Friday, March 8, 2002

The Shadow's Influence on the Black Tower

By Linda

This article discusses the influence of the Shadow on the Black Tower and the identity and deeds of Darkfriend Asha’man.

Dark School

The Black Tower is an example of a “Dark School”. These were legendary colleges of the occult arts rumoured to be attached to distant foreign universities. They were dangerous to attend and their classrooms were difficult to access, being in a remote location or deep underground, with no windows and only one entry.

Nobody ever saw the Teacher, for that was the Devil himself. Students never went outside. Every evening, they would say aloud what they wanted to learn and by next morning the right books would have appeared magically upon their desks, written in fiery letters that glowed in the dark; or the information would be written in fire upon the walls. And when the course of studies ended, the students would rush to escape through the single door, for it was known that the Devil would take the hindmost…

- Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson, The Folklore of Discworld

In his novel Dracula, Bram Stoker referred to one such school, the Scholomance, in Transylvania:

The Draculas were, says Arminius, a great and noble race, though now and again were scions who were held by their coevals to have had dealings with the Evil One. They learned his secrets in the Scholomance, amongst the mountains over Lake Hermanstadt, where the devil claims the tenth scholar as his due.

It is thought that Stoker might have used this article as an inspiration:

As I am on the subject of thunderstorms, I may as well here mention the Scholomance, or school supposed to exist somewhere in the heart of the mountains, and where all the secrets of nature, the language of animals, and all imaginable magic spells and charms are taught by the devil in person. Only ten scholars are admitted at a time, and when the course of learning has expired and nine of them are released to return to their homes, the tenth scholar is detained by the devil as payment, and mounted upon an Ismeju (dragon) he becomes henceforward the devil's aide-de-camp, and assists him in 'making the weather', that is, in preparing thunderbolts. A small lake, immeasurably deep, lying high up among the mountains south of Hermanstadt [sic], is supposed to be the cauldron where is brewed the thunder, and in fair weather the dragon sleeps beneath the waters.

- Emily Gerard, Transylvanian Superstitions

The Black Tower is walled off from the rest of Andor, and access to Taim’s palace appears to have been restricted to his faction. Pevara saw no sign of anyone else there in Knife of Dreams, Remember the Old Saying. There is a dungeon under the palace.

The association of the Scholomance with a dragon ridden by the devil’s aide, who was a former student, is particularly suggestive. Taim attempted to manipulate the Dragon Reborn, and was commanded to use balefire (as was his teacher Demandred). The Asha’man were not taught by the Dark One but by a high-up Darkfriend who subverted many Asha’man and was promoted to Forsaken. As in Mesaana’s schools (see Mesaana essay), those considered slow to learn are treated harshly:

A group of young soldiers passed by, saluting Taim. Two bore bruised features, one with an eye swollen shut. Asha'man were beaten brutally for making mistakes in their training, then forbidden Healing.

- Towers of Midnight, Gateways

Moreover, quite a number of Asha’man and Aes Sedai were forcibly Turned to the Dark One (the Devil) at the Black Tower with a circle of 13 Dreadlords and 13 Myrddraal. So the Wheel of Time Devil took more than his due.

Apart from its association with legend, the Black Tower has parallels with an evil historic regime.


There is much in common between the Shadow and the Nazis: the atrocities committed, the culture of suspicion, backstabbing and the currying of the leader’s favour, the ruthless disregard of others and imposition of ideology on others, and the characters and structure of the two groups’ high command. Jordan confirmed this on his blog when he compared the Shadow and the Nazis.

Moreover, the characteristics and deeds of each Forsaken were derived from those of various high ranking Nazis: for instance, the Dark One and Ishamael both have characteristics of Hitler, Graendal has strong character similarities with Goering, the atrocities committed by Semirhage are similar to those of Mengele and the other Nazi doctors, and the situation that Cyndane is in could be compared to that of Keitel. (For more examples see the Three Strands Common to the Forsaken essay.)

Likewise, an institution with the Shadow behind it has strong Nazi characteristics. Nazism at the Black Tower includes:

  • The Asha’man dress in black uniforms, as did the SS. The SS were known as “blackshirts.” Hitler copied the idea from Mussolini’s paramilitary forces, who were also known as “blackshirts”. The Asha’man uniform is starting to evoke the sort of fear in people that the SS uniform evoked, and they are so closely identified with their uniforms that they consistently thought of as ‘black-coated Asha’man’ in peoples’ minds.

  • They have a creed—atypical of the Third Age:

    ”Your orders are read aloud every day at Morning Directives, after the Creed.”

    - The Path of Daggers, Message from the M’Hael

  • There are better conditions for favourites:

    ”Gedwyn and Torval, they are the M’Hael’s men. Rochaid and Kisman, too. Why would they desert? He gave them anything a king could want.”

    - Winter’s Heart, Prologue

    In contrast, Logain is the only full Asha’man not one of Taim’s favourites, and he lives in an ordinary two storey house with a woman to cook and clean for him, rather than the rooms in Taim’s palace and servants that Taim’s favourites have. It was made plain to Logain by Mishraile, that Logain would obtain privileges if he joined Taim’s favourites (Crossroads of Twilight, Prologue).

  • There are special classes for favourites and apart from Logain and those Rand promoted, only those attending these special classes have been given the Dragon pin:

    “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.”

    - Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

    “He has above fifty more in his special classes.”

    - Knife of Dreams, News For the Dragon
  • The military titles of Storm Leader and Attack Leader introduced by Taim are similar to Nazi SS titles. For example, the SS had the ranks of Junior and Senior Storm Leader, Head Storm Leader and Storm Unit Leader.
  • The combat style of all the Asha’man is like the Waffen-SS and their training, with its high ‘training losses’, is like that of the SS. SS combat training consisted primarily of several months of intensive basic training focussing on physical fitness, training in small-arms and political indoctrination. This basic training course was so challenging that only one in three passed.

  • Taim is called the M'Hael, meaning “leader” in the Old Tongue. Another word meaning “leader” in our world has very dark connotations: führer. The name his subordinates gave Hitler. (Hitler is a parallel of the Dark One and to a lesser degree Ishamael, whereas the Forsaken themselves are modelled on Hitler’s chief henchmen (see the Three Strands Common to the Forsaken article and the Forsaken and their Parallels series)). There was even a "führer" cult around Taim, very similar to that which grew around Hitler. And just as Hitler was usually referred to as der Führer ("the Leader"), so Taim was generally referred to by the Asha’man as the M’Hael:

    "To see the M'Hael," Pevara replied, managing to avoid choking on the word. It meant "leader" in the Old Tongue, but the implication of taking that alone as a title gave the word much stronger meaning, as if he led everyone and everything.

The Shadow couldn’t stop the formation of the Black Tower, so their tactic was to subvert it:

If he's a Darkfriend the way you claim, why would he do that?" Logain met his stare levelly. "Because he couldn't stop it.”

- Knife of Dreams, News For the Dragon

It was relatively easy, since Taim was in charge from the early days. He formed his own faction within the Black Tower, men with more knowledge and better training than other Asha’man, and also encouraged other Asha’man to be loyal to the Black Tower and the M’Hael rather than Rand, as Logain observed:

From what I've heard, even in the beginning there were men who could Travel who weren't his toad-eaters, and he had no excuse to do all the recruiting himself. But he's made a Tower of his own hidden inside the Black Tower, and the men in it are loyal to him, not you.

- Knife of Dreams, News For the Dragon

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.”

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

The Black Tower was riven by faction just as the White Tower was. The Shadow weakened both groups while recruiting channellers to its cause.

The Shadow and Asha’man/Aes Sedai Bonding

Rand was appalled that Asha’man had bonded Aes Sedai, knowing the repercussions in his relations with Aes Sedai:

”As it is, the only man who can channel that Elaida wants alive is me, and that only till the Last Battle is done. Once she learns of this, she’ll be twice as hot to see you all dead any way she can manage it. I don’t know how the other lot will react, but Egwene was always a sharp bargainer. I may have to tell off Asha’man for Aes Sedai to bond until they have as many of you as you do of them. That’s if they don’t just decide you all have to die as soon as they can arrange it, too. What’s done is done, but there cannot be any more!”…
“Taim gave the order,” Logain said, coldly uncomfortable explaining himself in front of an audience... “I assumed it came from you.”

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

This was a clever tactic by Taim to sow discord and chaos between the two groups, hinting that the order was Rand’s, and that Taim would rather they didn’t bond any. (Quite true, Taim always favoured killing Aes Sedai). Logain’s faction certainly thought that Taim was against bonding Aes Sedai (The Path of Daggers, The Extra Bit), and that therefore the order most have come from Rand.

Rand was correct: each group of Aes Sedai was most unhappy at the bonding of sisters. As a pre-emptive measure, Rand and Cadsuane sent Narishma and Merise to the rebel Aes Sedai with an offer:

"Any sister who is faithful to Egwene al'Vere may bond an Asha'man, to a total of forty-seven. You cannot ask for the Dragon Reborn, nor any man who wears the dragon, but any Soldier or Dedicated you ask cannot refuse."

- Knife of Dreams, Call to a Sitting

After this was announced at the Black Tower, Taim raised his favourites to full Asha’man so they wouldn’t be bonded:

”He’s given a dozen men the Dragon pin in the last few days.”

- Knife of Dreams, News For the Dragon

Taim decided to sow more chaos and allow Red sisters from the Tower to bond willing Asha’man:

"Accept 'very well' and ask who will let you bond them. Besides, you must remember the old saying: ‘Let the lord of chaos rule.’"

- Knife of Dreams, Epilogue

Taim would win either way. Both groups bonding Asha’man would have exceeded the quota for Aes Sedai and have Rand thinking Aes Sedai have betrayed him, sowing more suspicion between Rand/Asha’man and Aes Sedai. By knowingly allowing two deals, Taim indeed let the Lord of Chaos rule.

As it turned out, the only Red who bonded an Asha’man is Pevara and Androl bonded her back. The Asha’man themselves left 46 volunteers for the Aes Sedai to Bond:

”Unfortunately, all of the men in the Black Tower other than these are either full Asha'man, or have been called away on urgent business. The others would, of course, follow the Dragon's commands if they were here. We made certain to keep forty-seven for you. Actually, forty-six. I've already been bonded by Pevara Sedai, you see."

- A Memory of Light, Not A Mistake To Ignore

Turning Channellers to the Shadow

Turned channellers have dead or lifeless eyes. They become less human and lose initiative or creativity when deprived of their fundamental choice of good versus evil. Men are more easily Turned to the Shadow by women and vice versa. Taim had a small number of Black sisters at first, and wore out his channellers of both sexes Turning Asha’man. There was a reason it was not done until late in the Last Days:

RJ: I have not abandoned this notion about a circle of thirteen Aes Sedai and thirteen Myrddraal can convert someone to the Shadow. It is not an easy situation to set up, in fact it's a very difficult situation to set up. It has to be worth the effort, you don't go to all of this effort to just convert anyone. In fact, it might be better for your plans to manipulate someone against their will than as a willing ally.

Neither Asha’man nor Aes Sedai could flee to escape being Turned to the Shadow while the Black Tower was in lockdown and a dreamspike (see ter’angreal article) was activated there. Finally some more women under the charge of Graendal/Hessalam were sent to speed up the Turning (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot). Fortunately, Perrin deactivated the dreamspike and Logain’s faction freed themselves at this time and stopped the Turning.

The following is a list of the Darkfriend Asha’man:

Darkfriend Asha’man

Mazrim Taim

Taim was named by a Black sister in The Shadow Rising as someone the Shadow was not only prepared to, but wanted to, set up as an alternate Dragon:

Before [Taim] can be brought to Tar Valon and gentled, Liandrin means to break him free. He will be proclaimed as the Dragon Reborn, his name given as Rand al’Thor, and then he will be set to destruction on such a scale as the world has not seen since the War of the Hundred Years.”
“That is impossible,” Nynaeve broke in. “The Pattern will not accept a false Dragon, not now that Rand has proclaimed himself.”…
“Mazrim Taim might well find it impossible to proclaim himself. But if others do it for him, is there a difference that matters?…You can see the obvious result. Rand al’Thor will be blamed for the depredations of ...Rand al’Thor. Even proof that they are not the same man may well be dismissed. After all, who can say what tricks the Dragon Reborn can play? Perhaps put himself in two places at once. Even the sort who have always rallied to a false Dragon will hesitate in the face of the indiscriminate slaughter and worse laid at his feet. Those who do not shrink at such butchery will seek out the Rand al’Thor who seems to revel in blood. The nations will unite as they did in the Aiel War, but no doubt much more quickly. Even the Dragon Reborn cannot stand against that, not forever. He will be crushed before the Last Battle even begins, by the very ones he was meant to save. The Dark One will break free, the day of Tarmon Gai’don will come, and the Shadow will cover the earth and remake the Pattern for all time. That is Liandrin’s plan.”

- The Shadow Rising, Questioners

This plot was discounted by the girls and many readers, since Jordan set up the questioning of Joiya and Amico as though only one of their plans could be real, yet Taim’s actions support it. If Taim did bad things in the Dragon's name wearing the dragons (and he had them embroidered on his coat sleeves), people would then believe that Rand has done them, or at least ordered them. Taim wouldn't have to say anything. We saw such a rumour take hold when Rand was attacked in the Sun Palace at the end of The Path of Daggers. Many thought Rand did the damage himself.

Taim didn't wear the collar pins that he found so upsetting in Lord of Chaos when they were publicly presented to him by Rand. He wore the rest of the Asha’man uniform (with dragons embroidered around the sleeves) as part of his role as the head of the Black Tower and so that he committed evil in Rand's name and Rand’s uniform. (Just as he emphasised to Rand that the world would say Taim was at Rand’s right hand (Lord of Chaos, A New Arrival).) Even Rand remarked that Taim’s written communications looked as though they might have been sent by Rand:

The paper was snowy white and thick, the seal a dragon impressed in a large oval of blue wax that glittered with golden flecks. It might almost have been thought to come from the Dragon Reborn.

- The Path of Daggers, Message From the M’Hael

If Rand could be impressed and fooled, then anyone could be. It was part of the Shadow’s blackening of the Dragon's name that had been done for millennia.

In later books Taim consciously stood like Rand with a hand behind his back, mirroring Rand’s stance and manner:

"And you see," Taim said, walking with one hand folded—fingers making a fist—behind his back. With his other hand, he pointed toward a distant, part-finished wall of black stone.

- Towers of Midnight, Gateways

which is not something he did previously and is similar to:

The Dragon Reborn raised his right hand—his left arm was folded behind his back—and halted the procession.

- Towers of Midnight, Apples First

Elayne suggestively described Taim as moving “with something of a Warder’s deadly grace” (Winter’s Heart, Prologue), when he had never trained with a sword and in fact scorned them, perhaps an early mirroring of Rand, who is a Warder.

It was a risky position (less so for one who can use the True Power, though) but worth it, since it was a good way for Taim to undermine Rand, subvert the Asha'man, do evil in Rand's name, sow chaos (eg by having two Dragons, one evil), hear about Rand's deeds or plans, and recruit some Dreadlords at the same time.

Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Caemlyn, Dumai’s Wells, Cairhien, Two Rivers, Last Battle

Major Deeds: - Claimed he channelled for some years (and without going mad) before getting around to declaring himself the Dragon Reborn.
- Tested and found five men who could channel and actually taught one to do so. He said he had to kill this man after two years before the man killed him.
- Named himself the Dragon in 998 NE (The Fires of Heaven Glossary). - Fought battles all over Saldaea.
- Was recruited and trained by Demandred once the latter was released from the Bore (A Memory of Light, The Last Battle).
- Destroyed the intelligence of two Saldaean officers and their wives Bashere sent under a parley to attack Taim (Lord of Chaos, A New Arrival and Robert Jordan on his blog).
- Was winning against Bashere at Irinjavar in Saldaea when a vision appeared about the time Rand declared himself the Dragon Reborn and Taim was thrown from his horse and knocked unconscious. He was captured by Aes Sedai (The Dragon Reborn, The Amyrlin Seat).
- Escaped Aes Sedai custody at Denhuir by being taken away by stealth in the night. Two sisters died (The Shadow Rising, Deceptions).
- Turned up at Caemlyn for Rand’s amnesty a month after Asmodean was killed. Originally, Taim joined Rand to be at Rand's side to influence him and hopefully derail his efforts. Once he was given the job of recruiting and training Asha’man he began building his own faction within the Black Tower.
- Presented Rand with a Seal (Lord of Chaos, A New Arrival) as a distraction and a reassurance he is no Darkfriend.
- Hinted at how history could be rewritten to show Taim had met the Prophecies of the Dragon (Lord of Chaos, A New Arrival).
- Was shocked that Rand considered the possibility of a Forsaken infiltrating the Asha’man (Lord of Chaos, A Woman’s Eyes).
- When Rand told Taim that he would cleanse saidin:

"Cleanse saidin" Taim said softly. "I think that would take more power than you can imagine." His eyes lidded thoughtfully. "I have heard of things called sa 'angreal. Do you have one you think could actually—"

- Lord of Chaos, A Woman’s Eyes

”be strong enough” was what he hinted.
- Killed a Gray Man attacking Rand when he visited Rand in Caemlyn to inform him of Narishma, a new recruit (Lord of Chaos, Letters).
- Was furious when Rand gave him his pins of rank (Lord of Chaos, The Black Tower).
- Pressed Rand for permission to kill Aes Sedai (Lord of Chaos, The Black Tower).
- Set up the Black Tower and in six months had recruited and trained hundreds of channellers and had a palace decorated in Moridin’s colours of red and black and with the Shadow’s sigil on the doors:

Broad stone stairs rose to a wide landing in front of tall twinned doors. Each bore a gauntleted fist gripping three lightning bolts, carved large and gilded.

- Knife of Dreams, Epilogue

Nynaeve saw the sigil painted [on the carriage door]. A silver-gauntleted fist clutching jagged lightning bolts. She supposed it was High Lord Samon's [Be’lal’s] sign...

- The Dragon Reborn, Bait For the Net

His [Sammael's] chair was heavy wood, carved with...a steel-gauntleted fist clasping lightning at the back's peak.

- Fires of Heaven, A Silver Arrow

It has been speculated that the symbol was used by the Shadow’s generals since both Sammael and Be’lal were generals. We did not see Demandred, another general, in a situation where he might use a sigil. The sigil’s fairly open usage at the Black Tower is an indication of the extent of the Shadow’s influence there. Note that a different metal was used for the sigil by each Forsaken: Be’lal’s was in silver, Sammael’s in steel and Taim’s in gold (usually the highest status metal).

- Searched for Rand when he was captured by Elaida’s embassy and brought Asha’man to fight at Dumai’s Wells. Didn’t want Rand in the hands of the Tower or Mesaana and co.
- Set Gedwyn to search for something, probably Rand’s angreal, at Dumai’s Wells:

[Taim] glanced to Gedwyn, who shook his head just a hair. A grimace flashed across Taim's face, gone as soon as it appeared.

- A Crown of Swords, The Butcher’s Yard

He knew Rand had one because Rand used it in front of him (Lord of Chaos, A Woman’s Eyes).
- Wanted to choose Rand’s bodyguard and recommended Torval or Rochaid (A Crown of Swords, The Butcher’s Yard). Taim wanted his young, malleable henchmen to be Rand's aides because they would be more likely to do exactly as Taim commanded and no more. Taim wanted more influence over Rand and information about Rand’s plans. Once he realised that Rand wasn't going to do what he wanted, he calmed down and then looked thoughtful as he started to change his plans.
- Created military ranks—Storm Leader and Attack Leader—in addition to the three training levels Rand created.
- Personally recruited in the Two Rivers and told Tam that Rand is the Dragon Reborn. Brought over forty men and boys back to the Black Tower (Knife of Dreams, The Last Knot).
- Poisoned Asha'man who went mad from the taint.
- Ordered Asha'man of neutral or Logain’s faction bond the Tower Aes Sedai led by Toveine. Logain believed Rand ordered it. Many of the 500 Tower Guard with Toveine’s expedition were killed, although Logain successfully pressured Taim to imprison the remainder (Robert Jordan, Black Tower notes).
- Visited Rand in Cairhien at dawn to tell him that Elayne took down Rand’s banners in Caemlyn and later that day sent Gedwyn, Rochaid, Torval and Kisman to kill Rand in Cairhien and was as furious that they were found out as that they had failed.
- Told Rand that Gedwyn, Kisman, Rochaid and Torval had deserted once he knew their attack failed. He did not name Dashiva, who participated without orders from Taim and fled at the same time as the other four. Taim was surprised Dashiva was involved (The Path of Daggers, A Cup of Sleep), since he knew who he gave the orders to.
- Had apparently channelled the True Power by Winter’s Heart, since he had the shadowy aura in Winter’s Heart Prologue that Rand developed after Rand channelled the True Power in The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could Be Done.
- Posted the names of several deserters at the Black Tower: the five that tried to kill Rand (Gedwyn, Kisman, Rochaid, Torval, Dashiva), and three loyal to Rand (Flinn, Hopwil and Narishma) (Winters Heart, Prologue). Later claimed that he made an honest mistake. Yet Rand did not mention the three men loyal to him at all when he spoke to Taim about deserters. Taim was trying to sow suspicion and chaos again and also remove those loyal to Rand so they could hopefully be replaced with those loyal to him.
- Ordered Gedwyn, Kisman, Rochaid, and Torval to kill Rand in Far Madding, their last chance (Winter’s Heart, Out of Thin Air), and therefore had contact with the supposed deserters.
- Rapidly raised men from his special classes to full Asha’man so they wouldn’t be bonded by rebel Aes Sedai.
- Badly wounded Atal Mishraile because he almost revealed to the Red sisters the important information that the rebel Aes Sedai had already been given permission to bond Asha’man. Had they known they might have left promptly, or tried to. Taim wanted them to stay.
- Agreed to six Red sisters bonding willing Asha'man and said:
”you must remember the old saying: ‘Let the lord of chaos rule.’” The chamber erupted with men's laughter.

- Knife of Dreams, Epilogue
Letting the Lord of Chaos rule was the Dark One’s command to his top henchmen, as Demandred told Mesaana, Graendal and Semirhage (Lord of Chaos, Prologue). Since then Demandred quoted it to himself in Tel’aran’rhiod, Semirhage quoted it when boasting that she had destroyed the social fabric and government in Seanchan (Knife of Dreams, Prologue), and finally, Taim when he agreed to let Red sisters bond Asha’man. This is the Shadow’s strategy to weaken the Light, since “belief and order give strength” to the Light according to Herid Fel (Lord of Chaos, Thorns).

- Pressured by Logain, promoted Androl to Dedicated. Did not promote anyone else, though, of Logain’s faction. - Obtained the three Seals that Rand had hidden away (A Memory of Light, The Use of Dragons), and substituted fake seals during burglaries that seemingly failed. - Allowed false rumours of Rand to spread:

"Taim's men spread rumors among the newcomers," Jonneth said softly. "They talk about the Lord Dragon, and how he drove good men to turn traitor. They say he's abandoned us, and that he's gone mad. The M'Hael doesn't want those rumors pointing back to him, but burn me if he isn't the source of them all."

- Towers of Midnight, Working Leather

- Turned channellers to the Shadow.
- Forbade people to leave the Black Tower and was given the second of Moridin’s dreamspikes to set up there so gateways couldn’t be used. It was installed after Towers of Midnight, Working Leather.
- Made a fuss over Mezar’s promotion after Mezar was turned to the Shadow, and claimed Mezar was raised by Rand (Towers of Midnight, Something Wrong).
- Promoted to Forsaken (A Memory of Light, Prologue).
- Demoted Androl (A Memory of Light, A Dangerous Place).
-Tried to turn Demandred against Moridin (A Memory of Light, The Last Battle)
- Ordered Alviarin’s group to find and destroy the hidden dragons.
- Tried to destroy the Aes Sedai and especially Egwene. Given Sakarnen by Demandred to do this.

Current Status: Killed by Egwene (A Memory of Light, The Last Battle)

Other Comments: Regarding Taim’s name:

On a lighter note, I understand that some of you are unhappy with the pronunciation of Taim's name. Sorry, guys, but it is tah-EEM, not tame. Never tame. Not that one.

- Robert Jordan on his blog


Scene of Operations: Black Tower

Major Deeds: - With Mishraile, dragged Toveine in to be Turned. - Held Androl’s shield.

Current Status: Killed by Evin (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forksroot).

Atal Mishraile

Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Last Battle

Major Deeds: - Brought a message from Taim to Logain that Logain had permission to go recruiting (Crossroads of Twilight, Prologue).
- Suggested Logain would benefit from Taim’s classes (Crossroads of Twilight, Prologue).
- Was injured by Taim after asking the Reds why they should be given permission to bond any m…[more Asha’man] (Knife of Dreams, Epilogue). - Supervised training Asha’man (Towers of Midnight, Something Wrong).
- With Abors, dragged Toveine in to be Turned (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot).
- Was thrashed by Taim for not fighting well enough (A Memory of Light, The Last Battle).
- Was part of a group ordered by Taim to track down the dragons and destroy them.

- Tried to kill “Rand” and was lured into a stedding by Androl (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities)

Current Status: Trapped in Stedding Sholoon (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities)

Charl Gedwyn

He called himself Tsorovan'm'hael or "Storm Leader".

Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Dumai’s Wells, Altara, Cairhien, Far Madding

Major Deeds: - Attacked Gawyn at Dumai’s Wells, and when Rand stopped him was going to attack Rand.
- Was set to look for something for Taim at the aftermath of Dumai’s Wells (A Crown of Swords, The Butcher’s Yard) and when he shook his head Taim grimaced. This was probably Rand’s angreal.
- Arrived at Rand's camp in Illian with Rochaid, eight Dedicated and forty soldiers and led them against the Seanchan in Altara.
- Recommended to Rand that they push on to Ebou Dar (The Path of Daggers, Fog of War, Storm of Battle).
- Tried to make Weiramon do something and Weiramon was overheard by Bertome Saighan replying:

"I don't care who you are. I won't take more risk without a command direct from the lips of—"

- The Path of Daggers, A Time for Iron

So perhaps he revealed his Darkfriend status to Weiramon.
- Was one of four Asha’man ordered by Taim to kill Rand and attacked him in the Sun Palace in Cairhien.
- Was ordered by Taim (a second time) and Demandred to kill Rand and by Moridin to take all Rand’s possessions, killing him if necessary. Planned to do so in Far Madding.
- Told Torval:

"I say we aren't going near him [Rand] until I know where the others are [Rochaid and Kisman, who had apparently disappeared because they were killed trying to kill Rand independently]… "The M'Hael will kill us if..."

- Winter’s Heart, Blue Carp Street

[they fail again?] Taim did say it was their last chance.

Current Status: Was killed by Fain in Far Madding.

Other Comments: Wanted Aes Sedai to be held by Asha’man (A Crown of Swords, The Butcher’s Yard).


Scene of Operations: Black Tower

Major Deeds: - Supervised training Asha’man.
- Was a personal friend of Taim’s (Towers of Midnight, Working Leather).
- Bullied Androl.

Current Status: Killed by Jonneth at the Black Tower (A Memory of Light, Advantages To A Bond).


Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Last Battle

Major Deeds: - Gained channelling strength and/or knowledge very quickly (Towers of Midnight, Working Leather).
- Was part of a group ordered by Taim to track down the dragons and destroy them.
- Tried to kill “Rand” and was lured into a stedding by Androl (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities)

Current Status: Trapped in Stedding Sholoon (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities)

Other Comments: Logain’s faction didn’t know where Kash came from. It seems to be secret.


Scene of Operations: Black Tower

Major Deeds: - Was shielded by Pevara and stunned by Androl (A Memory of Light, A Dangerous Place).

Current Status: Unknown

Other Comments: Referred to by Androl as one of Taim’s favourites, so is a Darkfriend and not a Turned Asha’man.

Manel Rochaid

Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Dumai’s Wells, Altara, Cairhien, Far Madding

Major Deeds: - Arrived at Rand's camp in Illian with Gedwyn, eight Dedicated and forty soldiers and led them against the Seanchan in Altara.
- Was one of four Asha’man ordered by Taim to kill Rand and attacked him in the Sun Palace in Cairhien.
- Was ordered by Taim (again) and Demandred to kill Rand and by Moridin to take all Rand’s possessions, killing him if necessary. Planned to do so in Far Madding.
- Convinced Kisman to go ahead without Torval and Gedwyn and plan a trap for Rand. Tried to kill Rand.

Current Status: Was badly wounded by Rand and accidentally killed by Kisman in Far Madding.

Peral Torval

Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Dumai’s Wells, Altara, Cairhien, Far Madding

Major Deeds: - Was clubbed by Taim for challenging Rand (Lord of Chaos, The Black Tower).
- Was one of four Asha’man ordered by Taim to kill Rand and attacked him in the Sun Palace in Cairhien.
- Was ordered by Taim (a second time) and Demandred to kill Rand and by Moridin to take all Rand’s possessions, killing him if necessary. Planned to do so in Far Madding.

Current Status: Was killed by Fain in Far Madding.

Raefar Kisman

Why Joined: Immortality and power

Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Dumai’s Wells, Altara, Cairhien, Far Madding

Major Deeds: - Was one of four Asha’man ordered by Taim to kill Rand and attacked him in the Sun Palace in Cairhien.
- Tried to kill Rand in Far Madding again under Taim’s orders:

”Kill him,” the M’Hael had ordered before sending them to Cairhien, but he had been as displeased that they were found out as that they had failed. Far Madding was to be their last chance, he had made that as plain as polished brass.

- Winter’s Heart, Out of Thin Air

- Was ordered to kill Rand by Demandred and better if they died than were found out again by anyone (because Demandred is not supposed to be ordering anyone to kill Rand, and doesn’t know that Taim has done so already).
- Was ordered by Moridin to retrieve all Rand’s belongings for Moridin to redeem himself of past failures.

Current Status: Was killed by Padan Fain in Far Madding for trying to kill Rand.

Other Comments: Was given the order to kill Rand in Cairhien by Taim on Feb 7–9, and then ordered to kill Rand by Taim (again), Demandred and Moridin in succession between Feb 9 and Feb 20.

Varil Nensen

Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Altara, Last Battle

Major Deeds: - Was in the battle against the Seanchan in Altara.
- Gained channelling strength and/or knowledge very quickly:

"The men who take Taim's private lessons learn too quickly," Nalaam said. "Nensen was barely powerful enough to be considered for Dedicated just a short time ago. Now he's full Asha'man.

- Towers of Midnight, Working Leather

This could be due to the male channeller learning while linked into a mixed circle as this conversation between Rand and Asmodean shows:

Rand cut him off. "You are not teaching me very well."
"As well as may be expected, under the circumstances. You can grasp saidin every time you try, now, and tell one flow from another. You can shield yourself, and the Power does what you want it to." He stopped playing and frowned, not looking at Rand. "Do you think Lanfear really intended me to teach you everything? If she had wanted that, she would have contrived to stay close so she could link us…I've told you I am not a very good teacher, especially without a link.

- The Fires of Heaven, Pale Shadows

It seems that circles can be used to learn channelling rapidly. This is yet another useful function of the mixed circles now available at the Black Tower. The quote above shows that ‘teaching circles’ can be quite small, as small as just two men and one woman, but no smaller; the woman is necessary to link the men, and the man to teach the other man how to use saidin.
- Was Bonded by Alviarin.
- Was part of a group ordered by Taim to track down the dragons and destroy them.
- Tried to kill “Rand” and was lured into a stedding by Androl (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities).

Current Status: Trapped in Stedding Sholoon (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities).

Turned Asha’man


Scene of Operations: Black Tower

Major Deeds: Before turning:
- Was beaten by Taim for getting drunk.
After turning:
- Was shielded by Pevara and tricked by Emarin into telling them where Logain was held (A Memory of Light, Advantages To A Bond).

Current Status: Unknown

Donalo Sandomere

Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Dumai’s Wells, Illian, Tear, Altara, Last Battle

Major Deeds: Before turning:
- Fought at Dumai’s Wells (Winter’s Heart, Prologue).
- Fought the Seanchan in Illian (The Path of Daggers, Gathering Clouds).
- Bonded Ayako of the White Ajah.
- Reported to Logain that Mishraile is having private lessons from Taim (Winter’s Heart, Prologue).
- Linked with Ayako to burn Shadowspawn at Lord Algarin’s manor in Tear (Knife of Dreams, The Golden Crane).
- Was with Rand when he met with the fake Daughter of Nine Moons (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box) and Nynaeve Healed his injuries.
After Turning:
- Was part of a group ordered by Taim to track down the dragons and destroy them.
- Read residues to track Androl and also dragons.
- Tried to kill “Rand” and was lured into a stedding by Androl (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities).

Current Status: Trapped in Stedding Sholoon (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities).

Evin Vinchova

Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Altara

Major Deeds: Before turning:
- Was with Logain’s group when they attacked Toveine’s expedition.
- Reported to Logain that the Two Rivers boys are at risk (Winter’s Heart, Prologue).
- Told Dobser that he had stolen a bottle of wine from the inn (A Memory of Light, A Dangerous Place).
- Was captured by Taim and told what Androl’s group was doing.
After turning:
- Encouraged Androl to be Turned.
- Convinced Taim not to kill Androl, but use him instead.
- Was tricked by Androl into striking at Abors, then fought Mishraile.

Current Status: Was killed by Taim (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot).

Mezar Kurin

Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Altara

Major Deeds: Before turning:
- Was a keen supporter of Logain.
- Was with Logain’s group when they attacked Toveine’s expedition.
- Bonded Adrielle of the Grey Ajah.
- Accompanied Rand to his parley with Semirhage disguised as Tuon (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box).
After turning:
- Returned to the Black Tower and told Logain’s faction that Logain was well and all would be resolved with Logain and Taim (Towers of Midnight, Something Wrong).
- Participated in the Turning of Logain (A Memory of Light, That Smouldering City).
- Took Evin to be Turned (A Memory of Light, That Smouldering City).

Current Status: Unknown

Other Comments:Adrielle vanished after Mezar was turned to the Shadow, so she probably died rather than be Turned.

Welyn Kajima

Scene of Operations: Black Tower, Altara

Major Deeds: Before turning:
- Was with Logain’s group when they attacked Toveine’s expedition.
- Bonded Jenare of the Red Ajah.
- Reported to Logain that Taim had posted a new list of deserters—Gedwyn and Rochaid and co (Winter’s Heart, Prologue).
- Was in Rand’s forces when he met with the fake Daughter of Nine Moons (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box).
After turning:
- Falsely assured Androl’s group that all was well between Taim and Logain.
- Was shielded by Pevara and stunned by Androl (A Memory of Light, A Dangerous Place).
- Participated in the Turning of Logain (A Memory of Light, That Smouldering City).
- Took Evin to be Turned (A Memory of Light, That Smouldering City).

Current Status: Unknown

Probable Darkfriend Asha’man

Taim had about 100 very nasty looking favourites (of which we only know a few):

Perhaps a hundred men in black coats were standing to either side of the room. Every man she could see wore the sword and the dragon, men with hard faces, leering faces, cruel faces.

- Knife of Dreams, Epilogue

These men were all full Asha’man, the only ones apart from Logain and the few Rand raised, and had been privately trained by Taim in his special classes.

Most, if not all of these, men are probably Darkfriends. Some may just have joined for the learning unavailable otherwise, because Taim reserved knowledge of certain weaves for his favourites. This is why Logain was unimpressed with Rand when he saw Rand weaving deathgates in Knife of Dreams, Vows:

"Did you intend keeping these new weaves for your favorites, like Taim?

However, Rand had only just “acquired” the knowledge of the weave from Lews Therin, but didn’t want to tell Logain that.

Others may have joined Taim’s faction for the status because, except for Logain, Taim only gave the Dragon to those who were in his special classes, and others to be on the winning side. But the majority, perhaps even all, were probably genuine Darkfriends since Pevara’s account was made before channellers were Turned.


Written by Linda, October, 2007 and updated July 2013 and 2019


Rickard Wozniak said...


I'm sorry if I missed it in the text above but there is one thing in Knife of Dreams that makes decides it for me that Taim is Moridin.
When Logain reports to Rand before the Trolloc attack, he describes his meeting with Taim. Taim was evidently furious not knowing where Rand was and "his eyes were practically on fire".

This may be a metaphor for someone very angry with a furious stare. (excuse my lack of better describing skills, english isn't my first language)

To me this is not a metaphor, I think it is an early stage of Ishamaels fire eyes caused by heavy usage of True Power. As we know Moridin uses at all times.
As far as I remember the fire eyes don't show all the time as evident by Rands first encounters with Ishamael.

When Logain saw the fire eyes, it might have been in a fleeting moment and he didn't reflect on it.

It might have been a moment where Taim used the True Power, remember how Logain had feared Taim would have killed him had he been alone. And Logain didn't feel any channeling.

With the other obvious evidence this is enough for me. We will find out at least within the next two years if not in october.

Just my two cents. Agree or disagree.

Linda said...

Thanks Richard. Yes, I really liked that little hint! I expected a couple of hints that Taim is Moridin in KOD and that's exactly what I got: the one you named and Pevara's remark that Taim must really like red and black. I burst out laughing when I read the latter.

I have a theory posted on Theory COrner here which expands on the Taim masquerade far more.

And I expect two or three more hint in TGS. I doubt he'll be exposed this book.

Rickard Wozniak said...

Hi again Linda!

Horribly, I forgot to mention in my comment that your theory is astounding. How much time you must have invested in digging through the books for all those fine details is respectable and worthy of praise. *Respects & Praises you*

Best Regards
Dragonsworn on

Linda said...

Thanks! That's very kind of you! :)

I don't like to think of how much time I have spent on doing this stuff. Nor, I suspect, does Dominic!

JDH1973 said...

My biggest question about the Moridin = Taim theory is why doesn't Rand recognize Moridin as Taim in TAR in TGS?

I suppose it's possible that as Taim he's wearing a MoM, but since no one would recognize him in his new body why?

Linda said...

Moridin doesn't look that much like Taim did. So if he is masquerading as Taim he needs to disguise himself. (In LOC Bashere nearly didn't recognise Taim, but Taim passed that off as due to him shaving. He neeed Bashere to confirm his identity otherwise Rand would probably not accept him.)

And if Moridin is playing this role, he has kept it secret from all Darkfriends including other Forsaken.

Chris Cottingham said...

Great article! I've always thought Taim was just a chief minion of Moridin, but you make a great case.

However, about the Aes Sedai/Ashaman bonding...I'm not sure we can conclude that Taim is trying to avoid having his favorites bonded. I imagine *Rand* is trying to avoid having Taim's favorites bonded, without telling the AS that the Black Tower is divided. Taim *may* have the same goal (if for different reasons), but he may not. "Why should we let Aes Sedai take more" may not refer to the Salidar AS; it may refer to Cadsuane's AS, who bonded Damer, Narishma, and the others (and later Beldeine bonding Manfor).

I raise the possibility for two reasons: 1) the rebel contingent has disappeared; presumably they should've Traveled to the Black Tower, bonded 47 Ashaman, and Traveled back, but they've not been seen again. This is very worrisome! If Taim meekly allowed them to bond men per Rand's orders, where have they all disappeared to?

2)I have to admit, given how remarkably well Aes Sedai/Ashaman bonding has gone so far - playing a major role in the successful Cleansing, for starters - that it seems to be a good thing for Team Light. We know that the 51 sisters under Elaida who attacked the Ashaman include no Darkfriends, and we know that none of Taim's favorites bonded the 51, so we can be sure that all those bonded pairs are for the Light. Likewise, I think at this point we can be sure that the sisters and Ashaman with Cadsuane are on Team Light.

Rand's order that no full Ashaman can be bonded seems likely to keep it this way - none of the bonded Ashaman will work for the Shadow. *BUT* Taim's separate and secret deal with the Red Ajah may change things. Remember that Moria, Black Ajah, was a driving force in seeking alliance with the Black Tower. This may, as you say, be a simple way to foment discord. But I'm fearful that it may also be a way to infiltrate Team Light with Black Ashaman - whether with Rand, with the former rebels, or in Tar Valon.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure we can conclude that Taim is trying to avoid having his favorites bonded"

The original plan, originating from the BA proposal (no doubt Mesaana's initiative), would have let a lot of Rebel BA the opportunity to volunteer to bond Asha'man. Taim would have known beforehand which sister was BA and which wasn't. BA and DFA would have been paired up, pretending to bond as bonding brings tons of issues. The BA could start to receive the special training etc., the non-DF would have been left to puzzle out mixed gender work from scratch. Net result: the Shadow recuperated the fiasco of the Cleansing, and now it had a mixed gender army hidden right under Rand's nose and very superior in skills to the Light side.
After the Cleansing, the Shadow had no choice, and acted fast: Rand had started using mixed gender circles. It was a certainty men and women would work together in TG, if not even long before then. Damage control was a must.

If the Shadow let Rand the initiative, this could could end in a complete mess, and undermine what Taim had built.

Mesaana and Demy took the initiative, the BA proposed an alliance be sought. Taim would then have come to Rand telling him Egwene (this is why this came from the Rebel side) made him an offer of an alliance, big circles, yada yada. Rand makes rules about what to accept and what not, and that's it, leave the rest of the hassle to Taim. Egwene brought him the rebels and the AS are ready to fight the Shadow at last. Yippee!

Rand's "47" offer screwed things up. 47 couples only, and it can't include full Asha'man. The possibilities to pair BA with DFA and fake-bond are then gone. Infiltrating DF Asha'man with the Rebel AS is fairly useless if bonding take place. This Asha'man become easy to locate at any time, and he can't kill his AS to get rid of her, and the "let's fool her into linking" trick would work only once. The worst: RJ you can't make an AS in a circle go against the 3 oaths.... These guys would basically be kamikaze, if that. Taim doesn't have enough men he can waste many like this.

The Red envoys were most likely killed. That was the best way to create chaos. The Tower side when they learned their envoys vanished and the Rebel have an alliance with Asha'man would jump to conclusions and the Tower conflict became irreconciable.

As for the Rebel envoys, I suspect the idea is to make us believe something really bad happened to them, but in TOM we will discover they have vanished for a very good reason: Logain is very pissed off with Rand for rejecting his certainties about Taim out of hand, and very pissed off Rand made the huge mistake of sending Egwene's envoys to Taim without even warning her. So much for him repaying the fact Egwene sent him an ally like Logain....

No way Logain is going to let Taim get 47 AS.

Logain (perhaps under influence from Gabrelle) has arranged for his agents in Caemlyn to intercept the Rebel embassy. He made them vanish, where Taim, Rand and the rebels won't find them. They've learned from Logain and women who can't lie that the BT is a nest of DF that needs to be destroyed, and they are busy planning an attack with Logain's faction. And then his spies at the BT will reveal the arrival of a large group of sisters from the two sides of the WT conflict.... the BA....

And so, not very long after the BA purge, some of the embassy will resurface with Logain in Tar Valon, and Egwene will learn what she needs to do to finish off the BA.

The Red will announce they volunteer their whole Ajah for the mission at Logain's side (it's to get there that Jordan made Pevara and co. vanish). Reconciliation with male channellers to rid the world of the evil male channellers will be their last great mission as an Ajah.

Anonymous said...

I go back and forth between whether Taim is Moridin in disguise or Demandred's puppet, but Lord of Chaos always brings me back to the latter. If the Black Tower isn't Demandred territory, what did he do in LoC? Just pass on the orders to the other Forsaken and claim credit at the end?

There's also that fist-and-lightning sigil that would seem to be exclusive to the Shadow's generals, and the Guide says Ishamael never held a field command.

RabidWombat said...

Nice catch with nobody knowing where Kash came from. I need to do a re-read apparently. I disagree with the possibility of Taim being Ishy for a large number of reason.

1. It is not needed. Taim was never a nice person and near to insane.

2. Moridin is too busy in the blight.

3. Taim wears the dragons on the sleeve in imitation of Rand. (An indication of a form of insanity particular to a false dragon.

4. No saa.

5. Logain also shows aurora of darkness in KoD (I think) when he is with the windfinders. I think it is a similar weave to one used by Dashiva to try to intimidate Cadsuane in CoS.

6. Competent madmen is a familiar theme in WoT from Maule to Rand.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,

Some really great insights and theories.

Regarding the Forsaken/Nazi similarities, I thought that Aginor also was a close equivalent to Mengele (as well as Semirhage).

Linda said...

Peter: He is and also to the Nazi scientists. I just gave a few examples in this essay, far more are in the Three Strands Common to the Forsaken. I've got one link to that in the essay, I might add another.