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Seanchan Prophecy; Fact or Fiction

 

Essanik Cycle vs. Karetheon Cycle

 

Firstly, just a quick disambiguation. I've seen people stating that the Seanchan Prophecies are the Essanik Cycle, whilst the Westland Prophecies are the Karetheon Cycle. This is not so--the Seanchan have the Karetheon Cycle also, they just have an additional set of prophecies about the Dragon which they've put together in the Essanik Cycle. We have no indications that the Essanik Cycle has been played with at all--indeed the only prophecy from it that we've seen turned out to be true.

 

So, for clarity, the Karetheon Cycle seems to be a compilation of foretelling made during the first forty or so years of the Breaking whilst communication held up enough for them to spread around. The Essanik Cycle seems to be a group of Foretellings made by Aes Sedai (and possibly damane as well) on the Seanchan continent. Note: Elaida states that there were also foretellings about the Last Battle made by Tower trained Aes Sedai in the Westlands--these have seemingly not be made into an official Cycle, but rather kept hidden in the Tower Library.

 

The Problem With the Karetheon Cycle

 

In tPoD we learn that the copy of the Karetheon Cycle Luthair brought with him to Seanchan contained a mention in it that it not to be found in any other version of the Prophecies either in the Westlands or in Seanchan.

 

The Prophecies of the Dragon had been known in Seanchan even before Luthair Paendrag began the Consolidation. In corrupted form, it was said, much different from the pure version Luthair Paendrag brought. Miraj had seen several volumes of The Karaethon Cycle printed in these lands, and they were corrupted too, not one mentioned him serving the Crystal Throne!

 

[tPoD; 24, A Time For Iron]

 

This is obviously paraphrased--later we get a different phrasing of that prophecy from Tuon.

 

"I must find a way to make contact with the Dragon Reborn as soon as possible. He must kneel before the Crystal Throne before Tarmon Gai'don, or all is lost." The Prophecies of the Dragon said so, clearly.

 

[WH; 14, What a Veil Hides]

 

I trust Tuon's phrasing more than Miraj--her knowledge seems more specific than his. But kneel or serve both would probably confuse Moiraine.

 

“Neither the first nor the last,” Moiraine said. “Callandor will be but one fulfilment of The Karaethon Cycle, as his birth on the slopes of Dragonmount was the first. He has yet to break the nations, or shatter the world. Even scholars who have studied the Prophecies for their entire lives do not know how to interpret them all. What does it mean that he ‘shall slay his people with the sword of peace, and destroy them with the leaf? What does it meant that he ‘shall bind the nine moons to serve him’? Yet these are given equal weight with Callandor in the Cycle.

 

[tDR; 6, The Hunt Begins]

 

So which is it? Will he serve the Crystal Throne, or will it serve him? I've seen people suggest that the answer is both. The favourite method for this seems to be the Domination Band--Tuon binds Rand, then as the Band's control wavers he comes to bind her. Other's consist of Rand physically dropping to a knee before balefiring the hell out of her, and everything in between.

 

However there are still problems here...

 

The Origins of This Prophecy

 

Ok, so according to Miraj Luthair brought his copy of the Karetheon Cycle from the Westlands, yet the ones in the Westlands contain no mention of it. Why? Would someone have scoured all reference from every copy of the Prophecies in the Westlands? Every Commentary? Even if such a thing were possible, which I doubt, why would anyone do that? No one in the Westlands knew what the Crystal Throne was, or would have a reason to destroy references to the Dragon submitting to it--indeed if the Unstained Tower Breaking and Bending Knee, or the fall of Tear survived, how did this not?

 

No it seems unlikely to point of impossibility that Luthair obtained his version of the Prophecies in the Westlands. Furthermore it seems similarly unlikely (impossible) that the one singular pure version of the Prophecies existed to be found by the man who would in fact come to sit the Crystal Throne in contradiction to all other versions of the Prophecies across the world. So whilst there are ways both prophecies might be fulfilled it seems essentially certain that the Seanchan entry of the Dragon kneeling to the Crystal Throne is a fabrication. But if so, by whom?

 

Who Played With Prophecy?

 

The Importance of a Chair

 

The first candidate is Luthair (or one of his descendents--just because it is claimed he had it with him when he arrived doesn't mean he did). It makes sense for the people who sat the Crystal Throne to want to glorify it, and this fits very neatly with Seanchan concepts of the relative significance of the Emperor/Empress--they can have no equal, not even the Dragon.

 

Still, it's somewhat peculiar that a thousand years ago they were making such elaborate efforts to put the Dragon in his place. It's possible that have forming the Court and naming themselves the Nine Moons they found the reference to the Nine Moons being bound and freaked, but even so this seems a little premature.

 

The Issue of a Doom

 

The second candidate is Ishamael. He tells Rand that in sending Luthair to Seanchan he sealed two dooms. One then (the death of Hawkwing's Empire) and one now (presumably the Seanchan Return, and the conflict it would cause).

 

However this is odd. The Seanchan are not Darkfriends, and their war of unification isn't so different to Rand's--focussed in large part on fighting the Shadow. So how could Ishamael be so certain as to claim their insured a certain doom--the answer would be the Prophecy. In altering it he would have specifically targeted the Seanchan Empire at the Dragon, a confrontation which well could spell doom for the Light.

 

Conclusions

 

At this stage it seems highly unlikely that the Seanchan clause of Rand kneeling is true. The origins of this cause are simply to suspect to be trusted. If this is a fabrication the most likely fabricator is Ishamael, though it could also simply be the Imperial Family themselves. It should be noted that this is a manipulation of the Karetheon Cycle and that the Essanik Cycle does not seem to be a fabrication, and there are no indications of foul play related to it.

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Thanks for the distinction you make at the outset, about the Essanik and the Karetheon being two distinct bodies that both existed in Seanchean lore.

The argument is well laid out. Though the conslusion (Ishmael corrupted the Senchean prophecies) is not a revelation in itself, the argument makes me identify with it better.

My initial perception of why as readers we were quick to dismiss the Seanchan version as obviously bunk is that as the Seanchan are portrayed as antagonistic and 'foreign' to the main continent; it was a simple case of 'ours' is better than 'theirs'. Which always bugged me. Heck, if Shara has a prophecy not congruent with the Westlanders', with no evidence to suggest otherwise, it would be wrong to assume that the Westland version would be more correct.

This makes it all more palatable.

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There's evidence that Ishamel tampered with the K Cycle - the biggest difference being the "kneel to the CT" business in the Seanchan versions.

But that doesn't mean that his additions were necessarily spurious inventions.

We've seen time and again that people have problems interpreting prophesy.

To be noted, Ishamel is a dreamer of some ability as well as a scholar/ philosopher who understands the Pattern very well. There's no reason why he would be incapable of either foretelling himself, or of accessing Black sisters / dreadlords who can foretell.

There could be many ways to reconcile "Bind the NM" and "Kneel to the CT" in which case, both Westland and Seanchan versions would be true.

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i beleive we actually see a pov of ishy's where he states he changed the wording of the karaethon cycle in seanchan, but i still that it could be very true for the dragon reborn to both bend knee and to bind the nine moons in one fell swoop. thinking about it, the seanchan culture is very much like saidar, woman have had the throne for how long? and then there is tylins theory of bending to work with the invaders being the most successful way to keep altara in one piece. whereas the westlands, are very saidin like, with conquest and brute force being the seat of power. Rand has learned how to controll saidar to an extent, and though it might require some help from mat, the prince of ravens, he might well figure out that he needs to do just that, kneel, in order to combine everything, plus i find it kind of suspicious that when he binds the north to the east and the west to the south, it resembles very closely the "ancient aes sedai symbol". (look at the map sideways)

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I think there's too much evidence that the tampering was via Ishamel. Whether he did it as mischief or whatever, it was a working of the Pattern. The prophesies pulled the Seanchan into the whole cycle of Correnne and Rhyagelle - Tuon is fixated on the CT prophesy and so was her mum since the Seanchan spent 20 years building a fleet for D-Day.

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The prophecies are NOT contradictory, it seems whoever managed to make the change over in Seanchan wasn't able to force the prophecy to become something completely different. Rand can easily kneel before the crystal throne, and in doing so bind Tuon to him; after all, wouldn't she follow him if he did kneel and explain just how short time was (with the dark aura being gone, of course).

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I think part of the issue with the crystal throne is a ter'angreal.

 

The Crystal Throne is both the generic name for Seanchan policy and government (TGH, Ch. 34; TSR, Ch. 1) and an actual throne, that of the Seanchan Empress. It is in fact a huge ter'angreal that causes anyone who approaches it to feel immense awe and wonder and as such, is no doubt in part responsible for the great loyalty many Seanchan feel to the Empress, at least amongst those who have been before it (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 17).

 

Quotes

"Few easily shook off the awe they felt, kneeling before the Crystal Throne, with the thirst to obey drying their tongues" (The Path of Daggers, Chapter 24)

 

tarvalon.net

 

To my knowledge we do not have the exact wording of the prophesy, but we know there are many different interpretations and translations of the various prophesies. That could very well be what the seanchan mean by "corrupt". Looking at it that way, perhaps they simply have one or a few slightly twisted translations. That doest make them wrong, only slightly off and when they fulfill I doubt they will be off enough that they will not be recognized. For that matter we know from Rands various attempts to force prophesy, that knowledge of a prophesy can allow it to BE forced.

 

So with that concept, lets say the "bind the nine moon's" and the "kneel to the crystal throne" prophesies are the same ones, just altered slightly thru slightly different interpretation and translation. The end result would be nearly or exactly the same, that Rand will get the seanchan in line to fight that last battle. Rands version of it only states that needs to form some kind of tie to the seanchan to gain their aid. The Seanchan version says rand must kneel (and it is assumed to swear oaths of allegiance) to the crystal thrown. The results are the same, but we have a huge empire behind one version trying to "force" the one path to the prophesies fulfillment.

Edited by HighLordXanthus
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Where ever the alteration occurred, it had to occur when the available copies of the prophecies was small. It is pointless to alter just one copy if there are 20 others to contradict it.

 

My guess is that the expedition across the ocean probably took a limited number of copies (if they packed any at all).

 

But here is the problem.

 

Westland version says "bind the nine moons to him" (or something like that) where the Seanchan version says something about "kneeling to the crystal throne."

 

How did the Seanchan come about naming their first heir "daughter/son of the nine moons" if their copy always had the crystal throne part? Why did they name it crystal throne?

 

What if instead, the Seanchan version has both lines now ("bind the nine moons to him" and "kneel before the crystal throne")? New pieces are added as new Foretellings occur, it seems more likely that the addition of the second line made the first line clear (The nine moons is bound to the Dragon once the Dragon kneels before the crystal throne), making concerns about how to fulfill the nine moons bit moot, which is why Tuon doesn't think about it.

 

So my theory is that there were two Foretellings related to the Dragon kneeling before the crystal throne. One in Seanchan that was recorded and publicly distributed, and one in the White Tower, who kept it secret for two reasons. (1) The Aes Sedai don't have a crystal throne, and (2) they don't want the Dragon submitting to anyone but them.

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Where ever the alteration occurred, it had to occur when the available copies of the prophecies was small. It is pointless to alter just one copy if there are 20 others to contradict it.

 

My guess is that the expedition across the ocean probably took a limited number of copies (if they packed any at all).

 

But here is the problem.

 

Westland version says "bind the nine moons to him" (or something like that) where the Seanchan version says something about "kneeling to the crystal throne."

 

How did the Seanchan come about naming their first heir "daughter/son of the nine moons" if their copy always had the crystal throne part? Why did they name it crystal throne?

 

What if instead, the Seanchan version has both lines now ("bind the nine moons to him" and "kneel before the crystal throne")? New pieces are added as new Foretellings occur, it seems more likely that the addition of the second line made the first line clear (The nine moons is bound to the Dragon once the Dragon kneels before the crystal throne), making concerns about how to fulfill the nine moons bit moot, which is why Tuon doesn't think about it.

 

So my theory is that there were two Foretellings related to the Dragon kneeling before the crystal throne. One in Seanchan that was recorded and publicly distributed, and one in the White Tower, who kept it secret for two reasons. (1) The Aes Sedai don't have a crystal throne, and (2) they don't want the Dragon submitting to anyone but them.

 

I'd have to assume their copy always had the Crystal Thrones part and NOT the Daughter of the Nine Moons part (or, it was changed very early on).

 

My reasoning is this... Assuming the Randland version is the TRUE version, then there would HAVE to be a Daughter of the Nine Moons, correct? Since it's a Prophecy and all.

 

Well, If the Seanchan's prophecies had the "Nine Moons" part in it, then they WOULDN'T name their court "Court of the Nine Moons" or their heir "Daughter of the Nine Moons", would they? So obviously (to my thinking) their versions have NO mention of the Nine Moons in it. So it must have been altered before/during the crossing. Thus, their society developed with no knowledge/rememberance of the "bind nine moons" part. But since the Randland version IS true, the pattern demanded a "nine moons", etc etc.

 

I personally like the theory of Ishy messing with Luther's versions of the prophecies.

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I just don't see how Ishamael could modify all copies of the prophecies in Seanchan and no one would notice. If he changed it during the voyage (or slipped a modified version of the prophecy into a pack for the voyage, and no unaltered copies made the journey), I guess that would work (all other copies in Seanchan are copies of that altered version). But it seems like an awfully long game.

 

And the part about the nine moons could also have been a "double" Fortelling (a Foretelling happening in Seanchan and in the Westlands) that happened after things in Seanchan were established (after the crystal throne is made/used and after the Court of the Nine Moons is established).

 

He could have just compelled some damane to have a fake Foretelling (basically programming to mimic the tone and style of a Foretelling, including an order to forget the words spoken when the compulsion ends/goes away). And (as I said) the apparent clarification of the form the binding of the nine moons to the dragon would take makes the existing entry (nine moons to the dragon) less worrisome, to the point of being overlooked.

 

Tuon has demonstrated the ability to ignore inconvenient truths (like that she could learn to channel) for a long time, and when finally forced to acknowledge said truth then use logic to continue in denial ("I choose to not learn, therefore I am different." It is certainly a legitimate distinction). Assuming Tuon is representative of high lords/ladies that aren't darkfriends, they too would probably be more comfortable with an entry saying the dragon wills submit (kneel) to the crystal throne than a passage of a vague bond between the nine moons and the dragon.

 

Do we even know the exact wording of either version?

 

http://wot.wikia.com/wiki/Karaethon_Cycle :

 

"He shall bind the nine moons to serve him." (Not sure if this is an exact quote or a quote from Moiraine's dialogue)

 

And Luckers gives the quote of Tuon saying

"I must find a way to make contact with the Dragon Reborn as soon as possible. He must kneel before the Crystal Throne before Tarmon Gai'don, or all is lost." The Prophecies of the Dragon said so, clearly.

 

But is the exact phrasing "He shall kneel before the Crystal Throne or all is lost"? Or is it "He shall kneel before the Crystal Throne" which could just mean "He shall be polite before the leader of a strong nation"?

 

Without an exact quote of what is written, we are making assumptions off of biased opinions. Of course Fortuona will want the Dragon to submit and serve the Crystal Throne.

Edited by Cut Strand
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I personally like the theory of Ishy messing with Luther's versions of the prophecies.

 

The Prophecies were important enough to bring along, but not enough that (one assumes well-educated) Prince Luthair wouldn't recognize alterations from the records he would have studied in his youth? We have evidence that Luthair was a ruthless type of character willing to do anything to further his ambition to rule (he enslaved a whole class of people, ffs, including the person who gave him the means, and made up the whole marath'damane concept from scratch -- he didn't have the brainwashing that "modern day" Seanchan have). I don't see why so many people have trouble with the idea that he'd change some words on a page in order to glorify himself and magnify the importance of his reign (the Crystal Throne is the key to the Last Battle, respect its authoritah).

 

In universe, there is special meaning to prophecies. That does not hold that alterations of the prophecy have any sort of truth, yet people bend over backwards to make sure the original version and the "Seanchan" version that doesn't match up with it are both true. I just don't get it. It made sense to try and reconcile them up until the point that a Westlander with a keen interest in the Karetheon Cycle verified it was not in any of the many copies in Westland. There is no known point in Westland history where one could have easily corrupted all the copies available. Such a point did exist in Seanchan, along with a ruler who has been portrayed as a complete power-hungry bastard by objective sources like the BBoBA.

 

Thanks to the OP for mentioning the difference between the Karetheon Cycle and the Essanik Cycle. I had forgotten the mention of the latter.

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  • 1 year later...

Has anybody considered (don't crucify me) that maybe Robert Jordan just didn't think this through as much as you guys are? I mean, getting down to splitting hairs on the number of copies brought over by luthair and exactly how ishamael could have stolen some, changed them, and destroyed the rest is kind of assigning way more importance to this than there is. As soon as I read about the seanchan prophecies I figured it was probably just some emporer in the past trying to give himself importance

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Has anybody considered (don't crucify me) that maybe Robert Jordan just didn't think this through as much as you guys are? I mean, getting down to splitting hairs on the number of copies brought over by luthair and exactly how ishamael could have stolen some, changed them, and destroyed the rest is kind of assigning way more importance to this than there is. As soon as I read about the seanchan prophecies I figured it was probably just some emporer in the past trying to give himself importance

 

Well we know Ishy brags of sealing "two dooms", most think that is referring to the version of the prophecy Luthair brought considering he convinced Hawkwing to send his son in the first place.

 

Ishy

I whispered in Artur Hawkwing's ear and the length and breadth of the land Aes Sedai died. I whispered again, and the High King sent his armies across the Aryth Ocean, across the World Sea, and sealed two dooms. The doom of his dream of one land and one people, and a doom yet to come... I spoke, and the High King's last words were to cry that Tar Valon must be destroyed."

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What if instead, the Seanchan version has both lines now ("bind the nine moons to him" and "kneel before the crystal throne")? New pieces are added as new Foretellings occur, it seems more likely that the addition of the second line made the first line clear (The nine moons is bound to the Dragon once the Dragon kneels before the crystal throne).

 

Or it could be "The Dragon kneels before the Crystal Throne to bind the nine moons to him."

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  • 5 months later...

What if instead, the Seanchan version has both lines now ("bind the nine moons to him" and "kneel before the crystal throne")? New pieces are added as new Foretellings occur, it seems more likely that the addition of the second line made the first line clear (The nine moons is bound to the Dragon once the Dragon kneels before the crystal throne).

 

Or it could be "The Dragon kneels before the Crystal Throne to bind the nine moons to him."

 

Except doesn't it say the he will bind the nine moons to him to serve him (paraphrase)?

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What I've always believed was basically what is mentioned in Terez's FAQ, and Luckers' original post:

 

The pre-Luthair version of the KC in Seanchan and the current Randland KC were the same. Luthair showed up with the new (corrupted) version that had been tinkered with by Ishamael.

 

Sure, it's possible that a Seanchan Emperor/Empress or maybe even one of their underlings might have added a few lines to make the Seanchan/Crystal Throne seem more important in the events of the Last Battle. It also makes sense in an RJ way in that there's a lot of historical precedent for it in the real world. A lot of times holy texts and books were "tweaked" by scribes to seem to favor the current kingdom. But I don't find this as likely as Ishamael running interference. In a world where prophecy is known to be quite real, why try to edit or add to it? You can only know that what you're writing is bullshit, and it's quite possibly incredibly dangerous. Besides, if you're just making something up, it's not real prophecy and that could be very bad when the other things in the KC (or EC for that matter) start coming true, and the new additions never do. It's certainly possible that some Seanchan through the years figured "Hey, we're the most important empire in the world, why isn't the Crystal Throne mentioned? Let me just add that in here..." but I think it's more likely it was Ishamael planting the seeds for his "doom to come".

Edited by lmerickson
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  • 3 weeks later...

Sorry to revive this again...

 

I agree with much of what Terez is saying, but - for clarification purposes - is the general idea that Ishamael sent Luthair with a 'corrupted' version? On the contrary, I interpreted Miraj's quote to mean that he viewed the pre-Luthair Seanchan Cycle to be 'corrupt' (though it very well could be the more pure version due to his and the whole fleet's expansionist imperialism). In any case, as expansionist ways are usually so, the pre-Luthair 'corrupt' version was eventually abolished, no? Or are we to assume that Ishamael infected the Seanchan post-Breaking continent with a volatile version that was so outrageous as to be routed out by the colonists?

 

Like the Christian Bible and other holy texts (along what lmerickson stated, but with a twist), we have not only variation in translation issues, but also source text issues here (where I doubt some scholar - you know there had to be some on the fleet - would not notice obvious alterations on the original Old Tongue text). Although Ishamael may have (the general consensus says he did, I am still somewhat doubtful) made volatile alterations to what I assume would be the translations/interpretations, there is no saying in what direction these alterations could blow up - he could be essentially setting events up for his own demise un/intentionally!

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That's the general ideal. Ishy was in big with Hawkwing long before he sent his son to Seanchan. He was behind Hawkwing dismissing all his Aes Sedai advisors, and the siege on Tar Valon. He was behind the mission to Seanchan, which was sent only about two years before Hawkwing's death. Ishy doesn't have to actually go to Seanchan to manipulate their version of the prophecy, merely corrupt the version of the Karetheon Cycle the heirs of Hawkwing took with them on their expeditions of conquest, and Compel enough of them to accept and enforce it. Most people don't really know the K-cycle anyway, only bits and pieces as told by glee-men and bards, and the telling of it is almost taboo in many places. Scholars and the Aes Sedai would know it, and there would be enough original copies of it in various places to make it impossible to corrupt the Westlands version without absolute control of all the libraries and schools, and killing and controlling all the scholars and Aes Sedai, something Hawkwing never had; Tar Valon never fell.

 

His son Luthair did have that. He conquered the whole of the Seanchan continents and overthrew the female channelers who often called themselves Aes Sedai and ruled the lands, often in conflict with each other. If you're gonna conquer the whole of a continent, and you wanna corrupt their records of their prophecies, best to do it from the start, convince the conquerers that the corrupted version is the correct one and that the version believed by the people they conquer is the corrupted one. If Moridin/Ishmael is the Shadow's Dreamer, he would be in a unique position to corrupt the prophecies, and be in a position to know that what he added or changed would come true in ways he understood, or at least in ways that he thinks he understands.

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