Easing the Badger is two storeys high and sited in a rough quarter of Illian. It is built of rough, green veined stone with a pale green tile roof. The floors of the public rooms are covered with sawdust. Domon received a dodgy letter there to lure him into a trap (The Great Hunt, Leavetakings), and later Moiraine’s group was attacked by Grey Men (The Dragon Reborn, Easing the Badger). The inn’s name may refer to badger digging; the exposure and ejection of a badger out of its sett (burrow system). Badger hunting dog breeds are used to locate and constrain the badger in its burrow, after which the hunters attempt to dig down to the badger. Bearing this process in mind, the name probably has a sexual connotation, especially considering that American badgers have a gland on their abdomen that emits a musky odour when the animal is excited. The badger is a symbol of bravery, perseverance, tenacity and protectiveness, qualities each person in Moiraine’s group displayed. Domon’s enemies were trying to corner him with their letter, and likewise the Shadow tried to corner Moiraine’s group with Grey Men and then Darkhounds.
The Silver Dolphin, Illian, was where Domon’s mate stayed (The Great Hunt, Leavetakings). This is a suitably seafaring name for a sailors’ inn. Silver dolphin chest pins are worn by enlisted men of the United States Navy who are fully qualified submariners. (Robert Jordan was a nuclear engineer in the US Navy.) Dolphins symbolise salvation and love, and silver, purity, hope and wisdom (Jack Tressider, Symbols and their Meanings). Domon’s crew on the whole were loyal and reliable (except Gelb, who was gone by this time).
The Nine Rings, Cairhien, was where Rand, Loial, Hurin and Selene stayed. The name is a reference to The Lord of the Rings: nine rings ‘for mortal men doomed to die’. These men were the Nazghûl, who were lured to follow Sauron by a promise of longevity and magical power, just as the Forsaken were lured to the Dark One. One of the Forsaken, Selene (Lanfear), was actually with Rand at this inn and was trying to tempt Rand to join up. Rand is a mortal man doomed to die to save the world and had just shown the dangers of magical power, having been lured by the male Choedan Kal into holding as much saidin as he could. Rings symbolise completion, strength, protection, continuity, authority and magical force. The number nine is the most yang number and represents truth, order within order, male courage and endurance (Jack Tressider, Symbols and their Meanings). After Rand forced himself to disengage from the sa’angreal he had no more channelling sickness.
The Defender of the Dragonwall, Cairhien, was where Rand, Loial and Hurin stayed (The Great Hunt, Cairhien). The Horn of Valere was stolen by Fain’s Darkfriends and the inn burned down. The inn’s sign depicts a crowned man with his foot on the chest of a red haired man and his sword at the man's throat. The name appears to be a piece of propaganda, or revisionist history, showing the Cairhien King victorious in keeping the Aiel out of Cairhien. Red-headed Rand, of course, returned to Cairhien with huge Aiel forces, which saved the city from the Shaido Aiel.
The Bunch of Grapes is a decrepit wooden three-storey inn in the Cairhien Foregate (The Great Hunt, Cairhien). Thom stayed there and Rand and Loial visited him. Dena was killed by Cairhienin agents, probably those of King Galldrian (The Great Hunt, The Wheel Weaves). The inn may have been later destroyed when the Foregate was burned. Grapes represent wine and abundance. However, the grapes may also be those of wrath:
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.God will bring justice and deliver the oppressed at the Last Judgement. It was Thom’s action in taking the law into his own hands and killing Galldrian in retribution for Dena’s death that unleashed civil war in Cairhien and severely weakened the country.
- Revelation 14:19-20
The Great Tree, Cairhien, was where Verin led the group after the Defender of the Dragonwall was burned down (The Great Hunt, On the Scent). It is a tall stone cube with a common room panelled in dark wood and decorated with silver. The inn’s name refers to Avendoraldera – the sapling of Avendesora, the Tree of Life or World Tree that is a metaphor for creation. (The Damodred sigil also refers to Avendoraldera).
The Three Plum Blossoms, Falme, is where Domon met with Min, Elayne and Nynaeve (The Great Hunt, A Plan). The inn’s original name contained the word ‘Watcher.’ The Falmen were the Watchers Over the Waves and the Seanchan considered that they were watching for the wrong thing and had the inn renamed. The number three represents harmony and completeness and is a very positive number (Jack Tressider, Symbols and their Meanings). In China the plum tree flowers in winter, and thus plum blossoms symbolise resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity, and even revolutionary struggle. Nynaeve, Elayne and Min all experienced adversity in Falme and met with Domon at this inn to plan Egwene’s rescue and their escape. They succeeded in their mission. From the point of view of the Seanchan, they were revolutionaries. They also revealed the revolutionary information that sul’dam could learn to channel.
Written by Linda, June 2007