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:
The Shadow Rising
Chapter 28, "To the Tower of Ghenjei"
You chase Slayer, Young Bull. He is here in the flesh, and he can kill.
“In the flesh? You mean not just dreaming? How can he be here in the flesh?”
I do not know. It is a thing dimly remembered from long ago, come again as so much else. Things of the Shadow walk the dream, now. Creatures of Heartfang. There is no safety.
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:
The Great Hunt
Chapter 7, "Blood Calls Blood"
Luc came to the Mountains of Dhoom.
Isam waited in the high passes.
The hunt is now begun. The Shadow’s hounds now course,
One did live, and one did die, but both are.
The Time of Change has come.
Blood feeds blood.
Blood calls blood.
Blood is, and blood was, and blood shall ever be.
The Watchers wait on Toman’s Head.
The seed of the Hammer burns the ancient tree.
Death shall sow, and summer burn, before the Great Lord comes.
Death shall reap, and bodies fail, before the Great Lord comes.
Again the seed slays ancient wrong, before the Great Lord comes.
Now the Great Lord comes.
Now the Great Lord comes.
Blood feeds blood.
Blood calls blood.
Blood is, and blood was, and blood shall ever be.
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?
The Shadow Rising
Chapter 28, "To the Tower of Ghenjei"
"It does not matter so long as you stay away from the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn. They are not evil the way the Shadow is evil, yet they are so different from humankind they might as well be. They are not to be trusted, archer. Stay clear of the Tower of Ghenjei. Avoid the World of Dreams, if you can. Dark things walk.”
“Like the man I was chasing? Slayer.”
“A good name for him. This Slayer is not old, archer, but his evil is ancient.”
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!