Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Character Names: N


By Linda

Nad: Altaran Darkfriend see Names of the Shadow article.

Nacelle Kayama: Black Ajah see Names of the Shadow article.

Naean Arawn: Andoran noble. Naean is similar to a real world place name. Arawn was the Lord of the Underworld in Welsh mythology. In the Mabinogion, Pwyll set his hounds upon a stag, only to discover that the god Arawn had been hunting it also. As compensation, Arawn asked Pwyll to trade places with him for a year and a day, and fight Hafgan, Arawn's rival whom Arawn had been unable to defeat, while Arawn took Pwyll's place as lord of Dyfed. Pwyll despatched Arawn’s rival for him. Amaethon stole a lapwing, a dog, and a roebuck from Arawn, and they went to war over the theft, but Arawn lost to Amaethon and his brother, Gwydion. Like Arawn, Naean has had little luck with rivals or wars. She has had her lands confiscated because of them (Towers of Midnight, Choosing Enemies).

Naean was one of the nobles contending for the throne of Andor, and was forced to support Arymilla for the throne. She also agreed to support Elenia in exchange for escaping Arymilla and the attentions of Jaq Lounalt. She was captured by Elayne and her lands were confiscated. Naean has potentially dark associations, since her surname is linked with the Underworld.

Nakomi: Aiel woman who appeared to Aviendha and advised her. Nakomi is very similar to Nokomis, the grandmother of Nanabozho/ Manabozho, the trickster figure of the Ojibwe Amerindians. She is in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem The Song of Hiawatha:

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest.

In fact, in the Ojibwe language, the language of the traditional tale on which Hiawatha is based, Nokomis means “my grandmother”.

Nanabozho is named Hiawatha in Longfellow’s poem. Longfellow thought Hiawatha was an alternative name of Nanabozho, but he is not; he was an historic Iroquois chief who founded the League of the Iroquois. Moreover, Hiawatha’s deeds in the poem are not those of Chief Hiawatha.

Nokomis’ daughter Wenonah is seduced and abandoned by the deity Mudjekeewis, and she gives birth to Hiawatha but dies in childbirth. Hiawatha is raised by Nokomis.

The Song of Hiawatha was written in the same meter as the Finnish epic Kalevala. This is no accident: Longfellow learned some of the Finnish language and knew the Kalevala well. Longfellow wrote that there is:

a tradition prevalent among the North American Indians, of a personage of miraculous birth, who was sent among them to clear their rivers, forests, and fishing-grounds, and to teach them the arts of peace. He was known among different tribes by the several names of Michabou, Chiabo, Manabozo, Tarenyawagon, and Hiawatha.

As the son a god preaching peace and encouraging his people to listen to Christian missionaries as he departs, Hiawatha is linked to Jesus, one of Rand's parallels. Rand has parallels to both Hiawatha’s feats of magical strength and to Vainamoinen of the Kalevala (see Rand essay). The Aiel have strong parallels to the Amerindians and as the uniter of the Aiel clans, Rand has parallels to the historic Chief Hiawatha. His mother Tigaine who died giving birth to him would be a parallel of Wenonah and Minnehaha would be a parallel of Aviendha. Nakomi is not literally Rand’s grandmother although she is wise and knowledgeable. Bair said her name was ancient, but, whether she is from the distant past or the future, Nakomi’s warning to Aviendha that, as she will see in the columns, if the Aiel remain as war-obsessed as they are they will decay. It is not enough for the Aiel to have a peaceful union with each other, they also need to be at peace with the other nations.

Nakomi’s questions prompted Aviendha to search hard for answers, culminating in her trying to ‘read’ the glass columns ter’angreal and inadvertently triggering it to show her the Aiel’s likely future. The destruction of the Aiel and their role as savages isolated from the Fourth Age reflects the standing the Amerindian’s had in Longfellow’s time:

“It was Longfellow who fully realized for mid-nineteenth century Americans the possibility of [the] image of the noble savage. He had available to him not only [previous examples of] poems on the Indian…but also the general feeling that the Indian belonged nowhere in American life but in dim prehistory.”

- Roy Harvey Pearce, The Savages of America; The Study of the Indian and the Idea of Civilisation

Nakomi also spoke to Rand with approval when he collapsed outside Shayol Ghul after sealing the Dark One away.

Nalaene Forrell: Black Ajah see Names of the Shadow article.

Nalla: Rand's Da’shain Ancestor. Nala was a king in Hindu mythology that was chosen by his wife Damayanti to be her husband, rather than the more usual arranged marriage, or him choosing her. The demon Kali vowed to divert Nala from righteousness and virtue and separate the couple, but Nala was so pure that it took twelve years for Kali to find any fault in him with which he could work her evil. Under Kali’s influence, Nala gambled away his wealth and kingdom and he and Damayanti had to live in the forest where they were separated. However, he still did not deviate from the path of righteousness, and was able to overcome the influence of Kali and regain his wife and kingdom.

Nalla was a Da’shain woman who had been proposing marriage to Charn. He decided to accept the day that the Bore was drilled into the Dark One’s prison and evil re-entered the world. The Forsaken have names derived from demons and parallels to gods and goddesses, some of them dark (see Names of the Shadow and Three Strands Common to the Forsaken articles.) This parallel shows how the Da’shain were able to maintain their purity and service while the world was under the influence of the Shadow.

Nan Belman: Darkfriend see Names of the Shadow article.

Nana: alias of Nynaeve al'Meara. Nana was an Assyrian goddess, queen of the world and giver of life. Nana is also the name of a 19th century Apache Indian warrior who was one of the leaders in the Apaches' final resistance against white domination, and the name of a prominent leader in the Indian Mutiny of 1857. No wonder Nana was furious at having to attend to the ‘Lady Morelin’s’ needs! Nynaeve is a queen, a prominent leader and Healer in the war against the Shadow, and rebelled against the culture of intrigue amongst Aes Sedai.

Narasim Bhuran: Narasim is a personal name derived from Narasimha, the fourth incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu who especially defends and protects his devotees in times of need. Narasim tried to re-establish Hawkwing's empire in Andor ten years before the end of the Hundred Years war and was killed (Lord of Chaos, Connecting Lines).

Bhuran is a place in Pakistan.

Narg: Shadowspawn see Names of the Shadow article.

Neferi: Tuon’s former Soe'feia killed by Semirhage. In Ancient Egypt, the nefer hieroglyph was used to express "goodness" and "beauty". It was often included in names, for example, Nefertari, principal wife of Pharaoh Ramses II (see photo right), and Nefertiti, principal wife of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (later Akhenaten). There is considerable Ancient Egyptian influence in Seanchan culture. Neferi’s name indicates that she was a beneficial influence on Tuon.

Nemene Damendar Boann: Semirhage see Names of the Shadow article.

Nesita: Black Ajah see Names of the Shadow article.

Nesta di Reas Two Moons Nesta is a personal name meaning pure. Reas could refer to the personal name Reece or Rhys, which means enthusiastic, or to Rhea, the ancient Greek mother goddess who saved her son Zeus from being swallowed by his Titan father Cronus (see Rand essay). It was Nesta who arranged for two Sea Folk ambassadors to seek out the Coramoor and bargain the price of Sea Folk aid for his battle against the Dark One and his titanic Forsaken henchmen. The Sea Folk gained the Bowl ofWinds in their bargain with the Aes Sedai, and used it to counter the Dark One’s lethal storms at Thakan’dar, thereby fulfilling their bargain to Rand.

Nesune Bihara: Aes Sedai of the Brown Ajah. Bihara is a place in Iran and Bihar in India. These place names are derived from the word vihara, which is a college of Buddhist learning, study and meditation. Nesune, a Brown, will found a library according to Min’s viewing (The Path of Daggers, A Cup of Sleep).

Nianh: Aes Sedai advisor to Queen Ethenielle who vanished without trace upon hearing of the Tower split. Nianh is similar to the personal name Niamh. In Celtic mythology, Niamh was Queen of Tir nan Og (the Land of Youth) and she invited Oisin to go there with her. Oisin agreed and went with her to The Land of Youth for what he thought was three years. He became homesick and returned to Ireland only to discover 300 years had elapsed. When he touched Irish soil he instantly became an old man and soon died. Quite a few Aes Sedai have ‘fairy’ names.

Nirelle Coidevwin: Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah and Amyrlin Seat. Nirelle is similar to the personal name Narelle. Since Nirelle was a Green, her name may also commemorate Robert-Georges Nivelle (1856-1924), commander in chief of the French armies on the Western Front for five months in World War I.

Nisao Dachen: Aes Sedai of the Yellow. Nizao is a place in the Dominican Republic and Dachen is a place in China.

Noal Charin: Malkieri Hero of the Horn. Noal is a personal name, a surname and a place in Spain. The name sounds like ‘ know all’ and certainly knowledgeable and curious Noal aspires to know all. He may even have been a spy for someone (Graendal, for instance). Charon is the figure in Greek mythology who ferries the souls of dead across the river Styx to the underworld for the price of a coin. Noal accompanied Mat, King of the Dead/Underworld (see Mat essay), to the Otherworld of the ‘Finns to rescue Moiraine and paid for their escape with his life.

Noam: Ghealdanin. Noam probably refers to (Avram) Noam Chomsky (1928 - ), a professor of linguistics who has made contributions to theoretical linguistics, human development and the philosophy of language.

It is all the more poignant then, that his name was given to a character that is neither man nor wolf and was thought to have not only lost his humanity, but also his ability to communicate with humans or even wolves in any way. Perrin discovered in Towers of Midnight that Noam is not as impaired as he thought, but has rejected human ways, including speech, preferring the simpler and more honest life of a wolf.


Norodim Nosokawa: Historical Figure. Norodim is similar to the name Norodom. There have been a few kings of Cambodia named Norodom. Two are: King Norodom (1834-1904) (see photo left) who, under duress, placed his country under the control of the French in 1863, and King Norodom Sihanouk (1922-):

Cambodia's king from 1941 to 1955; thereafter he was prime minister, head of state, and president, and in 1993 he became king again. He attempted to steer a neutral course in the civil wars and foreign wars from the 1960s to the '90s.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Norodim was a noble who tried to take control of Hawkwing’s empire soon after Hawkwing’s death and was killed by Jalwin Moerad (Ishamael) (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time).

While Nosokawa is a Japanese surname, the name probably refers to Hosokawa Katsumoto (1430-1473):

leader of a powerful military faction in medieval Japan whose dispute with Yamana Mochitoyo, the head of the powerful Yamana clan, resulted in the Onin War (1467–77). This conflict ravaged the area around the capital at Kyoto and destroyed central control over the country's outlying regions, giving rise to almost a century of internecine warfare throughout Japan…The war dragged on inconclusively until 1477, although both Hosokawa and Yamana died in 1473.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Similarly Norodim Nosakawa was involved in contending for Artur Hawkwing’s empire against other nobles. The wars continued on long after his death for about a century (the Hundred Years War).

Notori: Black Ajah see Names of the Shadow article.

Nuli: the very ugly alias of Rand al'Thor in Winter’s Heart. While Nuli is a personal name, a surname, and a place in Georgia, the Nuli or Nuloi were also a people that the Ancient Greeks believed had backward-facing, eight-toed feet (Pliny, Natural History 7.23), which is apt, given how ugly Rand made his disguise!

Nynaeve al'Meara: Aes Sedai. Nynaeve is one of the names of the Lady of the Lake in Arthurian myth – the variant chosen by John Steinbeck for his The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights; she was also known as Nimue, Niviene, Nenive, or Vivien. The Lady of the Lake was a woman of great magical power who lived in a castle on a lake that was actually a Celtic Otherworld. Merlin fell in love with the Lady and taught her magic. He hid her castle so that passers-by would only see the lake. The Lady of the Lake decided to get rid of Merlin, and used what he had taught her to trap him. Nynaeve has great magical powers and intended to learn more of channelling at the White Tower in order to use it against Moiraine (The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn). In the Blight, Moiraine used Illusion to hide their camp by the lakes of Malkier (Nynaeve’s future home) (The Eye of the World, The Blight).

After trapping Merlin, the Lady of the Lake took over Merlin's role as King Arthur’s magical adviser. When Morgan le Fay stole Excalibur from Arthur, and gave the magical sword to her lover, Accolon of Gaul, it was the Lady of the Lake who rescued the king when he was losing his duel with Accolon by knocking Excalibur out of Accolon's hand with her magic. Nynaeve rescued Rand from Rahvin by distracting Rahvin and became one of his most trusted advisors.

The Lady of the Lake was responsible for raising Lancelot after the death of his father, King Ban. She taught Lancelot about courtly love and the duties of a true knight. In Arthurian myth, Lancelot got his epithet from his foster-mother the Lady of the Lake, whereas in the Wheel of Time world, it is the other way around – Nynaeve married Lan, the Lord of the Thousand Lakes. Nynaeve taught Lan to love:

”You have made a place in my heart where I thought there was no room for anything else. You have made flowers grow where I cultivated dust and stones.”

- The Shadow Rising, Leavetakings

According to Chretien de Troyes' Le Chevalier à la charrette, Lancelot possessed a ring given to him by the fairy who had raised him (ie The Lady of the Lake). The ring allowed him to remove any magic. Lan gave Nynaeve his ring of kingship so that she could obtain aid if she needed it (The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn). Nynaeve used it to rally the Borderlands to Lan. When he went to fight Demandred, Lan did take a medallion that negated direct weaves.

The Lady later became the guardian of Excalibur, when the dying Arthur returned the sword to the lake. It was Cadsuane rather than Nynaeve who took this role at the end of Winter’s Heart, ‘securing’ Callandor. However Nynaeve and Moiraine helped Rand trap Moridin to use it against the Dark One. After the Dark One was sealed away, no one knows what became of Callandor.

The Lady of the Lake was one of four ladies who took the dying Arthur on a boat to be healed in Avalon. Three women are prophesied to be on a boat with Rand, but they are Elayne, Aviendha and Min (see Foretellings article).

For more information on Nynaeve’s Arthurian parallels see Arthurian Who's Who essay).

Meara and O’Meara are surnames. The similar Maera has a few parallels:

In Greek mythology, Maera was the hound of Icarius, and was turned into the Dog Star, Sirius. Icarius was a follower of the wine god Dionysus and was killed by shepherds while on his travels. His daughter Erigone was worried about her father, and set off with Maera to find him. Maera led her to his grave, and both were so over come with grief that they each killed themselves. Dionysus placed them in the sky as the constellations Virgo (Erigone), Boötes (Icarius), and Sirius (Maera). Nynaeve was one of Siuan’s three hounds hunting the Black Ajah. Min had a viewing of Nynaeve grieving over a corpse. This was Rand’s body in which Moridin’s soul had died.

Maera was the daughter of Proetus and a companion of the virgin goddess Artemis. When she became Zeus’ lover, Artemis killed her. Nynaeve has excellent woods-craft skills, befitting a friend of the goddess of the hunt. (Her skills are also consistent with the hound Maera).

Maera was also an alternative spelling for Mara, the demon in Buddhist teachings who tempted Buddha with illusions. Mara personifies unskilfulness and distraction from the spiritual life. Nynaeve greatly objected to the way Aes Sedai scheme, manipulate and mislead others ( The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn).

Meara is also similar to the word mere, meaning lake – Nynaeve (Lady) of the Lake.

Al’Meara is similar to Almira, a personal name meaning princess, a surname and a place name. It may allude to Almira Hart Phelps (1793-1884), the 19th-century American educator and writer who strove to raise the academic standards of education for girls. Nynaeve has married Lan, the king of Malkier. She has been involved in the training of young women: Egwene to be a Wisdom, the Windfinders, the Kin, etc.


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Written by Linda, January 2005 and updated November 2013

Contributor: Moridin_2000


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bihar is not in Pakistan. It's in India.

Kalavati said...

To the story of king Nala under "Nalla": The king was not influenced by the goddess Kali (transcipt Kālī), but by the demon Kali (transcipt Kali). Kali is a demon or god of bad luck (hence king Nala is losing his kingdom, and everything on _dice_). Please do not confuse the Kālī and Kali. Since in English these look the same I am not surprised, though :)
Please correct it, do not make Kālī even darker than she is... :D

Linda said...

Thanks. I corrected both of these.

Anonymous said...

The Mearas were a breed of wild horses in the north of Middle-earth.