Hello, everyone. Welcome back to "WoT If?". This will be the start of a two part look at the events that happened in the conclusion of The Eye of the World. There are a few things that are a little fuzzy and unexplained at the end, plus a lot of things that might come full circle in A Memory of Light.
Spoiler warning! This will include content from many books in the series, including Towers of Midnight, and speculation about A Memory of Light. Please read at your own risk.
First off, what is the Eye of the World? We get a description of what it actually is near the end of the first book. Moiraine says:
The Eye of the World
Chapter 50, "Meetings at the Eye"
"It might be called the essence of saidin." The Aes Sedai's words echoed round the dome. "The essence of the male half of the True Source, the pure essence of the Power wielded by men before the Time of Madness. The Power to mend the seal on the Dark One's prison, or to break it open completely."
From this description, it seems as if the Aes Sedai during the Age of Legends cleansed just this little bit of the Source, the same way Rand cleansed all of it in Winter's Heart. They worked together, and through the taint, to make this pool of pure saidin. But, pay attention to that last sentence. Moiraine believes that the Eye can seal the Bore, or it can break it open. In fact, she says multiple times that the Eye might be able to seal in/break free the Dark One.
The Eye of the World
Chapter 43, "Decisions and Apparitions"
"There is enough power in the Eye of the World to undo his prison. If the Dark One has found some way to bend the Eye of the World to his use..."
Here, Moiraine suggests that the Eye can undo the Dark One's prison. We know that the One Power can't break cuendillar, but Moiraine is saying it can. Rand also has plans to break the remaining seals. But how is this possible? The seals have weakened, yes, but can the Power in the Eye really break cuendillar, no matter how old? Maybe so. Moiraine makes a comment that "four men with hammers" can break the remaining seals and free the Dark One (The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 2, "Rhuidean"). However, they don't know this information during The Eye of the World, so she shouldn't be assuming the Eye, and saidin, can break the Dark One free.
Also, Moiraine and Lord Agelmar have a discussion that hints at the Eye's power.
The Eye of the World
Chapter 46, "Fal Dara"
"You cannot be saying he [the Dark One] is loose!" Rocklike Agelmar sounded shaken, and Moiraine quickly shook her head.
"Not yet. If we win at the Eye of the World, perhaps not ever again."
According to this, Moiraine thinks that Rand using the Eye will seal the Dark One again, solving all their problems. Okay, okay. She does use the word "perhaps," which is Aes Sedai doublespeak. However, she seems to have a lot of confidence that the Eye's power will be glorious. When Rand does use the Eye, he doesn't do anything even close to sealing in the Dark One—he does believe he killed Shai'tan, but Moiraine and others don't believe it. If there was so much potential in the Eye, did Rand waste it? Was it used for a purpose other than for what it was initially intended? We'll speculate on that a bit later.
So, we know the Eye is a pool of saidin, made clean by the sacrifice of male and female Aes Sedai. We know a bit of its presumed power. But that doesn't tell us a thing.
There are several theories about what the Eye actually is, or rather, what it does to Rand. Here's three that might work.
First: the Eye of the World, with its pure Power, is the Creator. That is, the Creator is the One Power.
This seems plausible on the surface. We typically think of channeling and channelers as doing the Creator's work. The True Source is, after all, the power that drives the Wheel of Time and weaves the Pattern. The Creator made the Pattern, so it seems logical that the Creator is the One Power. However, in an interview, a fan asks Robert Jordan something that might say the opposite:
Paul Ward: Possible question: Is the Dark One pure True Power? Why does the Creator ignore Randland except to talk to Rand at the end of The Eye of the World?
Robert Jordan: No, the Dark One is not pure True Power. Who says the Creator takes little interest in the activities of mankind? And I will neither confirm nor deny that the Creator spoke to Rand.
There are two pieces of information here, but let's focus on the Dark One not being purely True Power. If the Dark One isn't the True Power, then I don't think the Creator can be the One Power. It's likely that the One Power comes from the Creator—like True Power comes from the Dark One—but they are two separate forces/energies/beings.
The second part of that answer talks about the ALL CAPS voice Rand hears in his head after he accidently Travels to Tarwin's Gap. We'll get to that in next week's post, so just put it on hold for now.
Second: the Eye of the World is just a pool of saidin intended to hide the Dragon Banner and the Horn of Valere.
Those artifacts are indeed important to the next book. Without both of them, Rand could not have beaten Ishamael in the sky above Falme. Also, the Heroes of the Horn wouldn't have helped Rand unless he had the Dragon Banner too. Artur Hawkwing says:
Chapter 47, "The Grave is No Bar to My Call"
"Something is wrong here. Something holds me." Suddenly he turned his sharp-eyed gaze on Rand. "You are here. Have you the banner?" A murmur ran through those behind him.
"Yes." Rand tore open the straps of his saddlebags and pulled out the Dragon's banner. It filled his hands and hung almost to his stallion's knees. The murmur among the heroes rose.
"The Pattern weaves itself around our necks like halters," Artur Hawkwing said. "You are here. The banner is here. The weave of this moment is set. We have come to the Horn, but we must follow the banner. And the Dragon."
Hawkwing implies that this was the way the Pattern wanted it. Since the Heroes seem to have quite a bit of knowledge about certain things while they wait in Tel'aran'rhiod, we can be pretty sure he knows what he's talking about. It's also interesting to note that Hawkwing says they will only follow the banner and the Dragon. We had other sources earlier in The Great Hunt say that the Heroes will fight for whichever side blows the Horn. Is this another thing Aes Sedai don't really know the truth about, or is this particular moment in the Pattern something that needs to be specifically set?
So, the Banner and the Horn are terribly important for the forward movement of the characters and the world. But would so many Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends sacrifice themselves for this? Possibly. Rand needed those items, and the world would have died if he didn't have them. Could the Eye be just an elaborate hidey-hole?
If that were true, and the Eye is just an insignificant pool of saidin, why is Aginor so keen on using it? Robert Jordan was asked that very question in an interview:
LordJuss: Why was Aginor so interested in the Eye of the World? He could channel clean saidin anyway so it shouldn't have been an issue?
Robert Jordan: He was able to channel clean saidin, true, but only through the "filter" which had been provided by the Dark One just a short time previously, which meant the Dark One would be aware of him channeling wherever he was. Remember, Aginor was the creator of the Trollocs; he is quite able to reason things out clearly, at least in a scientific sense. Also, he wasn't certain whether or not the Dark One also would know what he was doing when he channeled, too. For someone as secretive, competitive, and generally untrustworthy as one of the Forsaken, the Eye of the World amounted to a valuable asset if it could be secured. To put it simply, Aginor saw a means of channeling without the Dark One looking over his shoulder, and maybe a way to increase his own power at the expense of those who didn't have that advantage. Balthamel might well have been for the long drop, administered by Aginor, if things hadn't worked out differently.
This quote seems to imply that Aginor only wanted the Eye for the extra bit of Power, and a way to channel unobserved. Makes it sound kind of pointless, huh?
Third: the Eye of the World is a link to Rand's past lives and memories.
Drekka Mort posted on the Dragonmount forums:
"I think it might be the Eye that gave him [Rand] access to past life memories. He didn't remember any past lives in book 1, but in book 2 when Mat blew the Horn, Rand said not only could he recognize the Heroes by their names and variations, but he had to fend off remembering countless of his own past lives. Those memories were there very early."
This is an interesting theory. One of the main reasons I would believe this is because it takes absolutely no outside source for Rand to remember all his past lives in "Veins of Gold" (The Gathering Storm, Chapter 50). The memories were inside him the whole time; it only took Rand's acceptance to open them all up.
From this, I would say that the Eye stayed with Rand even after all its Power was used up. It's something that went into his skin, into his bones, into his soul. Some evidence that this might be correct comes from an interview with Brandon Sanderson:
Jeff Edde: Interesting. In The Eye of the World, Rand uses Light and Power. Is it significant that he uses Light and Power again in Towers of Midnight?
Brandon Sanderson: Yes.
Jeff Edde: Can Rand channel Light and Power as a result of touching the Eye of the World, or does he have access to it because he is who he is?
Brandon Sanderson: It was the power in the Eye, so far as I know.
From this, we can gather that Rand still has access to the Power of the Eye, since he can still channel Light and Power. In Towers of Midnight, Naeff is the one who notes Rand's incredible abilities:
Towers of Midnight
Chapter 32, "A Storm of Light"
The Asha'man Naeff—standing beside Bashere—gasped. "I've never seen so many weaves at once," he whispered. "I can't track them all. He's a storm. A storm of Light and streams of Power!"
After accepting his memories in "Veins of Gold," Rand's madness seems to leave him completely. When Nynaeve Delves into Rand's mind she sees something odd:
Towers of Midnight
Chapter 15, "Use a Pebble"
The darkness was enormous, covering the entirety of his mind. Thousands upon thousands of the tiny black thorns pricked into his brain, but beneath them was a brilliant white lacing of something. A white radiance, like liquid Power. Light given form and life. She gasped. It coated each of the dark tines, driving into his mind alongside them. What did it mean?
A liquid Power. Like the Eye? Most likely, I'd say. How did it get there? Probably from when Rand first used the Eye. It could have stayed with him, flowing in him, without him knowing. It laid dormant until he was able to reconcile his present life with his past lives. So, if there's a link still there between himself and the Eye, can the Eye's Power be refilled?
Well, that's a good place to stop for today. Next week we'll delve (no pun intended) a little deeper into who that ALL CAPS voice might be.