Dia dhóibh, my deft disciples of Dragonmount! Welcome to another week of "It Works in Theory," Dragonmount's fun little theory blog in which I get to mess around. In case you hadn't noticed, we've changed things up a bit and you'll now be able to find me on Tuesday instead of Monday. I hope the alteration doesn't throw any of you off too much; personally, I'm kind of excited to get to change things up a bit. Hopefully, I'll be able to use this new-found energy to stand and deliver another entertaining entry for you today. And now, for this week's 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! All information contained in this blog is correct at time of publishing. Immediately following that moment, however, all bets are off. In fact, by the time you actually read anything here, it is most assuredly incorrect and completely false. There might be a brief window where the information can suddenly become correct again after being processed inside your cranium; unfortunately, this window usually passes without you realizing or even getting the chance to acknowledge it.
Alright, so the topic I thought we should cover this week is actually coming in from a personal request, and it's a topic I was happy to cover anyway, so we should be able to have some fun with it. We are going to be discussing the nature of the flaw that Cadsuane revealed to us in The Path of Daggers, when she told Rand that to wield Callandor safely, he would need to link with two women and relinquish control of the flows.
The Path of Daggers
Chapter 27, "The Bargain"
"What do you mean about Callandor?"
"It is flawed," she replied curtly, "lacking the buffer that makes other sa'angreal safe to use. And it apparently magnifies the taint, inducing wildness of the mind. So long as a man is using it, anyway. The only safe way for you to use The Sword That Is Not a Sword, the only way to use it without risk of killing yourself, or trying to do the Light alone knows what insanity, is linked with two women, and one of them guiding the flows."
So, the big question is, which two women? The thing is, so much can happen between now and then in the last book, that this is actually a tough issue to narrow down to two candidates alone. You know what that means: we get to do another list this week! I know, I know, that seems to be my thing lately, but honestly, even though I think I have a fairly good idea about who it may end up being, I don't want to miss the opportunity to write about some of the other candidates. To make things a little easier this time, I'll try to group the candidates together according to their likelihood that they'll end up being in the circle with Callandor. Some of the main attributes I'm looking at with these candidates are strength with the One Power, impact on the storyline so far, relevance to prophecy/foreshadowing, level of trust earned with Rand, and possible dexterity in being able to manipulate saidin through Callandor.
On the point of strength in the One Power, there is an extremely comprehensive and well-deduced ranking of female channelers within the series on The Thirteenth Depository, and you will probably see me reference this list when comparing strength in saidar. You can find a link to that article here: Saidar Strength Ranking.
Group A: The Really Dark Horse Candidates
Just to refresh your memory, Sharina is the imposing old member of the Kin who joins the Salidar Aes Sedai in The Path of Daggers and quickly becomes an important member of the group when it comes to organizing novices and generally keeping the camp in order. The main reason I'm bringing her up is that the main front-runner candidates are often brought up because of their strength in the One Power, and yet Sharina is one of the strongest female channelers in the entire series. She at least has more potential than Nynaeve, who herself is already on par with the weaker female Forsaken. However, it doesn't seem likely that she'll take part in this circle, mainly because as powerful as she is, she'll more than likely be both organizing and Healing during the Last Battle, as this is where her true strengths lie.
Incidentally, there are only three female channelers that we know of who are stronger than or as strong as Nynaeve besides any of the Forsaken. Sharina is one, and I'll cover another later in this blog, but the third, Talaan din Gelyn, could possibly have a major role to play in the last book. She is a Windfinder for the Sea Folk and is said to come "very close" to Nyneave's strength, but based on the last we saw of her in Crossroads of Twilight, it appears she was kidnapped. It could be possible that she already was a Darkfriend, or she perhaps has been turned to the Shadow since then.
Egwene is certainly strong enough in the Power, and she's definitely had a major impact on the series so far. However, I don't find it likely that she'll be in the circle with Callandor. She'll probably be busy with a lot of other things in the last book, considering she IS the Amyrlin Seat after all. I wouldn't completely dismiss her, though, because she showed how capable she can be leading a circle when she defended the White Tower against the Seanchan attack, so she could bring something else to the table with her iron will and dexterity. That was with saidar, not saidin, but still.
This ancient battle-axe of an Aes Sedai wouldn't hesitate to get her hands dirty helping Rand whoop up on some Forsaken butt, and she definitely has a lot of advantages that others on this list lack. She has considerable strength in the One Power, being only one level below Egwene, but has FAR more experience with actual weaves and how to apply them than pretty much any other non-Forsaken channeler in the series. More importantly, she seems to have intimate knowledge of Callandor, since she was the one who uncovered the flaw in the first place. I actually feel somewhat hesitant putting her in this group, but I just don't see her as an obvious choice for the linking. Rand trusts her now, but there's still a weird vibe between the two of them, and she did mess up pretty badly letting the male a'dam slip into enemy hands. She seems to enjoy more of the advisor role now anyway, and I find it more likely that she'll be helping watch Rand's back during the encounter.
Group B: The Middle of the Pack
Towers of Midnight
Chapter 15, "Use a Pebble"
"Go to Egwene," Rand said, releasing her shoulder. "But when you can, I would like it very much if you returned to me. I will need your counsel again. At the very least, I would like you by my side as I go to Shayol Ghul. I cannot defeat him with saidin alone, and if we are going to use Callandor, I will need two women I trust in the circle with me. I have not decided upon the other. Aviendha or Elayne, perhaps. But you for certain."
From the quote above, we see that Rand has decided that Nynaeve will definitely be one of the women in the circle (more on that later), but he also throws out Aviendha and Elayne as possible candidates for the second women in the circle. They both definitely have a ton of things that help make them good choices as potential candidates. They're both very powerful at channeling, basically equal to Egwene's strength. They both have unique talents regarding angreal that could possibly help in the situation. Elayne is able to create ter'angreal, and could probably craft an angreal as well if she tried hard enough. She seems to be particularly adept at studying the inner workings of ter'angreal, which allows her to replicate them; this could come in handy if she was allowed to study Callandor before the event. Aviendha has a Talent for being able to surmise the true purpose of a ter'angreal, so she too might be able to have slightly more understanding of the sa'angreal were she to be chosen. Obviously, Rand trusts them both completely. They could even be connected to the circle because of their relationship to the prophecies, which vaguely could be referring to a linking with Rand that turns out catastrophically.
And yet, they don't really seem to be front-runners. First of all, both of them could be busy with their own plotlines. Elayne is Queen to her people and might choose their safety over linking with Rand, and Aviendha could be seeing to the future of the entire nation of the Aiel. Second, Elayne is pregnant, and Aviendha could be pregnant by then as well. The last thing Rand would want during the fateful encounter against the Dark One is for Elayne or Aviendha to not be able to properly channel because of the difficulties that come with being pregnant and trying to hold onto the Source. Not just that, but because of their love for Rand, they might compromise the situation at an important moment, and Rand will probably realize this. Still, either one of them could very well be one of the women who link with Rand; it wouldn't surprise me too much since he already suggested it himself.
Tuon Athaem Kore Paendrag
Some of you might be thinking, "Huh?" Others might be sputtering in outrage, yelling, "You stole that from Terez!" Don't worry, calm down everyone, and I will explain. Terez did give me permission (as if that was necessary haHA!); in fact, I have proof: Terez acknowledges one of my posts. That's from a thread on our forums where other Dragonmount members are also discussing who the women who help to wield Callandor could be. Please feel free to join in on that discussion as well. Okay, now there's probably still a group of you who are confused, being that Tuon herself has never directly channeled in the series. It's already been revealed to the readers that any sul'dam also has the potential to learn how to channel, a secret that will eventually send great reverberations throughout the Seanchan Empire once it becomes more well-known. Tuon is described as a particularly skilled sul'dam who has worked her entire life refining her ability to control damane. In fact, she is the only sul'dam we've seen who is able to direct the weaves herself through the damane instead of commanding them to do it themselves. We know this because of the scene in Knife of Dreams in which Tuon controls Joline and Teslyn Sedai through a'dam that are placed on them before they can react, then attempts to send flows towards Mat. All of the channeling that is performed during this scene was done without any verbal commands.
So, we know that Tuon has the potential to channel, and possibly might even have a dormant spark in her. She more than likely wouldn't have a lot of strength once she did begin channeling, but strength might not be as big an issue as many think. After all, there would be PLENTY of raw strength in the One Power coming from Rand and Callandor itself. Tuon also has an interesting connection to the prophecies as well; it could be said that having her link with him could be a form of Rand "binding the Nine Moons to serve him" since Tuon is the Daughter of the Nine Moons. She also believes herself to have an extremely important role to play in the Last Battle, according to her interpretation of the Seanchan prophecies. She also might have a particular skill in leading a circle because of her skill as a sul'dam.
All that being said, I decided to put her in this group instead of the front-runners because it does seem to me that Tuon has some big marks against her. She still has to be forced to confront the fact that she can channel, and then would probably have to train somewhat to be able to get comfortable with channeling directly. Then there's the fact that after her impending second attack on the White Tower, it will be hard to believe that Rand will find it easy to trust her as much as he would need to in order to link with her. Also, she might be busy leading Seanchan troops into battle. She would be a nice surprise as one of the Callandor wielders, though.
Group C: The Front-Runners
We know from that quote I referenced that Rand has already asked Nynaeve to be one of the women in the circle with him; in fact, he's certain that he wants her to be one of them. We know he trusts her completely as well, and has already used her help before in similar circumstances during the cleansing of saidin. So, if her position is essentially guaranteed, why are we even questioning whether or not she'll be in the link? Well, as I said already, a lot can happen before that epic confrontation for which Rand will need Callandor. First of all, she could die, and should Lan end up dying himself, Nynaeve very well may want to die. She might just end up being preoccupied; perhaps she goes off to save Lan when Rand needs her, so he has to blow his whistle and sub in one of his replacements off the bench. Either way, there is enough reasonable doubt to speculate about others who might end up filling her place.
Alivia is immensely powerful in the One Power; in fact, she is only second to Cyndane/Lanfear and might even be Cyndane's equal. Rand trusts her and she's been part of his inner circle for quite some time. The main reason that so many have her in mind as being one of the Callandor wielders is the vision Min had about her that told her Alivia would "help Rand die." If Alivia were to be in the link with Rand, there's a good many potential situations in which she could end up helping Rand die, be it to end his link with Moridin, or to stop Dark Rand 2.0 from terrorizing the countryside (it's not an official Despothera blog without a reference to Dark Rand 2.0). I also particularly like her in this role because of her ability to detach her emotions from the situation. She was a damane for 400 years and yet was still able to keep her individuality and free will intact, which is an incredible feat considering how sul'dam usually handle their charges. This ability to remain detached from the situation and still do what needs to be done could be what ends up saving the day at the right moment.
Lanfear(aka Cyndane, Mierin)
This is another addition to the list that might have some of you scratching your heads. After all, if you buy the epilogue scene at the end of Towers of Midnight completely at face value, I've got a section of bridge I'd like to sell you. In that scene, Mierin had somehow broken through to Rand's dreams and was pleading for his help, and seemed to be in immediate danger. Rand Therin Telamon feels somewhat compelled to rescue her, but you can't help but be skeptical. Ever since Lanfear was resurrected as Cyndane, she has voiced nothing but complete hatred for Rand and his cadre of women. They always say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and whoever first said that probably never read Lanfear's point of views in the Wheel of Time (the famous line is paraphrased from William Congreve's The Mourning Bride).
I covered the likelihood of Lanfear redeeming her soul and returning to the Light in a past blog, "No man can stand in the Shadow so long he cannot find the Light again". While it's definitely a possibility, I highly doubt that Rand will trust her enough for this task, or that Lanfear would be okay with linking with Rand and another woman. However, she does have some very strong things working in her favor. First of all, she is more than likely still the strongest female channeler in the world, and also has far more experience than pretty much anyone else when it comes to difficult weaves. More importantly, she is the ONLY one on this list who more than likely has actual experience guiding flows of saidin because during the Age of Legends, men and women were linked quite regularly. The biggest piece of evidence in my eyes, though, is the fact that right after hearing about Callandor's flaw from Cadsuane, the first woman he thinks of is Lanfear:
The Path of Daggers
Chapter 27, "The Bargain"
"...linked with two women, and one of them guiding the flows."
Trying not to hunch his shoulders, he strode away from her. So it had not just been the wildness of saidin around Ebou Dar that had killed Adley. He had murdered the man the moment he sent Narishma for the thing.
Cadsuane's voice pursued him. "Remember, boy. You must ask very nicely, and apologize. I might even agree, if your apology sounds truly sincere."
Rand barely heard her. He had hoped to use Callandor again, hoped it would be strong enough. Now only one chance remained, and it terrified him. He seemed to hear another woman's voice, a dead woman's voice. You could challenge the Creator.
That last part of the quote is referring to the comment Lanfear made to Rand about using the Choedan Kal's immense power to challenge the Creator himself (or herself) in The Shadow Rising.
In case Lanfear does end up being one of the women who link with Rand, it would truly be kismet if the other woman ended up being Moiraine. Both women have had a strong hand in influencing Rand throughout the series, one trying to guide Rand towards the Light, the other towards the Shadow. Plus, after their last confrontation which resulted in both of them being imprisoned in the Tower of Ghenji for a time, there could be some chances for truly epic moments of terse hostility between the two. Perhaps Moiraine could be some kind of balancing force against Lanfear, and she definitely has Rand's trust, so it could possibly work. It would work on a grand artistic level for sure, and likely satisfy many fans. There is also an absolutely brilliant caveat to the possibility of Moiraine linking with Callandor as well, and I shall preclude it with a memorable quote from the first book:
The Eye of the World
Chapter 13, "Choices"
"Is that the way you all feel? You are all eager to run off to Illian and forget about Trollocs, and Halfmen, and Draghkar?" She ran her eyes over them--that stony glint playing against the everyday tone of voice made Rand uneasy--but she gave no one a chance to speak. "The Dark One is after you three, one or all, and if I let you go running off wherever you want to go, he will take you. Whatever the Dark One wants, I oppose, so hear this and know it true. Before I let the Dark One have you, I will destroy you myself."
It was her voice, so matter-of-fact, that convinced Rand. The Aes Sedai would do exactly what she said, if she thought it was necessary. He had a hard time sleeping that night, and he was not the only one. Even the gleeman did not begin snoring till long after the last coals died. For once, Moiraine offered no help.
Should the body swap occur, and Dark Rand 2.0 spawn anew to become the Dark One's champion, I would put ALL of my money on a new linking of Callandor constituted of Moiraine, Alivia, and Narishma going out to take him down. Alivia would be an obvious pick to help Rand die, and Narishma would be the young dark man with a glowing object in his hand that Egwene sees in a dream in A Crown of Swords. Before writing this blog, I was fairly certain that the two women who linked with Rand would be Nyneave and Alivia. Now, I'm not so sure. I really get this strong feeling we're going to see some sort of body swap, and it just makes way too much sense for Moiraine to be the one who leads the circle that takes Rand down. So, perhaps she's part of the original circle as well, and is the first one to pick up the pieces after the disastrous encounter comes to fruition. Either way, now I really can't wait for the last book!