Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Character Names: R


By Linda

Radhanan: Seanchan Empress and Tuon’s mother. Her name probably refers to Radha, goddess and the principal consort of the god Krishna in the Hindu religion. She is more reverently referred to as Radharani (which is even closer to Radhanan’s name) and is considered to have neither been born nor died, but to be eternal and freed from the cycle of reincarnation. On her appearance day (not her birthday since she is not regarded as having been born) her followers are allowed special sanctions, such as chanting her name and entering her holy lake.

Empress Radhanan is little short of a goddess and has many taboos surrounding her: few have the right to speak to her, or even look at her. Such rights are a mark of special favour. We did not even learn Radhanan's name until Semirhage spoke it three times proclaiming her death (making it 'true' and also a magic spell indicating Semirhage's power over Radhanan, see Number Symbolism essay) in Knife of Dreams. She is the only one who has dared speak the Empress' name. The Seanchan always add the epithet “may she live forever”, whenever they refer to the Empress and most of them fervently wish for her to do so.

Raefar Kisman: Darkfriend Asha'man see Names of the Shadow article.

Rahvin: Forsaken see Names of the Shadow article.

Raimun Holdwin: Andoran Darkfriend see Names of the Shadow article.

Ramola: Black Ajah see Names of the Shadowarticle.

Rand al'Thor: Two Rivers. Randall and Randy meaning wild dog and Randolf meaning guard wolf, would be the closest real-world personal names. Rand(y) would be an appropriate name for a guy with three girlfriends.

Rand is a place name (in the US and Australia) and a surname. The currency of South Africa is also the rand (see photo right), taking its name from the Witwatersrand, the gold-rich ridge upon which Johannesburg is built. In shoemaking, a rand is the strip of leather applied to level the sole before attaching the heel. Rand also means a border, edge or margin, from the Old German rant, rim of a shield.

The RAND Corporation is a non-profit think tank originally formed to offer research and analysis to the United States armed forces, but now also working with other governments, private foundations, international organizations, and companies. Its aim is to "further promote scientific, educational, and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare and security of the United States of America" and "to help improve policy and decision making" through high quality, objective research and analysis. As of 2005, about one-half of RAND's research involves US national security issues. This is a rather appropriate parallel since Rand founded institutions to promote education and research and of course thought a lot about security and military issues.

Rand was originally named Rhys in early notes for the books (Robert Jordan’s notes, Wheel of Time Storyline Vol 1), a name that means ardent or rash in Welsh. As a surname of Welsh origin, Rees means "dragon", "fervor", "passion", "ultimate strength" or "zeal". The Welsh flag features the Red Dragon emblem of the Rees family and also ties the Dragon to Celtic and Arthurian myth.

Al'Thor refers to both King Arthur and the Norse thunder god Thor:

I figured most of you are far enough along that you read, that you know Rand al'Thor, al'Thor, yes he is an Arthur analog. He is also a Thor analog.

- Robert Jordan, see Real Life Influences article

Thor was the Norse god of thunder and was usually portrayed as a large, powerful man with red hair and beard and eyes of lightning. He was invoked for protection against evil. Unlike other Norse gods, he did not require human sacrifices. His wife, Sif, had golden hair. The Prose Edda mentions that Thor had a foster mother named Hlora. During Ragnarok, Thor and the Midgard serpent will kill each other. While Rand's family name is influenced by Thor, Perrin also has Thor-like attributes (see Perrin essay). Jordan split Thor's characteristics between Perrin and Rand. Perrin is a bearded guy with a powerful build who totes a hammer. Rand is a tall, red-headed lightning wielder who was fostered as a child and has a golden-haired girlfriend. He was the mainstay of the fight against evil and tried to avoid as much human sacrifice as possible. Rand and Moridin were both killed while sealing the Dark One (who is linked to serpents, see Animal Symbolism essay) away: Rand’s body and Moridin’s soul perished.

While Artur Paendrag Hawkwing is a parallel of the historic King Arthur, (see Character Names A article), Rand al'Thor is a parallel of the legendary King Arthur as his surname emphasises:
  • Arthur's emblem was a dragon. Rand is the Dragon Reborn.

  • Arthur was the son of Uther Pendragon and Ygraine, following the deceit worked upon Ygraine by Merlin. Arthur was fostered with Sir Ector. Rand's mother was Tigraine, who was persuaded by an Aes Sedai to leave her family and go to the Aiel. Upon her death, Rand was raised by foster parents Tam and Kari al'Thor. Merlin figures in Rand's life include the Amyrlin, Thom Merrilyn and Moridin (Myrddin, the Welsh version of Merlin).

  • Arthur established his right to rule by extracting the sword from the stone (or anvil in some stories). One of the proofs that Rand is the Dragon Reborn is drawing Callandor in the Stone of Tear.

  • Arthur was forced to quell a rebellion led by King Lot of Orkney. Lot sent his wife Morgause, Arthur's half-sister, to spy on the King. Arthur was unaware they were related and they became lovers and conceived Mordred/Modred, who eventually usurped Arthur’s kingdom. Rand is plagued by rebellion too—the Shaido and Brotherless, and the Tairen and Cairhienin nobles. He was anxious about whether he and Elayne are closely related, but they are not (see Ruling houses of Andor and Cairhien family tree). Morgase spied on Perrin because he is one of Rand's henchmen. Galad Damodred is Morgase’s stepson and Rand’s half-brother. He represents a positive version of Modred, while Demandred, who invaded Rand’s kingdom with his Sharans and demanded a duel with the Dragon, is a negative Modred figure.

  • After many battles, Arthur not only ended the rebellions but curbed the Saxon invaders and established a period of peace throughout Britain. Rand united the nations against the Shadow and curb the Seanchan invaders with his peace pact. He defeated the Shadow and brought peace to the world.

  • Arthur's original sword was lost in a fight with King Pellinore and he was taken by Merlin to the Lady of the Lake who gave him Excalibur. Arthur believed the sword was more precious than the scabbard, but Merlin revealed that the scabbard would protect him from harm. When Morgan le Fay stole it, Arthur's reign started to fail. Rand's original sword from Tam was destroyed in a duel with Ishamael. He accepted Laman's sword from Aviendha as a replacement, but rejected the ornate scabbard.

  • When Sir Balin attacked Sir Pellam with the Lance of Longinus and delivered the Dolorous Stroke, famine and pestilence fell over Arthur's kingdom. Arthur and his knights had a vision of the Grail and the knights scattered to quest for the Grail, leaving Arthur's kingdom in disarray. Rand's helpers were widely scattered on various quests and the Light's forces were in disarray until the Last Battle commenced. Rand fetched the keys to the great sa'angreal statues (parallels of the San Greal, the Holy Grail) to cleanse the taint on saidin, the Dark One's dolorous stroke from the Age of Legends (see The Age of Legends essay). As the Dark One's touch increased, famine and pestilence fell on the land.

  • Arthur was married to Guinevere, but Lancelot and Guinevere became lovers. The rift between Arthur and Guinevere widened and her adultery was discovered. Lancelot left for France, followed by Arthur. In Arthur's absence, Mordred seized the throne and Guinevere. Arthur hastily returned and fought Mordred at the Battle of Camlann, where Arthur and Mordred mortally wounded each other. At the start of the books, Rand intended to marry Egwene (who is a parallel of Guinevere, see Character Names E article) someday, but neither he nor Lan loves her. The rift between Rand and Egwene occurred early in series, but continued as foretold:

    "Rand al'Thor will face the Amyrlin Seat and know her anger."

    - A Crown of Swords, Prologue: Lightnings

    with Egwene trying to unite nations to prevent Rand breaking the remaining Seals. Lan left to ride to Shayol Ghul and rallied the Borderlands. There were various Modred figures keen to seize control of Rand's forces and/or kill Rand, including Mordeth, Moridin and Demandred. Caemlyn is a parallel of Camlann (see Origin of Place Names article) and there was a great battle there.

  • Excalibur was returned to the Lake and Arthur was borne away in a boat by three queens to be healed in Avalon. He is prophesied to return to Britain in a time of peril. The Dragon was reborn as Rand to save the world from the Shadow. After the Dark One was re-sealed in the Bore, Callandor was apparently lost, perhaps in the Pit of Doom. Nicola and the Aiel Dreamwalkers each have prophesied that Rand and three women will go by boat somewhere (see Foretellings article) but this has probably not yet happened.
For more information on Rand’s Arthurian parallels see Arthurian Myths and Pendragon Men essay). For information on Rand’s real-world parallels see Rand essay.

Reanne Corly: The Kin. Reanne is a personal name combining Rae and Anne. Corly is a surname.

Renaile din Calon Blue Star: Sea Folk. The similar personal name Renee means reborn and Renaile was demoted to the bottom of the Windfinders upon Nesta's death to work her way up the ranks again. Calon is a place in Haiti.

Renald Fanwar: Borderlander. Renald is a personal name meaning advisor of the king, powerful, mighty. Fanwar could mean that Renald is (not) a fan of war, or that he will fan (the flames of) war.

Rhadam Asunawa: Whitecloak. The similar personal names Radha, Radwan and Radman mean happiness, joy, pleasure. Asunawa looks sorrowful most of the time but takes pleasure in killing Darkfriends—among which he includes Aes Sedai. Asugawa is a place in Japan.

Rhea: Rand's Jenn ancestor who was taken by bandits in a raid. In Greek mythology, Rhea was foremost a mother goddess. She was married to her brother Cronus and was the mother of the gods Demeter, Hades, Hera, Hestia, Poseidon and Zeus. Cronus, knowing that one of his children would supplant him, ate his own children but Rhea managed to rescue one son, Zeus. She hid him and gave Cronus a stone wrapped in baby clothes, which he swallowed. When Zeus reached maturity, he made Cronus disgorge the other gods he had swallowed and overthrew his father and the Titans with the aid of his two brother gods Poseidon and Hades. The conquered Titans were banished to Tartarus, the abyss or pit beneath the underworld and the victorious Olympians divided the world between them. The three ta'veren worked together to overthrow the unjust regime of the Shadow (equivalents of the Titans) and the Pit of Doom at Shayol Ghul is surely a parallel of Tartarus.

The goddess Rhea was called the "mother of the gods," and Rhea was the sister of one of Rand's direct ancestors. She may well have been forced to bear children to her captor/s and descendents of her offspring from her captors may have become nobility or had leadership roles in other nations.

Rhea is also a flightless South American bird. Poor Rhea was helpless against the bandits.

Rhiannon: Queen who announced herself proudly at the White Tower and was humbled by the Aes Sedai (Crossroads of Twilight, Prologue). Rhiannon was a woman in Welsh mythology who decided she would rather marry Pwyll than be married by arrangement to Gwawl. She provided Pwyll with a magic bag, which he used to capture Gwawl and then made Gwawl agree to Rhiannon marrying Pwyl in exchange for being let free. Rhiannon gave birth to a son but the child disappeared while being minded by Rhiannon's ladies-in-waiting. Fearing blame, they made Rhiannon appear to have killed her child by smearing her with blood while she slept and laying bones around her bed. Pwyll imposed a penance on Rhiannon for her crime: she had to sit outside the gate every day for seven years telling her story to all that passed. She also had to carry anyone who asked into the court on her back. The missing boy was adopted by King Teyrnon. When he grew to an adult in only seven years he was reunited with his parents, who named him Pryderi. In the series, Rhiannon was humbled at the White Tower, just as Rhiannon of myth was forced into a penance.

Rhodric: Rand's ancestor who led the Aiel and crossed the Dragonwall. Roderic/k is a personal name meaning well-known ruler. The name may refer to Roderic king of the Visigoths from 709‒711.

Rhuarc: Aiel. The name is similar to the personal name Rourke and is pronounced the same way.

Rianna Andomeran: Black Ajah see Names of the Shadowarticle.

Rodel Ituralde: Domani. Rodel and Ituralde are both surnames.

Roedran Almaric do Arreloa a'Naloy: Murandian King. Rodran, Arreloa and Naloy are all surnames. Almaric is a personal name—an Almaric was King of Jerusalem in the 12th century—and also a surname.

Rogosh of Talmour Hero of the Horn. Rogosh is a place in Bulgaria and Talmor is a surname.

Rolan: Aiel. Roland is a personal name. In the Song of Roland, Charlemagne sent the knight Ganelon, Roland's stepfather, to negotiate peace terms with the Saracen king in Spain. Ganelon plotted with the Saracens to kill the best French knights, including Roland, and beat the French. Roland and his companion Oliver were in the rearguard of the army when they were attacked by the Saracens, and Roland refused to sound his horn Oliphant to summon reinforcements until it was too late. When he finally blew it, blood flowed from his mouth and 'burst from his forehead' and he died. Charlemagne avenged Roland by slaughtering the Saracen army, and arresting and executing Ganelon for betraying Roland's forces to the Saracens. Perrin appears to be the equivalent of Charlemagne in this parallel and Galina Ganelon. Rolan hesitated in defending himself against Perrin when he realised he was fighting Faile's husband and was killed. Galina is captured and re-enslaved by Therava rather than executed.

Romanda Cassin: Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah. Tar Valon is a parallel of Rome and Romanda's name (containing 'Roman') emphasises her reverence for Tar Valon and all Aes Sedai stand for (Crossroads of Twilight, What the Oath Rod Can Do). Romanda's struggle with Lelaine for influence in the Hall could be likened to that of the Colonna family against the Orsini family in Renaissance Rome (see Aes Sedai History: New Era essay).

Cassin is a surname and may refer to Rene Samuel Cassin (1887‒1976) (see photo above right), a French jurist and judge (Sitters often sit in judgement) who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968 for his work on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; or to Captain Cassin Young (1894‒1942) (see photo left), the distinguished US naval officer after whom the destroyer USS Cassin Young was named.

Rorik: Warder. Rorik is a personal name meaning red. There was at least one infamous Viking warrior named Rorik. Warders are often named after warriors or generals.

Rosel of Essam: Author. The name may refer to US science fiction author Rosel George Brown (1926‒1967). Esam is in Equatorial Guinea.

Rumann: Sword juggler in Luca's Menagerie. Ruman is a surname. The name may refer to actor Sig Ruman (1884‒1967), famous for his comic portrayals of pompous villains.

Ryne Venamar: Malkieri Darkfriend see Names of the Shadow article.

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Written by Linda, February 2007 and updated November 2013

1 comment:

LH said...

Another interesting aspect to Rand's name is the "Al". In arabic "al" means "the" and is used to indicate the meaning to the one named.