WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR A MEMORY OF LIGHT
This essay details the parallels I think were used to develop Rand. Rand has many roles in the series: champion, leader, conqueror, ta’veren, unwitting destroyer, but first and foremost, he is a saviour figure, a messiah.
Messianism is the belief in a future saviour figure who will overcome evil in the world with his/her sacrifice. Jordan’s original impulse to write the Wheel of Time story came from wondering how it would feel to discover you were a messiah:
"What if you were tapped on the shoulder and told you had to save the world?With his sacrifice, Jordan’s saviour aimed to prevent the end of the world.
- Robert Jordan in an interview
Christ is an obvious parallel for Rand, but he is not the only messiah figure Rand is based on, as Jordan explained:
How much of Jesus Christ is there in Rand? We have the wounded palms, side wound, crown of swords...How representational of Jesus Christ is Rand?The similarities between various real world saviour figures and Rand will be discussed in turn.
Rand has some elements of Jesus Christ, yes. But he is intended more to be a general "messiah figure." An archetype such as Arthur, rather than a manifestation of Jesus Christ in any way.
- Real World Influences article
For Christians, Jesus died for mankind’s salvation: a sacrifice offered to God as atonement for human sin and as the price paid to redeem man from the devil. Rand is prophesied to sacrifice himself to free the world of the Dark One, the Wheel of Time devil. Not surprisingly, Rand as saviour of his world has quite a few similarities with Christ:
- He was born in a place of discomfort (the side of a mountain in the snow rather than a stable).
- His mother was a Maiden (but not a virgin).
- He was ‘hidden away’ as a baby in the isolated Two Rivers while his enemies searched for him and killed innocent children (and men) in the hope that he would be one of them (New Spring).
- His adoptive father did carpentry (The Eye of the World, Winternight).
- He was proclaimed by a prophet (Masema, initially a John the Baptist-like figure).
- He was confirmed in his role by the Creator. In The Eye of the World, Against the Shadow, the Creator said “I WILL TAKE NO PART” in destroying the Dark One’s forces. “ONLY THE CHOSEN ONE CAN DO WHAT MUST BE DONE, IF HE WILL.” The Creator told Rand that he would not interfere, that Rand was his Chosen One and that only he can do what must be done to defeat the Shadow. This is a parallel to God in the New Testament announcing at Jesus’ baptism that Jesus was his son and he was well pleased with him (Matthew 3:17, Luke 3:22). Furthermore at Jesus’ transfiguration:
A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him."which is even closer to the Creator’s words. At Shayol Ghul, to Moiraine’s awe, the Creator confirmed to Rand that it was the time for him to battle the Dark One (A Memory of Light, At the Edge of Time).
- Luke 9:35
- He had wounds that are the equivalent of the stigmata (the heron brands on his palms, the wound in his side and the wound to his heel) and was flagellated.
- He was tempted by the devil through the Dark One’s surrogate Ishamael. Ishamael offered Rand dominion over all the world (under Ishamael) in The Eye of the World, Decisions and Apparitions, and then teaching of channelling, protection from the taint on saidin and immortality in The Great Hunt, Kinslayer, if Rand would only serve the Dark One. Through Moridin, Rand drew on the True Power and was exposed to its extreme addictiveness and corruption (The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could Be Done). He became deranged and was tempted to destroy the world, thus serving the Dark One’s purpose (The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold).
- He had disciples who helped him in his task, including Aes Sedai who fulfilled a Sea Folk prophecy of the Coramoor:
Aes Sedai shall kneel to wash his feet and dry them with their hair.This is similar to the female follower in Luke 7:38 who wet Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them dry with her hair.
- The Shadow Rising, The Wavedancer
- He had a prickly Crown of Swords (not thorns).
- He violated custom and changed law (Aiel, Tear, Cairhien).
- He was despised by many and abused by some (who violated their office, as ambassadors, to do so).
- He was associated with miracles (ta’veren twistings of the Pattern which produced extremely unlikely events (Lord of Chaos, A Saying in the Borderlands) and since his epiphany, an ability to restore health to the Land and beings and bring sunlight wherever he goes).
- He tried to bring peace (though often by the sword).
- He conquered under the sign of the ancient Aes Sedai as prophesied, just as Constantine, the first Christian emperor, had a vision and dreamed that he would conquer under the Chi Rho sign (which is XP overlaid). (Constantine was portrayed with Sol Invictus, a parallel of Rand, on his coinage and Rand is an Emperor figure who is a parallel of both Christ and Sol Invictus.)
- He expressed righteous anger at the Dark One’s attempts to break the spirits of those defending Maradon (Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light) and cleared them from it and the surrounding area, like Christ cleansing the Temple.
- He did not retaliate when the Borderlander rulers struck him but turned the other cheek.
- He took unto himself the great sin of killing with balefire:
”Graendal used Compulsion on him. Now I will kill her for it—that action will be my sole responsibility.”It was the only way the Forsaken could be reliably killed, and is why he was personally killing most of them. The Dark One forces others to sin as well as tempts them.
- The Gathering Storm, A Conversation with the Dragon
"Test him!" Rand whispered, voice dangerous. "Before condemning me, let us first determine if my sins have achieved anything beyond my own damnation."… "What you have done is an abomination, Rand al'Thor."
- The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light
- He wandered alone on a spiritual quest.
- He struggled with the corrupting influence of the Dark One, the insidious link with Moridin, through which he drew the True Power, and the influence of the taint from channelling and from the wound Ishamael gave him – and after three days triumphed over it on a mountaintop. He appeared transformed by his epiphany, able to perform ‘miracles’ such as regrowing an entire crop of apples instantly, and expressed penitence, considered the population his people and humbly kept his old brown cloak.
- He faced the Dark One in the Pit of Doom as prophesied (a descent into hell, or a harrowing of hell – certainly a hell that harrowed Rand) and, most importantly,
- He was prepared to sacrifice himself to save the world from evil and shed blood, again as prophesied, to save humanity from the Shadow:
His blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul, washing away the Shadow, sacrifice for man's salvation.Part of that sacrifice was the sin of using balefire.
- The Shadow Rising, Reflection
Rand died, or at least, his body died, after the Last Battle was over, and his soul was transmigrated into Moridin’s body, so Jordan combined events of the Crucifixion with the events of Armageddon, the last battle.
As the Dragon Reborn, it was Rand’s task to undo what Lews Therin did:
That's why he lived again, and that was the answer to Tam's question. I fight because last time, I failed. I fight because I want to fix what I did wrong. I want to do it right this time.By breaking the Seals he could clear the rubble and rebuild, as Herid Fel said (Lord of Chaos, Thorns). Rand had to repair the damage from the Age of Legends: cleanse saidin, destroy the temptation and hubris of the Choedan Kal, and defeat the Dark One and seal him away, even if he must sacrifice himself in so doing. Rand redeemed Lews Therin’s fall from grace just as Christ, the second Adam, redeemed Adam (a parallel of Lews Therin, see Lews Therin essay).
- The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold
During the time of Hellenistic rule over the Hebrews (200-165 BC), the idea of the Messiah became established in Judaism; the King of Israel who will deliver the people from their enemies and establish the New Jerusalem on earth where he will reign for a period in righteousness, equity, justice, and truth. The Messiah first appears in the Intertestamental (or Apocryphal; this is the period between the Old and New Testaments) texts and some of these have interesting parallels with Rand.
In the Psalms of Solomon 17:21-46, God is implored to raise up the future king of Israel, the son of David, who will destroy all God’s enemies, shatter unrighteous rulers, destroy the pride of the sinner, smite the earth with the word of his mouth and destroy the godless nations. At his rebuke nations shall flee before him. This is similar in content to a few of the Prophecies of the Dragon:
“He has yet to break the nations… What chains has he broken, and who put into chains?”Rand also enforced fairer laws in his subject nations that previously had inequitable legal systems eg Tear.
- The Dragon Reborn, The Hunt Begins
“Soul of fire, heart of stone, in pride he conquers, forcing the proud to yield. He calls upon the mountains to kneel, and the seas to give way, and the very skies to bow."
- A Crown of Swords, Opening prophecy
“As the plough breaks the earth shall he break the lives of men and all that was shall be consumed in the fire of his eyes. The trumpets of war shall sound at his footsteps, the ravens feed at his voice and he shall wear a crown of swords.”
- A Crown of Swords, As The Plough Breaks The Earth
In the Damascus Document, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Qumran sect, the Guardian “shall loosen all the fetters which bind them that in his Congregation there may be none that are oppressed or broken”, just as the Dragon Reborn is said to “tear apart all ties that bind” (The Great Hunt opening prophecy), and “break all oaths, shatter all ties” (The Great Hunt, What Was Meant To Be). In Lord of Chaos, Rand named himself as the first Asha’man, a name meaning guardian. Interestingly, the desert-dwelling Qumran sect believed they were not just a ‘remnant’ of their time, but of all times – the final remnant (like the Aiel).
In some Judaic writings the royal messiah is a saviour figure, in others his role is more of an earthly king. Ideas on the duration of the messiah’s kingdom also vary: some think it will be conquered by enemy nations and that then God may intervene, while others think that the end of time will follow immediately after and the dead will be resurrected. The latter is close to New Testament writings.
Rand is like the royal messiah: his mother was Daughter Heir to the throne of Andor and his father was an Aiel Clan Chief, and he united the nations for Tarmon Gai’don. He was prepared to conquer them all and rule them if that was what was necessary to do this (The Fires of Heaven, Glowing Embers). Word of his coming was enough to disrupt peoples’ lives and whole nations. His instructions also changed proud nations such as Tear and the Aiel. There is currently no known prophecy of Rand ruling in the Fourth Age after the Shadow is defeated, as the royal messiah does in Judaic writings. Nor will the Fourth Age necessarily be a paradise, since there is much to repair after the Last Battle. Rather than the end of time occurring with the Light’s victory, the Light prevented the Shadow from ending time. This is different from Judaic thought, where in some writings, time will end and eternity begin after the messiah comes; and also from Christian thought, where eternity will begin after evil is defeated by the messiah.
Saoshyans is the final saviour of the world in Zoroastrianism and will be conceived by a virgin. Two previous saviours appeared, one at the end of the two previous millennia. Saoshyans will overcome the evil forces at the end of time and resurrect the bodies of the dead, then he and six helpers will lead the work in the world, communicating with each other miraculously (Encyclopaedia Britannica).
Rand is like Saoshyans. His previous incarnation, Lews Therin saved the world at the end of the Age of Legends about three millennia ago. Rand was “born of the Maiden, according to Prophecy” (The Shadow Rising, opening prophecy) and was prophesied to be a sacrifice for world salvation. He overcame the evil forces of the Shadow and prevented the end of time. The three ta’veren were each able to see what the others were doing by a vision through swirling colours. If the Light planned for the Last Battle properly, they could have used some of the ter’angreal with Elayne to communicate with each other more reliably (see Jewellery and Statues sections of the Ter'angreal and Allied Items article and The Cache from Ebou Dar article). However, communication between characters has been so bad it was miracle enough if they communicated at all.
The Indo-Iranian deity Mithra was god of the morning light and of contracts and covenants, who:
is depicted as the all-observing god of heavenly light, the guardian of oaths, the protector of the righteous in this world and the next, and, above all, as the archfoe of the powers of evil and darkness—hence, the god of battles and victory.Rand is the Creator’s champion, born to battle the Shadow and with his victory, save the righteous (or at least those not Darkfriends). He is also Lord of the Morning and He Who Comes With The Dawn, and the Aiel follow him to redeem their breaking of their covenants with the Aes Sedai (The Great Hunt, A New Thread In The Pattern). Rand founded the Asha’man to be guardians and protectors of “truth and justice and right for everyone” (Lord of Chaos, The Black Tower) and named himself as the first Asha’man. In fact asha was the Iranian personification of natural and ethical cosmic order and truth and was connected with the sacred element fire. Asha’man are often strong in Fire.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
Mithra influenced the cult of the saviour figure Mithras:
One Mithraic hymn begins: “Thou hast redeemed us too by shedding the eternal blood.”This is reminiscent of the prophecies that Rand’s blood would be shed for man’s salvation and that he has been reborn time and again to save the world. One of the seven grades of initiation in Mithraism was the soldier grade. In the initiation ritual of this grade the initiate was presented with a crown on a sword, and he had to refuse it, saying, "My crown is Mithras!" The asha’man have three grades, not seven, and the lowest is the soldier grade. In a neat reversal, Rand was presented with a crown of swords, not a crown on a sword.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
Golden-coloured Maitreya, the future and final Buddha, “is related at least by his name to Mithra, the solar god of the Iranians” (Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology) and Buddha is a parallel of Rand.
Buddha was born Siddhartha and in some accounts his birth was a virgin birth. Two possible destinies were foretold for him:
If Siddhartha embraced a world life, he would grow to be a chakravartin (literally, a “wheel-turner”), a great emperor over a unified India. If he embraced asceticism, he would become a world savior – a Buddha.A wheel-turner sounds rather like a ta’veren and is also reminiscent of the prophecy:
Robert M Place, The Life of Buddha
"spinner-out of fate. Who thinks he turns the Wheel of Time, may learn the truth too late."Dissatisfied with a material life, Siddhartha went on a spiritual quest and chose the Middle Way, between extremes of denial and indulgence. Rand steered an uneasy course between denial and indulgence and between attachment and detachment, support and isolation, and peace and violence, too.
-A Crown Of Swords, Closing prophecy
As Siddhartha drew close to enlightenment:
Mara, the Evil One, king of the demons called maras, realised that Siddhartha was nearing his goal. If Siddhartha could find an end to suffering, this would be a threat to Mara’s power, and he was determined to interfere.Likewise, Moridin (a parallel of Mara) set Cyndane to tempt Rand, Graendal to inflict suffering, and Semirhage to torture him.
Robert M Place, The Life of Buddha
The demons were unsuccessful because:
Siddhartha had ceased to echo emotions like fear and anger, emotions that the demons needed to feed on. In place of these emotions they found only compassion.Mara made the final attack himself but Siddhartha reached enlightenment:
Robert M Place, The Life of Buddha
For the first time, he could see the entire wheel of rebirth, including all of his past lives...It was only when he replaced all concern for himself with total compassion that he was free. When he did this, he was no longer a separate ego and he and the world become one.He became a Buddha as the sun rose.
Robert M Place, The Life of Buddha
Rather than feel compassion, Rand hardened himself to block his feelings in the face of his crushing sense of responsibility and the trauma the Shadow inflicted on him. Having crippled himself, he felt only negative emotions. Rand was increasingly one with the world throughout the series and experienced his past lives at his epiphany. He now has Lews Therin’s memories (Towers of Midnight, A Testing). Rand’s eyes show the depths of the wisdom and compassion he has gained. He is no longer concerned with ego and shows humility and mindfulness. Rand still does feel anger, though, since his enlightenment, such as when he saw how the Dark One tried to break those defending Maradon.
After enlightenment, the Buddha had two choices:
He could enter Nirvana at once, or he could renounce his own deliverance for a while in order to remain on earth and spread his message. Mara, of course, urged him to enter Nirvana. Mara argued that people are ignorant and incapable of understanding Buddha’s wisdom and that Buddha should leave them to their own devices.This is the final trick of the ego.
Robert M Place, The Life of Buddha
Rand’s choice on Dragonmount was whether to destroy the world or try to fix his mistakes and get it right this time. His decision to do the latter automatically meant he stayed on earth for a while longer. Rand’s choice at Shayol Ghul was whether to destroy the Dark One, or seal him away. During their spiritual battle, Rand let go of negative feelings such as fear and guilt in order to survive the Dark One’s onslaught without being broken by suffering. His body was destroyed but he transmigrated to Moridin’s body to remain on earth.
Even after reaching Buddhahood the Buddha’s life was not without strife and danger: there are legends of assassination attempts, and attempts to twist or undermine his teachings and subvert his followers. The Shadow continued to attempt the same with Rand.
Kalki is the tenth and final avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu the Preserver. He is yet to appear and will come to end the current Kali Yuga, the Age of Destruction (see Eschatology essay). Kalki is depicted with sword in hand, riding a white horse. He will overcome the demon Kali who rules the Kali Age, rid the world of evil, reconcile opposites and restore righteous rule to the Earth. This is more or less Rand’s task: to defeat the Shadow, remove the Dark One’s touch from the world, restore balance and bring about the end of the Age. Rand’s peace is of the sword (The Dragon Reborn, The Hunt Begins) and as winter’s heart he is said to ride a black horse (a dark horse? ;)):
In the heart of winter shall winter’s heart be born amid the wailing of lamentations and the gnashing of teeth, for winter’s heart shall ride a black horse, and the name of it is death.The horse may be black rather than white because Rand is not only a parallel of Kalki, but of Shiva the Destroyer as well.
- Winter’s Heart opening text
As an example of the effect of time on history and myth, Shiva has been split into two by Jordan: Shiva’s name has been given to Shivan the Hunter (see Character Names S article), while many of his other attributes have been used to develop Rand.
Shiva is one of the most complex gods of India, embodying seemingly contradictory qualities. He is both the destroyer and the restorer, the great ascetic and the symbol of sensuality, the benevolent herdsman of souls and the wrathful avenger.As a Dragon, Rand, a former shepherd, also has contradictory qualities (see Dragon section below). His task was to Heal the land of the Shadow and to achieve this he did as much harm as good. Lews Therin told Rand they were destroyers:
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
I thought I could build, Lews Therin murmured in his head. I was wrong. We are not builders, not you, or I, or the other one. We are destroyers. Destroyers.Shiva is the Destroyer (of evil), but is also a source of fertility and regeneration. As destroyer he is dark and terrible, as a reproductive power, he is worshipped in the form of a phallus. It’s all about balance, just as in The Wheel of Time. The Dragon balances Dark One; like Shiva, the Dragon is life, but he is also death (A Memory of Light, Just Another Sell-sword). Rand is linked with the fertility of the land (A Crown Of Swords, opening prophecy). After at first (ascetically) refraining from declaring his love, Rand has three girlfriends, one of whom he impregnated in their first (and only) night together. His single-handed destruction of the enormous Shadowspawn army at Maradon was an example of Shiva the Destroyer in action. Fel suggested that Rand’s destruction would lead to regeneration just as Shiva’s does:
- Winter’s Heart, Prologue
“Have to clear the rubble before you can build.”From this insight, Rand realised that he had to break the Seals on the Dark One’s prison to mend the hole in the Bore before the Dark One could gain any more strength.
- Lord of Chaos, Thorns
For a time in The Gathering Storm Rand was very dark and terrible, due to the influence of the Dark One’s True Power and taint. Perrin saw Rand as riddled with the Shadow on Dragonmount. Shiva is depicted with a blue throat because he holds in it the poison thrown up at the churning of the cosmic ocean to keep it from destroying humanity. Rand filtered off the Dark One’s taint that was sending male channellers mad. He also held the evils of the taint and Shadar Logoth in his side.
Shiva has many images and attributes.
As the Dragon, Rand’s soul:
shall be born among us many times, in many guises, as he has been and ever will be, time without end.and, in fact, reincarnation is a Hindu belief. Rand now has the memories of his past lives.
- The Dragon Reborn, Opening prophecy
In Indonesian art, the god is portrayed with a fly-whisk. Logain objected to Rand asking him to drive away a plague of flies complaining:
"Now I'm a flaming fly-whisk?"which angered Rand.
Knife of Dreams, The Golden Crane
One of Shiva’s representations is the Cosmic Dancer. Rand is the:
spinner-out of fate. Who thinks he turns the Wheel of Time, may learn the truth too late.As a very strong ta’veren, Rand was the mover of events in the late Third Age. All turned about him.
- A Crown Of Swords, Closing prophecy
Shiva is both static and dynamic. Rand, like the other two ta’veren, alternated between periods of stagnation due to being stymied by the Shadow and sudden activity where he made major advances. In sha’rah, the movement of the Fisher King (a representation of Rand, discussed below) is likewise variable: when the Fisher is on a white square he is “weak in attack, yet agile and far-ranging in escape”, when he is on a black square, he is “strong in attack, but slow and vulnerable” – both static and dynamic (The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances).
Shiva is also represented as a wandering beggar: he committed a sin necessary for creation and then wandered for many years as a guilt-crazed beggar to atone for it, while being pursued by a Fury. Only when he reached the holy city of Benares did he receive absolution. Shiva’s home is Mount Kailash; it is regarded as the personification of Shiva.
Perrin saw Rand in the Wolfdream wearing:
rags and a rough cloak, and a bandage covered his eyes.and Min also had a viewing of a beggar’s staff around Rand the first time she saw him (The Eye of the World, Strangers and Friends). Appalled at his destructive urges, Rand wandered alone as a poor man considering further atrocities until his revelation on Dragonmount (a parallel of Mt Kailash, being Lews Therin’s tomb and Rand’s birthplace). Lanfear is a parallel to the Ancient Greek Furies (see Lanfear essay) and pursued Rand. Rand’s necessary ‘sins’ are the usage of balefire to kill Forsaken, the usage of the True Power, the destruction caused while battling the Shadow and the deaths of women in that battle; the last in particular gnawed at Rand.
-The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei
Rudra ("The Roarer", "The Wild One", "The Terrible One"), the Vedic god of the storm, the wind, and the hunt, is thought by some to be an early form of Shiva. He was much feared and propitiated, being fierce and destructive, and was associated with disease. Rand is violent and terrible, especially in The Gathering Storm, not only roaring at his followers but repeatedly likened to a tempest. His dark influence increased disease around him and even turned the entire food stock of Arad Doman rotten and sickening.
Shiva has been described as the conqueror of death; Rand was told that to live he must die. He was born to fight and win against the Dark One, Lord of the Grave and his chief henchman, Ishamael, now Moridin (death).
The peach blossom and greening which Rand brought forth and which Tuon found so significant is an important symbol in China (a parallel of Seanchan). The sacred tree of immortality is a peach tree and its fruit can make people perpetually young. Peach blossom is a symbol of luck and long life and is regarded as the strongest defence against evil. In Jordan’s world, peaches are poisonous; Jordan regards immortality as poisonous to the soul, both in the desiring and in the obtaining, as he showed with the Forsaken, and Moridin most of all.
The Creator’s Champion, the Chosen One, is “the world’s only hope,” the one born to save the World from the Shadow. He thus exemplifies the symbolism of the number One (see Number Symbolism essay):
"The Dragon is one with the land," Thom said, still juggling unconcernedly, "and the land is one with the Dragon."His task to unite the world into one is a very lonely task, and Rand feels alone very frequently. “The man who channels stands alone”, as a Myrddraal wrote on the walls of the dungeon (The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood).
- The Eye of the World, The Last Village
Wrapped in the Oneness, Rand, the Promised One around whom the events of the late Third Age swirl, finds he can channel. He is of maximum strength in the One Power, yet another example of One, and developed great skill in it. Rand encompasses all the symbolism of the first Tarot card, the Magician, from the Magician card’s lowly beginnings as Il Bagatello (see Il Meneghello card left), the itinerant performer or worker at the fairs, to the powerful Magus the occultists made him. The Magician’s gesture of one hand raised, one pointed down (see US Games Waite-Smith card, right) means “as above, do below” (Robert Place, The Annotated Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery).
Rand was taught the flute by Thom, a wandering gleeman-bard skilled in sleight of hand and juggling, and played it for his keep on the road to Caemlyn while struggling with the effects of his developing magic powers. He did so again alone on the road to Tear. For much of the series, Rand was a powerful magician indeed and his actions certainly had a strong influence on the Land: whatever Rand channelled directly affected the Land. For instance, in Arad Doman, where Rand was particularly dark and channelled the True Power and a large amount of balefire, there were no positive ta’veren twistings of the Pattern at all, only negative, culminating in the entire food supply becoming corrupt. (The Wheel of Time symbolism is all about “as above, so below,” each part reflecting the whole.)
A short step from Rand focusing his will to channel is imposing it on others as Emperor.
Gradually through the series, Rand tried to be an Emperor figure to the world, believing that he must unite the nations and that this is the best or perhaps only way to do it. It led him to try to force his will on others, even on the Empress, rather than gain their cooperation. Tuon thinks the Empress outranks the Emperor, but she is wrong (The Gathering Storm, A Halo of Blackness). Rand does not rank below her at all. In many ways they are a pair, as are their parallels, the Empress and Emperor Tarot cards, third and fourth cards in the trumps sequence respectively.
The Emperor Tarot card symbolises stability, protection, authority and will (see US Games Waite-Smith card right, and Editions Dusserre Marseille card left). The Order of the Golden Dawn named the card Son of the Morning, chief among the mighty, and considered it to represent war, victory, strife and ambition.
Son of the Morning is very close to the Dragon’s title of Lord of the Morning and he was indeed chief among the mighty leading the war against the Shadow. Jordan said he deliberately made Rand like Tyr, Norse god of strife (see below). Rand tried to bring stability to the lands he conquered, despite the Shadow’s efforts to sow chaos, and increasingly insisted the nations were subject to his authority and will. He even prepared himself mentally to die to protect people he didn’t know (The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold).
The Emperor features in the medieval Dance of Death, thought to be one of the inspirations for the Tarot cards:
“I don’t know whom to call for help against Death, who has me in his power!” complains the Emperor.Likewise Rand did not know who to call on for help, due to mistrust and betrayal. Sometimes, Moridin (death) himself helped Rand escape and eliminate Forsaken to ensure Rand survived for the final confrontation between Moridin and the Lord of the Grave at Shayol Ghul.
- Paul Huson, Mystical Origins of the Tarot
At the end of The Gathering Storm, Rand was unable to function as a powerful magician due to nausea, or as emperor either, due to being deranged. Feeling out of control he went on a solitary spiritual quest which ended in an epiphany on a mountaintop.
Symbolising the centre of the world and connecting heaven and earth, mountains are regarded in many cultures as sacred. Mountains are also seen as givers of life and death: life because they are often the sources of rivers, and death because they are harsh and dangerous environments. They feature in many religions as places where revelation or spiritual transformation occurs. People undertake pilgrimages to such high places to literally become closer to the divine. The ascent of the mountains is an important part of the journey and brings spiritual insight.
It was typical of Rand’s deranged and arrogant state of mine that he skipped the laborious and humbling mountain ascent and transported himself straight to the top of Dragonmount. No wonder he almost didn’t have any revelation at all. Dragonmount is a place of death and birth: Lews Therin died twice there, once literally resulting in the mountain’s creation, and again when Rand’s personality was integrated:
He knew—somehow—that he would never again hear Lews Therin's voice in his head.and Rand nearly died there too. Instead, Rand has been reborn there twice: once as a baby and again as a reintegrated and far more enlightened person. The mountain nearly became the ultimate place of death, when Rand drew on the True Source to destroy the world.
- The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold
Nowhere is Rand’s oneness with the land reflected more closely than with Dragonmount. The mountain’s state mirrored that of Rand in its rumblings and its dark and evil clouds; it even had a seething wound in its side as Rand did:
To one side, he could see down hundreds of feet to where the side of the mountain opened into a blasted-out chasm. The opening was enormous, larger than it looked from profile. A wide oval of red, blazing, churning rock. It was as if a chunk of the mountain were simply missing, torn away, leaving the peak to rise into the air but the entire side of the mountain gone.When Rand was in battle fury against Rahvin, Nynaeve thought that he roared like a beast (The Fires of Heaven, The Threads Burn) (Rand was like the Hindu god Rama killing the demon Ravana, see Names of the Shadow). His rage exploded out of control at the end of The Gathering Storm, and he nearly killed his father, but decided to expend his anger wreaking retribution upon the Seanchan. That solo attack evolved into a solitary quest for self-knowledge and understanding as a Hermit figure.
Rand stared down into that seething chasm. It was like the maw of a beast. Heat burned from below and flakes of ash twisted into the sky.
- The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold
The Hermit is depicted as a solitary older man wearing a cloak and carrying a lantern and staff while wandering in a lonely desolate or high place (see US Games Waite-Smith card left). In some decks the Hermit carries the hourglass of Time instead of a lamp (as in the Visconti Sforza card, Lo Scarabeo edition, below right). His aim is personal understanding and enlightenment:
The Hermit has taken heed of the voice of Justice, his own conscience, and is seeking for answers to the questions that plague him. He knows that a duty has been laid upon him and that he will be unable to rest until he has fulfilled his obligations, but the way ahead is dark and he has only the light of his own intuition to help him find the right path.In Ebou Dar Rand donned a humble cloak and carried a staff, ostensibly as a disguise, but really as a mark of his need for some soul-searching. His conscience nagged at him until he heeded it. Rand is associated with Time: his soul is born again and again, his death often (usually?) at the end of an Age. Tuon remarked on Rand’s ‘old eyes’ and he has openly spoken to others of his ancestral memories.
- Alfred Douglas, The Tarot
Instead of the Hermit’s lantern to light his way, Rand carried the Choedan Kal access key which lit up when he drew on the Source through it. It was no aid to his mission but a part of the problem, which is why after his revelation he destroyed it, and then the sun shone upon him to indicate that he had found illumination.
In the medieval Dance of Death the Hermit prepares for the inevitable:
“To die, that is not difficult for me, were I inwardly prepared and my conscience well cleansed,” declares the Hermit in the 1489 Lubeck play.Prior to his inner journey, Rand thinks he is prepared to die, but he isn’t doing so with a clean conscience:
- Paul Huson, Mystical Origins of the Tarot
Death no longer worried him. Finally, he understood Lews Therin's cries to let it end. Rand deserved to die.He saw his death as punishment for his sins. That’s not a sacrifice.
The Gathering Storm, Into Bandar Eban
In medieval thought, the Hermit figure is linked to the virtue of Prudence, who was usually depicted as a woman carrying a mirror showing her reflection in one hand and a serpent in the other.
The mirror is considered to signify, among other things, that wise people have the power to see themselves as they really are. The serpent may derive from the New Testament, Matthew 10:16c: “Be ye as wise as serpents,” or it may be a rendering of the Ouroboros serpent or dragon consuming its tail, a Gnostic symbol for endless time.Jordan actually uses the Ouroboros as a symbol of Time endlessly cycling through the Ages in his world. The serpent in Prudence’s hand may also refer to the Shadow in this case. (The Lo Scarabeo Universal Wirth card right has a serpent). Rand became corrupted by the Shadow in his efforts to win against them, a realisation which filled him with self-loathing when he examined himself.
To the medieval moralist, a prudent act was one that was neither unpremeditated nor transient in its effect. According to Cicero, the Cardinal Virtue Prudence consists of the knowledge of what is good, what is bad, and what is neither good nor bad, but whose parts consists of memory of the past, intelligence about the present, and foresight concerning the future.
- Paul Huson, Mystical Origins of the Tarot
With his new self-understanding, Rand demonstrated a measure of prudence in his actions. He could not before because he didn’t know why he was making them, just that they were necessary:
"The choice isn't always about what you do, son, but why you do it.Now he finally understands Tam’s wise words.
- The Gathering Storm, The One He Lost
The Hermit is the ninth card in the Tarot trumps sequence. In Eastern symbolism nine is considered very yang (active, changeable, male, and therefore linked to saidin) as is the dragon.
The dragon is a creature of contradictory symbolism (see Animal Symbolism essay, which details Rand’s many ‘dragon’ attributes). In Eastern Asia it has a positive image of power and imperial authority, while in Europe and the Middle East it is considered violent, antisocial and extremely dangerous, to the extent of being associated with Satan (the Dark One) through the sin of pride. Lews Therin certainly believed he was overly proud:
Because in his pride he had believed that men could match the Creator, could mend what the Creator had made and they had broken. In his pride he had believed.Others saw that Rand was going the same way.
- The Eye of the World, Prologue
In Chinese mythology the five-clawed dragon is associated with fertility and rain, whereas in Western mythology, the dragon is associated with more violent weather - storms, flood and drought. Rand appears to be quite good at working weather - he made it rain in the Aiel Waste. Dragons in the west bring conflict and infertility and must be destroyed in order to restore the fertility of the land. The advent of the Dragon Reborn has brought war, death, and now famine and pestilence – the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In Revelation of the New Testament, Satan battles at Armageddon as a Dragon (see Eschatology essay). This may refer to the possible plot of the Shadow to substitute Mazrim Taim for Rand as the Dragon Reborn (The Shadow Rising, Questioners) and to the popular belief that the Dragon is as bad as the Dark One:
"The Dragon!" someone moaned. "The Dark One's loose in Ghealdan!"While trying to unite the world to fight against the Shadow, the Lord Dragon caused as much evil as good; he disrupted nations, fought bloody battles and had regular contact with the Forsaken, the Dark One’s representatives, who manipulated him to further evils and commited evils in the Dragon’s name. This ambivalent role confused as well as distressed Rand:
"Not the Dark One," Haral Luhhan growled. "The Dragon's not the Dark One. And this is a false Dragon, anyway."…
"Just as bad as the Dark One!"
"The Dragon broke the world, didn't he?"
"He started it! He caused the Time of Madness!"
"You know the prophecies! When the Dragon is reborn, your worst nightmares will seem like your fondest dreams!"
- The Eye of the World, The Peddler
What was the Dragon Reborn? A symbol? A sacrifice? A sword, meant to destroy? A sheltering hand, meant to protect? A puppet, playing a part over and over again?The Dragon is linked to the fertility of the Land; and yet he brought war to the land and was destroying the nations he was trying to save. Instead of a brave hero or heroine in real world myth defeating or taming the evil dragon to restore the Land and purge it of evil, the Wheel of Time world has a brave dragon (somewhat tamed by heroines) fighting evil with the aid of other heroes and heroines to restore the Land and purge it of evil. Jordan is trying to ‘reverse-engineer’ (his words) an explanation for the differing real world beliefs about dragons.
- The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold
Norse mythology had a pessimistic view of the end of the world in which the gods and their opponents destroy each other. Rand has strong parallels to the Norse god Tyr and a few parallels to Thor.
Tyr was the Norse god of glory and single combat:
He was apparently the god concerned with the formalities of war—especially treaties—and also, appropriately, of justice. It is in his character as guarantor of contracts, guardian of oaths, that the most famous myth about him may be understood: as a guarantee of good faith, he placed his hand in the mouth of a giant wolfand sacrificed that hand so that a great danger could be neutralised. The gods were warned that the giant wolf Fenrir was one of their most dangerous enemies and they had dwarfs make an unbreakable ribbon-like chain with which to restrain him. They challenged Fenrir to see if he could break the chain, and, suspecting they might be trying to trap him, Fenrir agreed to try if one of the gods would put their hand in his mouth. Only Tyr would do so. The gods wrapped Fenrir in the chain and the more the wolf tried to break it, the tighter the chain became. Fenrir realised that it was a trap and bit off Tyr’s right hand.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
Jordan said at a booksigning that he deliberately made Rand like Tyr. Rand is a fearsome fighter and upholder of law. He made a treaty with the mainland nations, and with the Seanchan, to enforce unity and peace, so that all the Light’s forces would be combined for the Last Battle. Demandred was obsessed with besting Rand in single combat and wasted much time and effort at the Last Battle demanding the satisfaction of a duel with Rand.
In Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box, Rand sacrificed his left hand to protect Min from Semirhage’s attack. However it was Semirhage who placed an unbreakable restraint upon Rand rather than he upon her. Only by drawing upon the True Power through his link to Moridin was he able to escape the cuendillar a’dam (The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could Be Done).
Tyr carries a spear that is less a weapon than a sign of judicial power (Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology). Its equivalent may be the Dragon sceptre.
In Ragnarok, Tyr is destined to kill and be killed by Garm, the guard dog of Hel, goddess of the underworld. Lanfear is a parallel of Hel and she set two wolves, one dark, and one allied to the Light but corrupted by her, to kill Rand or help her do so. Perrin kept Slayer out of Shayol Ghul and killed him, but would have done Lanfear’s bidding himself, if he had not broken through her Compulsion.
Rand’s surname al'Thor refers to both King Arthur (see below) 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.Thor 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, the end of the world, 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 was prophesied to die confronting the Dark One, who is linked to serpents (see Animal Symbolism essay). In fact, Rand’s body died, and his soul transmigrated to Moridin’s body after the Last Battle.
- Robert Jordan, see Real Life Influences article
However, in some respects Rand, the Dragon Reborn, himself is the World Serpent. Thor-like Perrin fought Rand over the status of the captive Aes Sedai, wearers of the great serpent ring. Yet twice Perrin saved Rand from women who can channel, including during Tarmon Gai’don.
Vainamoinen is the main character of the Finnish Kalevala. He is a shamanistic hero born of the primeval Maiden of the Air. He journeys with two companions, Ilmarinen the smith and Lemminkainen the trickster and charmer of women. In his final words, he promises that he shall return at a future time, when his abilities are again needed. Rand is the first Asha’man, and was born of a Maiden of the Spear. His two close friends are a blacksmith and a trickster. He is reborn at need to save the world.
Enlil, "Storm Lord", was a chief deity in the Sumerian religion. He was the god of the weather, wind, breath, height and distance, and was referred to as "king of lands" and "king of heaven and earth". The Sumerians believed Enlil caused plants to grow and invented the mattock, their key agricultural tool. His chief temple at Nippur was called Ekur, meaning “house of the mountain”.
After his epiphany, Rand Sang to make plants grow and people think he was performing a miracle. Rand is skilled at working weather, and is associated with the weather and with the almost sacred mountain of Dragonmount.
The god Marduk, who is a parallel of Demandred, absorbed Enlil’s powers and eclipsed Enlil in popularity. Demandred tried to kill Rand because he felt that he did not get the honour and recognition that he was due.
When the servants of Inanna, Sumerian goddess of love and warfare, appealed to Enlil to save her from being killed in the Underworld, Enlil refused to do so, because he thought that Inanna had overreached trying to become Queen of the Underworld. Rand advised Lanfear, parallel of Inanna, to lie low during the Last Battle but she would not. She made a power grab in the underworld territory of Shayol Ghul.
Quite a few of the heroes and champions of Ancient Greek mythology have parallels to Rand, as does the god Zeus.
The King of the Ancient Greek Olympian gods, Zeus, won the kingdom of the immortals from his father Cronus with the aid of his brothers Poseidon and Hades. Cronus had been warned that one of his children would depose him, and swallowed each of them as they were born (Cronus is swallowing Poseidon in the painting right), except Zeus, who was hidden away by his mother Rhea. When Zeus had grown into a young man he returned to force Cronus to regurgitate the five children he had previously swallowed. Zeus and the Olympians defeated Cronus and the Titans, and banished them to Tartarus, the abyss or pit beneath the underworld. The three victorious brothers divided the world between them: Zeus took the heavens, Poseidon the sea and Hades the underworld.
The god of the sky and thunder, his symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. Zeus is known for having many loves, often shape-shifting to win them, and fathering many children. He brought order and maintained laws and treaties; he liberated and protected people. As Zeus Soter:
He had long been the rescuer and protector in times of danger and need…And it was only as Soter that Zeus had a function in war as bringer of victory and savior from all kinds of distress and destruction. As long as defeat in war meant either material loss or annihilation for individual and community, the concept of deliverance was sufficient to cover the entire range of experiences: the difference between this and other life-threatening situations like shipwreck and starvation was merely one of degree and Zeus Soter could be called upon to give divine assistance in all of them.Both Rand and Perrin have parallels to Zeus. Perrin got the connection with the eagle, bull and oak, the shape-shifting and Zeus' protector and orderer roles, and Rand got the tendency to say it with thunderbolts, the multiple ‘wives’, leading the overthrow of the Titans and being hidden away as a baby by the Pattern to avoid being killed. The correspondences between the 3 ta'veren and Zeus, Hades and Poseidon aren’t straightforward; they're mixed around some, but the way they worked together to overthrow the unjust regime of the Titans (and who can doubt that Cronus the baby-eater shown in the above painting is equivalent to the evil and sterile Shaitan) and banish them to Tartarus, the abyss beneath the underworld, and divvied up the world after is a solid parallel.
Kurt Raaflaub, The Discovery of Freedom in Ancient Greece
The Titanic Forsaken were warned of the danger Rand posed to them through prophecy, and the Pattern saw to it that he was fostered elsewhere until he reached adulthood. The sister of one of Rand’s direct Da’shain ancestors was named Rhea. She was captured by bandits, and may well have been forced to bear children to her captor/s. The goddess Rhea was called the "mother of the gods," and Da’shain Rhea’s descendants from her captors may have become nobility or had leadership roles in other nations.
Tartarus sounds very like the Pit of Doom in which the ‘immortal’ Forsaken were once bound and in which Rand re-Sealed the Dark One.
From his exalted position atop Mount Olympus Zeus was thought to omnisciently observe the affairs of men, seeing everything, governing all, and rewarding good conduct and punishing evil.Rand atop Dragonmount saw:
the entire world in his mind's eye, lit by the glow in his hand. He remembered lives, hundreds of them, thousands of them, stretching to infinity. He remembered love, and peace, and joy, and hope.just after he considered nuking the world while thunderbolts crackled above him.
- The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold
Heracles/Hercules, a hero in Ancient Greek mythology, has been split between Rand and Lews Therin (see Lews Therin essay). He was the amazingly strong son of Zeus, king of the gods, and was sent mad by Hera and killed his wife, children and nephews and nieces in his insanity. To atone for his crime he was set twelve labours to accomplish.
Both Rand and Lews Therin are/were amazingly strong channellers, and Lews Therin was sent mad and killed his family and friends. Rand, as Lews Therin reborn, was tasked with undoing the ill consequences of Lews Therin’s actions and redeeming him. In Crossroads of Twilight, Nicola had a Foretelling that the Dragon Reborn would do nine impossible things (see the Foretellings). This may refer to Heracles' twelve labours, which are listed below:
- to kill the menacing Nemean Lion. Heracles discovered that no weapon could kill the lion, so he fought it with his bare hands and strangled it to death. Semirhage’s original name was Nemene, so this task probably refers to her. A very formidable, dangerous and ferocious opponent, she collared Rand with the Domination Band and then forced him to strangle himself and Min with his bare hands until in desperation he channelled the True Power and balefired her. Breaking a cuendillar a’dam while trapped by it and drawing the True Power were considered impossible by Cadsuane and Lews Therin respectively.
- to overcome the nine-headed snake known as the Hydra. As one head was cut off the Hydra, two grew in its place. Its blood and gall were lethally poisonous. The Hydra may refer to the evil of Shadar Logoth, which also regrows or multiplies if cut, and taints and kills whatever it touches. Rand destroyed Shadar Logoth and Mashadar during the cleansing of saidin, probably one of the nine impossible things. Only the evil in Rand’s side and that which Padan Fain/Mordeth carried remained of Shadar Logoth after the Cleansing, and both are now gone.
- to find the golden-horned stag of Arcadia and bring it back alive.
- to capture the wild boar of Mt. Erymanthus.
- to clean the Augean stables, which housed thousands of cattle, in a single day. This may be a parallel of Rand cleansing the taint from saidin in a single day, a feat most characters would have considered impossible. He pushed saidin through a conduit of saidar to filter off the taint into Shadar Logoth, just as Hercules diverted two rivers to flow through the stables.
- to destroy the man-eating birds of the Stymphalian marshes.
- to capture the savage Cretan bull.
- to capture the four man-eating mares of Thrace.
- to obtain the girdle of the fierce Amazon warrior queen, Hippolyta.
- to capture the cattle of the triple-bodied, winged giant, Geryon.
- to get the golden apples of the Hesperides at the world’s end. Since the golden apples gave immortality, this could be a parallel of Rand living again (but not forever) in Moridin’s body after his confrontation with the Dark One; seemingly impossible.
- to bring Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of the underworld, to the earth’s surface without using any weapons. The underworld is a parallel of the Dark One’s domain and thus this labour refers to Rand going down to the Pit of Doom in Shayol Ghul, where it is very dangerous to channel, to defeat the Dark One. He battled the Dark One there spiritually, trapping Moridin into aiding him to Seal the Dark One away, then brought Moridin’s body to the earth’s surface. Three of the Dark One’s henchmen tried to kill Rand in the Pit of Doom: Moridin, Slayer and Lanfear.
In the Choice of Hercules, by Prodicus, Hercules came to a crossroads where he paused to decide his way. Two women approached him, one urging pleasure if he followed her, the other duty and heroic virtue. Hercules chose the latter, which ultimately led him to immortality. Rand consciously chose to do his duty to try to defeat the Shadow, which, as prophesied, resulted in him living by dying. In the rings ter'angreal in Rhuidean, Moiraine saw that Rand would have to make a choice regarding Lanfear and sacrificed herself to ensure Rand made the right choice for the world.
Hercules was fatally poisoned and knowing he was dying, built his own pyre. He willingly lay on the pyre and his friend lit it. When his body burned away, the god Mercury brought Hercules’ soul to Olympus, where Hercules was made a god. Rand had two poisons within him: the taints of the Dark One and of Shadar Logoth. He accepted his duty to die facing the Dark One to save humanity and with that death, he would live. In order to reach that confrontation Rand allowed himself to be consumed:
”But you assume that there needs to be something left of me to continue on…I will not live through this, and so I don't need to worry about what might happen to me after the Last Battle. I don't need to hold back, don't need to salvage anything of this beaten up soul of mine. I know that I must die.”As Rand’s damaged and corrupted body lay dying after the Last Battle, his friends prepared his pyre, but his soul transmigrated to Moridin’s body.
- The Gathering Storm, A Conversation with the Dragon
Jason was an ancient Greek hero who was nearly killed at his birth by his usurper uncle King Pelias because it was prophesied that Pelias would be killed by a relative, but was smuggled away to be raised by a centaur. As a young man, Jason led a group of Heroes, the Argonauts, on a quest for the Golden Fleece. The heroes included Heracles (a parallel of Rand, see above), Peleus, Telamon (a parallel of Lews Therin), Orpheus (a parallel of Rand, see below), Castor and Pollux, Atalanta (a parallel of Birgitte), and the Boreads (sons of the North Wind who could fly).
The Black Ajah searched for Rand, who was prophesied to defeat the Dark One, when he was a baby to kill him, but he was fostered with Tam and Kali in the Two Rivers. At Falme, Rand led a group of Heroes, the Heroes of the Horn, into battle. They follow the Dragon and his banner (The Great Hunt, The Grave Is No Bar To My Call) and fought again in the Last Battle.
The Argonauts visited several places on their quest, and a few of these have parallels in the series.
One of these is the Isle of Lemnos, which was inhabited by a group of women who were made to smell foul to their husbands as punishment by Aphrodite. When their husbands took concubines, the scorned women rose up and killed all the men while they slept. Jason and all the Argonauts except Heracles became lovers of these women and Jason fathered twins with their queen, Hypsipyle.
The island of Tar Valon has similarities with Lemnos since it has no male channellers and many Aes Sedai have a very low opinion of men.
The Maidens of the Spear, who must leave their society if they marry and are believed by the Sea Folk to kill a man every day (A Crown of Swords, The Bowl of Winds) are also a parallel of the Lemnos women. Rand was embraced by the Maidens as a long-lost brother or child. He will father quadruplets with Aviendha and has fathered twins with Queen Elayne.
In Thrace, Jason aided King Phineas by driving away harpies (birds with a woman’s head) who were stealing his food, and in return Phineas told Jason how to get through the Symplegades, the Clashing Rocks, to reach Colchis, where the Golden Fleece was held. The Sympleglades were rock cliffs that crashed together and crushed anything between them. They are reminiscent of the Dark One’s tunnel into the Pit of Doom that rends those in disfavour:
A pale light rose from the stone, filling the tunnel, brighter than the eternal twilight outside. Jagged spikes jutted from the ceiling, stony teeth ready to snap shut, the Great Lord's teeth to rend the unfaithful or the traitor. Not natural, of course, but effective.In Colchis the king set Jason three impossible tasks to fulfil before he would give him the Golden Fleece. Medea, the King’s daughter and Circe’s niece, was a witch and priestess of Hecate. She fell in love with Jason and promised to aid him with his tasks, if he would be hers forever and would marry her and take her with him. He promised to and so she helped him.
Lord of Chaos, Prologue
As a witch a priestess of Hecate, Medea is a major parallel of Lanfear (see Lanfear essay). In the early books, Lanfear claimed Rand as hers and offered to help Rand, expecting him to become her lover again. However, Rand’s impossible tasks have more in common with those of Hercules (see above) than those of Jason.
Medea accompanied Jason and the Argonauts and they visited visited Circe, Medea’s aunt, a parallel of Graendal (see Graendal essay). Circe aided them, unlike the more deadly Graendal who ambushed Asmodean. Cyndane and Lanfear both met with Graendal.
However, in Corinth, Jason accepted the King’s offer of his daughter Creusa/Glauce as a bride and Medea was furious at this betrayal. She got her revenge by giving Creusa a wedding dress which burned her to death, or a dress and coronet which poisoned her – it varies - and fled Corinth.
Lews Therin scorned Lanfear in the Age of Legends, and when Rand rejected her at the docks of Cairhien, Lanfear attacked Egwene and Aviendha in revenge. In Towers of Midnight, someone left a poisoned needle for Elayne in the Sun Throne in Cairhien. Lanfear tried to make Perrin help her kill Rand’s companions and prevent Rand from winning his duel with the Dark One.
Jason, and Heracles are "liminal" figures, in between the old world of shamans and earth deities, and the Bronze Age Greek gods and heroes. Likewise, Rand and Lews Therin each mark the end of one Age and the beginning of the next.
Orpheus was a hero from Greek mythology who was the most outstanding musician (especially with the lyre) and poet. He was believed to be either the son or a student of Apollo and his songs could move rocks and trees and charm wild animals. He advanced civilisation in the fields of medicine and agriculture and practised magic. Channelling can move rocks and trees and influence simpler animals: Moiraine has controlled ants and fish. Rand was taught magic by Asmodean, a parallel of Apollo as divine musician (see Asmodean essay). His first teacher in the series, Thom, taught him the flute, but would not let him play his harp:
”You didn't touch the harp?" He [Thom] pulled open the other dark leather case and took out a gold-and-silver harp as ornate as the flute, cradling it in his hands like a baby. "Your clumsy sheepherder's fingers were never meant for the harp."Once he gained memories from Lews Therin, Rand sang to make plants grow, flower and fruit. Rand has founded academies to prevent the loss of knowledge that occurs during and after world war, and great advancements are being made there.
- The Great Hunt, Discord
Orpheus participated in the quest of Jason and the Argonauts to find the Golden Fleece and was crucial in preventing the sailors being shipwrecked by drowning out the alluring song of the Sirens with his playing. He also travelled to Tartarus and charmed the goddess Hecate. Hecate is a parallel of Lanfear (see Lanfear essay) and she has tried to charm Rand, but he resisted.
Orpheus’ wife Eurydice was bitten by a poisonous snake as she ran through the grass and died, and Orpheus found a way into the underworld to bring her back. He played so beautifully to Hades and Persephone that they were moved, and allowed Eurydice to follow Orpheus back to the living world provided he didn’t look back at her until they both reached the surface. Naturally, he accidentally glanced over his shoulder and she vanished to the underworld forever. This part of the myth refers to Moiraine, who saved Rand from Lanfear and was rescued from the *Finn’s world by Mat, Thom and Noal. Interestingly, the Eurydice story itself is a late addition to myths about Orpheus. Eurydice/Eurudike means ‘she whose justice extends widely’ and is similar to titles given Persephone (another tie with Tuon). Orpheus’ trip to the underworld has been split two ways: Rand made a treaty with Tuon, a parallel of Persephone (see Tuon essay) just prior to the Last Battle, and he confronted the Dark One in the Pit of Doom with two women companions, one of them Moiraine, but all returned to the surface. It was Lanfear who tried to strike at Rand in Shayol Ghul and was killed by Perrin.
In some versions, Hades only gave an apparition of Eurydice to Orpheus, not her actual shade. This is paralleled in Ishamael taunting Rand with images of his mother Kari being tortured and also of Egwene and Nynaeve in The Eye of the World, and later sending images of Rand’s loved ones into his dreams to try and kill him (The Dragon Reborn, The First Ship).
In his grief Orpheus kept away from all women and didn’t participate in normal life. A group of Maenads, followers of Dionysus, encountered him singing in the woods and threw objects at him but these refused to strike him because his song was so beautiful. In a rage, the Maenads tore Orpheus apart with their bare hands. His head floated down the river still singing and washed ashore on the island of Lesbos. Rand’s misery and withdrawal whenever any woman died for him affected his mental health and his judgement. He tried to cut himself off from the women in his life to keep them safe. Until his epiphany, he increasingly held himself apart from others, forgetting common courtesies such as congratulating Darlin and Caraline on their engagement, much to Nynaeve’s and Cadsuane’ disappointment. Tar Valon is run by women, many of whom are lesbian, so Lesbos would be a good parallel for it. Elaida’s embassy did their best to beat him to pieces. Rand visited the Hall to announce his intention to break the Seals, so the Aes Sedai would unite all opposition for him, and that way he only had to settle all arguments once.
Other Ancient Greek authors wrote that Orpheus suicided in grief because his journey to Hades failed or that Zeus killed him with lightning for revealing the secrets of the gods to men. Lews Therin suicided in grief after his trip to Shayol Ghul sent him mad and he killed his entire family. These versions of Orpheus’ death warn of the possible disastrous outcomes of Rand’s trip to the Pit of Doom.
Later in ancient times the Orpheus myth became linked with the Orphic mystery cults and Mithraism (see above) and the cult of Sol Invictus (see below). Much Orphic poetry was written for their rites and purification rituals, but only fragments of the Orphic literature survive. There is a fragment of late Third Age writing sometimes attributed to Rand:
We rode on the winds of the rising storm,Another important aspect of Orphic mysteries related to Rand is the depiction of Orpheus as The Fisher – a spiritual fisher of souls and knowledge. The symbolism is very close to that of Jesus Christ as The Fisher of Men. Both these aspects are believed to have heavily influenced the development of the Fisher King figure and are all parallels to Rand as the Fisher figure in the game of sha'rah (see Arthurian section and Sha'rah, the Fisher King and Their Equivalents article).
We ran to the sounds of the thunder.
We danced among the lightning bolts,
and tore the world asunder.
Anonymous fragment of a poem believed written near the end of the previous Age, known by some as the Third Age. Sometimes attributed to the Dragon Reborn
- End text of Crossroads of Twilight
Odysseus and Telemachus
The Greek hero Odysseus and his companions visited the island of Circe, the malevolent sorceress. She changed all the men into swine, except Odysseus, who was protected by a herb. When Circe discovered that Odysseus was resistant to her magic and was about to attack her, she begged for mercy. Odysseus made her release the men from her spell, but he was then so charmed by Circe and her decadent lifestyle that he remained with her for a year and had to be reminded by his crew to resume his voyage. (In the painting right, she offers Odysseus a cup.) Circe then advised Odysseus how to safely pass by the Sirens.
The other Forsaken predicted that Graendal, who shamelessly uses people as Circe does (see the Graendal essay), would behave in a similar fashion if threatened by Rand:
She would never find herself in open conflict with al’Thor. That had never been her way. If al’Thor ever discovered her, she simply would abandon everything and re-establish herself elsewhere – or else surrender before he could strike a blow and then begin convincing him that she was indispensable.But Rand didn’t dare approach her himself. He sent Ramshalan to Graendal to be ‘enchanted’ by her to ‘prove’ that she was killed, and her Compulsion undone, when he balefired her palace (The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light). (It was Delana and Aran’gar who were killed, though).
- Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven Of Shadow
When Odysseus landed on the isle of the nymph Calypso, she became enamoured of him. She wanted to make him immortal and keep him with her forever, but she was forced to let him go. Odysseus’ son Telemachus, also landed on Calypso’s isle while searching for Odysseus. Calypso fancied him too, and offered him immortality if he would stay with her. However, Minerva, who in the shape of Mentor accompanied Telemachus, encouraged him to repel her advances. When they couldn’t stop Calypso, Mentor and Telemachus leaped from a cliff into the sea and swam to a ship (Bulfinch’s Mythology).
Lanfear was enamoured of both Lews Therin Telamon and Rand; she offered the latter immortality and to rule the world at her side. In order to prevent Lanfear from enslaving or killing Rand, Moiraine, his mentor, leaped upon Lanfear and drove them both through the redstone door ter’angreal.
Odysseus travelled to the Underworld, but, unlike most heroes who venture to that dark place, he wasn’t trying to return someone to the land of the living, he was seeking information. Odysseus made offerings in the Underworld, which enabled him to talk to a few shades of the dead, including that of his mother. I always thought from Jordan’s comments at booksignings, and for the series to come full circle from the ending of The Eye of the World, that Rand would see Kari al’Thor’s shade at Shayol Ghul. The dead seer Teiresias gave Odysseus information on how he could return safely home. Rand went to the Pit of Doom not intending to even return, let alonge bring someone else out, but he did.
Another Ancient Greek parallel of the relationship between Rand and Lanfear is the myth of Selene the moon goddess and Endymion.
Selene is most identified with the beautiful youth Endymion, whom she loved and who was cast into eternal sleep in a cave on Mount Latmus; there, Selene visited him while he slept. A common form of the myth represents Endymion as having been put to sleep by Selene herself so that she might enjoy his beauty undisturbed.Lanfear, with her crescent moon jewellery and sigil is a parallel of Greco-Roman moon goddess (see Lanfear) essay), and she has also visited Rand while he slept. Egwene dreamt of an evil woman with eyes that "seemed to shine like the moon" (Lanfear) standing over Rand as he lay sleeping by the Portal Stone (The Great Hunt, Woven in the Pattern). Lanfear also visited Rand in his dreams in the Aiel Waste (The Shadow Rising, Traps) and was going to use her control of him in Tel’aran’rhiod to enslave him.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
Rand may have a minor parallel with the handsome giant Orion. He was the favourite of the Greco-Roman moon and hunting goddess Diana/Artemis and was temporarily blinded. She killed him (Bullfinch’s Mythology). Lanfear, Moonhunter to the wolves (The Dragon Reborn, Shadowbrothers), tried to kill Rand at Shayol Ghul. While Perrin had a viewing of her former favourite, Rand, with a bandage over his eyes (The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei), although Rand’s blindness was spiritual.
Osiris was an important god of Ancient Egypt:
At his birth, a loud, mysterious voice proclaimed the coming of the ‘Universal Lord’, which gave rise to shouts of gladness, soon followed by tears and lamentations when it was learned what misfortunes awaited him. Osiris was taller than all other men. He civilised Egypt and was the enemy of all violence. He played musical instruments.Osiris is a real world parallel to Rand. The Dragon’s rebirth has been greeted with lamentations as much as with relief. Rand is very tall, plays the flute and is establishing schools of learning to improve the technology of the world.
- Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology
Seth showed Osiris a beautiful box and said that whoever could fit in the box perfectly would get to keep it. Seth had secretly measured Osiris and made it to fit only him. When Osiris got into the box, Seth closed the lid on him and flung the box into the Nile. Isis found the box with Osiris dead inside, and hid it, but Seth tracked it down and chopped Osiris’ body into fourteen pieces and scattered them over Egypt to deny Osiris a decent burial. Isis and her sister Nephthys managed to find thirteen of the fourteen pieces, so Isis fashioned the remaining piece, his penis, out of gold and restored Osiris to life.
Rand is destined to die and live again. He has had nasty experiences with two wooden boxes. In one he was locked by Aes Sedai from Elaida’s embassy and taken out regularly to be beaten severely. They lulled Rand into a false sense of security by first using the box to hold an offering of gold. Perrin organised a search and rescue for him and Taim also tracked them down and gave aid. The other was a plain wooden box at a parley with a fake Daughter of the Nine Moons (in reality Semirhage). Within it were male and female a’dam. Rand was attacked and lost his hand.
Osiris had two companions on his conquest of the world: Anubis the jackal-headed god (a parallel of Mat, see Mat essay) and Upuaut the wolf-headed god (a parallel of Perrin, see Perrin essay).
The Meso-American god Quetzalcoatl has been split between Rand and Lews Therin (see Lews Therin essay). Quetzalcoatl means "feathered serpent". Rand, as a dragon, is also linked with serpents (see Animal Symbolism essay).
Quetzalcoatl was the god of the morning star and was sometimes a symbol of death and resurrection. In one legend he was born to a virgin, the goddess Coatlicue. Quetzalcoatl's opposite, Tezcatlipoca, supposedly sent Quetzalcoatl into exile. Alternatively, he left willingly on a raft of snakes, promising to return.
Rand was born of a Maiden and is He Who Comes with the Dawn and Lord of the Morning. Rand has wandered alone impoverished (The Gathering Storm, Just Another Man) and is wandering again in a new body to which his soul was transmigrated as his own died.
With his companion Xolotl, a dog-headed god, he [Quetzalcoatl] was said to have descended to the underground hell of Mictlan to gather the bones of the ancient dead. Those bones he anointed with his own blood, giving birth to the men who inhabit the present universe.Rand went down to the Pit of Doom to battle the Dark One and, with his blood that he shed there, free mankind from the Shadow, allowing a new Age to dawn. He was supported in his endeavours by his two fellow ta’veren, Perrin, a parallel of Xolotl, see Perrin essay, who defended him there, and Mat, who has called dead heroes to fight and is a parallel of Mictlantecuhtli, the king of Mictlan, see Mat essay.
- Encyclopedia Britannica
Cormac mac Airt
Cormac mac Airt was a legendary High King of pre-Christian Ireland, reigning for forty years, with interruptions, from AD 227–66, the first named to have his seat at Tara. He rebuilt monuments at Tara, and was a great lawmaker; his rule was regarded as a golden age. He is said to have been temporarily deposed twice by the Ulaid clan, and to have once gone missing for four months. Rand is a High King, a chief of chiefs and king of kings. He instituted new and much fairer laws in Tear and laws to control the Aiel’s behaviour in Cairhien. Rand was captured by Elaida’s embassy, Elaida being a parallel of the Ulaid clan who deposed Cormac, see Character Names E article. (He wandered in Ebou Dar alone and then went to Dragonmount; he also went off to Tear by himself, but he wasn’t a ruler then.) Rand has been instrumental in the restoration of Rhuidean into a living city, a parallel of Tara. Tara also has some similarities with Tar Valon, which Rand visited after his epiphany on Dragonmount. In the aftermath of Tarmon Gai’don there will be more rebuilding to do, and the Fourth Age will seem a golden age in comparison to the late Third Age.
Cormac's grandfather was Conn of the Hundred Battles, his father was the former High King Art mac Cuinn, and his mother was Achtan, daughter of Olc Acha, a smith from Connacht. Due to a prophecy that Olc’s line would produce a great lineage, Olc offered High King Art his daughter (with her agreement) to sleep with the night before the Battle of Mat Macrama. Cormac was conceived and Art was killed in the battle. When heavily pregnant, Achtan travelled to Connacht so that her infant could be fostered by Art’s friend, but she delivered in bush along the way. The newborn Cormac was taken away by a wolf and raised. After a time Achtain found Cormac and succeeded in getting him back and educating him.
Conn of the Hundred Battles may refer to Lews Therin, or it may refer to the previous great ta’veren, Artur Hawkwing, who was believed to have fought one hundred duels on a single day (The Shadow Rising, Winds Rising). However High King Art sounds very close to High King Artur. Jordan’s interpretation of the myth shows how such stories are garbled over time. Elaida Foretold that the royal line of Andor would be the key to winning the Last Battle, and stayed close to them. Gitara Moroso also had a Foretelling of the importance of the Mantear family and actually persuaded Tigraine to go to the Aiel Waste. It was not Rand’s father who died soon after his birth: it was Tigraine who died on Dragonmount giving birth to Rand during the Battle for Tar Valon. Tam took Rand away and raised him and when Moiraine finally located him, she informed him of his lineage and destiny.
Eventually Cormac reached adulthood and became High King by giving a superior judgement than the reigning High King. Cormac lost an eye in a battle, in some stories due to a feud started when his nephew raped a maiden. Being disfigured, and less than physically perfect, Cormac had to abdicate. Rand has become High King through battle and acclamation. In Illian he was given the crown for saving the people from starvation. Rand lost a hand, rather than an eye, and has also had his sanity questioned – he temporarily lost support due to the latter. After all he has suffered and endured, he is - temporarily, at least - wandering in obscurity after Tarmon Gai’don.
The Dagda was the ‘good god’ of Irish mythology; good in the sense of being good at everything and all-powerful. He was god of the earth and treaties, and ruler over life and death. A skilled sorcerer, warrior and artisan, he was the High King of the Tuatha De Danann. Rand is also very powerful. He is the High King of the Aiel and now Tear, and king of many nations, but has had little contact with the Tuatha’an (a parallel of the Tuatha De Danann) yet. He made a treaty with all the nations, and another with the Seanchan prior to the Last Battle.
The Dagda had both extraordinary strength and appetite. His lover was Boann (Semirhage’s original surname), and his wife was the Morrigan (a parallel of Tuon, with whom Rand eventually made an alliance (see Tuon essay), and of Moghedien). Despite his great power, the Dagda was sometimes depicted as a yokel. Rand has very great strength in saidin and also the great physical stamina of a Warder. He has considerable sexual appetite as evidenced by his three girlfriends, a parallel of the Celtic triple goddess of Sovereignty. Many people, especially the Forsaken, regarded Rand as ignorant and primitive.
The Dagda owned the cauldron ‘Undry’ (one of the four treasures of the Tuatha De Danann) which produced an inexhaustible supply of food, and a magical harp with which he summoned the seasons. The spear of Lugh constantly dripped blood and was so intensely hot that it had to be kept point-down in the cauldron or else it would burn its surroundings. The Dagda’s cauldron and magic harp appear to have been combined into the Bowl of Winds, a ter’angreal from the Age of Legends (and thus indirectly associated with the Tuatha’an who abandoned the Da’shain’s task to keep the items of the Power safe until they were needed again). Rand’s friends used the Bowl to restore the seasons and enable food to be produced.
Nuada ‘Silver Hand’ was a king of the Irish Tuatha De Danann and god of the Sun, magic, weapons, and warfare. He had an invincible sword, the Sword of Light (probably equivalent to Callandor, which glows when used), one of four great treasures of the Tuatha De Danann, with which he cut his enemies in half. The other treasures are the spear of Lugh (equivalent to the Dragon sceptre or Mat’s ashanderei), the Dagda’s cauldron Undry (Bowl of Winds) and the Stone of Fal or Destiny (the Stone of Tear, where Rand was destined to draw Callandor).
It is prophesied that
“He [Rand] shall hold a blade of light in his hands and the three shall be as one.”Nuada lost his hand in battle and being less than physically perfect, was no longer eligible to be king and was replaced by Bres. Nuada’s brother Dian Cecht, the god of healing, made Nuada a silver hand as a replacement. The Tuatha De Danann had found Bres to be tyrannical and exiled him and now that Nuada was considered whole, he returned to his position as king. He was later killed by Balor, god of death.
- The Gathering Storm, Reading the Commentary
Rand lost his hand in battle with Semirhage. The Aiel, the most Celtic or Irish of Rand’s followers (see Age of Legends essay), do not appear to immediately disqualify physically imperfect people from leading them, since one of the clan chiefs, Mandelain, only has one eye (A Crown of Swords, As the Plow Breaks the Earth). Rand's ability to fight by channelling has made up for the loss of his physical ability to fight in Aiel eyes. He fought Moridin, death, and expected to die confronting the Lord of the Grave. Rand’s body died, but his soul lived on in Moridin’s body.
In keeping with his ideas on how history changes to myth, Jordan split King Arthur into two characters: the historic King Arthur inspired Arthur Hawkwing (see Character Names A article), whereas the legendary King Arthur inspired Rand al’Thor. Al'Thor refers to both King Arthur and the Norse thunder god Thor (see above) and in fact the name Arthur means ‘follower of Thor’. In The Great Hunt, Artur Hawking followed Rand al’Thor at Falme. (This is not the only parallel that Rand and Artur Hawkwing have in common: the Great Khans Genghis and Kublai are another (see below.)
Similarities between Rand and King Arthur include:
- Arthur's surname was Pendragon and his emblem was a dragon. Rand is the Dragon Reborn.
- Arthur was the son of Uther Pendragon and Ygraine. Merlin (Myrddin) wove an illusion to convince Ygraine that Uther was Ygraine’s husband. Arthur was fostered with Sir Ector as a child. 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, Moiraine and a few other Aes Sedai, Thom Merrilin and perhaps Moridin (Myrddin).
- 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 was 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 King Arthur. Arthur and Morgause were unaware they were related and they became lovers and conceived Mordred. Rand was 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 family tree in The Noble Houses of Andor article). Morgase spied on Perrin because he is one of Rand's henchmen.
- After many battles, Arthur not only ended the rebellions but curbed the Saxon invaders and established a period of peace throughout Britain. In his efforts to overcome evil and bring peace to the world, Rand united the nations against the Shadow and imposed a peace treaty on them.
- 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 the scabbard, 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. In The Gathering Storm, Rand was presented with yet another sword with a significant scabbard: Artur Hawkwing’s sword Justice with its dragon scabbard was found in water, under a statue.
- 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 Holy 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 and only gathered together when the world was on the verge of the Last Battle. 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 Age of Legends essay). As the Dark One's touch increased, famine and pestilence fell on the land. It is interesting that Rand found and used two sa’angreals, San Greals, but surrendered them both after achieving the very holy Grail of saving the world from the Dark One.
- 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. In the thirteenth-century Arthurian text Mort le roi Artu King Arthur dreamed on the eve of his disastrous battle with Mordred that he was riding the Wheel of Fortune, only to be cast down from its highest peak (Paul Huson, Mystical Origins of the Tarot).
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 it widened when Egwene disagreed with Rand’s plan to break the Seals, and gathered supporters for her position.
Lan was at Tarwin’s Gap while the nations argued about the Seals and the treaty, having raised troops in the Borderlands. Caemlyn is a parallel of Camlann (see Origin of Place Names article) and it was destroyed during a great battle against Shadowspawn.
The various Mordred figures keen to seize control of Rand's forces and/or kill Rand, are Mordeth, Moridin and Demandred. However, Galad Damodred (Da-Modred) is Rand’s half-brother. Rand is not immune to abrupt changes of fortune; he has risen high, but has also been treated as dat’sang, only to recover again. He met Fortuona before she became Empress and there was some contention between the two as to whose will should prevail (The Gathering Storm, A Halo of Blackness).
- 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. Nicola and the Aiel Dreamwalkers prophesied that three women will take Rand by boat somewhere.
- In folk tales, King Arthur lies hibernating inside a mountain. There are a sword and a horn on a table in the cavern with him. Anyone who discovers him in the cave has to choose whether to draw the sword or blow the horn, or to decide which to do first, or dare to do both. Usually the person makes the wrong choice or their nerve fails. In some stories there is a garter as well as the sword and the horn. The garter must be cut with the sword. In other tales, King Arthur rides with the Wild Hunt. Rand descended into the mountain at Shayol Ghul to confront the Dark One. The Horn of Valere and Callandor are two hallowed objects in The Wheel of Time series that were crucial to the Last Battle. Callandor was left in Shayol Ghul as it closed. Rand made it out of the mountain, although his body died a while later and he quietly wandered away in a new body. Should he regain attention in this body, this would be an example of the myth of the King who returns. After all, he still has to be on that Arthurian boat with three women. (As the Dragon soul he returns regularly in some Ages to save the world.) Perhaps as history turns to myth and legend, Rand will be linked to the Dark One's Wild Hunt just as Lews Therin was regarded as just as bad as the Dark One by many folk.
According to Moridin, the Fisher piece of the game sha’rah (see Sha'rah, the Fisher King and Their Equivalents article) represents Rand; or more precisely, it was derived from the Dragon, the Creator’s surrogate soul in the eternal War against the Shadow:
Perhaps the Fisher did come from some dim remnant of a memory of Rand al’Thor, the shadow of a shadow. It did not matter.although Moridin’s dismissiveness regarding symbols and parallels may be a mistake.
- The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances
The Fisher piece is an allusion to the Fisher King of Arthurian Legend, who has an unhealed lance wound and is the guardian of the Holy Grail. He is at one with the land he protects and cannot be healed until the land is. The Fisher playing piece in sha’rah is worked as a man with a bandage over his eyes and a wound in his side dripping blood. Similarly, Rand, the saviour of this Age, had an unhealable wound in his side that bled from time to time, and guarded the access keys to the Choedan Kal sa’angreal (the name is derived from San Greal). Moreover, Perrin saw Rand in the wolf dream with a bandage over his eyes (The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei). Until his epiphany, Rand was spiritually blind to the damage he was doing by using the True Power and balefire, or even why it was occurring. Like the Fisher, he, too, was linked to the Land, and his wounds represented the Land's wounds as the world suffered under the assault of the Shadow. This is shown in a passage in the Karaethon Cycle where the Dragon Reborn is associated with the health of the Land:
"There can be no health in us, nor any good thing grow, for the land is one with the Dragon Reborn, and he one with the land."Neither Rand nor the Land could be healed until the Dark One was defeated and sealed away. The Fisher playing piece, the Fisher King of Arthurian legend, and Rand, the Dragon Reborn, are therefore all linked; they have similar roles. The Fisher piece is probably a memory of a Dragon figure in an earlier Age. So is the Fisher King.
- A Crown of Swords, Opening prophecy
The Dolorous Stroke of Arthurian legend is a parallel of the Dark One’s counterstroke. In some tales, the Dolorous Stroke was delivered by Sir Balin, who used a hallowed object, the Lance of Longinus, to fight Sir Pellam, and this led to the Waste Land and the need for the Quest for the Holy Grail. In other versions Sir Perceval is to blame for failing to ask the Fisher King the meaning of the Grail (John Clute and John Grant, Encyclopaedia of Fantasy). Appropriately the sa’angreal were eventually used by Rand to cleanse the taint from saidin that had caused the Waste Land of the Breaking. Rand had to understand his own wounds and link to the Land and what these mean, then he could achieve the Grail of saving the world from the Dark One.
The battles of a Romano-British leader against the Saxon invasion in the dying days of the Roman Empire were transformed over time into the large body of legends about King Arthur; and these legends are an important source for the Wheel of Time (see Arthurian Myth essay). Ancient Rome thus serves as a source of mythological and historic parallels for the Second and Third Age of the Wheel of Time series, and illustrates Jordan’s theme of the effect of time on history and legend.
The three ta’veren could be likened to a triumvirate. This was an arrangement in Ancient Rome whereby three men were appointed for five years as ‘triumvirs for the constitution of the state’ allowing them joint autocratic powers in troubled times. An important triumvirate was: Mark Antony, Octavian and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus.
Some time after Julius Caesar (a parallel of Lews Therin) was assassinated, his lover Cleopatra (a parallel of Lanfear) captivated another famous military Roman, Mark Antony, and subtly exploited his unsophisticated and unstable character. Lanfear tried to do the same to Rand, who until his epiphany, was also unstable (due to the taint) and unsophisticated, but thanks to Moiraine, she did not succeed.
The Lanfear/Cleopatra parallel is an important one, not just in showing how history repeats itself, but also in showing the consequences if events were allowed to take their course. Moiraine saw from the rings in Rhuidean that Rand could end up enslaved by Lanfear, or killed by her. Besotted with Cleopatra, Antony forgot about his wife and his planned military campaign in Parthia and returned:
as Cleopatra's slave to Alexandria, where he treated her not as a “protected” sovereign but as an independent monarch.In this Age, Lanfear was determined to be Rand’s equal or superior. She also wanted to make sure that Rand completely forgot about his role as the Light’s champion and also his love of Elayne and Aviendha (and Min, if she had known).
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
After the Roman armies of Octavian (the future Roman emperor Augustus) defeated their combined forces, Cleopatra realized that she and Antony were doomed. She believed that if he could be induced to kill himself for love of her, they would both win undying renown (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Lanfear planned to use Rand to obtain ultimate power and immortality for the pair of them. However, Moiraine’s bravery thwarted Lanfear’s early plans and Rand was freed of her influence long enough to grow armour against her wiles. This parallel shows what otherwise might have been.
The relationship between Rand and Taim could be compared to that between the Emperor Tiberius and his principal advisor Sejanus.
Tiberius was Roman emperor from 14-37 AD.
Although an extremely efficient emperor, especially in the provinces, Tiberius was never popular either with the senators or with the populace. He had a grim personality and difficulty in expressing himself clearly; he was highly suspicious of the motives of others, even paranoid in his later years.Until his epiphany Rand’s rage, paranoia and lack of courtesy made him unpopular. He gave peremptory orders and discussed few of his plans even with his close allies. Rand left Taim unsupervised to recruit for, and teach at, the Black Tower. The Black Tower constructed under Taim’s direction consisted of barracks, workers’ cottages and Taim’s palace behind a high stone wall (Winter’s Heart, Prologue). Taim intended to be Rand’s advisor, but soon saw the possibilities in establishing and leading an army of male channelers.
The greatest drama and tragedy of [Tiberius’s] life arose from the elevation of Lucius Aelius Sejanus… Very soon it became clear that he was the emperor’s principal advisor… In about AD 23, no doubt at his own prompting, a step was taken which greatly increased his [Sejanus’] power. The nine praetorian cohorts previously distributed between Rome and other Italian towns had recently been concentrated in the capital, and now the emperor authorised Sejanus to bring them all into a single new Roman Barracks, whose lofty walls are still to be seen today.
- Michael Grant, The Roman Emperors
Tiberius distrusted the Roman senators and tried many for treason:
From now onwards treason trials multiplied; for Sejanus shared and sharpened Tiberius’ fears of plots and revolts, and he used the treason laws to get rid of his own enemies. Nevertheless his hold over his master was still incomplete…In the following year, however, Sejanus received a fresh opportunity to enlarge his power when Tiberius decided to withdraw from Rome and take up his residence on the island of Capreae (Capri), never to set foot in the city again…Tiberius wanted to get away from people in general, and particularly from difficult senators; at Capreae he was only accompanied by a very few friends. Furthermore he was becoming increasingly alarmed for his own personal safety…Rand moved away from Caemlyn and stopped visiting the Black Tower. He was accompanied by a few trusted channellers. The attacks on Rand naturally increased his paranoia.
However, [Tiberius’] solitary existence inevitably stimulated every kind of damaging rumour…More important, since his direct contact with the senate was now limited to written communications, the authority of Sejanus rose steeply…and now he controlled access to Tiberius’ person and provided the guardsmen who transmitted his correspondence with Rome.
- Michael Grant, The Roman Emperors
Rand was most suspicious of male channellers and had deserters from the Black Tower hunted down and executed as traitors. Taim took advantage of this, and Rand’s absence, to falsely declare those Asha’man with Rand traitors. If they were executed, Rand would then need new Asha’man aides, and Taim would try to ensure they were men under his control.
Rumours abounded about Rand because few people had direct contact with him until Towers of Midnight. He mostly wrote or sent messengers to Taim. Taim’s power rose sharply because many Asha’man only knew Taim, not Rand. As Logain warned:
“Taim does a great many things people think are at your direction,” he went on reluctantly, “but he has his own plans. Flinn and Narishma and Manfor are on the deserters’ list, like every Asha’man you kept with you. And he has a coterie of twenty or thirty he keeps close and trains privately. Every man who wears the Dragon is one of that group except me, and he’d have kept the Dragon from me, if he dared. No matter what you’ve done, it is time to turn your eyes to the Black Tower before Taim splits it worse than the White Tower is. If he does, you’ll find the larger part is loyal to him, not you. They know him. Most have never even seen you.”Logain had to sneak away to offer his aid and deliver his warning to Rand. Taim’s actions are very similar to those of Sejanus.
- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm
“He’s made a Tower of his own hidden inside the Black Tower, and the men in it are loyal to him, not you. He amended the deserters' list and sends his apologies for an 'honest mistake' but you can wager all you own it was no mistake."
- Knife of Dreams, News for the Dragon
Tiberius didn’t act to rein in Sejanus until given information from his sister-in-law, the formidable and influential Antonia. He arranged for Sejanus to be arrested during a Senate meeting. The Senators promptly ordered Sejanus’ execution.
Rand was sceptical of Logain’s judgement, but changed his mind once no gateways would open at the Black Tower. (A dreamspike had been installed at the Black Tower for added defence/offence.) The formidable Cadsuane told Rand that the Asha’man had freed themselves and driven off Taim. Taim was killed by another tough woman, the Amyrlin.
Czech born Jan Hus (1369–1415) was an important 15th-century religious reformer:
whose work was transitional between the medieval and the Reformation periods and anticipated the Lutheran Reformation by a full century. He was embroiled in the bitter controversy of the Western Schism for his entire career, and he was convicted of heresy at the Council of Constance and burned at the stake.Hus preached that no pope or bishop had the right to take up the sword in the name of the Church but they should pray for and forgive their enemies, and nor should they sell indulgences (a medieval church fundraiser) because people should obtain forgiveness of sins by real repentance, not money. The Aes Sedai lost track of their obligation to serve the community and needed reform; they allowed themselves to be diverted from fighting the Shadow. Like the Catholic Church in late medieval times, with which they have strong parallels, they were split by schism (see Aes Sedai Laws and Customs: Administration and Society essays and New Era History essay). Just as the Church had two (while Hus was preaching, even three) Popes, the Aes Sedai had two Amyrlins, while another senior Aes Sedai, Lelaine, plotted for the stole. With two delegations sent to the Black Tower, each wanting to Bond Asha’man, Rand was embroiled in the aftermath of their schism. When he met Egwene in the Hall of the Tower, she unsuccessfully tried to raise the subject of Aes Sedai being Bonded (Towers of Midnight, The Amyrlin’s Anger).
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
Channelling is a crime for men due to the danger they pose to others (when saidin was tainted) and they are cut off from the One Power – gentled – in the Traitor’s Court. They are effectively regarded as heretical (or even apostate by extremist Aes Sedai) and often treated harshly (see Aes Sedai Laws and Customs: Society essay and Aes Sedai Attitudes to Male Channellers article).
Hus was treated harshly. He was excommunicated for not appearing at his trial at the Curia, and an interdict denying certain church sacraments was pronounced over Prague or any other place where he might dwell might reside. Rand rightly avoided the White Tower (an equivalent of the Roman church) until Towers of Midnight. Elaida was pressured into issuing a proclamation that anyone:
whosoever attempts to approach him save through the White Tower lies attainted of treason against the Light, and anathema is pronounced against them now and forever.In 1414 King Sigismund of Hungary forced Pope John XXIII to call the Council of Constance to resolve the Schism and the heresies troubling the Church. Hus was pressured to attend the Council to explain his view; he naturally was reluctant, but finally consented to go after being given assurances of safe conduct there and back. Shortly after arriving at the Council of Constance Hus was arrested and placed in close confinement. A committee of three bishops made the preliminary investigation against him. Hus was poorly fed, chained day and night and became racked with disease. When he refused to recant he was sentenced as a heresiarch (a leader of a heretical movement) and burned at the stake. False Dragons could be likened to heresiarchs, false prophets who wrongly claim fulfilment of the Apocalypse (see Aes Sedai Laws and Customs: Society essay). Two former false dragons became Rand’s followers. A Council was held at the Field of Merrilor at Rand’s request on the necessity to break the Seals and to have one battle leader in the war, and for a peace treaty for after Rand was gone. Rand expected some argument; he had earlier dared to visit the White Tower to goad them into uniting the opposition for him. This way he only had to win the argument once - although he nearly failed in this.
- The Path of Daggers, An Unwelcome Return
Hus’ legacy was the Hussite movement, which protested the need for Church reform and asserted that they would obey only those papal commands which agreed with Scripture. The military commander of this movement was a one-eyed general who pioneered the use of artillery in warfare…His name was Jan Zizka and he is, of course, a parallel of Mat (see Mat essay).
The Forskaen Sammael has quite a few parallels to Emperor Napoleon (see Sammael essay) and Rand correspondingly has parallels to Napoleon’s nemesis Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (1769 - 1852). Rand even quotes Wellington at one point.
Most importantly, neither the Dragon nor Wellington glory in war:
Unlike Napoleon, he [Wellington] never gloried in war...Three weeks after Waterloo, he told Lady Shelley that he hoped he had fought his last battle [and he had]. It was a bad thing to be always fighting. It was quite impossible to think of glory: "I am wretched even at the moment of victory and I always say that, next to a battle lost, the greater misery is a battle gained."This is a sentiment that Wellington often repeated:
- John Strawson, The Duke and The Emperor
Next to a lost battle, nothing is so sad as a battle that has been won.These are sentiments that Rand and Lews Therin agree with. In the battle again the Shaido for Cairhien, Rand is convinced that Sammael is also attacking him. It is a major worry for much of the day. When told they have won the battle, Rand has a moment of deja vu when he thinks:
Only a battle lost is sadder than a battle won. He seemed to remember saying that before, long ago. Perhaps he had read it.Wellington as a former Dragon? Or read and quoted by the Dragon? This is a very strong linking of Rand to Wellington. As is Rand's and Wellington's obsession with duty:
- The Fires of Heaven, The Lesser Sadness
I conceive it to be my duty to serve with unhesitating zeal and cheerfulness, when and wherever the King or his Government may think proper to employ me.Rand always does his duty, even at considerable personal cost. He has adopted 'Death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain' as his motto.
Both Wellington and the Dragon are kind at heart and honourable:
Every accommodation and comfort, beyond houses and stable-room, must be the result of the good will of the inhabitants, and nothing like compulsion must be used.Rand refused to let the Aiel take their fifth in Caemlyn or take food as part of their fifth in Cairhien. He mentally flagellated himself at the death of each woman who fought for him.
- Wellington, General Orders for 1809
Nor, in spite of being dubbed the Iron Duke, was [Wellington] hard-hearted. At Badajoz Picton found him in tears at the appalling losses suffered by his men, and after Waterloo his despatch was blotched with tears as he contemplated the loss of so many friends.
- John Strawson, The Duke and the Emperor
The achievements of Wellington and the Dragon are similar. After Waterloo:
Wellington would reach the highest offices of state during more than thirty-six years of diplomatic, political, military and social activity, and become one of the most renowned and revered Britons of his age or any age.Lews Therin Telamon and Rand are each the most famous men of their time.
- John Strawson, The Duke and the Emperor
Just before Wellington left Vienna to fight Napoleon in 1815, Tsar Alexander placed his hand on his shoulder and said in French: "It's again up to you to save the world." The Dragon Reborn’s task was to again save the world - with a complete victory this time.
wished to portray Wellington as having made an error in ever having fought the battle of Waterloo at all, but also as a plodding, cautious, over-promoted staff officer.Sammael had a similarly sneering opinion of Lews Therin Telamon and Rand, as did Demandred. Like Napoleon, neither Sammael nor Demandred realised that by belittling the men that defeated them they were belittling their own abilities.
- Andrew Roberts, Napoleon and Wellington
Rand and the Aiel
Moses, the Hebrew religious leader and prophet, is the most important prophet in Judaism. According to the Book of Exodus, Pharaoh had commanded that all Hebrew newborn boys be killed because he felt threatened by the size of the Israelite population. Moses’ mother hid baby Moses as long as she could and then set him adrift on the River Nile in a floating basket. He was found and adopted by the Egyptian royal family.
The Aiel have parallels to the Israelites (see The Age of Legends article) and Rand is the Wheel of Time world’s prophet, serving as the prophesied intermediary between the Creator and humanity. Rand was “of the blood, but not raised by the blood” (The Shadow Rising, The Road to the Spear), just like Moses. Rand’s mother was royalty, and Rand was found on Dragonmount as a baby and hidden by the Pattern by being raised in obscurity in the Two Rivers.
As a young man, Moses fled Egypt for Midian to avoid the repercussions of killing an Egyptian slave driver and remained there until called by God to return to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from slavery and take them to Canaan, their Promised Land. Pharaoh would only agree to the departure of the Hebrews after ten terrible plagues were inflicted upon the Egyptians, and even then changed his mind and pursued them.
One of the many parallels the Aiel have to the Israelites (see The Age of Legends article) is that their ancestors the Da’shain were in service to the Aes Sedai, just as the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and they made their first exodus at the onset of the Breaking at the behest of Aes Sedai (whom they failed when they abandoned their Covenants of non-violence and of service and obedience to the Aes Sedai). They have wandered since those times, not just until they found the Waste, but in the Waste too, since they led a semi-nomadic life there. The Aiel are prophesied to take back their places of old:
"Of the blood, but not raised by the blood, he will come from Rhuidean at dawn, and tie you together with bonds you cannot break. He will take you back and he will destroy you."a parallel of the Israelites, who made a Covenant with the Lord, being promised fertile lands in Canaan. Rand led the Aiel out of the Waste, the first step to them taking back their places of old as prophesied. (Perrin’s rescue of many thousands of slaves from the Shaido is also a parallel of Moses, see Perrin essay.) The bubbles of evil, famine and pestilence the Dark One inflicted upon the Land are probably equivalents of the plagues the Egyptians suffered.
-The Shadow Rising, The Road to the Spear
"When the Trollocs come out of the Blight again, we will leave the Three-fold Land and take back our places of old…He will come from the west, beyond the Spine of the World, but be of our blood. He will go to Rhuidean, and lead us out of the Three-fold Land.”
-The Great Hunt, A New Thread In The Pattern
When the Israelites arrived at Mt Sinai, the mountain of God, Moses ascended and stayed on Mt Sinai for 40 days and nights. During this time he received the Ten Commandments directly from God and then descended to deliver the commandments to the people. He is referred to as "The Lawgiver" in Jewish tradition for delivering the Ten Commandments.
Rand went on a spiritual quest for three days, which culminated in an epiphany that transformed him on Dragonmount, the grave and birthplace of the Creator’s champion and thus the sacred centre of the Wheel of Time world. Rand gave the Aiel new laws and customs.
During their exodus, the Israelites were attacked by the Amalekites, but so long as Moses held the rod of God high, the Israelites were ahead in the battle. If he lowered his hand, the battle turned in favour of the Amalekites. At Falme, the battle of the Heroes against the Seanchan was linked to Rand’s duel against Ishamael.
Twice on the journey to Canaan Moses struck rock to bring forth water for the thirsty Israelites, just as Rand twice channelled to bring forth water in Rhuidean (when he first visited Rhuidean and then when he led the Aiel out of the city.)
After following Rand out of the Waste into the Wetlands, their “Promised Land,” many Aiel want to return to the Waste, just as many of the Israelites following Moses on the Exodus wanted to return to Egypt, even though they had been slaves there:
And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would God we had died in this wilderness!Aviendha, for instance, is one that preferred the Waste to the wetlands:
Numbers 14: 2
Each day in the wetlands made them weaker; she herself was an excellent example. She had grown soft there. How could one not grow soft in that place? It would have to be abandoned. Soon…Now that the fighting is done, the Aiel should not go back to the Waste to continue as before. They, who were sworn to peace in the Age of Legends, have agreed to be peacekeepers for the nations, rather than maintain their warrior society for no other purpose than custom. The latter would end in their destruction, as Aviendha saw in the glass columns ter’angreal. The Israelites were advised not to rebel against the Lords’ wishes (Numbers 14:9) but they did so and were condemned to wander.
She would help preserve the remnant of the Aiel who survived, then bring them home where they belonged.
Towers of Midnight, In The Three-fold Land
Those Aiel who don’t follow Rand will not be saved, just as God told Moses that the Israelites would have to wander the wilderness for forty years until all those who refused to enter Canaan had died and then their children would settle there:
Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;The Israelites finally arrived at their Promised Land; the Aiel were promised that they would leave their Promised Land – taken back (to the Westlands) - eventually.
Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
Numbers 14: 22-23
The Jewish people have also wandered much since Christ’s advent, and in medieval Christendom there arose the legend of the Wandering Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then doomed to wander the earth until the Second Coming.
The verse in Hosea 9:17
My god will reject them because they have not obeyed him; they will be wanderers among the nations.parallels the Aiel belief that they must serve the Dragon or they will all be destroyed.
"The stone that never falls will fall to announce his coming. Of the blood, but not raised by the blood, he will come from Rhuidean at dawn, and tie you together with bonds you cannot break. He will take you back and he will destroy you." -The Shadow Rising, The Road to the SpearThe Aiel were taken back to the westland nations by Rand and therefore need a role among them. The Shaido, who did not follow Rand, but sinned against the nations, are scattered, and may never thrive in the Waste, their original Promised Land, or even reach it. Aviendha saw that the Aiel would be doomed to scavenge and wander without rest or hope if they had not been included in the peace treaty.
There is also a belief that the disciple whom Jesus loved would not die before the Second Coming. The two eternal wanderer motifs are combined: Rand, Creator's champion, wanders in the body of Moridin, who felt cursed by his immortality, due to being aware of centuries of events as he was trapped on the Bore, and doomed by reincarnation to revisiting his role of Dark One’s champion each Age. There may arise a belief that Rand or Moridin’s body will wander all the next Age.
Sacrifice and Yom Kippur
The Dragon and the Naeblis are not only champions, but also sacrifices, for their respective deities. Rand was guarded by the Aiel at Thak’andar and alongside Perrin in Tel’aran’rhiod. The “day” of their sacrifice has an important Jewish parallel in Yom Kippur as practised in biblical times.
On the Day of Atonement, two goats were chosen by lottery, one “for the Lord,” and one “for Azazel.” The goat for the Lord, the sacrificial goat, was killed after the priests confessed upon it, and its blood collected and taken into the Holy of Holies where it was sprinkled before the Ark. A sacrificial bull’s blood was sprinkled in the Holy. Both bloods were mixed and smeared on the Golden Altar. The goat for Azazel, the scapegoat, had the sins of the entire people of Israel confessed upon it and then it was driven out into the desert.
Cadsuane, now high priestess of the Aes Sedai, gave Rand, parallel of the sacrificial goat, her blessing:
"However," she continued, eyeing him, "I will have you know that I am pleased. You have turned out well."The goat for Azazel is a parallel of Moridin, who wanted nothing more than to be exiled from the eternal cycle of rebirth.
"So I have your permission to save the world?"
"Yes." She looked upward, where the dark clouds boiled. They began to split at his presence, as he did not try to mask it or keep them back.
"Yes," Cadsuane repeated, "you have my permission. So long as you do it soon. That darkness grows."
A Memory of Light, To Feel Wasted
Rand’s blood was shed in the Dark One’s holy of holies, Shayol Ghul (parallel of Sheol), and with his sacrifice he atoned for Lews Therin’s pride, Lews Therin’s sin. Perrin, Young Bull, who was nearly killed in Tel’aran’rhiod by Slayer, defended Rand there. After escaping Shayol Ghul, the Dragon’s body died, as did the Naeblis’ spirit, but Rand’s soul lived on in Moridin’s body and he wandered away from the people.
Hiawatha and the Great Peacemaker
The Amerindian nations forming the Iroquois confederacy have numerous legends about the Great Peacemaker Deganawida, who brought them together. In some, he had a virgin birth. He was a prophet who counseled peace among all the nations, and worked for years to bring this to fruition. According to his prophecy an Indian boy would be given a great power and would be accepted as a chosen leader by the people of the hilly country. When the people become humble, all three "serpents" that had been causing strife and war, the white serpent and red serpent which fought each other and the black serpent which defeated them both, would be blinded by a light many times brighter than the sun. Deganawida said that he would be that light.
Rand was possessed of great power, and he intended to make a peace pact among the nations as the price for his sacrifice, so he could be a parallel of the Indian boy of great power and of Deganawida the Peacemaker. To secure their future, the Aiel should be a part of the peace, but in Aviendha’s visions in Rhuidean of the Aiel’s future they were not. The white and red serpents at war could be the mainlanders and the Seanchan, and the black serpent which defeats them both, the Shadow. Rand, with his ability to shine incredibly brightly while he channels as strongly as a sa’angreal as he showed in Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light, “blinded” the three warring “serpents” by bringing them to heel. He is very much a solar character, as can be seen in the Sol Invictus section below.
The system of government the Great Peacemaker established for all the nations in the Iroquois confederacy was based on a balance of power between the sexes, with most decisions made by consensus and each representative (clan and village chiefs) having an equal voice. This is how the Aiel already govern themselves, and it persists for some years into the future as Aviendha’s vision of the Council of Twenty Two showed.
Hiawatha was a highly skilled orator who aided the Great Peacemaker in forging the Iroquois confederacy. In his poem The Song of Hiawatha Longfellow mistakenly gave Hiawatha’s name to the transformative trickster figure Nanabozho, whose deeds the poem described. Such alteration of history and myth over time is one of Jordan’s most important themes. In the poem, Hiawatha bids his people embrace the word of Christian missionaries and departs into the west forever.
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.Rand has parallels to Vainamoinen of the Kalevala (see above) and as the son of a god preaching peace and encouraging his people to listen to Christian missionaries as he departs, Hiawatha is linked to Jesus, see above.
Hiawatha is raised by his grandmother Nokomis after his mother, Wenonah is seduced and abandoned by the deity Mudjekeewis, and dies giving birth to Hiawatha.
Rand’s mother, Tigraine, who died giving birth to him, would be a parallel of Wenonah and Minnehaha, Hiawatha’s wife, would be a parallel of Aviendha, Rand’s beloved. Aviendha encounters Nakomi in the Waste and gains insights from Nakomi’s comments. Nakomi is not literally either Rand’s or Aviendha’s grandmother although she is wise and knowledgeable. (For further description of Nakomi’s parallels to Nokomis see Character Names N article).
The destruction of the Aiel and their role as savages isolated from the Fourth Age which Aviendha sees in the glass columns (see Aiel Prophecy article) reflects the standing the Amerindians 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.As Aviendha saw in Rhuidean, if the Aiel break Rand’s peace pact and declare war on the Seanchan they will ultimately be forced into the Waste and crushed until they are struggling for survival on the fringes of civilisation, barely even a relic of earlier times.
- Roy Harvey Pearce, The Savages of America; The Study of the Indian and the Idea of Civilisation
Rand is like the great Zulu leader, Shaka (c. 1787-1828), in the way he has united the clans of the spear-wielding warrior Aiel, but one of Rand’s ancestors, Jeordam, invented the short hafted Aiel spear, just as Shaka is credited with the introduction of the Zulu stabbing spear, the iklwa.
Genghis and Kublai Khan
Rand’s title of Car’a’carn is a reference to the Great Khans, the Khan of Khans, of the Mongol Empire, especially Genghis Khan (1162? –1227) and his grandson Kublai Khan (1215-1294). The Mongol Empire was the world’s largest contiguous empire and at its height stretched from the China Sea to the Urals and from Siberia to Afghanistan. Genghis Khan founded the empire by uniting the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. There was much warfare, raids and revenge acts between the tribes, as there was among the nomadic Aiel clans prior to union, but, completely opposite to the Aiel, the Mongol tribes were heavily horse-dependent. Once Genghis unified them, the Mongols then invaded other nations, just as the Aiel were led out of the Waste into the westlands. The Mongols advanced long distances over rough terrain very swiftly, as do the Aiel.
During the Mongol invasion the selfishness and disunity of European nations was their undoing, as was that of the mainland nations against the Aiel, Seanchan and Shadow. Rand insisted on unity at the Last Battle, but nearly left the Aiel out of the treaty.
Interestingly, the Mongols used gunpowder – the first recorded usage of it in Europe – in seizing Sajo against the Hungarians in 1241. Rand’s forces, courtesy of Mat and Aludra, reintroduced gunpowder to the mainland.
Another violent invasion from the east – that of the Sharans – is also a parallel of the Mongol invasion. Demandred is a negative parallel of Genghis, Rand is a positive one.
Aviendha’s visions in the glass columns show the potential for the Aiel to cause the subjection of the mainland nations to a huge empire – just not their own. The mainlanders’ fear of the Aiel is similar to that of the real world Eurasian nations for the Mongols. And in fact, Rand introduced a law restraining the Aiel from taking their customary fifth from the nations they saved or subdued, and insisted that in the circumstances where they could take their fifth, none of it was to be food.
An important shaman tried to break the bond between Genghis Khan and his loyal brother Khasar. Likewise, Taim, leader of the Asha’man (a-sha’man being a parallel of shamans) tried to break the loyalty of Logain and Rand’s trust of Logain.
There is another parallel to the questionable loyalty of some Asha’man in the reaction of the military commander of the vassal nation Xi Xia to Genghis’ request for aid in fighting the Muslim states of central Asia. The general’s name was Asha, and he insulted and defied Genghis. When the dying Mongol emperor eventually called Xi Xia to heel, Asha challenged him to battle. Xi Xia was annihilated, although Genghis died while the battle took place.
Much secrecy and legend surrounds Genghis Khan’s death. There is uncertainty about when he died and where he is buried, and even a legend that Genghis merely sleeps:
From that sleep he has never awakened – but that was six hundred or seven hundred years ago, and would not Holy Genghis heal himself? When he is healed he will awake and save his people.Genghis Khan had a very strong belief that he had Heaven’s backing to take over the world. Rand was assured by prophecy that he was the Creator’s champion, reborn to save the world. Three centuries after his death, Genghis had undergone a “metamorphosis from barbarian chief to divinity” (John Man, Genghis): he was venerated as a reincarnation of the bodhisattva Vajrapani, the Thunderbolt-Bearer, who in Tibetan mythology fought demons to protect Buddhism. Rand channelled lightning and fought the demonic Forsaken.
John Man, Genghis
Genghis Khan and his huge empire also has some parallels with Artur Hawkwing including the speculation surrounding his death and the way his empire was split among his descendants and fought over by them after he died, although Genghis Khan’s successors increased the size of the Mongol empire, and their invasions resulted in genocide. Also, the saying that a virgin carrying gold could ride from one end of the Great Khan’s empire to the other unharmed was also said of Hawkwing’s empire. From his capital in China, Kublai Khan sent naval invasions to Japan, Java and Vietnam, which failed, just as Artur Hawkwing’s sent naval forces to Seanchan (which has parallels with China and Japan) and to Shara (which has parallels to China and Africa). Kublai Khan’s fabled summer capital of Xanadu, is a parallel of the mysterious Rhuidean. The ascendance of Kublai Khan is considered to have accelerated the disunity of the Mongols, just as Rand has broken the Aiel as well as united them.
Kublai’s mother was a Nestorian Christian, a heretical doctrine in Western Christianity and Artur Hawkwing’s second wife was suspected of being a renegade Aes Sedai. The Mongol emperor was unpopular with nobles for the same reason Artur Hawkwing was:
All Cathayans detested the Great Kaan’s rule because he set over them governors who were Tartars, Saracens or Christians.Kublai had a cruel and corrupt advisor, Ahmad, who was believed to be a sorcerer:
- John Man, Xanadu: Marco Polo and Europe’s discovery of the East
Investigators made some unsettling discoveries, suggestive of exceptional cruelty and downright weirdness. In one cupboard they found two tanned human skins ‘with both ears remaining’. These disturbing details inspired much talk of magic, which accounts for Marco [Polo]’s remark that Ahmad ‘had so wrought upon the Kaan with his sorcery that the latter had the greatest faith and reliance on everything he said.’Likewise, Artur Hawkwing fell under the thrall (or Compulsion) of Jalwyn Moerad, an alias of Ishamael. Rand, too, discovered that Mazrim Taim was a lot more corrupt than he thought.
John Man, Xanadu: Marco Polo and Europe’s discovery of the East
This is not the only parallel that Rand and Artur Hawkwing have in common. The legendary King Arthur is another (see above).
Literary Parallel: Rand as Frodo
Jordan deliberately made the first 100 pages of The Eye of the World reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings to make readers feel at home:
In the first chapters of The Eye of the World, I tried for a Tolkienesque feel without trying to copy Tolkien’s style, but that was by way of saying to the reader, okay, this is familiar, this is something you recognise, now let’s go where you haven’t been before…I must admit that I occasionally drop in a reference…However similarities between the two works extend beyond these first chapters, notably those between Rand and Frodo:
- Glimmers Interview, July 2002
- Frodo has two close friends, Peregrin and Meriadoc, who accompanied him on his quest; Rand’s companions are Perrin and Mat (with the same initial letters).
- Both Frodo and Rand leave their homelands secretly at night pursued by black riders.
- Both lived in insular areas where it was rare to leave at all.
- Both have father figures who are not their biological fathers who give them a special sword. In their youth each ‘father’ was one of those few who did leave their homeland in search of adventure.
- Frodo is shadowed by Gollum/Smeagol and Rand by Fain/Mordeth and Ishamael/Moridin. Both are wounded by their ‘shadows’. Gollum confronted Frodo at the Cracks of Doom and while Fain went on ahead to Shayol Ghul in anticipation of confronting Rand there (Towers of Midnight, Prologue) it was Moridin who did so.
- Both are part of a small group which sets out to try and save the world from a dark lord. This group includes a hidden monarch (Aragorn, Lan) who has great knowledge of history, bushcraft and war.
- Both have mentor magicians in their party who sacrifice themselves to ensure the safety of their protégés and the success of their mission. These mentors return ‘from the dead’ much later in the story.
- Frodo loses a finger, Rand a hand.
- Rand and Frodo both had insanity creep up on them and experience existential despair: Rand from the taint, Frodo from the Ring.
- Both are saviours of their worlds and endure much for the sake of their worlds.
Finally, to tie them together even closer, Rand stayed at the Nine Rings inn in Cairhien (The Great Hunt, The Nine Rings).
Tolkien wrote that his hobbit names were anglicised from the Westron by altering their endings because, as in Old English, -o and –e were feminine and –a was masculine. Therefore Frodo was in reality Froda in Westron, and Froda is mentioned in Beowulf as the father of Ingeld. The Old Norse equivalent of Froda is Frothi, a figure who was:
“famous for his wisdom, above all for turning away from war. According to Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1200) and Snorri Sturluson (c. 1230), this Frothi was an exact contemporary of Christ. During his reign there were no murders, wars, thefts or robberies, and this Golden Age was known as…’the peace of Frothi’.Rand’s previous incarnation, Lews Therin, ruled in a golden age when war was unknown, and in The Dragon Reborn, Rand roars that he will end the killing. Frothi is a failed analogue of Christ, in that he was unable to stop the endless cycle of violence and retaliation of Norse society. Frodo becomes less violent throughout the Lord of The Rings and in the Return of the King says he doubts he will strike any blow again and only accepts killing of those who would kill others. Rand held a meeting between nations to forge a peace pact as his price for sacrificing himself, including provision for the Aiel, the people in the series most involved in endless warfare and feuds, or else he believed his sacrifice would be in vain. Frodo was increasingly sidelined by his own people for his stance, and Rand too retired into obscurity at least temporarily after defeating the Dark One.
Tom Shippey, J.R.R. Tolkien, Author of the Century
Rand’s Name and Titles
The closest real world personal names to Rand would be Randall and Randy meaning ‘wild dog’ and Randolf meaning ‘guard wolf’. 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, 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 has founded institutions to promote education and research and of course thought a lot about security and military issues.
His surname al’Thor refers to the Norse god Thor and to King Arthur.
Rand’s titles of Lord of the Morning Prince of the Dawn and He Who Comes With the Dawn indicate that he is a solar figure, as does his red hair. It is no coincidence that the Aiel, who live in an extremely hot and cloudless land, were given a preponderance of red and gold hair in their population. Jordan said it amused him to go against real world genetics and give the Aiel Irish colouring, but it is also appropriate symbolically.
As the chief of chiefs of the Aiel nation, the unifying force of a fierce solar people, Rand is Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun. Sol Invictus was the state-supported sun god of Roman times (and thus a link with Lews Therin and the Age of Legends, which has much in common with the Ancient Roman Republic, see Age of Legends essay) from 274 to 380 AD. The title had also been applied to other solar deities in earlier Roman times. Sol Invictus was an official god of the Roman army. Rand united all the forces of the world to fight the Shadow. The (solar) Aiel were those most devoted to him however.
In The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold, while corrupted by the Choedan Kal, Rand thought he was the sun personified:
He felt himself alight with the Power, like a sun to the world below…The Power he held inside dwarfed that light. He was the sun. He was fire. He was life and death.and almost went ‘nova’. When he became human again after his epiphany, the clouds parted and the sun shone upon him. Rand is solar, but not a deity.
A large part of Rand’s link with the Land is through him being like the life-giving Sun. For example he made the Sun break into Moridin’s dreamshard; drenching it with Light:
Sunlight exploded through the clouds above. There was often no sunlight in the World of Dreams, but now it bathed the area around Rand…And bringing health to it. Rand’s power to change the world, and the Pattern, is indicated by his parallels with weather gods such as Thor or Enlil as described above. As well as the Sun, he has been described as a tempest and the wind:
Rand exerted his will. The crackling dead leaves began to transform at his feet, turning green again, and shoots of grass broke through the leaves. The green spread from him like spilled paint, and clouds above boiled away.
A Memory of Light, Advantages to a Bond
He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind was gone.If ever was doubt that Rand’s spirit was the world’s breath, chi, prana, this dispels it.
— from The Dragon Reborn
By Loial, son of Arent son of Halan,
the Fourth Age.
As this essay shows, Rand’s character has many origins and parallels; these roles are listed in the last scene of the series, with him embraced by the wind, no less:
As he did so, a wind rose up around him, around the man who had been called lord, Dragon Reborn, king, killer, lover and friend.These name him as literally the Hero of A Thousand Faces, described by Joseph Campbell, as does the prophecy that:
A Memory of Light, Epilogue
"And his paths shall be many, and who shall know his name, for he shall be born among us many times, in many guises, as he has been and ever will be, time without end.
-The Dragon Reborn, Opening prophecy
Written by Linda, March 2007 and updated May/June 2014