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Does anyone know the significance of the "al" prefix ?


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Hello everyone, 

     While fishing this afternoon, I began thinking about the WOT (Mainly to take my mind off how bad a fisherman I am) and two things occurred to me. One was something that I've never seen discussed and the other is something I think is a plot hole.

First, does anyone know what the significance of the "al" prefix in in the Two Rivers? I mean some families have it and some don't, but it doesn't seem to denote social standing. I mean Rand, Nyneave, Egwene and their families all sport the "al", but they don't seem to have a higher social standing than do the Cauthons, the Aybaras, the Luhans , Cenn Bui or any of the others. So, what does it mean? Is it like the  "O" or "Mac", "Mc" or "Map" found in Celtic cultures or the "ibn" found in many Islamic states? Just curious.


    Second, is the hole on the plot that has bugged me for awhile (and this is a two parter). Why does Alana go to Shayol Ghul  and why doesn't Rand know that she's been injured? The only reference I know regarding her disappearance is Rand noting she's gone north, nothing more. Well, as he's her Warder, you'd think he'd know if she was hurt (which she was).The fact that Moridin purposefully hurt her to distract Rand confirms this. so, why  didn't he know before hand?  For that matter, if the  Great Lord wanted to win the Last Battle, why'd he keep her alive at all? If he killed her, Rand would have gone insane and been useless to fight at Shayol Ghul (a fact confirmed by Moridin's actions in killing her after the bore was sealed.). For a while I thought that she might be a darkfriend and masking her whereabout, but I read several treatesies on the subject and now don't think that is the case (most notable by the fact that she released him as she was dying to prevent Moridin from winner..Not the action of a Black siter). All I know is that she went north in response to Verin's letter, she was held by Moridin in the Pit Of Doom, injured to weaken Rand and ultimately killed for the same purpose.


    Anyone have any imput on these two subjects? Thanks in advance...tud



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Verin wrote Alanna a note, so it's likely she sent her into a trap.  Alanna wasn't a DF, Verin was. I always suspected since her wound wasn't massive and designed to slowly kill her that she wasn't in a lot of pain as to not warn Rand.  Also with Rand secretly being bonded to three others it's possible that may of lessened any effects of her dying.  There isn't much about 4 women sharing the same warder.

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Please don't ask for quotes or page locations because it's been a super long time since I read the books ?


But I think it was Moraine who explained this one. As you say, everyone in the Two Rivers was pretty much of equal standing, from the Mayor (who should have been at the top of the social strata) to Cenn Buie who was a pain in everyone's arse LOL.


However (again, I think) it was Moraine who tells Rand and co about how, long ago, the Two Rivers and surrounding area was once Manetheren and that back then, the surnames of the Kings, Queens (and nobles maybe?) started with 'Al'. (I think she explains that it was an honorific).


But - as she says - it was so long ago that even Manetheren was forgotten, as was the reason for the 'Al' in some of the Two Rivers names. 


So really, Tham Al'Thor, Nyneave's family (the Al'Mere's) and Egwene Al'Vere were all descendants of Manetheren royalty / nobility. Someone else could probably explain it better than me - as I said, it's been a long time. Pretty sure it was explained in TEOTW. Maybe someone else can tell you where the passage is?

Edited by francy
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I might be wrong here but if I remember corrretly Al'Thor means son of Thor in Two Rivers, it's like having Andersson in your last name. In Malkier the royal family does have Al in their name which is why the borderlanders thought that Rand was a prince. 

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In the Two Rivers, the prefix "al" is like how in Ireland and Scotland you have family names starting with O, Mc, and Mac. It just means "son of". Or among the Danish ending a name with "son". At some point it just became a family name instead of actually being about that person's actual father.  I believe the prefix "ay" is actually "daughter of." You see this particularly when Moiraine's talking about old Manetheren king's and queens. Interestingly, and it may be nothing as the name just may be common, one of the old Manetheren king's names was Thorin.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/20/2019 at 4:03 PM, mb said:

Al'  has 2 meanings in this series.

in the Borderlands, it means "Lord".

in Two Rivers, it means "son of".

Great Hunt mentioned that difference.



Wow, how many times have you read these books that you can remember in which book that was mentioned? I remember lots of events and details, but most of the time, don't ask me which book it was in!

I'm the same with quoting scripture; I can quote a text, but can't remember chapter and verse reference. I like your signature, BTW.

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I already told which book.

went through this series about 3 complete times and am in my 4th time through (at Eye of the World currently).  not sure how I remembered the book.

did not remember the chapter; but from checking the encyclopaedia site, the scene is in chapter 2.



noticed another difference:

in Borderlands, the prefix is before first name.

in Two Rivers, it proceeds the surname.


Edited by mb
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