Saturday, May 9, 2009
by Dr. Saidin
Some Forsaken have taken the plunge and tried directly to kill Rand. Let’s evaluate how each has done…
In the first place we have Aginor who took his time trying to kill Rand. Perhaps one could forgive him for his arrogance, considering Rand was completely untrained at that stage. Still, if you are going to kill someone, do it – don’t talk about it. Aginor made the classical mistake common to villains i.e. he tortured us with a prolonged account of why he was so formidable and great. This gave Rand time to search for a solution, namely to notice saidin for the first time, which ultimately led to Aginor overdrawing on the Power and dying.
Aginor returned later as Osan’gar and he attempted to kill Rand after following him around for months. Sadly, Osan’gar destroyed a corner of the palace that Rand wasn’t even occupying. It was a near miss, but still incompetent. Later he tried to balefire the Dragon Reborn at the Cleansing and exposed himself to the wrath of the Callandor circle – only to be killed for the second time. Aginor has proven himself to be tactically barren, and highly incompetent in this regard. He admits he was never made for this purpose, but his efforts in this regard are still strikingly brainless for a man of his power.
Ishamael has tried several times to kill Rand. His plan to turn the Dragon to the Shadow has been daft from the beginning. He has no evidence that the Dragon ever served the Shadow, and he risked everything on a whim that it could be done. Furthermore, his efforts made the Shadow seem very unappealing. Instead of bribery and coercion, he used threats and insults to the notoriously proud and stubborn Rand al’Thor. He took part in swordfights using a quarterstaff, and was found to be lacking. He revealed himself to Rand knowing that he was inches from Callandor – the final mistake that cost him his life. Overall, his plot has been weak at best, and his undertaking of it, even worse. He has been severely burned by Rand, and stabbed in the chest twice.
Be’lal tried his luck. His plan was to force Rand to desperately reach for Callandor to save his life, and thus break the warding around the sa’angreal and then kill Rand. It was a good plan, although risky for a few reasons. He knew that Rand could channel, and even in his presence, Rand channeled a sword of fire. He thus believed he could overwhelm Rand and bend him to his will i.e. free the sword. This was arrogance that could have cost him his life. Secondly, he was completely unaware of Ishamael floating above him, ready to descend. It is not unlikely that Ishamael was planning to kill Be’lal if he managed to obtain the sword. Finally, Be’lal noticed Moiraine, and once again instead of killing her, spoke about his intention to kill her. Those few seconds provided her with the time to weave balefire and to kill him. He did lure Rand to Ilian expertly using his friends as bait, but his plan to force the Dragon Reborn to free Callandor was risky, and probably stupid.
Asmodean actually didn’t plan to kill Rand – he merely wanted the Choedan Kal. However, when he did decide to, he made one of the best efforts of all of the Forsaken. He literally threw all he had at Rand, and never hesitated. Every chance he had, he sent death towards Rand, which Rand managed to dodge or survive. From enormous walls of fire to inverted blades of Air, he never held back at all. When he finally got hold of the sa’angreal, he pulled every scrap of saidin he could into himself, and tried to smash Rand out of existence. It was due to back luck that he ultimately lost – Rand’s small angreal and Lanfear’s treachery. His best tactic was to not challenge the Dragon Reborn, but evade him and go for the prize – and perhaps later return. Compared to Sammael, Asmodean didn’t perform any worse in a duel with the Dragon Reborn… and Sammael did pretty well.
Rahvin was indeed killed for his pride, as the Dark One said. I once queried how Rahvin could sit on his throne while Rand and the Aiel attacked him. RJ responded by saying that Rahvin had planned a chessboard-like defense that he expected Rand to fall into. He didn’t count on Rand’s ability to Travel. Rand says that Rahvin had been clever in his attacks and spent only a moment trying to kill him before running off. His trap in TAR was excellent and caught Rand off-guard, but it was a drawn out duel because of the Forsaken’s pride and poor insight. He had been warned by Lanfear in the very same book that several male Forsaken had fallen to Rand, and yet he relied on wardings and Trollocs to finish off the Dragon Reborn, instead of attending to the act himself. When it did spring on him, he had no choice but to flee.
Lanfear lost because of her supreme arrogance that she could draw out Rand’s death into the most painful death imaginable. She made a serious mistake in not killing him instantly, but went for shielding and pain weaves. Although her efforts slowly did attain success, she paid no attention to her surroundings on several occasions, which allowed Moiraine to sneak up on her. She could have fallen prey to an Aiel spear, or a fireball from another channeler due to her fixation on Rand. There was no plot – just an impulsive and emotional reaction to Rand’s ‘transgression’. While it is undeniable that she overwhelmed everybody present in that scene, it was a foolish tactic and it certainly cost her everything.
Sammael probably had the best Forsaken plan regarding Rand. He warded Ilian and took precautions in the event that Rand ever arrived in his city. He then set up the duel on his own terms by allowing Rand to follow him to Shadar Logoth. Whether this was a good idea or not, is debatable. Shadar Logoth hates the Light as much as it does the Shadow, and the city would be as dangerous for him as for Rand. However, Sammael’s ease at targeting Rand implies that he may have warded that city too. It was only due to extreme bad luck i.e. Moridin helping a defeated Rand, and Mashadar creeping up on him silently from behind, that Sammael was killed. Sammael also attacked Rand earlier in the series during the Siege of Cairhien. His attacks were long-distance and opportunistic. He waited for Rand to become exhausted before he initiated the assault. The entire time he eluded Rand. Sammael proved to be unlucky in many respects, but also demonstrated why he was one of the greater generals from the Age of Legends. Of all of the Forsaken, he has made the most direct and hostile attempts to slaughter Rand, from attacking the Stone, the Waste, and the treehouse, and forming a great defense in the event that Rand should arrive. It came down to Mashadar ending his fate, though ultimately he was about to be balefired by Rand if it had not occurred.
Semirhage seems to have some sort of convoluted plan up her sleeve. It’s difficult to rate her due to the potentially complex plot she created to capture Rand, or perhaps her sheer idiocy in this regard. Direct confrontation was not her plan. Either way, it strains credibility that she thought she could leash some of the most powerful channelers in the world alone, and with the help of no more than a few damane. There are too many aspects of this battle that remain unknown. She surely didn’t think that she could neutralize the Dragon Reborn with a small fireball. Even the simplest barrier would have deflected it, and at the same time she couldn’t guess that he suffered from an internal conflict with Lews Therin. Either way, it was a short, useless battle, and she failed utterly no matter what she planned.
Forsaken who have as yet not attempted to challenge Rand include Aran’gar, Demandred, Graendal, Mesaana and Moghedien. While many may have targeted the hill at the Cleansing, we cannot evaluate who did what and how effective it was.
1. The Good
2. The bad
3. The ugly
- Aginor/ Osan’gar