Saturday, March 23, 2002


By Linda

This essay details the parallels I think were used to develop Demandred.

Here is a summary of Demandred’s themes:

War gods
Arthurian myth

In the Age of Legends, Demandred was known mainly for being “almost Lews Therin”:

Before his conversion to the Dark he had been Barid Bel Medar, second only to Lews Therin Telamon as the most honored and influential man of his age. He was tall and reasonably good-looking, though not so tall as Lews Therin, and his hawk nose left him almost, but not quite, handsome.

“Almost” seemed to be the story of his life. Born one day after Lews Therin, he had almost as much strength and almost as much skill. He spent years almost equaling Lews Therin’s accomplishments and fame. If not for Lews Therin Telamon, he would have undoubtedly been the most acclaimed man of his Age. He held many high public offices and wrote books on a wide array of subjects that were both critical and popular successes. It was his misfortune that Lews Therin held even higher offices with even greater successes in those offices, and wrote books that achieved greater critical and popular acclaim.

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

Until there was no room to be himself.

Born only a day apart, perhaps only a few hours apart, depending on the timing of their births, with Lews Therin ‘first’, the two men are almost (that word again) what is called ‘astral twins’; their fates and characteristics are very similar, although perhaps more so in Demandred’s mind than in Lews Therin’s/Rand’s.

The Nazis, who have strong parallels with the Shadow (see Three Strands Common to the Forsaken essay), had a high-ranking member who was regarded as an ‘almost’, although in a less skilled way than Demandred. Nazi philosopher Alfred Rosenberg was called 'Almost Rosenberg’ by Goebbels, the minister for propaganda (and a parallel of Ishamael and Graendal), because “Rosenberg almost managed to become a scholar, a journalist, a politician, but only almost”. Rosenberg is a minor parallel of Demandred, who was almost the most brilliant man, rather than almost competent.

Like Lanfear, Demandred joined the Shadow because of rage and frustration at Lews Therin. However, he fought for the Light for a few years, whereas Lanfear caused the war in the first place by drilling the Bore. While there are no excuses for someone choosing to turn to the Shadow, Rand does acknowledge that Lews Therin played a part in that choice:

Of all those to turn to the Shadow, Demandred’s betrayal seemed the most tragic. The man could have been a hero. Should have been a hero.
If I’d offered a hand instead of a smirk, if I’d congratulated instead of competed. If I’d been the man then that I am now...

- A Memory of Light, Eastward the Wind Blew

By competing with Demandred and not giving him his due, always making sure he was half a step ahead of Demandred, Lews Therin contributed to Demandred’s spiritual and moral collapse.

Demandred was a driven man, as heroes often are, to the extent of being somewhat one-dimensional. It is not known what his former occupation was prior to the Bore being opened, although we know that, like Lews Therin, he wrote books, but once the Shadow struck, his greatest skill was found to be war. It was he who researched the history books for military tactics that had been long forgotten:

Demandred himself had discovered it in the old writings. They’d known nothing of war when the Bore had first opened. Oh, they’d thought they understood it, but it had been the understanding of the scholar looking back on something ancient, dusty.

- A Memory of Light, Eastward the Wind Blew

The ancient books on war are probably a parallel of The Art of War, a Chinese military masterpiece believed written sometime between the 8th to 3rd centuries BCE by Sun Tzu (see below). This re-acquisition of military knowledge mirrors that of Demandred’s military adversary Mat, who acquired memories of forgotten military tactics and is re-introducing gunpowder weapons. Mat is another character with strong “Chinese” associations through his marriage to Empress Fortuona and as Monkey King, and he also refers to a book (Madoc Comadrin’s book on military strategy Fog and Steel) that may be a parallel of The Art of War and furthermore quotes tactics from The Art of War.

Demandred was known for his warfare abilities and hatred of the Dragon, although he also fancied himself as a gambler. Since his skill in war was developed first, let’s start with gods of war.

War gods


The ancient Greek god of war, Ares was

never very popular, and his worship was not extensive in Greece. He represented the distasteful aspects of brutal warfare and slaughter. Nonetheless, he was accompanied in battle by his sister Eris (Strife) and his sons (by Aphrodite) Phobos and Deimos (Panic and Rout). Also associated with him were two lesser war deities: Enyalius, who is virtually identical with Ares himself, and Enyo, a female counterpart.

Ares' worship was largely in the northern areas of Greece, and, although devoid of the social, moral, and theological associations usual with major deities, his cult had many interesting local features. At Sparta, in early times, at least, human sacrifices were made to him from among the prisoners of war. At Sparta also a nocturnal offering of dogs—an unusual sacrificial victim, which might indicate a chthonic (underworld or infernal) deity—was made to him as Enyalius.

- Encyclopedia Britannica

Both Demandred and Ares lack backstory and breadth of interests. Demandred never thought he was sufficiently popular or admired, and during the War of Power sacrificed the entire population of two conquered cities to the Trollocs because he felt they had slighted him (Lord of Chaos, A New Arrival). In the Last Battle, the Sharans captured several prisoners as ‘inacal’ (slaves) but Demandred killed them. While all the Forsaken have infernal associations, Demandred alone communicated onscreen with the Dark One in the Pit of Doom.

Enyalius is a parallel of Taim who was recruited and educated by Demandred, and at times has been (mistakenly) identified with him. (Understandably so; Jordan’s notes show that Taim was originally going to be Demandred, but this was changed when so many readers twigged.) We have seen the Black Asha’man ordered about like dogs, the number of dogs roaming around the Black Tower, and the dark deeds done in the basement there. In River of Souls, Demandred ordered the Freed, Sharan male channellers, sharply because they were “like hounds” and “feral” ones at that.

Aphrodite was the ancient Greek goddess of love, but was also worshipped as a war goddess at Sparta. She is a parallel of Graendal, who corrupted the minds of the Great Captains during the Last Battle bringing panic and rout to the forces of the Light. By disrupting the Sharan government in Lord of Chaos, she probably paved the way there for Demandred. Eris could be Shendla, who was his Sharan devotee and lover, and Enyo may represent Moghedien who disguised herself as Demandred after he was killed, and is a parallel of the Celtic war goddess, the Morrigan (see Names of the Shadow article).


The Roman god of war, Mars, was second among the Ancient Roman gods. Mars was originally an agricultural god but developed more war-like attributes. He was regarded as the protector of the military aspects of the Roman state, a role which was increased under the Emperor Augustus as Mars Ultor, Mars the Avenger, the personal guardian of the emperor and avenger of Caesar.

One parallel of the Age of Legends was Ancient Rome (see The Age of Legends essay), with Lews Therin an analogue of Julius Caesar, who was for a time flamen dialis, priest of the chief Roman god, Jupiter Optimus Maximus (Jupiter best and greatest) (see Lews Therin essay). Demandred is the second-most important male among the Forsaken, and Demandred was also second in fame and achievements to Lews Therin. When the War of Power began, Demandred rediscovered warfare and as one of the Light’s most important generals did defend “Rome” (and its leader Lews Therin) against the Shadow for half the war.

In the Third Age, Demandred wanted to kill Rand in revenge for Lews Therin’s treatment of himself, rather than avenge Lews Therin’s death, and ultimately to replace “Caesar” (the Dragon) with himself. Which brings us to a god with dragon associations, Marduk.


Marduk was a Babylonian god in ancient Mesopotamia who rose from a minor role to become the chief god of the Babylonian pantheon, on the way acquiring the achievements of other Babylonian gods such as Enlil (who has some similarities with Rand) and Tishpak. In one story which explains Marduk’s rise, a civil war broke out between two groups of gods, and the gods on one side searched for a god to win the war, the reward being promotion to head god. Marduk, a very junior deity, volunteered and succeeded. He challenged Tiamat, the female dragon of the primordial sea and the personification of chaos, to single combat and killed her by piercing her belly with an arrow, or chopping her in two, depending on the story.

Marduk’s symbol was the dragon or snake (which he took over from the god Tishpak), although he was usually depicted in human form. In southern Mesopotamia Marduk was referred to as “Bel”, which means “lord”.

Demandred’s original name was Barid Bel. He believed that Lews Therin gained prestige from Demandred’s military achievements and wanted to kill the Dragon Reborn, Lord of Chaos, to prove himself the better man and rule the world. He expected that he would be made Naeblis, head of the demigod Forsaken, for this deed. In fact, Demandred was the one who passed on the Dark One’s order to let the Lord of Chaos rule—for a time, to bring on the Last Battle and the end of days.

In River of Souls, Demandred killed a jumara, called a “Worm” in the Third Age according to Sammael (Lord of Chaos, To Understand A Message), in single combat to attain the sa’angreal Sakarnen and become the prophesied Wyld, saviour of the Sharans. Worm is an alternative name for a dragon, so, unbeknownst to him, Demandred already was the Dragonslayer prior to bringing the Sharans to fight at the Last Battle and trying to kill Rand there. In a neat reversal of typical dragon features, Demandred used:

weaves to lift chunks of rock up into the air, then burned them molten in the blink of an eye and sprayed the jumara's maw with melted rock.

- River of Souls

The jumara swallowed fiery rock, rather than breathed fire out. Another link with the jumara and Rand is that Demandred had always hated jumara (River of Souls). Moreover, both jumara and Rand underwent a transformation. When Demandred referred to himself as Dragonslayer, and Moghedien in Demandred’s guise was also called Dragonslayer by a Sharan, it was because Demandred actually already was one, just not the slayer of the Dragon he thought.


In Japanese mythology, Amatsumikaboshi is the malevolent and rebellious star god. His name means “Dread Star of Heaven”, or “August Star of Heaven”, and he was also called Amenokagaseo meaning “Scarecrow Male of Heaven” or “Brilliant Male”—these are a good description of Demandred. The god is associated with lingering negative or destructive emotions, such as excessive anger, envy or hate, that create imbalance and chaos. Demandred was a seething mess of unhealthy obsessions due to his extreme resentment of Lews Therin. It was the task of Futsunushi, the god of swords, martial arts, and conquest, and Takemikazuchi, the god of thunder and swords, to kill Amatsumikaboshi. Lan, the Wheel of Time’s sword god and parallel of Futsunushi and Takemikazuchi, slew Demandred, that brilliant but dread apostate war god.

Demandred has parallels with a few great generals, some of legendary abilities.


Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese military strategist and general who is believed by many to be the author of The Art of War, a very highly regarded ancient Chinese book on military strategy. It is not certain when Sun Tzu lived, and some scholars believe he was legendary. He may have lived as early as the early 6th to late 5th centuries BCE, but is more usually believed to have lived about 400‒320 BCE and to have served the king of Wu during the Warring States Period, which is when The Art of War is commonly judged to have been written, based on the description of warfare in the book, and on similarities between its text style and that of other works written during the Warring States Period.

Waging warfare was a well explored topic in ancient China with six major works written prior to the 2nd century BCE, including The Art of War, surviving in the present day. The Art of War is:

the first known [and arguably best] attempt to formulate a rational basis for the planning and conduct of military operations

- Samuel B. Griffiths, The Art of War preface

with the firm belief that the best prosecution of war is one in which nothing is destroyed. Likewise, Mat, who often quotes tactics from The Art of War, tried his hardest to avoid any battle being fought.

In comparison, Carl von Clausewitz (1780‒1831), a Prussian military officer and theorist, could be said to have espoused the Dark One’s views on war:

To introduce into the philosophy of war a principle of moderation would be an absurdity—war is an act of violence pushed to its utmost bounds.

- Carl von Clausewitz, On War

yet although promoting war beyond the bounds of sense, Clausewitz also wrote:

the political object, as the original motive of the war, should be the standard for determining both the aim of the military force and also the amount of effort to be made…[otherwise] the means would lose all relation to the end.

- Carl von Clausewitz, On War

This dichotomy is a parallel of the Shadow’s unscrupulousness in their war against the Light. Those Forsaken with insight realise that to follow the Dark One’s instruction to use balefire on a large scale would be to destroy the very thing they want to attain—dominion over the world. If the Dark One’s planned death to the whole of creation and then re-creation occurred, could they trust the Dark One that they or the new world would be in any enjoyable state? As Demandred sweated in Lord of Chaos when the Dark One first gave the order to use balefire:

For a year during the War of Power, both sides had used balefire. Until they learned the consequences. Without agreement, or truce—there had never been a truce any more than there had been quarter—each side simply stopped. Entire cities died in balefire that year, hundreds of thousands of threads burned from the Pattern; reality itself almost unraveled, world and universe evaporating like mist. If balefire was unleashed once more, there might be no world to rule.

- Lord of Chaos, Prologue

The Art of War follows Taoist philosophy (in advocating the goal of heavenly and earthly balance, for instance) and in Sun Tzu’s view the ideal general was a master of Taoism.

The One Power is used extensively in the wars of the Shadow, and is strongly influenced by Taoism. The Dragon, the Creator’s champion, is one with the Land, and provides balance between heaven and earth and, it could be said, between the Light and the Shadow. In the late Third Age, the Forsaken were believed legendary until they were freed from the Bore. Shara, that secretive and isolationist far eastern continent from which Demandred drew a large army, has some parallels with China (and also with Africa); the monarch surrounded by king-making advisors who run the empire, and the custom of these ruling female channellers to take male channellers as concubines, for instance.

Concubines were involved in Sun Tzu’s demonstration of his capabilities:

When Sun-Tzu went to work for his royal patron, the King of Wu, the king decided to test the expertise of Sun-Tzu. He ordered him to teach the manual of arms to his harem of 360 concubines. Sun-Tzu divided them up into two companies, put the king’s two favourite concubines in command of the companies, ensured that they knew their front from their back, their left from their right and explained the first maneuver. When he gave the order to face right, the women giggled. He told them that when the troops do not understand the maneuver, it is the fault of the general, and he explained the maneuver again. Again they giggled. So, he said, when the troops understand, but do not obey, then it is the officers’ fault, and he ordered the execution of the two concubines in charge. The king was horrified and begged him to spare them, but Sun-Tzu told him that once the general was appointed, he must carry out his mission regardless of the commands of the king. The concubines were executed, new officers were appointed, and the harem learned the manual of arms perfectly.

- Alfred S. Bradford, With Arrow, Sword, and Spear: A History of Warfare in the Ancient World

This is the sort of cold ruthlessness typical of the Shadow; the ends justifying the means to an extreme degree. Demandred, too, disregarded or “misinterpreted” the Naeblis’ orders to further his own ends.

In Shara, Demandred freed the male channellers who were enslaved as concubines of the female channellers and added them to his army (River of Souls). Earning the allegiance of the female Ayyad was difficult and it was “won at a terrible price”, perhaps due to his rescue and training of the male Ayyad.

The Warring States period in China could be likened to the Shadow’s invasion in the Age of Legends and again in the Third Age, with atrocities committed similar to those of the Shadow’s armies:

Defeated heroes were no longer pardoned, but prisoners were executed en masse, and the soldiers of Ch’in (the district that eventually came to dominate China) received pay for severed heads. The towns that were taken were put to the sword—man, woman, and child—and the kings to “increase their prestige” would boil their enemies and drink the soup…and also force the kinsmen of their victims to partake.

- Alfred S. Bradford, With Arrow, Sword, and Spear: A History of Warfare in the Ancient World

The behaviour of the Chinese kings is rather like that of Trolloc armies.

The armies and leaders of Ch’in were both efficient and merciless. It is recorded that in 331 [BCE] Ch’in defeated a neighbour and “cut-off” 80,000 heads, in 318 in a victory against a coalition they cut off 82,000 heads, in 312 80,000 heads, in 307 60,000 heads, in 297 240,000 heads, in 275 a mere 40,000 heads (but that was an unsuccessful campaign, and they came back the same year and redeemed themselves with 150,000 heads), and in 260, although the king had promised to spare the lives of the conquered, more than 400,000 were decapitated. The kingdom of Ch’in was known as “the wild beast”.

- Alfred S. Bradford, With Arrow, Sword, and Spear: A History of Warfare in the Ancient World

The lattermost battle, when nearly half a million prisoners of war were killed, was the Battle of Changping in which the Qin (Ch’in) army under general Bai Qi routed the army of Zhao. With the military superiority of Qin over all the other states of China being asserted so ruthlessly, their unification of China became only a matter of time. Bai Qi (died 257 BCE, see illustration, right) was named Ren Tu (Human Butcher), War Devil and God of War because he was responsible for the deaths of over 900,000 soldiers, some buried alive. He is remembered more for his brutality and cruelty and his battles of annihilation than for his generalship and military achievements despite seizing more than seventy cities from six other states in the Warring States Period, and without, as far as can be determined from historical records, a single defeat.

Demandred called himself Bao the Wyld in A Memory of Light when he arrived in the Westlands with his destructive Sharan army, a reference to Bai Qi and to the ‘wild beast’ state of Qin. He broke the social structure of Shara, freed the male channellers to create chaos and gained the allegiance of the female channellers at great cost (River of Souls). At the Dark One’s command, he used balefire on a large scale and this may well be some of this “great cost”. In the Age of Legends, he fed the populations of two cities to the Trollocs because they offended him. The Shadow’s military victory in the War of Power was believed to be inescapable (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time) and Mat feared the same in the Last Battle. Mat risked all his knowledge and skill, and all his armies to defeat Demandred’s forces:

It was hard. He had to be capable enough to keep Demandred back, but weak enough to invite aggression. A feint, ever so subtle. It was dangerous, possibly disastrous. He had to walk on a razor edge. There was no way to avoid cutting his feet. The question was not whether he would be bloodied, but whether he would reach the other side or not.

- A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

But in the end the gamble worked, although the battles were ones of annhilation. Fool Mat fooled Demandred and was a wild card for Wyld.

The marauding Sharans were brought by their General King from the east to destroy the armies of the Westlands, as was another infamous far eastern army, the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan.

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan (1162? –1227) (see drawing, right), born Temujin, founded the Mongol empire, which ultimately became the largest contiguous empire in history, with the conquest of most of Eurasia, often accompanied by wholesale massacres of the civilian populations of the conquered territories. He grew up in the cut-throat and corrupt political climate of Mongolia, and at the age of ten killed his half-brother Behter during a dispute over the division of hunting swag. Like Demandred, he learned warfare quickly and adopted or adapted new ideas he encountered. Genghis also learned early that alliances were very useful for survival, but brought the risk of betrayal, such as happened with his longtime family allies, his childhood friend Jamuka who because a rival for the title of Khan, and also his son Jochi. On the other hand, Genghis Khan showed great trust in his generals, granting them considerable autonomy and privileges.

An arrangement unusual among Forsaken was the alliance between Demandred, Mesaana and Semirhage. It held despite the efforts of other Forsaken to break it, but the three still also often undercut each other. Demandred trusted Taim to achieve certain objectives independently in the Last Battle, giving him a very strong sa’angreal to do so—although he convinced Taim that he could not use it against Demandred. Demandred’s “trust” was not betrayed by the Asha’man, but Demandred himself betrayed Lews Therin’s trust by turning to the Shadow halfway through the War of Power.

Demandred and Rand both share parallels with Genghis Khan, Rand in a positive way with his union of the war-like and feuding Aiel clans (see Rand essay) whom he took back to the Westlands, and Demandred in a very negative way with his invasion of the Westlands committing atrocities. Demandred emphasised this very similarity to both Leane and Gawyn (A Memory of Light, The Wyld and The Last Battle).

The Mongols attacked each city or town they encountered and destroyed every one that resisted their invasion; not only the buildings, but even the farmland at times. In a three-year period, the Mongols annihilated all of the major cities of Eastern Europe with the exception of Novgorod and Pskov in Russia. They used their reputation for inexorability as a weapon against the lands they intended to conquer, and made sure it was never blunted by being an empty threat. While the Mongols regularly diverted streams to deprive cities and towns of water, there are stories that Genghis Khan ordered a river diverted through the Khwarezmid emperor's birthplace simply to wipe it off the map. Genghis Khan announced to the conquered city of Bukhara:

“I am the flail of god. Had you not created great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

The surviving people of each conquered city were driven out of the city, which facilitated looting (an important part of the Mongol invasion) and made division of the population easier. The young people were given to the Mongol soldiers as slaves and/or concubines, the craftsmen were sent to Mongolia, and the remaining people were massacred. Each army unit was allotted a portion of the prisoners to kill and the bodies of those killed were left unburied. After conquering Samarkand, the Mongols piled the severed heads of the population on the plain outside the city as a trophy of victory.

Shadowspawn have made similar pyramids of heads after slaughtering people. The Sharans obtained slaves at their western border and took them east to the Inner Land, a parallel of China. Demandred’s Sharans destroyed a large percentage of the Light’s armies and the Aes Sedai, and he personally burned the Sharans’ captives because there was no time to enslave them. Channellers diverted streams during the Last Battle.

Demandred also misused religion to demoralise and terrorise, as Genghis Khan did; he was an agent of Shaitan claiming to be an equivalent of the Dragon, the Creator’s champion who is as much a scourge as a saviour, and whom he threatened:

“Just as the people here awaited him with prophecy, just as they showered him with glory, the people of my land awaited me. I have fulfilled their prophecies. He is false, and I am true. Tell him I will finally have satisfaction. He is to come to me, so that we may face one another. If he does not, I will slaughter and destroy. I will seize his people. I will enslave his children, I will take his women for my own. One by one, I will break, destroy, or dominate everything he has loved. The only way for him to avoid this is for him to come and face me.”

- A Memory of Light, The Wyld

“If I kill Lews Therin, in victory I will be given the right to remake the world as I wish. The Great Lord cares nothing for rule. The only way to protect this world is to destroy it, and then shelter its people. Is that not what your Dragon claims he can do?”

- A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

Using the above methods of execution or displacement and slavery, the Mongols almost depopulated much of the Iranian plateau.

Coleridge wrote a poem about Kublai Khan’s summer palace at Xanadu, with its sacred river Alph:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea…
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover! …
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan, or A Vision In A Dream

Angarai’la, to which Demandred descended in River of Souls, is a river sacred to the Wyld, since he is the only one allowed to drink its water. The river flowed through a chasm to the Hearttomb, a huge cavern, but where after that is unknown to man. The area had far healthier vegetation than elsewhere and is part of the Inner Land, just as Xanadu (Shangdu) is located in Inner Mongolia and was of course far greener than Mongolia itself. The chasm was rugged, and the cavern particularly savage thanks to the jumara.

The river’s name is an allusion to Shangri La, the mythical Buddhist valley. Jordan and Sanderson reverse engineered Angaralai’la as a combination of Coleridge’s Xanadu and Shangri La, both being legendary places. Angaralai’la translates as River of Souls, and likewise Kublai Khan heard the voices of the dead in the river’s noise in Coleridge’s poem, voices that foretold war. Once Demandred gained Sakarnen he took the Sharans to war and played a hugely devastating role in the long prophesied Last Battle. When Demandred was killed by Lan in the Last Battle, Shendla wailed for the loss of her demon lover:

Her heart sank down inside of her and she tore at her hair with both hands, her body swaying. As she gazed on her beloved, Shendla slowly drew breath deep into her chest, and when it released, it was a fearful shriek: "Bao the Wyld is dead!"

- A Memory of Light, The Place That Was Not

Deaths due to the Mongol invasion have been variously estimated as between 30 to 60 million by the time of Kublai Khan, Genghis Khan’s grandson, some 7.5‒17% of the world population at the time, a higher proportion than in World War II. This is an appropriate parallel for the Last Battle.

The Nazis, aggressors in World War II, also have strong similarities with the Shadow, including their atrocities, their disunity and their squandering of advantage (see Three Strands Common to the Forsaken essay), with Demandred having parallels with a few Nazi figures, including the brilliant German general Erich von Manstein.

General Fritz Erich von Manstein

Von Manstein (1887‒1973), a professional soldier from a German military family, was regarded as one of the most talented military commanders in World War II by those on both sides of the conflict:

"He is the best tactician and combat commander we have."

- Wolfram von Richthofen, General Field Marshal of the Luftwaffe

"The general verdict among the German generals I interrogated in 1945 was that Field-Marshal von Manstein had proved the ablest commander in their Army, and the man they had most desired to become its Commander-in-Chief. It is very clear that he had a superb sense of operational possibilities and equal mastery in the conduct of operations, together with a greater grasp of the potentialities of mechanized forces than any other commander who had not been trained in the tank arm. In sum, he had military genius."

- Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, English soldier and military historian

"He was not only the most brilliant strategist of all our generals, but he had a good political sense. A man of that quality was too difficult for Hitler to swallow for long."

- General der Infanterie Günther Blumentritt

“Von Manstein was the greatest German general of the war, and probably the greatest of any participating nation.”

- Richard Brett-Smith, Hitler’s Generals

Hitler might have thought highly of von Manstein’s skill on military matters, but the reverse is not true; von Manstein argued with Hitler and tried to convince him to delegate prosecution of the war to professional soldiers. Hitler wanted total war in which nothing was ceded, whereas von Manstein was prepared to give ground to lure the opposition into a position where they could be out-flanked and encircled. (Here he is greeting Hitler, right)

Demandred is stated by Jordan to be one of the top Forsaken for political skills as well as a brilliant general. Von Manstein is a parallel of Demandred in his military abilities only, since despite being one of the generals Hitler relied upon, Von Manstein never joined the Nazi party. This is not an option for the Shadow. Hitler is a parallel of both the Dark One and Moridin/Ishamael (Three Strands Common to the Forsaken essay), and Demandred thought Ishamael crazy, just as the Nazi generals did Hitler. Demandred was prepared to kill Moridin, instead of outperforming him, as a faster and surer way to become Naeblis. While Demandred usually did not argue with the Dark One, he does so in the following passage, after first assenting to the command to loose large-scale balefire:

"As you command, Great Lord, so shall I obey." His muscles might be jerking, but his voice was rock steady. His knees began to blister from the hot stone, yet the flesh might as well have been someone else's.
"Great Lord, the Dragon can be destroyed." A dead man could not wield balefire again, and perhaps then the Great Lord would see no need for it. "He is ignorant and weak, scattering his attentions in a dozen directions. Rahvin was a vain fool. I—"
Demandred's tongue froze. Nae'blis. The one who would stand only a step below the Great Lord, commanding all others. "I wish only to serve you, Great Lord, however I may." Nae'blis.

- Lord of Chaos, Prologue

The Dark One had to bribe Demandred to stop arguing and follow orders; after all, damaging Demandred would deprive him of his best general.

Demandred was forced to be the main proponent of balefire to damage the Land and the Pattern, the ultimate scorched earth policy of total war, just as Hitler forced his generals into a total war of attrition.

Von Manstein’s first major contribution to World War II was to disparage plans to invade Western Europe through Belgium because the Allies were expecting it, and to propose instead making a surprise attack through the Ardennes, gaining the Meuse River and moving on to the English Channel, to separate the Allied Armies in Belgium and Flanders from France.

In the Crimea, von Manstein, now a general, advanced his troops very rapidly in Operation Barbarossa—100 miles in two days—and seized the bridges of Dvinsk in June 1941. In July, he captured Demyansk and Torzhok, and was rewarded with promotion to field marshal and sent to capture Leningrad. At first he sustained heavy losses in Russia, but then he was able to halt the Red Army’s advance despite being out-numbered, and captured the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod in March 1942.

Demandred brought his Sharans west in a surprise attack and rapidly overcame the Light’s forces. Mat found Demandred extremely formidable competition, and worried that he would not beat him. Like the Nazis, Demandred used spies and saboteurs, Graendal and Moghedien notably, to spread misinformation or manipulate people into making mistakes.

Von Manstein claimed to believe in chivalry and honour as a soldier, yet permitted atrocities. Demandred wanted—demanded—to fight a solo duel with Rand while killing prisoners of war out of hand (A Memory of Light, The Wyld).

Von Manstein published his war memoirs, Verlorene Siege (Lost Victories), in which he painted himself in a favourable light and was highly critical of Hitler, to popular acclaim. The book earned him a cult military following, with him being regarded as having almost legendary ability as a general. Demandred also published books to great popular acclaim and, like all the Forsaken, was regarded as a demi-god for his abilities and knowledge.

Besides Nazi Germany, another set of parallels for the Forsaken is the enemies and notorious figures of Ancient Rome. The Age of Legends, a golden age long past, is a parallel of the Ancient Roman republic (see The Age of Legends essay) with Lews Therin having parallels with a few of the most prominent Roman statesmen, most notably Julius Caesar (see below and Lews Therin essay) but also another Roman Consul and general, Scipio Africanus, who fought one of the most outstanding generals of all time: Hannibal, a parallel of Demandred.


Hannibal Barca (247‒183 BC) (see sculpture, right), general of the ancient northern African state of Carthage, was regarded by the Romans as the most formidable opponent in their history (Diana Bowden, Who Was Who in the Roman World). He was particularly famous for unexpectedly marching his army, which included exotic war elephants, over two mountain ranges to invade Italy. Rated as one of the best generals ever, he could accurately assess his opponent's strengths and weaknesses, and outplay them:

That he placed beyond all doubt, first, by his initial successes in Italy and the brilliant methods he used to win them, and then by the almost incredibly daring feat of maintaining himself in that hostile, populous country, so far from his home base, for no less than fifteen years. During this period, there was ample detailed evidence of his almost unique excellence as a planner and a fighter of battles. Employing the Greek device of joint enveloping movements by infantry and cavalry, and combining this with Spanish tactics of ambush and lightning attack, he set the stamp of his own personal genius on both these inheritances. And, above all, he was a leader of men so inspired that, throughout all those foreign years, he never experienced a mutiny.

- Michael Grant, History of Rome

In fact he won over many of Rome’s allies.

Demandred gained the rulership of Shara, which has parallels with Africa as well as China/Mongolia, and completely unexpectedly brought his Sharans by gateway to the main continent with devastating effect. (However, the use of war elephants links the Carthaginians to the Seanchan, whom Demandred’s ally Semirhage did so much to derail and destroy).

Mat said of Demandred:

Whoever was leading the Shadow was good. Very good… the person running this battle had majestic control of tactics.

- A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

According to the Roman historian Livy, in 218 BCE Hannibal dreamed of a man claiming to be a messenger of God telling him to invade Italy and not look back. Despite this Hannibal did look back and saw a serpent spreading devastation, which the dream messenger said meant he should lay waste to Italy.

Serpents are associated with the Shadow—and also with Dragons (see Animal Symbolism essay). The Forsaken have used the technique of speaking to people in their dreams, eg Masema and the Great Captains, to alter the course of the battles. Demandred himself spread devastation both by balefire and battle—as he was instructed to by the Dark One and the Naeblis, the Dark One’s regent. He claimed to the right as fulfilment of prophecy:

“I am Bao, the Wyld. I am your savior. I have crawled through the depths of sorrow and have risen up to accept my glory. I have come seeking what was taken from me. Remember that…Just as the people here awaited him with prophecy, just as they showered him with glory, the people of my land awaited me. I have fulfilled their prophecies. He is false, and I am true.”

- A Memory of Light, The Wyld

In three years Hannibal had four major victories against Rome: the Battles of the Ticinus and the Trebia in 218 BCE, the Battle of Lake Trasimene in 217, and the famous Battle of Cannae in 216, which is considered one of the great masterpieces of military tactics, being the first recorded usage of the pincer movement or double envelopment and one of the first known battles of annihilation [those of the Qin described above are earlier]; then a few years later, another set of victories, the First Battle of Capua, the Battle of the Silarus, the two Battles of Herdonia and the Battle of Numistro, before the tide started to turn against him. It is an example of generalship never bettered and rarely equalled.

In 215 BCE, Hannibal and Philip V of Macedonia formed an alliance, but did not give each other direct assistance. Philip’s attack on the Roman client states in Illyria was a useful diversion for Hannibal.

Philip V is a parallel of Sammael. He and Demandred attacked and overran areas ruled by the Light in the Age of Legends, working in grudging concert like Philip and Hannibal. They did not directly aid each other in the Third Age, and maybe not in the Age of Legends, either.

Finally in 202 BCE, Scipio Africanus Major defeated Hannibal in the Battle of Zama in Carthage, ending the Second Punic War. In the Battle of Zama, the Carthaginians had the advantage in infantry and the Romans in cavalry. At the start of the battle the Roman cavalry swept the Carthaginian cavalry off the field, but squandered their advantage by continuing their pursuit instead of turning back to participate in the main battle. The Roman infantry was struggling against the greater numbers of Carthaginian infantry until the Roman cavalry suddenly returned and attacked the Carthaginians from the rear, overwhelming them.

Lews Therin has strong parallels with Scipio, but he sealed Demandred in the Bore rather than vanquished him in the field. Instead, the Battle of Zama was perhaps replayed at the Last Battle when the Seanchan left the field in a seemingly disastrous move and then returned at the last to turn the tide. (However, the Last Battle appears to be a complex of battles). Mat’s feint with the Seanchan hearkens back to the Battle of Zama, but was deliberate and not serendipitous.

It took Mat, effectively a composite of other generals including, Scipio, Scipio plus, you might say, to overcome Demandred, an immortal Hannibal.

After the war, Hannibal reformed the Carthaginian judicial council, the Hundred and Four, which judged the military and generals, and ensured that the military served the Carthaginian senate and people, but which had tyrannical control of the senate by Hannibal’s time. Demandred founded the Eighty and One when he joined the Shadow during the War of Power (Towers of Midnight, A Testing), and as an institution of the Shadow it was corrupt and tyrannical.


was constantly on guard against assassination. Therefore he had a set of wigs made, each of which made him look like a man of a different age. He changed these constantly, each time changing his apparel to match his appearance. Thus he was hard to recognise, not just by those who saw him briefly, but even by those who knew him well.

One other thing is known of Hannibal: he could hold a grudge.

- Philip Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome

Demandred too held grudges—for so long that at least one Forsaken thought it was pointless. Until A Memory of Light Demandred has been hard to find, even for other Forsaken, perhaps in part because, as Mesaana thought, he “adapted well to the fashions of this Age” (Lord of Chaos Prologue). In Moghedien’s opinion he wasn’t easy to counterfeit because he had changed:

Demandred would be difficult, as he had changed so much recently, but she had paid close attention.

- A Memory of Light, A Smile

Another general with marauding forces that invaded Ancient Rome was Attila the Hun.

Attila the Hun

The Huns were Eurasian nomads who migrated west into Europe c. 370 and built up a large empire that spread from the Ural River to the Rhine, and from the Danube to the Black Sea. Attila the Hun (d. 453) was King and General of the Hun empire for 20 years from A.D. 433 until his death. In Roman eyes the Scourge of God, he created a fearsome army and invaded first the Eastern and then the Western Roman Empire. Attila led his Hun army through eastern Europe, Austria and Germany, leaving devastation in their wake:

The barbarian nation of the Huns, which was in Thrace, became so great that more than a hundred cities were captured and Constantinople almost came into danger and most men fled from it. … And there were so many murders and blood-lettings that the dead could not be numbered. Ay, for they took captive the churches and monasteries and slew the monks and maidens in great numbers.

- Callinicus, Life of Saint Hypatius

but was unable to take Constantinople despite two attempts. After the Huns withdrew the first time, Constantinople suffered violent riots, plagues and famine, and a series of earthquakes. Roman Emperors tried buying off the Huns with large annual tribute of gold but this was a short-term appeasement; after a time the Hun invasion returned.

This time towards the end of the Roman Empire could be regarded as similar to late in the War of Power. The churches and monasteries are equivalents of the Halls of Servants of both the Age of Legends and the Third Age, since Aes Sedai channel the Creator’s One Power and are targets of the Shadow due to their unifying role and riches of knowledge and artefacts. As with the Huns, there is no truce with the Shadow, they have to be defeated or beaten back. In World Wars I and II the British called the invading Germans Huns, which links the Ancient Roman and Nazi strands of the Forsaken. Collapse of living standards, famine, and earthquakes have occurred during the Shadow invasion in both Ages.

While the Huns attacked city-states along the Danube, the Vandals, other enemies of the Roman Empire, captured Carthage, the richest province of the Western Roman Empire and a main source of food for Rome. The Vandals were a convenient distraction as far as the Huns were concerned because the Romans stripped the Balkan area of forces to fight the Vandals, which made the area easy prey for the Huns.

The Shadow’s generals such as Demandred and Sammael worked in concert in the Age of Legends; however Mesaana’s Children were literally vandals. In the Third Age, Mesaana’s depredations in the White Tower did weaken the Aes Sedai, and distracted them from rallying the nations against the Shadow.

In 450 the Emperor Valentinian III’s sister Honoria made an appeal to Attila to help her escape a forced marriage, and Attila chose to interpret her message as a proposal. He accepted her ‘offer’ of marriage and asked for half the Western Empire as dowry. When Valentinian heard of this, he wanted to kill Honoria but was dissuaded by his mother. He refuted the legitimacy of the supposed marriage proposal to Attila, which gave the Hunnish King justification for invading the Western Roman Empire.

Attila invaded Gaul but was defeated by a coalition of Romans and Visigoths at the Battle of Catalaunian Plains in modern France, and turned to invade Italy, devastating the northern provinces, but, due to famine and plague was unable to progress further south and take Rome. He planned further attacks on the Romans but died in 453 before they could be undertaken. The invasion of the Huns was the impetus for the foundation of Venice, on small defensible islands in the Venetian lagoon to which people fled for safety.

Rather than the Emperor’s sister, Demandred desired the wife of Lews Therin, who was First Among Servants and summoner of the Nine Rods of Dominion, and so as an ultimate power in the Age of Legends, rather like an Emperor:

Lews Therin had taken Ilyena.

- A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

Ilyena’s choice of Lews Therin rather than himself was a major factor in Demandred turning against Lews Therin and ultimately joining the Shadow. Lews Therin did kill Ilyena in his madness. Venice is one of the parallels of the island city of Tar Valon, founded soon after the Breaking. In the Last Battle, Demandred and his Sharans fought in the north but did not attack Tar Valon or Caemlyn.

Pope Leo is credited for convincing Attila to withdraw from Italy, but some authors wrote that Attila superstitiously feared he would suffer the fate of Alaric, who died shortly after sacking Rome in 410. Another reason for their withdrawal was that Eastern Roman forces were attacking the Huns’ homelands. Attila died a few months after pulling out of Italy, and once he was dead, the Huns were defeated and no longer a threat.

The head of the Aes Sedai is an analogue of the Pope (see Aes Sedai essay), so the negotiation of Attila’s retreat and the strike against the Huns on their home soil may be a parallel of Lew Therin’s strike on Shayol Ghul. (Alaric is a parallel of Be’lal, who was balefired by Moiraine. Once out of the Bore, the Forsaken feared being trapped again as they were at Shayol Ghul, or killed by channellers.

The parallel with Attila is mainly for the Age of Legends late in the War of Power, although the Huns have similarities with the Shadowspawn armies at the Last Battle and with the Sharans who, like the Huns, arrived from the east and wreaked devastation. Once Demandred was killed, the Sharans and Shadowspawn were defeated. Demandred’s death was probably essential to the Light’s victory at the Last Battle.

Demandred’s Coin Armour

In the Last Battle, Demandred wore coin armour. Depending on how the coins are attached, coin armour could be classified as lamellar or scale armour. Lamellar armour was common in Asia, and scale armour was more popular in Europe and the Middle East. Coin armour was worn in Asia and by the Tlingit of coastal Canada and Alaska, but was not at all common. It was also occasionally worn in Ancient Rome, as can be seen by rare finds of Roman coins with holes. The Roman sestertius in the photo right, minted in about 60‒68 A.D, has four holes and this likely allowed it to be tied into a composite corslet as scale armour.

Coin armour is extravagant, since the wearer is literally clothed in money, rather than cheaper metal, but also very effective, whereas other extravagant armour, such as gold armour, is not. Demandred is making a dramatic display as well as linking to Asia and Ancient Rome.

During the War of Shadow, the highly acclaimed Lews Therin was aided for a time by two men skilled in war, Sammael and Demandred, until they turned against him. Three important men in Age of Legends against the Shadow like a triumvirate…In Ancient Rome, Julius Caesar, the most acclaimed man of his time, formed a short-lived triumvirate with Crassus, a parallel of Sammael, and Pompey the Great, a parallel of Demandred.

Pompey the Great

Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (106‒48 BCE) (see sculpture, right), was a noted Roman military leader and politician of the Ancient Roman Republic. Though patrician by birth, his family was patronisingly regarded as provincial. He was “not quite” out of the top drawer compared to his rivals, Crassus and Julius Caesar.

Pompey inherited a fortune and a military force from his father and embarked on a distinguished military career. It was in the army that Pompey met Crassus, who had also been left troops and a lot of money on his father’s death, and the two ambitious men developed a bitter and long-lasting rivalry, each believing that the other had gone out of his way to increase his standing at their expense. For instance, after Crassus spent months overcoming the slave uprising led by Spartacus (another parallel of Demandred, see below) Pompey returned from Spain and was sent on south to aid him. As Crassus feared, Pompey defeated a remnant of Spartacus’ army and claimed credit for finishing the revolt.

Certainly Demandred and Sammael despised each other and competed for the Dark One’s favour with the Dark One’s encouragement, but we don’t know if this originated when both were on the side of the Light.

During the tumult and proscriptions of Lucius Cornelius Sulla’s bloodthirsty dictatorship, Pompey had enemies and rivals murdered. Pompey had an unbroken series of military victories in Sicily and then Africa, and was proclaimed imperator on the field by his troops. However, his ruthless extermination of opposing forces roused protest at the atrocities and created bitter hatred among his surviving political foes. After dealing with pirates in the Mediterranean, Pompey was then sent to the eastern Mediterranean to fight Mithridates VI of Pontus, a parallel of Semirhage, and was so successful that he seized much of the Near East for Rome, including the Temple of Jerusalem (see painting, right). For his military exploits against pirates in the Mediterranean Sea and in the lands around the eastern Mediterranean, Sulla gave Pompey the cognomen of Magnus or the Great. It probably was meant as sarcasm, but Pompey embraced it. Many admirers saw him as the most brilliant general of the age.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a ruthless legislator and tyrant, is a parallel of Be’lal. As in Ancient Rome, the high achievers in the Age of Legends were awarded a third, honorific, name in recognition. In contrast, most of the names of the Forsaken were given in censure and scorn and adopted in pride. Demandred is one of the Forsaken who earned a third name (not all did) as well as his Forsaken name. Lews Therin said he heaped honours on Demandred in acknowledgement for what Demandred achieved for the Light, but Rand later admitted that he should have been less grudging and competitive (A Memory of Light, Eastward the Wind Blew).

While Pompey was busy fighting in Asia, Julius Caesar successfully contended with the Consul Cicero and the rest of the Optimates. Pompey’s enemy and sometime colleague, Crassus, had loaned Caesar money to fund his political career. Pompey was Rome’s most acclaimed man for a while but was soon eclipsed by Caesar. The Optimates’ disregard for his achievements puzzled Pompey and his resulting frustration led him into strange political alliances. Caesar somehow managed to mediate Pompey’s and Crassus’ dislike of each other enough to form an alliance with both men (the First Triumvirate). Their arrangement was that Pompey and Crassus would make Caesar Consul, and he would use his power as Consul to their advantage. During Caesar’s consulate, Pompey gained Caesar’s daughter as his bride and was besotted with her. Unfortunately, the marriage was short-lived due to her untimely death, and this hastened the end of the alliance between Caesar and Pompey. The alliance had allowed the Triumviri to dominate Roman politics completely, but it was short-lived due to the intense rivalries and jealousies of the three men. As well as despising Crassus, Pompey envied Caesar’s highly acclaimed successes in the Gallic War. In 49 BCE Rome was beset with civil war, as Pompey and Caesar fought each other until Pompey was killed. The politician Cato said that the tragedy of Pompey was not that he was Caesar's defeated enemy, but that for too long he had been Caesar's friend and supporter.

Lews Therin, Sammael and Demandred were the three great generals for the Light in the early years of the War of Power, just as their respective parallels, Julius Caesar, Crassus and Pompey worked together for a time, with Sammael and Demandred coming to loathe Lews Therin and finally turning on him. Demandred also formed a three-way alliance with Semirhage and Mesaana:

a simple agreement that they would not turn on one another until the others had been eliminated—yet it had held all this time. Working together, they had unbalanced opponent after opponent, toppling many to their deaths or worse.

- Winter’s Heart, Wonderful News

It was Demandred’s tragedy that he tried to outdo Lews Therin on Lews Therin’s terms and was ‘almost’ able to do so. He desired Ilyena, who was Lews Therin’s wife, not his daughter.


Spartacus (c. 109–71 BCE) was one of the leaders of a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic, the Third Servile War. According to Plutarch, Spartacus' wife, a prophetess of the Maedi tribe, was also enslaved. Spartacus was one of a group of gladiators who fought their way to freedom from a gladiators’ school and defended themselves against Roman policing forces sent to recapture them. Their success, which was aided by the posting of Roman legions outside of Italy, attracted other slaves and also agricultural workers to their forces. The goal of the rebellious slaves was not to end slavery in the Roman republic, but to gain their own freedom, for which they were prepared to commit numerous atrocities as well as kill. As a gladiator, Spartacus was an excellent fighter (probably with the gladus or sword, although gladiators fought with other weapons), but more unexpectedly he had a very good command of military tactics and defeated praetorian militia and two consular legions sent against him. Eight legions in the charge of Marcus Licinis Crassus, the richest man in Rome (a parallel of Sammael for the Age of Legends, and Mat Cauthon in the Third Age) gradually confined Spartacus’ forces to the far south of Italy and prevented them from escaping by sea. The slaves were finally defeated at Senerchia, although, according to Appian, Spartacus’ body was never found.

When Demandred went to Shara to build an army for himself, he posed as a slave and ended up leading a revolution:

Two years ago he had started on this course when he had decided to impersonate a slave among the Sharans. After that had come the revolution, which he had led almost by accident.

- River of Souls

Demandred was not aiming to end slavery—in fact, he allowed his people to take inacal, slaves, in the Last Battle—but to sow chaos:

"You break us free of fate's chains. You did not know the prophecies when you first came—you have said so yourself—but you fulfilled them anyway."
"By accident."
"Releasing the enslaved, declaring all men free? That was an accident?"
"I did it to create chaos!" he said, turning.

- River of Souls

Shendla is well-read in the prophecies and may be a non-channelling dreamer, since she followed him in his guise of Bao from the first. She said that if Demandred knew the reason why she believed in him, it would put too much pressure on him (River of Souls).

By declaring all men free, Demandred earned the fervent loyalty of the Freed, male channeller concubines doomed to be killed young, as most gladiators were. Demandred was a blademaster and a military genius, but he was killed and Moghedien burned Demandred’s body.



Julius Caesar was betrayed by two former protégées—Brutus and Cassius—just as Lews Therin was betrayed by his former generals Demandred and Sammael, parallels of Brutus and Cassius respectively.

Marcus Junius Brutus (85‒42 BCE) (see illustration, right) joined Pompey's army on the outbreak of the civil war between Pompey and Caesar in 49 BCE. Caesar pardoned Brutus after Pompey's death the next year, and appointed him governor of Cisalpine Gaul in 46 and city praetor in 44. Despite these honours, Brutus resented Caesar's dictatorship and wanted the republican government restored, and so participated in the assassination of Caesar.

Although Brutus was admired by his peers for his achievements and ideals, he was extortionate and cruel in his financial dealings with provincials. He wrote a number of works, none of which has survived.

Demandred’s resentment of Lews Therin’s position and success led him to join the Shadow, whence he fought Caesar. Demandred committed atrocities rather extortion. He was a noted author in the Age of Legends, although outdone by Lews Therin.


Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling (1887–1945) was a notorious Norwegian fascist. In his youth, he showed great skill at school, particularly in mathematics and military studies and achieved the highest grades ever at the military academy, for which he was presented to the King of Norway. Quisling was the author of several books. Prior to the drilling of the Bore, Demandred was a noted author, and afterwards discovered he had great skill in war.

Upon the Nazi invasion of Norway in 1940, Quisling announced a coup, but his government was short-lived due to lack of support, and the Germans instead installed Josef Terboven as the highest official in Norway, reporting directly to Hitler. (In the photo right Quisling is with Himmler, a parallel of Semirhage). Quisling held the office of Minister President until he was arrested at the end of the war in his mansion he named Gimle after the place in Norse mythology where the survivors of Ragnarok were to live. He was executed for high treason, and since World War II his surname, Quisling, has been used as a synonym for traitor, particularly one who collaborates with invaders. Demandred’s betrayal halfway through the War of Shadow was bitterly felt by Lews Therin. Hitler is a parallel of the Dark One, and Demandred was even prepared to risk destroying the world with balefire to be appointed Naeblis and stand one rank below Shaitan (Lord of Chaos, Prologue). However, Moridin was promoted instead.

Ragnarok, the final battle of the Norse gods against the Ice Giants in which there were few survivors, is a parallel of the Last Battle. The Last Battle was also planned to be a battle of annihilation, which each Forsaken expected to survive (and rule the world).

There is a figure of Scandinavian legend and Anglo-Saxon literature with parallels to Demandred: Beowulf, the main parallel for Demandred’s alias Bao the Wyld as Brandon Sanderson confirmed in a tweet:

Both [words of the name] are a reference to Beowulf, and I meant the Wyld to mean "predator" or, in more common tongue, he who will kill the dragon.


Beowulf was a hero of legend with some historical basis, the events probably dating from about the 6th century, the Dark Ages, illustrative of Jordan’s theme of history becoming legend and ultimately myth over time.

The great hall of Hrothgar, King of the Danes was terrorised for some years by the monster Grendel, who killed Hrothgar’s warriors one by one. Beowulf’s family was obligated to the king and Beowulf travelled to Denmark to kill Grendel as repayment. Grendel made his nightly attack on the hall and Beowulf fought him unarmed so that he would not have an unfair advantage over the beast and ripped Grendel’s arm off. It was displayed as a trophy while Grendel retreated to his lair to die. In revenge, Grendel’s mother attacked, and Beowulf drove her off and killed her with a sword, then found Grendel’s corpse and cut off the head as a trophy.

In time, Beowulf became King of Geatland, and had ruled for over 50 years when a dragon was disturbed on its treasure mound by a slave stealing a golden cup and emerged to attack the Geats. Beowulf fought the beast and killed it but the dragon mortally wounded him with a venomous bite on the neck (see painting, right). The hero’s body was burned on a pyre.

The legend has been used in two ways by Jordan, with Grendel and Grendel’s mother being combined into the man-eating monster of Graendal, and Beowulf forming part of Demandred’s character. Demandred was determined to kill the Dragon as payback for Lews Therin lording it over him and making him feel second best. He particularly loved Semirhage’s predations on the Hall: how she could force, by torture alone, captive Aes Sedai to publicly swear their allegiance to the Shadow one by one in the great Hall of the Servants. Demandred, first in his defence of the Hall of the Servants, and then in his glee at its destruction and his desire to slay the Dragon, is both a positive and negative Beowulf. The Dark Ages of the western world equates to the time of the Breaking (see The Age of Legends essay).

In the Third Age, Demandred wanted to kill the Dragon without using the sa’angreal Sakarnen to ensure the fight was fair, but Rand ignored him, and Galad, the Dragon’s half-brother, challenged him instead. During their duel Demandred cut off Galad’s arm with his sword. Lan stabbed Demandred in the throat then beheaded him, holding up the head in triumph. Moghedien burned Demandred’s body. (The Dragon’s ruined body was burned on a pyre after the Bore was closed.)

However, Demandred was already a Dragonslayer. In Shara he killed a jumara with a sword and indirect weaves to obtain the golden cup of Sakarnen (River of Souls). Demandred had started out in Shara as a slave and risen to lead the Sharans. Jumara are called Worms (which is an alternative name for Dragons) in the Third Age and have dragon-like characteristics. This particular jumara guarded a treasure.

In a way, the parallels of the Beowulf legend show the disparity between how Demandred sees himself and what he actually is.

Demandred’s Sa’angreal

Demandred told Taim that he had attuned his sceptre sa’angreal, Sakarnen, to himself. Sakarnen is a real-world surname, and the similar Sakarmen is a personal name. However, Sakarnen is close to the first part of the name of a Magic the Gathering creature with surprisingly apt parallels to Demandred:

Sarkhan Vol is a planeswalker who can wield both red and green magic. His specialty is draconic shamanism: spells that summon dragons and evoke the rage and passion of dragonkind.

Red is symbolic of blood and green of the Land, so the red magic would be equivalent to the True Power and the green to the health-giving One Power. Demandred channelled both powers during A Memory of Light, and walked Tel’aran’rhiod, another plane of existence. Demandred once defended the Land, but then turned to the Shadow and fought against it, even using balefire upon it at the Dark One’s command. At the Last Battle, he claimed to be owned by the Land as “He Who Is Owned Only By The Land” (A Memory of Light The Wyld), and was focussed on summoning Rand to a duel where he intended to kill him. Ironically Demandred did not intend to use Sakarnen to fight the Dragon Reborn and his summonses were completely ineffective.

“After many years of searching the planes, he found Jund, a world tyrannized by dragons, and knew he had found his prize. It is here that Sarkhan seeks an exemplar of dragonhood, the ultimate expression of predatory perfection worthy of his worship.”

Demandred claimed that Rand was tyrannising the people (and he was for a time), and didn’t consider Rand worthy of his worship, but on the contrary, of death at his hands. His wariness of the Dragon and repeated statements of Lews Therin’s and presumably Rand’s skills show that Demandred had a healthy regard of the Dragon in spite of his hatred.

Sarkhan Vol is very strong. He has loyalty counters as well as hit points and can only be killed if you attack him with lots of creatures. The player can increase his loyalty counters by having him use his weaker move, whereas using his strong move decreases his loyalty counters. If he has enough loyalty counters then his strong move weakens him but doesn’t kill him. Effectively his strength comes from his loyalty counters.

Demandred also had very strong loyalty from his Sharan followers (and to a lesser degree from some Darkfriends) and their loyalty greatly increased his military strength. However, when he used his huge strength to commit atrocities to demoralise the Light, such as killing his prisoners of war, he also gave his own followers pause. There is also the question of how Demandred remained so strong using this sa’angreal extensively and physically fighting three duels. Did he draw on other channellers for their strength while using the sa’angreal?

The name may be of conscious or sub-conscious origin, although considering the close correspondences, it may well be conscious, and Sanderson’s nod to his favourite game.

Demandred felt rage at the Dragon and an insane passion to best him in combat and kill him. Yet he would have won the war if he had personally attacked the Light’s military centres of command, but he could not conceive that the Dragon had another more important task, and mistakenly believed the Dragon was with one of the other of the armies and feared an ambush. If he had dared, Demandred may well have won the land battles to the degree that Rand’s victory at the Bore was Pyrrhic at best, and at worst may have demoralised Rand so much that he lost against the Dark One. (Rand being one with the Land.) Instead Demandred unintentionally made the Light’s heroes display their best and so greatly inspired Rand to win. Demandred’s uncertainty and lack of confidence ensured the Dark One’s defeat. This is how the Sharan prophecy that the Wyld would “prevent the death of the Land” was fulfilled. Demandred’s own personal defeat in combat was far harder to achieve and took three Arthurian duels.

Arthurian Duels

Three great and noble “Arthurian knights”, Gawyn, Galad and Lan (Sir Gawain, Sir Galahad and Sir Lancelot in the Arthurian Who’s Who article), fought Demandred in Rand’s name. In The Wheel of Time series, something which is said or done three times has greater potency or truth. As the saying goes, “three times makes a charm” and Demandred’s strength, his “spell”, was broken.

For Gawyn, Demandred was in part the Green Knight, the mysterious figure who burst in on King Arthur’s hall and challenged the bravest to play a game where they would be allowed to strike him now in the Hall and he would return in a year and a day to strike the return blow. At first none of King Arthur’s knights wanted to volunteer but, as Arthur was reluctantly agreeing to play, Sir Gawain, Gawyn’s parallel offered himself in Arthur’s stead to spare the King. Gawain struck off the Green Knight’s head but the knight did not die, just picked up his head and left.

Demandred returned after an Age rather than a year to be given satisfaction in a duel with the Dragon Reborn, Rand al’Thor, an Arthur analogue. He claimed to be owned only by the Land, whose colour is green. Gawyn was already a dead man, triply doomed in fact, since he wore three activated Bloodknives’ rings, another example of three times making ‘true’. (It took three of these rings to overcome the increased vitality given by his Warder bond.) He decided to risk his life doing what must be done to remove Demandred because he felt that he was not essential to the Last Battle, but Demandred was not playing a game and struck Gawyn a fatal blow. Gawyn mirrored Demandred in being a fallen prince, never quite good enough to be the best, but he stopped hating Rand and Demandred didn’t.

The parallels of Galad’s duel are about blood relationships. At Camlann, King Arthur fought his half-brother Modred, and each killed the other (see painting right). Galad Damodred (Da-Modred), Rand’s half-brother, fought Demandred (another ‘dred’ name) on Rand’s behalf. Demandred was not Modred, though he wanted to be. Nor was he a replacement Dragon as he claimed, but he was Lews Therin’s brother-in-arms once.

Lan is a parallel of Sir Lancelot, the greatest of the Arthurian knights who defeated many foes and fathered the purest of the Arthurian knights, Sir Galahad (and Galad always tries to do good). One of the most treacherous and cruel enemies of Arthur’s court was Meleagant, who Lancelot fought three times, killing him in their last duel. Demandred has parallels to Meleagant, but rather than fight Lan three times, he duelled three different knights with Arthurian names, falling to Lan last. Meleagant was particularly prone to abducting or defaming Guinevere, whereas Demandred ordered Taim to kill Egwene al’Vere, a parallel of Guinevere, on his behalf, and himself attacked Elayne, another Guinevere figure, to try and force Rand to come to him. Sakarnen, like all sa’angreal is a parallel of San Greal, the Holy Grail. Demandred achieved the sa’angreal with some difficulty (River of Souls), but rejected using it against Rand (King Arthur) and gave it to Taim to use against Egwene al’Vere, Guinevere. Striking at a Guinevere figure is consistent with Demandred’s Meleagant parallel.

Just as Sir Kay, King Arthur’s seneschal, in his ambition to be Queen’s Champion mistakenly believed he could defeat Meleagant, and thus free Meleagant’s captives, but instead was responsible for the queen’s capture, so Gawyn (a parallel of Sir Kay as well as Sir Gawain) went off to fight Demandred, and caused Egwene’s and his own death.

The weave-breaking ter’angreal that Galad was given and Lan took to fight Demandred is equivalent to the three white shields that Lancelot was sent by the Lady of the Lake to give him strength against the Copper Knight of Dolorous Guard, and Berelain is a parallel of the damsel who gave it. Gawyn’s ‘shield’ was the three Bloodknives’ ter’angreals. (Dolorous Guard has parallels with the Blight, see Lan entry of the Character Names L article and the Arthurian Who’s Who articles.)

Longbows, the enemy of the medieval knight, this time aided the greatest knight of all, Lan, by bringing light with their firing (in both senses) of Shadowspawn at the order of Tam al’Thor, “Arthur’s” foster-father, no less:

Tam almost lost Lan’s figure atop the midnight stallion, despite the bonfires burning on the Heights. Their light seemed feeble.
He’s riding for Demandred, Tam thought. But there’s a wall of Trollocs in the way. Tam took out an arrow with a resin-soaked rag tied behind the head and nocked it into his bow. “Two Rivers men, prepared to fire!”…
Tam eyed the man, then took his arrow and thrust the end into a torch. The bundled rag behind the head came alight with fire. “First rank, on my signal!” Tam yelled…
“Let’s give Lord Mandragoran a little something to light his way!”
Tam drew in a fluid motion, the burning rag warming his fingers, and loosed.

- A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

making a narrow cut through the Trolloc wall. A scene of great symbolism (and probably my favourite in the book). It is perhaps a reference to the Sword Bridge—a bridge consisting solely of a razor-sharp blade—which Lancelot had to cross to fight one of his duels with Meleagant.

Mat, too, thought he was crossing the Sword Bridge to fight Meleagant/Demandred:

He had to be capable enough to keep Demandred back, but weak enough to invite aggression. A feint, ever so subtle. It was dangerous, possibly disastrous. He had to walk on a razor edge. There was no way to avoid cutting his feet. The question was not whether he would be bloodied, but whether he would reach the other side or not.

- A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

which shows how neatly the two fights—the battles and the duels—dovetail.

In the Last Battle, Demandred fought a ‘modern’, or at least early modern, style of war yet also three medieval duels of champions. (Demandred also duelled Logain, but it was no Arthurian-style duel of skill. Logain was easily dispatched.) The duels also hearken back to the trials by combat of the Middle Ages, which were an accepted method of establishing guilt or innocence as we saw with Galad’s duel with Valda (Knife of Dreams Prologue). Not that this was the actual purpose of the duel that Demandred demanded of Rand; it was an ‘affair of honour’ to avenge an insult. Better than feeding Rand to the Trollocs.

Demandred used disguises and an alias while he demanded to fight Rand. Anonymity and disguise are used by Arthurian heroes in the French tradition both to prove their worth and to test others. In Demandred case, he was testing whether Rand was there—and thus whether he was about to be attacked or trapped by Rand—or whether Rand had answered his summons to combat.

Disguises or refusals to give one's true name may also violate chivalric convention, social hierarchies, and fixed identities—the proper order of things—and Demandred does reject all of these. Sir Lancelot often either did not know his name or refused to give it, and similarly, Lan denied being a king for most of the series and did not tell Demandred his name when they fought, to show contempt and to distract and unnerve Demandred. In contrast Rand made a point of showing himself at each place he fought early in the Last Battle.


Demandred is aptly named. The name is composed of ‘demon’ and ‘dread’. This is the Celtic term for when a wraith or spirit came upon a person unknowingly. Similarly, until the Last Battle, no one except the Dark One and Moridin was certain where Demandred was based or what he was up to. Furthermore, no one knows what his occupation was in the Age of Legends. He arrived in the Westlands unexpectedly with his Sharan horde.

Demandred is the Forsaken who has perhaps demanded the most of Rand, culminating in his demand for satisfaction in a duel. He was reduced to this because he felt that he never got his due in the Age of Legends. And again, his demands went unheard by the Dragon. He had this one thing he particularly excelled at—a very destructive one—whereas Lews Therin was a brilliant all-rounder. In the Old Tongue, Demandred means “one who twists the blade”—twisted by his obsession into holding a grudge too long and too far.

Demandred’s original name was Barid Bel Medar. Barid may refer to the Barid Shahi Dynasty:

the rulers of the small state of Bidar from about 1487 until 1619. The Barid family were ministers of the Muslim Bahmani sultans of the Deccan, who in 1430 made their capital at Bidar. About 1492 the Bahmani kingdom disintegrated, but the sultans retained a small principality around Bidar. Real power was then in the hands of Amir Qasim Barid, and his grandson Ali Barid assumed the royal title in 1542. The kingdom was absorbed by the larger Deccan Kingdom of Bijapur in 1619.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

These early Indian states are a link with the East from whence he drew his forces. In River of Souls Demandred remarked on the complex measurement system of Shara, which may refer to that of India.

There are a few places with names similar to Barid: Barud, Barida, Umm Barid and Widn Barid, all in Sudan. Barid is also a Hindi personal name meaning ‘cloud’.

Bel is one of the names of the god Marduk:

the chief god of the city of Babylon and the national god of Babylonia; as such he was eventually called simply Bel, or Lord. Originally, he seems to have been a god of thunderstorms…After conquering the monster of primeval chaos, Tiamat, he became Lord of the Gods of Heaven and Earth. All nature, including man, owed its existence to him; the destiny of kingdoms and subjects was in his hands.

Marduk's [planet] was Jupiter, and his sacred animals were horses, dogs, and especially the so-called dragon with forked tongue, representations of which adorn his city's walls.

Marduk was later known as Bel, a name derived from the Semitic word baal, or “lord.” Bel had all the attributes of Marduk, and his status and cult were much the same. Bel, however, gradually came to be thought of as the god of order and destiny. In Greek writings references to Bel indicate this Babylonian deity and not the Syrian god of Palmyra of the same name.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Demandred claimed to have been destined to rule Shara and held the fate of its subjects and also, as he showed all too plainly, that of the battles and of his prisoners of war, in his hands.

Bel is also the subject of one of the books of the biblical Apocrypha, The History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon. It is a Greek apocryphal addition to the biblical Book of Daniel:

The third Greek addition to the Book of Daniel is the story of Bel and the Dragon. The Babylonians worshipped the idol of the god Bel and daily provided him with much food, but Daniel proved to the King that the food was in reality eaten by the priests. The priests were punished by death and Bel's temple destroyed. The Babylonians also worshipped a dragon, but Daniel declined to worship him. To destroy the beast, Daniel boiled pitch, fat, and hair together: the dragon ate it and burst asunder. After Daniel's sacrilege of slaying the dragon, the King was forced to cast Daniel into the lions' den, but nothing happened to him. Indeed, he was given a dinner by the prophet Habakkuk, who was brought there by the hair of his head by an angel. On the seventh day, the King found Daniel sitting in the den; so he led Daniel out and cast his enemies into the den, where they were devoured.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Bel is closely associated with dragons; Demandred had an extreme hatred of the Dragon and demanded he fight Demandred in single combat. Graendal discovered that the true rulers of Shara were the female channellers and not the Sh’boan and Sh’botay, and Demandred used those women to kill others rather than kill them. Demandred killed a jumara in Shara with a sword, aided by indirect weaves that fired molten rock into its mouth (River of Souls). As explained above, the Jumara has dragon attributes, so Demandred already was a dragonslayer when he took his Sharan army to the Last Battle.

Bel is also the name of a town in Spain and in the US.

Medar is a surname.

I’ve noted above that Demandred’s alias Bao the Wyld refers to the monster-killer Beowulf, and also to the brutal ancient Chinese general Bai Qi, but Bao is also an east Asian personal name. In fact, Bao was a reference to reader Bao Pham.

Demandred prided himself on his daring when playing the odds and his gambles nearly paid off. He is a dark god of gambling and a worthy foil to Mat, whom he said he was dicing with, and they both share parallels with the Greek god Hermes.


Hermes was a child of the god Zeus, the head of the Greek Pantheon, who felt he hadn’t been given his dues and manipulated himself into a better role among the Olympians:

“Why should we [Hermes and his mother Maia] be the only gods who never eat the fruits of sacrifice and prayer? Better always to live in the company of other deathless ones—rich, glamorous, enjoying heaps of grain—than forever to sit by ourselves in a gloomy cavern. And as for honour, my plan is to have a share of Apollo’s power. If my father won’t give it to me I intend to be—and I mean it—the Prince of Thieves.”

If his father won’t give him honour and wealth, Hermes will steal them.

- Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World

He was prepared to be quite unscrupulous to ensure he got what he wanted. God of gambling and thieves, he played the odds to better his lot. Another of his roles was messenger of the gods, and conveyor of people to the Underworld (in the painting right he is taking souls across the Acheron, the River of Pain, the first river encountered in the Underworld).

Demandred also felt he was entitled to better, but rather than trick or manipulate, he instead betrayed the head of the demi-god Aes Sedai, and allied with Hades, the Dark One. Immortality was also an attraction. He brought many to the Pit of Doom, the Underworld, and was himself trapped there in the Bore for three thousand years. While Moridin also passed on information from the Dark One to the other Forsaken, it was in the manner of the Dark One’s partner, whereas Demandred was openly the Dark One’s messenger, relaying his instructions to the others, including the memorable “Let the Lord of Chaos rule”, which Mesaana considered a huge gamble.


When Demandred claimed the title of “He Who is Owned Only by the Land. The dragonslayer,” he spoke more truly than he knew. Rand was one with the Land, which Demandred claimed was his sole owner. He forbore attacking the Light’s generals in close combat lest he encounter the Dragon. His mistake was to think he could be both owned by the Land and be a dragonslayer. As it turned out, Demandred was subject to the Land and not the conqueror of the Land by right of killing the Dragon. The ‘dragon’ he killed was the jumara, which feat named him the Wyld. His obsession with Rand did eclipse all else in his life, even the Dark One or his relationship with Shendla—so he was effectively owned by it and therefore the Land. But correspondingly, to be the slayer of the Dragon Reborn, to kill the focus of his life would leave him with nothing.


Written by Linda, January 2013


Unknown said...

wow... all i can say is wow... Ive had a life long obsession with military history, its like you reached into my brain while i was reading AMoL and put it all down here, i agree with every point you made here, most of all the comparison of Demandred to Manstein, brilliant piece of writing, well researched

Unknown said...

wow just wow, ive had a life long obsession with military history, and during reading AMoL i was making pretty much the same comparisons to historical figures while reading it, this is a well researched brilliant piece of writing, 10/10! thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

Fragrant Elephant said...

Excellent essay! I especially enjoyed your analysis about the coin armor, and the three Arthurian duels that Demandred fought. It was gratifying to see him in action, finally, although his flaws ultimately prevented his victory.

What a great book. What a great series.

Anonymous said...

I do believe RJ would be proud.

Kristi Deming said...

Funny that I read most of these while on my relentless hunt for the meaning of "Bao the Wyld" (and thank you for quoting the Tweet Brandon sent to me about the "Beowulf and Predator" meaning of his name.

Thank you for doing my Barid Bel justice. And for the acknowledgement of the fact that if not for his inability to let go of his hatred long enough, he would have won. It took Lan "sheathing the sword" to bring him down.

Anonymous said...

more thhan that. Lan was the smartest in how he fought Demandred. No testing, no taunts, no thoughts other than killing him. that caught Demandred off guard.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article, Linda.

Another possible source for the name Bao is the character Bao-Dur from the computergame Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords. Bao-Dur was an enigineer fighting in a ruthless war under the jedi Revan against the equally ruthless Mandalorians. Bao-Dur invented the mass shadow generator which was used to destroy the Mandalorian armada causing much collateral damage to their own troops. This is a parallel to the use of Balefire.

Unlike Demandred, Dao-Dur later regrets his actions and when the player first meets him, Bao-Dur is helping to restore a planet that was destroyed in the war.


Anonymous said...

Another comparable "second" from history might be the polymath Eratosthenes, whose nickname was "beta" for being second-best in all of his fields of mastery.

TwoCents said...


I may have found another parallel for Demandred's sa'angreal, Sakarnen. In the Greek, 'sarks' is the word for flesh, and our English word 'carnal' means to be of the flesh. I'll quote a database of Biblical Greek to further describe the connotations of these words:
"In the New Testament the words rendered "carnal" are derived from sarks, "flesh." This refers to the flesh as opposed to the pneuma, "spirit," and denotes, in an ethical sense, mere human nature, the lower side of man as apart from the Divine influence, and therefore estranged from God and prone to sin; whatever in the soul is weak and tends toward ungodliness... Thus one may be carnal (sarkinos), sold under sin (Romans 7:14). Christians may be carnal (sarkinos, 1 Corinthians 3:1; sarkikos, 1 Corinthians 3:3); the lower side of their being is dominant and not the spirit, hence, they fall into sins of envy and strife. The weapons of the Christian warfare are not carnal, not merely human (of the flesh), but spiritual" (

Some things are particularly relevant here - the close parallels to the word describing the personal state of being carnal (sarkinos) to Sakarnen - Demandred, the wielder of Sakarnen, was personally sold to sin. Demandred, our conflicted hero of the light who eventually went to the Shadow, was dominated by the lower side of his being and fell into sins of envy, causing strife. The sa'angreal Sakarnen was wielded by the Shadow, and therefore is definitely not a weapon of the forces of the Light, and was in fact used against the primary parallel of the Church, Egwene, Randland's Pope.
From the essays you've written, it seems RJ pulled more heavily from non-Christian sources of religion/mythology, so this may be a coincidence. However, we know from Brandon's other work that he is particularly interested in religion's role in society (Mistborn series), and teaches at an LDS institution that pulls heavily on the Greek New Testament for their beliefs, so perhaps I've found something?? Hope this helps!

Donnie said...

Another great essay with very much interesting stuff and certainly much more work in it.

Another possible parrallel could be Merlin, as Wyld seems similar to Wyllt, and Merlin (Myrrdin) was sometimes called "Myrrdin Wyllt", which means (the) mad(man) (Myrrdin) the wild (Wyllt).
This would be also a fitting parrallel, as Demandred had seemingly gone mad with his hatred and focus for Lews Therin (during the last battle and some time before, too, as we knew from the comments of one of the Forsaken (I think it was M'Hael, but not sure).

It would be also interesting if there's a parallel for Rand and "The Wyld", as this figure seems to be the Sharan Dragon (I'm not sure if they just had their own prophecies, or if there were some made up by Demandred himself, or only corrupted - I don't think it's in the books, but don't know if Brandon told us something about it, or maybe we'll know more, when the short story comes out).

And if this Wyld prophecies were genuine, it would be interesting, if there are Rand paralles for "The Wyld" (I tend to think, Bao was a name chosen by Demandred) and for Merlin. Rand himself has many Arthur parallels, but I can't remember seeing Merlin parrals made before.
The only ones I can imagine without digging that much are Rand being an orphan, while in some stories, Merlin was a fatherless child and - of coure - both being magicans.

Just some randoms thoughts.
Thanks very much for that great essay.

Linda said...

Thanks all for the suggestions. I shall wait until we get the River of Souls story in May.

Until the pit of doom scene there were no parallels for Rand as Merlin. Merlin figures are Thom Merrilin, the Amyrlin and Moridin. And even the 'death' that happened in the Bore is still derived more from Moridin's parallel than Rand's.

Anonymous said...

Ummm... If i remember right some legends of Merlin say he was fathered by Satan, and some rumors say rand was fathered by the the Dark One. that may be the closest to Merlin Rand gets.

Linda said...

Yes, it's not a strong parallel, and could be regarded as Rand's via Moridin (whose name is like Myrddin, the Welsh version of Merlin), second hand as it were.

Anonymous said...

Demandred also seems to have parallels to Siegfried. if so far as to fancy himself a dragon slayer.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ahlstrom, assistant to Mr. Sanderson, states that the name Sakarnen is supposed to be from the Old Tongue meaning ""causer or instrument of greatest punishment". Those interested can see the link here:

Asaf said...

As a magic player I would like to make a few corrections to the Sarkhan Vol section. Although I would admit I did not read River of souls yet.

First Sarkahn Vol is a planewalker not a creature, and everything you wrote about loyalty is general to all planewalkers. You don't need many creatures to attack him, but you should make (like all planewalkers) killing him a priority (which the light certainly did).
Sarkan's specific abilities (in his first version), however, have very interesting parallels to Demandred. His first ability gives +1/+1 to all creatures an ability that is associated with generals. It also gives them haste, an ability associated with surprise attacks.
His second ability is to take control of a creature, this can be paralleled to Demandred taking the Sharans who were not darkfriends and had prophesies that were probably intended for the dragon! Its also called an "act of treason" effect, which is closely related to Demandred.
His third ability allows him to summon dragon(s), but he can't use it immediately. Instead he first must be protected while using his general ability for several turns. In most games, he usually dies before he can achieve this.

This version of Sarkahn is Red and Green, which symbolize many things but are not good parallels for the True and one Powers. The true power is parallel to black and is more related to Ishmael. The one power is many colors although Saidin is closer to red(earth,fire, raging) while Saidar to Blue(air,water,calm). Green is similar to Rand's "one with the land" ability.
Demandred channels Saidin and claims to be one with the land. Sarkahn also "claims" to be green but none of his abilities are associated with green magic, they are all pure red!

Sarkahn's story has interesting parallels. Sarkahn was raised in a society that admired dragons, and became obsessed about finding a dragon worthy of him. In his search he also slain a dragon. He has also learned how to temporarily turn into a dragon.
He eventually found the planewalker dragon Nicol Bolas (who was also reborn). He sworn fealty to Bolas in a blood brothers ritual, but he became disillusioned when Bolas used him as a pawn to free the eldrazi (akin to opening the bore) and eventually turned against Bolas (although Bolas is the bad guy).