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WoT If… the Ghosts are from a Mirror World?

Mashiara Sedai

Welcome back to "WoT If?", Dragonmount's weekly theory blog.  This week, we'll expand just a bit on the last topic: the ghosts and their connection to the Pattern.  Before we begin:


SPOILER WARNING.  This will include content from A Memory of Light.  Please DO NOT read this if you have not completed the book.


I think I argued pretty well that the ghosts are part of the Pattern, not the work of the Dark One.  Most would agree that is the logical outcome.  However, there were a few other questions left unanswered.  Like, why do the dead arrive?  Is it only to fulfill the prophecies—to be an outward sign of the Last Battle?  Are they just reflections or are they actual dead?


Or even more peculiar, why didn't Tuon see the ghosts outside Jurador?


Crossroads of Twilight

Chapter 29, "Something Flickers"


It was a short walk away from the rising sun to the town, along a hard-packed road through hills that were treeless here, but people dotted the road the way windmills and salt pans dotted the hills. Staring straight ahead, they moved so purposefully they seemed not to see anyone in front of them. Mat dodged a round-faced man who nearly walked right into him, which made him have to jump away from a white-haired old fellow making a good speed on spindly legs. That put him in front of a plump girl who would have run up the front of him if he had not jumped again.


“Are you practicing a dance, Toy?” Tuon said, peering up at him over a slim shoulder. Her breath made a faint white mist in front of her cowl. “It isn’t very graceful.”


He opened his mouth, just to point out how crowded the road was, and suddenly he realized he could no longer see anyone beyond her and Selucia. The people who had been there were just gone, the road empty as far as he could see before it made a bend. Slowly, he turned his head. There was no one between him and the show, either, just the folk waiting in line, and that looked no longer than before. Beyond the show, the road wound into the hills toward a distant forest, empty. Not a soul in sight.

The road seems to be filled with people.  Mat can see them in front of him.  With Tuon and Selucia in front as well, they should have been able to see what Mat saw.  But they didn't.  This could all be chalked up to Mat's ta'veren nature, but it seems like more than that.  Of course, we know Tuon is skilled at ignoring things she doesn't want to see, so it could be as simple as that.


Last time, we talked about the ghosts not actually causing any harm.  They seem to be unaware of the living.  Egwene mentions this to a novice while in the White Tower:


Knife of Dreams

Chapter 24, "Honey in the Tea"


There was one more thing she could do for them: comfort them. Impossible as it seemed at first, the interior of the Tower sometimes changed. People got lost trying to find rooms they had been to dozens of times. Women were seen walking out of walls, or into them, often in dresses of old-fashioned cut, sometimes in bizarre garb, dresses that seemed simply lengths of brightly colored cloth folded around the body, embroidered ankle-length tabards worn over wide trousers, stranger things still. Light, when could any woman have wanted to wear a dress that left her bosom completely exposed?


Egwene was able to discuss it with Siuan in Tel’aran’rhiod, so she knew that these things were signs of the approach of Tarmon Gai’don. An unpleasant thought, yet there was nothing to be done about it. What was, was, and it was not as if Rand himself was not a herald of the Last Battle. Some of the sisters in the Tower must have known what it all meant, too, but wrapped up in their own affairs they made no effort to comfort novices who were weeping with fright. Egwene did.


“The world is full of strange wonders,” she told Coride, a pale-haired girl who was sobbing facedown on her bed. Only a year younger than herself, Coride was most definitely still a girl despite a year and a half in the Tower. “Why be surprised if some of those wonders appear in the White Tower? What better place?” She never mentioned the Last Battle to these girls. That was hardly likely to be any comfort.


“But she walked into a wall!” Coride wailed, raising her head. Her face was red and blotchy, and her cheeks glistened damply. “A wall! And then none of us could find the classroom, and Pedra couldn’t either, and she got cross with us. Pedra never gets cross. She was frightened, too!”


“I’ll wager Pedra didn’t start crying, though.” Egwene sat down on the edge of the girl’s bed, and was pleased that she did not wince. Novice mattresses were not noted for softness. “The dead can’t harm the living, Coride. They can’t touch us. They don’t even seem to see us. Besides, they were initiates of the Tower or else servants here. This was their home as much as it is ours. And as for rooms or hallways not being where they’re supposed to be, just remember that the Tower is a place of wonders. Remember that, and they won’t frighten you.”


It seemed feeble to her, but Coride wiped her eyes and swore she would never be frightened again. Unfortunately, there were a hundred and two like her, not all so easily comforted. It was enough to make Egwene angrier at the sisters in the Tower than she already had been.

There's a few pieces I want to pull from that chunk of text.  First is that the ghosts are in different clothes, older fashions.  This shows that they are from a different time, not those recently deceased.  Or, perhaps they are even from the future.  If the Pattern is weakening, and they are more reflections than ghosts, they could easily be people from an Age yet to come.


Even though most of the character think they are ghosts—"Yet [Egwene] had seen ghosts in the halls of the White Tower, and the corridors seemed to rearrange on a daily basis (The Gathering Storm, Chapter 12, "Unexpected Encounters")—that doesn't mean they are correct in doing so.


In fact, if we stretch that even further, they might even be images from mirror/portal stone worlds.  Egwene sees the dreams of people who live in the parallel worlds, so it's possible they could become overlapped as the Pattern dissolves.


I would say that all the "ghosts" observed are really just overlapped images from mirror worlds, if some of them hadn't been recognized.  In Crossroads of Twilight, Elsie, the servant, recognizes the ghost of Lady Nelein (Chapter 10, "A Blazing Beacon").


Okay, back to Egwene's speech.  The next bit of information is that the dead returning is a sign of Tarmon Gai'don.  We've heard that in several places, but it's still pretty interesting.  That would imply that the dead are a necessity for the Last Battle.  As if their only purpose is to be an outward sign.  It's sort of like the idea that the thing itself is not important—the dead walking have no bearing on the mortal humans—but their appearance is seen as something more.  It could have just as easily been the sun turning red, or the sky turning green.  It had to be something visible to all, to let them know the end was coming.  


For that reason, I would go back to the idea of the ghosts just being images—something used by the Pattern.  Perhaps consciously used by the Pattern.  There are such things as Pattern Level Events—like Rand fighting Ishamael in the sky over Falme.  These events are broadcasted for all to see.  The ghosts, likewise, could be a Pattern Level Event, with the Pattern using itself—and its somewhat broken state—to show the world what it needed to see.


Also, Egwene speaks about the women walking into walls.  Except the current changes in the Tower—caused by the weakening Pattern—there shouldn't have been too many modifications to the White Tower's internal structure.  If the ghosts are images, just transplanted and following a set course, why would they walk through walls?  Those walls shouldn't have been there when the ghosts lived, so any "recording" and playback of them wouldn't have them walking through walls.  


That again, leads me to the idea of mirror worlds.  In a mirror world, the Tower could have been built differently, with a hallway leading off that way, instead of a wall.  That way, the ghost would have been following a natural path to them, but would seem to walk through a wall in Randland's White Tower.


And we know that people can exist simultaneously in mirror worlds, so it also answers the question of how some of the dead are recognizable.  It wouldn't be the Lady Nelein that Elsie knew, it would be the mirror world version of her.  


We'll have to wrap it up there.  I think I've made a pretty good case, but I'm still curious to see what you think.  Please post your comments below.  Next time, we'll look at some common misconceptions that persisted throughout the series.  Thanks for reading!

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I really like this mirror world theory. It would make huge sense, judging from Perrin's POV when killing Slayer. This makes huge sense to me. Great post Mashiara!!

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