Thursday, February 28, 2002

Seals


By Linda

The Seals on the Dark One’s prison were smooth, palm-sized discs. They were:

ter'angreal made of cuendillar, or "heartstone", designed to absorb any force used against it, including the One Power, and become stronger from the assault rather than break.

- The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time

The weave that seals the Bore uses them.

Seven indestructible cuendillar discs, made with the One Power and marked with the seal of the Aes Sedai, were prepared to function as “focus points” [for the Sealing of the Bore and cutting of the Dark One’s access to the world]… A raiding force consisting of soldiers for security and a circle of seven female Aes Sedai and six male would travel there and implant seals held by the focus points.

- The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time

This was before the women made the concord to not participate and so they were made with both saidin and saidar. Lews Therin participated in their making (A Memory of Light, The Choice of a Patch ).

During the Breaking:

the surviving Aes Sedai scattered the seven cuendillar seals that held the Bore, lest one of the maddened Aes Sedai, or even one of the Shadowsworn, find them unprotected. Only a few souls knew where they were secreted.

- The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time

After the Breaking and the founding of the White Tower, it was the duty of the Amyrlin as Watcher Over the Seals to know where the Seals were. None has since the Trolloc Wars, The Great Hunt, The Shadow in Shienar) due to those few who held this knowledge dying without passing the information on. Until now.

Despite being made of cuendillar, they weakened, emanating evil as they do so, and then began to break (The Fires of Heaven, To Teach and To Learn). Rand used the True Power to break his cuendillar a’dam collar (The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could Be Done. At a The Gathering Storm booksigning Sanderson confirmed cuendillar’s weakness to the True Power:

The True Power works by destroying the Pattern. Everything that is done with it involves damage to the Pattern. For example, when we see Ishamael Travel, he does so by poking a hole in the Pattern. Cuendillar can be destroyed using the True Power. There is another way to destroy cuendillar, too.

Speculation: This other way is how the Dark One is breaking the Seals and involves the Dark One very gradually leeching or absorbing the One Power out of the cuendillar. Until he had a reasonable touch on the world, he was unable to use the True Power to affect anything in it but had to rely on this much more passive and extremely slow method to weaken the Seals. The evil that is sensed as the Seals weaken is the touch of the Dark One while he is doing this leeching. Once the Seal has broken his touch moves elsewhere and it doesn’t feel evil anymore.

When Rand went to Shayol Ghul, four seals were broken and three were intact:

  • The first seal was found at the Eye of the World beneath a pool of untainted saidin. It was found broken after Rand’s battle with Aginor and Ishamael (The Eye of the World, There Is Neither Beginning Nor End).


  • The second was bought by Bayle Domon in a shop in Maradon (The Great Hunt, Leavetakings) and taken from him by the Seanchan in Falme. It was given by Egeanin to High Lord Turak. Who already had another. It was found broken after Rand’s battle with Ishamael (The Great Hunt,What Was Meant to Be).


  • The third seal was in Turak’s cuendillar collection and brought to Falme. It was found broken after Rand’s battle with Ishamael (The Great Hunt,What Was Meant to Be).


  • The fourth seal was found my Moiraine in the Great Holding in the Stone of Tear and is unbroken (The Dragon Reborn, People of the Dragon). It went with her into the Waste and then to Cairhien packed in wool.


  • The fifth seal was found in the Panarch’s Museum in Tanchico and taken by Nynaeve and Elayne to Salidar. During the journey it began to emanate evil and was broken by the time they reached Salidar (The Fires of Heaven, To Teach, and Learn).


  • The sixth seal was found by Moiraine among the objects of the power in Rhuidean. It is whole, but fragile. Moiraine demonstrated this by carving a small flake off it with a knife (The Fires of Heaven, Rhuidean). Carefully packed in wool, it was taken to Cairhien.


  • The seventh seal was given to Rand by Taim as a gesture of his good faith. He said he found it on "a decaying little farm in Saldaea," where the heirless farmer’s family had guarded it for two thousand years. Rand gave it to Bashere because he feared he would break it at Lews Therin’s urging:

    Only seven like this had been made, of cuendillar. Seals on the Dark One's prison, seals that held the Dark One away from the world. He had two more, hidden away very carefully. Protected very carefully.
    Lews Therin's voice came up like thunder. Break it break them all must break them must must must break them all break them and strike must strike quickly must strike now break it break it break it. . . .
    Bashere took the bundle reverently in both hands. Rand was unsure whether the man's bow was for him or the seal. "For ten hours or ten years, it will be safe until you require it."

    -Lord of Chaos, A New Arrival


All three whole seals were hidden in Rand’s possession. Attempts were made by the Shadow in Crossroads of Twilight to find the Seals in Davram Bashere’s and Dobraine Taborwhin’s belongings and at some stage before Rand gave them to Egwene, perhaps when the unsuccessful attempts were made to steal them, fake Seals were substituted (A Memory of Light, The Choice of a Patch). The raids may have been a ruse to disguise the substitution.

From information given by Jordan at a Knife of Dreams booksigning, the weakening and breaking of the Seals freed the Forsaken from the Bore:

I asked if the breaking of the first seal at tEotW was sufficient to free all of the Forsaken, or did it take the breaking of two more seals at Falme to release the rest of them.

Jordan replied: No, all of the Forsaken were not freed when the first seal was broken. It required the further breaking of the seals at Falme to release the rest of them.

I reworded it and asked again to make sure he wasn't giving me any Aes Sedai slippery answer, and he re-iterated that some of the Forsaken were still imprisoned until the seals at Falme were broken.

The seven Seals refer to the seven seals of Revelation which are associated with the end of the world (see Eschatology essay).

Rand planned to break the Seals at Shayol Ghul the day after the meeting on the Fields of Merrilor to bring on the confrontation with the Dark One, since the longer it is delayed, the stronger the Dark One grows (Towers of Midnight, Use a Pebble), but Moiraine persuaded him not to do so. Moiraine was convinced Rand was not the one to break the Seals, and she was right, Logain was the Sealbreaker and he broken them quite easily in his hands (A Memory of Light, A Brilliant Lance).

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Written by Linda, August, 2005 and updated March 2013

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought the "the seals were stolen" bit was really convenient. When and how? From Egwene or from Rand? There never seemed to be any real opportunity for their theft.

Linda said...

I think they were stolen and fake ones substituted during the apparent failed thefts in Bashere's camp and Dobraine's rooms.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think Taim didn't break the seals as soon as he had them in his possession? What was he waiting for?

Linda said...

Permission. Which wouldn't be granted until the optimum time for the Dark One - when he had broken up reality, and could kill Rand. After all, Taim gave one of those Seals to Rand back in Lord of Chaos to gain his trust.