A small post on Ishamael's powers over souls
By Dr. Saidin
We've been debating whether Ishamael had the power to summon Kari al'Thor's soul. While I find this to be highly unlikely, I would like to quickly discuss the demise of Howal Gode, the notorious darkfriend.
EoTW (The Dark Waits)
Gode was there at the table. He only recognized the man from his clothes, his silk and dark velvets. Gode's skin was read, burned and cracked and oozing. His face was almost a skull, his lips shriveled to bare teeth and gums. As Gode turned his head, some of his hair cracked off, powdering to soot when it hit his shoulder. His lidless eyes stared at Rand.
"So you are dead," Rand said. He was surprised he was not afraid. Perhaps it was knowing that it was a dream this time.
"Yes," said Ba'alzamon's voice, "but he did find you for me. That deserves some reward don't you think."
... Gode made a gabbling sound again. "Yes, my good hound. Here is your reward." Rand looked at Gode just in time to see the man's body crumble to dust. For an instant his face held a look of sublime joy that turned to horror in the final moment, as if he had seen something waiting he did not expect.
I found this passage to be disturbing because it casts real doubt on Ishamael's abilities. Could he really be that powerful, or are things not as they seem?
Starting with the analysis, we know that Gode and his men attempted to capture Rand and Mat while they were stuck in a room in Four Kings. Rand was desperate and inadvertently channeled lightning which destroyed most of the room, left Mat temporarily blind, and appeared to kill everyone - though there was no sign of Gode. Considering Gode was closest to the door, it makes sense that he suffered the same fate as his thugs, though the ominous lack of a body is usually a sign of a later reappearance. However, when Rand enters tel'aran'rhiod we see that Gode was hit by lightning and is severely burned. Some theories...
1. Ishamael can catch souls
Loath as I am to say it, I think this might actually be a possibility. Gode's injuries appear to have been fatal. Judging by the description of the man at the table, he was struck directly with the lightning and was killed instantly, like his strongarms. However, here he is in an interview with Ishamael, which is not possible if you are dead. One possibility is that Ishamael became aware of Gode's death when it happened, caught his soul and brought him to tel'aran'rhiod to interrogate him. It was his desire to merely get information, of course, before letting his soul go. We also see that when Ishamael does release Gode, he experiences the joy that a darkfriend gets after finally being given their long-awaited reward, only to discover the terror which waits for them in the next life. This parallels well with Osan'gar's recollection of the horrors of death.
2. Ishamael cannot catch souls - he pulled a dying man into TAR
This is also possible, and the most likely explanation. I feel bad supporting this theory because to me, Gode was clearly dead but kept between the two worlds by Ishamael. However, it is also possible that Gode was lying burned and dying next to the shed, and while unconscious, Ishamael pulled him into the dreamworld to interrogate him before he died. It was lucky timing for Ishamael, who nearly missed his window of opportunity. This is more in line with the ability of dreamwalkers, and I'd support it. However, Rand says that Gode is dead, and Ishamael agrees with him.
3. Ishamael cannot catch souls - Gode wasn't even there
This may have been an elaborate trap, not unlike what we've seen before. It is convenient that Ishamael encountered Rand and Gode in the same dream. Why not finish with Gode, and then go for Rand? It's quite possible that Ishamael wanted to show Rand his power over other men and what happened to those who pleased or failed him. Interactive dreams are possible in TAR. We saw Moghedien create a complex, interactive Emond's Field to trap Egwene, and Ishamael could probably perform similar feats.
4. Take Ishamael and the Dark One with a pinch of salt in book 1
I also support this theory, and find it highly possible. RJ deliberately kept Ishamael and the Dark One vague and interchangable in the event that book 1 never took off, and it could be read as a stand-alone. The way he wrote it, it actually can be. If the series ended after book 1, Rand could have destroyed Ba'alzamon/the Dark One, but if it carried on, we would see later that he was actually Ishamael. Therefore, Ishamael may have been given some of the powers of the Lord of the Grave for this book - power over Gode, over Kari, and other abilities which disappeared later when he became a finite, limited villain (unlike his master).
In conclusion, it's difficult to say if Ishamael could catch souls in book 1. Gode certainly seemed to have been caught, though whether he was alive or not even there can be defended. Knowing what I do know about dreamwalkers, I would bet that Gode was alive and pulled into TAR for his last minutes, but I'm equally convinced that Ishamael was vaguely merged with the Dark One in this book and allowed some freedom with his powers.
Zemaille says: Hmm... Not bad for a shorebound scholar. Which of Dr Saidin's explanations do you think is the right one? Answer the Quickpoll on the left panel and/or leave your alternative explanation & comments to this post.
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