Welcome back to "WoT If?", Dragonmount's weekly theory blog! This week, we'll continue our reread, looking at "Dragonmount," the prologue to The Eye of the World.
Before we start, I do want to say that there will still be SPOILERS! With the ending in sight, much of what I point out could allude to things that happen in A Memory of Light, so keep that in mind as you read. Don't continue if you don't want to be spoiled.
Lews Therin walks down a corridor filled with dead people. He calls out for his wife, Ilyena, but she doesn't answer. Suddenly, a man shimmers and solidifies behind Lews Therin. The man, Elan Morin Tedronai, says he has come for Lews Therin.
The two talk briefly, Lews Therin's madness becoming more and more apparent. Finally, Elan Morin uses the Dark One's "healing" on Lews Therin. This makes Lews Therin lucid, and he finally realizes all his family members are dead. He blames Elan Morin for the crime. Elan Morin contradicts him, saying Lews Therin is responsible for killing everyone he loved.
Unable to bear the guilt, Lews Therin Travels to an isolated location. He draws in the One Power, so much, that it burns him out, and sends a bar of fire into the earth. The surge of Power creates a mountain that stretches into the sky.
Elan Morin appears nearby and promises that their fight is not over.
This prologue may be my favorite part of the whole series. The tone, the mood, the atmosphere all blend together to give it a creepy feeling. We see how insane Lews Therin is, and the devastating cost the world paid to seal up the Dark One. But we also see the wonderful skills of Robert Jordan. His writing style really shines in this section. We see his attention to detail, and the world within the story comes to life instantly. His words are powerful, and so expressive that they stay with you long after you have put the book down.
The mind-twisting had struck at the core, ignoring peripheral things.
There are no other words for that than beautiful.
Many of the ideas in the prologue we've discussed before. So I'll just recap a few ideas before moving on. First, I think it's a funny bit of irony that the first description we get of Elan Morin is that he is "not so tall as Lews Therin." Their rivalry wasn't born out of the same kind of hatred that Demandred's was, but this is a clear sign that everyone in that Age lived up to the standard of Lews Therin.
I'm also a little surprised at how freely Elan Morin uses the name "Shai'tan." He says it's not dangerous for him to name the Dark One, but why does he do it so freely? Isn't it blasphemous for the Forsaken to use his name like that—in an almost familiar way? Or perhaps Elan Morin is already insane himself by this point, and is already thinking of himself as being the same as the Dark One.
Or, it could be to try to bolster his own spirit. Really, the Dark One had just suffered a huge blow! He was resealed in the Bore, cutting off his ability to touch the world completely. Elan Morin could go in there and talk tough, but could he have backed up all his boasting? What could the Dark One have done at that point in time? Absolutely nothing, I think.
And along those same lines, what of Elan Morin's promise to bring Ilyena back if Lews Therin served the Dark One? Could the Dark One even be capable of doing that when he's completely sealed? I doubt it. Even if the Dark One could access Ilyena's soul—which we talked about in length in the past—I doubt he could have done it then.
The seals begin to weaken as the millennia pass, but I don't think the Dark One could actually influence anything until the first seal was broken at the end of The Eye of the World. It's then that the first Forsaken are killed—and we know they come back later—so at that point the Dark One must be able to at least grab their souls. But since the time gap between their deaths and their rebirth is so long, perhaps the Dark One's strength wasn't even able to bring their souls back until—according to the Wheel of Time Wiki—at least a year later.
And this leads us to another idea: is Ishamael really caught in the seals?
For a very long time, I thought Ishamael's appearance in "Dragonmount" was an illusion, a projection of himself. We seen later (Chapter 47, "More Tales of the Wheel"), that an image of Ba'alzamon forced the Myrddraal into Shadar Logoth after Rand and the others. This would imply that Ishamael is not completely free from the Bore at this point in time.
So how does his sealing and release work? It's been hinted several places that Ishamael had a hand in many of the more horrible plots that happened over the past 3,000 years: running the Trolloc Wars, forming the Black Ajah, making Artur Hawkwing turn against the Aes Sedai, manipulating Jain Farstrider. So, during these moments, is he completely free from the Bore, or is he able to make a projection of himself? Or there is the third option of influencing them in their dreams.
During the prologue, he seems to be there physically: "he stepped carefully, handling his cloak fastidiously to avoid brushing the dead." He wouldn't bother holding up his cloak if he wasn't really there.
However, even in The Great Hunt, Ishamael seems unable to show up in a physical form:
The figure of a man floated in the air above the Myrddraal, the hem of his blood-red robe hanging a span over the Halfman's head. Masked in blood-red, too. Would the Great Lord of the Dark appear to them as a man? And masked, besides?
This is one of our first real hints that "Ba'alzamon" is not all he claims. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We'll talk about that when we get to The Great Hunt.
So, these examples show Ishamael influencing the world, but no being able to do it physically. However, in "Dragonmount" he seems to be there in the flesh. Is this a consistency error? Or is there something more to it?
I think we'll have to come back to that one at another time. There's just too much speculation and not enough information.
Another thing that makes me wonder is Elan Morin's line, "Yes Betrayer of Hope. So have men named me, just as they named you Dragon, but unlike you I embrace the name."
From the sound of this, it seems like Lews Therin is not fond of accepting the name Dragon. We've never seen an instance in the story—that I can recall—where Lews Therin didn't seek fame and recognition for his deeds. So why would he not want to be called Dragon? What kind of prophecies did they have in the Age of Legends? We don't really know much about what they believed, what they feared, what they looked forward to.
But there must have been something that turned Lews Therin off to the idea of being the Dragon. Perhaps they did have a prophecy that dealt with the Dragon. The Aiel were called People of the Dragon, and they had to be called that before Lews Therin. From what we see, the Aiel served the Aes Sedai for generations and generations. Lews Therin wasn't the first of the channelers—only the most powerful of that time. So why would the Aiel be named for him? That seems unlikely; therefore, they would have been named after some prophecy. And if there were prophecies, or Foretellings, that said the Aiel needed to be named that—and we see that come into play when they serve the Dragon only, not any other Aes Sedai, in The Shadow Rising—then there were probably prophecies about the Dragon.
Lews Therin was most likely picked as the Dragon because of his accomplishments. But, we saw that many of the Forsaken were nearly as accomplished. Could it have been likely for one of them—probably Demandred—to have been named the Dragon instead? How different the world would have been if that had happened.
And the last thing I wonder about in this section is Lews Therin's insanity. Elan Morin says the Dark One's counterstroke caused the Hundred Companions to go insane. We can assume that Lews Therin also suffers from that same insanity. However, why weren't all the male channelers struck instantly insane? Why was it only those near the Bore?
We see when Rand begins to channel, that the taint comes on slowly. The more he touches saidin the more the taint affects him. This seems to be true for male channelers during the breaking as well:
Chapter 26, "The Dedicated"
“Can we trust Kodam and his fellows, Solinda?”
“We must, Oselle. They are young and inexperienced, but barely touched by the taint, and... And we have no choice.”
I would say that those who where around the Bore felt the backlash immediately, due to their close proximity to the event. Or perhaps because they were all channeling at the Bore when the Dark One struck back. If they were connected to saidin as saidin was tainted, the poison of the taint could have swarmed into them all at once.
So, when Lews Therin is "healed" by Elan Morin, his insanity goes away. He is completely lucid and remembers everything he did. Elan Morin says it is not true Healing, but it seems to do the trick. Was it temporary? Did the effects of it wear off?
Lews Therin is mad when he starts appearing in Rand's head. Many attribute that to Rand's own insanity. However, I think it could be left over from the real Lews Therin.
Elan Morin did heal Lews Therin—he was perfectly rational at the end of their discussion. However, confronting his guilt and the terrible deeds he did could have made Lews Therin insane all over again.
He was alone, as alone as a man could be while still alive, yet he could not escape the memory. The eyes pursued him through the endless caverns of his mind. He could not hide from them. His children's eyes. Ilyena's eyes.
That sounds pretty insane. The torment of his actions made his mind break all over again.
There is still so much we could talk about in regards to "Dragonmount." As I said, it's Robert Jordan's writing at its finest. But, this has gone on long enough for today. Next week, we'll start with the beginning of Rand's story, and see how far we can get (probably no more than three or four chapters). Let me know if you have anything to add to what I pointed out—if I forgot something or completely misinterpreted something, I'd love to hear. Thanks for reading!