Wednesday, March 20, 2002


By Linda

Prior to joining the Shadow, Graendal was a famed ascetic psychiatrist named Kamarille Maradim Nindar, with an abrasive, perfectionist manner. After, she was the complete opposite:

Extreme hedonism replaced her asceticism…Sensual and sexual pleasures took primacy over everything else.

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

A complex woman of many layers, with “exquisite control over her emotions”, she was probably the best manipulator of minds in the Wheel of Time world:

Dedicated to curing those with mental illness that the One Power and Healing could not touch, she was possibly the best at subtle manipulations of the human mind who ever lived.

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

Graendal has both mythological and historical parallels (some very repellent) and in developing her character, Jordan has given full play to his ideas of how history turns to legend and legend to myth. Even Graendal’s name is an example of this.


The name is derived from Grendel, a man-eating monster in the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf. In the poem, Denmark was ravaged for twelve years by Grendel, who carried off warriors and devoured them. Beowulf killed Grendel and then Grendel’s mother when she came to avenge her dead son. While the monster Grendel is male and Graendal is most definitely female, Graendal was surely a man-eater in all senses of the word. She consumed the minds of warriors like Rhuarc and also the Great Captains. Even, or perhaps most especially, her colleagues were not exempt: she killed Asmodean and made sure Aran’gar died.

Her reincarnation into a very ugly body “explains” the Grendel the monster myth—and marries it with the Loathly Lady of Dark Knowledge in Arthurian myth that tests the fitness of the Arthurian champions—and is an example of Jordan’s “reverse engineering” or showing a derivation of a myth, and also of blending myths. The name also shows Robert Jordan’s ideas of how myths change with time: two monsters, mother and son, became one monstrous man-eater of a woman who killed children so they wouldn’t suffer when she enslaved their parents. The other major figure in the myth, the dragon-slayer Beowulf, was used to develop Demandred's alias Bao the Wyld.

Other legendary man-eaters with parallels to Graendal include Messalina, Poppea and Semiramis, and these also live up to the meaning of Graendal’s name—“vessel of pleasure”. These will be examined in turn.

Valeria Messalina

Valeria Messalina (c. 17/20–48) was the third wife of the Roman Emperor Claudius. She was:

notorious for licentious behaviour and instigating murderous court intrigues.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Messalina plotted against any she disliked or felt to be a threat and was executed for conspiring against her husband. Graendal was equally subversive and manipulative, if not more so, and was killed for causing the deaths of two Forsaken and the incapacitation of another.

Messalina’s nymphomania was literally legendary. In Roman times, Juvenal described her as sneaking out at night disguised in a yellow-haired wig to work in a brothel, taking a stream of clients until dawn. Legends of her sexual exploits grew over time until she was considered one of the most notorious nymphomaniacs of history.

Golden-haired Graendal was likewise a sexual athlete, denying herself no sensual and sexual pleasure. Birgitte told Nynaeve that Graendal:

“uses her pets in rites to cause the roughest soldier I ever knew to swear celibacy.”

- The Fires of Heaven, A Silver Arrow

Poppaea Sabina

Poppaea Sabina (30–65), Roman Emperor Nero’s wife, was not as sexually rapacious as Messalina or Graendal. What she did have in common with Graendal was her decadent self-indulgence, her liking for extravagant fashion and her manipulation of others to get rid of rivals, most notably inciting Nero to murder his mother Agrippina. According to Pliny, Poppaea bathed in asses’ milk to prevent wrinkles and keep her skin soft and white. Nero doted on her so much that he allowed her to travel with 500 she-asses to provide the milk for her bath and to have her carriage mules shod with gold.

The most decadent and extravagant of the Forsaken, Graendal:

sheathed her voluptuous body in clinging gowns that left little to the imagination, styling her red-gold hair in elaborate bejewelled ringlets, and surrounding herself with gorgeous half-naked servants who doted on her every whim.

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

Graendal had doting servants to wait on her, rather than a doting and indulgent husband, but her fashion sense and manipulation of others was like Poppaea’s.

Roman domestic art was often erotic and Graendal’s taste was likewise. For instance, her chair with erotic carvings:

she lounged in a chair of ivory worked so it appeared made of naked acrobats…[Nynaeve] blushed when she realised that some were performing more than acrobatic tricks.

- The Fires of Heaven, A Silver Arrow


Semiramis (Sammu-Ramat) was an Assyrian Queen who manipulated and murdered to obtain power. Much of what is known about Semiramis is legend, but that is so much the better, since Jordan likes to show how history turns to legend and legend to myth.

In the case of Semiramis, one myth has been split into two and each part used to develop a different character. So, while the name Semiramis and some aspects of her character are similar to Semirhage (Names of the Shadow and Semirhage essays), many of Semiramis’ deeds and attitudes are very like Graendal’s. For instance:

  • Semiramis captivated King Ninus of Babylon and married him after her first husband committed suicide. Graendal manipulated and Compelled people and also incited them to commit suicide:

    Before the war, not only much general unrest, but a number of highly destructive riots can be laid at her feet, and possibly the strangely harmful behaviour of several people in high office as well as a number of key people’s suicides.”

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

  • Semiramis manipulated King Ninus into letting her be ‘regent for a day’ and then had him executed. She is said to have had many lovers and had each lover killed after their night of passion to ensure her power and throne were never threatened. Graendal favoured enslavement, especially for her lovers, but she also manipulated and murdered. Aran’gar wanted to be Graendal’s lover, and may have succeeded; she was trapped by Graendal so she would be killed by Rand’s balefire.

  • Semiramis was associated with a renaissance of building in Babylon and with the conquest of neighbouring states. Graendal was fond of palaces—for herself. She also conquered territories for the Shadow:

    One source says: “Graendal conquered territories as surely as any of the Shadow’s generals, but her battlegrounds were her enemies’ minds.”

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


Jahi is the demon of lasciviousness who is the consort of Ahriman, the evil god of the Zoroastrian religion. Her name means “one who leads a licentious life,” or “libertine”, or “courtesan”. Graendal certainly qualified as licentious and lascivious and, in the Towers of Midnight Epilogue, she was probably raped by Shaidar Haran.

A dark, powerful sorceress/goddess of Greek mythology with parallels to Graendal is Circe.

Circe and the dark side of sexuality

Circe was the daughter of the sun and renowned for her knowledge of magic, particularly of illusion, metamorphosis and necromancy. She lived in an isolated palace on one of the Aegean Islands. Any men she discovered on the island she turned into animals (usually wolves, lions and swine); thus, the myth explains the darker side of sexuality. The men she turned to swine she ate at dinner—a man-eater like Graendal.

Graendal’s golden hair hints at her solar origins, since gold is the Sun’s colour. This also explains her connection to her sometime ally Sammael, since he, too, has a solar parallel (Apollo, see Sammael essay). Both Circe and Graendal had their palaces in a remote area where they await their ‘guests’ and Graendal’s most secret hideaway was a cavern in a remote island in the Aryth Ocean. Graendal also enslaved men with sorcery and, since she:

“uses her pets in rites to cause the roughest soldier [Birgitte] ever knew to swear celibacy…”

- The Fires of Heaven, A Silver Arrow

you might say that they were turned into animals. Graendal used Aran’gar’s lusts to manipulate her, including luring her back into her palace (Towers of Midnight, Prologue).

Circe aided the Greek Hero Jason (a parallel of Asmodean and also of Rand) and his witch wife Medea (a parallel of Lanfear) since she was Medea’s aunt. Graendal didn’t help this trio though, her man-eating monster side was too much to the fore and she killed Asmodean.

The Romano-Greek hero Ulysses/Odysseus visited Circe’s island, Aeaea, with his companions, whom Circe changed into swine. When Circe discovered that Odysseus was resistant to her magic (thanks to a herb) and was about to attack her, she begged for mercy. Odysseus made her release the men from her spell. He was then so charmed by Circe and her decadent lifestyle that he remained with her for a year and had to be reminded by his crew to resume his voyage. Circe then advised Odysseus how to safely pass by the Sirens.

The other Forsaken predicted that Graendal would behave in a similar fashion if threatened by Rand:

She would never find herself in open conflict with al’Thor. That had never been her way. If al’Thor ever discovered her, she simply would abandon everything and re-establish herself elsewhere—or else surrender before he could strike a blow and then begin convincing him that she was indispensable.

- Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow

Rand struck at Graendal quickly from a distance to prevent her escape or her manipulation of him, but she did escape and left Rand with the illusion that she was destroyed. She corrupted the minds of the Great Captains with Compulsion and with terrible illusions in their dreams, resulting in at least Bashere, and probably also Agelmar, being determined to die in battle to redeem their honour. Graendal’s Compulsion had a necromantic side, since her victims were effectively dead people walking. She herself was a subject of the Dark One’s necromancy; he killed her and transmigrated her soul into a new body as punishment. Her ultimate fate was to be enslaved by her own enchantment.

Another enchantress with similarities to Graendal is from C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair of his Narnia series:
The silver chair kept Prince Rilian bound to the Queen of Underland’s enchantment. It renewed her spell on him, making him believe her lies and forget his identity. He was persuaded that he would turn into a serpent at night and harm people unless he was bound on it. A binding chair was used on male channellers to bind them to oaths they made while it was activated, according to Sammael.

The Lady of the Green Kirtle, who killed Rilian’s mother and captured and compelled the Prince, also tried to compel Eustace, Jill and Puddleglum into forgetting their identities. She also compelled a large number of people from Bism to serve her. Some have thought she is Jadis, but Aslan killed the White Witch and she was not returned to life. With her desire for Rilian and her large-scale use of compulsion, the Lady of the Green Kirtle is very like Graendal. Graendal killed the children of those she enslaved so they wouldn’t suffer; the Lady of the Green Kirtle did the reverse, killing the mother and enslaving the son. When on the attack, she turned into a serpent, which in The Wheel of Time is a symbol of the Shadow. Graendal was transmigrated into an ugly form as Hessalam.

Graendal’s use of Compulsion and manipulation of dreams on the Light’s Great Captains to sew confusion in the Last Battle is a parallel of the Celtic goddess Nemain, who confounds armies so that friendly bands fall in mutual slaughter. She is part of the Badb-Macha-Nemain that comprises the Morrigan, an Irish sovereignty goddess associated with the fertility, prosperity and protection of the land, fate and war. Interestingly, there were three female Forsaken left active in the War at this time. Jordan depicted both a Dark and a Light version (Aviendha-Elayne-Min) of the Morrigan triad.

Less dark, but more sexy are Graendal’s parallels with love goddesses.


Rati is the beautiful and sensual Hindu goddess of love, lust, sexual arousal and sexual pleasure. She is depicted as a voluptuous enchantress. Her name is given to many sexual positions and techniques in Sanskrit. The Hindu god Shiva burned Rati’s husband to ashes, much to her grief. Voluptuous Graendal was notorious for her pursuit of sexual pleasure and enslavement. Rand, a parallel of Shiva, balefired Graendal’s colleague in lust, Aran’gar.


Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) was the ancient Greek goddess of beauty and sexual love. Even her origins were sexual—she was said to be:

born from the white foam produced by the severed genitals of Uranus (Heaven), after his son Cronus threw them into the sea.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Aphrodite was very often represented nude, but owned a girdle which enhanced her beauty and compelled men to adore her. As Moghedien remarked:

Graendal’s stature—her authority, the myths told about her—were all linked to her beauty.

- A Memory of Light, Prologue

until the Dark One made her look ugly, emphasising her links to the monster Grendel and to the Loathly Lady of Arthurian myth. Graendal’s clothes are so revealing that she might as well be nude. Although prostitutes considered Aphrodite their patron, her public cult was generally solemn and even austere. This is reminiscent of Graendal’s original ascetic persona before joining the Shadow.

Rather than a ter’angreal, Graendal used Compulsion to make men and women adore her. In contrast, another love goddess, Lanfear, used Compulsion much more sparingly as a matter of pride that she was so beautiful she didn’t need to ‘cheat’.

In a vain hope to keep her disruptive nature under control, Aphrodite was married to the ugly smith god Hephaestus/Vulcan. She despised him and took lovers, notably Ares (a parallel of Demandred), by whom she had Phobos and Deimos, fear and panic. Hephaestus exposed the affair by trapping the lovers in the act.

Graendal was instructed to kill Perrin, who has parallels to Hephaestus, but he escaped her trap, thus earning her undying hatred. She was then made the ugly one by being transmigrated to a very unattractive body as punishment. In the Last Battle, her task was to subvert the minds of the Great Captains, thus promoting fear and panic to aid Demandred’s tactics. Perrin discovered what she was up to—caught her in the act—and sent warnings of this to the Light’s commanders.

Two of Aphrodite’s mortal lovers have parallels to Rand. One was the Trojan shepherd Anchises, by whom she became the mother of Aeneas. Rand was a shepherd and worked like a Trojan to defeat the Shadow. Furthermore, Graendal told Sammael that she would like to make Rand one of her pets:

“Now he [Rand] would be a pet. I would make him the centrepiece of every display. Not that he is handsome enough, normally, but who he is makes up for that.”

- Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow

The other mortal lover was:

the handsome youth Adonis (in origin a Semitic nature deity and the consort of Ishtar-Astarte), who was killed by a boar while hunting and was lamented by women at the festival of Adonia. The cult of Adonis had underworld features, and Aphrodite was also connected with the dead at Delphi.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Graendal, since she was allied to the Dark One, also had links to the underworld. No wonder Rand did not dare let Graendal anywhere near him, and ruthlessly balefired her palace from a distance.

Aphrodite’s most important companion was Eros.

Normally Eros was her zealous servant. He helped with her toilet and accompanied her abroad. [He was] a semi-abstract personification of cosmic force who brings harmony into chaos.

- Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology

Later he was considered the child of Aphrodite whose:

pranks and caprices caused much suffering among men and gods

- Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology

Graendal has no Eros; she is Eros, with her caprices and preference for order over disorder (The Path of Daggers, New Alliances), combined with Aphrodite, with her concerns for beauty and sex and her great magical powers; illustrating how myths change over time. She will sew chaos if the Dark One orders it, though, and inflict suffering on Rand, too.

Eros fell in love with the beautiful Psyche. Psyche has only two parallels with Graendal: her name is appropriate considering Graendal’s former occupation as a psychiatrist, and also her beauty.

In sum, aspects of Aphrodite and Eros and even Psyche were combined in the character Graendal. In the case of historic figures of the Nazi regime, a regime with strong similarities with the Shadow (see Three Strands Common to the Forsaken essay), aspects of one person were divided amongst two, or even three, Forsaken to illustrate the effect time has on history and legend. Josef Mengele is a perfect example of this. He was used as a source for three of the Forsaken: he was a major source for Semirhage (see Semirhage essay) and a minor source for Aginor (forthcoming essay) and Graendal.

Josef Mengele and his ‘pets’

Josef Mengele was:

a Nazi doctor at Auschwitz extermination camp (1943–45) who selected prisoners for execution in the gas chambers and conducted medical experiments on inmates in pseudoscientific racial studies.

- Encyclopedia Britannica

Like Graendal, he kept people as pets and used them for dark purposes. His selection procedures were exacting, if repellent, though he could be capricious as well:

He sometimes stood for hours without flinching, a hint of a smile on his face, his elegantly gloved hand beckoning the prisoners to the right or the left… Only when an interesting specimen came along did Mengele really spring to life. He urgently motioned to a nearby guard to yank the new arrival out of the line. SS guards were ordered to watch for any unusual or striking genetic material—the dwarfs, the giants, the hunchbacks—and to bring them immediately to Mengele. But most important of all to him were the twins.

- Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel, Children of the Flames

Strikingly beautiful people were also selected by Mengele. Graendal selects as her pets the most beautiful of the powerful.

As part of the selections Mengele conducted at Auschwitz and Birkenau:

women were required to undress and parade naked in front of him. This enabled him to judge whether they were fit to live just a little bit longer.

- Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel, Children of the Flames

This in particular is reminiscent of Graendal, as is the separation of the selected pets from their families. In the case of Mengele’s pets,

most of the twins began their descent into Auschwitz by witnessing their entire families being led away from them to be killed.

- Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel, Children of the Flames

The twins who passed through the gates of Auschwitz were of all ages, but often they were very young children who fought and cried at being separated from their loved ones. If Mengele was on the scene, he tried to soothe the terrified parents. He would smile as he comforted an anguished mother, insisting her twins would be in good hands. And if the twins were just infants, Mengele might sometimes pull their mother out of the line as well permitting her to accompany and look after them. Most often, however, the children were taken away alone.

- Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel, Children of the Flames

Mengele also seemed to take a perverse pleasure in exterminating women who were pregnant. “This is not a maternity ward,” he replied when asked why these women were sometimes automatically sent to die. Mengele even boasted he was being ‘humanitarian’ in having these women killed. Auschwitz, he would point out, had no facilities to take care of newborn children.

- Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel, Children of the Flames

Graendal too claimed a similar kindness—she murdered children

so they would not suffer after she enslaved their parents and carried them away.

- Lord of Chaos, A New Arrival

So what were Mengele’s pets used for? Barbarous pseudo-scientific and medical experiments (more of a parallel with Aginor and Semirhage) and also:

There are twins who recall they were targets of an insidious psychological barrage, but years later were still too traumatised to conjure up the details.

- Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel, Children of the Flames

An appropriate parallel with Graendal, a former psychiatrist renowned for the manipulation and psychological compulsion of others.

Sometimes, though, Mengele just kept people as pets because they were beautiful or interesting.

Another figure of the Nazi regime who was a source for Graendal is Ilse Koch.

Ilse Koch and people as furnishings

Ilse Koch’s husband was the Commandant of the Buchenwald concentration camp. She was an SS-Aufseherin (overseer) there and

acquired the reputation of a sadist and nymphomaniac, beating prisoners with her riding crop and requiring them to participate in degenerate orgies.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

The SS guards were also targets for her nymphomania.

Her hobby was collecting shrunken human skulls and also lampshades, book covers, and gloves made from the skins of specially selected (those with interesting tattoos, for example, were prized; the photo right is a still from a film by Billy Wilder) and murdered concentration camp inmates. This was described by a witness at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II:

"The finished products (i.e. tattooed skin detached from corpses) were turned over to Koch's wife, who had them fashioned into lampshades and other ornamental household articles..."

Graendal collected people as trophies and used her live pets as furniture, freezing them into positions to suit her purposes. She sat on one of her pets as on a chair at a Forsaken meeting:

settling herself on the man’s back where he crouched on all fours…

- The Fires of Heaven, Prologue

and had another be little more than a drinks stand. Sammael’s zara board with its once-human playing pieces didn’t worry her either. People only exist to serve her purposes and are fair game for manipulation or worse.

This was also the philosophy of another notorious figure of the Nazi regime, Josef Goebbels. He was used as a source for three Forsaken: Ishamael (forthcoming essay), Rahvin (forthcoming essay) and Graendal.

Josef Goebbels and the manipulation of minds

Josef Goebbels (1897‒1945) was the:

minister of propaganda for the German Third Reich under Adolf Hitler, generally accounted responsible for presenting a favourable image of the Nazi regime to the German people.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

He was a cynic, devoid of genuine belief in the Nazi ideology, but found his mission in selling Hitler to the German public. Goebbels’ contempt for the human race in general and the Jews in particular, and his complete cynicism, were an expression of his own inferiority complexes, his overwhelming need to destroy everything sacred and ignite the same feelings of hatred and despair in the German public.

Graendal was sceptical of the cycle of rebirth that is the heart of the Wheel of Time world:

“It may well be that, as many believe, all are born and reborn as the Wheel turns….”

- The Fires of Heaven, Prologue

She was contemptuous of other people, especially the vast number who cannot channel, and considered herself far above them:

“Now we have awakened in a world where we should stand so far above ordinary mortals as to be another species.”

- Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow

Hence she treated them as things to be used. All those of the Shadow aim to destroy or subsume everything that walks in the Light and enjoy inspiring feelings of fear and despair.

Goebbels had an insatiable lust for power barely satisfied by the powerful positions he held in the Nazi regime, although he kept himself well under control. Graendal was no different:

On the surface her total fixation was her own pleasure, nearly obscuring a desire to pull down everyone who had a particle of power. And that in turn almost hid her own thirst for power, very seldom exercised openly.

- Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow

Goebbels’ skill was in the manipulation of others: both their minds and the resulting events they caused. His deep, fervent voice and rhetorical skill were used to inspire fear, hatred, intoxication and confusion. He roused the unemployed masses during the Depression, and unscrupulously appealed to the primitive urges of the populace. Opponents were eliminated with slander and insinuation. Goebbels’ mastery of mass persuasion was crucial in Hitler’s rise to power: he was able to win Berlin over to the Nazi cause, help get Hitler elected in 1932, and created the redeemer-like myth of the Fuhrer. Goebbels orchestrated riots, including the Kristallnacht pogrom against the Jews in November 1938, and his bodyguards were instructed to participate in street battles, pub brawls and shootings to destabilise the old German regime.

This is a parallel for Graendal’s skill and she used exactly the same methods as Goebbels to further the Shadow’s cause:

[She] made use of her skills and knowledge of the mind to further the Dark One’s cause.

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

She used Compulsion so often like a hammer that one might forget that she could wield the weaker forms of it with great delicacy, twisting a mind’s path so subtly that even the closest examination might miss every trace of her. In fact, she might have been the best at that who ever lived
- Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow

Both before and after her announcement she proved to be adept at intrigue, and made use of her skills and knowledge of the mind to further the Dark One’s cause. Before the war, not only much general unrest, but a number of highly destructive riots can be laid at her feet, and possibly the strangely harmful behaviour of several people in high office, as well as a number of key people’s suicides.

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

While not a military commander in the field during the war, Graendal apparently was responsible for a number of significant gains and a variety of successful subversion efforts. One source says: “Graendal conquered territories as surely as any of the Shadow’s generals, but her battlegrounds were her enemies’ minds.”

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

During the Last Battle she corrupted the minds of the Great Captains very effectively, and was only exposed by the superb battle knowledge of Mat, and information obtained by Perrin.

Goebbels and Graendal also had sexual promiscuity in common.

He [Goebbels] had always been sex mad, chasing every available woman, with a surprisingly high success rate…He had ‘come-to-bed’ eyes, sensitive hands, and a voice that was a finely-tuned instrument played with the skill of a virtuoso…

- Anthony Read, The Devil’s Disciples

In 1938, Goebbels’ wife tried to divorce him because of his endless love affairs with beautiful actresses. It was well known in Berlin:

that Goebbels was shamelessly coercing young actresses for sexual favours… “There are literally dozens of cases,” Heinrich Himmler, no paragon of virtue himself, chuckled to Alfred Rosenberg. “The women are standing in line to swear affidavits on how he coerced them. I’ve turned over the choicest statements to the Fuhrer.”

- David Irving, Goering

Graendal, too, was sexually rapacious and used Compulsion on people to obtain their favours rather than a seductive voice or economic coercion.

During the war, Goebbels imposed an austerity programme and pressed for ever greater civilian sacrifice, although he had abandoned his original asceticism himself.

Conscious of his new social status, he was rapidly acquiring a taste for the high life and high society that Goering enjoyed so much—though he always took good care to preserve his public image as an ascetic…Despite his ideological Puritanism and the lip service he paid to the simple life—at Christmas 1933, for example, he hauled his brother Hans over the coals for driving a big limousine—Goebbels’ political insecurities during 1934 were amply compensated for by his growing affluence and the increasing luxury of his lifestyle.

- Anthony Read, The Devil’s Disciples

Graendal, too, preached asceticism to others before she went over to the Shadow. She:

was a noted ascetic, not only living a spare and simple life, but preaching that others should as well.

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

Yet quickly abandoned it once she joined the Shadow.

When Hitler suicided at the end of the war, Goebbels disregarded Hitler's political testament, which appointed him as Reich Chancellor (the Nazi equivalent of Naeblis), and followed suit. His wife poisoned their six children prior to her and Goebbels’ suicide, just as Graendal killed children so that they wouldn’t suffer when she enslaved their parents. Graendal’s mind was “poisoned” or destroyed by her own Compulsion weave when Aviendha’s unweaving of her gateway collapsed.

Graendal contains some aspects of Josef Mengel, Ilse Koch and Josef Goebbels, with other aspects of these figures going to other Forsaken. The Nazi figure that was a major source for her character and no other of the Forsaken, is Hermann Goering.

Hermann Goering

Herman Goering (1893‒1946) was:

a leader of the Nazi Party and one of the primary architects of the Nazi police state in Germany.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

He was Hitler’s designated political heir for most of the Third Reich.

Both Goering and Graendal joined up early to their respective regimes, and neither of them were greatly interested in ideology. In Goering’s own words:

“I joined the Party precisely because it was revolutionary, not because of the ideological stuff."

- Herman Goering, 12/11/45

Graendal joined the Shadow for power and expressed doubt that souls were reincarnated, but did accept that:

something the Creator had designed to be eternal could be unraveled using the Dark One’s energies. It bespoke an eternal truth—something as close to being sacred as Graendal was willing to accept. Whatever the Creator could build, the Dark One could destroy.

- Towers of Midnight, Prologue

The Dark One’s return is the ultimate revolution. Otherwise, Graendal believes in little besides gaining power.

Goering exploited events and manipulated people to further the Nazi cause and eliminate rivals. He preferred this to open war.

He had the ear of the 84-year-old president, Paul von Hindenburg, and used his position to outmanoeuvre the successive chancellors, particularly Kurt von Schleicher and Franz von Papen, until Hindenburg was finally forced to invite Hitler to become chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Goering created the secret police (Gestapo), set up the early concentration camps for political opponents and crushed all resistance. He was adept at having opponents killed or framed, exploited the Reichstag fire to destroy the last remnants of civil rights in Germany, directed the Night of the Long Knives to eliminate his rival Ernst Rohm and the SA, plotted to successfully bring down von Fritsch and von Blomberg in the vain hope of gaining their positions, played an important role in the re-unification of Austria with Germany (Anschluss) and in the submission of Czechoslovakia, Bohemia and Moravia to Germany, and authorised the financial and civil penalties imposed on the Jews after Kristallnacht.

Even Schirach, Goering’s greatest admirer, thought that he had been unmasked as a conniving and ruthless plotter.

- Telford Taylor, Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials

The FA was perhaps the least known, but most significant, of all [Goering’s] agencies. Its role in entrenching [Goering’s] position in Hitler’s power structure, surrounded by increasingly envious enemies, was considerable; and its extraordinary output over the next twelve years—nearly half a million reports, on intercepted telephone conversations and deciphered signals—would affect the political history of the Reich.

- David Irving, Goering

Graendal was ruthless in eliminating her fellow Forsaken: she killed Asmodean, ensured that Aran’gar died, and accidentally caused the destruction of Mesaana. Her spy network obtained so much useful information for her that Demandred thought she knew too much and had to be watched (Winter’s Heart, Wonderful News). Goering’s FA operatives were “incorruptible civil servants”, just as Graendal was careful never to use Friends of the Dark, because they “were too easily swayed” (Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven Of Shadow). Before the War of Power in the Age of Legends, Graendal was responsible for not only much general unrest, but a number of highly destructive riots.

While not a military commander during the war, Graendal was apparently responsible for a number of significant gains and for a variety of successful subversion efforts.

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

What was Goering’s administration like? In his own words:

“My actions,” he told police officials at Frankfurt-on-Main, “are not affected by legal considerations. You must become accustomed to the idea that I am not in office to dispense justice—but to destroy and exterminate!”

- David Irving, Goering

“The battle we are now approaching demands a colossal measure of production capacity. No limit on rearmament can be visualised. The only alternatives are victory or destruction…We live in a time when the final battle is in sight. We are already on the threshold of mobilisation and we are already at war. All that is lacking is the actual shooting.”

- Goering, 1937

In the Age of Legends, the Shadow were as ruthless as the Nazis in invading and establishing their evil regime and in the Third Age engineered the Last Battle in order for their regime to take over the world.

Goering and Graendal have similar characters: deceptively simple, but actually complex. Like Graendal, Goering was very manipulative and imposed his powerful will on others.

…he [Goering] was totally ruthless in pursuit of his goal. At the same time, he had the capacity to mask that ruthlessness behind a winning charm. This was perhaps the most important trait in a character that appeared to be simple but was in fact extremely complex.

- Anthony Read, The Devil’s Disciples

When Goering surrendered to American officers:

The officers offered Goering drinks and sang songs with him, but the next day were reprimanded by an outraged Dwight Eisenhower...Goering was the most popular prisoner with the American guards because he seemed to take an interest in their lives...He seemed to wield a great deal of influence with the other defendants, and prison administrators sought to isolate him as much as possible...

- Joseph Persico, Nuremberg, Infamy On Trial

Goering instructed Gustave Gilbert, the Nuremberg prison psychologist, on how to manipulate the populace:

We [Gilbert and Goering] got around to the subject of war again and I [Gilbert] said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."
"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."
"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

- Gustave Gilbert, an intelligence officer, interviewed Hermann Goering at Nuremberg on 18th April, 1946.

Graendal also knew how to subvert people with or without Compulsion:

She was possibly the best at subtle manipulations of the human mind

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

and was predicted to either flee, or surrender and ingratiate herself with Rand (as Goering tried to do with the Allies) if ever confronted directly by him. When Rand located her in Towers of Midnight, she suppressed her first instinct to flee in order to win rewards for inflicting pain on him.

Neither Hitler nor the Allies doubted Goering’s courage:

Years later Hitler would still describe Goering admiringly as “ice cold in times of crisis,” and add “I’ve always said when it comes to the crunch he’s a man of steel—unscrupulous.”

- David Irving, Goering

Goering was a murderer and a bastard—but he was a brave bastard.

- Joseph Persico, Nuremberg, Infamy On Trial

Graendal too was known to be brave:

While she had never commanded armies as some of the others had, she was neither a stranger to hazard nor a coward…

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

“You are braver than most. And wiser…So long as you do not let bravery overcome your fear too far.”

- Shaidar Haran in The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

Goering and Graendal had similar tastes in luxurious lifestyles. Goering loved opulence:

“Magnificent,” [Goering] would later exclaim…”I really am a Renaissance man. How I love opulence!”

- David Irving, Goering

(The photo above of Goering perusing a painting with Hitler is from He used his position to live in ostentatious luxury; he owned five homes including two castles and a palace, often built or renovated with government funds. Changing uniforms and suits five times a day,

the increasingly odd, sometimes even effeminate garments were a part of his public image. He was at heart almost a transvestite, certainly an exhibitionist.

- David Irving, Goering

When he was to be promoted to Reichsmarschall, he

began pouring over suitable fabrics for the new uniform immediately—a colour that would establish that he was Reichsmarchall of all three services, and not just of the Luftwaffe. He finally plumped for a soft pearl grey. Valet Robert murmured that it was a woman’s fabric. “If I wear it,” hissed Goering, “then it’s for men.”

- David Irving, Goering

His lust for previous stones and metals was notorious, and he had begun to adorn himself liberally with jewel-encrusted artefacts. Darre once witnessed him preparing to receive a Balkan minister. The valet brought in a cushion on which twelve rings were arrayed—four red, four blue, four green. “Today,” the great man mused, “I am displeased. So we shall wear a deeper hue. But we also desire to show that we are not beyond hope. So we shall wear the green.”

- David Irving, Goering

Dressed in summer whites and sporting some of his most optimistic rings, Field Marshal Hermann Goering set out in his special train…[This] was adorned with velvet upholstery, tapestries, rich panelling and an outsized bath that would not have been out of place in his other mansions…The train boasted a string of flat tops on which he had ordered an assortment of his finest automobiles to be loaded, including command cars built by Buick and La Salle, two Ford Mercuries, a Citroen, a Ford pickup and two Mercedes vehicles (a six-wheeled cross-country car and a shooting brake).

- David Irving, Goering

This is a lifestyle Graendal would approve and appreciate, since she pursues a similar one herself, denying herself nothing that did not reduce her effectiveness in the eyes of the Dark One:

Graendal took over a palace in Arad Doman, staffed it with servants stolen from among the rich and powerful families of the land, and, posing as the ailing Lady Basene, began her pursuit of power.

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

[Sammael, visiting Graendal] stood on a deep dais, marble-railed at one end, where tables and chairs of gilded work and carved ivory, some quite disgusting in their details, were arranged to command the rest of the long, columned hall, ten feet below. No stairs led down there; it was a huge extravagant pit in which to present entertainment.

- Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow

Her thin blue Domani gown clung and more than hinted. As usual, she had a ring with different stones on every finger, four or five gem-encrusted bracelets on each wrist, and a wide collar of huge sapphires snugged around the gown’s high neck…

- Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow

Goering too had his own palace cum hunting lodge, Carinhall, which, like Graendal’s lair, was a flamboyant and luxurious theatre and museum where he indulged in self-gratification and self-display as he entertained dignitaries and officers, changing outfits several times a day. Even the locations of their palaces are similar, in woods surrounded by war, yet their owners partying on unaffected. The two photos of Carinhall are on and were from Joy & Work 1939. Both palaces were levelled; Carinhall at Goering’s orders by the Luftwaffe as the Allies approached, and Natrin’s Barrow by Rand’s balefire.

All Goering’s opulent mansions were crammed full of priceless art works he obtained as spoils of war:

By the end of World War II he would have built up, often by only marginally legal means, a collection worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

- David Irving, Goering

These art works were from museums as often as from private collections.

Graendal envied Sammael the art he found in a stasis box:

And she recognised several of the artworks on the walls. She paused in front of Ceran Tol’s ‘Tempo of Infinity’. Not a copy. “One might think you had looted a museum, Sammael.” It was hard to keep the envy from her voice, and when she saw his faint smile, she realised she had failed.

- Lord of Chaos, To Understand A Message

It is interesting that looting a museum is the first thing that springs to her mind. One wonders if Graendal raided Sammael’s art collection as well as his collection of objects of the power after his death at the end of A Crown Of Swords.

Goering’s hedonistic lifestyle sidelined him from the rest of the Nazi command, and he was increasingly undermined:

The other Nazi leaders both resented his favoured position and despised his self-indulgence, but Hitler did not displace him until the last days of the war, when, in accordance with the decrees of 1939, Göring attempted to assume the Führer's powers, believing him to be encircled and helpless in Berlin.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Goering was dismissed from all his posts, expelled from the Party and arrested.

[Hitler] officially pronounced anathema upon both Goering and Himmler, expelling them from the party and stripping them of all their offices. They had brought, he said, ‘irreparable shame on the whole nation by negotiating with the enemy without my knowledge and against my will.’

- Anthony Read, The Devil’s Disciples

Shortly afterwards, the war ended, which probably saved him from the other Nazis’ retribution. This attempted betrayal was the time Goering was found out, but he had tried to make independent negotiations with the Allies several times previously, negotiations in which he would be leader of Germany.

Graendal, too, blinded by her ambition to be Naeblis, came very close to disgrace when her scheming with Sammael was exposed. Sammael’s death probably saved her, and she was then pulled into line by Shaidar Haran and Moridin. At the end of Towers of Midnight, with three Forsaken eliminated due to her actions, she was savagely punished by Shaidar Haran, killed and transmigrated into a hideous body.

At the Nuremberg Trials, Goering was underestimated by the Allied prosecutors:

The Allies’ error had been to equate Goering’s hedonism with softness of intellect.

- Joseph Persico, Nuremberg, Infamy On Trial

Goering had always been a formidable opponent, as many of his former rivals could testify.

Graendal had also been underestimated by others:

No, it would be a dire mistake to take Graendal at surface value. Most who had taken her for a fool were long since dead, victims of the woman they disregarded.

- Lord of Chaos, Prologue

With Hitler dead, Goering stood out among the Nazi defendants as the dominant personality, dictating attitudes to other prisoners in the dock and adopting a pose of heroism in the belief that he would be immortalized as a German martyr. His desire was to be remembered as a hero forever:

“Death doesn’t bother me, but my reputation in history does. That’s why I’m glad Donitz got stuck with signing the surrender…a country never thinks well of its leaders who accept defeat.”

- Goering in Joseph Persico, Nuremberg, Infamy on Trial

Goering gave out a joyless laugh. “I know that I’m going to hang. But let me tell you something. Fifty years from now they will erect statues of me all over Germany. Big statues in the parks and little statues in every German home.”

- Joseph Persico, Nuremberg, Infamy on Trial

Rather than be executed, Goering manipulated a guard to bring him one of his confiscated belongings in which a poison pill was hid and he took this in the hours before he was to be hanged. Graendal/Hessalam's mind was poisoned by her own Compulsion weave, her own magical manipulations, at the end of the Last Battle.

Three female Forsaken survived to the Last Battle, Graendal among them. This trio has a parallel in a triad of Irish goddesses associated with the growing and harvesting of crops. Lasair, the eldest, goddess of spring budding, is a parallel of Lanfear. Inghean Bhuide, “yellow-haired girl”, a parallel of Graendal, is associated with ripening, and the youngest, Latiaran, associated with reaping the harvest, is a parallel of Moghedien. The Last Battle was the culmination of the Shadow’s Age-long efforts to bring about the return of the Dark One; the reaping of an evil harvest, if you will. Darkfriends, including Forsaken, had been carefully sown among the Light’s command in the last years of the Third Age to sabotage and spy. Golden-haired Graendal greatly brought to fruition the Shadow’s military plans by corrupting the Great Captains and attacking the Light’s forces at Thakan’dar.

Kamarile Maradim Nindar (Graendal’s original name)

Kamarille may refer to the courtesan Camille, of the play The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas fils. The other names appear to be derived from real world place names, as many character names are. Towns with names very similar to Maradim are Maradam, in India and the Philippines, and Maradi in Niger. The places with names most similar to Nindar are Nindai in Tanzania, Ninda and Nindaroo in Australia, and Nindam in Nigeria.

Basene (Graendal’s alias in Arad Doman)

‘Little base one’ is what is suggested by this name, hinting at Graendal’s evil machinations. Basene may refer to Bassein, the name of a town in West India and of a treaty signed there:

The Treaty of Bassein on December 31, 1802, was a pact between Baji Rao II, the Maratha peshwa of Pune (Poona) in India, and the British. It was a decisive step in the breakup of the Maratha confederacy. The pact led directly to the East India Company's annexation of the peshwa's territories in western India in 1818.

By the Treaty of Bassein, the peshwa agreed to maintain a British subsidiary force of six battalions, for whose upkeep territory was ceded; to exclude all Europeans from his service; to give up his claims on Surat and Baroda; and to conduct his foreign relations in consultation with the British. In return, Arthur Wellesley (later 1st Duke of Wellington) restored the peshwa to Pune in May 1803. The leading Maratha state had thus become a client of the British. This treaty led to the Second Maratha War (1803–05), between the British and the Marathas, and to the defeat of the three other principal Maratha powers.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Similarly, Graendal (using this alias) destructively manipulated politics in Arad Doman, playing the Domani against the Dragonsworn and the Seanchan and sowing chaos until Rand, a parallel of Wellington, hunted her down and balefired her palace.

Maisia (Graendal’s alias among the Shaido)

Maisia is similar to Maisie, a very old-fashioned name, the antithesis of glamour. No wonder Graendal was annoyed with Sammael for naming her thus.


There are a few allusions in this name. Salam or salaam means peace, and Graendal was forced to heel by the Dark One and Moridin, and her name’s meaning of “without forgiveness” is a threat that this will be permanent. Salem, Massachusetts, the centre of the Salem witchcraft trials, is a Hellenised form of salam, which fits in with Graendal’s witchy activities.

Hessalam also reminded me of ‘heffalump’, the elephant-like creatures in Winnie the Pooh that are never seen. Heffalump traps are traps that rebound on the setter of the trap. Graendal set three of these that caused collateral damage as well as significant damage to herself: at Natrim’s Barrow she tried to trap Rand and was nearly killed and almost punished for causing the death of a Forsaken, and again on the Jehannah Road when she tried to trap Perrin and was soundly punished for failure and causing the brain death of another Forsaken. In an example of three times making a charm, she finally was caught in her own Compulsion weave that had been intended for Aviendha.

Perhaps the most important allusion of the name is to John Haslam (1764–1844), an English apothecary and doctor known for his work on mental illness. After studying the physical diseases of the brain, he then became one of the first ‘mad-doctors’. Much of his work was at Bethlehem hospital for the insane, also known as Bethlem or Bedlam, in London. Some of his papers that seem ironic,, considering Graendal’s misuse of her knowledge of psychiatry to corrupt minds, are: Considerations on the Moral Management of Insane Persons, 1817, Medical Jurisprudence as it relates to Insanity, 1817, and Sound Mind, or Contributions to the History and Physiology of the Human Intellect, 1819. More irony is that Haslam read three papers—On Restraint and Coercion, 1833, An Attempt to Institute the Correct Discrimination between Crime and Insanity, 1843, and On the Increase of Insanity, 1843—before the Society for Improving the Condition of the Insane. Haslam’s paper Observations on Madness and Melancholy in 1809 is made a mockery of by Graendal causing Rand such anguish that he despaired.

According to Haslam:

Madness being the opposite to reason and good sense, as light is to darkness, straight to crooked &c., it appears wonderful that two opposite opinions could be entertained on the subject… A person cannot correctly be said to be in his senses and out of his senses at the same time.

- John Haslam, Illustrations of Madness

In the Age of Legends, Graendal was the foremost psychiatrist:

Dedicated to curing those with mental illness that the One Power and Healing could not touch, she was possibly the best at subtle manipulations of the human mind who ever lived.

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

Haslam’s most famous clinical notes are on the tea broker and double agent James Tilly Matthews, who was imprisoned in France for three years during The Terror as a counter-revolutionary spy and blamed the British government for abandoning him and thus causing his traumatic incarceration. Matthews believed that a gang of spies and criminals were reading the minds, and influencing the thoughts, of important people in London for the purpose of espionage with a machine called an 'air loom’ that emitted rays or ‘volatile magnetic fluid’. He thought that these gangs were responsible for the British military disasters at Buenos Aires in 1807 (which was due to the British commander not understanding urban warfare) and Walcheren in 1809 (which was due to disease) and also for the Nore Mutiny of 1797 (a second arguably needless strike by seamen for better conditions while the country was at war with France). Matthews felt that at some times his decisions and actions were his own, but at other times they were dictated by the gang who controlled the magnetic device. Haslam stated that Matthews’ beliefs, especially regarding political matters, made him a danger to the public and to politicians in particular. During the Last Battle, Graendal influenced the minds of the Great Captains to terrible effect. The generals had some aspects of their minds intact, but were hijacked to devise battle strategies that resulted in the destruction of the troops at their command. Once shown to be a danger to the forces they were demoted rather than confined.

Haslam’s notes, with a detailed description and illustration of the air loom by Matthews, are the first full study of a mentally ill patient and are considered by many to be the original description of paranoid schizophrenia. (His condition could also be due, at least in part, to post traumatic distress disorder.)

In turn, Matthews kept notes on Haslam and his treatments, and these formed part of the evidence at a parliamentary enquiry into treatment of patients at Bedlam, which resulted in Haslam’s dismissal and the reform of patient care at the hospital. Matthews’s family regarded him as sane and tried to have him removed from Bedlam but Haslam insisted that he was a danger to the public and must remain confined (Mike Jay, James Tilly Matthews and the Air Loom). He was eventually moved to a private hospital where he was treated as sane by the medical superintendant.

Graendal’s parallel with Haslam and Semirhage’s reference to Graendal’s knowledge when diagnosing Rand’s mental condition (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box) questions the ethics of diagnosis and treatment of the mentally ill. Who guards the guardians of the insane?


Many of Graendal’s parallels follow the theme of history turning to legend and legend to myth. Even the more recent historical figures follow this: notably the splits of the deeds of Mengele and Koch into Semirhage (see Semirhage essay) and Graendal, and of Goebbels into Ishamael, Rahvin and Graendal. Not all do though. The main theme all Graendal’s parallels follow is the manipulation of others for power and pleasure and above all the subversion of minds to the Shadow’s cause.


Written by Linda, December, 2004 and updated January 2014, September 2017 and April 2020

Contributor: Dominic


Helen said...

“The main theme all Graendal’s parallels follow is the manipulation of others for power and pleasure and above all the subversion of minds to the Shadow’s cause.”

I like that.

It certainly is applicable to Ilse Koch, the “Bitch Of Buchenwald”: “the manipulation of others for power and pleasure.”

I don’t know about Canada, but in the US, it is common to refer to a nasty, lower-class woman with vile motives as “The Bitch Of Buchenwald”. The derogatory term is most often used when a woman of limited intelligence and unappealing personal appearance occupies some minor position of authority, such as town clerk or licensing official.

When a woman is called “The Bitch Of Buchenwald” in North America, the invariable implication is that the woman in question is uneducated, from the bottom of the socio-economic order, and has been granted some limited power over persons who would otherwise never associate with her. “The Bitch Of Buchenwald” carries the connotation that a lower-class woman enjoys—and abuses—her authority over persons from a higher economic and social status in order to settle life-long class grievances and in order to address issues of low self-esteem. There is the further connotation that the woman in question is ugly, overweight, abusive, and has psychological (if not psychiatric) issues.

All of these forces were at work in the case of Ilse Koch. She was of poor background, uneducated, of low intelligence, overweight, unattractive—and came to delight in her new-found authority over persons placed in her (and her husband’s) charge. The woman was most likely either a sociopath or a psychopath.

Modern-day Ilse Koch’s usually share the dull, disturbed eyes of the original “Bitch Of Buchenwald” as well as Koch’s blank, flabby face. Koch was of a “type” easily recognized today, seven decades after the original.

As a practicing attorney, I have been called upon, frequently, to deal with modern-day Ilse Koch’s.

In a homeowner association in Fairfax County, Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C., the local property manager is a dead ringer for Ilse Koch. She looks like Ilse Koch, and could be Ilse Koch’s twin sister. She has been openly known to residents as “The Bitch Of Buchenwald” for twenty years. The Sully II property manager is an Ilse Koch clone. She even dresses inappropriately and provocatively, as did Koch, and considers herself attractive, which she most certainly is not.

Some time ago, I represented a Sully II client in which this modern-day Ilse Koch showed up at a hearing wearing a body-hugging gray T-shirt without undergarments, exposing her nipples, which were disfigured. It was unbelievable. It was revolting. It was sickening. The first thing that came to mind the minute I saw this pig-faced woman was “The people who live in Sully II are right—this woman IS the Bitch Of Buchenwald”.

Other notorious women associated with Nazi concentration camps all meet the same profiles—physical, mental and psychological—as the original Ilse Koch. It is a “type” easily recognized and identified by normal people—and normal people instinctively shun “Ilse Koch” types.

It is all rather frightening, but it does help us understand evil.

Linda said...

Thanks very much for your comment. You make some very interesting observations.