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.

User login