This theory explains why I think that Taim’s real identity is Moridin. It’s an old theory of mine, dating from when The Path of Daggers was released.
Taim is definitely the man who knows too much – too much for the Third Age, that is. Since knowledge is power, no wonder he’s been able to amass a lot of the latter in the short amount of time (6 months!) since he arrived in Caemlyn. More, in fact, than Rand can imagine or allow himself to believe, as we saw by his scepticism of Logain’s warning in Knife of Dreams News For the Dragon. Moreover, in that short time, Taim has made the Black Tower into a very well developed organisation, with a faction allied to the Shadow (see The Shadow's Influence on the Black Tower article); and it's not developed along Third Age lines.
And because knowledge is power, the Forsaken hoard it jealously – against each other, and against their minions. So why would any Forsaken instruct Taim on so much? They would fear the competition and feel threatened. For example, Mesaana and Alviarin have had close contact for months, yet Alviarin has been told rather little, and certainly doesn’t sound like Mesaana or anyone else from the Age of Legends. From the Forsaken’s point of view extensive education of minions is only asking for trouble, or for their ‘student’ to give the game away by revealing knowledge s/he should not have.
The simple answer for why Taim knows what no other Third Age person who hasn’t experienced the history of the Aiel knows and also knows how to test men for channelling ability and comes from nowhere yet is expert at town planning, management of large organisations, propaganda and subversion through education, all things that those from an earlier Age would know, is that he isn’t a Third Ager at all. Taim sounds like someone from the Second Age – referring to the Aiel as so-called Aiel (Lord of Chaos, Lessons and Teachers) and renegade Aiel (Lord of Chaos, Dumai’s Wells). He calls Travelling such when Rand just describes it as making a gateway (Lord of Chaos, A Woman’s Eyes). He refers to ‘testing for the Talent’ and can do so. All this is very atypical knowledge. His preference for Old Tongue titles for his lieutenants is also suggestive. The only other Asha’man to use the Old Tongue so much is/was Dashiva - a Forsaken. I believe, and have done ever since A Crown of Swords, that Moridin has been masquerading as Taim from at least when Taim arrived in Caemlyn, possibly earlier. We don’t see Taim before that - his doings are off-stage - so it’s hard to judge.
So when did Ishamael come back as Moridin? Aginor and Balthamel were transmigrated just before the Lord of Chaos, Prologue. Yet the Dark One should be bending all his concentration on restoring Ishamael first, rather than them, and in my opinion did so. Otherwise it would be like getting a pawn to the end of the chessboard and asking for a knight instead of a queen.
When Moridin appears in A Crown of Swords, he already has two cour'souvras. Therefore he has already been around a while. In The Path of Daggers, Moridin’s boast that he is playing both sides of the board only confirmed my suspicions. If he's Taim, he certainly is playing both sides.
The greatest irony of the books is that Rand, of all people; Rand, who is now blind to the threat Taim poses to him and to the Light, came closest to revealing the masquerade when he says at their first meeting:
"Taim? Keep a watch out for any student who learns too fast. Let me know immediately. One of the Forsaken might try to slip in among the students."Talk about a guilty conscience! No wonder Taim looks shocked, the most shocked he has in the series so far: he never thought his plan would be anticipated by Rand.
"One of the Forsaken!" It was almost a whisper. For the second time, Taim looked shaken, this time well and truly taken aback. "Why would—?"
Lord of Chaos, A Woman’s Eyes
My, How He’s Changed
When Taim appears in Caemlyn, Rand sees:
a black-haired man of slightly above average height whose dark face and tilted eyes, hooked nose and high cheekbones, marked him another Saldaean, though he was clean-shaven and garbed like a once prosperous Andoran merchant lately fallen on hard times. His dark blue coat had been of fine wool trimmed in darker velvet, but wear had made the cuffs ragged, his breeches bagged at the knee, and dust coated his cracked boots.Rand thinks he is about thirty five (Lord of Chaos, A New Arrival). In contrast, this is how Taim appears a few months later:
- Lord of Chaos, A New Arrival
Blue-and-gold dragons wove round the sleeves of his black coat from elbows to cuffs, in imitation of the Dragons on Rand’s arms. Though she suspected he would not appreciate the observation. He was tall, nearly as tall as Rand, with a hooked nose and dark eyes like augurs, a physically powerful man who moved with something of a Warder’s deadly grace, but shadows seemed to follow him…Taim is now taller, more powerful and apparently younger-looking (see below), with the shadows that Ishamael/Moridin calls upon. Taim acted a part to look unthreatening at that first meeting with Rand. No need for that now. And more about the shadows below.
- Winter’s Heart, Snow
Taim has gradually changed his appearance to be closer to that of Moridin, ie close to reality. Moridin is of a size with Rand. By Dumai’s Wells, Taim was nearly Rand’s height by Perrin’s observation in A Crown of Swords, High Chasaline. Moridin is clean-shaven; so was Taim when he appeared. Moridin’s eyes are blue with the saa conspicuous to intimidate the other Forsaken; Taim’s are safely dark to hide them. (Who would poke Taim in the eye to uncover the illusion?) It is essential for a long-term disguise, especially if it has to stand up to close scrutiny such as from daily contacts (eg his students) and even more especially by another Forsaken, to stick to something as close to reality as possible, as Sammael explained in Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow, the very book when Taim appears. This is far different to what Semirhage was attempting as Tuon, or Sammael as Caddar.
It's not just what Taim looks like; it's the fact that at short notice he has to be Moridin as well. As Taim he isn’t bearded because then he would have trouble with his Moridin appearances. It would be tactically wise to go with either both Taim and Moridin bearded, or both clean-shaven. The latter was the option chosen. The bearded Taim in Saldaea may or may not have been Moridin. It's immaterial to my argument and we haven't enough data to say either way.
Moridin's got a lot of plans on the go - agents in various places, plus his contact with the other Forsaken - and he moves between them. Hence he is consistently clean-shaven.
Taim appears younger than he did:
For Linda Sedai, Rand misjudges Taim's age because when they meet, you might say Taim has been rode hard and put away wet. He has just finished a long and difficult flight to reach Caemlyn, the one place where he might find refuge instead of being hunted -- along with other reasons -- and that has a wearing effect on anyone. Now that he has recovered, he doesn't look so old.RJ said "you might say Taim has been rode hard…" And that there were "other reasons" as well as a refuge which made him go to Caemlyn. You might not say that he has been rode hard either. What he said was metaphoric, almost. And what were Taim's other reasons for going to Caemlyn? Even according to RJ it was more than a rush for refuge.
- RJ on his blog
'Taim' also needed Bashere to verify his persona (something Bashere almost failed to do, which Taim explains as due to his lack of a beard) so he left a trail for Bashere to follow. We don't know how much time and trouble he took to lay the trail. Taim looked exhausted, but that was just to be convincing to Rand and co. A Taim on the run is no threat, and furthermore explains why he wants to join up. You might say that Taim was mostly guilty of over-acting when he first met Rand.
Moreover Rand knew nothing about channellers slowing in aging, so he would expect to see an older looking guy, when Taim should have looked young. But apparently not young enough for Rand to remark on it.
RJ has done ambiguous gags like this before over Taim and also over Asmo. This too is something to consider:
For Corin Ashaman, I've never changed anything because of a post. I did think of doing so when I first discovered the online community. I'd see someone who had figured out where I was going with something and think that I should change it just to keep the surprise factor. But there was always somebody else, often a lot of somebodies, who would post explaining why the first post just had to be wrong. So I went ahead and did what I had planned to do. Now, when somebody figures out what's what, I just think that's somebody who's on the ball and go on with my writing.Some have suggested that RJ was strongly tempted to do this indeed. RJ was tricky about a couple of issues, this one and Asmodean’s murder.
- RJ on his blog
Who Knows What
None of the other Forsaken know about Taim being Moridin because he doesn't want them trying to derail his plans. They were informed that Taim is a Darkfriend so they would not strike at him or undermine him even though he is a considerable rival.
Moridin takes care to keep his identities 'separate', even to the extent of giving two lots of instructions, one some days after the other, to Kisman and co about the attack on Rand in Cairhien. I think that he gave one lot as his 'Moridin' identity, either to scare them, or else because that day they were at a location that Taim was not 'supposed' to know of, or Taim supposedly had duties elsewhere.
Taim/Moridin always knew that Dashiva was Osan’gar. He probably arranged for Osan’gar’s arrival at the Black Tower, to eventually assist in teaching, a task that Osan’gar was suited to. Osan’gar didn’t know Taim is Moridin though, but would have been instructed to obey Taim. Taim was irritated when Rand chose Dashiva as part of his bodyguard because he wanted Rand to choose at least one of his henchmen – he suggested their names to Rand – because they would follow Taim’s orders. Osan'gar would be far more likely to get creative - and in fact Osan'gar did get creative, much to Taim's annoyance. Once Rand became insistent that Osan’gar was his choice, Taim looked thoughtful and began to see the possibilities in it – the unassuming Osan'gar could keep an eye on Rand and perhaps find out his plans, since Taim had no luck.
I'm still waiting for Cadsuane to set eyes on Taim. She helped capture him, so she'll have something to say on how he is now. She also has ter'angreal which can break weaves and illusion, so maybe she will remove Taim's mask of mirrors as she did with Semirhage. I think this is the thing she is going to teach all the Asha'man that they won't like: "something about Taim." All in all, it should be an interesting meeting.
Playing Both Sides of the Board…
Moridin masquerades as Taim for tactical and theological reasons. Tactically it's a good way for Moridin to hear about Rand's deeds or plans, undermine Rand’s plans and position, sow chaos with an alternative Dragon doing evil in Rand’s name, and recruit some Dreadlords at the same time. Taim’s original aim was to get close to Rand, but instead he was given the job of recruiter and teacher and boy, has he done that.
The theology is going mad and the world order is turning upside down. The Creator's champion and the Shadow's champion are linked, and, in my opinion, effectively about to trade places. The ultimate inversion of order would be the substitution of one Champion for the other. Which was a possible plot of the Shadow suggested to us early thanks to Joiya Byir, and discarded by many as false, yet it is probably the most important plot of the Shadow.
In fact, I think that Moridin will go further than the original idea of Taim being an alternative Dragon and take the risk to pretend for a time that the Shadow's champion is on the side of the Light to fool the Pattern. The Shadow will become desperate enough to try to substitute the Shadow's champion, Moridin, for the Creator's champion - have him appear to switch sides so that he does evil in the Light's name. It would be risky, but I believe that Moridin has considered it.
Then there’s the symbolism and the real world parallels. Taim is called the M'Hael meaning ‘the Leader’ in the Old Tongue. Another word meaning ‘the Leader’ in our world has very dark connotations: der Fuhrer. The name his subordinates gave Hitler. That is a very high-up name for a Darkfriend. And, moreover, Ishamael has some parallels with Hitler...A blurring, or is it linking?, of identities here.
And in Knife of Dreams we see that Taim's joint is decked out in Moridin's colours and emblazoned with the Shadow’s sigil in gold, the highest status metal, no less. Sammael and Be’lal had to be satisfied with steel and silver sigils.
Most amusingly, Logain said that Taim's eyes were practically on fire to know where Rand was and what he was up to (Knife of Dreams, News For the Dragon), a veiled link to Ishamael, and his eyes of flame from using the True Power frequently, and to Moridin, who aready has the saa, the precursor to the flaming eyes.
There’s a satisfying symmetry of Rand/Lews Therin versus Taim/Moridin here, which is why I referred to it in the title of this theory. Goodness knows the confrontation between Rand and Taim has been shaping up for long enough: Rand’s inexplicable rage every time he sees Taim, his conviction he would kill Taim if he touched Rand with the Power and Taim’s mocking ironic smiles at Rand. And Lews Therin has major unfinished business with his slanderer and manipulator, Ishamael.
Shadows and Darkness
Rand has accessed the True Power through his link with Moridin. Since then, other characters have sensed blackness and shadows around Rand:
Rand is exposed further to it due to its influence bleeding through the link from Moridin.
Moridin himself uses the True Power frequently and has quite a few saa to prove it. All the POVs of characters observing Moridin have been of those who have used the True Power themselves or at least been touched by the Dark One, so we haven’t seen darkness or shadows gathering around Moridin. We have around Ishamael, though. For example, in Tear when Rand took Callandor.
Most interestingly, Taim also has these shadows:
He was tall, nearly as tall as Rand, with a hooked nose and dark eyes like augurs, a physically powerful man who moved with something of a Warder’s deadly grace, but shadows seemed to follow him, as if half the lamps in the room had gone out; not real shadows, but an air of imminent violence that seemed palpable enough to soak up light.And Pevara noted "an air of darkness" around Taim in Knife of Dreams, Epilogue. In contrast, other Forsaken, who use the True Power as little as possible and are not allowed to at all currently, do not have these shadows visible to non-Forsaken. So it looks like Taim has channelled the True Power recently, something reserved for the Naeblis. (Any saa can be disguised by a weave. Moridin doesn’t do so because it shows the other Forsaken that he is the favoured (and insanely daring) one.
- Winter’s Heart, Prologue
Moridin is linked inside Rand’s head and Taim has attached himself outside, shadowing and sometimes pretending to be, Rand. Moridin is hidden within Rand’s head, Taim’s Black Tower is hidden inside Rand’s Black Tower. Inside and outside they surround Rand, the gamemaster relentlessly constraining the (Fisher) King piece, waiting to strike. The smiler with the knife: the man that, despite the Dreamwalkers’ warning, Rand doesn’t see, playing both sides of the board again.