Thursday, March 14, 2002

Moiraine's Rescue

By Linda

At the end of The Fires of Heaven, Moiraine Damodred vanished into a doorway ter'angreal in Cairhien while battling the Forsaken Lanfear. All the characters in The Wheel of Time who know of this assume she, and Lanfear, died when the ter'angreal was destroyed.

Moiraine wrote a letter to Thom shortly before her brave act and in Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota, we learned its contents:

When you receive this, you will be told that I am dead. All will believe that. I am not dead, and it may be that I shall live to my appointed years. It also may be that you and Mat Cauthon and another, a man I do not know, will try to rescue me... If you try, it must be only you and Mat and one other. More will mean death for all. Fewer will mean death for all. Even if you come only with Mat and one other, death also may come. I have seen you try and die, one or two or all three. I have seen myself die in the attempt. I have seen all of us live and die as captives. Should you decide to make the attempt anyway, young Mat knows the way to find me, yet you must not show him this letter until he asks about it. That is of the utmost importance. He must know nothing that is in this letter until he asks. Events must play out in certain ways, whatever the costs.

A final point. Remember what you know about the game of Snakes and Foxes. Remember, and heed.

Foxes and Snakes game

Olver’s favourite game, Snakes and Foxes, is actually an account of dealings with the Aelfinn and Eelfinn (see Foxes and Snakes game article). According to Mat, all children play this game, but eventually give it up when they realize there is no way to win, except to cheat. The game is started by chanting: "Courage to strengthen, fire to blind, music to daze, iron to bind" and making the sign of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn: the triangle and the wavy line through it. This folk memory preserved with the game is a remarkable yet realistic survivor: children's songs and games can be very conservative in this way. When Mat went into the doorway ter’angreals, he was asked:

"You have brought no lamps, no torches, as the agreement was, and is, and ever will be. You have no iron? No instruments of music?"

- The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway

The *elfinn appear to be vulnerable to these things: when Rand felt threatened in the realm of the Aelfinn he made a sword of fire, which they could not bear to look at (The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway). Since these four items are prohibited in the agreement, smuggling them in would be the way to beat the Aelfinn and Eelfinn; to cheat them. This is something of a red herring, since just about everyone who goes takes the prohibited items in with them, according to Birgitte. Mat, Thom and Noal took:

"Fire to blind," Noal said. "What do we have?"
"Lanterns and torches," Mat said, knocking his foot against the sack beside his chair. "And some of those firesticks from Aludra, so we can light them. A few surprises from her, too."
"Fireworks?" Noal asked.
"And a few of those exploding cylinders we used against the Seanchan. She calls them roarsticks."
Thom whistled. "She let you have some?"
"Two. When I presented her with Elayne's agreement, she was ready to let me have almost anything I asked for." Mat grimaced. "She wanted to come along to light them. Herself! Burn me, but that was a tough argument to end. But we've got a whole lot of nightflowers." He tapped the sack beside his chair with the edge of his foot...
"Next," Noal said, "music to dazzle."
"I got us a variety," Thom said. "I'll bring my harp and flute, but I found us some hand drums and hand cymbals. They can be strapped to the side of your leg and hit with one hand. I also bought an extra flute." He eyed Mat. "A simple one, designed for those with thick, slow fingers."
Mat snorted.
"And finally, iron to bind," Noal said, sliding forward a pack of his own. It clinked faintly as he untied the top, the contents reflecting the deep orange hearthlight. "A set of throwing knives for each of us and two shortswords. Each of pure iron, no steel. I got us some chains, too, and a band of iron to clip around the butt of Mat's spear. It might throw the weight off, though."
"I'll take it," Mat said.

- Towers of Midnight, The End of A Legend

Courage they already have, since they dare to go at all, knowing the risks.

All the items only worked temporarily. Music breaks the *elfinns’ attempts at hypnotism and lulls them to sleep, but doesn’t work if they are angry.

Fire is painful to their eyes but once it goes out they can continue and, worse still, are angry.

Iron weapons are the only ones that injure them; any others pass through them without affecting them. The iron appears to bind them in place, otherwise they would dematerialise to avoid the blow:

Mat cursed, lowering his spear and striking at the Eelfinn, which moved across the ground on all fours. But his blade passed right through it, as if it were smoke.
Was it an illusion? A trick of the eyes? Mat hesitated long enough for another creature to snatch the dice and leap back toward the shadows.
Something sparkled in the air. Thom's dagger found its mark, striking the creature in the shoulder. This time the blade pierced and stayed, releasing a spray of dark blood. Iron, Mat thought, cursing his stupidity.

- Towers of Midnight, The Light of the World

Moiraine and Her Predicament

Moiraine wore her best clothes and jewellery when she went to confront Lanfear (The Fires of Heaven, Choices), presumably because this is what she saw herself wearing in the Wise Ones' ter’angreal. They may have come in handy to pay the Eelfinn. This is supported by the fact that when we next saw her, she was naked:

She was clothed only in a fine white mist that shifted and shone around her, the details of her figure obfuscated but not hidden. Her eyes were closed, and her dark hair—curly but no longer in perfect ringlets—fluttered as if in a wind blowing up from beneath. Her hands rested atop her stomach, and there was a strange bracelet of something that looked like aged ivory on her left wrist.

- Towers of Midnight, The Light of the World

Moiraine is a Sleeping Beauty analogue here.

One of the things Moriaine bargained for was the angreal bracelet:

"With this," Moiraine said. "I will be strong enough to at least take the pain away. They placed it on me to let me draw more of the Power, to make their feeding more succulent. I asked for it, actually, as one of my three demands. I did not realize they would end up using it against me."
"They gave you your three demands?" Mat asked, frowning.
"I passed through the ter'angreal" she said. "The ancient treaty held for both of us, though with the doorway destroyed, there was no simple return. I knew from...previous events that I would not escape unless you came for me, no matter what my demands were or how carefully I worded them. So I used them for the best."
"What did you ask for?" Mat asked. "Beyond the angreal?"
She smiled. "I shall keep that to myself, for now.

- Towers of Midnight, A Rabbit for Supper

So out of two trips into *elfinnland, we know what one of her three requests was and none of her three questions.

Moiraine also knew she would be believed dead and that her rescue was very risky from what she experienced in the rings in Rhuidean (see Doorways and Arches Ter'angreal article). Her rescue had to be delayed until after Mat asked about the letter because there were other things Mat needed to do first in Altara and Andor. Now we know why poor Thom poured over Moiraine’s letter while Mat was around; he tried to attract Mat’s notice for weeks!

As Egwene dreamt, Mat had to weigh whether to aid Moiraine or Verin, the two Aes Sedai who wrote manipulative letters, and chose Moiraine. Effectively, the Pattern risked sacrificing Caemlyn—but Talmanes did his best and it was enough until others came and reinforced him—for Moiraine’s crucial information for defeating the Shadow.

Only three men should go on the mission: Thom, Mat and the knowledgeable and mysterious Noal/Jain Charin; three trickster figures to hopefully get the better of the trickster *elfinn folk. And all of them understand the Old Tongue fairly well.

Moiraine’s Bond to Lan

Lan’s bond was broken when Moraine and Lanfear went through the doorway and the ter’angreal melted. A Warder’s bond breaks through death or if the Aes Sedai is stilled or burned out. However, Moiraine can still channel, though very weakly, so the Bond did not break for these reasons.

At a booksigning, Jordan said that the doorway burned in part because both were channelling and the world on the other side of the doorway has a radically different set of natural laws (Original WOTFAQ). The realm of the Eelfinn is on a different plane of existence from the main world. Moiraine and Lanfear may have torn the connection, thus melting the doorway and breaking the Warder bond. A ter’angreal melts if it is overloaded, or misused, or is unable to connect to what it is linked to (eg the female access key melted after its sa’angreal melted, see Angreal and Access Keys articles). The connection between the land of the Eelfinn and the main world was probably snapped when the doorway ter'angreal was destroyed, snapping the Warder bond as well regardless of whether Moiraine could channel or not. Or more specifically, causing Lan's bond to transfer to Myrelle (because the bond could not work between worlds, which meant Moiraine was dead as far it was concerned, which triggered the transfer). Lan could not feel Moiraine anymore because she was not in the same world anymore—dead to the world, you might say, but he could feel Myrelle, and assumed Moiraine was dead (or at least unable to channel, even though she was not be dead or stilled or burned out). The ter'angreal doorway in Tear connects to a different realm (of the Aelfinn), and the Tower of Ghenjei is closed unless the right mark is made in the right way, so these connections were not able to keep Moiraine’s bond to Lan operational when the connection to the Eelfinn’s realm broke.

It follows, then, that the Eelfinn probably lost contact with Mat and so weren’t capturing his experiences and memories as he feared (Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota).

Could Moiraine have released Lan as she battled Lanfear falling through the doorway? Jordan has answered a question about releasing a Warder:

TOR Week 13 Question: Is the White Tower currently aware of any way to completely dissolve/undo the bond between an Aes Sedai and her Warder so that the link no longer exists and all the positive and negative effects of the bond are removed?

Robert Jordan Answers: Yes, they are. It is called releasing a Warder, and an Aes Sedai who is very old or injured so badly that she knows she is going to die will, if she has the strength, release him so he doesn't suffer from her death. This does require the two of them to be together, and a little more time that laying on the bond. If they are physically apart, or she doesn't have enough time or strength remaining, tough on him.

Moiraine wasn't physically close to Lan, she had little time, and she was already doing something fairly involved, so I don't think she was able to release her bond to Lan in the way Jordan described above. Moreover, Lan DID suffer from Moirain'es 'death', therefore he was not released from his bond. Lan, Myrelle and Nynaeve are agreed on that.

Tower of Ghenjei

After the destruction of the doorway to the Eelfinn world by Moiraine and Lanfear’s abrupt entry, there are only two known ways to get there. One is the redstone door ter’angreal in Tear, the way to the realm of the Aelfinn, and the other the Tower of Ghenjei. Mat, of course, can’t go through the Tear doorway, since he’s already been though it (see Doorways and Arches Ter'angreal article). The Tower of Ghenjei is the only option. It is “fortuitous” that Mat can’t go through the portals, the red-stone doorways, because the trio would be locked into the treaties, which restrict as well as protect. Entering through the Tower of Ghenjei gives them more freedom on what they can bring or do, but the *elfinn folk can draw blood (Towers of Midnight, The End of a Legend).

The Tower of Ghenjei, is a shiny metal tower two hundred feet tall and forty feet thick, encountered by Perrin in the Wolf Dream (otherwise known as Tel’aran’rhiod) and seen by Mat and Rand during their flight down the Arinelle on Bayle Domon’s ship (The Eye of the World, Flight Down the Arinelle). It has no visible openings.

Birgitte is the source of information on the Tower:

"The Tower of Ghenjei," Olver piped up, and all three adults turned their heads to stare at him. "Birgitte told me," he said defensively. "The Tower of Ghenjei is the way to the lands of the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn." He made the gesture that began a game of Snakes and Foxes, a triangle drawn in the air and then a wavy line through it.

- Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota

"Once entered, the Tower of Ghenjei is hard enough to leave in the world of men. Here [Tel’aran’rhiod] it is all but impossible…It is a doorway, archer, to the realms of the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn."

- The Shadow Rising, To The Tower of Ghenjei

"If there's no opening, how do we get in?" Thom wanted to know.
Noal shrugged, but Olver spoke up once more. "Birgitte says you make the sign on the side of it anywhere with a bronze knife." He made the sign that started the game. "She says it has to be a bronze knife. Make the sign, and a door opens."

- Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota

There seem to be two "planes of existence" in the world of the *elfinn, as both Birgitte and Moiraine talk about realms, plural, but as we saw, they both have access to the Tower of Ghenjei. Interestingly, even though Thom was on Domon’s boat down the Arinelle, he didn’t seem to remember the Tower.

Rescue Foretold

Egwene had a Dream which described Moiraine’s rescue:

Mat throwing dice with blood streaming down his face, while Thom Merrilyn put his hand into a fire to draw out the small blue stone that now dangled on Moiraine’s forehead.

- The Fires of Heaven, What Can Be Learned In Dreams

The dream contained the four prohibited items of courage (Thom’s and Mat’s actions), music (Thom himself), fire, and iron (the blood on Mat’s face). The kesiera is something personal of Moiraine’s that is therefore symbolic of her. The dream shows the dangers: Thom literally put his hands into great heat to free Moiraine, Mat has a facial wound hidden by his hat, but he still rolled his dice to find their way. I.e. He is relying on his luck while bravely playing the game against the *elfinn. Noal does not appear in the dream as though he was already dead.

Mat believes that the *elfinn folk knew what Mat and Moiraine would do:

"Us," Mat replied. "Look, they can see what's going to happen. They did it to me, they did it to Moiraine, if that letter is any clue. They knew she would leave a letter for you, Thom. They knew it. And they still answered her questions."
"Maybe they had to," Thom said.
"Yes, but they don't have to answer straightforwardly," Mat said. "They didn't with me. They answered knowing she would come back to them. And they gave me what they did knowing I'd get pulled back, too. They want me. They want us."

- Towers of Midnight, The End of A Legend

However, the *elfinn presumably did not foresee them getting away.


Written by Linda, November, 2005 and updated January, 2011 and 2019


SteelBlaidd said...


Having read up on Mat as Hades, Lord of the Underworld I realized that we have a parallel between Thom and Orpheus.

Additionally I think it should be brought up in the Main Mat entry that Hades is also known as Pluto The Rich One, Giver of Wealth, Lord of Precious Minerals.

Linda said...

I assure you that it is there in the God of Wealth section rather than the God of the Underworld section. I did link Plutus downwards to Hades, but I suppose I should link Hades back upwards.

SteelBlaidd said...

Saw the Reference to Plutus I just think it is likely that there is a direct connection to Hades who is, as Pluton, specifically Lord of Gold and Jewels. Plutus, as bearer of the Cornicopia, seems more a God of Agricultural Wealth.

It allso probably ought to be brought out that Persiphone's epithet "Kore" means "Young Maiden," which explains her youthful appearance and makes one wonder where the other two aspects of the Triune Goddess are hiding. Satele Anan seems best fit for the Mother Role but I can't decide if Aludra ore Moraine will fit that role better.

SteelBlaidd said...

I meant:
"I can't decide if Aludra or Moraine will fit the Crone role better.

Linda said...

Kore is discussed very fully in the Tuon Character Parallels essay, which I wrote the same time I wrote the one on Mat, but won't publish until we discuss Winter's Heart next year. I refer to her essay frequently in the Mat essay and am not adding any more to Mat especially stuff discussed more properly elsewhere; it's long enough as it is! The female characters are not mere adjuncts of the male characters and I wish to write separate essays for all the main women characters. I'm working on Perrin, Faile and Berelain right now - when TGS preparations give me the time.

SteelBlaidd said...

My eyes are lowered that I should give cause to believe that Tuon Athaem Kore Paendrag, or any of the heroines, is not deserving of her own entry (In fact I was puzzled that there was not one already).

In the interest of lightening your burden in that regard I offer my services as an editor and research assistant.

Linda said...

:D Don't worry!

If you want to know what's written or in progress and not yet published, the Main index page will show you: those are the titles which have no hyperlinks yet.

As for the pace of re-publishing: it's set by what else is being posted. We aim to make some sort of post most days, but no more than one, unless there is major WOT news. I could put them all up rapidly: but then there would be so many that most would be overlooked. Considering the amount of work they represent, I don't want any to be lost in the crowd, as it were. I'm publishing at a steady pace of one or two a week - sometimes more - depending on what else is being posted - announcements, read-through posts, Dom's maps, etc.

Before the TGS releases, we got through the first 6 books in the read-through. We had intended to get through them all, but weren't counting on the Prologue being released early. Right now, it seems best to concentrate on TGS, and articles which are likely to be directly useful to TGS, rather than background info (however interesting). After TGS and the necessary updating, we'll get back to read through the other 6 books before Towers of Midnight.

I really liked how Tuon turned out, but she'll be held over until after TGS. Faile and Berelain are currently being researched alongside Perrin. Then I'll turn to maybe another Forsaken, since I haven't done one in a while, or maybe Egwene, Elayne, Nynaeve or Aviendha. That's months away though!

I'm glad you think highly of the heroines, they have not previously been studied in their own right as far as I am aware.

Tuon has many parallels which have nothing to do with Mat, hardly surprising when you think of her responsibilities, and the likelihood that they will spend quite a bit of the next two books apart.

Anonymous said...

There are going to be parallels with some asian folk lores of a man going into the underworld to bring back a woman (wife/mother/siblings/lover). In this case it will be Moiraine from the aelfinn lands. The folklores usually ends in two manner the woman will ask the man to lead her out but warn him not to look back at her.
1. The man looks back and saw the woman hideous form and ran away, leaving the woman cursing the man from the underworld.
2. The man holds to the promise and does not look back. The woman woman slowly reforms back into a beauty as she travels back from the underworld. Happily ever after.

This actually has nothing much to do with the OP. it just some parallels i would like to show.

Linda said...

Anonymous: Those parallels are common in Western Folklore too. Orpheus and Eurydice from Greek Mythology for instance. There is also such an episode in the North American Coyote stories.

Christopher said...

My eyes are lowered at the sheer brilliance of this posting, and specifically the bolded sections. I pretty much see this too. This has been one of the most momentous events, at least for me, since Rand and Nynaeve cleaned Saidin.

Steel Blaidd has said it well with--

"It also probably ought to be brought out that Persephone's epithet "Kore" means "Young Maiden," which explains her youthful appearance and makes one wonder where the other two aspects of the Triune Goddess are hiding. Satelle Anan seems best fit for the Mother Role but I can't decide if Aludra or Moraine will fit that role better."

I simply cannot wait for "Memory of Light" to be released. Cheers! Chris

Linda said...

Thanks Chris for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

We have quite a wait for A Memory of Light - over a year.

Daniƫl van Deutekom said...

Hi Linda, really a great post, one of the best! Me, I can't wait either. :D

SteelBlaidd said...

Realized that Moraine makes a parallel with Brunhlida. "For this Odin condemned her to live the life of a mortal woman, and imprisoned her in a remote castle behind a wall of shields on top of mount Hindarfjall in the Alps, where she must sleep within a ring of fire until any man rescues and marries her.

lpippins said...

I have a question, I’m not sure if it has been asked and answered already. When Moiraine is rescued she remarked concerning the Angreal that she demanded as part of the bargain. When Mat, Thom, and Moiraine escaped the Tower of Ghenji, Moiraine commented that with the angreal she would be strong even stronger that she previously was which was at that time considering Cadsuane that Siuan, Moiraine, Lelaine, and Romanda, stood at the 2nd the highest at the 13.1 level. I’m just curious about how much the angreal increased Moiraine’ s channeling ability from her original level. Also, it is obvious that she had no problems channeling for a prolonged time as she was in pit with Rand and Nyneave. After words her actions to get Nyneave out she exhibited no tired from channeling. What do you guys think?

Also, Nyneave had her belt on that was a Well, so, that implies that she didn’t need the saidar she was channeling in circle with Rand, and Moiraine. I know Rand mentioned channeling was dangerous however, she would just be using a storehouse of Saidar also, I think Rand was mentioning the True Power. I think the Circle protected them from harm. However, I don’t understand why she didn’t tap into her Well to Heal Alanna. Any comments on this point?