Hello there, fellow denizens of Dragonmount! Welcome to another weekly installment of "It Works in Theory...", Dragonmount's brand new theory blog headed by yours truly! Before I begin, let me say that I was thrilled to read all the comments and responses to last week's premiere entry, and I hope to continue to find little tidbits and ideas for you to bounce around in your head a little bit. Also, let me put in this disclaimer for legal purposes:
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! "It Works in Theory..." is a free-flowing narrative that occasionally touches on immature subjects, and if you don't like that, then your mama wears combat boots.
There's one more thing I want to address before I move to the focus of this week's issue. Obviously, any theory I put out here is just one opinion or take on a subject. There's a good chance I'll be way off base with various predictions, but I occasionally will get lucky and hit the nail right on the head, and there's a chance I might spoil some big reveal for you. I know you're probably aware of this already, but I only stress this because I get the feeling I might have tripped onto the bombshell theory I was looking for last week.
So, what is the subject of today's article? It has to do with the "hand of onyx" that Min sees in a vision involving Callandor around Rand in Towers of Midnight. I was extremely excited to cover this topic because in earlier theories and discussions regarding the hand of onyx, Tel'aran'rhiod is usually brought up as a way of helping Rand replace the hand that Semirhage blew away. For a long time I believed something like this might happen, and I found it to be an amazing allusion to another favorite fantasy series of mine: The Chronicles of Amber, written by Roger Zelazny.
In The Chronicles of Amber, there exists a world/plane of existence known as Tir-na Nog'th, and there are huge similarities between it and Tel'aran'rhiod, the world of dreams in The Wheel of Time. Of course the names even look similar, but the overall feel of the two worlds, their relation to dreams/visions, and their use by the authors to reveal certain hints and foreshadowing all draw big parallels as well. There is also a main character in The Chronicles of Amber called Benedict, who is an amazing swordsman who loses a hand but later gains an artificial hand from Tir-na Nog'th that he uses to replace his lost appendage.
Unfortunately, even though it's still possible that Robert Jordan was alluding to Zelazny's epic fantasy series, I have come to a different conclusion regarding the hand of onyx. Before I go further, let's examine the full quote regarding the dark hand, found in Towers of Midnight, the last book to come out in the series:
Towers of Midnight
Chapter 51, "A Testing"
The hair on Min's neck rose as she held the crystal sword. Callandor. She'd heard stories of this weapon since she was a child, wild tales of distant Tear and the strange Sword That Is Not a Sword. Now she held it in her own fingers.
It was lighter than she'd expected. Its crystalline length caught and played with the lamplight. It seemed to shimmer too much, the light inside changing even when she didn't move. The crystal was smooth, but warm. It almost felt alive.
Rand stood in front of her, looking down at the weapon. They were in their rooms inside the Stone of Tear, accompanied by Cadsuane, Narishma, Merise, Naeff and two Maidens.
Rand reached out, touching the weapon. She glanced at him, and a viewing sprang to life above him. A glowing sword, Callandor, being gripped in a black hand. She gasped.
"What did you see?" Rand asked softly.
"Callandor, held in a fist. The hand looks to be made of onyx."
"Any idea what it means?"
She shook her head.
There's also another viewing Min has, earlier in the same book, that seems very closely related to this matter:
Towers of Midnight
Chapter 25, "Return to Bandar Eban"
"Rand, I see sunlight around you."
He looked up at her, then glanced at the sky.
"Not that sunlight," Min whispered. "A viewing. I see dark clouds, pushed away by the sunlight's warmth. I see you, a brilliant white sword held in your hand, wielded against one of black, held by a faceless darkness. I see trees, growing green again, bearing fruit. I see a field, the crops healthy and full." She hesitated. "I see the Two Rivers, Rand. I see an inn there with the mark of the Dragon's Fang inlaid on its door. No longer be [sic] a symbol of darkness or hate. A sign of victory and hope."
In my quest to wrap my head around this issue and figure out what I thought it might be referring to, I started to look at different theories and discussion relating to Callandor. I still couldn't quite get a grasp on what I was looking for, so I started to venture to other subjects and focused on one in particular: The BLANK in the Blight.
From Brandon Sanderson Q&A at Dragon*Con, September 4, 2010
Q: This question has to do with a conversation I had with Wilson.
Brandon: Oh okay, is this going to be? Okay, I think I know what this is going to be.
Q: At last JordanCon I was talking with Wilson, and he was telling me about the night that Robert Jordan told him the end of the book.
Brandon: Uh huh.
Q: And he says that it started off with the word... they were talking about whatever, and it started off with Robert Jordan getting really quiet and then leaning in and saying, "There is a _____ in the Blight." To which that completely blindsides Wilson. He says, "There’s a what?!?" And Robert Jordan then says, "There's a _____ in the Blight and not even Harriet knows about it." And then went on for two hours describing about how this was important and pivotal and yet takes place... be really important for the end of the book. Any further hints?
Brandon: And see, Wilson can get away with stuff that I can't. And that is a story I've been told by three different people now. In fact, the first day I was there in Charleston, Harriet told it to me. Then Maria told it to me. And then I met Wilson later and he told it to me. Because that was the day when they suddenly said, "We need a tape recorder. Someone get a tape recorder." And I think Maria, like, went to the store to get one and came back with... But then, that was the session where he started for the first time dictating what was to happen and things like this. I do know that story. It's great for you to share it with everyone. I would not have shared that story because I have to be extra careful not to cross any lines. And so...you will get hints about whatever that was in the next book [Towers of Midnight].
At first I thought this was unrelated to what I had been researching, but suddenly I had a "Veins of Gold" type of revelation: There's a Callandor in the Blight. At least, there's a twin to Callandor in the Blight, a male sa'angreal most likely equal in power, which perhaps might even draw in the True Power instead of the One Power. This series has often examined the nature of duality (Light vs. Shadow, Saidin vs. Saidar, etc.) and the stage is set for the ultimate confrontation between the champion for the forces of Light (Rand) to face the champion of Shadow (Moridin). Both champions will have their sa'angreal swords, and both will have their two female companions to help them wield the swords (Rand has Nynaeve and Alivia; Moridin has Cyndane and Moghedien).
The only things we know about the _____ in the Blight are that it's something that would be very hard to unearth, that even Harriet didn't know about it, that it would be an instant shocker that must have huge implications, and that it would be hinted about in Towers of Midnight. I'd say the two Towers of Midnight quotes I provided would qualify for that, but there's even more hints:
Towers of Midnight
Chapter 32, "A Storm of Light"
"Have you ever wondered why Callandor is so often called a 'fearful blade' or 'the blade of ruin' in the prophecies?"
"It's such a powerful sa'angreal," he said. "Maybe it's because of the destruction it can cause?"
"Maybe," she said.
"You think it's something else."
"There's a phrase," Min said, "in the Jendai Prophecy. I wish we knew more of them. Anyway, it says 'and the Blade will bind him by twain.'"
"Two women," Rand said. "I need to be in a circle with two women to control it."
"What?" Rand said. "You might as well be out with it, Min. I need to know."
"There's another phrase, from The Karaethon Cycle. Anyway, I think that Callandor might be flawed beyond that. I think it might...Rand, I think it might make you weak, open you to attack, if you use it."
"Perhaps that's how I'll be killed, then."
The flaw Min speaks of, the blade binding by twain, has to do with the fact that there is at least an equally powerful sa'angreal which is the perfect antithesis to Callandor, and that wielding Callandor in the presence of that other sa'angreal will lead to the Dragon's fall. Needing two women in a circle is a red herring here; we have often seen that we will miss something big because we overlook a part of prophecy or foreshadowing in the novels, thinking it already has been fulfilled or explained. There is another reference to this sa'angreal in the fourth book of the series, The Shadow Rising:
The Shadow Rising
Chapter 9, "Decisions"
Could he use a sword against a woman, against Selene? No, against Lanfear, against one of the Forsaken.
His back came up hard against something, and he looked around to see what it was. There was nothing there. A wall of nothing, with his back pressed against it. Callandor glittered not three paces away--on the other side. He thumped a fist against the barrier in frustration; it was as unyielding as rock.
"I cannot trust you fully, Lews Therin. Not yet." She came closer, and he considered simply seizing her. He was bigger and stronger by far--and blocked as he was, she could wrap him up with the Power like a kitten tangled in a ball of string. "Not with that, certainly," she added, grimacing at Callandor. "There are only two more powerful that a man can use. One at least, I know, still exists. No, Lews Therin. I will not trust you yet with that."
One of the sa'angreal that Lanfear mentions is the male Choedan Kal, which is now kaput. As for the other, the one that supposedly is stronger than Callandor:
From Netherlands tour 8 April 2001, Elf Fantasy Fair - Aan'allein reporting
Q: In The Shadow Rising, Lanfear mentioned two sa'angreal stronger than Callandor that a male could use. Is the second one ever going to appear?
Robert Jordan: Read And Find Out.
And here's another one four years later:
From Knife of Dreams tour 28 October 2005 - Jason Wolfbrother reporting
Jason Wolfbrother: Was Callandor constructed during the War of Power?
Robert Jordan: Yes
Jason Wolfbrother: Was it used in the War of Power?
Robert Jordan: Yes, that is how the flaw was discovered.
Jason Wolfbrother: Why didn't they ward/buffer Callandor?
Robert Jordan: The flaw with Callandor is simply a manufacturing flaw. (He went on to talk about how they were at the end of their tech age with only a few sho-wings and jo-cars left. A couple of shocklances were still around but they were not as prevalent as they had been. Anyway they had been mass producing ter'angreal, angreal, and sa'angreal, and there are bound to be flaws with the products. The flaw with Callandor is simply one such flaw.)
Jason Wolfbrother: What is the second most powerful angreal for men? Will it make an appearance?
Robert Jordan: RAFO (Read And Find Out).
So, how does all of this apply to the black hand holding Callandor? Well, we all know that there is a link between Rand and Moridin (for more information see Rand/Moridin Link). If you take this one step further, and introduce the body-swap theory (here's the link for that one Body Swap theory) which essentially states that Rand and Moridin will switch bodies due to their link and the amount of Power they will be channeling in the vicinity of Shayol Ghul, you begin to see how a black hand might hold Callandor. When Rand and Moridin swap bodies, Moridin will find himself in Rand's body, and he will be held in a circle by Nyneave and Alivia, but he will be wielding Callandor. The black hand in Min's vision means the same thing meant by a "blade of black, held by a faceless darkness", that it will be someone from the Shadow.
There are other possibilities with this theory, as well as big implications in how this will effect the outcome of the series. Seeing as I've already covered a large chunk of material and rambled on for too long already, I will have to continue the rest of this theory next week, when I cover what is meant by "the day that dawns twice". Thanks for stopping by again, and please feel free to comment, whether you agree or disagree. Until next week!