Tuesday, July 31, 2001
This theory attempts to explain several of the discrepancies in the ending of The Eye of the World, namely, the broken cuendillar seal, the retreat of the Blight and Shai’tan’s release of his grip on winter.
The Waning of the Seal
The Seal on Shayol Ghul waxes and wanes with the turning of the Wheel. It is through this cycle that Ishamael was capable of escaping the Bore at multiple periods throughout the Third Age. It is therefore also reasonable to deduce that Shai’tan’s power in the world during these periods was also stronger. Because Ishamael had the fiery eyes that come from the use of the True Power in The Eye of the World, we know that at least enough of the Dark Lord’s power was available for Ishamael’s use.
The Nature of the Seal
Knowing that the Bore is a hole in the Pattern, we can ascertain that the world of The Wheel of Time and Shai’tan’s reality are separate. If we also suppose that the physical cuendillar seals had to be destroyed before he could touch the world, then the obvious conclusion is that the heartstone seals hold the saidin Seal intact, and not the other way ‘round. Thence, we are left to conclude that Shai’tan could not touch the world, except as permitted by the Seal’s waning periods as described above. And if the cuendillar seals must be destroyed for Shai’tan to touch the world, then Shai’tan cannot touch the world until the seals are destroyed. Because the seals are in this world, Shai’tan is also prevented from touching them until at least one of the seals is broken in the first place.
Putting the two previous points together, and knowing that one of the seals did break, we reason that the breaking of the first seal could only happen during one of the waning periods.
The Dark One’s Blight
We know that the Great Blight is dependent on the Shadow’s influence. It is centered around Shayol Ghul and advances when those who resist the Shadow are defeated, as happened with Malkier ( More Tales of the Wheel, The Eye of the World. ) However, the Blight does not react directly to the Shadow’s influence. Despite the breaking of at least four of the seven seals, the release of the Forsaken and Shai’tan’s increased capacity to touch the Pattern; the Blight has remained eerily quiet. This implies that Shai’tan has conscious control over the Blight, and that its growth comes through his direct influence. Thus, for the Blight to spread, Shai’tan must use part of his power.
The Tainted Weather
We also know that Shai’tan’s touch on the weather requires expenditure of power on his part. We know this directly from the thoughts of Moridin:
The Great Lord would not be pleased. He had strained from his prison to touch the world enough to fix the seasons in place. The Path of Daggers, Unweaving.
So, like the Blight, the weather’s influence requires energy on the part of the Lord of Twilight.
Spring in Shienar
In The Eye of the World, The Wheel Turns shows that not only has Shai’tan’s grip on winter been released, but that the Great Blight has retreated from the border! Based on our previous conclusions, the reasoning is evident. Shai’tan’s power has weakened, or he used it all on another task. But what could have weakened Shai’tan so much? The common answer, the one that Moiraine uses is Rand wounding Ba’alzamon. But Ba’alzamon is also wounded in The Great Hunt, and finally killed in The Dragon Reborn. In neither of these instances do we hear of the Blight receding, so this can obviously not be the answer. Another possibility is that the use of the Eye of the World weakened the Blight. Since Rand did not target the Blight with saidin, then it would be the use of the Eye itself that causes this retreat. But then, why does the Blight recede from the edges, and not from the Eye itself? To the contrary, we see that the Blight finally does touch the Green Man’s gardens, something it could not do before. And still that would not explain the correction of the weather. So. If not a weakening of Shai’tan’s power, then presumable his power was otherwise employed.
There is one fundamental difference between the seal under the Eye and the rest. The other seals were no longer indestructible. Morvrin breaks the shard of the Tanchico seal between her fingers ( To Teach, and Learn, The Fires of Heaven ) and Moiraine peels a sliver off an intact disk ( Rhuidean, The Fires of Heaven. )The first seal, however, breaks Lan’s Tairen steel knife. Even though it is shattered. Thus, the method in which that Seal was destroyed is entirely different from that which destroyed the others. The later seals were weakened over time, presumable through Shai’tan’s touch. But as we noted at the beginning of this theory, Shai’tan cannot touch the world until one of the seals have been broken. The difficulty then is destroying the first seal. After that, the others can be withered away.
This theory is that Shai’tan withdrew his power from the Blight and the weather because he knew the Dragon had been Reborn, and that he needed greater latitude before the world united against him. He withdrew all his power, and focused it into the Seal that was closest to Shayol Ghul, and destroyed it.
One final piece of evidence is that Aginor and Balthamel were released before Ishamael was wounded. Thus, the seal was already broken while it was under the Eye.