OP and the Eelfinn - the Foxes - are not.

In short, we just don't know enough about the abilities of the Finn or the properties of their dimension to draw any conclusions about how they held Lanfear. We also don't have much idea what it means that she was apparently held by the Eelfinn AND the Aelfinn. The quote raises more questions than it answers, really.

The phrase does, however, eliminate a few possibilities concerning how and when Lanfear died - if she did actually die, that is.

It tells us, for instance, that Lanfear could not have died instantly when she and Moiraine went through the doorway. This scenario was unlikely in any case, since we know Moiraine is not dead (see section 2.2.6), but now we know for sure it's not so. In the same way, she couldn't have been killed by drawing too much of the Power, since that pretty much would have had to happen because of Moiraine's attack (i.e. immediately after falling through the door) and thus would also preclude the possibility of Lanfear being held in Foxland.

It's still possible that Moiraine killed her, but this option is even more unlikely than before. She couldn't have killed Lanfear immediately, for the same reasons as above, and given how much more powerful and skilled Lanfear was than Moiraine, if Moiraine didn't do it right away she probably couldn't have done it at all. Plus, the fact that Lanfear was held by the Finn seems to indicate that once through the door matters were more or less taken out of both women's hands.

So how could she have died?

Lanfear could have been killed by the Foxes (or the Snakes, or both). Just because they "held" her doesn't mean they couldn't also have killed her later. Mat's experience with them certainly would have been lethal if Rand hadn't known CPR. When Moiraine told El, Eg, and Ny about the Snake doorway in Tear, where one can get three questions answered, she said, "Questions touching the Shadow have dire consequences. If you asked about the Black Ajah, you might be returned dead, or come out a gibbering madwoman, if you came out at all." [TSR: 7, Doorways, 95] It has been suggested that the Foxes might have a similar reaction to wishes "touching the Shadow." Given who Lanfear is, it's possible that anything she wished for would be connected to the Shadow.

On the other hand, there are reasons to believe that the Foxes wouldn't have killed Lanfear for being Forsaken. Firstly, we don't know that the Foxes have the same problem with the Shadow which the Snakes have. Secondly, Lanfear could have asked for personal things which didn't directly involve the Shadow, for example, having channeling ability restored if she was stilled, or having Lews Therin love her, or having Moiraine detained, or getting back to Randland. One might want to consider that Lanfear might have known as much about the doorways as Moiraine, and possibly more. The doors, like (almost) all ter'angreal, date from before the Breaking, and Lanfear was a OP-scientist during the AOL. It's not that unlikely that she'd be aware of the doorways and at least some of their properties, and know enough to avoid getting killed. Another question which has a bearing on this issue is whether the DO can retrieve the souls of dead Forsaken from other dimensions.

One other possibility for Lanfear's death is that she survived and escaped from Finnland, and died at some later point. This idea is sketchy in that it begs the questions of how did she manage to die, and why did it happen "off-screen." None of the primary Good Guys killed her; they'd have noticed. This leaves either assassination by somebody on the Dark Side, or an accidental death. Most of the "loose" Forsaken (i.e. those not tied to Shaidar Haran and/or Moridin, pre-WH) have expressed ignorance of Lanfear's whereabouts. This leaves a direct order from Moridin/SH/the DO, and if that was the case, why bother killing her just to get her in a mindtrap? Surely it would have been just as easy to send her to SG for the same treatment as Moggy. One could always suppose that she tripped, fell down some stairs, and broke her neck, all off-screen, but that would just be incredibly lame.

Lanfear did not die; the new body is the result of a wish

Just because Lanfear has a new look, we shouldn't immediately assume that she got it in the same way (from the DO) that the other "new" Forsaken got theirs. The TPOD Glossary entry on "Forsaken" has something a bit weird to say on the matter: "Moridin... may be yet another of the dead Forsaken brought back from the grave by the Dark One. The same possibility may exist regarding the woman calling herself Cyndane, but... speculation as to the identities of Moridin and Cyndane may prove futile until more is learned." [TPOD: Glossary, entry "Forsaken," 598]. Clearly, this is RJ making fun of us, but it could also be a signal that Cyndane might not be wholly what she seems: Lanfear resurrected by the DO. (Moridin is obviously Ishamael (see section 1.2.3).)

So, what alternative is there? If she wasn't resurrected by the DO, she had to have gotten the body someplace else. The most likely source is the Foxes. We know that they grant wishes in ways which are often not quite what the wisher expected or desired (witness the restoration of Mat's memory). We also know that they demand a "price" for the granting of wishes, and will exact one of their choosing if the wisher does not negotiate one. In Mat's case, the "price" was for him to be hung from the Tree of Life when he was returned to Rhuidean. Now, while Lanfear would never voluntarily change her legendary looks, she might have wished something which unexpectedly resulted in a change of body. For example, if she was stilled after falling through the door, she certainly would have asked for her channeling ability to be restored. This could have been granted, in a twisted way, by putting her mind into a new body which could channel. Another idea is that she asked for Rand/LTT to love her, and she was put into a body which was reminiscent of the long-dead Ilyena. Of course, this idea depends on Cyndane looking like Ilyena. The only thing we know about Ilyena's looks is that she was blonde. Cyndane is also blonde, although she is described as silver-blonde, while Ilyena was golden-blonde. An objection to that idea is that Ilyena was the wife of a very famous, prominent Aes Sedai, and as such, her appearance would have been widely known (like, say, Laura Bush's is today). Surely Graendal would have commented upon Cyndane's resemblance to Ilyena, if such a resemblance did indeed exist.

A few final notes

Why was she mindtrapped?

Moghedien was mindtrapped for betraying the DO by teaching those who would oppose the Shadow. What did Lanfear do to merit the same treatment? It's simple: like Moghedien, she demonstrated that she could not be relied upon to put the DO's interests over her own personal desires and needs, if a conflict arose. She offered to ally with Rand to supplant the Creator and the DO both - and her POV in WH shows she meant it. She enabled, even caused, Asmodean's defection. Essentially, she committed the same transgression as Moghedien, albeit in a less direct fashion-- she helped somebody opposing the Shadow learn skills which would make him more likely to succeed. The conversion of Rand to the DO is a Shadow priority. If Rand had remained ignorant of channeling, his lack of control could have served as a powerful motivation to turn to the Dark Side. Providing a non-Shadow-controlled tutor for Rand removed that motivation. Finally, her psychotic episode at the Cairhien docks, where she tried to kill Rand, and made a general hash of things, was a clear indication that she could not be relied upon to act in the Shadow's best interests, without strong supervision.

What about the body?

[John Hamby, Steven Cooper]

It has been proposed that the original owner of Cyndane's body was Cabriana Mecandes. This is the AS who was tortured by Semirhage in LOC, to get information for Halima's infiltration of the SAS. The evidence is scant, but suggestive:

From [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 188-190]:

  • "A pale-haired silk-clad woman..."
  • "The woman's blue eyes bulged."
  • "...her head flung from side to side, flailing her hair..."

Cyndane is described as having "long silver hair and vivid blue eyes" [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 262]. The blue eyes and long hair match, and silver hair and pale hair could be considered as matching also.

On the other hand, there are missing pieces in the description of Mecandes. Cyndane is unusually short, and apparently has "huge tracts of land." (If you don't understand that last bit, get yourself to Netflix and rent Monty Python and the Holy Grail.) Neither of these distinguishing features is noted by Semirhage.

1.2.5: Moridin's Nine Sha'rah Players

In [TPOD: Prologue, Deceptive Appearances, 42-43], Moridin is playing his favorite AOL strategy game (against himself):


"A complex game, sha'rah, ancient long before the War of Power. Sha'rah, tcheran, and no'ri ... each had adherents ... but Moridin had always favored sha'rah. Only nine people living even remembered the game. He had been a master of it."

This section, in particular the "nine people living" bit, could be very important, or it could mean nothing. People have interpreted that bit in two ways: 1) "Only nine people living even remembered the game [existed]." 2) "Only nine people living even remembered [how to play] the game." The former interpretation means that we can, conceivably, count off which of the Forsaken are alive, to Moridin's knowledge. The latter interpretation does not give us so much knowledge, although it still tells us a little. So, who could these "nine" be?

Since the game is unknown in the Third Age, the nine must be from the AOL. The only people around from the AOL are the Forsaken. The ones who are around who we know that Moridin knows about are: Moridin, Moghedien, Mesaana, Graendal, Semirhage, and Demandred. That's six. Add Lanfear, who is Cyndane (see section 1.2.4) and the occupant of Moridin's second mindtrap. That's seven. The Forsaken Coffee Hour in WH indicates that Moridin has known about Aran'gar and Osan'gar for a good long time - certainly since TPOD. That leaves only Sammael in doubt. (Rahvin, Be'lal, and Asmodean are permanently dead, so they are not in the counting.) Including all of the viable possibilities, the total reaches ten, which is one more than the nine enumerated by Moridin. If we cannot eliminate Sammael, then we must conclude that Moridin was referring to nine people who could play the game, and that one of the Forsaken simply wasn't into board games.

Sammael died at the end of ACOS. This makes him a good candidate for not being counted among the nine, or does it? Note that Moridin's second scene in TPOD is in [TPOD: 2, Unweaving, 81-84], where he watches Elayne and Nynaeve's party depart the Tarasin Palace via gateway. This scene occurs the same day that they use the Bowl of Winds. From [TPOD: 7, A Goatpen, 160], Perrin thinks that "more than half a week" (over five days in Randland) has passed since "a lace of OP streaking high across the sky had created quite a stir among the AS and WOs. And with Grady and Neald.... Neald said it made him think of wind." This description matches with that of the Bowl's action. The next day, Perrin meets Queen Alliandre, and she mentions that "four days ago Illian fell to the Dragon Reborn." [TPOD: 10, Changes, 228] This matches with the timing as figured from data in ACOS: The using/finding of the Bowl occurs the day after the Festival of Birds, when Nynaeve meets and marries Lan. The Festival of Birds is six nights before the half-moon [ACOS, 29, The Festival of Birds, 454]. Rand's attack on Sammael takes place two days after his injury at the hands of Fain [ACOS: 41, A Crown of Swords, 617], and the injury took place on the day Min assures Rand that their "comforting" was mutually voluntary. This is four days before the half-moon. Thus, we can conclude that the Moridin scene in Chapter 2 to TPOD takes place two days before Sammael dies in Shadar Logoth.

There is no indication that Moridin's timeline flows backwards in TPOD between the scene in the Prologue and the scene in Chapter 2. The reasonable conclusion is that the Chapter 2 scene occurs after the Prologue scene, and thus, both occur before the fight between Rand and Sammael. This implies that Sammael was definitely alive when Moridin pondered about the nine players.

So, if Moridin meant "only nine people living even remembered the game existed," then we can only conclude that RJ did some extremely poor writing, and the scene with Moridin in the Prologue of TPOD occurs after the scene with Moridin in Chapter 2 of TPOD, even though there is absolutely no indication that this is the case.

One other option is that Moridin is not including himself in the nine people who remember the game, but if that were the case, it would have made more sense to say "Only nine other people even remembered the game."

On the other hand, if Moridin meant "Only nine people living even remembered how to play the game," then the sentence doesn't mean much.

1.3: How's That Work for the Dark?

This subsection contains information on and discussion of the nature of various things from the Dark Side (e.g. the Taint, the Black Ajah, etc.).

1.3.1: What are those black threads on the male Forsaken?

[Hawk, Pam Korda]

When Rand has battled the male Forsaken, he has sometimes seen black threads, wires, or cords running off from them. This is seen when Rand battles Ishy in [TEOTW: 51, Against the Shadow, 637-640], and Asmodean in [TSR: 58, The Traps of Rhuidean, 671-675]. So what's the deal with these strings?

The thick black threads are the Forsaken's connection to the DO. The connection with the DO is what keeps the male Forsaken from falling prey to the madness from the taint on saidin (see Asmodean's statements to Rand in TSR after his black "thread" was severed). Rand's thread in TEOTW was silver and thinner because it was from that pure pool of saidin that was the Eye of the World.

We've never seen the threads on a female Forsaken, so it is possible that the threads are themselves the protection from the taint. Perhaps they act as a kind of filter on saidin, or a conduit through which the DO siphons off the taint when the Forsaken draws upon the Source.

It's also been suggested that the threads are a connection for channeling the True Power. This isn't very likely. The problems with this idea are:

  1. The female Forsaken can use the TP, but nobody ever sees the black cords on them;
  2. The black cords were seen on Asmodean, and of all the Forsaken, Asmodean is the one who we'd least expect to use the very dangerous TP in an instance where the OP would serve just as well (Skimming); and
  3. From [ACOS book signing, Dunwoody, Georgia; 9 October, 1996, report by Erica Sadun], "Access to the TP is a matter of wanting it and the Dark One letting you. NOT black cords."

Another suggestion is that the presence or absence of the threads could be used to identify male Forsaken. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The black cords are only seen/sensed under very special circumstances. Rand has only seen them in two places--T'A'R and the in-between space used for Skimming. Note that Rand has seen male Forsaken without seeing the cords: Aginor and Balthamel at the Eye, Be'lal in the Heart of the Stone, Moridin in Shadar Logoth, and Dashiva/Osan'gar on many occasions. Furthermore, he doesn't ALWAYS see the black threads when he's in T'A'R with a Forsaken--he never saw them on Rahvin. So, the black threads are not a reliable way to identify Forsaken under any circumstances, even those under which the threads have been seen in the past.

1.3.2: The True Power

[Paul Raj Khangure, Pam Korda]

What do we know about the "True Power"?

  • It is the power of the Dark One. [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 412]
  • The ability to use it is granted specifically by the DO [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 419]. It may be that one must get permission each time one uses it ("The True Power was denied her [Moggy], of course--that could be drawn only with the Great Lord's blessing" [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 416]).
  • At the moment, the only one with the DO's permission to use the TP is Moridin: "[Demandred] himself had never touched the True Power except at need. Great need. Of course, only Moridin had that privilege now, since his...anointing" [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 317]. We can assume that the "anointing" refers to Moridin's being named Nae'blis, but we're not clear on when exactly that occurred.
  • "What can be done with the True Power is very similar to what can be done with the One Power." [RJ, aol.com Q and A session, 27 June, 1996]
  • One sign of extensive TP use is the black dots in the eyes, which Moggy calls "saa." The dots are visible from both the outside [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 418] and from the inside [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 356]. We do not know whether the frequency at which an outside observer sees them is the same as that at which the user sees them. It seems likely that they come more frequently when one is actually using the TP, since the Watcher's dots come faster just before he uses it to "Travel": "The black flecks filled his eyes, a horizontal blizzard....To his ears, the world screamed as he used the TP to rip a small hole and step outside the Pattern." [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 358]
  • The TP is much more addictive than the OP. "In the long run, the TP was far more addictive than the OP; a strong will could hold down the desire to draw more saidar or saidin, but she [Moggy] did not believe the will existed strong enough to resist the TP, once the saa appear" [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 418]. "It was a drug more addictive than saidin, more deadly than poison" [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 317].
  • The TP is very dangerous, and has a high price. "The final price [for using the TP] was different, but no less terrible." [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 419] "There was a price, to be sure, one that grew with each use, but he [the Watcher] had always been willing to pay the price when it was necessary." [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 356] We don't know what this "price" is.
  • As far as Moggy knows, only 30 or 31 people have ever been granted the use of the TP. ("Only twenty-nine others have ever been granted..." [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 419]. I dunno if Moggy is counting herself in the 29 (i.e. only 29 others besides Moridin), or not (only 29 others besides the people in the room).
  • The Forsaken have the ability to use the TP. "Among the living, only the Chosen knew how to tap the TP..." [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 412]
  • Even among the Forsaken, "few are foolish enough to [use the TP] except in case of dire need" [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 412]
  • The TP can not "be detected except by who wielded it." [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 356] This is worded vaguely, but RJ has clarified it: "No one can tell if you're using the True Power except the Dark One, of course." [RJ, Amer. Online chat, 27-6-96]
  • If Moggy's knowledge of the TP is reliable, then only people who can channel the OP can use the TP. We know this from the fact that as soon as Moggy realizes Moridin is a user of the TP, she immediately assumes that he can channel: "This Moridin had tapped into the TP, and more than once. Much more. She knew that some men who could channel survived in this time aside from al'Thor...but she had not expected the Great Lord to allow one that particular honor." [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 418]


Where have we seen the True Power used, before ACOS?

The TP is not new in ACOS. We've seen it and heard of it before, always in the hands of Ishamael. In [TEOTW: Prologue, Dragonmount, xi] Ish uses it to "heal" LTT of his madness. '"I was never very skilled at Healing, and I follow a different power now....I fear Shai'tan's healing is different from the sort you know...." He extended his hands and the light dimmed as if a shadow had been laid across the sun.' Another hint of the TP's existence in TEOTW is Ishy's remark that LTT "called down his precious One Power..." [TEOTW: 14, The Stag and Lion, 205]. The only reason Ishy would have for referring to the OP in this dismissive way is if he had access to another type of Power altogether. In Rand's fight with Ish in [TDR: 55, What is Written in Prophecy, 570], Ishy does something at the end which, in retrospect, is almost certainly a use of the TP: '"I cannot be defeated! Aid me!" Some of the darkness shrouding him drifted into his hands, formed into a ball so black it seemed to soak up even the light of Callandor. Sudden triumph blazed in the flames of his eyes.'

In general, a lot of the weird stuff Ishy did can probably be attributed to the TP. Whenever he was seen, he always had a "seething blackness" surrounding him, which "boiled up" when he was about to do something nasty to Rand (example: the fight at the end of TGH when Ish gives Rand his first unHealable wound). Ish was certainly one of the "fools" who used the TP in cases other than dire need. His lack of humanity is probably part of the "price" one pays for using the TP. His glowing eyes and mouth might be some advanced version of the saa.

In [TSR: 26, The Dedicated, 306], it is mentioned that Lanfear/Mierin had said she "had found a new source for the One Power," usable by both men and women. Considering that her "new source" turned out to be the DO, it is possible that this is a reference to the TP. Whether Lanfear knew that this was the DO or not is a different argument...


Wild Speculation

  • The taint on saidin is due to the TP being mixed into saidin by the DO.
  • The black cords seen on some of the male Forsaken are not taint-protection, but a connection to the TP. The problems with this idea are: 1) The female Forsaken have the ability to use the TP, but nobody has ever seen the cords on a woman; 2) Asmodean is one of the people the cords were seen on, [TSR: 58, The Traps of Rhuidean, 671] and of all the Forsaken, the cowardly Asmodean is, IMO, the least likely to use the TP, given its dangers, especially for something (Skimming) that could be accomplished via the much-less-dangerous OP; and 3) From [ACOS book signing, Dunwoody, Georgia; 9 October, 1996, report by Erica Sadun], "Access to the TP is a matter of wanting it and the dark one letting you. NOT black cords."

1.3.3: Are Black Ajah bound by the Oath Rod?-- Updated

 First, we know that BA can violate the three AS Oaths with impunity:

  • They can violate the Third Oath: In [TSR: 38, 863, Hidden Faces, 438], Liandrin wishes she had the ability to kill with the Power, like Chesmal (another BA). This implies that Chesmal can, and has done so. "New Spring" makes it seem very possible that Chesmal killed a sister named Meilyn, one of Tamra Ospenya's searchers. [L:NS, 669]
  • They can violate the First Oath: In [TFOH: 34, A Silver Arrow, 394], Liandrin attacks the wounded Moghedien, attempting to Compel her. Moggy strikes back, and Liandrin says, "Y-you do not understand, Great M-mistress...I only wished to help you to have the good sleep." This was definitely not her intention. Her intention was to have Moggy be her obedient slave. A few pages later, Liandrin tells Moggy that she will be Moggy's "faithful dog," and in the next sentence tries to get Temaile and Chesmal to try to betray Moggy. If she meant one, the other must be a lie. In [TFOH: 19, Memories, 260], Alviarin says to Fain, "Now answer my questions, or two corpses will be found here in the morning instead of one" (the one being the dead Accepted). Fain thinks to himself, "There would be two in any case, whether he answered her with suitable lies or not; she did not mean to let him live." Obviously Fain thinks she can lie, and do you really think Alviarin meant to let him go?
  • In [ACOS: 40, Spears, 626] Galina makes it clear that the BA are not bound by the Three Oaths: "She had broken free of the Three Oaths on joining the Black Ajah, replacing them with a new trinity..." So, the BA are not bound to the Three Oaths that the non-black AS swear.

However, the BA still have the Ageless look and the shortened lifespan which are characteristic of people bound by the OR. They have to, in order to blend in with non-black AS. So, it is likely that the "new trinity" of Dark Oaths sworn by the BA are taken on the Oath Rod. There is further evidence for this. Galina knows that Oath Rods can be used to remove Oaths: "If [Sevanna's "binder"] was a second Oath Rod, it could be used to remove any oath she swore now" [TPOD: 11, Questions and an Oath, 255]. This is not general knowledge among AS (Seaine and Pevara, both high-ranking AS, had to figure that out by themselves), so we can conclude that she knows it from experience. That is, the BA are freed from the Three Oaths via the Oath Rod. It means that the BA induction involves the Tower's OR-- Galina is only familiar with the Tower's Rod (Number 3). It's therefore reasonable to guess that the Black Ajah Oaths are administered via Oath Rod.

So what are these Black Oaths?

According to Verin, one of the Oaths is "I swear not to betray the Great Lord, to keep my secrets until the hour of my death." [TGS 39: A Visit From Verin Sedai] This explains why the golden girls can't get Ispan to spill her guts about the BA no matter what they do [TPOD: 20, Into Andor, 399].

Also note Joiya Byar's "confession" about the supposed BA plan to use Taim as a False Dragon to discredit Rand. That obviously never happened, and so it appears that Joiya lied, while her fellow prisoner, Amico, told the truth about the plan to get something in Tanchico to harm Rand. This fits well with the idea that the BA swear an Oath not to betray the Ajah. Amico, having been stilled, was released from any Oaths that she took on an Oath Rod. Thus, she could spill the beans when pressed. Joiya, however, had no such release, so had no alternative than to either lie, or to grovel saying "I'd LIKE to tell you, really, but I can't!!" [Laura Parkinson]

For the rest, we can make reasonable guesses. There is almost certainly some kind of oath of servitude to the Great Lord, the same kind of oath the Forsaken have spoken of swearing. There is also likely an Oath of secrecy.

However, the Oath is probably more specific than "keep the Black Ajah a secret", since BA have told outsiders that the Black Ajah exists - Liandrin for instance [TGH: 5, The Shadow in Shienar, 66]. Adeleas said that in particular she could not force Ispan to reveal the names of other Black sisters no matter what she did. So the second Oath is likely along the lines of "do not reveal the identity of any Black sister to someone not sworn to the Dark Lord", or some such [David Chapman].

1.3.4: Are the Seals connected to the Taint?-- Updated

Probably not, given the last chapter of WH. Rand used the "anti-Taint" of Shadar Logoth in conjunction with the mega-sa'angreal (the Choedan Kal) to cleanse the Taint on saidin. There is absolutely zero evidence that the seals played any part in the cleansing.

There is, of course, some lingering support for the idea, mostly because of Cadsuane's doubts that saidin had truly been cleansed. If, as the theory went, the seals are the link that allow the DO to touch saidin and leak Taint into it, Rand could have just cleared off what was there, and soon more Taint will appear (somewhat like cleaning up an oil spill but not removing the pipe that's leaking oil into the water in the first place).

However, there's no real reason to give Cadsuane's misgivings more weight than Flinn and Narishma's assertion that saidin is clean. One would presume people who actually channel saidin would have more authority to judge that than a saidar channeler, after all. Jahar Narishma confirms this when addressing the Salidar Hall. "Saidin is clean." And Merise, the Green sister who bonded him coroborates: "I took time to be convinced...Yet I am convinced. It is clean." [KOD 23: A Call to a Sitting]

Herid Fel's note ("Belief and order give strength. Have to clear rubble before you can build"), therefore, was most likely referring to his earlier discussion with Rand, in which he said that at some point the Bore had to be sealed like new (not patched with the seals the way it is now), so that the Wheel of Time can come full circle to the AOL and the breaching of the Bore again. It makes sense, then, that the seals would all have to be broken and the patch removed before Rand can heal the break in the DO's prison like it never was.

Kelly West submits a theory along these lines: "Rand's last question to Fel had been whether there was a reason to break the seals before TG. My feeling is that the Pattern is trying to heal the Bore naturally and that the patch is holding the Bore open, like a cork used to stop the bleeding of an open wound. That is why Taim gave the seal to Rand; the DO does not want them broken yet. During the War of Power whatever device was used to open the Bore probably also held it open, or the DO used a portion of his power to hold it. Now the reality drill is long gone, I'd imagine, and the DO would not want to waste his power when an alternate system was already in place.

"Tarmon Gai'don is when the DO wants the seals broken. At that time he has the greatest chance of being freed totally. Why at this time? Because at this time the Balefire will be flying at full power and the Pattern is at it's greatest chance of unraveling. You see, my theory is that the DO's prison is the Pattern itself. As long as any thread remains unbroken in the Pattern the DO cannot be completely free. (BTW, this is also why I feel Nae'blis means the last to die. The Forsaken are still threads in the Pattern.) During the AOL the DO was still bound to Shayol Ghul. The patch blocked his direct touch and he had to feed his power through Ishamael."

1.3.5: What is the deal with Black Ajah and Warders? --Updated

Can Black Ajah have Warders? Would a Warder know if his AS was Black?

The answers are: yes, and depends.

We know BA can have Warders; one of the Greens from Liandrin's posse complained about having to leave her Warders behind when they fled the Tower [TSR: 38, Hidden Faces, 439]. (This may have been Asne Zeramene, who has four Warders (per WH); presumably Jeaine Caide has at least one Warder as well, but Jeaine has been MIA since Tanchico, in TSR, and we don't have any information on her Warders or lack thereof.)

So, given that BA can have Warders, we now need to ask what the deal with Black Ajah Warders is. RJ has said several things on the subject. At a post-TPOD signing in Seattle, he told Kevin Bartlett that the easiest thing would be to pick a Darkfriend for a Warder.  At a post-TPOD signing in Pennsylvania, RJ "made some comments about how Warders of the BA might sometimes meet with 'accidents' so the BA can remain secret. Alternatively, BA might intentionally bond Darkfriends." [Melinda Yin] To confirm, Verin reveals that her Warder, Tomas, is a Darkfriend as well. [TGS 39 :A Visit from Verin Sedai]

Finally, at a post-TPOD signing in Northern Virginia, he discussed the topic. John Novak's synopsis: "If an Aes Sedai becomes Black Ajah, the Warder would know instantly that something was up, but wouldn't know exactly what. The Black Ajah has three choices, then - hope the Warder is a Darkfriend or amenable to being one, hide the affiliation, or arrange for an accident. Yes, this would be painful for the Aes Sedai, but it might become necessary. The process of becoming Black Ajah is evidently quite painful in its own right and thus probably involves more than just swearing new Oaths on the Rod. (I submit that this is why the Red Ajah is rife with Black Ajah - they have an easier time actively recruiting from that pool. By the same token, I claim that the Green Ajah is more pure than the others.)"

Eldrith Jhondar (formerly a Brown), we discover in WH, also has a Warder, named Kennit. Kennit was the reason Eldrith, Asne, Temaile Kinderode, and Chesmal Emry were eventually forced to flee Samara, where Moghedien had sent them: "What had sparked the decision to leave was the arrival of Eldrith's Kennit in the town, sure that she was a murderer, half convinced she was Black Ajah, and determined to kill her no matter the consequences to himself" [WH: 10, A Plan Succeeds, 244].

This plus the rest of Asne's POV clears up most of our questions about the BA and Warders. We now know that BA Warders do not necessarily have to be Darkfriends, but that at least some are; one of Asne's Warders, Powl, is a DF, the other three are not. (Note that, apparently, this has not been realized by the non-Black AS. For all the talk of Black Ajah, not a single person has mentioned the possibility of Black Warders.)

We also learn (from both this and from Elayne's POV later) that the Warder bond can be masked, which explains how a BA could do her dastardly deeds while bonded to a non-DF Warder. Asne seems to have no fear that she cannot compel her three non-DF Warders into obeying her, while it's clear that Eldrith has no control over Kennit; likely this is because Asne has never let her masking slip while doing bad things, the way Eldrith did (or because Eldrith is simply not as good at compelling her Warder as Asne is).

Lastly, it appears that while BA will kill their Warders to protect their secret, they are very reluctant to do it. Asne doesn't find it surprising that Eldrith would choose to flee rather than allow Kennit to be killed and suffer the inevitable result.

There has been some indication that the Warders referred to in TSR were murdered. It's possible they were, as long as they were Jeaine's and not Asne's, but Eldrith's behavior makes it less likely to be the case. Plus, since we know that Asne's Warders were (a) left behind, (b) not all DFs, and (c) not killed, it doesn't make sense that Jeaine's would have been, whether they were Darkfriends or not.

1.4 What's Up in the Dark? Who's Who?

This subsection contains information on and discussion of puzzles and questions related to happenings and people which are connected to the Shadow.

1.4.01: Who ordered Melindhra, and why?

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.

1.4.02: Slayer: The Luc-Isam Connection


1) Who is Isam?

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.

2) Who is Luc?

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:

  1. Luc disappears circa 971 NE
  2. Tigraine vanishes into the Aiel Waste, circa 972 NE
  3. The Aiel War rages, culminating in Rand's birth, from 976 to 978 NE
  4. Luc kills Janduin, 978 NE

3) Who is Slayer?

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.")

4) What has he done and who has he killed?

  • In [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 448] we learn that Slayer (apparently in the Luc persona, as the scene is Luc's viewpoint) killed a Gray Man in the White Tower. (He didn't enjoy it.) This appears to be the Gray Man which attacked Egwene and Nynaeve [TDR: 15, The Gray Man, 141-145]. A Gray Man attacks the two girls and flees; they wrap him in Air, and by the time they reach him, he has a knife in his chest. The girls speculate that another Gray Man finished the work, but it was almost certainly Slayer. It may also have been Slayer who took the quarrel that the Gray Man spent, rather than Sheriam Bayanar Sedai. (It's possible that the Gray Man Slayer is thinking about in WH is the one found dead in Sheriam's bed [TDR: 29, A Trap to Spring, 273], but as Eg and Nyn's Gray Man was found stabbed and the one in Sheriam's bed had been found without a mark on her, the former is the more likely in terms of M.O. to be Slayer's.)
  • In [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 448] we also learn that Slayer, as Isam, killed the two Black Ajah in the Stone of Tear: "That had been Isam, not him, but the memories were none the less prized for that. Neither of them got to kill an Aes Sedai very often." These are Joiya Byir and Amico Nagoyin, whose throats are cut messily and their tongues nailed to the door [TSR: 15, Tanchico or the Tower, 157].
  • Throughout TSR, Slayer harasses Perrin in the Unseen World. We also learn that his first purpose in the area was to kill Fain, whom he refers to as "the renegade," and that he had just brought enough Trollocs to keep Fain's Whitecloaks off balance during that pursuit. [TSR: 42, A Missing Leaf, 477]. Earlier, we learn that Slayer brought with him more than one Gray Man to help with that task. [TSR: 31, Assurances, 356]. Slayer is apparently still under orders to kill Fain as of WH [13, Wonderful News, 316].
  • [TSR: 39, A Cup of Wine, 454] shows Slayer, as Isam, attempting to kill Nynaeve as she visits the Two Rivers in the Unseen World.
  • Slayer is now a major candidate for having killed Asmodean (see section 1.1.6).
  • [WH: 10, A Plan Succeeds, 240-241] shows Slayer, as Luc, spying on Nynaeve and Egwene as they meet in Caemlyn in the Unseen World. Here he displays none of the skill he exhibited in TSR. He is wearing a Shienaran coat, which may imply that he is with King Easar's army on the march (or may just be a result of Isam's Borderlander fashion sense coming out).
  • [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 448] shows Slayer, as Luc, killing a man and woman in Far Madding whom he believes to be Rand and Min.
  • It's possible that Slayer has something to do with creating Darkhounds (see section 1.6.4).

1.4.03: Can Slayer Channel?

[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.


Why Slayer 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.


In the Flesh

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].

1.4.04: Who is Slayer's mystery employer?

[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.

Any other candidates?

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.

1.4.05: Shaidar Haran, Superfade

[Pam Korda, Leigh Butler]

[Contributors: Bryon Wasserman, J. R. Feehan, Fred Van Keuls, Ryan Ward, Drew Tipson]


What did we know about Shaidar Haran prior to COT?


  1. The DO holds him in high regard. Unlike the Forsaken, he is apparently absolutely secure in his position, which seems to be something like the DO's major-domo or "spokesmyrddraal": "When I speak, you may consider that you hear the voice of the Great Lord of the Dark.... I am his hand in this world, Graendal. When you stand before me, you stand before him." [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 267] The DO also refers to SH as "MY HAND." [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 414].


  2. He has a considerable amount of political power in his own right; he is apparently placed above all the Forsaken except (possibly) Moridin.


  3. He is fundamentally different from other Fades. Apart from size, he has abilities other Myrddraal do not (see below), and has a sense of pleasure, however twisted: "Far more cruel than Trollocs... Myrddraal were cold and dispassionate in it. SH often showed amusement, though." [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 416] He can tell the difference between saidin and saidar [ACOS: 40, Spears, 636].


  4. In addition to the usual Fade powers, SH displayed some unusual abilities:
    • He has the ability to keep men and women, or maybe just those sworn to the Shadow, from channeling. This is from: 1) the prologue of LOC where Aran'gar and Osan'gar cannot channel. Both channel saidin. 2) [ACOS: 25, Mindtrap, 416], where Moggy is blocked off from the OP while she is SH's prisoner. 3) [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 266], where he appears to Graendal, and cuts her off from the OP. While the first two examples take place at Shayol Ghul, and thus could conceivably be attributed to the DO, the Graendal scene occurs far from SG, and thus proves that the ability is SH's.
    • He burned a spear to ash while watching the Shaido at the end of ACOS. He also seems to have created the "black globe of light" when bringing Graendal to heel in [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 266]. These abilities may indicate that SH can use the TP (the only alternative to the OP that we've seen thus far).


  5. He has sufficient knowledge of the world to organize Halima's scheme in Salidar.


  6. He wants to have more freedom of movement than he currently has: [ACOS: 40, Spears, 637] "A faint weakness washed along its limbs. Too long away from Shayol Ghul. That tie had to be severed somehow." It's been speculated that this constraint is due to either the DO's control, or that it is a side-effect of the DO's imprisonment. In any case, that POV bit seemed to show that SH has some independent thought, apart from the will of the DO.

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.

What did we learn about SH from 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.

1.4.06: Who will be the Dreadlords in the Last Battle?


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:

  1. Black Ajah.
    Pro: loads of experience in both channeling and bossing folks around.
    Con: not much battle experience, except for Reds who hunt down False Dragons, and Greens, who do that sort of thing for fun.
  2. Darkfriend sul'dam, with a damane or two as a Power source.
    Pro: Battle experience.
    Con: depends upon a possibly non-loyal damane for Power. This could cause problems in the middle of a fight. No experience in using the OP by themselves.
  3. Runaway DF damane.
    Pro: knows how to use OP in battle.
    Con: No experience in commanding things, making decisions, or any sort of independent thought.
  4. Asha'man. Their biggest motivation to swear to the Shadow (Taint protection) is now gone, but prior to WH, the Taint was a HUGE motivator, and once you've sworn your soul to the Shadow, you're pretty much stuck, if you want to live. Any AM recruited prior to the Cleansing will probably remain DFs. Besides, lack of Taint worries didn't stop Aes Sedai from joining the Black Ajah, after all...
    Pro: Specifically trained to use the OP in battle. Possibly, a recruiting agent right in the camp ("Mr. M'Hael? I'd like to join the Black Tower, if you know what I mean.").
    Con: Some have less experience in command, and thus would make poor commanders.
  5. DF Windfinders.
    Not much to say pro or con, since we know next to nothing about the Sea Folk or Windfinders at all, unless "ability to annoy" is a point in their favor...
  6. Male Aiel channelers.
    Pro: tradition is to go into the Blight to fight Shadowspawn until you die. Maybe some don't die, but get picked up and offered a second chance at eternal life, sans Taint.
    Con: the Blight is nasty. It's doubtful even an Aiel could survive a long time there, if he was bent on fighting. Not likely that many survive long enough to get recruited or converted. Plus, nobody has ever seen these supposed Aiel Dreadlords, either in the Blight, at SG, or in Randland.
  7. Random Joe Randlander who finds out he can channel.
    Pro: Why not? Again, the biggest incentive to join - no Taint - is gone, but that only applies from the end of WH on, and any possible previous recruits are more or less stuck. If Joe is already a DF when he discovers channeling, all the more reason.
    Con: With all those other great candidates, why would the Shadow bother searching the populace for the 1:10000+ men who channel?
  8. Dreadlord Search Program. Darkfriends are screened for the ability to channel, and then put into a Dreadlord Training Program. (Liandrin was recruited as a DF before she ever went to the Tower. She learned some channeling, too [TFOH: 18, A Hound of Darkness, 303].)
  9. Non-channelers.
    Pro: In TGH, Bors thinks he has a chance of being a Dreadlord, even though he cannot channel.
    Con: You need to be Fain or a channeler to have enough power over a Fade to command him. We already know J. Carridin never stood a chance with a Fade.
  10. No Dreadlords--the DO has something better.
    Pro: Look at that shiny new Myrddraal the DO has! Even the Forsaken are frightened by it. It can scare channelers, channelers can scare normal Fades, Fades scare Trollocs. Cut out the middlemen, and make a bunch of Super-Fades to be Dreadlords? What Lord of Evil needs humans anyway? It's not like he's going to leave them around after he wins, after all.
    Con: COT indicates that Shaidar Haran is much more - and much more unique - than just the first of a new and improved breed of Fade (see section 1.4.05).

1.4.07: What's the deal with the 'Aiel' attack on Demira Sedai?

[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.


Were Taim and the Asha'man behind the attack?

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:

  • include male channelers (maybe)
  • must be trained in weapons
  • have an organization in or close to Caemlyn
  • refers to AS as "witches" and Rand as "the Dragon Reborn"

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].


Other Suspects

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.

1.4.08: Was Moghedien violated by Shaidar Haran?

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.'"

1.4.09: Who killed Adeleas and Ispan? --Revised

Careane did.

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.

1.4.10: The "Kill Rand" Order and the TPOD Attack

[Leigh Butler]

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?

Why did Dashiva/Osan'gar break the "don't kill Rand" rule?

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?".

Why did Taim order the attack?

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.

1.4.11: What was up with the Forsaken at the Cleansing? --Updated

[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.

So if Moridin didn't set them up to fail, what's the deal?

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.

Some other questions/objections:


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.

Tor Question of the Week

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."

1.4.12 Who Ordered the Attack on Algarin's Manor? --New

 [James Luckman]

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 Order

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.

[Tor QotW]

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.

But What of Fain?

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.

[tSR 31:Assurences]

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.

Troop Movement; The Machin Shin Problem

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.

When Was The Attack Launched?

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.

So Is Machin Shin Doing Its Job?

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.

The Nature of the Attack

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.

Cyndane or Moghedien

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.

The Attack Was Incidental

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.

The Attack Was Meant To Draw Rand's Attention North

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.

It Wasn't The Forsaken

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.

[Tor QotW]

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.

Mazrim 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.

What Ties Taim to this Attack

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.

Why Would Moridin Let Taim Do This?

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.

Ok, But Why Hasn’t the Dark One Done Anything?

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.

1.5 Black? Or Not?

This subsection contains information on and discussion of whether or not various characters are Darkfriends.

1.5.1: Is Aram a Darkfriend? --Updated

There is a Tinker at the DFS at the beginning of TGH, wearing green trousers and a yellow coat. Could he be Perrin's little friend?

Unlikely. In KoD Aram attacks Perrin at a crucial moment, explaining “You’re really Shadowspawn. It was you who brought the Trollocs to the Two Rivers. He explained it all. Those eyes. I should have known the first time I saw you. You and Elyas with those Shadowspawn eyes. I have to rescue the Lady Faile from you.” [KoD 30: Outside the Gates]

Since it seems improbable that a Darkfriend would be bothered by a Trolloc incursion in the Two Rivers, or be motivated to rescue someone from Shadowspawn, we consider this case closed. Aram is not a Darkfriend. Instead, we posit that he is what Dominic calls “The Shadar Logoth side of evil”, which he defines as, “crossing the line and going too far in the name of the Light, as opposed to evil of serving the Shadow.” Jordan was always very clear that extremism of any sort leads to Very Bad Things (see: Children of the Light, Shadar Logoth, Elaida, Masema) and it seems that Aram is another example of this.

1.5.2: Why Moiraine is not Black Ajah


One might think this was a dead issue, but people keep bringing it up.

Why would anybody think Moiraine was BA? Well, during TGH, RJ seems to be putting down clues in that direction. Namely, she was missing during the time of the DFS. Also, she was wearing her ring on a different finger than she had before (damning evidence, for sure). This was all a red herring, because since then, we have been privy to Moiraine's thoughts, which show that she walks in the Light.

1.5.3: Why Elaida is not Black Ajah --Updated


[Erica Sadun, Pam Korda]

Read the following references:

[TSR: 1, Seeds of Shadow, 29-30]: Elaida thinks about how Rand al'Thor must be stopped from causing trouble in Andor, since Andor and its royalty are the key to defeating the DO. She believes that defeating the DO is a desirable goal.

[TFOH: Prologue, The First Sparks Fall, 13-21] and [TFOH: 19, Memories, 260]: Elaida is pretty clearly a dupe.

From the Elaida-Alviarin interactions in LOC, ACOS, and TPOD, it is obvious that Elaida is not BA, since Alviarin has to resort to blackmail to control Elaida. If Elaida was BA, Alviarin, head of the Black Ajah, would just tell her what to do.

We receive further confirmation in TGS when Egwene is reviewing Verin's notes on the Black Ajah:

And Elaida's name wasn't on the list either. There was a notation at the end explaining that Verin had looked very closely at Elaida, searching for proof that she was Black. But comments by Black sisters led her to believe strongly that Elaida was not herself Black. Just an unstable woman who was sometimes as frustrating to the Black as she was to the rest of the Tower.

[TGS 39: A Visit from Verin Sedai]

1.5.4: Sheriam: Black or Blue? --Revised

"During the exile in Salidar, Egwene had worked closely with  Sheriam and had grown to like the woman. But she was Black. Egwene's own Keeper was Black."  [TGS 59: A Visit from Verin Sedai]

According to Verin's notes on the Black Ajah, Sheriam is a card carrying member of the Black Ajah. It seems likely the Blacks, or perhaps Mesaana manipulated the situation so that she would become Egwene's Keeper and keep an eye on her, and if necessary, foment discord much like Alviarhin did as Elaida's Keeper.

It seems clear from Sheriam's own thoughts that Aran'gar, in her guise as Halima was the one responsible for punishing Sheriam in the earlier books. "...Romanda had been the one to chase Halima-- and Sheriam's punishments-- out of the camp." The cause of the torture seems to be Aran'gar's desire for information about Egwene's plans, since Egwene won't confide in her masseus herself.

1.5.5: Is Chesa a Darkfriend?-- Updated


Why would anybody think Egwene's maid, Chesa, was a servant of the Shadow?

As she appears, Chesa is pretty dim-witted. Always chattering inanely about not eating too fast, dressing warmly, and washing behind one's ears, she's a caricature of a stupid servant. It's hard to believe that the woman is as simple-minded as she acts around Egwene. In fact, Egwene is always thinking about how great Chesa is, how "simple" and "refreshing." Would RJ be pushing this so strongly if she was actually a simple-minded serving woman?

First, it is very suspicious that Halima killed Meri and Selame, but not Chesa. The result of this is that Chesa now waits on Egwene 'round the clock. Meri and Selame were appointed by Romanda and Lelaine [ACOS: 8, The Figurehead, 160], and they were most likely spying on Eg for those Sitters. The conclusion that immediately springs to mind is that Chesa is also a spy, and that Halima killed the other two maids so that Chesa's spying could be more effective. This implies that Halima (a.k.a. Aran'gar, a.k.a. Balthamel) has an interest in Chesa's spying, or works for somebody who does (Moridin or Shaidar Haran).

Furthermore, Chesa was apparently appointed to be Egwene's maid by Sheriam: "Sheriam might have chosen [Chesa], but she was the Amyrlin Seat's maid." [LOC: 36, The Amyrlin is Raised, 479], and "Chesa was a gift from Sheriam." [ACOS: 10, Unseen Eyes, 186]. As we know from [TPOD: 16, Unexpected Absences, 345], Sheriam is a Black sister under orders to get information by one of the Forsaken. So, it is certainly conceivable that either 1) Sheriam was ordered to choose Chesa by Aran'gar, and Chesa reports to her or 2) Sheriam chose Chesa to be her own spy, and pass Chesa's info on to Aran'gar herself. Either way, it fits together well.

However, there are other, less obvious ways to interpret these data. With respect to the murders, it's possible that Meri and Selame were removed to eliminate whatever (poor) information they were giving to Romanda and Lelaine. If Chesa is just a maid and not a spy, there would be no reason to kill her. As for the connection with Sheriam, there may be some confusion about that. While Egwene thinks twice, in different books, that Sheriam assigned Chesa to her, Anaiya may have had something to do with it, too: 'Anaiya said, "We need to let her sleep. Tomorrow is almost as important as tonight was, child." Abruptly she laughed to herself softly. "Mother....We will send Chesa to help you get ready for bed."' [LOC: 36, The Amyrlin is Raised, 478] This is right after Eg arrives in Salidar. It sounds as if Anaiya is the one choosing Chesa to be Eg's maid. This can be resolved in two different ways: 1) Anaiya sent Chesa to Eg on the first night as a temporary measure, and Sheriam decided to make it a permanent appointment, or 2) Sheriam chose Chesa before Eg got to Salidar, and Anaiya was just suggesting that the pre-appointed servant go take care of Eg.

One piece of evidence which contradicts the idea that Chesa is a spy for Sheriam is Egwene's scene with Sheriam in [ACOS: 8, The Figurehead, 159]. Egwene thinks, "[Sheriam] did not understand why Egwene let her maid be present at these meetings, much less let her chatter away freely." This indicates that Sheriam has expressed disapproval of Eg's habit of letting Chesa be present at meetings where secret stuff is being discussed. If Chesa was spying for Sheriam, Sheriam would not discourage this practice.

Stronger evidence against Chesa's DF-ness shows up in COT, where Chesa shows open disdain for Halima:

"She makes me... uneasy, Mother," [Chesa] said finally. "There's something just not right about that Halima. I feel it every time she's around. It's like feeling somebody sneaking up behind me..." [COT: 20, In the Night, 484]

Even more telling, she cooks up a potion for Egwene that dispels the effects of one of her Halima-induced headaches - evidently the first time something besides Halima's massages has worked to stop the pain - allowing Eg to Dream again [COT: 20, In the Night, 483]. It's possible that Chesa is a DF working for Sheriam (or on her own) and doesn't know that Halima's the head honcho, but it seems really unlikely that Halima wouldn't have gotten all Darkfriends in the Rebel camp under her personal control by now, or would allow one of them to work at cross-purposes against her.

1.5.6: Is Taim a Darkfriend?-- Updated

 [Updated by Jennifer Liang]

Now that the "Taimandred" theory has been debunked (see section 1.1.5), we are left with one main question concerning the former false Dragon: Is Taim working for the Shadow or not?

Taim's actions in TPOD and WH - in particular, the attack he ordered on Rand in Cairhien - have proven that whoever he pledges allegiance to, he certainly cannot be considered one of the "good guys". However, this does not automatically mean he is a Darkfriend. There have been plenty of people working against Rand and his allies, with both good and bad intentions, who were/are not part of the Shadow; prime examples are Elaida and the late Pedron Niall.

Going with this idea, the "Non-Dark Taim" theory proposes that Taim is not a Darkfriend, but merely an ambitious, ruthless guy acting to gain what power he can once Rand's arrival denied him the Big Kahuna spot. Despite his obvious dislike of playing second fiddle to anyone, Taim may have originally planned to support Rand, helping him to win Tarmon Gai'don. Since Rand is expected to die in that battle, perhaps Taim thought to bide his time and take control in the aftermath - and after that, well, as Taim says, the winners write the histories. Even the attack in TPOD doesn't necessarily preclude this chain of reasoning, since it appears that actually killing Rand wasn't really Taim's primary goal in setting it up.

Then again, evidence from WH also strongly implied not only that Taim may be a Darkfriend, but one working directly for the Forsaken - specifically, Demandred or Moridin. The "Minion Taim" theory, in addition, offers compelling solutions to the contradictory evidence LOC and ACOS gave us about his character - the inconsistencies that originally led us to believe he was Demandred in disguise. (It is worth noting that if the Minion theory is true, then Taim would have had to have been instructed by Ishamael, for the most part. No other Forsaken was free early enough to have started teaching Taim, long enough ago for him to have learned all that stuff, and gotten Taint protection over so many years, etc. Although, he could well have taken up with Demandred after Ish's demise, as WH seems to suggest.)

The remainder of this section will examine Taim's actions and behavior from the last seven books, and present the evidence (or counterevidence) each incident provides for the two Taim theories.

1) Knowledge.

In LOC, Taim knows how to test for channeling ability, and picks up Gateways with relative ease. He apparently teaches the Asha'man very well. Plus, Taim mentions to Bashere that he used Compulsion on two people [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 76].

Non-Dark Taim: He's supposedly been channeling for 15 years. He had to have learned something in that time. Maybe Taim is just a fast learner, like Rand, or Nynaeve. In fact, one's ease of learning seems to be a direct function of how strong one is in the Power. (examples: Rand, Ny, El, Eg are all fast learners, and even SS and Moiraine, who are stronger than your average bear, spent a relatively short time as novices (3 years?).) This probably has to do with the fact that, the stronger you are, the easier it is for you to see the flows required for a particular action, and thus can more readily duplicate it.

Minion Taim: But the above doesn't explain Taim's learning curve; he wouldn't have had anybody to observe and learn FROM. It's a little hard to believe that Taim figured all this out on his own, especially Compulsion. Look at how much trouble Rand had learning before he got Asmo as a proper teacher. If Taim is working for Ishy/Demandred, of course, then obviously he would have learned from the Forsaken, just as Rand did from Asmo.

2) The Seal.

Minion Taim: The story about finding it in a Saldaean farmer's house is pretty fishy. Could it be that Taim gave it to Rand under orders?

Non-Dark Taim: If Taim is Demandred's servant, why would he, and the DO, give a seal to Rand? (Especially now that they are apparently trying to get them back?) Maybe the DO could predict that Rand/LTT would try to break the seal, but Demandred couldn't have. Taim was certainly shocked when it looked like Rand was going to smash it [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 80-81]. It could be that Taim gave it to Rand to get him to trust him, even though that failed utterly. Taim's seal story is also backed up, somewhat, by Bashere's story to Perrin about a farmer in Saldaea who claimed to be the descendant of the kings of an ancient Kingdom. If Taim's farmer = Bashere's farmer it would be plausible that the seal was the last item of inheritance. And who better for the farmer to give it to than the Dragon Reborn (Taim's claim before Rand declared himself)?

Counter-argument: It could be that Taim was shocked when Rand looked like he was going to break the Seal because he was worried that Rand was already totally gone. It's clear that the DO had plans for Rand (though not anymore, apparently), and that the DO told Demandred something about a plan for Rand (not necessarily the REAL plan) in the "Let the Lord of Chaos rule" speech, and that Demandred liked it. If Rand was too loony to perform his role, Minion Taim would be worried. As for why he gave the Seal to Rand in the first place, Minion Taim would be just as interested in gaining Rand's trust as Non-Dark Taim would be, after all, and the attacks on Dobraine and Bashere in COT indicate an apparent change of plans regarding the seals that was most likely not in effect as of LOC.

3) The Taint.

Taim claims to not be affected by the Taint, after (Rand estimates) 15 years of channeling [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 76].

Minion Taim: This seems pretty unlikely. Consider Owyn, who was going mad after only 3 years of hardly ever channeling at all. Many of the Asha'man have a few screws loose after only a few months of intensive channeling. The only Taint protection we know of is linking to the DO.

Counter-argument: But if that's the case, why did Torval (who was quite definitely a Darkfriend) get so starry-eyed in TPOD, when Rand talked about cleansing the Taint [TPOD: 14, Message from the M'Hael, 306]? If DF Asha'man get immunity from the Taint, why would Torval be so excited about Rand cleansing it (and in fact, wouldn't he feel the exact opposite of excited)?

Rebuttal: Of course, there are Darkfriends and then there are Darkfriends. Taim is probably quite a bit more important to the bad guys than rank and file Asha'man like Torval. If Taim has indeed been a DF for 15 years or more, and was instructed by Ishy, then he is certainly not your run-of-the-mill DF. It's reasonable to suppose that the DO would extend his Taint protection to Taim but draw the line at any other non-Forsaken. Or, alternately, one can imagine an Asha'man converting to the DO solely for Taint protection, and not being particularly keen on the whole 'servant of the Dark Lord' angle. No more Taint = possibility of getting free of the DO & Forsaken.

Non-Dark Taim: It's not impossible that Taim could have held off Taint madness on his own, even if unlikely. Logain, who is not a Darkfriend or Forsaken, has been channeling for about six years (minus about a year or so of being gentled), and isn't going mad [LOC: 51, The Taking, 647]. It seems likely that the ease with which one succumbs to the Taint varies widely with the person. Owyn went under in 3 years, Taim mentions some other guys who lasted for 2 years [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 79], and Torval talks about a man who went nuts on his second day [TPOD: 14, Message From the M'Hael, 300].

[One point that has often been mentioned is that Rand sees Taim channeling, but he does not see the black cord connecting him to the DO and filtering out the Taint. However, this is NOT A VALID ARGUMENT! The black cords are only seen/sensed under very special circumstances. Rand has only seen them in two places-- T'A'R and the in-between space used for Skimming. Rand has never seen Taim in either of those places. Note that Rand has seen male Forsaken without seeing the cords: Aginor and Balthamel at the Eye, Be'lal in the Heart of the Stone, and Dashiva/Osan'gar on numerous occasions. Thus, the fact that Rand hasn't seen the black threads on Taim shows nothing one way or the other. (See section 1.3.1.)]

4) Taim's age.

Rand estimates Taim's age as 35, or a few years older [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 76]. However, Rand doesn't know about the "slowing" effect of using the OP. Elayne talks about it in ACOS: "'We slow, Nynaeve. Somewhere between twenty and twenty-five, we begin aging more slowly. How much depends on how strong you are, but when doesn't'" [ACOS: 24, The Kin, 408]. According to RJ, a man with the spark doesn't slow until 25, usually closer to thirty. [Post-TPOD Signing, New York, 20 October, 1998, report by Ryan R.].

Thus, the only way Taim could be the age he looks is if he started channeling at an unusually late age. If he's legit, he'd have to be a wilder, and thus he must have started channeling young, at around Rand's age. Let's postulate that men slow at a rate similar to women. We know that Garenia ran away from the Tower 70 years ago, and presumably she slowed before then, or soon afterwards (in her early 20s, as is usual for women). Garenia looks like she is Nynaeve's age, around 26. That corresponds to about five years of physical aging in 70 years. So, if Taim started slowing at 30, then his actual age should be around 100 or so. Thus, the problem of Taim's age is even more extreme than it first appears.

Non-Dark Taim: Maybe Rand overestimated Taim's age; maybe he's only thirty or so, in which case he needn't have begun slowing noticeably yet.

Minion Taim: An interesting idea to consider is what happens to the aging patterns of channelers who start channeling after the age at which slowing begins. Flinn, for instance - he started channeling as an old codger, but will he now stop getting any older? It seems reasonable to suppose so. Non-Dark Taim would of necessity have to be a sparker (and thus would have had no control over when he started channeling), but if we postulate that Taim was Ishy or Demandred's protégé, it's possible that he is a "taught" channeler rather than a sparker. Thus he might not even have begun channeling until he was 35 or so, and if we're right in assuming that late starters will also slow from that point on, Taim could have been channeling for 15 plus years and still only look 35.

5) Taim's reaction to Rand's badges and awards.

Minion Taim: He's not pleased to be seen as subservient to Rand [LOC: 42, The Black Tower, 543], just like Demandred [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 56-57].

Non-Dark Taim: It is entirely possible that Taim is just plain arrogant. Nothing says the servants of the Shadow have a monopoly on excessive pride.

6) Lews Therin.

LTT often raves about Demandred, and killing him, every time Taim is around. LTT raves, "Sammael, oh, yes, but Demandred first. First of all I rid myself of him, then Sammael." [LOC: 51, The Taking, 635] LTT and Rand know where Sammael is. But why does LTT insist on killing Demandred if he doesn't know where he is?

Minion Taim: It's clear that if this theory is the correct one, Taim has picked up a lot more than just OP training from Demandred (more on that below), which could have caused LTT to confuse the two men.

Non-Dark Taim: Or, it could be that Taim just happens to have similar character traits as Demandred, and LTT thinks Taim will betray him like Demandred did in the AOL.

Anyway, LTT wants to kill all male channelers [ACOS: 7, Pitfalls and Tripwires, 139], and furthermore, one shouldn't take anything LTT says too seriously. He's a total loon. He wants to die forever and end his suffering [LOC: 18, A Taste of Solitude, 299], but he doesn't want to die [LOC: 46, Beyond the Gate, 560]. He says "trust no one" and "the man who doesn't trust is dead" or words to that effect.

7) The epilogue to Lord of Chaos: "Have I not done well, Great Lord?"

Minion Taim: The DO's orders were to "let the Lord of Chaos rule," which seems to refer to "sowing chaos" in general, and to promoting divisiveness among the enemies of the Shadow. Demandred and Mesaana (and Semirhage) were working together on a plot in LOC to "let the Lord of Chaos rule." One of the main plot threads in LOC was the interactions of Rand with the SAS and TAS embassies. Rand ended up getting kidnapped by the TAS, and was rescued with the assistance of the Asha'man. The events of the battle to free Rand led to a great deal of mistrust and enmity among the SAS embassy, the TAS, the Aiel who follow Rand, the Shaido, and the Asha'man. The current state of affairs among Rand's allies (his Aiel, the Asha'man) and potential allies (the TAS and SAS) can only be good for the Shadow.

But where did Demandred's involvement in the plan come in? We know that Mesaana was central to setting up the situation, from her place in the WT, but the act that actually set this chain of events in motion was the attack on Demira Sedai in Caemlyn. The most likely culprit in that incident is none other than Taim (see section 1.4.07), presumably acting under Demandred's orders.

This idea is further strengthened by Sammael's speech to Graendal in [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 135]:

"You deliver a message to Demandred from me. Tell him I know what he is up to." Events to the south had Demandred's mark all over them. Demandred had always liked using proxies.

This quote was originally used to argue that Demandred was involved with the Seanchan invasion in Tarabon, which could alternately account for his part in the sowing of chaos. However, Demandred's thoughts in [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 313] indicate otherwise:

...he wished Semirhage or Mesaana were present. Their alliance was delicate - a simple agreement that they would not turn on one another until the others had been eliminated - yet it had held all this time.

Since we now know that Semirhage is Anath and (up until recently) glued to the DotNM's side (see section 1.1.9), it is very unlikely that Demandred is with the Seanchan as well. Graendal's statement in that same scene that Demandred was supposed to be watching Rand makes his involvement with the Seanchan all but impossible.

Conversely, both Graendal's and Sammael's statements make perfect sense if one supposes they refer to Minion Taim.

Non-Dark Taim: It is not absolutely certain that Taim was the one behind the attack on Demira. And even if he was, Taim has always been interested in sowing discord between Rand and the AS (to keep Rand dependent on him), and any actions of his toward that end can easily be applied to either the Minion theory or the Non-Dark theory. It's possible (though unlikely) that the attack was merely fortuitous for Demandred and Mesaana's plan.

8) Taim kills the Gray Man.

Minion Taim: If he hadn't, Rand might have gotten information out of it. Alternatively, it could've been a set-up: Taim ordered the Gray Man, and killed him to "prove" his loyalty to Rand. Or, Demandred ordered the Gray Man, and had Taim kill him for the same reason. Or, somebody else sent it, and Taim killed it because it didn't suit his plans to have Rand dead at the time.

Non-Dark Taim: It's doubtful Rand could get much information from a Gray Man. The Gray Men have no souls--they're basically walking killing machines. They probably have some sort of self-destruct mechanism, too. Jared Samet remarks: "If I were designing a perfect assassin, I'd set him up so that he could never point the finger at me...Besides, the Gray Man could only tell Rand anything damaging to Taim if Demandred had sent him (possible I suppose, but why can't Demandred do it himself if that's what the DO wants?) A Gray Man with a story implicating Sammael or some other Forsaken (easy enough for a channeler to set up) could help Taim more than a dead one." As for how conveniently Taim showed up, recall that strange and oddly convenient things happen around Rand all the time.

9) Taim's remark on "These so-called Aiel" [LOC: 11, Lessons and Teachers, 215].

Minion Taim: Only somebody from the AOL would have cause to call the modern Aiel "so-called". The only other person to use this (exact same) phrase is Moridin, né Ishamael [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 356]. Taim could have picked up the phrase as the Forsaken's protégé. It's not hard to imagine Taim trying to emulate his Forsaken teachers as much as possible, even unconsciously.

Non-Dark Taim: This is the hardest piece of evidence to explain away. People have suggested rationalizations, though. For example, if Taim knew the Old Tongue, he might be simply saying that he doubts the Aiel are truly "dedicated" to Rand. Another possible explanation is that, if Taim is about 35, then he was alive for the Aiel War, although possibly too young to go east to fight. He probably heard tales about Aiel--10 feet tall, breathing fire, etc. Here he sees some in Caemlyn peacefully patrolling the streets. Not what an average wetlander would expect of Savages From the Waste.

Counter-argument: As to the first suggestion, it hardly seems in character for Taim to be making puns in the Old Tongue. As for the second, even if the Aiel Taim meets aren't the monsters he's heard about, they are undeniably Aiel. Nobody else in Randland regards them as "so-called."

10) Smile.

In the prologue, it is said that Demandred never smiles [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 15], [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 58]. Taim doesn't either - at the end of LOC, before "Kneel, or you will be knelt", Rand observes: "His expression was as close to a smile as he had ever seen it." [LOC: 55, Dumai's Wells, 695]

Non-Dark Taim: Once again, it could just be that Taim and Demandred have similar personalities.

Minion Taim: Or that Taim imitates his teacher.

11) Min's viewing of an invisible man holding a knife to Rand's throat.

Non-Dark Taim/Minion Taim: Does it matter? Either way, Taim is not to be trusted.

12) Taim's behavior.

Minion Taim: Bill Garrett points out Taim's "challenge/submit" behavior. He'll argue with Rand about something, telling him it has to be done another way, then suddenly he'll agree and say "As my Lord Dragon commands." This could be Taim trying to do things his way, but suddenly remembering Demandred's orders to do what Rand says (or at least to not go directly against him). And Taim sometimes disobeys Rand and frequently does things Rand doesn't expect.

Non-Dark Taim: How is this different from the way the Tairen lords behaved? Or the Andoran nobility? Or Davram Bashere? Hell, even the Aiel tend to do this. Everybody tries to convince Rand to do things their way, but when you get right down to it, he's going to do as he damn well pleases, and all you can say is "As my Lord Dragon commands."

13) Another slip of the tongue.

When Rand shows Taim how to make a gateway, he calls it a "gateway." A little further in the same chapter, Taim says, "You can Travel, but you don't know how to test for the talent." How does Taim know that a Gateway = Traveling? AFAIK, Rand didn't mention anything about "traveling," only "gateways."

Non-Dark Taim: Maybe Taim heard the term described during his 15 years as a channeler, and added 2 and 2 to make 4.

Minion Taim: He learned it, and the proper name for it, from his Forsaken teachers.

14) Sammael and Graendal in conversation:

In [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 355], Sammael and Graendal are discussing their comrades. Sammael says, "I didn't arrange [Rand's] kidnapping....Mesaana had a hand in it, though. Maybe Demandred and Semirhage as well, despite how it ended...."

Minion Taim: Note the "despite" - there is a strong implication here that Sem and Dem somehow had a hand in the conclusion of the Rand-kidnapping episode, i.e. in his rescue. Who was instrumental in the rescue? Perrin and the Two Riversians, the wolves, the Mayeners, the Aiel - and Taim and the Asha'man. If Sammael knew that Taim is working for Demandred, his quote could be interpreted as a comment on how Demandred arranged the kidnapping despite the fact that his lackey Taim showed up to rescue Rand.

Non-Dark Taim: A totally different spin can be put on the passage. As Mark Loy explains, "To paraphrase...'I didn't arrange Rand's kidnapping... Mesaana had a hand in arranging Rand's kidnapping... Maybe Dem and Sem had a hand in arranging Rand's kidnapping as well, despite how the kidnapping ended. This interpretation means that they might have had a hand in arranging the kidnapping...in the planning" despite the fact that it ended all messed up.

15) Yet another slip of the tongue.

Taim has taken to calling himself "The M'Hael," which means "leader" in the Old Tongue, and giving OT designations to his lieutenants. Taim knows an awful lot about the Old Tongue for a modern-day Randlander.

Non-Dark Taim: Well, maybe he does know the Old Tongue. Maybe he was a scholar or something before he became a False Dragon. Of course, that is pure speculation.

Minion Taim: Or, once again, he could have picked this up from Ishy or Demandred, as his student.

16) The Black Tower.

Taim has pretty much built the Black Tower on his own. Rand has made little effort to be involved in it, and has left the recruiting, training, and testing of Asha'man to Taim. Taim, in turn, has done a fine job - in just a few months (between LOC and TPOD) he's created an unconventional military force which can take on anybody in Randland, including Aes Sedai and Seanchan. Just a handful of Asha'man have proven to be the decisive factor in many battles, some of them against opponents with channeling capability.

So, we must ask ourselves, if Taim is so efficient at turning out combat channelers, why didn't he do it when HE was claiming to be the Dragon Reborn? He claims to have tried training other men to channel [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 79], so the thought must have occurred to him. Granted, since he lacked Rand's ta'veren-power to attract recruits, he would have had a much smaller force than the 500 or so now at the BT. However, given that two or three percent of people can learn to channel [Guide: 2, The One Power and the True Source, 18], and that Taim's army of followers was of a "normal" Randland size (on the order of a couple thousand), he should have been able to get at least 10-20 men who could have been useful. Even ten male channelers is nothing to sneeze at, and yet Taim the False Dragon had no channeling followers.

Minion Taim: If Taim was under the Forsaken's thumb all this time, there could be a number of good reasons why he didn't build his own Black Tower - the most obvious being that Ishy/Demandred wouldn't let him.

Non-Dark Taim: There are other possible reasons Taim didn't train any other channelers. Perhaps he didn't have time. Perhaps he was worried that they'd turn against him. Perhaps when he saw his first experiments in training go mad in two years or so [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 79], he gave the idea up.

Counter-argument: As for time, he supposedly spent 15 years or so as a channeler before declaring himself the Dragon. He didn't seem to be in any big hurry. Taim isn't the sort of guy to worry about most of his subordinate channelers betraying him-- he's shown himself to be a master at inspiring admiration and loyalty in his troops; he's got a regular cult of personality among the Asha'man. As for the ones he didn't feel he could trust, he's not the sort of guy to be shy about killing them outright. As for the madness, he is known to be a totally ruthless fellow. He'd have no problem using his followers for the year or two they had of sanity and then killing them.

17) The Renegade Asha'man.

A quick list of Gedwyn, Rochaid, Kisman, and Torval's curriculum vitae in TPOD:

  • They set up the Illianer rebels to attempt to assassinate Rand, supposedly at the instigation of Aes Sedai.
  • Torval tried to make Rand suspicious of Egwene's army which was, at the time, marching towards Caemlyn and the BT.
  • Possibly, Gedwyn tried to subvert or cause problems with High Lord Weiramon.
  • Taim set them up as "deserters" who tried to kill Rand (see section 1.4.10).

Originally, none of this pointed one way or the other. Both Minion Taim and Non-Dark Taim would be interested in exacerbating the tensions between Rand and the Aes Sedai, for reasons already discussed. Similarly, either Non-Dark Taim or Minion Taim would benefit from having a force of channelers who worked independently of the BT, and whose loyalty he could count upon, and whose actions he wouldn't have to justify to Rand.

However, Kisman's POV in WH changed matters:

"Kill him," the M'Hael had ordered, before sending them to Cairhien, but he had been as displeased that they were found out as that they had failed. Far Madding was to be their last chance; he had made that as plain as polished brass. Dashiva had simply vanished. Kisman did not know whether he had run or the M'Hael had killed him, and he did not care.

"Kill him," Demandred had commanded later, but he had added that it would be better they died than let themselves be discovered again. By anyone, even the M'Hael, as if he did not know of Taim's order.

And later still, Moridin had said, "Kill him if you must, but above all, bring everything in his possession to me. That will redeem your previous transgressions."
[WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 441-443]

Besides positively confirming that Taim was behind the attack in Cairhien, this quote also established that the renegade Asha'man were definitely all Darkfriends, and working in some capacity for both Taim and Demandred. (It's unclear from the quote whether they were collectively also reporting to Moridin, or just Kisman was, or whether Moridin's visit was a once-off deal, or what.)

Minion Taim: Why would four powerful DF Asha'man listen to Taim unless he was also a DF? What are the odds that Non-Dark Taim's orders would be virtually identical to a Forsaken's? Plus, it's clear that Kisman expected Demandred to know of Taim's order; this only makes sense if Taim is also a Darkfriend - a Darkfriend working directly for Demandred, in fact. [Pam Korda]

Non-Dark Taim: As to the latter point, an alternative interpretation is that Kisman simply expects Demandred to be very well-informed about Black Tower politics and policies, as though there were a spy in the camps [John Novak]. For the former, Taim wanting Rand dead doesn't necessarily mean he's working for the Dark. Plenty of other people who aren't Darkfriends have tried to get rid of Rand, or plotted to. It could be that Kisman et al are only following Taim's orders because they happen to coincide with Demandred's.

Counterargument: Possible, maybe, but unlikely. The Fearsome Foursome have been glued to Taim from the get-go.

18) The TPOD attack and cleansing the Taint.

After showing Taim the farm and testing Flinn in LOC, Rand and Taim have the following very interesting exchange, as Rand grouses about all the things he has to accomplish:

[Rand speaking]:"... And cleanse saidin, so men don't have to fear going mad, and the world doesn't have to fear men channeling. I'll..."
[...] "Cleanse saidin," Taim said softly. "I think that would take more power than you can imagine." His eyes lidded thoughtfully. "I have heard of things called sa'angreal. Do you have one you think you could actually - "
[LOC: 3, A Woman's Eyes, 91]

The significance of this quote is obvious. It means that Taim knew about Rand's intention to cleanse saidin long before Rand's slip in TPOD - he knew, in fact, from almost the moment the prohibition about killing Rand was put into place!

So, what does this mean?

Non-Dark Taim: Well, one way of looking at it is that the passage is evidence that Taim is not Demandred's minion. Follow the bouncy ball:

The FS, including and especially Demandred, know that the DO has forbidden anyone from killing Rand, as of the prologue of LOC. Taim finds out almost immediately afterwards that Rand is planning to cleanse the Taint, but nothing happens. (Well, a lot happens, but certainly the "don't kill" order is not changed.)

Then, in TPOD, Rand talks about cleansing saidin again - to Taim's lackey Torval, but much more importantly, to Dashiva, aka Osan'gar. With the result that Osan'gar tries to kill Rand at the end of the book.

True, Osan'gar merely joined in with an attempt on Rand's life already in motion, instigated by Taim, but what the above quote strongly suggests is that Taim's attack on Rand at the end of TPOD could not have been motivated by Rand's plan to cleanse the Taint. If it was, he would have tried to kill Rand two books earlier.

Osan'gar joining the attack, on the other hand, almost had to be motivated by that knowledge - and given what a wuss he was it's impossible to imagine he didn't have permission to do so from Moridin. He took advantage of Taim's conveniently timed assassination attempt to try and kill Rand.

The very strong implication here is that the FS in general didn't find out about Rand's plan to cleanse saidin until Osan'gar did, in TPOD. The obvious conclusion to draw, then, is that Taim could not be the Forsaken's minion, since Taim has apparently known for ages what the FS didn't discover until TPOD. The attack in Cairhien, then, was all on Taim's own initiative and had nothing to do with cleansing the taint.

This incidentally would explain perfectly why Taim was so shocked that Osan'gar joined in on the assassination attempt. If the attack was entirely motivated by Taim's own political self-interest, he would have had no idea what induced Dashiva to join in.

Minion Taim: A couple of things. First, Taim seems perfectly capable of being Moridin/Demandred's lackey and yet still playing his own game as well; Will Frank suggests, for instance, that if Taim swore allegiance to the Shadow so he could avoid going mad, he might not tell his boss about what Rand said in hopes that Rand might actually accomplish the Cleansing. Of course, later when Osan'gar also found out about Rand's plan, he had no choice but to go along with the decision to kill him.

Or, secondly, it's also possible that Taim simply didn't take Rand's boast seriously at that point.

19) Logain's News

When Rand meets with Logain at Algarin's manor [KOD 18: News for the Dragon] he attempts to convince Rand that Something Bad is going down in the Black Tower. Rand brushes it aside as Logain's jealousy over Taim having a higher rank. While :Logain isn't exactly Mr. Modesty, he does make some valid points about Taim's actions:

"Taim wasn't pleased at me taking so many out of the Tower and not telling him where they were going.  I thought he was going to rip up your order. He tried every trick to learn where you are. Oh, he burns to know that. His eyes were practically on fire. I wouldn't put it past him to have me put to the question if I'd been fool enough to meet him without company. One thing pleased him, though: that I did not take any of his cronies. That was plain on his face." He smiled, a dark smile, not amused. " There are forty-one of those now, by the way.   He's given over a dozen men the Dragon pin in the past few days, and he has above fifty more in his 'special' classes, most of them men recruited just lately. He's planning something, and I doubt you'll like it."

[KOD 18: News for the Dragon]

Minion Taim: This isn't the first time Logain has tried to complain about Taim, but it is the first time he brings up the special classes for those in Taim's group. If Taim is training new Dreadlords, this might be where he indoctrinates them to the Shadow. Also, why is Taim so upset by Logain's orders?

Non-Darkfriend Taim: Taim's annoyance at the secret orders could just be the very reasonable ire of a man who's used to being in charge suddenly being cut out of the loop.  And Logain never says why those special classes are so sinister. Given that it's the Black Tower, they probably aren't about hugs and lolipops, but neither is there any indication beyond "I doubt you'll like it" to indicate this isn't just some kind of Asha'man Capstone Experience.

20) The KOD Epilogue

In the epilogue of KOD, the Red Ajah sends a group to request Asha'man Warders. Taim responds by acting creepy. He has a throne room, laid out with a black and red tile floor and violently themed tapistries. When Pevara asks if they can bond his men as Warders, he responds with "Let the Lord of Chaos rule.", something we have only heard minions of the Shadow use before.

Minion Taim: "Let the Lord of Chaos rule" could be part of his general orders from Demandred, the only Forsaken we've seen tasked specifically with this.  Black and red are the colors of Moridin's livery. Homage to his Dark Master? Or coincidence?

Non-Darkfriend Taim: Taim claims "Let the Lord of Chaos" rule is an old saying. Just because Pevara doesn't know it, doesn't mean that it's not actually a saying. Lots of nations have their own idioms.

1.5.7: Who is NOT a Darkfriend?-- Updated

[Linda Taglieri]

Rand, Mat, Perrin, Elayne, Egwene, Nynaeve, and Min - have all shown by points of view too numerous to note, and their actions, that they are on the side of good. For everyone else a quote or an explanation is given, in alphabetical order.

Adelorna Bastine

According to Alviarin, no Tower Ajah Head was Black Ajah, apart from Galina Casban. "The great "secret" of who headed the Ajahs was none to her – every Black sister was required to relay to the Supreme Council every whisper inside her own Ajah – but only Galina among them had been Black."  [TPoD 25: An Unwelcome Return]

Adrielle Member of the expedition to the Black Tower so obviously doomed that Alviarin decided no Black sisters would go on it. [ACoS Prologue : Lightnings]

Aiden considered drawing Zemaile to some secluded corner where she could be questioned and disposed of, but then she noticed another Brown, a round woman even darker than Zemaile, watching them from farther down the hall. Aiden and Zemaile were weak in the Power, yet overcoming both at once would be difficult if it was possible at all...' [COT 21: A Mark] Alviarin knows who all the Black Ajah are so she wouldn't need to kill a Black sister for information, let alone take the risk of killing two.

Aisling Noon Member of the expedition to the Black Tower so obviously doomed that Alviarin decided no Black sisters would go on it. [ACoS Prologue : Lightnings]

Akoure Vayet Member of the expedition to the Black Tower so obviously doomed that Alviarin decided no Black sisters would go on it.

Andaya Forae A Sitter who raised Egwene, she released herself from the Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame].

Annharid A rebel infiltrator in the Tower who released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend. [ACoS Prologue : Lightnings]

Arel Malevin Asha’man of Logain’s faction who bonded a non-Darkfriend Aes Sedai, something Taim does not approve of or permit in his followers.

Aviendha Her thoughts: "...no Shadowsouled or Shadowrunner could know that clearing; only she, Nynaeve and Elayne did…One of the Shadowsouled would not simply stand there watching, but that creature, that gholam…Ice formed in her belly. No shame in knowing fear." [TPoD 1: To Keep the Bargain]

Ayako Norsoni Member of the expedition to the Black Tower so obviously doomed that Alviarin decided no Black sisters would go on it.

Bayle Domon His thoughts show he is not a Darkfriend: Darkfriends had been after him since before he left Maradon to come back down river. Darkfriends and Trollocs...Darkfriends or Aes Sedai, I’ll no run the way they want me. [TGH 9: Leavetakings]

Beonin She was bound by the Three Oaths and couldn’t lie that she betrayed nothing [KOD 24: Honey in the Tea] so she isn’t Black Ajah.

Berana A Sitter in the rebel Hall, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend. [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame]

Bernaile Gelbarn A rebel infiltrator in the Tower who released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend.

Black Tower Expedition Alviarin decided the expedition to the Black Tower was too risky and made sure that no Black was included (thus saving Black sisters, and increasing the ratio of Black Ajah to non-Darkfriends in the Tower by removing fifty non-Darkfriends.) "But she would still see that no Black sisters went with Toveine." [ACoS Prologue : Lightnings]

The sisters in this group named so far are Toveine Gazal (Red, bonded by Logain), Jenare (Red, bonded to Welyn Kajima), Lemai (Red), Akoure (Grey), Desandre (Yellow), Ayako (White, bonded by Donalo Sandomere), Gabrelle (Brown, bonded by Logain), Carniele (Yellow), Adrielle (Gray, bonded by Mezar Kurin), Aisling Noon (Green, bonded by Arel Malevin) and Nelavaire Demasiellin (possibly) (Green, bonded by Naeff). It can be assumed that all the Asha’man who have bonded Aes Sedai are not Darkfriends either, since the bonding was done without Taim’s approval or permission and since then likely Darkfriend Asha’man are raised as quickly as possible to full Asha’man who are exempted from being bonded. They are also listed individually in this article since they are moving about more now.

Cabriana Mercandes She had no idea who Semirhage was and never considered her torturer was a Forsaken (Lord Of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow), but just kept calling her a Darkfriend.

Cadsuane Melaidhrin Her thoughts: Cadsuane did not like losing two of her people in return for no more than a few singed Forsaken and one dead renegade. -Winter’s Heart, With The Choedan Kal She wasn’t on Verin’s list either, and Verin identified over 90% of the Black Ajah.

Carniele Member of the expedition to the Black Tower so obviously doomed that Alviarin decided no Black sisters would go on it. [ACoS Prologue : Lightnings]

Celestin A rebel infiltrator in the Tower who released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend.

Dain Bornhald His task as he thinks of it was: to root out Darkfriends, or course, and spread the Light; that went without saying. -The Shadow Rising, Seeds of Shadow

Davram Bashere His thoughts: In truth, Tenobia did worry him. The Light only knew why Easar and the others had decided to leave the Blightborder together, much less strip away as many sldiers as hearsay said they had brought south…She should be in Saldaea guarding the Blightborder, but so should he…Worst of all, who was behind it? The White Tower? The Forsaken? -Crossroads of Twilight, Prologue: Glimmers

Desandre Member of the expedition to the Black Tower so obviously doomed that Alviarin decided no Black sisters would go on it. [ACoS Prologue : Lightnings]

Doesine Alwain A hunter of the Black Ajah, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend.

Donalo Sandomere Asha’man of Logain’s faction who bonded a non-Darkfriend Aes Sedai, something Taim does not approve of or permit in his followers.

Eamon Valda His thoughts: With enough tame witches, he could drive al’Thor out of Andor, out of Illian and everywhere else he had settled like the Shadow itself. -Crossroads of Twilight, Prologue: Glimmers

Egeanin Her thoughts: This was beyond shoal waters. She was riding close on a lee shore, and Soulblinder himself rode that gale, coming to steal her eyes…The Dark One was coming to steal her eyes. -Winter’s Heart, A Matter of Property

Elaida do’Avriny a’Roihan Elaida’s thoughts: Next she [Alviarin] would be spouting the Sanche woman’s nonsense about the Forsaken being loose -A Crown Of Swords: Prologue, Lightnings Verin also checked Elaida out carefully: And Elaida's name wasn't on the list either. There was a notation at the end, explaining that Verin had looked very closely at Elaida, searching for proof that she was Black. But comments by Black sisters led her to believe strongly that Elaida was not herself Black. Just an unstable woman who was sometimes as frustrating to the Black as she was to the rest of the Tower. - The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai

Queen Ethenielle of Kandor What good to guard the Blight if the world did crumble behind her?...Since the death of her husband twenty years before, Baldhere had commanded the armies of Kandor, and most of her soldiers would have followed him to Shayol Ghul itself. -The Path Of Daggers: Prologue, Deceptive Appearances Ethenielle thinks guarding the Blight is important and worries about whether she should leave off doing that to travel south. She thinks attacking Shayol Ghul is a good [if not reasonable] thing. I.e., she is not a Darkfriend.

Elyas Machera Although there isn't any PoV of him, it's clear that Elyas can't be a Darkfriend. If he were, the wolves would know it and certainly not follow him. Wolves can read the minds of people eg when Perrin tells his faked story to Elyas in The Eye of the World.

Faile Aybara Faile often lay awake herself, praying for rain, or better yet snow, trying not to think of what lurked behind the heat and drought. -Lord of Chaos, Prologue:The First Message Faile does not even want to think of the fact that the Dark One is causing the drought, because it scares her. She wants it to end. Therefore, she’s on the side of the Light.

Ferane Neheran According to Alviarin, no Tower Ajah Head was Black Ajah, apart from Galina Casban. "The great "secret" of who headed the Ajahs was none to her – every Black sister was required to relay to the Supreme Council every whisper inside her own Ajah – but only Galina among them had been Black." [TPoD 25: An Unwelcome Return]

Gabrelle Member of the expedition to the Black Tower so obviously doomed that Alviarin decided no Black sisters would go on it. [ACoS Prologue : Lightnings]

Gareth Bryne His thoughts: Whitecloaks? What would Children of the Light want with Mara? He would never believe she was a Darkfriend. But then he had seen a fellow hanged in Caemlyn, a Darkfriend who had been teaching children in the streets about the glories of the Dark One…No, that girl is no Darkfriend, and I’ll stake my life on it. - The Fires of Heaven, An Old Pipe

Gawyn He wished he could have killed al’Thor. For his mother, dead by the man’s doing; Egwene denied it, but she had no proof…He was a fool. He should have killed al’Thor; he had to kill him. But he could not. Not because the man was the Dragon Reborn, but because he had promised Egwene not to raise a hand against al’Thor. - A Crown Of Swords, Prologue: Lightnings Darkfriends all have orders one way or the other about killing Rand, or not; Gawyn’s thoughts show he doesn’t, and his feelings concerning Rand are clearly personal.

Geofram Bornhald He worries about whether Perrin is a Darkfriend or not: He was not entirely certain, himself, but surely a man who seemed to have wolves fight for him could be nothing else. -The Great Hunt,Five Will Ride Forth

Jenare Member of the expedition to the Black Tower so obviously doomed that Alviarin decided no Black sisters would go on it. [ACoS Prologue : Lightnings]

Jennet A rebel infiltrator in the Tower who released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend.

Jesse Bilal According to Alviarin, no Tower Ajah Head was Black Ajah, apart from Galina Casban. "The great "secret" of who headed the Ajahs was none to her – every Black sister was required to relay to the Supreme Council every whisper inside her own Ajah – but only Galina among them had been Black." [TPoD 25: An Unwelcome Return]

Joline Maza Her thoughts: "She would not have admitted it under torture, but the heat made her afraid. The Dark One was touching the world and their only hope was a boy who was running wild." -A Crown of Swords, The Triumph of Logic

Juilaine Madome A Sitter who raised Egwene, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend (The Gathering Storm, Bathed In Light).

Kwamesa A Sitter in the rebel Hall, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame].

Lan The entirety of New Spring shows that Lan clearly is not a Darkfriend.

Laras Verin insists that Laras is not a Darkfriend (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai). Certainly she has firm principles, especially on not breaking anyone's spirit with harsh treatment.

Lelaine Akashi A Sitter in the rebel Hall, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame].

Lemai Member of the expedition to the Black Tower so obviously doomed that Alviarin decided no Black sisters would go on it.

Logain Ablar If he were a Darkfriend he would not have held himself separate from Taim at some personal cost or loathe Taim’s cronies, nor would he organise resistance to him.

Magla Daronos A Sitter in the rebel Hall, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame].

Masema Dagar His thoughts: "It was difficult to keep his thoughts on those future glories. The world around him was filthy. Men denied the Dragon and sought the Shadow…Even his own followers. Yes! That must have been why they had fallen. That must have been why so many died when assaulting the city of Malden and its Darkfriend Aiel." - The Gathering Storm, Prologue

Meidani A rebel infiltrator in the Tower who released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend.

Merana Ambrey "Were either of you involved in that…vileness…right after the Aiel War?" Despite herself, Merana gave a start. The other woman’s eyes spoke of the block and the headsman’s axe…Anyway, a twenty year old vileness, whatever it had been, certainly could not hold a candle to what the world confronted now." -A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars Any Black sister would have known what Cadsuane meant - the deaths of two Amyrlins, many Aes Sedai and men who might be able to channel - yet Merana did not know, so she isn’t Black.

Mezar Kurin Asha’man of Logain’s faction who bonded a non-Darkfriend Aes Sedai, something Taim does not approve of or permit in his followers.

Moiraine Damodred Her thoughts regarding Rand: I will not let you go to the Shadow. I have worked too long to allow that. Whatever it takes. -The Shadow Rising, Into the Heart

Morgase Morgase was Compelled seriously by Rahvin. Seriously enough to make her forget everything, or almost. If Morgase was a Darkfriend, there would have been no need for Rahvin to Compel her.

Naeff Asha’man likely of Logain’s faction who bonded a non-Darkfriend Aes Sedai, something Taim does not approve of or permit in his followers.

Nelavaire Demasiellin Likely member of the expedition to the Black Tower so obviously doomed that Alviarin decided no Black sisters would go on it.

Nicola She swore the Oath against lying on the Oath Rod and declared herself not a Darkfriend The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai).

Pedron Niall His thoughts: The White Tower was a sink of iniquity and the Shadow…the Shadow-spawned heat…There was no Black Ajah; all the witches were Darkfriends. -A Crown of Swords, Prologue: Lightnings

Pevara Tazanovni A hunter of the Black Ajah, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend The Path of Daggers, The Extra Bit).

Rhadam Asunawa His thoughts: Of course there was no connection, aside from the fact that she [ Morgase] was a witch and they Darkfriends. The witch was in the Fortress of the Light, after all. Still, he was troubled. -Lord of Chaos, Red Wax

Rina Hafden A Sitter who raised Egwene, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame].

Rodel Ituralde His thoughts: This last order was different, though…Why the Shadow might fear this order more than any other was a mystery, yet it was all the more reason to move swiftly. -Crossroads of Twilight, Prologue: Glimmers

Romanda Cassin A Sitter in the rebel Hall, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame].

Rubinde A Sitter who raised Egwene, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame].

Saerin Asnobar A hunter of the Black Ajah, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend.

Seaine Herimon A hunter of the Black Ajah, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend (The Path of Daggers, The Extra Bit).

Serancha Colvine According to Alviarin, no Tower Ajah Head was Black Ajah, apart from Galina Casban. "The great "secret" of who headed the Ajahs was none to her – every Black sister was required to relay to the Supreme Council every whisper inside her own Ajah – but only Galina among them had been Black." [TPoD 25: An Unwelcome Return]

Shevan A Sitter who raised Egwene, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame].

Silviana Brehon She released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame].

Siuan Sanche Siuan was bound by the Three Oaths until she was stilled therefore she wasn’t of the Black Ajah. She has since proven this on the Oath Rod in  [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame]

Suana Dragand According to Alviarin, no Tower Ajah Head was Black Ajah, apart from Galina Casban. "The great "secret" of who headed the Ajahs was none to her – every Black sister was required to relay to the Supreme Council every whisper inside her own Ajah – but only Galina among them had been Black." -[TPoD 25: An Unwelcome Return]

Teslyn Baradon She was shown to be bound by the Three Oaths when she tried to swear to Mat that she would do anything for him that didn’t betray the White Tower if he freed her, and couldn’t because the qualifier was a lie (Winter’s Heart, Three Women).

Thom Merrilin Thom shows he is not a Darkfriend in essentially the entire first half of The Shadow Rising, Deceptions.

Toveine Gazal Leader of the expedition to the Black Tower so obviously doomed that Alviarin decided no Black sisters would go on it. [ACoS Prologue : Lightnings]

Varilin A Sitter in the rebel Hall, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend  [TGS 43, Sealed to the Flame].

Welyn Kajima Asha’man of Logain’s faction who bonded a non-Darkfriend Aes Sedai, something Taim does not approve of or permit in his followers.

Yukiri A hunter of the Black Ajah, she released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend.

Zemaile "[Alviarin] considered drawing Zemaile to some secluded corner where she could be questioned and disposed of, but then she noticed another Brown, a round woman even darker than Zemaile, watching them from farther down the hall. Aiden and Zemaile were weak in the Power, yet overcoming both at once would be difficult if it was possible at all..." -Crossroads of Twilight, A Mark. Alviarin knows who all the Black Ajah are so she wouldn't need to kill a Black sister for information, let alone take the risk of killing two.

Zerah Dacan A rebel infiltrator in the Tower who released herself from her Oaths and reswore on the Oath Rod that she was not a Darkfriend (The Path of Daggers, The Extra Bit).

1.5.8: Who IS a Darkfriend?--Updated

[Linda Taglieri]

The Forsaken and their various aliases or incarnations:

  • Ishamael/Elan Morin Tedronai/Moridin/Jalwin Moerad/Ba’alzamon
  • Aginor/Ishar Morrad Chuain/Osan’gar/Corlan Dashiva
  • Asmodean/Joar Addam Nessosin /Jasin Natael
  • Balthamel/Eval Ramman/Aran’gar/Halima Saranov
  • Be’lal/Duram Laddel Cham/Samon
  • Demandred/Barid Bel Medar
  • Graendal/Kamarile Maradim Nindar /Basene /Maisia
  • Lanfear/Mierin Eronaile/Cyndane/Selene /Silvie /Keille Shaogi
  • Mesaana/Saine Tarasind
  • Moghedien/Lillen Moiral /Gyldin /Marigan
  • Rahvin/Ared Mosinel/Gaebril
  • Sammael/Tel Janin Aellinsar /Brend /Caddar
  • Semirhage/Nemene Damendar Boann /Anath Dorje

Black Ajah

  • Alviarin Freidhen (White) (A Crown of Swords, Prologue)
  • Amico Nagoyin (Yellow according to Jordan), one of Liandrin’s 13 (The Dragon Reborn, Questions)
  • Asne Zeramene (Green), one of Liandrin’s 13 (The Fires of Heaven, A Hound of Darkness)
  • Atuan Larisett (Yellow) (Crossroads of Twilight Prologue)
  • Berylla Naron (Blue by default), one of Liandrin’s 13 (The Fires of Heaven, A Hound of Darkness)
  • Birlen Pena (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Careane Fransi (Green) (Knife of Dreams, The House on Full Moon Street).
  • Chai Rugan (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Chesmal Emry (Yellow), one of Liandrin’s 13 (The Dragon Reborn, Questions)
  • Dagdara Finchey (Yellow) (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Delana Mosalaine (Grey) (Lord of Chaos, To Heal Again)
  • Duhara Basaheen (Red) (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Eldrith Jhondar (Brown) The Shadow Rising, Hidden Faces)
  • Elza Penfell (Green) (Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm)
  • Falion Bhoda (White), one of Liandrin’s 13 (The Fires of Heaven, A Hound of Darkness)
  • Fera (White) (Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm)
  • Galina Casban (Red) (Lord of Chaos, Prologue)
  • Ispan Shefar (Blue), one of Liandrin’s 13 (The Fires of Heaven, A Hound of Darkness)
  • Jarna Malari (Grey), Alviarin’s predecessor (A Crown of Swords, Prologue)
  • Jeaine Caide (Green), one of Liandrin’s 13 (The Shadow Rising, What Lies Hidden)
  • Joiya Byir (Grey), one of Liandrin’s 13 (The Dragon Reborn, Questions)
  • Karale Sanghir (Grey) (Knife of Dreams, Prologue)
  • Katerine Alruddin (Red) (Lord of Chaos, Prologue)
  • Larissa Lyndel (Yellow) (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Liandrin (Red) (The Great Hunt, Damane)
  • Marillin Gemalphin (Brown), one of Liandrin’s 13 (The Dragon Reborn, Questions)
  • Marris Thornhill (Brown) (Knife of Dreams, Prologue)
  • Melvara (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Merean Redhill (Blue) (New Spring)
  • Miyasi (White) (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Moria Karentanis (Blue) (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Nacelle Kayama (Green) (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Nalaene Forrell (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Nesita (Red) (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Rianna Andomeran (White), one of Liandrin’s 13 (The Dragon Reborn, Questions)
  • Sedore Dajenna (Yellow) (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Sheriam Byanar (Blue) (The Gathering Storm, In Darkness)
  • Talene Minly (Green) (Winter’s Heart, Snow)
  • Temaille Kinderode (Grey), one of Liandrin’s 13 (The Shadow Rising, Questioners)
  • Velina Behar (White) (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Verin Mathwin (Brown) chose to join rather than die (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)
  • Zanica (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)

Darkfriend Asha’man

Mazrim Taim ordered Gedwyn, Kisman, Rochaid, and Torval to kill Rand in Cairhien and then Far Madding, their last chance (Winter’s Heart, Out of Thin Air),

  • Charl Gedwyn
  • Manel Rochaid
  • Peral Torval
  • Raefar Kisman names himself Darkfriend in Winter’s Heart, Out of Thin Air. The other three were his cohorts and under the same orders.


Non-channelling Darkfriends


  • Amellia Arene thought she could be on equal terms with Black sisters (The Fires of Heaven, A Hound of Darkness).
  • Barthanes Damodred told Rand he was a Darkfriend (The Great Hunt, A Message From the Dark).
  • Changu participated in Fain’s escape (The Great Hunt, The Hunt Begins).
  • Comar was ordered by Rahvin to kill Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve in Tear (The Dragon Reborn, A Message Out of the Shadow).
  • Cowin Gemallan was named Darkfriend (The Eye of the World, The Grave Is No Bar To My Call).
  • Cully led a circle under Carridin (A Crown of Swords, Insects).
  • Daved Hanlon /Doilin Mellar (The Path of Daggers, The Extra Bit).
  • Elegar was faithful to his vows according to Rahvin (The Fires of Heaven Prologue)
  • Fearil, Elza’s Warder (Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm)
  • Hadnan Kadere joined young (The Fires of Heaven, Memories of Saldaea).
  • Howal Gode (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow)
  • Ingtar Shinowa, although he regretted it (The Great Hunt, To Come Out of the Shadow).
  • Isendre was named by Lanfear as a Darkfriend (The Fires of Heaven, Gateways).
  • Jaichim Carridin /Bors was at Ishamael’s Darkfriend social in The Great Hunt Prologue where he made useful observations.
  • Jen/Torwyn Barshaw sent Paitr Conel to Morgase in Ailron’s palace to make contact and tell her that an escape was being planned. He was caught by Whitecloaks chanting a catechism to the Shadow (Lord of Chaos, Red Wax).
  • Jorin Arene tried to avoid his obligations as a Darkfriend to provide accommodation to Liandrin’s group (The Fires of Heaven, A Hound of Darkness).
  • Madic reported to Moridin, his Great Master, about a weather ter’angreal being in the Ebou Dar cache (The Path of Daggers, Unweaving).
  • Melindhra tried to kill Mat with a dagger decorated in Illianer motifs when he mentioned Rand was going to Caemlyn (The Fires of Heaven, News Comes to Cairhien).
  • Nan Belman joined to dabble in wickedness according to Fain (Lord of Chaos, Letters).
  • Nidao participated in Fain’s escape from Fal Dara (The Great Hunt, The Hunt Begins).
  • Paitr Conel revealed he was a Darkfriend in (The Eye of the World, The Dark Waits).
  • Powl was the only one of Asne’s Warders who was a Darkfriend (Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds).
  • Ryne Venamar killed Bukhama and tried to kill Lan at Merean’s orders (New Spring).
  • Shiaine Avarhin /Milli Skane became a Darkfriend soon after she turned 15 because she could not channel (A Crown of Swords, Insects).
  • Slayer/Isam Mandragoran /Luc Mantear is the Shadow’s henchman (The Shadow Rising, Assurances and A Missing Leaf).
  • Spar was one of the fake beggars who attacked Mat and Birgitte and were probably in Old Cully’s circle (A Crown of Swords, The Festival of Birds).
  • Suroth Sabelle Meldarath (The Great Hunt, Damane)
  • Tomas, Verin’s Warder, was named by her as a Darkfriend who wanted out (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai).
  • Vane left the inn in Maderin to fetch some Darkfriends to kill Mat (Knife of Dreams, A Hell in Maderin).
  • Zaired Elbar was named as one by Suroth in the Knife of Dreams Prologue.

Padan Fain joined over 40 years ago (The Eye of the World, More Tales of the Wheel), although he is renegade and wanted dead by both sides. Moridin ordered him killed and Rand put a 100,000 gold crown price on his head.

1.6 Ghoulies and Ghosties and Long-Leggedy Beasties


This subsection contains information on and discussion of the nature of various Shadowspawn - creatures of the Dark One.

1.6.1: Where do Trollocs and Myrddraal come from?

[Pam Korda]

[Sources: A letter from RJ in which I foolishly asked whether Trollocs breed, or whether they're grown in a big vat at Shayol Ghul; and various "monster-of-the-day lessons" sprinkled throughout the books.]


  • The original source was a mixing of human and animal genes in an attempt to produce the "perfect soldier," as envisioned by somebody (Aginor) who'd never seen actual combat.
  • There are female Trollocs, but we don't want to know more than that.
  • Where Myrddraal come from: occasionally, a Trolloc offspring is a genetic throwback in the direction of the original human stock, but not all the way back, and twisted. Thus, eyeless but with super vision, very strong (but not as strong as a Trolloc), and the shadow-traveling ability.
  • Myrddraal take their "pleasures" with human females, who suffer horribly from the experience; it drives them mad, if they survive at all.

Of course, the diapers of baby Myrddraal don't wave in the wind. :)

1.6.2: Fifty Ways to Kill a Gholam --Updated

[Pam Korda, Leigh Butler, Jennifer Liang]

The Gholam seems to be the hardest-to-kill monster RJ has introduced thus far. What, exactly, is it? We have information on it from Birgitte, who has some memories of the War of Power [ACOS: 40, Promises to Keep, 606-607], from Elayne, Mat, etc.'s encounter with one in [ACOS: 39, Six Stories, 598-600], from the short gholam POV scene in [TPOD: 2, Unweaving, 84-85], and from Mat's second duel with it in [WH: 16, An Unexpected Encounter, 353-355].

Gholam were created by Aginor [LOC: 23, To Understand a Message, 347] for the express purpose of killing channelers, although they're pretty handy at killing non-channelers, as well. The OP can't touch them; the effect of channeling at a gholam is exactly the same as channeling at a person wearing Mat's foxy medallion (i.e. the flows break apart on contact). Furthermore, they are immune to conventional weapons, too: nobody is able to harm the one who Mat fights with swords, etc, and the gholam itself thinks "it had never encountered anything that could harm it. Until that man with the medallion" [TPOD: 2, Unweaving, 84]. They can sense the ability to channel at a distance of about 50 paces, and they can detect use of the OP at greater distances (it felt the channeling at the Kin's farm in TPOD). They look like normal human beings on the outside. Inside is another matter. They have no bones, and can squeeze under a door, and are very strong, and very quick. Only six were ever made; three have a masculine outward appearance, three feminine. They appear to be at least as intelligent as Fades (Mat chats with the one he fights in Ebou Dar), and they are living things, not some sort of machine. (Mat surmises (actually, Birgitte surmises) that the one they met was "kept alive" since the Breaking in a stasis box.)

They feed on blood; the Ebou Dar gholam refers to its victims as "those I harvest" [WH: 16, An Unexpected Encounter, 355]. There is some way to control a gholam, and force it to do one's bidding. The Ebou Dar gholam thinks: "The one who commanded it wanted [Mat] dead.... for the time being, it was constrained. For its entire existence it had been compelled to obey one or another human, but its mind held the concept of not being constrained" [TPOD: 2, Unweaving, 84-85].

There is some contention over the nature of the gholam's exact physical makeup. Most people subscribe to the "liquid gholam" theory (a la the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day). RJ's choice of words in various descriptions of the gholam seems to suggest this ("Fluid as quicksilver", "flowed aside like water", etc.). It's not specifically said, but there is the intimation that the knife wounds Mat gave the gholam in ACOS closed up instantly; they didn't bleed, at least. The gholam do seem to be more limited than the T-1000, in that they apparently can't assume any form, only liquid form and their humanoid form. (If not, why specify that three are male-shaped, and three are female-shaped?) Stemming from this theory is the assumption that a gholam would be able to reattach a severed body part or parts.

Not everyone buys this theory, though. The description we have only says that the gholam have no bones, not that they have no internal organs or support structure at all; as Ben Elgin points out, "Mice can collapse their skulls and ribcage... Cartilage explains the traversal just as well." There is also no real reason to assume that the gholam can reattach a severed body part, other than that the T-1000 could.

Where have we seen gholam? We've seen two for certain, namely the one in Ebou Dar, and the one that killed poor Herid Fel in Cairhien at the end of LOC. There is one previous possible gholam encounter, which took place "off-screen." This is the killing of Lord Barthanes in TGH. Barthanes was clearly killed at Ishy's instigation because he helped the renegade DF, Padan Fain, get away with the Horn of Valere. Barthanes died in a very similar fashion to Fel, i.e. he was ripped limb-from-limb. Furthermore, this took place in the same building as Fel's demise. Again, this may or may not be a gholam-induced death, but it is worth mentioning as a possibility.


How can you hurt/kill/dispose of a Gholam?

The only thing we know for certain that can injure a gholam is Mat's foxy medallion. When Mat smacks the Ebou Dar gholam with it in [ACOS: 38, Six Stories, 598], the gholam is burned-- "The medallion fell across the man's cheek. The man screamed. Smoke rose around the edges of the foxhead, and a sizzle like bacon frying....A raw red brand marked where the foxhead had fallen." Later in WH, Mat burns the gholam several more times with the medallion. What we do not know is why the medallion hurt the gholam. There are two possibilities:


It's the magic, stupid

Both the medallion and the gholam have the unusual property that they somehow neutralize flows of the OP. (Note that the actual mechanism employed by each may be different.) It is possible that some kind of adverse reaction occurred when the medallion came into contact with the gholam's body. While the medallion didn't get characteristically cold, it did seemingly get hot.

It is difficult to be more precise, because we don't know how either the medallion or the gholam actually work. Perhaps it is because the gholam are made with/are held together with/have some connection with the OP, and the medallion negates the OP. Or, perhaps it's a "like charges repel" sort of deal. Or, maybe the gholam is a kind of "living ter'angreal," and the effect is due to an adverse reaction between similar ter'angreal, as described in [TDR: 23, Sealed, 217]. If it is the case that the magic is the key, then a gholam could probably be killed by prolonged contact with some weapon/ter'angreal made to copy the medallion's effect.

An argument against the theory that the medallion's ability to negate flows is the key, is that then the gholam probably would have been hurt by contact with Mat himself, and not just the foxhead. [James Huckaby] Then again, maybe not. As stated above, we don't really know how the medallion works. It was pointed out that when Mat was wrestling the gholam, the foxhead fell out of Mat's "open" shirt: "Struggling for air, he [Mat] pushed himself up, foxhead dangling from his open shirt." [ACOS: 38, Six Stories, 597] So, if the medallion works only when it is in contact with the wearer, then Mat may not have been in contact w/ it when he touched the gholam. [Jason Wilson] Of course, this objection does not apply to the idea that the reaction was due to the "similar ter'angreal interference" effect.


You've got the silver

The medallion is made out of silver [TSR: 26, The Dedicated, 306-307], and this is the key to its anti-Gholam capabilities. The argument for silver is more of an argument against the medallion's magical properties, combined with some cross-pollination from werewolf and vampire legends. It is not likely that the foxhead works because it is destroying flows, because the foxhead doesn't get cold after damaging the gholam, it just has "the cool of silver" [ACOS: 38, Six Stories, 598]. Loony idea: When the gholamstuff and silver come into contact, there is a chemical reaction. This reaction is exothermic--the heat is produced by the reaction, not by the medallion.

An argument against this theory is that it seems kind of silly. Why would the Forsaken make such specific, deadly anti-AS assassins if they have such a common, easily exploitable Achilles' heel? Why would the Forsaken be so wary of them that they limited their number to six? [Tim Yoon]--"Oh No! A gholam's chasing us!" "How much money do you have on you?" [Aaron Bergman] The former question can be rationalized by saying that the Forsaken counted on the fact that people wouldn't think to use silver on something the OP can't stop. This idea does NOT explain the objection that if it was so easily defeated if you knew the key, the Forsaken wouldn't have been so wary of it that they only made six. Furthermore, the Gholam thinks to itself [TPOD: 2, Unweaving, 84] that "it had never encountered anything that could harm it" until it met the medallion. In all of its existence it never encountered a common metal like silver? Unlikely.

Knock it Into a Gateway

In KOD it's discovered that Shadowspawn can't survive passing through a Gateway. It kills them instantly. Assuming that a Gholam doesn't unravel the weave by touching it, presumably you could destroy one by forcing it to pass through a Gateway. But we have no reason to believe a Gateway wouldn't unravel just like every other weave does in the presence of a Gholam. [KOD 19: Vows]

Got any more bright ideas?

Many. Here are some of the more popular ideas for how to get rid of a Gholam:

  1. Indirect effects of the OP: The gholam's material breaks up OP flows just like Mat's medallion, making it immune to the OP. Like the wearer of the foxhead, it is likely that this immunity doesn't extend to indirect effects. One could try dropping something heavy on it, or zapping it with lightning, or something like that. Doubtless, it is immune to some of these (considering its oozy nature, I doubt dropping a safe on it would have much permanent effect), but something might work. Balefire probably won't work; it is very likely a direct effect.
  2. The T-1000 Effect: Melt it. If one channeled enough heat into it, or dropped it into a volcano, it might lose all molecular cohesion. Furthermore, we know it is vulnerable to heat: the heat generated when the medallion touches it cooks its "flesh" (I use the term loosely)
  3. One of These Days, I'm Going to Cut You Into Little Pieces: while stabbing a gholam doesn't hurt it, it may be that if you dismember it, and separate its pieces far enough (perhaps by the judicious use of Gateways), it won't be able to reassemble itself (if it can, in fact, do this). Then again, maybe it would. An alternate version of this idea which might be workable is to get the gholam to chase you through a Gateway and then close it while the gholam's going through, slicing it in half [Kay-Arne Hansen]. (Or maybe that would just result in two half-size gholam?) Although, using a Gateway to cut it (like Graendal's poor servant in [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 137]) probably wouldn't work - the edges of the Gateway are made of Power, and so the Gate would dissolve upon touching the gholam.
  4. All Blowed Up: It's been suggested that Mat could pulverize the gholam with his presumed imminent discovery of gunpowder [C. Matt Detzel] (which is really just a more effective version of cutting it up.)  
  5. You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again: Alisa Marshall suggests, "If the thing feeds on blood, apparently human, if you put it far enough away from anything, shouldn't it starve?"
  6. More Fun With Gateways: Variations on a Theme: Opinion is rather split on whether a gholam would be able to go through a Power-made Gate or not, but that hasn't stopped people from playing with the idea:
  • Just Get Rid Of It: Open a Gateway to somewhere really far away where there aren't any people, knock the gholam through (throw a big rock at it, or something), and close the Gateway. Voila. It's not dead, but it's definitely not going to bother you for a good long while.
  • Out of This World: Open a Gateway to the Skimming Place, shove the gholam through, and close the Gateway. According to Egwene, the chances of ever opening into that bit of Skimming Space are very low, so chances are the gholam will be permanently Lost in Space.
  • Far From the Madding Crowd: [Laura Parkinson] Open a Gateway to the stedding-ness of Far Madding and send the gholam through. The idea is that a stedding would have the same effect on a gholam that Mat's medallion does. If you can use a Well in Far Madding, it's not too unreasonable to think that you can open a Gateway to it from outside. On the other hand, Pam counters, "since you can use a Well in FM, that means that the OP works there, it's just that a channeler can't connect to the Source from there. So, I think that a gholam would do just fine in Far Madding. (I don't think that it relies on constant connection to the OP for its existence. Otherwise, one way to kill it would be to "shield" it from the OP like one does with channelers.)"
  • Elemental, My Dear Watson: Open a Gateway to the middle of a volcano, or the bottom of the ocean. (Problem: How to keep the water/lava from coming through and killing the channeler too. Solution: Open the Gateway over the water or lava and let the gholam fall.
  • Get Away From Her, You Bitch! (The Aliens solution): Open a Gateway to the vacuum of space and let the gholam get sucked through. (This one's quite silly - not only do you have the problem of how to prevent the channeler from getting sucked through as well, but as far as we know Third Age Randlanders don't know jack about the concept of space. But it's a fun idea.)

1.6.3: What's up with the ghosts? --Updated

[Leigh Butler, Jonathan Berlinghoff, Jennifer Liang]


Where have we seen ghosts?

  1. [COT: Prologue, Glimmers of the Pattern, 87]:
    ...a palace serving woman came running into the room with her skirts gathered almost to her knees. "Lord Dobraine's been murdered!" the serving woman squealed. "We will all be killed in our beds! My own eyes have seen the dead walking, old Maringil himself, and my mam says spirits will kill you if there has been a murder done!"

    Maringil was one of the Cairhien nobles Colavaere had murdered in her bid for the Sun Throne in LOC. Possibly this is just hysteria, but all things considered, probably not.


  2. [COT: 10, A Blazing Beacon, 269-270]:

    Elayne's maid Elsie spots Lady Nelein, Lord Aedmun's deceased grandmother, in a hallway. Elsie shrieks, Elayne embraces saidar and whirls around, but the spirit is gone by the time Elayne can look around the corner to see if anything is there.


  3. [COT: 26, In So Habor, 584]:

    While Perrin and Co. are finding weevils in the barley sacks someone again shrieks outside, and Kireyin and Seonid see a man walk through a wall.

    [Seonid, to Perrin]: "The dead are walking in So Habor. Lord Cowlin fled the town for fear of his wife's spirit. It seems there was doubt as to how she died. Hardly a man or woman in the town has not seen someone dead, and a good many have seen more than one."


  4. [COT: 29, Something Flickers, 633-634]:

    Mat is walking with Tuon and Selucia and sees a crowd of people on the road to the town: "Staring straight ahead, they moved so purposefully they seemed not to see anyone in front of them." Tuon and Selucia see nothing. The people disappear after a few moments as well, and Mat thinks that he doesn't remember any of them breathing mist in the cold.

Have we seen them anywhere before COT?

It seems so. We may have seen one as far back as TEOTW, when Ishy/Ba'alzamon shows Rand the vision of Kari al'Thor [TEOTW: 51, Against the Shadow, 639]. The scene's a little long, but worth quoting in its entirety:

Egwene and Nynaeve blurred, became wafting mist, dissipated. Kari al'Thor still stood there, her eyes big with fear.
"She, at least," Ba'alzamon said, "is mine to do with as I will."
Rand shook his head. "I deny you." He had to force the words out. "She is dead, and safe from you in the Light."
His mother's lips trembled. Tears trickled down her cheeks; each one burned him like acid. "The Lord of the Grave is stronger than he once was, my son," she said. "His reach is longer. The Father of Lies has a honeyed tongue for unwary souls. My son. My only, darling son. I would spare you if I could, but he is my master, now, his whim, the law of my existence. I can but obey him, and grovel for his favor. Only you can free me. Please, my son. Please help me. Help me. Help me! PLEASE!"
The wail ripped out of her as barefaced Fades, pale and eyeless, closed round. Her clothes ripped away in their bloodless hands, hands that wielded pincers and clamps and things that stung and burned and whipped against her naked flesh. Her scream would not end.
Rand's scream echoed hers. The void boiled in his mind. His sword was in his hand. Not the heron-mark blade, but a blade of light, a blade of the Light. Even as he raised it, a fiery white bolt shot from the point, as if the blade itself had reached out. It touched the nearest Fade, and blinding canescence filled the chamber, shining through the Halfmen like a candle through paper, burning through them, blinding his eyes to the scene. From the midst of the brilliance, he heard a whisper. "Thank you, my son. The Light. The blessed Light."

It has long been argued over whether this Kari was real or an Illusion created by Ishy, but Alan Ellingson points out that in that scene, "Kari never tells/asks Rand to join Ba'alzamon. She only asks him to help her. Ba'alzamon might have limited what she couldn't say but he [evidently] couldn't force her to say anything. Remember in Rand's dreams in TDR the people he trusted tried to kill him? Why wasn't Kari like that? Why couldn't Ba'alzamon make her say something more... appealing to Rand? Second, she refers to him as 'Lord of the Grave' and more importantly 'Father of Lies'. Yes, have your chief witness call you a 'Father of Lies' in front of the guy you are trying to convince to join you. Third, her last words are 'The Light. The blessed Light.' Why would Ba'alzamon make her say that if she were an illusion he created?"

But wait - there's more! We originally thought that the image of Gedwyn and Torval coming up the stairs of the inn in Far Madding, minutes after Rand had found them dead [WH: 33, Blue Carp Street, 615-616] was an illusion created by Fain, but that really doesn't make any sense when you think about it. Gedwyn and Torval aren't shown brandishing swords, or doing anything that might be considered a diversionary tactic, which presumably would be Fain's purpose in creating them; they're just walking up the stairs with their cloaks over their arms, arguing. After Rand slashes at them with his sword, they disappear. In light of events in COT, it's probably safe to assume that Fain had nothing to do with the apparition, and that Gedwyn and Torval were ghosts. [Steven Cooper]

So it seems that the ghost phenomenon was at least obliquely foreshadowed prior to COT.

So what's this all about, then?

The walking dead are a sign that Tarmon Gaidon is near.  Several characters bring this up as evidence that the end is nigh.

Tuon: "Do you know nothing Toy? The dead walking are a sign that Tarmon Gai'don is near." [KOD 10: A Village in Shiota]

Verin: "It will come soon. According to everything I've rread on the subject, the signs are quite clear. Half the servants have recognized dead people in the halls, people they knew alive. It's happened often enough that they aren't frightened by it any longer. And a dozen men moving cattle to spring pasture watched a considerable town melt into mist just a few miles to the north." [KOD 18: News for the Dragon]

Egwene: "Egwene was able to discuss it with Siuan in Tel'aran'rhiod, so she knew that these things were signs of the approach of Tarmon Gai'don." [KOD 24: Honey in the Tea]

The ghost seem related to the same phenomena mentioned repeatedly in the books: the Pattern itself is unravealing and the fabric of reality is coming undone. Further evidence is the hallways of the palace in Caemlyn and the White Tower shifting [KOD 14: Wet Things], [KOD 24: Honey in the Tea], [TGS 6: When Iron Melts], villages appear and disappear [KOD 10: A Village in Shiota], [KOD 18: News for the Dragon] and whatever was going on in Hinderstap [TGS 28: A Night in Hinderstap], as well as other unexplainable events. The characters all seem to agree that this is evidence that the Last Battle is emminent.

Anything else interesting?

Jason Denzel points out that practically every time dead people are seen, it's at a crossroads, and at twilight (for slightly broad values of both terms). Elayne's maid sees Lady Nelein at the junction of two crossing corridors, at dawn. So Habor, where ghosts are rife, is itself a crossroad over the river, and the incident with the man walking through the wall happens at dusk. The sun is rising when Mat takes Tuon shopping and sees the apparitions, though here only a road is mentioned, no crossing. It's not said where exactly the Cairhien servant saw Maringil in the Prologue, but it's reasonable to assume that it was probably also in a corridor, and it was in the morning. It's not ironclad, but it's definitely a pattern.

1.6.4: What's up with Darkhounds? Who are the big pack in COT hunting?

[Leigh Butler, Rajiv Mote]

What do we know about Darkhounds?

From [TDR: 43, Shadowbrothers, 423-426] and [TDR: 44, Hunted, 432-433]:

  • They are extremely difficult to kill, and Lan claims it is impossible to outrun them once they have your scent.
  • They leave footprints in stone, but not on soil. Their tracks are accompanied by a sulphurous stench.
  • They don't like rain, and "a good thunderstorm can stop them completely."
  • Hopper calls them "Shadowbrothers".

From [TFOH: 6, Gateways, 113-115]:

  • "...black dogs, darker than night and big as ponies..."
  • Swords cannot kill them; the ones Rand "killed" just melted and reformed.
  • "...they would not stop until you faced and defeated them or put running water between you."
  • Their saliva is highly poisonous, and a single drop on the skin is enough to kill.
  • "Crossroads were supposed to be particularly dangerous places to meet them, and the time just after sunset or just before sunrise".
  • They usually travel in packs of ten or twelve.

From [COT: 6, The Scent of a Dream, 194] and [COT: 8, Whirlpools of Color, 225]:

  • "Just before sunrise was one of the worst times to meet the Wild Hunt... At least there was no crossroads nearby, no graveyard, but the only hearthstones to touch lay back in Brytan..."
  • "...putting running water between you and Darkhounds would stop them supposedly. But then, so would facing them, supposedly, and he had seen the results of that."
  • Elyas tells Perrin: "They were wolves, once. The souls of wolves, anyway, caught and twisted by the Shadow. That was the core used to make Darkhounds, Shadowbrothers. I think that's why the wolves have to be at the Last Battle. Or maybe Darkhounds were made because wolves will be there, to fight them. [...] A hundred wolves could die trying to kill one Shadowbrother. Worse, if they fail, the Darkhound can eat the souls of those that aren't quite dead yet, and in a year or so, there'd be a new pack of Shadowbrothers that didn't remember ever being wolves. I hope they don't remember, anyway."
  • Perrin wants to know if they can also eat the soul of a Wolfbrother, a man who can talk to wolves, but Elyas doesn't know.

Elyas's information about how the Shadow goes about collecting wolf souls to make Darkhounds seems to imply that only a Darkhound can do it, but several people have pointed out a different connection between wolves and Darkhounds: Slayer.

His favorite hobby is killing wolves in T'A'R, after all - that's where he got his nickname. And then there is the Dark Prophecy that appears in [TGH: 7, Blood Calls Blood, 89]:

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 first and last two lines of the stanza are concerned solely with Slayer, but why else would that middle line about Darkhounds be in there unless there was a connection of some kind? It's been suggested, therefore, that Slayer may also participate in wolf-soul collecting. (Looney theory: Slayer is the Shadow's equivalent of a Wolfbrother.)

Then again, there are a couple of problems with this theory. For one thing, Slayer is not immune to poison [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 448], which would seem to be a problem when dealing with Darkhounds. For another, if Slayer can make Darkhounds why doesn't he ever have any with him? Wouldn't they come in handy? There's also the question of whether you could collect a wolf's soul in T'A'R, which is where Slayer does his wolf-killin'. Hopper tells Perrin that when wolves die in the Dreamworld, they die for good [TSR: 28, To the Tower of Ghenjei, 323], which seems to preclude the possibility of being "harvested" to be a Darkhound.

What about the big pack of Darkhounds in COT?

The pack that circled Perrin's camp is huge - about fifty Hounds - and Masuri (who studied Darkhounds) tells Perrin that she's never heard of such a large pack. Masuri has a couple of other observations as well:

"There is always a feel of urgency about Darkhounds' trails, but it varies according to a number of factors [...] This one has an intense admixture of... I suppose you would call it impatience. That really isn't strong enough, by far - as well call a stabwound a pinprick - but it will do. I would say their hunt has been going on for some time, and their prey is eluding them somehow."
[COT: 7, Blacksmith's Puzzle, 209]

So, who could they be hunting?

Well, obviously it's not Perrin, since they passed him right by. It's also probably not the Whitecloaks, because they seem to have passed that camp by, too; the nasty and suddenly-cut-off stench Valda smells [COT: Prologue, Glimmers of the Pattern, 27] could well have been a Gateway opening from the Blight to send the Darkhounds through. This makes sense because Perrin observes that the Darkhounds were traveling from north to south, and the Whitecloaks' camp was north of Perrin's at that point.

So, presumably they're looking for someone south of Perrin. Suggested candidates are Mat, Jain Farstrider (aka Noal), or Fain (who could be in the south by now for all we know, and has proven himself quite good at eluding those who seek him). Tom York suggests Semirhage is calling on them to locate Tuon for her, but this is contradicted by Masuri's assertion that the Darkhounds have been hunting their prey for a long time (though "some time" could mean anything from days to months, really). Another possibility is Rand, who is now in Tear; since he had spent quite some time bouncing all over the place using Gateways, that probably would be quite frustrating to a pack hunting him.

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.