Welcome back to "WoT If?", Dragonmount's theory blog, and sorry for the delay. Since you've all been waiting, no doubt, with bated breath, let's jump right into today's topic: the three ta'veren, their connection to one another, and their purpose in the Last Battle.
Also, this WILL NOT contain spoilers from A Memory of Light's Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, or Chapter 11. Please refrain from posting any spoilers from A Memory of Light in the comments section. The A Memory of Light spoiler discussion board can be found here.
We know the fact that there are three ta'veren is significant. I think it shows that the Shadow is really strong and poised for victory during this Age. That is why the Wheel spun out the three together, to balance the evils within the world. And there are many threads connecting Rand, Mat, and Perrin together. They feel each others' need, they are able to see the others through an outside source with the swirling colors, and they have a similar sense of duty, knowing they must all be together during Tarmon Gai'don.
For the longest time, I've held the belief that Mat and Perrin would accompany Rand to Shayol Ghul, down into the mountain itself. There are a few pieces of evidence that support this theory, so I'll point them out quickly. First, three ta'veren together have more power than they do separately. Moiraine mentions this a couple of times in The Eye of the World. In this scene, she's speaking with Lord Agelmar, emphasizing why Rand, Mat, and Perrin must go to the Eye.
The Eye of the World
Chapter 47, "More Tales of the Wheel"
"Three ta'veren in one place are enough to change the life around them as surely as a whirlpool changes the path of a straw. When the place is the Eye of the World, the Pattern might weave even the Father of Lies into itself, and make him harmless again."
If three ta'veren can affect the Pattern around the Eye, and maybe weave the Dark One out, surely there's a greater chance of that if all three go to the Pit of Doom.
Another reason I think this is possible is because Mat and Perrin already have their functions for the Last Battle, and it will mirror their functions during the battle against the Seanchan in Falme. Mat and Perrin both fought, but not to the extent of being battle leaders. Mat sounded the Horn, Perrin held the Dragon Banner. During the Last Battle, they should have the same roles.
Naturally, there is some counter evidence to this too. The most obvious is the cover for A Memory of Light, which features Rand with Moiraine and Nynaeve going down into the Dark One's Bore. Of course, Mat and Perrin could be coming in right behind them.
Mat's battle reputation has increased significantly since Falme, so it may seem like a loss to the Light side if Mat doesn't help lead the battle. But there are still four of the Great Captains alive, plus Lan and the great Aiel leaders, and possibly even the Seanchan leaders—since all of them are considered to be like the Great Captains (Crossroads of Twilight, Chapter 23, "Ornaments"). I don't think Mat's presence would be missed too much.
If it's not possible for Mat and Perrin to be there physically, let's look at this from a different angle. Maybe their pull on each other is what the colored swirls are all about. I looked through the interview pages, and all major questions in regards to the colors was met with a RAFO. Brandon Sanderson answered one: that the colors can't be seen in Tel'aran'rhiod, or in the land of the Finns.
We know very little about this part of their connection, only that it increases as the books progress and now they can actually see what the others are doing. Maybe this will be how they stay together, through their ta'veren link. If Mat and Perrin do stay outside, they could go into a trance, being connected with Rand, though not actually inside the Bore with him.
And what of them seeing each other? This is such a strange aspect of their abilities. As I mentioned earlier, when the colors swirl, they see the others through an outside source—not from the others' eyes, or even from another person in the room. It's like an out-of-body experience; they float in the space in front of the others. Whose eyes are they seeing through? Is it the Pattern that picks a spot from which to see? Is the Pattern that all-encompassing? The Pattern, the fabric of reality, should have access to every aspect within the world, right?
Let's look at the first time Mat actually sees an image with the colors:
Crossroads of Twilight
Chapter 3, "A Fan of Colors"
Whenever he thought of Rand or Perrin, colors swirled in his head. A part of being ta’veren, he supposed. This time, he had not thought of either of his friends, but the colors had suddenly been there, a fan of a thousand rainbows. This time, they had almost formed an image, a vague impression that might have been a man and a woman seated on the ground facing one another.
And here's a more recent one, from when Tam tells Perrin he needs to go with the Aes Sedai:
Towers of Midnight
Chapter 29, "A Terrible Feeling"
The colors swirled. Rand walked the hallways of the Stone of Tear. His expression was dark. Dangerous.
This implies that Perrin's vision is moving with Rand, like a tracking shot. Most of the time, they dismiss the images, making them go away. If they didn't, would they stay connected for longer lengths of time?
It's been answered by Robert Jordan that souls cannot be split, so the out-of-body experiences they are having doesn't suggest that they are part of the same soul, able to view another third of their body.
But I'm sure the swirls of colors is the key in some way to the Light's triumph over the Shadow. Perhaps that's the true meaning of the prophecy, "the three shall be as one" (The Gathering Storm, Chapter 48, "Reading the Commentary").
That's all for this edition. Join me next week for an examination of whether Perrin and Faile will survive the Last Battle. Thanks for reading!