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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

By Tynaal Consen, in Rotating Features,

So, today I poked about in the personal business of one of our Admins. I am fairly sure that most of you at least know of her, especially if you read all the articles on the front page. With pleasure, I bring you a short interview with our very own Dwynwen, Front Page Admin!   Q: When did you start reading The Wheel of Time?   A: I started reading the series in the summer of 2003, right after I graduated from college. One of my friends from school recommended the series to me, and since I finally had time to read for fun again, I took advantage of that opportunity.     Q: Why did you join Dragonmount? How did you get involved as an Admin?   A: I joined Dragonmount in October 2004. I wanted to find a place where I could talk to other fans about the books. When I discovered that I could go through the raising process and become an Aes Sedai in the White Tower Social Group, I immediately joined the site and that group. I've spent most of my Dragonmount membership in just the White Tower, although I also had a brief stint in our currently defunct Seanchan Social Group.   I'm the sort of person who enjoys leading, organizing, and helping out, so I worked my way into various leadership positions around the site. I have served the White Tower as a White Ajah Sitter, the White Ajah Head, the Keeper of the Chronicles, and Temporary Amyrlin right after Jennifer Liang retired from her reign as Amyrlin. I recently was appointed as a White Ajah Sitter again, so I am doing that alongside my Admin duties.   I was first appointed as the Social Groups Assistant Admin in March 2011. Shortly after that, I transitioned out of that role and into my current role as the Front Page Admin. I'm enjoying my time as an Admin.     Q: Is there any truth to the rumors that you are secretly a Forsaken?   A: Maybe so, maybe not. I like to keep everyone guessing.     Q: What do you do in Real Life (e.g. work, family, and the like)?   A: I am a 30-year-old single female. I have lived here in California for most of my life, although I have had lengthy sojourns elsewhere. My current household consists of myself, my parents, my younger brother, and my three cats.   I am a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of California. I see patients, supervise doctoral students, and teach on the side. I teach a few different courses at my doctoral alma mater, but my favorite is our sex therapy course.   I enjoy reading (especially fantasy series), sleeping, hanging out online, singing, dancing, writing, and music. My intellectual interests include psychology, philosophy, world religions, mythology, astronomy, and art history.     Q: Are you involved in the Wheel of Time community in any other manner?   A: Yes, I'm pretty addicted to the fandom. In addition to my membership here, I am a member of the Blue Ajah at TarValon.net. I have attended five Dragon*Cons and am looking forward to attending my second JordanCon this April. I served as a Storm Leader at Brandon Sanderson's San Diego book signing when The Gathering Storm came out. I've also done copyediting on part of the WOTFAQ.     Q: What would you say is the greatest impact that the Wheel of Time has had on your life?   A: It has had a tremendous impact on my life. I have made some of my closest friends through this fandom. I even dated a former member of this website several years ago. I have been given opportunities to spend time with Brandon Sanderson and the members of Team Jordan. I have grown as a person and have become more comfortable in my own, geeky skin as a result of my time in the fandom.     Q: Favorite and least favorite character?   A: My favorite character is Egwene. Her growth from a quiet, unsure girl to a strong leader mirrors a lot of the growth I've done in my life. My least favorite character is Elaida. She's so rude and incompetent.     Q: What nation would you say you're from?   A: The USA.     Q: Male character crush (or female, if you're inclined that way)?   A: Mat would make a great Friend with Benefits, but Perrin is more my type in terms of husband material.     Q: If you could choose between being a Maiden, Wise One, Aes Sedai, Seanchan, or any other group that is found within the books, which would it be?   A: Definitely Aes Sedai. I would love to channel, and I like the concept of being in an Ajah.     Q: Favorite scene within the books? (Please include a spoiler warning if necessary.)   A: It's so hard to pick just one! I guess that if I had to pick, I'd choose the scene with Egwene and Verin in Towers of Midnight. I'm being vague so I don't spoil anything, but I hope my answer is enough of a teaser to inspire people to read that far in the series.

By Dwynwen, in Community & Events,

It's time for another Tor.com feature! This week, Brandon Sanderson shares his thoughts on The Dragon Reborn. You can read the full article here.   Next up will be an eBook wallpaper for The Dragon Reborn.

By Dwynwen, in Community & Events,

Aiel fans will love this new shirt from our hardworking pals at Ta'veren Tees. They even have another special deal in store for you. Check out the press release:     This sounds like an impressive deal!

By Jason Denzel, in A Memory of Light,

Tor Books announced today that Michael Whelan, the celebrated award-winning artist known throughout the industry, will paint the book cover for A Memory of Light.   Mr. Whelan was previously commissioned to paint the eBook cover, but with the recent death of Darrell K. Sweet, he was asked to paint the US hardcover edition as well.   Mr. Whelan:     The full announcement is available on Tor.com.   No release date for the cover has been announced. We will, of course, have links and full imagery once it's released.   (The image attached to this article is from Mr. Whelan's painting for Tad Williams' first book in the Otherland series.)

By Dwynwen, in Community & Events,

It's time for something more from Tor.com. Remember, during the weeks between Brandon Sanderson's "musings" on each Wheel of Time book, Tor.com will post eBook art wallpaper for each of the books.   This week, the featured eBook wallpaper is for The Great Hunt.. The artwork is by Kekai Kotaki. Here is the image:     Go here to download different sizes of the wallpaper and to read more about how this art was created. How do you like the art this week?

By hazelkrs1, in Theory Blog,

Regards, my intelligent browsers of Dragonmount! Welcome to another week of "It Works in Theory," Dragonmount's often duplicated but never imitated theory blog. I know what you're thinking: two weeks in a row with a new theory blog entry, now we KNOW the end of the world is near. Speaking of the end of the world, the release date for the final book of The Wheel of Time was announced recently, and of course there were some fans who were slightly disappointed to see a date a little bit later than they had anticipated. Obviously I, along with many others, am boiling over in anticipation for A Memory of Light, and I would love for the book to be out tomorrow so I can start flipping through the pages and seeing how everything ends up. But something we should remember is that we fans are extremely lucky even to be getting an ending to the series, period. So, let's have patience, and all hope the Mayans were just big pranksters so we'll all get a chance to finish our favorite series. Before all that, though, let's go ahead and get to the disclaimer:   WARNING!!! Spoiler Alert!!! WARNING!!!   This blog is based on theories that will include facts and material from the latest books in the series, so if you have not read through Towers of Midnight, continue reading at your own risk! Before beginning your enjoyment of "It Works in Theory," the reader should remember to follow all safety protocol and take all caution necessary to prevent accidents or mishaps. This includes donning all protective gear and heeding all precautions, such as standing or sitting no closer than ten feet away from whatever device you happen to be reading the blog on to minimize exposure from the blog's glorious yet deadly radiation. At the very least, if a blindfold is unavailable, thick goggles should be worn to prevent overbulging of the eyes. Ear plugs are also a necessity to keep any brain matter from trying to escape the cranial cavity while the blog's contents are being transmitted directly to your mind.   We're continuing the "Darkfriend Appreciation Month" theme this week, and as promised, we shall be discussing the individual(s) known as Slayer. Last week, we covered Padan Fain, who happens to be one of Slayer's many nemeses. Slayer is definitely a very interesting character for many reasons, and several of them are the same ones that make Fain so interesting. He also is somewhat of a conglomeration of two separate personalities that merged into one violent persona, being the combination of Luc Mantear and Isam Mandragoran. He has several powerful unique abilities, mostly tied to his strengths in the world of Tel'aran'rhiod. But to me, one of the most interesting things about Slayer is the multitude of connections that link him with many other main characters of the series. Put simply, a lot of people have potential beef with this guy, and he could end up meeting his possible end at the hands of any one of them.   The first individual Slayer is linked to that I wanted to discuss was Fain himself. At one point in time, both Slayer and Fain were "on the same side." Fain had been created as a hound of the Dark One to help track down Rand, and Slayer had been a valuable tool of the Dark One for some time. But when Fain realigned his priorities and commitments after merging with Mordeth, they soon found each other trying to do the other one in. I already mentioned the oddity in that both are the product of two separate personas being merged, and the fact that both have unique and unusual abilities. Slayer has tried attacking Fain in proxy, sending Gray Men and Trollocs after him, but Fain is able to defeat or convert any Slayer sends his way. You get the sense from Fain that there is definitely no love lost in regards to Slayer; however, he also seems to have bigger fish to fry.   As far as who would win in a showdown, it obviously has a lot to do with the placement of the battlefield. If the fight were to occur in Tel'aran'rhiod somehow, or if Slayer were able to drag Fain into the dream world, he would most easily hold the advantage. In any other circumstances, however, Fain would most likely dominate without breaking a sweat. Slayer isn't overly reckless, so I don't think a one on one showdown between the two is honestly that likely.   In general, when we think of Slayer's true foe, only one person comes to mind: Perrin Goldeneyes. There is some serious bad blood in that relationship, as Slayer has killed countless wolfbrothers of Perrin's. Slayer seems to be perceptive of the relationship Perrin has with the wolves, and kills them to tease Perrin as much as to satisfy his own inhuman desire to destroy. They have met multiple times now, both in combat and in passing when Lord Luc was posing as a savior to the Two Rivers during the scouring of the Shire cleansing of Trollocs from Rand's homeland. They've traded off somewhat; the first encounter ending in sort of a draw (when Slayer seemed to disappear into the Tower of Ghenjei), the second again resulting in a draw (this time with Perrin fleeing), the third ending with Perrin injuring Slayer greatly with an arrow to the chest, the fourth ending with Perrin barely escaping with his life, and the last ending with Perrin outsmarting Slayer and using a nightmare to destroy the dreamspike.   There is a subtle undercurrent to Slayer and Perrin's relationship. Slayer seems to have a connection to the Darkhounds, and might even have something to do with their creation or conversion. Perrin, as a wolfbrother, shares his wolf pals' aversion to creatures of the Shadow. Interestingly enough, the wolves seem to have a larger dislike for creatures that are less human or are abominations of nature. Their hatred for the "Neverborn," their term for Myrddraal, is a prime example. Well, Slayer has been in Tel'aran'rhiod in the flesh long enough to have lost nearly all his humanity, so it stands to reason that this would set him apart already. Combining this with his connection to Darkhounds, it's easy to think that Perrin would love nothing more than to hamstring him and rip out his throat with a powerful set of wolf jaws or possibly a swipe of Mah'alleinir. Even worse, Slayer could possibly be the Shadow's version of a wolfbrother, some kind of Shadowbrother that gets glee from murdering and turning wolves. Hopper even hints at somehing far older than Slayer when referring to him while admonishing Perrin for wanting to chase him:     I'll be getting back to the "dimly remembered" thing a bit later, but if Slayer is a Shadowbrother then it is most fitting for Perrin, the Wolf King himself, to be the one who takes him down. However, if they were to meet again, this time in a final confrontation, who would ultimately hold the advantage? To be honest, Perrin is actually easily outmatched by Slayer in terms of abilities within the wolf/dream world; the main reason Perrin has been able to keep it relatively even up to this point has been his ability to surprise Slayer, who was also most likely underestimating Perrin's abilities. Not only that, but you also must consider the nature of both men. Slayer has an extreme amount of pride and holds a deep personal vendetta against Perrin. And his rage, although cold and inhuman, would make him seek Perrin's death even if it didn't necessarily help the chances of the Shadow succeeding.   Perrin, on the other hand, is not nearly as passionate in that sense. Yes, of course he has his own righteous fury and is a force to be reckoned with when enflamed, but most of the time he tries to think logically and choose the best course of action carefully. In Towers of Midnight when Perrin had stolen the dreamspike from Slayer and was fleeing from him, it wasn't nearly as important to him that he see Slayer dead as it was that he find a way to destroy or disable the dreamspike. He cared more about his duty and protecting those who had sworn fealty to him than he did about personal vengeance, and this was right after witnessing Slayer kill multiple friends of his in the wolf dream. So, at the end of the day, Perrin simply isn't as driven to kill Slayer as Slayer is to kill him. When taking into account the fact that Slayer is also more skilled in Tel'aran'rhiod, it's somewhat of a natural conclusion to say that Slayer would most likely defeat Perrin.   Another individual that Slayer has a link to is one of the Forsaken, one who recently was visited by Shaidar Haran to finally be held accountable for all of her failings. Graendal tried shirking responsibility onto Slayer after he was loaned for her use by Moridin, but Shaidar Haran wasn't having any of it. She does seem to still be alive though, and it is possible that she would carry a grudge against Slayer if she truly believed he was to blame for her last epic fail of a plot. That being said, I doubt she would risk going after another of the Dark One's tools, considering she has been responsible for the deaths of almost as many Forsaken as Rand. She would know that she would be on her last lifeline, and wouldn't want to risk losing out on the chance at eternal life for some simple grudge.   The relationship that Slayer has to the next couple of characters is somewhat more intimate; in fact, he happens to share a blood bond with both of them. One of Slayer's personalities is Isam Mandragoran, who happens to be the son of Breyan Mandragoran, who was Lan's aunt. This would make him Lan's cousin, which is why his dream form of Isam has caused some confusion for those who didn't realize who he was at first (Nynaeve and Egwene have both seen him in visits to Tel'aran'rhiod). Breyan Mandragoran is largely to blame for the fall of Malkier. Because of this, were Lan to ever learn of this side of Slayer's persona, he would relish greatly in the chance to be the one who made Slayer depart this world. Part of the reason Lan has "courted death" so much in his life-long vendetta against the Shadow is that he's always lacked an easy scapegoat for the fall of his kingdom. If he were given the son of the woman responsible for its fall, I imagine his mercy would not extend far at all. The difficulty here, however, would probably be having an excuse for these two to meet, and for Lan to have it verified who he was.   The other half of Slayer consists of Lord Luc Mantear, and following his family tree results in another nice surprise: Rand. Rand's mother Tigraine, otherwise known as Shaiel, was Luc's sister, which would make Slayer Rand's uncle. First of all, who would've thought that someone with both Lan and Rand's blood could be such a psychopath? I mean, Rand and Lan are both such agreeable, mentally stable people...kinda sorta...right? One interesting possibility that arises with this information is Slayer's possible involvement in the "Blood on the Rocks" topic, if you presume that the "blood of the Dragon" might mean his blood relatives. I kind of doubt Slayer will somehow be sacrificed for the good of the Light, however.   Another huge connection Luc has with Rand has to do with Rand's other biological parent: Janduin. After Shaiel's death, Janduin ventures forth to the Blight in a fit of grief, hoping to find solace in the deaths of as many Shadowspawn as he can cause, when he sees someone who seems to have a striking resemblance to Shaiel. It is implied that his hesitation at seeing someone who carries the likeness of his dead wife is what costs him his life, because the individual then kills him. Slayer is Rand's uncle, and also happened to kill his true father. Yes, the soap opera that is The Wheel of Time has many twists and turns. Suffice it to say that were Rand to find a chance to dispatch his father's killer, he would come upon Slayer like a terrible malevelont force of destruction that Slayer would have little chance against.   In fact, there is an interesting caveat to this relationship: Slayer's death at the hands of Rand may well have been prophesied:     Now, in one of my first blogs, I discussed the Dark Prophecy and its possible interpretations. In that blog, I said that the second paragraph I quoted here most likely had to do with the Seanchan invasion of Tarabon, but there is another possible interpretation. There was a great theory/write-up by one of Dragonmount's regular posters in the General Wheel of Time Discussion forum, in which FarShainMael lined out why the "seed of the Hammer" could possibly be Rand. Long story short, Rand could possibly be related to Artur Hawkwing through the lineage on his mother's side of the family. He burned "the ancient tree" when he lit Avendesora on fire during his fight with Asmodean at the end of The Shadow Rising. And what could the line "Again the seed slays ancient wrong" be referring to?     In the same chapter after Hopper tells Perrin that Slayer uses abilities "dimly remembered from long ago," Perrin meets Birgitte for the first time, and she ends up describing Slayer's essence in a similar fashion. We all know what a fan Robert Jordan was of putting small hints in certain wordings or phrases, so it could be that he was breadcrumbing that Slayer is the ancient evil, or ancient wrong, that the seed shall...slay. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Rand ends up being the one who punches Slayer's ticket in, especially if Slayer adds Perrin's death to the list of grievances Rand would have against him.   One more thing I wanted to discuss before we wrapped things up this week has to do with something that many of you might not normally consider. Well, what else am I good for if not for helping you exercise those theory muscles that don't often get worked out? What I'm interested in is the morality of Slayer; more specifically how much culpability can be placed at his feet, or just "how evil" he truly is. One thing to remember is that one half of Slayer, Isam, was taken into the Blight by his mother when he was still an infant. More than likely he was taken at an extremely young age, and probably went through who knows what kind of trauma and anguish before he was even merged with Luc. Luc, meanwhile, was sent to the Blight by Gitara Moroso, who supposedly had tried convincing him fame and fortune lie in the Blight. It's possible, though, that instead she convinced him to go because she told him it was necessary for him to go because the outcome of Tarmon Gai'don depended on him venturing into the Blight.   What I'm getting at is, what if Luc went there with altruistic intentions, only to be taken by the forces of the Shadow and subjugated to whatever treatment would help develop him into Slayer? We know being in Tel'aran'rhiod in the flesh has very harmful effects on your humanity, and that someone can be forcibly taken into the world of dreams. In that world, so much more is possible if your morals aren't so rigidly defined, and the use of its abilities might even have something to do with how Slayer was created, how both of his personalities were merged. So is it possible that Slayer is in fact a mere victim of circumstance and didn't choose to become evil of his own will but was forced to become a pawn of the Dark One? If this is the case, should we be rooting for his death more because it would be an act of mercy instead of wishing his death to satisfy our own morbid appetites? Or maybe I'm just cutting Slayer too much slack because he shares a name with an iconic speed/thrash metal band that I happen to dig (my band is even considering doing a cover of a famous song of theirs; I left a clue hinting which one at the very beginning of this week's blog).   Well, that should just about do it for this week. I hope everyone has enjoyed it, and I would like to hear your thoughts on the topic. Comment, private message, or email me if you had any different takes or ideas on either this, or any topic you might want to talk about. Also, I apologize for bringing this up again, but one more positive that comes out of having a release date slightly later than expected: more theory blogs from yours truly! Ah, well, I tried. Alright, till next week theoryheads, when we will be focusing on the one and only...Mazrim Taim!

By Dwynwen, in DM Website news,

Our cage matches have come to a close. Congratulations to Mat for winning! Please give us your feedback about the matches. Would you like us to do them again next year?   We recently announced that the release date for A Memory of Light will be on January 8, 2013. You can share your thoughts in the comments section of the article I linked above, or you can visit this thread in our A Memory of Light Non Spoiler Discussion forum.   The Ogier Social Group has a rousing rendition of the Would You Rather game on their boards. To play, you have to answer the question posed to you about what you would rather do, and you must pick between the two good things or two bad things listed.   It's time for the Shayol Ghul Social Group's February Caption Faction contest. Simply head over to the thread I linked and vote for the caption you think best describes the posted image.   The current Black Ajah Head has gotten sloppy and has been caught in a terrible act. See what happens next in the role play Thoughts of a New Life.   Have you registered for JordanCon yet? I have, and I just booked my flights today. There's still plenty of time to plan your trip. I hope to see you there!

By Dwynwen, in DM Website news,

Mat has just been crowned our Cage Match King! Although many thought it couldn't be done, he beat his foe, Moridin. We are also pleased to report that Bela won the consolation match against Narg.   We hope you enjoyed participating in the cage matches this year. How did you like the matches? Would you like us to do them again next year? Feel free to share your feedback and congratulate Mat either here or in this thread.

By Jason Denzel, in A Memory of Light,

Tor Books announced today that A Memory of Light, the fourteenth and final Wheel of Time novel, will be released on January 8, 2013. Update: The eBook will be released on April 9, 2013.   Here's the original press release:   Update (March 15): The January date listed is for the hardcover and audiobook editions of the book. The eBook will come out a few months later in April. This is consistent with what they did on Towers of Midnight.

By Tynaal Consen, in Rotating Features,

For those of you who utilize the commercialistic ways of modern society to embrace a little romance once in awhile, I'm sure you made the best of your Valentine's Day. And for those who felt more lonely on this Singles Awareness Day than on the other days of the year, remember this: "You may not mean anything to the world, but you mean the world to someone."   In this week's wonderfully romantic spirit, I bring to you my personal favorite and least favorite couples in the Wheel of Time. (Please be wary of spoilers; I can definitely think of one that's from Towers of Midnight.)   Some of the couples, or shall I say ex-couples, I actually liked quite a bit. The romance between Rand and Egwene just had that marvelous and beautiful innocence of youth. It felt like the type of endearing scenario where childhood friends are destined to marry. That was one relationship that was dashed rather early in the series. Another bygone relationship that we were never part of, but I'd have loved to see happen again, is that between Thom and Morgase. But that also proved not to happen.   I'm personally not a fan of the whole Rand, Min, Elayne, and Aviendha relationship, but of those three I must say that Rand and Min's romance seems to come the most naturally despite the fact that she knows they will end up together.   A matrimony that doesn't get much spotlight, but is definitely one that just seems so organic and perfect for me, is the one that sister-wives Lian and Amys have with each other and with their husband, Rhuarc.   Before I get distracted by just discussing all the couples, I shall come to those on the top of my list. Heading the list are Tallanvor and Morgase tied with Nynaeve and Lan.   I simply cannot dislike Lan and Nynaeve. Despite their relationship being a strange one, I think it's extremely charming simply because I adore Lan being so in love. To me it makes an impact because Lan seems so emotionally distant and seems to fill any void he has with his oath to battle the Shadow. His marriage with Nynaeve brings something much more positive to his life. I, for one, hope that they survive Tarmon Gai'don and make lots of babies to repopulate Malkier.   What I love about Morgase and Tallanvor is just the pure romance of it--their difference in ranks, their passionate love, and the stubbornness they originally displayed in regards to it. It's so cliche, but so cute too.   Last, but not least, I shall mention my least favorite couple. This is where the Towers of Midnight spoiler comes in. Thom and Moiraine...I mean, really? Many say they can see how it was coming, but it seems so forced to me. The scene and how it happened just seemed so unnatural. I have to admit, after the first shock of it, the idea doesn't sound that bad anymore. It's quite adorable and touching. In the end, I guess it is my least favorite simply because it was so unexpected.   Which is your favorite couple? Who would you like to see together? Comment and let me know.

By Dwynwen, in Community & Events,

It's time for another Tor.com feature! This week, Brandon Sanderson shares his thoughts on The Great Hunt. You can read the full article here.   Next up will be an ebook wallpaper for The Great Hunt.

By hazelkrs1, in Theory Blog,

Howdy, my sagacious sojourners of Dragonmount! Welcome back to "It Works in Theory," Dragonmount's theory blog headed by some bloke I happen to share an identity with. Sorry for the delay in new blog entries lately. Life in general has been very busy, and recently I've also been splitting my writing time between here and the write-ups for the Wheel of Time Cage Match fights Dragonmount has set up. In case you haven't kept up with all the fights, here's a link to the forum that contains all the contests. And now, for our disclaimer:   WARNING!!! Spoiler Alert!!! WARNING!!!   This blog is based on theories that will include facts and material from the latest books in the series, so if you have not read through Towers of Midnight, continue reading at your own risk! This serves as notice to inform any random passersby or guests who might accidentally be reading this that the blog will soon begin spraying conjecture and hyperphilosophy. Please do not disturb or alarm normal residents of the blog; they have long since developed resistance to the toxic ideas and theories. We hope all enlightened individuals and other patrons who have not been touched by the harmful vapors of this blog yet will soon vacate to avoid being harmed, and dedicate all merits from the Compassionate Mantra to these persons and all other creatures, so that they may be reborn in a land far from this blog's deadly reach.   I decided to be a little ambitious this month and make February "Darkfriend Appreciation Month" (in addition to it being National Black History Month, Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month, Exotic Vegetable and Starfruit Month, as well as Pull Your Sofa off the Wall Month). Every week we shall cover a different notable Darkfriend from the series, discussing their impact on the storyline, their relationship to various theories, and other things relative to each one. This week, I am excited to say that we shall open up the month by examining none other than Padan Fain himself, everyone's favorite deranged dagger-wielding fiend.   Unfortunately, Padan Fain recently met his end in our Cage Match contest against a worthy opponent in al'Lan Mandragoran himself (I even got the privilege to write the scene for that fight!). I noticed some took this fairly hard, so it was obvious that not only is Fain somewhat of a fan favorite when it comes to characters devoted to the Shadow, but his powers and abilities have helped him gain a large amount of respect and appreciation from the fandom of The Wheel of Time. Luckily, he has not met his end yet in the books, and will most assuredly play a large role in the last book of the series.   It would be somewhat foolish to discuss Fain without first covering what made him into the creature he is now, because his history intertwines him with other major characters in the book. Padan Fain was first introduced to us as a peddler who visited the Two Rivers somewhat regularly, but it didn't take long before it was revealed that he had been a Darkfriend for over 40 years. After Rand, Mat, and Perrin leave and start their adventure, Ba'alzamon captures Fain and "distills" him, somehow granting Fain the ability to track down the three ta'veren. His bond to them forced him to follow them into Shadar Logoth, where he encountered the ages-old entity known as Mordeth, and instead of possessing Fain's body completely like Mordeth had long dreamed of doing to escape and infect the world with its evil, it merged with Fain, creating a new, more powerful adversary for our heroes.   The merging helped instantly grant Fain some remarkable attributes, like the ability to not only resist a Myrddraal's fear-inducing gaze but to also be able to make them cower before him like a child would to a bully. Incidentally, Fain won his matchup in our Cage Match fights when he went up against Shaidar Haran, who is a kind of super-Myrddraal himself, and I honestly wouldn't be surprised at all if the two were to actually meet and have a similar outcome in the last book. Other powers and abilities have also emerged throughout the series, helping Fain to evolve into one of the most dangerous foes for Rand to have to deal with.   I first wanted to share a concept that was brought before me by someone who reads my blog (which I'm sure he does as some sort of self-mortification for past deeds) and has occasionally shared his perspective on key issues and theories regarding this series. His idea is that Rand and company will not just defeat, but also destroy the Dark One. Fain will somehow be bottled up inside the sealed Bore, and will turn into a "young" Dark One, presumably to resurface again in future turnings of the Wheel. While I found this idea very intriguing, I initially was somewhat resistant to it because I had always believed that the Dark One was somewhat of an equal to the Creator and could never be destroyed, only simply contained. After all, if the Creator himself (or herself) wasn't able to destroy him, how would anyone be able to?   After looking through some passages, however (with the help of my remarkably resourceful research assistant), I found that there could be some subtle foreshadowing of this type of event. When Fain is imprisoned in Fal Dara and Rand and Egwene visit him in his cell, he taunts Rand with a rhyme:     I even got the title of my blog from this fun little rhyming quote. It seems to hint that Fain also wants to and will break the Wheel of Time and the Pattern (all shall be free), yet also believes he will never die. This might simply seem to be the musings of a madman, but then we have another quote:     Will Fain's hatred for Rand grow so much that he ends up taking Shai'tan's place and battles his own millenia-long struggle to make the world pay? An interesting possibility, to say the least.   I actually think Fain will end up playing a different role in the Last Battle, however, and one that surprisingly might benefit the forces of Light. I won't be the first one to notice that there are some odd similiarities between Fain and another gaunt, villainous character from another famous epic fantasy series you may have heard of, The Lord of the Rings. Who am I speaking of? Why, Gollum, of course. Both characters went through some unspeakable torture and transformation at the hands of evil forces, and both have a knack for being able to follow the heroes around wherever they go (if only Rand could find some elven rope, maybe then he could try to tame ol' Fain like a good Smeagol). Fain even seems to have a similar appearance in a way.     So, what could fate have in store for Fain, if he is somewhat of a mirror of Gollum's role in The Lord of the Rings? Unfortunately, he won't be able to clutch the Dark One to him and fall cackling into a lava pit, so that option is gone. He could perform some other act, though, which he might intend to do as an evil act, but which might end up serving the Light in the end. He could be the one who spills Rand's blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul, an event that is exalted in both the prophecies of the Light AND of the Shadow (an oddity I will eventually cover when I discuss the "Blood on the Rocks" topic more in depth). Fain also holds a serious grudge against the Shadow for turning him into what he was, in addition to the Shadow-fighting evil of Mashadar. He even seems to share Rand's ability of identifying Darkfriends:     Another character parallel for Padan Fain is Mordred from the story of King Arthur. Fans of this series have probably noted many similarities and parallels to the Arthurian Legend, most notably Rand's role in the books as the Fisher King (click here for a great article from Linda at the 13th Depository on the Rand/Fisher King relationship). Several things link Fain and Mordred; Fain's soul merged with Mordeth, which is obviously very similar to Mordred, both seem to have nearly unmatched ability even though they don't really achieve what they want, both have a connection to their nemesis (Mordred was Arthur's son, Fain went mad from the process that made him Rand's hunter). And out of all of the villains and even allies that might end up taking Rand out, Fain seems both best equipped and unequal in his desire to be the one to kill Rand (Lanfear/Cyndane is definitely up there in her hatred of Rand, but there's just enough reasonable doubt to give Fain the edge here).   There are many ways in which Fain killing Rand could possibly end up being a good thing, which would definitely entrench Fain's "Gollumness" in the series. Dark Rand 2.0 could be terrorizing the countryside and Fain could dispatch him, not knowing of the difference in his alignment. It would help satisfy prophecy, which could enable other things which have yet to happen to unfold. Then there's that whole Blood on the Rocks thing that we are still unsure of. Either way, I'm looking out for Fain to possibly have a redeeming moment before the last book ends. After all, Egwene herself wonders in the first book if the "No man can stand in the Shadow so long..." quote could apply to Fain, and even though Moiraine is somewhat hesitant, it is definitely a possibility.   The last facet of Fain's character that I wanted to explore has to do with a symbolism that is inherent in Robert Jordan's writing. Padan Fain, or even Mordeth or Mashadar, seems to be absent from all prophecies. Egwene or any of the other characters who can Dream never catch a glimpse of him. Even Min, whose ability lets her see auras around anyone who impacts the Pattern significantly, comes up short.     Robert Jordan commented on Fain's unusual nature a couple of times, giving us more hints as to his role in the series:     Jordan also remarked in another Q&A session that Fain was his wild card, a character that existed outside the structure of the Pattern and could act unpredictably. In playing cards, the "wild card" is usually the Joker, which draws its roots from a Tarot card called the Fool. The Fool is a part of the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck, but it is unique in that all of the other cards in the Major Arcana come with a number assigned to them, but the Fool was always either unnumbered or number zero. There is another article at the 13th Depository that goes much deeper into this subject, and I definitely recommend reading it. Basically, the Fool card can be said to represent the Unknown. That which cannot be easily categorized or even defined. The supernatural, or perhaps even past it. It could even be said that it represents infinity, or even a singularity.   The point is that Fain doesn't have to play by the rules set forth by the Pattern. His transformation could be said to be a cosmic accident, and yet most philosophers would point out that accidents are never as random as we think them to be. Another friend and reader (and mentor) of mine put forth another idea to me recently, that Rand ultimately will end the cyclical nature of his world and have reality continue in a linear time model using the Horn of Valere. Some time ago, I wrote one of my favorite blogs, which covered the topic of eternal return and the cyclical nature of the Wheel of Time (click here to read that entry), and pointed out that cyclical time didn't have to be viewed as such a horrid concept. However, if something were to happen that broke Rand's world out of its cyclical time model, I'm not sure if the Horn of Valere would be necessary--but I'm almost positive Fain would have to be involved.   Well, that's it for this week. I hope everyone enjoyed this week's read. Of course, as always, let me know what you think in the comments. Next week, we'll be covering another favorite character of mine: Slayer! Also, as you can see, I pay close attention to any thoughts, ideas, or theories sent to me from anyone else, so if you have some thoughts about anything in the series and you would like someone to discuss them with, please shoot me a pm or email me at hazelkrs110@hotmail.com. I don't check my email that often, to be honest (or my pm box for that matter), but I promise to read and respond to anything you send. Till next time!

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