Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Character Names: B

By Linda

Ba'alzamon: Ishamael see Names of the Shadow article.

Bael: Aiel. Bael is an edible fruit (see right), and is also a variant spelling of the demon Baal (see left).

Bair: Aiel. Bair is a place in the US.

Bakayar Mishima: Seanchan. Bakayaro means idiot! or fool! in Japanese.

Mishima is a town in Japan and also a Japanese surname. The name probably refers to Yukio Mishima, the pseudonym of the Japanese writer Kimitake Hiraoka (1925—1970. His work includes Tozoku (Thieves), Kamen no Kokuhaku (Confessions of a Mask), and Patriotism, the Rite of Love and Death. As a writer, Mishima was very aware of the difficulties of translating text into other languages.

He thought modern Japan corrupt and yearned for a return to the samurai period—the way of bushido. He himself fell a long way short of the samurai ideal, being rather feeble when young. He worked hard at building himself up physically and became very skilful at Kendo (the Japanese martial art of sword-fighting). In 1967, Mishima enlisted in the Japanese army and a year later, he formed the Tatenokai (Shield Society), composed primarily of young patriotic students.

After a year’s careful planning:

On Nov. 25, 1970, after having that day delivered the final instalment of The Sea of Fertility to his publisher, Mishima and four Shield Society followers seized control of the commanding general's office at a military headquarters near downtown Tokyo. He gave a 10-minute speech from a balcony to a thousand assembled servicemen in which he urged them to overthrow Japan's post-World War II constitution, which forbids war and Japanese rearmament. The soldiers' response was unsympathetic, and Mishima then committed seppuku in the traditional manner, disembowelling himself with his sword, followed by decapitation at the hands of a follower.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Mishima was patriotic, but outside the political mainstream. The nationalists disliked his written statements that Emperor Hirohito should have resigned the throne to take responsibility for the Japanese genocides and slavery in World War II, and the left rejected his call to readopt the code of the samurai as anachronistic.

Therefore, Bakayar Mishima means fool Mishima, a comment on reactionary ideals. Jordan has had his little jokes in names before. Mishima and Tylee were confronted with reality: the existence of Trollocs and the danger of the Shadow while they were ordered to concentrate on the Return. Mishima was killed and Tylee publicly questioned the wisdom of Seanchan policy. The issues of sul’dam (including the Empress! (how appropriate that Hirohito is her parallel)) being able to channel and false beliefs about Aes Sedai, the disgust many feel for slavery, and the existence of mainland Paendrags and honourable enemies of the Seanchan are only partly acknowledged. The name hints that more Seanchan will realise that history has moved on and that some Seanchan goals are not worthy (one of the parallels to Tylee supports this). War with/without honour is a dilemma that many other characters faced (eg Mat).

Lord Baldhere: Kandori nobleman. Baldhere is on a list of Welsh names in Robert Jordan’s notes that he compiled.

Balinor: Verin’s previous Warder. Balinor may refer to Sir Balin, a knight of the Round Table. He killed his own brother, and others, and died himself, because he refused to listen to advice, but went on regardless.

Balladare Arandaille: Aes Sedai of the Brown Ajah and Amyrlin Seat. Balladare may refer to Ernesto Perez Balladares who won the 1994 Panama presidential election. The Perez Balladares administration worked to maintain relations with the United States and to reform the economy (Encyclopaedia Britannica). This is an apt parallel for an Amyrlin Seat. Arrandale is a surname.

Balthamel: Forsaken see Names of the Shadow article.

Ban al'Seen and Ban Lewin: Two Rivers Army. King Ban features in Arthurian myths. He was the father of Sir Lancelot and also one of King Arthur’s staunchest supporters. Seen is a place name, while Lewin is a surname.

Bao the Wyld: Demandred see Names of the Shadow article.

Bari: Juggler in Luca’s Menagerie. Bari is the French or Celtic variant of Barry, a personal name meaning ‘spear-thrower’ or ‘marksman’. Jugglers have to have good marksmanship. Bari is also a place in Italy.

Barid Bel Medar: Demandred see Names of the Shadow article.

Barthanes Damodred: Cairhienin Darkfriend see Names of the Shadow article.

Basel Gill: Andoran. Basil is a personal name meaning ‘royal’ and ‘brave’. Basel has been a staunch supporter of Queen Morgase and has shown considerable courage. Gill is a surname.

Basene: Graendal see Names of the Shadow article.

Bayle Domon: Sailor. Bayle is an American personal name meaning beautiful. Well Egeanin seems to think so.;) Pierre Bayle was a 17th century philosopher who:

was convinced that philosophical reasoning led to universal scepticism, but that nature compelled man to accept blind faith, an extremely popular view in the early 18th century. Bayle's last years were troubled by allegations that he was conspiring with France to detach the Dutch from their Anglo-Austrian alliance. On his death, however, foe and friend alike lamented the passing of a great intellectual.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Many have been sceptical of Bayle Domon; the Seanchan in particular have been suspicious of him. Bayle is similar to bail, and bailing out water is what one often does in boats. Bayle and Egeanin bailed out Egwene. Domon is a surname.

Bela: Horse. Bella is a personal name meaning ‘beautiful’. Of course she’s beautiful! Bela is a Hungarian personal name.

Be'lal: Forsaken see Names of the Shadow article.

Belinde: Wise One. Belinda is a personal name meaning ‘beautiful’ or ‘snake’. She is not described as beautiful, having a fox-like face, so maybe the snake is more appropriate, in which case she may be a Darkfriend. Or just nasty.

Bendhuin: Aiel. Bendhuin is similar to Beduin, an alternative spelling for Bedouin, the nomadic Arab people and an apt parallel for the Aiel.

Bennae Nalsad: Aes Sedai of the Brown Ajah. Bennae/Benne is the African word for sesame seeds. In Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves the words “Open Sesame” were the password to a large hidden treasure. In Knife of Dreams, Egwene revealed to Bennae the existence of a great treasure—the Thirteenth Depository holding the secret history of the Aes Sedai. “Open Sesame” indeed. She enquired about it and found herself in trouble.

Nalsad is probably place name derived.

Beonin Marinye: Aes Sedai of the Grey Ajah. Beoni is a surname. Marinye is a variant of the name Marina.

Bera Harkin: Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah. Both names are surnames and real-world place names.

Berelain sur Paendrag Paeron: Mayener. Berelain contains the name Elaine. In Arthurian Myth, Elaine so desired Sir Lancelot that she conspired to deceive him into thinking she was Guinevere and so slept with him. Galahad was the result of their night together.

Berelain has deceived people that Perrin slept with her. Min saw that she was destined to fall hard for a man in white:

Well, she’ll be snubbed up sooner or later. I saw nothing of any use to you. Just a man in white who will make her fall head over heels. Some women have no shame at all!

- Lord of Chaos, Thorns

and this man is Sir Galahad's parallel, Galad. Jordan has borrowed heavily from Arthurian myth, but always changed the roles around. Berelain's (and Artur Hawkwing's) surname Paendrag is from Pendragon, King Arthur’s surname, and is thus another Arthurian connection.

There are two parallels for Paeron:

Eva Peron (Evita), second wife of Argentine president Juan Peron, who, during her husband's first term as president (1946–52), became a powerful though unofficial political leader, revered by the lower economic classes.

Although she never held any government post, Evita acted as de facto minister of health and labour, awarding generous wage increases to the unions, who responded with political support for Peron. After cutting off government subsidies to the traditional Sociedad de Beneficencia (Spanish: “Aid Society”), thereby making more enemies among the traditional elite, she replaced it with her own Eva Peron Foundation, which was supported by “voluntary” union and business contributions plus a substantial cut of the national lottery and other funds. These resources were used to establish thousands of hospitals, schools, orphanages, homes for the aged, and other charitable institutions. Evita was largely responsible for the passage of the woman suffrage law and formed the Peronista Feminist Party in 1949. She also introduced compulsory religious education into all Argentine schools. In 1951, although she knew herself to be dying of cancer, she obtained the nomination for vice president, but the army forced her to withdraw her candidacy.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Isabel Peron, third wife of President Juan Peron:

met Peron in either 1955 or 1956 and, giving up her career in show business, became his personal secretary, accompanying him in exile to Madrid, where they were married in 1961. She visited Argentina several times in the 1960s and early '70s, building support for Peron. When Peron finally returned to Argentina to run for president in 1973, Isabel was chosen as his running mate on the suggestion of Peron's close adviser Jose Lopez Rega. Peron's illness several times elevated her to the position of acting president, and when he died on July 1, 1974, she succeeded him in office.

Her regime inherited problems of inflation, labour unrest, and political violence. She attempted to solve the problems by appointing new Cabinet ministers, printing money to pay foreign debts, and imposing a state of siege in November 1974 as the country was on the brink of anarchy. The controversy surrounding her social-welfare minister Lopez Rega, who was forced into exile for graft and terrorist activities, did not help her situation. Moderate military officers urged her to resign, but she stubbornly refused; the economic and political situation continued to worsen, and on March 24, 1976, she was seized by air force officers and held under house arrest for five years. In 1981 she was convicted of corrupt practices, but she was paroled in the summer of that year and went into exile in Spain. Pardoned in late 1983, she submitted her resignation as head of the Partido Justicialista, the Peronist party, from her home in Madrid in 1985.

Berelain has twice left Mayene in order to further the interests and safety of her country. She governed troubled Cairhien for Rand during his absences and followed Perrin into ‘exile’. There was some controversy over her intentions toward Perrin and Faile put extreme pressure on Berelain to resign her claims to him.

For more information on Berelain's real-world parallels, see Faile and Berelain essay.

Berisha Terakuni: Aes Sedai of the Grey Ajah. Berisha is a surname and probably refers to Sali Ram Berisha (born 1944), the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania from 2005‒2013 and also the first non-Communist president of Albania from 1992‒1997.

Berisha was involved in the collapse of the Communist government in Albania, and in the first free elections of Albania, he was elected President of the Republic in 1992. His administration embraced free market policies including trade liberalization and privatization of state property, but also promoted Ponzi investment schemes. Despite many reforms, it became increasingly oppressive, urging the arrest and sentencing of opposition leader Fatos Nano. In 1994 Berisha lost a constitutional referendum which would have given him even more powers.

The failure of various fraudulent investment schemes caused first the collapse of the economy and then of the government in early 1997. One-third of the population found itself penniless overnight. Rioting quickly escalated, and vast stores of weapons were looted from storage depots; criminal gangs took control of the countryside. In response, the UN dispatched peacekeeping troops in March. The Socialist Party (the former Communist Party) won parliamentary elections in June 1997, and party secretary Rexhep Meidani became president in July.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Berisha refused to accept that he lost in the 1997 and 2001 elections, claiming irregularities, but was re-elected as Prime Minister in 2005 when the public became unhappy with the corruption and arrogance of the Socialist Party.

Berisha and Meidani are two Greys on opposite sides of the Aes Sedai conflict, just as Berisha and Meidani were opponents in Albania. Berisha, who was present at Egwene’s capture, is known for her adherence to the strictest and harshest interpretation of the law. Aes Sedai Laws were being broken all over the Tower under Elaida's reign, by Elaida as much as anyone else. Elaida’s attempts to control the Tower with increasing oppression only made things worse.

Terukuni is a Japanese shrine, but also means country or hometown of the Temple and expresses Berisha’s reverence for the White Tower.

Bertain Gallenne: Mayener. Bertain is similar to Bertrand, a personal name meaning ‘bright’. There is also a town in France named St-Bertain. Gallenne may commemorate Eva le Gallienne:

actress, director, and producer, one of the outstanding figures of the 20th-century American stage.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Jordan wrote dance criticism for some years.

Bertome Saighan: Cairhienin. Bertome may be a WOT variant of the personal name Bert, although it is the name of a town in Italy. Saighan is similar to Saigon in Vietnam (see right). The Treaty of Saigon:

was signed by the last pre-colonial emperor of Vietnam, Tu Duc, and was ratified by him in April 1863.

Under the terms of the agreement, the French received Saigon and three of the southern provinces of Cochinchina, the opening of three ports to trade, freedom of missionary activity, a vague protectorate over Vietnam's foreign relations, and a large cash indemnity. Five years later France annexed the rest of Cochinchina.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Similarly, under Colavaere, House Saighan pushed its way into the rulership of Cairhien. The parallel also reinforces the strong French flavour in Cairhien names and political history.

In the Twentieth Century, Saigon was held by both sides in the Vietnam War. The Saighan family are ambitious and canny political players and there is some uncertainty about which side members are on.

Beryl Marle: Aes Sedai of the White Ajah and Amyrlin Seat. Beryl is a gem associated with magic. Marle is a place in France.

Berylla Naron: Black Ajah see Names of the Shadow article.

Beslan Quintara, High Seat of House Mitsobar and King of Altara: Altaran. Beslan is a place in Russia. Alas, in 2004, real life imitated art when a massacre occurred in Beslan by terrorists.

Quintara is similar to Quintana and may refer to Manuel Jose Quintana and Andres Quintana Roo:

Manuel Jose Quintana (1772‒1857) was a Spanish patriot and Neoclassical poet:

esteemed by his countrymen for poems, pamphlets, and proclamations written during the War of Independence from Napoleon…Active in the Napoleonic Wars, he was imprisoned, after the return to Spain of Ferdinand VII, from 1814 to 1820. Released by the revolutionary forces, he later served as tutor to the future queen Isabella II, as director of public instruction, and finally as a senator. In 1855 he was crowned as the national poet by Queen Isabella.

Quintana's poetry is extremely rhetorical and marked by patriotism and liberalism.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Andrés Quintana Roo (1787‒1851) was a Mexican writer and leader in the independence movement (1810‒1821). He played an active part in inspiring citizens to fight for independence (notably by publishing an inflammatory newspaper) and in establishing an independent Mexican government. He was forced to fly from the capital and was later persecuted by the Spanish authorities.

Similarly Beslan is a devout Altaran patriot who planned to incite rebellion against Seanchan rule so Altara can regain its former independence. However, he used word of mouth, rather than journalism to accomplish this. He could have been executed by Tuon, but swore fealty to her instead.

Bethamin Zeami: Seanchan. Bethamin is similar to Bethany, a personal name meaning ‘house’.

Zeami was the greatest playwright and theorist of the Japanese nõ theatre. He and his father, Kan'ami (1333–84), were the creators of the nõ drama in its present form.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Bethamin acted a part to hide her potential to channel and to lull the Seeker’s suspicions. There is much Japanese influence in Seanchan culture.

Bili: The hero of a children's tale, called Bili under the Hill. He went on an adventure, was given three answers, and came back to find ten years had passed. Bili appears to be a combination of Bilbo Baggins of Tolkien’s The Hobbit, who lived under a hill and had many underground adventures, including playing three rounds of a riddle game with Gollum, before returning home; and legends of adventurers exploring prehistoric mounds who unwittingly enter Faerie and return to find many years have elapsed.

Bili Congar: Two Rivers. Bili is a WOT variant of Billy. Congar is a town in Turkey and is also reminiscent of the conger eel, an aggressive fish. The family is known for trouble and aggressive criticism.

Birgitte: Hero of the Horn and Elayne’s Warder. Bridget is a personal name meaning ‘protecting’, ‘strong’ or ‘resolute’. Birgitte is most similar to the French form, Brigitte. Birgitte is an allusion to Brigit, the Irish goddess of poetry, learning, healing and craftsmanship who:

was taken over into Christianity as St. Brigid, but she retained her strong pastoral associations. Her feast day is February 1, which was also the date of the pagan festival of Imbolc, the season when the ewes came into milk.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

St Brigit is the patron saint of: babies, blacksmiths, boatmen, cattle, children whose parents are not married, dairy workers, fugitives, infants, Ireland, mariners, midwives, nuns, poets, poultry farmers, printing presses, sailors, scholars, travellers. Birgitte broke the precepts in Telaranrhiod to help a blacksmith, is bound to an Aes Sedai (Aes Sedai have parallels with nuns), has been with boatmen on Riverserpent which carried refugees and also a Sea Folk vessel, comforted and entertained children, has Travelled a lot, and spent time with the Kin (midwives) and the Windfinders (mariners). This is a fair proportion of St Brigit’s patronage list.

I must admit, the thought of 'Saint Birgitte' makes me smile. Birgitte would agree with me; she has no pretensions to either heroism or sainthood. But she is a Hero of the Horn.

Birlen Pena: Black Ajah see Names of the Shadow article.

Blaes of Matuchin: Hero of the Horn. Blaes was one of the three just Knights of King Arthur’s court in the Welsh tales, who dedicated himself to preserving justice according to earthly law. Blaise is a personal name meaning ‘stammerer’ and was also the name of Merlin’s teacher. Matuchin is a surname.

Bodewhin Cauthon: Two Rivers Novice. Bodewhin has an Arthurian connection: Bodwyn was the brother of King Mark of Cornwall.

Cauthon is described above under Abell.

Bonwhin Meraighdin: Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah and Amyrlin Seat. The name Bonwhin is similar to the real-world personal name Bronwen. It also probably refers to Branwen, daughter of Lyr and sister to Bran the Blessed, King of Britain in Celtic mythology. Branwen was married to Matholwch King of Ireland to seal an alliance between Britain and Ireland. When Branwen’s half-brother Efnissen commited an outrage upon Ireland, Branwen was made a scullery maid in the kitchens in retribution (see right). This lasted three years until Branwen managed to get word of her abuse back to Britain. Bran sailed to Ireland with a great force and there was a great battle where many were killed, including Bran. Branwen died of a broken heart, lamenting that because of her, the royalty of two islands were destroyed.

Bonwhin was Amyrlin during Artur Hawkwing’s reign and her manipulations of the High King spurred him to lay siege to Tar Valon. She was stripped of her stole and stilled for nearly destroying the White Tower and spent the rest of her life as a scullery maid in the Tower’s kitchens. Unlike the Welsh myth where Bronwen’s plight caused the battle, Bonwhin’s errors caused the battle, the near destruction of the Aes Sedai, rulers of the island of Tar Valon, and then her servitude. Their resulting deaths are the same, though: once a channeller is stilled, they lose the will to live; effectively a type of heartbreak.

Bors: Jaichim Carridin see Names of the Shadow article.

Brandelwyn (Bran) al'Vere: Two Rivers. The name has several parallels. Bran the Blessed was a Celtic deity of large size and strength who was King of Britain. Bran had a cauldron (see right) which could restore the dead to life, but leaving them without the power of speech. At the final battle with Matholwch, king of Ireland, Bran was wounded in the foot with a poisoned arrow. Realising he was dying, he ordered his head to be cut off and be taken to the White Hill in London [and buried] facing the continent as protection against invaders (Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology). Bran al’Vere is a very big man, both physically and socially in the Two Rivers. His fate in the Last Battle is unknown.

Another parallel would be Sir Brandiles, a Knight of the Round Table in King Arthur’s court. Sir Bedivere, who was with Arthur when he died and returned Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake [see right], is yet another. Bran may also refer to King Ban, who was the father of Sir Lancelot and one of King Arthur’s staunchest supporters.

Brandelwyn is similar to Brandywine, an appropriate name for an innkeeper and a reference to the Brandywine River in the Shire in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and to the town of Brandywine in the US. Finally, Branwen is a personal name.

There is an historic parallel to Vere. The Vere family is:

a noted English family that held the hereditary office of lord great chamberlain from 1133 to 1779 and the earldom of Oxford from 1142 to 1703. Over the centuries, many members of the family have commanded English troops in wars.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Similarly, the al’Vere family has wielded a great deal of influence in the Two Rivers for some time, and more recently also on a wider stage.

Branlet Gilyard: Andoran High Seat. Branlet means ‘little Bran’ (Bran is described above). Gilyard is a surname.

Bren: Altaran palace servant. A Bren gun is a type of submachine gun, so did or will Bren experience gunpowder weapons?

Brend: Sammael see Names of the Shadow article.

Buel Dowtry: Two Rivers. He is the old arrow maker who helped defend Emond’s Field in The Shadow Rising and his name may have a military parallel:

William Buel Franklin was a Union general during the American Civil War (1861–65) who was particularly active in the early years of fighting around Washington, D.C.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Dowtry is a surname.


Written by Linda, January 2005 and updated November 2013


Dr J J George said...

I'm not sure about Bodewin in Arthurian legend, but Bode Cauthon is suggestive of Boudica.

Anonymous said...

About Birgitte, should it be brought up she uses the name Maerion, probably paralleling Marian, or at least a backwards connection to Robin Hood since she uses the bow

Linda said...

Maerion is in the M article.