Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Character Names: O



By Linda

Olver: Cairhienin. While Olver is a surname, it also probably refers to the personal name Oliver, which has a few important parallels.

The first is to the main character of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, one of the authors Jordan considers has had the greatest influence on his work (1998 online interview). Oliver Twist was the first novel in the English language to have a child as the main character (Frank Donovan, The Children of Charles Dickens) and Olver is the first and most prominent child character in the Wheel of Time series.

Oliver Twist is a particularly unfortunate orphan: his mother was a single mother who died in childbirth, he was at a baby farm until he turned nine and then at the workhouse. Desperately underfed, he asks for more food and becomes apprenticed out to an undertaker as a child mourner so he doesn't make further trouble. There, he is bullied by his fellow apprentice Noah Claypole, and his master's wife. When Noah insults the memory of his mother, Oliver beats him and is punished by the master's wife. He runs away to London and meets the Artful Dodger who introduces him to Fagin, the boss of a criminal gang. Oliver is one of a trio picking pockets but he doesn't participate. They are caught and arrested. Oliver is cleared and taken home by Mr Brownlow, the man whose pocket was picked. He is kidnapped by Fagin's group and forced into burglary. On his first job, he is shot and cared for by the people he was supposed to rob. One of Fagin's group warns Oliver's carers and is murdered. All ends happily with the villains dead or punished and Oliver cared for physically and financially.

Olver was also orphaned and starving when he crossed Mat's path after being accused of the 'crime' of sitting on a noble's horse (Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance). Mat put Olver into the care of a woman who just wanted the money and had no interest in Olver, just as Oliver Twist was at a baby farm (Lord of Chaos, Heading South). Olver consequently ran away and joined Mat and the Band. He insisted on working for money, not charity (Lord of Chaos, Heading South). He was feared lost in Ebou Dar for some hours when the Seanchan invaded at the end of A Crown of Swords). Noah's name is similar to that of Noal—they even have the same initials—but Noal did not bully Olver; he rescued him from Trollocs.

Oliver/Olivier was the name of one of King Charlemagne's knights. In The Song of Roland, a legend derived from the historic King Charlemagne's court, Charlemagne's nephew Roland and his companion Oliver were in the rearguard of the army that had been fighting Muslims. They were attacked, but Roland refused to sound his horn Oliphant to summon reinforcements until it was too late. Oliver was killed in the battle and Roland died from the exertion of blowing the horn.

Roland's companion Oliver is a parallel of Olver. Mat had already used the Horn of Valere to summon the Heroes at Falme, but was no longer linked to it, because he was killed by lightning that Rahvin summoned. The Horn was lost in the Blight with Faile’s group. She gave it to Olver as a last resort and, as Shadowspawn attacked him, he sounded it in desperation. Noal led a few Heroes of the Horn to save him.
Oliver/Olivier is also the name of a demon—the demon of mercilessness toward the poor. Olver was left destitute when he was orphaned, at the mercy of nobles who punished him for touching their horses.

Orander: One of the three foolish kings in the story Mara and the Three Foolish Kings. The name has some resemblance to the personal name Orlando but is perhaps closer to Oranda, a place in the US.

Ordeith: Padan Fain see Names of the Shadow article.

Oscar: Hero of the Horn. Oscar is a personal name and may refer to Oscar, son of Oisi­n and the fairy Niamh in Irish mythology. He was the best fighter in the Fianna, the warrior bodyguard of the High King of Ireland. High King Cairbe turned against the Fianna, thinking they were overbearing, and in the ensuing battle Oscar killed Cairbe in single combat but was fatally wounded himself. The Fianna was destroyed.

Osan'gar: Aginor see Names of the Shadow article.

Otarin: Alternative guise of Oscar, Hero of the Horn. Otari is a place in Congo and in Japan.

Owyn: Thom's nephew. Owyn is similar to the personal name Owen or Owain and may refer to Sir Owain, son of Urien, an historic person who became incorporated into Arthurian myth as King Arthur's nephew and cousin to Sir Gawyn.

The historic Owain was the son of Urien, king of Rheged in Britain in the late 6th century and fought with his father against the Angles. He inherited the kingdom from his father, and died c. 595 defending it from other Britons. When he fell so did the kingdom.

The Arthurian Owain is the main character in Chretien de Troyes's Yvain, the Knight of the Lion and a similar tale in the Welsh Mabinogion, Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain. He seeks a magical fountain in the forest and finds it well defended by a knight. Owain defeats the knight and marries the knight's wife, Laudine, but loses her love when he neglects her for knightly quests. After winning several more quests he is eventually reconciled with her. In The Dream of Rhonabwy, also in the Mabinogion, Owain plays a game of gwyddbwyll (a parallel of the game sha'rah, see Sha'rah article) against Arthur while Rhonabwy looks on and the Saxons prepare to fight.

Owyn is Thom's nephew, not Rand's (the parallel of King Arthur). It was Owyn's channelling that was his undoing, not his fondness for quests. Owyn did not play a game of sha'rah, he was a piece in the game and his influence on the game (and the Pattern) lingers on in the lives of Thom and that of the Red Ajah.


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Written by Linda, February 2007 and updated November 2013

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Owyn might also be a parallel of Owyn Beleforte. A fictional character who first appeared in the computer game Betrayal at Krondor which is situated in Raymond E. Feist's world of Midkemia. He was the son of a noble and Owyn used part of his father's wealth to travel and study magic in secret.

Landro

Shadar said...

Except that EotW came before Betrayal at Krondor. So Owyn Beleforte is more likely the parallel, not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

Very good point shadar.
I'll blame my mistake on having played that game several years before starting on WoT :)

Landro