Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Names of the Shadow

By Linda

The Wheel of Time world, with its intricate plots, detailed and varied cultures and layers of allusions took Robert Jordan ten years of preparatory research. Nowhere is this research more evident than in the character and place names. Most major character and place names and some minor character names have particularly apt real-world allusions; in the case of major characters, there may be multiple allusions. Some minor character names are also derived from names of towns and geographical features in the real world.

Robert Jordan has often been asked how he derives the names of people and places in his books:

”Mr. Jordan, how do you come up with names for characters in your stories?”

”I have a huge list of names. Whenever I see an interesting name I jot it down. I almost never use the name as it is, though. I change it.”

“Where do you come up with all the names for the cities? Do you just pick them out of your head?”

“Ahh, yeah. I admit to making lists. I read fairly widely and I read newspapers, foreign newspapers. That is, foreign to me, to the States. Also, the Economist and other magazines that have stories about other countries’ news stories. I'll see a name that isn't the name that I want but I realize if I twist it and turn it inside out and tie it into a knot, it's a name that sounds very nice. It's the name I want. The same way names out of myth and legend that in some cases are twisted or turned or changed and others aren't.”

In many cases, the spelling of the name is different to the spelling of the source name. One obvious reason is that Robert Jordan is distancing himself from his sources. Just as importantly, he likes to show how the name and story of a place change over time as history becomes legend and legend myth. Spelling changes contribute to this and add a sense of the time that has elapsed in the world. Finally, the spelling changes may simultaneously evoke multiple allusions to either historic or current places or to aptly descriptive words. Again, this reinforces the theme of history turning to myth as historic and contemporary names alter, or even coalesce.

This article lists the real-world sources I think were used in creating the names of characters aligned to the Shadow in the Wheel of Time world.

The Dark One and the Forsaken

Shai’tan: Shaitan, also spelled Sheitan, Shaytân, is the Arabic name for the devil when he is performing demonic acts or is portrayed as a tempter. In Islâmic myth, shaitan is an unbelieving class of jinn ('spirits') (Encyclopaedia Britannica). In the Wheel of Time series, Shaitan is the equal (or near equal) of the Creator, not a less powerful being.

Nae’blis: The name is derived from Iblis (or Eblis), the personal name of the devil in Islam.

At the creation of man, God ordered all his angels to bow down in obedience before Adam. Iblîs refused, claiming he was a nobler being since he was created of fire, while man came only of clay. For this exhibition of pride and disobedience, God threw Iblîs out of heaven. His punishment, however, was postponed until the Judgment Day, when he and his host will have to face the eternal fires of hell; until that time he is allowed to tempt all but true believers to evil.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Nae’blis is not a personal name, but a title bestowed by the Dark One on the Forsaken he believes promoted his wishes best. Ishamael was the Dark One’s chief henchman in the Age of Legends. He arrogantly and defiantly announced his apostacy in the Hall of Servants and was defeated by Lew Therin (a parallel of Lucifer, another ‘Satan’) at the Gates of Hevan to Paaren Disen. In the Third Age, Ishamael tempted Rand to join him and claimed he set up the Black Ajah. The Nae’blis was finally anointed as the Last Battle approached, and derailed the forces of good. He faced Rand in the Pit of Doom on judgement day, although the hellfires had been consumed. The fate of his soul is unknown, but he may have received the eternal oblivion he craved.

Ishamael: Ishamael means “betrayer of hope” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). Ishmael was the outcast son of Abraham and his concubine Hagar (Genesis 16: 1‒16 and 21: 8‒18 ). Consequently, an Ishmaelite is an outcast. In the Age of Legends, Ishamael defiantly declared his allegiance to the Dark One (The Eye of the World, Prologue) and was humbled by Lews Therin in the Hall of the Servants (Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time).

Another allusion is to the Ismaili fighters of the 11th to 13th centuries, also known as Assassins or Hashishim. Ishamael uses Grey Men or Isam to assassinate people when he doesn’t perform the assassinations himself.

Elan Morin Tedronai (Ishamael’s original name): Elan is a word meaning a combination of style and vigour. It is also a term in philosophy—the élan vital (life force), which causes disorder; appropriate since Elan Morin was a philosopher and caused a lot of disorder:

Creative evolution was a philosophical theory espoused early in the 20th century by Henri Bergson, a French process metaphysician (one who emphasizes becoming, change, and novelty), in his Évolution créatrice (1907; Creative Evolution). The theory presented an evolution in which a free emergence of the individual intelligence could be recognized. It was thus wholly distinct from previous deterministic hypotheses that were either mechanistic or teleological and represented evolution as conditioned either by existing forces or by future aims. Bergson based his theory on the distinction between matter and the élan vital, or life force, the progress of which he saw as a line continually bifurcating or diverging from its course. The evolution of matter is orderly and geometric; disorder, however, with free and unpredictable creativity, is the effect of the life force on its material surroundings.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Elan is a Hebrew personal name meaning ‘tree’, and the name of a town in Ethiopia and in France. Elana is a Greek personal name meaning ‘light’—the light that Elan Morin forsook.

Morin may refer to the theologian Jean Morin (1591‒1659),

the French theologian and biblical scholar who produced major studies on the history and discipline of the early Christian church. His edition of the Samaritan version of the Pentateuch represented the first European scholarship in that dialect.

Born to Calvinist parents, Morin converted to Roman Catholicism under the influence of Pierre de Bérulle, founder of the French Congregation of the Oratory; entered the Oratory; and, in 1619, was ordained. His studies of patristic writers led him to advocate the recognition by the Roman Catholic Church of priests ordained in the Orthodox churches. In 1639 he went to Rome, where he was consulted by Pope Urban VIII in the latter's unsuccessful attempt to unite the Roman and Eastern churches.

Morin was recalled to Paris by Cardinal Richelieu, and he spent the rest of his life in scholarly pursuits. He advanced the theory that the Greek text of the Old Testament was superior to the Hebrew Masoretic text, which he felt had been unintentionally corrupted by the 6th-century Jewish scholars who compiled it from earlier Hebrew sources; his theories were rejected, but he accumulated much material that was of value to later biblical scholars and translators. Morin's major accomplishment was the editing and publication of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) in the Samaritan dialect, which appeared in the Paris Polyglot Bible in 1645.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Morin is a town in Haiti and Mexico. Morin Point and Creek are in Canada.

Tedron and Tedroni are surnames.

Ba’alzamon (Ishamael's alias): The name is a combination of Baalzebub/Beelzebub, an idol of Ekron in 2 Kings Ch 1, and Baal Hamon, the chief god of Carthage in whose name human sacrifices were conducted. Baal was an ancient Middle Eastern god demonised in the Bible. In Matthew 12:24 the Pharisees refer to Beelzebul as the head demon. Similarly, many characters had the mistaken idea that Ba’alzamon referred to the Dark One, not Ishamael.

Moridin (Ishamael's incarnation): Ishamael – betrayer of hope Moridin means “grave, tomb, death” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). Moridin may have been derived from Myrddin, the Welsh for Merlin, the Arthurian wizard. In this case, a very dark, powerful wizard. One of the original sources for the Arthurian Merlin was Myrddin Wyllt, a 6th century Welsh prophet and madman. He went mad after a battle and lived wild in the woods. His gift of prophecy was acquired at this time. He foretold that he would die a triple death of simultaneous falling, stabbing, and drowning. Ishamael/Moridin’s sanity has been doubted and his death was complicated: after his first death by stabbing, he was transmigrated into a new body and then was burned out. His soul died and his body lived on animated by Rand’s soul.

There are a couple of versions of the Arthurian Merlin’s origins but both agree that he wasn’t conceived naturally. In one, a devil fathered Merlin on a virgin as an intended Antichrist. A better-known version is that he was a cambion, a being sired by an incubus upon a woman. A cambion is alive but has no breath or pulse until about seven years old, when they appear normal. Usually evil due to their demonic father, they are very beautiful and cunning and can bend anyone to their will. Moridin’s rebirth wasn’t natural either; he was transmigrated into this body by the Dark One. He leads the Forsaken, who are antichrists and very few characters don’t bend to his will. According to Graendal he is very attractive physically.

Merlin had the gift of prophecy and served as King Arthur’s advisor until he was bewitched and imprisoned in a magic tomb, a cave or a rock by Nimue, or the Lady of the Lake (it varies). Another version of Merlin’s end has it that King Arthur becomes so infuriated with Merlin that he beheads, cuts in half, burns, and curses Merlin, a multiple death. Moridin may be a Dreamer; he appears to be able to read the Pattern in Tel’aran’rhiod and find ta’veren. He is associated with prophecy, having manipulated Hawkwing to send his son on an expedition to Seanchan, Ishamael’s ‘doom yet to come’ (The Eye of the World, The Stag and Lion). As Jalwyn Moerad, Ishamael served as Artur Hawkwing’s advisor. Moridin has given useful advice to Rand (a parallel of the legendary King Arthur rather than the historic Arthur) about killing the Forsaken in The Gathering Storm and at the end of A Crown of Swords. Ishamael was partly trapped in the bore at the end of the Age of Legends. Nynaeve, a parallel of Nimue and the Lady of the Lake (see Arthurian Who's Who), Moiraine and Rand trapped Moridin into helping them seal the Dark One away. Moridin then died his complicated body-switch death as described above.

Jalwin Moerad (Ishamael’s alias during Hawkwing’s reign): Jalwin is a surname. Moerad is a district in Syria.

Moerad may refer to Mourad Bourboune (1938‒ ) an Algerian writer who:

criticized the oppressiveness of the new state as well as its religious traditionalism.

Bourboune's first novel, Le Mont des genêts (1962; “The Mountain of Broom”), describes the collapse of the old order and the coming of a new age that began with the insurrection of Nov. 1, 1954, the event that precipitated the Algerian war for independence. Le Muezzin (1968) presents the principal character in enigmatic terms and uses him to show the rupture of modern-day North Africans with their past. The protagonist is an atheistic muezzin (the caller to daily prayers) whose sacrilegious violence acts to exorcise and delineate the sham and hypocrisy of the Algerian government since independence.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Ishamael advocated the destruction of the old order in the Age of Legends, and went further to call for the destruction of everything. He worked for the Day of Return in which the Dark One would be freed to make the world in his own image. Ishamael’s conversion to the Shadow resulted in sacrilegious violent destruction. Twice he has planned wars to end one Age and begin another.

Demandred: Demandred means “one who twists the blade” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). The name is composed of ‘demon’ and ‘dread’. This is the Celtic term when a wraith or spirit came upon a person unknowingly. Similarly, until the Last Battle no one knew where Demandred is based or what he was up to.

There are also allusions in the name to ‘demands’ and ‘demanding’.

Demandred is also Demon-Modred, the dark version of King Arthur’s half-brother Modred, who fought King Arthur, a parallel of Rand, at the Battle of Camlann, each mortally wounding the other (for more information on Arthurian parallels, see Myths and Pendragons and Who’s Who). Demandred claimed Rand’s role of saviour, just as Modred claimed King Arthur’s throne and wife. Yet Demandred did not get to fight Rand as he demanded, but instead fought three “Arthurian” knights, one of them Galad Damodred, Da-Modred, the good version of Modred, perfect half-brother of Rand/King Arthur.

Barid Bel Medar (Demandred’s original name): Barid probably refers 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

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

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 has an extreme hatred of the Dragon, and aspired to be one to kill him. In Shara, he descended a gorge and entered a cavern where he fought and killed the dragon-like jumara to gain the sa’angreal Sakarnen; the treasure the jumara guarded. For this he was named Bao the Wyld and given the title Dragonslayer (River of Souls). Bel is also the name of a town in Spain and in the US.

Medar is a surname.

Bao the Wyld

The main parallel for Demandred’s alias, Bao the Wyld, is Beowulf, the Hero of Scandinavian legend and Anglo-Saxon literature, 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 fought and killed the monster Grendel that had been marauding the great hall of Hrothgar, King of the Danes for some years, killing Hrothgar’s warriors one by one. When Grendel’s mother attacked in revenge, Beowulf killed her with a sword, then cut off Grendel’s 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.

To show the distortion of knowledge by time, this legend has been split, with Grendel the man-eating monster a parallel of Graendal (see below), 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).

Demandred demanded to fight Rand, but was ignored, and fought three “Arthurian” knights instead, being killed by the third. 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.)

Demandred aimed to kill Rand the Dragon Reborn, and thought the Sharans granted him the title of Dragonslayer as a prophecy of this. However, he was so named because he killed a jumara with a sword and indirect weaves to obtain the golden cup of Sakarnen in Shara (River of Souls). 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, as dragons do.

Bao is an East Asian personal name, and a nod to Bao Pham, volunteer at JordanCon. The similar Bai also has parallels to Bao the Wyld. Bai Qi (died 257 BCE) was general of the Qin (Ch’in) army during the Warring States period in China, a time of war and chaos when atrocities were committed similar to those of the Shadow’s armies. The kingdom of Ch’in was so merciless and militarily aggressive that it was known as “the wild beast” (Alfred S. Bradford, With Arrow, Sword, and Spear: A History of Warfare in the Ancient World). It succeeded in conquering all the other states of China, but at enormous human cost. Bai Qi 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. 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.

For more information on real-life parallels for Demandred and his aliases, see Demandred essay.

Sammael: Sammael means “destroyer of hope” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). In the Ascension of Isaiah of the Pseudepigrapha, Sammael is a demon that will lead Manasseh King of Judah to Beliar. In rabbinic literature, Sammael (also spelled Samael) is the chief of the Satans, and his name means "the venom of God," since he is the angel of death.

According to Gustav Davidson in A Dictionary of Angels,

…Samael has been regarded as both evil and good; as one of the greatest and one of the foulest spirits operating in Heaven, on Earth, and in Hell.

This is appropriate, since Sammael was originally an important general on the side of the Light and changed sides late in the war when he became convinced the Light would lose against the Shadow.

Tel Janin Aellinsar (Sammael’s original name): Tel may allude to William Tell, the famous Swiss archer and freedom fighter, since Tel Janin was into military sports. It also means ‘hill’ in the Middle East and, in archaeology, the raised mound marking the site of an ancient city. Sammael was responsible for reducing quite a few Age of Legend cities to rubble and consigning them to history.

Janin is a town in Samara, Palestine. It is a very ancient settlement mentioned in the Amarna letters (14th century BC) found at Tell el-Amarna, Egypt. Janin was taken by crusaders in the Middle Ages and was a Turkish-German base in World War I. It is now under Israeli rule as part of the West Bank.

Aellinsar has two possible parallels. Aelianus, was a Greek military writer of the 2nd century AD:

whose manual of tactics influenced Byzantine, Muslim, and post-15th-century European methods of warfare.

Probably written in AD 106, Aelianus' Taktike Theoria (“Tactical Theory”), based on the art of warfare as practiced by the Hellenistic successors of Alexander the Great, was an instruction manual on arming, organizing, deploying, and manoeuvring an army in the field. Consulting previous authorities on the subject, Aelianus dealt with a force composed mainly of armoured infantry of the Greek hoplite type, with auxiliary light infantry and cavalry screens. Aelianus' detailed treatise became a valuable source of knowledge for European military writers of the 16th century, when infantry once again began to supersede cavalry as the decisive arm of the battlefield.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

This parallel alludes to Sammael’s military knowledge and skill as a general.

Aellinsar is also similar to Ailinos, the ritual refrain of a dirge in Ancient Greece. This is an apt parallel for someone who was responsible for so many deaths. Linos, whose name was derived from ailinos, was the personification of lamentation in Ancient Greek mythology. In some myths Linos was Apollo’s son, which is appropriate since Sammael has quite a bit in common with Apollo.

Brend (Sammael’s alias in Illian): This name is a combination of brand, a burning stick or even the mark of infamy, and the Bren gun. Interestingly, in Lord of Chaos, Prologue, Graendal mocks Sammael for "moaning over not having shocklances" to arm his troops that he's marshalling in Illian. He is the only one of the Forsaken who wishes he had such weapons. This alias hints that Lord Brend is a dangerous character and knows of technologies he should not. Sammael was branded with a livid scar on his face which Lews Therin inflicted on him during a duel.

Caddar (Sammael’s alias among the Shaido): The Caddo were an American Indian tribe who, faced with threats in 1859 of a massacre by the whites, fled to east central Oklahoma, where they were settled on a reservation on the banks of the Washita River. This is an ironic reference to Sammael’s dispersal of the Shaido (a tribal society) and the resulting destruction of several septs. The Caddo were also given a dubious reputation:

There were scattered reports of ceremonial human sacrifice and cannibalism.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Sammael’s dark reputation was even more justified.

The name Caddar also hints of ‘cad’ (an untrustworthy guy) and cadaver (corpse). Caddaric was on a list of Welsh names in Robert Jordan’s notes that he compiled. The name means battle leader.

For more information on real-life parallels for Sammael and his aliases, see Sammael essay.

Rahvin: Rahvin means “promise of freedom” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). The name is probably derived from Ravana, the second of three incarnations of an Indian demon who was the enemy of Vishnu. In addition to his wives, Ravana had a huge harem. He was very learned but also very aggressive and is noted for capturing Sita, Rama’s wife, and being killed by Rama for it. Morgase, Rahvin’s captive, learned that she shared him with seven other women. Rand attacked and killed Rahvin because he believed that Rahvin had killed Morgase.

Rahvin also has connotations of ‘raving’, ‘ravening’ and ‘raven’.

Ared Mosinel (Rahvin’s original name): The most likely real world origin of Ared is ‘Arad:

a town in southern Israel, in the northeast Negev, named for the biblical Arad nearby. The book of Numbers (21:1–3) tells how the Canaanite king of ‘Arad fought the Israelites during the exodus from Egypt, but his cities were “utterly destroyed” by Israel's armies.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

There are other towns named Arad in Romania, Slovakia, Iran and Yemen. Aradia is a Greek personal name meaning ‘goddess of witches’. Ared also suggests arid. Mosinel may have been derived from Mosina, the name of a town in both Poland and Russia.

Gaebril (Rahvin’s alias): One source is the Archangel Gabriel who:

was the heavenly messenger sent to Daniel to explain the vision of the ram and the he-goat and to communicate the prediction of the Seventy Weeks. He was also employed to announce the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah and to announce the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Rahvin is using the name of an angel to disguise his true intentions. This is not the only angel that Robert Jordan uses in a negative sense (see M’Hael below) and implies that Jordan believes that great power corrupts easily.

Another parallel is Gabriel Prosser, an American slave who planned one of the first major slave rebellions in U.S. history (Aug. 30, 1800). This contrasts with Rahvin claiming to have Morgase’s interests at heart, but enslaving and planning to usurp her.

Be’lal: Be’lal means “desire to have, the Envious” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). Be’lal is derived from Belial/Beliar, a demon/god in apocalyptic literature and the Bible. Belial means worthless, wicked. The Damascus Document (CD) from Qumran states that at the time of the Antichrist,

Belial shall be let loose against Israel, as God spake through Isaiah the prophet (6:9),

and also speaks of the "three nets of Belial" (fornication, wealth, and pollution of the sanctuary) (6:10‒11). Interestingly, Be’lal was known as the ‘netweaver’ in the Age of Legends.

Paul, in II Corinthians 6:15, asked “What concord hath Christ with Belial?” Paul therefore regards Belial as either chief of demons, or as Satan.

In Milton’s Paradise Lost I,

Belial came last; than whom a spirit more lewd
Fell not from Heav’n, or more gross to love
Vice it self.

Milton regards Belial as a fallen angel. Be’lal, too, was corrupted by his ambition and power.

Duram Laddel Cham (Be'lal’s original name): Duram is a surname. The name is similar to Durham, and may refer to the 1st Earl of Durham, George Lambton (1792‒1840):

the British reformist Whig statesman sometimes known as “Radical Jack,” governor general and lord high commissioner of Canada, and nominal author of the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), which for many years served as a guide to British imperial policy.

The son of a great landowner in Durham County, Lambton sat in the House of Commons from 1813 to 1828, when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Durham…His proposals for wide extension of the franchise and other radical measures were distasteful to orthodox Whigs.

In 1830 Durham entered Grey's Cabinet as lord privy seal, and with Lord John Russell (afterward 1st Earl Russell and twice prime minister) and two others, he drafted the first parliamentary Reform Bill (1831; not enacted). After the passage of the third Reform Bill the following year, Durham was sent on diplomatic missions to Russia, Prussia, and Austria and then resigned as lord privy seal (1833). From July 1835 to June 1837 he was ambassador to Russia.

Appointed governor general and lord high commissioner of Canada, Durham arrived at Quebec in May 1838. Faced with French-Canadian hostility, virtual anarchy in Lower Canada (in the modern province of Quebec), and possible expansion of the United States into Canada, he was given almost dictatorial powers.

Durham organized a new and more conciliatory executive council, and on June 28, 1838, the day of Queen Victoria's coronation, he proclaimed an amnesty for all French-Canadian rebels except for 24 of their leaders. For his moderation, he was reviled in England. The Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, disavowed Durham's actions, whereupon the governor general resigned and issued a self-justifying proclamation.

After returning to England, Durham submitted his memorable report to the colonial office on Jan. 31, 1839. He advocated the union of Lower Canada with Upper Canada (in present Ontario), with a large measure of self-government in order to preserve Canadian loyalty to Great Britain and thereby to forestall the annexation of Canada by the United States. Accepting the theory of imperial government put forth by Buller and Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Durham prescribed a Cabinet of colonists whose recommendations on internal affairs were to be executed by the governor general. Foreign policy and international trade were to continue to be regulated from London. He also strongly recommended that the French-Canadians be harassed into abandoning their language and become completely assimilated to the Anglo-Canadians. The union of the two Canadas (by proclamation in 1841) was intended in part to perpetuate the minority status of the French.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

This association with a famous and radical real-world legislator is appropriate for a famous advocate such as Be’lal.

Laddel is a surname.

Cham is the name of towns in Germany, Switzerland, Iran and Peru. Cham may also refer to the Cham people:

who, in central Vietnam referred to as Eastern Cham, are the surviving inhabitants of Champa and who, in Cambodia referred to as Western Cham, are a mixture of Cham and Malay…The traditional Cham family was matrilocal and matrilineal. The cult of nature spirits was all important, because ancestors' souls were supposed to settle in the earth when the tomb—near the rice fields—was abandoned after seven years of worship.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Samon (Belal’s alias): Samon is a surname. It is spelled similar to soman, a nerve gas that is both a respiratory and a contact hazard and may hint at High Lord Samon’s dubious character and that he is aware of technologies he should not be.

Aginor: Aginor means “slicer of the living” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). The name is derived from Agenor, a warrior in the Illiad who was defeated when he attacked Hektor, an opponent he knew was more powerful than himself. Agenor’s reasoning was that he had the gods on his side, and even the powerful make mistakes. But he was defeated in a few minutes. This compares closely to the scenario at the end of The Eye of the World, where Aginor the Forsaken attacked Rand. Aginor knew that Rand was the Dragon Reborn, but he figured that he had the Dark One, and much more experience, on his side. Yet he was defeated. Unlike Agenor, Aginor nearly won his duel, but his pride in trying to channel too much of the One Power resulted in his own death. There are also a few other characters called Agenor in Greek mythology, but they have no parallels.

Aginor also has connotations of ‘agony’.

Ishar Morrad Chuain (Aginor’s original name): Isha is a Hindi name meaning ‘one who protects’. There is also an Arabian tree (the milkweed tree) named ishar.

Morrad is a surname and may also refer to Morad Beg (Murad Beg) Khan of Konduz, the infamous Uzbek warlord and slave-trader who overran Badakhshan in Afghanistan in 1821, destroying towns. Morad is part of the names of towns in Afghanistan and Iran.

Since Aginor was a biological scientist, Chuain may refer to the distinguished biochemist Sir Earnest Boris Chain, (1906‒1979):

who, with pathologist Howard Walter Florey (later Baron Florey), isolated and purified penicillin (which had been discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming) and performed the first clinical trials of the antibiotic. For their pioneering work on penicillin Chain, Florey, and Fleming shared the 1945 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Chain served as the director of the International Research Centre for Chemical Microbiology, Superior Institute of Health, Rome, from 1948 until 1961. He then joined the faculty of Imperial College, University of London, where he was professor of biochemistry (1961–73), professor emeritus and senior research fellow (1973–76), and fellow (1978–79). Chain was knighted in 1969.

In addition to his work on antibiotics, Chain studied snake venoms; the spreading factor, an enzyme that facilitates the dispersal of fluids in tissue; and insulin.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Osan’gar (Aginor's incarnation): Osan is the US air base located close to the demilitarised zone in Korea. It is the most forward of the permanently deployed air wings and its primary purpose is to maintain combat readiness. Osan’gar was deployed close to Rand, ‘near the combat zone’ as far as the Shadow were concerned, to gather advance information and to strike quickly when required.

Osan’gar also has connotations of ‘anger’.

Corlan Dashiva (Aginor’s/Osan'gar’s alias): Corlan is a surname. Dashiva could be a combination of Shiva, the destroyer in Hindu religion, and Dashera, the festival of triumph of good Prince Rama over evil. The latter is an ironic allusion to Dashiva appearing to be one of the good guys, such as when he assisted Flinn to develop his method of Healing, but in reality undermining Rand’s cause.

Balthamel: Balthamel means “essence of youth” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). Balthamel was probably derived from Balthazar (Belshazzar) (d. circa 539 BC), co-regent of Babylon when the Jews were exiled there.

During his co-regency Belshazzar administered the government, his own estates, and those of his father, though, according to the Book of Daniel, famine and economic setbacks occurred late in his rule. According to the accounts in the Bible and Xenophon's Cyropaedia, Belshazzar held a last great feast at which he saw a hand writing on a wall the following words in Aramaic: “mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.” The prophet Daniel, interpreting the handwriting on the wall as God's judgment on the king, foretold the imminent destruction of Babylon.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Balthamel had a wild and destructive reputation in the Age of Legends. As Halima/Aran’gar, he presided over the equally destructive Aes Sedai rebellion and ensuring its continuation until warned that he was about to be exposed. Despite Egwene’s forewarning, the White Tower was nearly destroyed by the Seanchan. Graendal is a parallel of the whore of Babylon, and Aran’gar was destroyed when Rand balefired Graendal’s palace.

Eval Ramman (Balthamel’s original name): Eval probably refers to Mount Eval/Ebal, the barren grey mountain where the tribes of Israel heard the curse of God pronounced in Deuteronomy 11:29—the consequences if they transgressed the Ten Commandments. Certainly, Eval Ramman broke most of the Commandments before the Dark One even touched the world. Eval is also similar to ‘evil’.

Ramman (Rimmon in the Old Testament or Hadad in the the Assyro-Babylonian pantheon) was the chief god of the Aramaeans. He was the god of storms, thunder, and rain. The Aramaeans contended with the Israelites for territory in biblical times. Eval Ramman studied ancient or vanished cultures such as the Aramaeans.

Ramman is similar to some real-world places: Raman in India, Thailand and Albania and Rammen in Sweden.

Aran’gar (Balthamel's incarnation): If the name followed the pattern for Osan’gar, Aran’gar would be derived from Aran, the islands off the west coast of Ireland. However, there don’t appear to be any parallels here.

Aran’gar also has connotations of ‘arranger’ and ‘anger’.

Halima Saranov (Balthamel's/Aran'gar's alias): Balthamel. Halima is an African personal name meaning ‘gentle’. The name is meant sarcastically, since Halima murdered a few people and also broke a man’s arm.

Halima may be derived from Abdül’halim, who united the dissatisfied groups in Anatolia, (over-taxed peasants, unpaid troops turned bandit, disaffected citizens and Turkish and Kurdish nomads) in 1598, forcing the towns to pay tribute and dominating provinces in central Anatolia. When Ottoman forces were sent against them, the group withdrew to Urfa in southeastern Anatolia, making it the centre of resistance (Enclyclopaedia Britannica). Halima tried to control the rebel Aes Sedai (who withdrew from the Tower south to Salidar) and keep the conflict between the rebels and the White Tower alive.

Saranov is a surname.

For more information on real-life parallels for Balthamel and his aliases, see Balthamel essay.

Asmodean: Asmodean means “musician” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). Asmodean is derived from Asmodeus, a demon prince in Jewish demonology. He was believed to be lechery personified.

According to the apocryphal Book of Tobit, Asmodeus, smitten with love for Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, killed her seven successive husbands on their wedding nights. Following instructions given to him by the angel Raphael, Tobias overcame Asmodeus and married Sarah.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

The Talmud relates that Solomon captured the demon and pressed him into slave labour during the construction of the First Temple of Jerusalem, just as Rand captured Asmodean in The Shadow Rising and forced him to teach Rand to channel.

Joar Addam Nessosin (Asmodean’s original name): Joar is a personal name. Addam may refer to the American artist Charles Addams (1912–1988):

The cartoonist whose drawings, known mostly through The New Yorker magazine, became famous in the United States as examples of macabre humour.

His cartoons began to attract considerable popular attention about 1940. Addams became famous for his ironic depictions of morbid or inexplicable behaviour by sinister-looking individuals. His best-known cartoons centred on a family of ghouls whose activities travestied those of a conventional family; for example, they prepare to pour boiling oil from the rooftop on a group of Christmas carollers. Addams' ghoulish characters served as the basis of “The Addams Family,” a popular television series in the mid-1960s.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Addam is also similar to the names of real-world towns: Adam in Oman, Ad Dammam in Saudi Arabia, and Ad Dawm in Sudan.

Nessosin probably refers to Nessos, a centaur of dubious character whom Hercules and his wife Deianira encountered on their travels. Nessos was the ferryman on the Evenus River. As Nessos carried Deianira across, he tried to sexually assault her, and Hercules shot the centaur in the heart with one of his arrows. Just before he died, Nessos set up his revenge by telling Deianira that the blood pouring from his wound could be used as a love potion, if need be. Deianira collected some of the centaur's blood and later put it onto a cloak she'd woven for Hercules, hoping it would renew his love for her. The blood was not a love potion, but a deadly poison instead, and its touch burned Hercules' skin and led to his death.

Interestingly, Heracles murdered his music teacher, Linos, so it is appropriate that Nessos unknowingly punished Hercules and avenged Linos. This fits in with Asmodean being a child-prodigy in music.

The centaurs were Greek mythological creatures, part human and part horse. They were descendants of Centaurus, a son of the music god Apollo (the music theme again). Most centaurs, such as Nessos, were unruly, brawling, susceptible to drunkenness and often hostile to humans. They symbolise the negative combination of man’s animal and spiritual natures: violent lust, adultery, brutality, vengefulness, heretics, and the Devil—an appropriate parallel for Asmodean. A few centaurs were learned, wise and self-controlled, skilled in the arts of Apollo: medicine, music, prophecy and hunting.

Jasin Natael (Asmodean’s alias): Jasin is a surname and a place in Malaysia. It could allude to Jason, Hellenistic Jewish high priest (175–172 BC) in Jerusalem under the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. By promising greater tribute to Antiochus, he obtained the high priesthood and, scorning the traditional Jewish monotheism of the Pharasaic party, promoted Greek culture and religion throughout Judaea in Palestine. Many Jews felt betrayed.

Another possibility as suggested by a reader is the Ancient Greek Hero Jason, who ventured with the Argonauts to find the Golden Fleece. His wife was Medea, niece of Circe (a parallel of Graendal). She was a witch and is often named as a priestess of Hecate, and therefore is a parallel of Lanfear (see Lanfear essay). Medea aided Jason on his tasks. Jason sowed the teeth of a dragon into the ground and they sprouted into an army of warriors. He was able to defeat them by following Medea’s advice to distract them so that they fought each other. He drugged the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece with a herbal potion given him by Medea and stole the treasure.

Asmodean imprinted the dragon tattoos on Couladin’s forearms to distract Rand while Asmodean raided Rhuidean for the male Choedan Kal access key, a treasure as great as the Golden Fleece. As a result, the Aiel, Children of the Dragon, fought each other over whether Rand was their Car’a’carn. Lanfear and Asmodean had a partnership for a time and each aimed to use the Dragon as a puppet for their own ends. The hero Jason has strong parallels with Rand as well as with Asmodean (see Rand essay).

Natael is similar to Natal, the Israel centre for treating Israeli victims of terror and war. Ironically, Natael was forced to aid the Light in the war against the Shadow.

For more information on real-life parallels for Asmodean and his aliases, see Asmodean essay.

M’Hael: M’hael means “supreme leader” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). The name is derived from Archangel Michael. Michael:

is repeatedly depicted as the “great captain,” the leader of the heavenly hosts, the warrior helping the children of Israel; and early in the history of the Christian church he came to be regarded as helper of the church's armies against the heathen. He holds the secret of the mighty “word” by the utterance of which God created heaven and earth...The numerous representations of Michael in art reflect his character as a warrior: he is shown with a sword, in combat with or triumph over a dragon, from the story in the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse).

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

The M’Hael was the leader and teacher of an army of Asha’man and privy to the power by which the Creator made the world. It is ironic that Michael is usually depicted holding a sword, because Taim is contemptuous of swords. He did not fight the Dragon but either Turned the Asha’man following the Dragon to the Shadow or killed them. With a title derived from an angel, Taim appeared to be good, although he was recruiting, training and giving orders to Dreadlords. This is a negative parallel for the archangel and implies that Robert Jordan believes that great power corrupts easily.

The name M’Hael also alludes to the word ‘Hail’. The black-coated Asha’man are hailing Taim as their leader; very reminiscent of the black coated SS and the Nazis crying ‘Heil Hitler’ in Germany. Furthermore, M’Hael means ‘leader’ in the Old Tongue, and the Nazis referred to Hitler as Fuhrer, which means ‘leader’ in German. The Asha'man, so similar to the SS with their black shirts, and their military ranks of Attack Leader and Storm Leader, are effectively calling Taim the Fuhrer. They could have given him a more military title to go with the other top military ranks of the Asha'man, or they could have emphasised his training role, or his organisational role. This is a close linking of Taim and the leadership of the Shadow, since Hitler is a parallel of both the Dark One and Ishamael/Moridin (see Three Strands Common to the Forsaken essay and forthcoming Ishamael and Dark One essays). Pevara says that M'Hael

meant "leader" in the Old Tongue, but the implication of taking that alone as a title gave the word much stronger meaning, as if he led everyone and everything.

- Knife of Dreams, epilogue

Mazrim Taim: Taim was an important clan of Arabs at the time of the Prophet Mohammed. Cardinal Mazarin was a 17th century manipulative politician who transferred his services from the Pope to the French court. Similarly, there was uncertainty about which side Taim was working for and he was able to corrupt many Asha’man before being driven out of the Black Tower.

Lanfear: Lanfear means “daughter of the night” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). The name is similar to l’enfer, which means ‘hell’ in French. ‘Fear’ is included for good measure, since Lanfear is fearsome and terrifying as well as hellish. Lanfear is “one hell of a woman” in all senses of the phrase. For more information on real-life parallels for Lanfear and her aliases, see Lanfear essay.

Selene (Lanfear’s alias): In Ancient Greece, Selene was goddess of the crescent moon:

She was worshipped at the new and full moons and was usually represented as a woman with the moon (often in crescent form) on her head… Selene is most identified with the beautiful youth Endymion, whom she loved and who was cast into eternal sleep in a cave on Mount Latmus; there, Selene visited him while he slept. A common form of the myth represents Endymion as having been put to sleep by Selene herself so that she might enjoy his beauty undisturbed.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

There are a couple of parallels here. Lanfear has a liking for crescent moon motifs in jewellery, and she has also visited Rand as he slept. Egwene dreamt of an evil woman with eyes that "seemed to shine like the moon" (Lanfear) standing over Rand as he lay sleeping by the Portal Stone (The Great Hunt, Woven in the Pattern). Lanfear also visited Rand in his dreams in the Aiel Waste (The Shadow Rising, Traps) and was going to use her control of him in Tel’aran’rhiod to enslave him.

Cyndane (Lanfear's incarnation): Cyndane means “last chance” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). It is perhaps a combination of two names, Cynthia and Dane. Cynthia is the name the ancient Greeks sometimes called Artemis (their goddess of the moon and the hunt) from her birthplace on Mount Cynthus on Delos.

Cyndane incorporates the word Dane as a reference to her colouring: she now has silvery blonde hair and blue eyes. Furthermore, the Vikings, who caused so much grief and destruction when they invaded England from the late 8th century to the 11th century, were referred to as Danes.

Mierin Eronaile (Lanfear’s original name): While Mierin is similar to the real world place name Mierini in Latvia, it may also refer to Muirenn, of Irish mythology. She was the one of the Sidhe, or ‘fairy folk’ and was often called ‘Muirne of the White Neck.’ Muirenn fell in love with Cumhaill, a young warrior in the Fianna, the bodyguard of the High King of Ireland and refused to leave him and return to the Otherworld. Lanfear turned her life upside down for love and she too had beautiful white skin.

Eronaile may be a reference to the Erinyes, the Furies of Greek mythology, a parallel of Lanfear (see Lanfear essay).

Keille Shaogi (Lanfear’s alias): Keille looks like Kellie or Kylie, but is also similar to ‘kill’. Liu Shaogi was the Chinese Communist party organiser and Mao’s second in command for more than 20 years. The name thus hints at Lanfear’s plans to ruthlessly manipulate Rand and Asmodean.

Silvie (Lanfear’s alias): Her name is very close to silver, a colour associated with the moon. This lunar association is consistent with Selene, goddess of the moon, and Lanfear, Daughter of the Night, ornamenting herself with silver stars and crescent moons.

Graendal: Graendal means “vessel of pleasure” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). The name is derived from Grendel, a man-eating monster in the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf. In the poem, Denmark was ravaged for 12 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 is surely a man-eater. The name also shows Robert Jordan’s ideas of how myths change with time—two monsters, mother and son, became one man-eater of a woman who killed children so they wouldn’t suffer when she enslaved their parents. The dragon-slaying Beowulf was used to develop Demandred’s alias Bao the Wyld (see above).

Kamarile Maradim Nindar (Graendal’s original name): Her name appears to be mostly derived from real-world place names, as many character names are. Nindar is a place in India. Places with names very similar to Maradim are Maradam, in India and the Philippines, and Umm al-Maradim in Kuwait. Kamarile may refer to Carmilla, the female vampire in the 1872 book of the same name by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and/or Camille, the English name for Alexander Dumas fils’ novel La Dame aux Camélias about a courtesan. There are place names similar to Kamarile: Karamile in Ethiopia and Kamarai and Kamaria in Greece.

Basene (Graendal’s alias in Arad Doman): ‘Base one’ is what is suggested by this name, hinting at Graendal’s evil machinations. Basene may refer to Bassein, the name of towns in Burma and West India:

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, trying to play the Domani against the Dragonsworn and the Seanchan and sowing chaos.

Maisia (Graendal’s alias among the Shaido): Maisia is similar to Maisie, a very old-fashioned name, the antithesis of glamour, which also happens to mean ‘child of light’. No wonder Graendal was annoyed with Sammael for naming her thus.

Hessalam: Hessalam means “without forgiveness” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). 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. Salem, Massachusetts, the centre of the Salem witchcraft trials, is a Hellenised form of salam.

Hessalam reminded me of ‘heffalump’, the elephantine creatures in Winnie the Pooh that are never seen. Greandael set three ‘heffalump traps', traps that rebound on the setter of the trap, in her case causing collateral damage as well as significant damage to herself: at Natrim’s Barrow she tried to trap Rand and was almost 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 a 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. Three of his papers are: On Restraint and Coercion, 1833, An Attempt to Institute the Correct Discrimination between Crime and Insanity, 1843, and On the Increase of Insanity, 1843. His 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 this. Matthews believed that a gang of spies and criminals were reading the minds, and influencing the thoughts, of important people in London with a machine called an 'air loom’ that emitted rays or ‘volatile magnetic fluid’. 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.

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

During the Last Battle she influenced the minds of the Great Captains to terrible effect. Her parallel with Haslam asks the questions about the labelling and ethical treatment of the mentally ill, and Semirhage’s reference to Graendal’s knowledge when diagnosing Rand’s mental condition (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box).

For more information on real-life parallels for Graendal and her aliases, see Graendal essay.

Mesaana: Mesaana means “teacher of lessons” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). The name is similar to Marzanna, the personification of death and winter in Slavic mythology. She is portrayed as an old woman dressed in white. Mesaana is a cold-blooded schemer and killer—a truly deadly and wintry personality.

Saine Tarasind (Mesaana’s original name): Saine is a surname, as is Tarasin.

Danelle (Mesaana’s alias): Danelle is a personal name, a variant of Danielle.

For more information on real-life parallels for Mesaana and her aliases, see Mesaana essay.

Semirhage: Semirhage means “the promise of pain” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). This is a combination name. Semiramis was a semi-legendary Assyrian Queen who had her husband King Ninus of Babylon executed, so she could take the throne. 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. Similarly, Semirhage ruthlessly killed or used people as she saw fit to enhance her plans for power.

Semjaza, (also Samlazaz or Shemihaza) was the name of the leader of the fallen angels in the Book of Enoch in the Pseudepigrapha. Many of the Forsaken have names derived from fallen angels to show there is always the risk that great power will corrupt.

Rage is also included in her name, since Semirhage was still angry over her treatment in the Age of Legends, though outwardly calm.

Nemene Damendar Boann (Semirhage’s original name): Nemene may refer to the Nemean lion of Greek mythology that Hercules killed. This was his first labour: to rid the Nemean plain of this wild, enormous and extremely ferocious lion, which was the son of the monsters Typhon (who had 100 heads) and Echidna (half maiden - half serpent), and brother of the Theban Sphinx. In some legends, it is said that the Nemean lion was suckled by Selene the goddess of the moon, in others, that it was nursed by the goddess Hera. (I'm sure Semirhage would like the legend that she was dependent for a time on Selene/Lanfear. ;))

Heracles soon discovered that no weapon could kill the lion, so he fought the monster with his bare hands and strangled it to death. Once the huge monster was dead Heracles skinned the beast with its own razor-sharp claws and wore the skin as a cloak.

Nicola Foretold that Rand would do nine impossible things, so Rand may well be a parallel of Hercules and his twelve labours. Semirhage used the Domination Band to force Rand to half strangle himself, and then Min, with his bare hands. Being cuendillar, the Band could not be destroyed by any weapon including the One Power. In desperation, Rand drew upon the True Power of Semirhage’s own master and balefired her, an equivalent of skinning the beast with its own claws. No one prior to Rand had broken free of an a’dam, let alone broken one made of cuendillar, while it is being used on them. To do so would be considered impossible. After his use of the True Power, a sinister darkness could be seen around Rand at times—the Shadow’s ‘cloak’.

Two towns with names similar to Nemene are Nemende in Mali and Nemena in Burkina Fasu. Two towns with names similar to Damendar are Darendar, in Afghanistan and Damen Dao Islands, in China.

Boann is one of the names of the Irish mother goddess:

The goddess is the Celtic reflex of the primordial mother who creates life and fruitfulness through her union with the universal father-god. Welsh and Irish tradition preserve many variations on a basic triadic relationship of divine mother, father, and son. The goddess appears, for example, in Welsh as Modron (from Matrona, “Divine Mother”) and Rhiannon (“Divine Queen”) and in Irish as Boann and Macha.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Semirhage may appear sinister or motherly, depending on the emotion she wants to inspire in her victim,

There are also real-world towns with names similar to Boann: Boaan, in the Philippines, and Boan in Central African Republic and in Yugoslavia.

Anath Dorje (Semirhage’s alias): Anath was the chief West Semitic goddess of love and war, the sister and helpmate of the god Baal.

Considered a beautiful young girl, she was often designated “the Virgin” in ancient texts. Probably one of the best-known of the Canaanite deities, she was famous for her youthful vigour and ferocity in battle…she was primarily known for her role in the myth of Baal's death and resurrection, in which she mourned and searched for him and finally helped to retrieve him from the netherworld.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Semirhage held a high position in the Seanchan Empire which is at war with the mainland. She certainly had a ferocious reputation and worked to further the Shadow’s cause and free the Dark One from his prison.

Dorje is a Tibetan personal name and is also the ritual object that is held in the right hand of a Lama during various religious ceremonies. Dorje means ‘noble stone’. The dorje is like the diamond, but that gem is an inadequate symbol for it. However, just as any other substance will be destroyed on impact with a diamond, so the ritual object symbolizes that which is indestructible, enduring, powerful, invincible, and irresistible.

Symbolically a dorje represents the 'thunderbolt of enlightenment,' that abrupt change in human consciousness which is recognised by all the great religions as a pivotal episode in the lives of mystics and saints. For Buddhists, it is what occurred to the historical Buddha and to all those who experience the dropping away of 'self'. The Tibetans call this "the Great Death" to distinguish it from that physical one which will be the experience of us all.

Semirhage was powerful and indomitable; as hard as diamond. She destroyed the entire Seanchan imperial family and made Tuon fear her. Her claim that Rand was insane since he could hear Lews Therin’s voice and that nothing could cure it was certainly a thunderbolt of ‘enlightenment’.

The cuendillar Domination Band with which Semirhage enslaved Rand was more indestructible than diamond. Rand used the True Power to destroy it and balefire Semirhage, a type of ‘Great Death’, but not the final death, since she can be reborn again. Rand believed that Semirhage’s abuse had hardened Rand himself into cuendillar. The True Power corrupted Rand inexorably until after a long struggle he achieved enlightenment in a pivotal episode on Dragonmount and his second self, Lews Therin, dropped away.

For more information on real-life parallels for Semirhage and her aliases, see Semirhage essay.

Moghedien: Moghedien means “poisonous spider” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). The name may have been derived from Mogadon (nitrazepam), a sleeping drug. Common side effects include confusion and forgetfulness. Moghedien has enough talent for Compulsion to do the same, as Elayne and Nynaeve can testify. Appropriately, Moghedien’s strongest talent is for Tel’aran’rhiod, the World of Dreams. Furthermore, she has put quite a number of people ‘to sleep’.

Lillen Moiral (Moghedien’s original name): Lillen is similar to the personal name Lillian, and also to Lille, a town in France. Moiral probably refers to Moira (plural Moirai) the Greek goddess/es of Fate:

who determined human destinies, and in particular the span of a person's life and his allotment of misery and suffering. Homer speaks of Fate (moira) in the singular as an impersonal power and sometimes makes its functions interchangeable with those of the Olympian gods. From the time of the poet Hesiod (8th century BC) on, however, the Fates were personified as three very old women who spin the threads of human destiny. Their names were Clotho (Spinner), Lachesis (Allotter), and Atropos (Inflexible).

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

This fits in with Moghedien the Spider weaving her webs (schemes) to trap people. She shortened a lot of people’s life spans and allotted them misery and suffering.

Marigan (Moghedien’s alias): Marigan is similar to Morrigan. Morrigan (meaning ‘Phantom Queen’) was the triple Irish war goddess with supernatural powers, who appeared in battle in changing horrible disguises. She was associated with Badb, ‘Crow’ and Nemhain, ‘Frenzy’ and was a great slaughterer of men. Marigan was one of Moghedien’s disguises. Moghedien hides and waits for the right moment to kill her prey—and she has killed a lot of prey. She is as elusive as a phantom and is a master of Tel’aran’rhiod, where anything can be changed… In the Last Battle, Moghedien disguised herself as Demandred and tried to rally the Sharan forces.

Gyldin (Moghedien’s alias): There are a few allusions associated with the name and all hint that Gyldin is not a typical servant.

Galdan Boshogtu (1645–1697) succeeded in uniting all the Western and Outer Mongols from Tibet to Russia and almost seized Peking, the capital of the Manchu Empire. Moghedien aspires to similar power. After Demandred was killed, Moghedien took over his "Mongol horde" of Sharans.

In AD 397, Gildo, the military commander of Rome's African province, revolted against the western Roman Empire, and declared for the Eastern emperor, Arcadius, instead. This meant that Rome’s valuable African grain supply would fall into the hands of the East and so Rome reacted quickly and put down the rebellion. Likewise, Moghedien seized control of Liandrin’s group until she in turn was captured, rescued, punished and enslaved.

Finally, Gyldin is similar to gilding, the covering of wood, metal, plaster or glass with a thin layer of gold. Of course, in Moghedien’s case, the reverse is true: powerful Moghedien has covered herself with a humble exterior.


Trollocs: The name is a combination of troll and orc.

The twelve main Trolloc clan names are:

  • Ahf'frait: Afrit or Ifrit:

    in Islamic mythology, a class of infernal jinn (spirits below the level of angels and devils) noted for their strength and cunning. An ifrit is an enormous winged creature of smoke, either male or female, who lives underground and frequents ruins. Ifrits live in a society structured along ancient Arab tribal lines, complete with kings, tribes, and clans. They generally marry one another, but they can also marry humans. While ordinary weapons and forces have no power over them, they are susceptible to magic, which humans can use to kill them or to capture and enslave them.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Ahf‘frait means “strong wind” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.)

  • Al'ghol: Ghoul:

    a demonic being believed to inhabit burial grounds and other deserted places. In ancient Arabic folklore, ghouls belonged to a diabolic class of jinn (spirits) and were said to be the offspring of Iblis, the Muslim prince of darkness. They were capable of constantly changing form, but their presence was always recognizable by their unalterable sign: ass's hooves.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    (Photo from Al’ghol means “the soulless” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.)

    Algol is also a star that the ancients believed to have a very evil influence.

  • Bhan'sheen:

    a supernatural being in Irish and other Celtic folklore whose mournful “keening,” or wailing screaming or lamentation, at night was believed to foretell the death of a member of the family of the person who heard the spirit.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Bhan’sheen means “bringers of annihilation” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.)

  • Dha'vol: Dha’vol means “sires of agony” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion). It refers to devil: in this case not the prince of evil, but the general term for minor demonic spirits.

  • Dhai'mon: Dhai’mon means “scythes of war” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.) It is a reference to demon:

    any malevolent spiritual being that mediates between the transcendent and temporal realms.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

  • Dhjin'nen: Djinn:

    in Arabic mythology, a supernatural spirit below the level of angels and devils…Jinn are beings of flame or air who are capable of assuming human or animal form and are said to dwell in all conceivable inanimate objects—stones, trees, ruins—underneath the earth, in the air, and in fire. They possess the bodily needs of human beings and can even be killed, but they are free from all physical restraints. Jinn delight in punishing humans for any harm done them, intentionally or unintentionally, and are said to be responsible for many diseases and all kinds of accidents.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Dhjinnen means “those who cause terror” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.)

  • Ghar'gael: Ghar’ghael means “brutes of venom” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.) It is a reference to gargoyle:

    usually a grotesque bird or beast sitting on its haunches on the back of a cornice molding and projected forward for several feet in order to throw the water far from the building.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

  • Ghob'hlin: Goblin:

    in Western folklore, a wandering sprite that is usually mischievous but often malicious. Goblins supposedly live in grottoes but attach themselves to households, where they are believed to bang upon pots and pans, snatch nightclothes off the bodies of sleeping people, move furniture at night, and flee after rapping on walls and doors.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Ghob’hlin means “harvesters of souls” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.)

  • Gho'hlem: Gho’hlem means “takers of souls” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.) It is a reference to golem, a created being in Jewish folklore.

    In early golem tales the golem was usually a perfect servant, his only fault being a too literal or mechanical fulfilment of his master's orders.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

  • Ghraem'lan: Ghraem’lan means “prized of the mighty” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.) It is a reference to gremlin: a troublemaking type of imp, said to be responsible for mechanical troubles in aircraft.

  • Kno'mon: Kno’mon means “scythes of devastation” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.) It is a reference to gnome:
    in European folklore, dwarfish, subterranean goblin or earth spirit who guards mines of precious treasures hidden in the earth. He is represented in medieval mythologies as a small, physically deformed (usually hunchbacked) creature resembling a dry, gnarled old man.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

  • Ko'bal: Ko’bal means “brotherhood” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.) It is a reference to kobold:

    in German folklore, mischievous household spirit who usually helps with chores and gives other valuable services but who often hides household and farm tools or kicks over stooping persons. He is temperamental and becomes outraged when he is not properly fed. He sometimes sings to children. Some kobolds have been called the spirits of caves and mines.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

Each of these malicious creatures have traits of the Trollocs in them. Jordan is suggesting that these real-world mythological creatures are folk memories of Trollocs (the name derived from troll (see illustration) + orc), a process he called ‘reverse engineering’.

Narg: There is a town named Narga in Chad and in Senegal. The name also suggests snaga, ‘slave’ in the Black Tongue in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings - a contemptuous term used by larger breeds of orc for smaller ones. This was also the name of the orc that Sam fought in the Tower of Cirith Ungol.

Myrddraal: Myrddraal could be a combination of Myrddin, the Welsh name for the Arthurian magician Merlin, and Baal, the ancient Middle Eastern god/demon in the Bible. Similarly, Myrddraal are powerful and hard to kill.

The name also has connotations of ‘murder’.

Shaidar Haran: Shaidar may be a combination of ‘shadow’ and Shanidar, an important archaeological site. It is near the world’s earliest known cemetery.

Haran was an important city in ancient times. Its chief god was the Babylonian moon god, Sin, and it was one of the last strongholds of Babylonian paganism in Christian and early Muslim times.

Draghkar: Draghkar is similar to Dracula. The draghkar is a psychic vampire—it sucks the soul, not blood. The draugr or draugar of Norse mythology are undead creatures who kill humans by drinking their blood, crushing them or eating their flesh. They are formidable opponents and hard to kill.

Gholam: Gholam is derived from the golem, the Jewish 16th century mythical artificial man. The gholam is a construct, a being constructed with the Power. Gholam means “soulless” in the Old Tongue (The Wheel of Time Companion.)

Grey Men/Women: The name refers to revenants, walking corpses, grey and rotting, who search for people to harm or kill. They do not randomly wander like in the modern-day portrayals of zombies. In early stories, they returned to harass their surviving families and neightbours, but later it was believed that they returned for a specific purpose. They were evil when alive, just as Grey Men and Women were.

Another reference is to Ninjitsu, the Way of the Ninja, also translated as “the art of invisibility” (Ross Heaven, The Spiritual Practises of the Ninja). Ninjas are regarded as “warriors of the shadow self”.

Jumara: Jumara is a surname. The gods of Finland are collectively known as Jumala.

Zomara, pl Zomaran: The name refers to zombie, but zomaran are like devils in their attractive exterior and their ability to read thoughts.

Machin Shin: Machin could refer to machine, in this case an instrument of destruction. Machin is the name of towns in Iran, Colombia and Mexico. Shin is the name of towns in Japan, Benin, Azerbaijan and Syria. It may also refer to sin—Machin Shin is certainly a sinful machine.

Black Ajah

Alviarin Freidhen: Alviarin is similar to alvearie, meaning ‘bee-hive’ in Latin. One of the earliest multi-language dictionaries, John Baret's work of 1573, An Alvearie: or triple Dictionarie, in Englishe, Latin, and French was named Alvearie in acknowledgement of that the work was brought together by his students in the course of their exercises, and the book was a result of their “beehive” of industry (Encyclopaedia Britannica). The Alvearie of 1573 has English headwords, followed by Latin equivalents, Latin examples, and French equivalents. The Black Ajah is a ‘beehive’ for the Shadow, and Alviarin, as perhaps the only one who knows all the names of the Black Ajah and their hearts, is queen bee (under Mesaana, of course).

Alviarin may also have been derived from Alivar, a town in Hungary, or Alviano a town in Italy. Freidhen may be derived from frei, which means ‘free’ in German. For example, Freidenker is ‘free thinker’ in German, while Frieden meaning ‘peace’ is closest in spelling. Frieden is also a surname.

Amico Nagoyin: Amico means ‘friend’ in Italian. What a nice friend. Nagoyin is very similar to Nagoya, a town in Japan.

Asne Zeramene: Asne is very similar to Asnes, a town in Norway, Asner, a town in Morocco and Asnet, a town in Chad. Zeramene is similar to Zeramel, a town in Ethiopia and Zeramin, a town in Poland.

Atuan Larisett: Atuan is a town in Russia. Atuan may also refer to Ursula Le’Guin’s book The Tombs of Atuan, which is about a child, Tenar, who is taken from her family and dedicated as the high priestess in the service of the "Nameless Ones". Her role is a lonely one in the underground Tombs of Atuan, where the Nameless Ones dwell. However, as she becomes aware of the political machinations among the older priestesses, the Tombs become a refuge to her.

Tenar catches Ged (the main character in A Wizard of Earthsea) attempting to rob the Tombs of the missing half of the Ring of Erreth-Akbe, an heirloom necessary to peace in Earthsea. To punish his sacrilege, she traps him underground to die of thirst. Yet as he is dying, he opens her mind to a wider world, and persuades her that she might lead a different life. Tenar realizes that the Nameless Ones demand service but give nothing and create nothing. Finally she helps Ged escape from the Tombs with the ring, as he helps her escape from the priesthood.

Larisett may refer to Larisa, a town in Greece, or Larrazet, a town in France.

Ayako Norsoni: turned to the Black Ajah. Ayako is a personal name. Norson is a surname.

Berylla Naron: Berylla refers to beryl, a stone associated with magic. Beryl is also a personal name. Naron is a town in Spain.

Birlen Pena: Birlen is a first name, surname and place name. Peña is a surname of Spanish origin which means ‘living near a crag’, it also means ‘rock, stone, hard’. The Black Ajah are hard-hearted. Pena means "pain", "sorrow" or "shame" and is perhaps related to penal in English.

Careane Fransi: Careane is a combination of Carrie and Anne, both personal names. Carreau is the name of a minor demon—the demon that hardens hearts to suffering. Careane was merciless when killing Adeleas and the Kin. Franci is a place in Latvia.

Chai Rugan: Chai means ‘living’ in Hebrew and ‘tea’ in South Asia. Rugan is a surname.

Chesmal Emry: Chesmal was probably derived from Chemal and Chesma, both towns in Russia. Emry was probably derived from Emery, a town in the US (and also a very hard mineral), or Emre, a town in Turkey.

Dagdara Finchey: Finchey is a surname. Dagdara may refer to the Dagda, an Irish father god of immense power. He had a club able to kill nine men with one blow yet with its handle he could return the slain to life. Dagdara is as big as a man and Nynaeve said she looked as though she worked a hammer. She is one of the most skilled Healers of the Yellow Ajah.

Delana Mosalaine: Delana was probably derived from Delano, an Old French personal name meaning ‘of the night’ (appropriate) and also the name of a town in the US. However, Delanna is an Italian personal name that means ‘soft as wool’. Mosalai is a surname.

Desala Nevanche: turned to the Black Ajah. De Sala is a surname. Nevanche is in France.

Duhara Basaheen: Duara is a surname. Basahee is a Korean martial arts technique/move and indicates Duhara is more dangerous than she appears.

Eldrith Jhondar: Eldrith alludes to eldritch, which means unearthly, weird, or witch-like. Speculation: Towns with names similar to Jhondar are Jhander, in Pakistan, and Jandar, in Iran, Syria and Afghanistan.

Elza Penfell: Elza may refer to Elsa, a personal name. Elza is also a town in the US. Penfell may be derived from Penfeld, a town in France or Penwell, a town in the US.

Evanellein: Evanellein may be derived from the personal names Evanelle and Ellen.

Falion Bhoda: Marin Falier (1274–1355) led a plot to kill all Venetian nobles so power would revert to the people. He was executed. Two towns with names similar to Failion are: Failon, in Belgium and Farion, in Greece. There are a few towns with name similar to Bhoda: Bahoda, in Nigeria, Bhada in India and in Nepal, and Boda, the name of several towns in Africa and Europe.

Fera: Fera is a town in Gabon.

Galina Casban: Galina is a Russian personal name and is also a town in Russia. Galina may refer to galena, the heavy, but soft, ore of the poisonous metal lead. Casban may refer to casbah, the citadel of cities in North Africa or to Casbas, a town in Argentina.

Ispan Shefar: Ispan is a town in Tajikistan. Shefar may be derived from Shefaram, a town in Israel, Shelfar a town in the US, or Shafar, a town in Nigeria and in Yemen.

Jarna Malari: Jarna is a town in Sweden and Malari is a town in Gabon, Nigeria, Sudan, and India. Malari is also similar to malaria, a disease that has killed millions of people.

Javindhra Doraille: Black Ajah or turned to Black Ajah. Javindra is a personal name. Doraile is a personal name and surname. Doraille is a suburb of Atlanta and a surname.

Jeaine Caide: Jeaine may refer to Jeane Dixon, the astrologer, or to screen goddesses such as Jayne Mansfield and Jean Harlow, since Jeaine dresses in a revealing manner. Caide del Rei is a town in Portugal. Caide may also refer to Elizabeth Cady (1815–1902):

American leader in the women's rights movement who in 1848 formulated the first organized demand for woman suffrage in the United States.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Jenare: turned to the Black Ajah. Jenare is a personal name.

Jezrail: turned to the Black Ajah. Jezrail is a rare personal name. The similar Jezreel is an ancient Hebrew city and valley.

Joiya Byir: Joiya may be derived from Joy, a personal name, or from Joia, a town in Brazil, Mozambique and Pakistan. Byir is similar to Bayir,a town in Turkey and Byer, a town in Australia and the US.

Katerine Alruddin: Katerine is a variant spelling of Katherine and probably alludes to Catherine the Great or Catherine de’Medici, notorious for their ruthless usage of power. Alruddin was probably derived from Alauddin and Alawuddin, both towns in Afghanistan. It may also refer to Ala'ud'din, the sultan of the Malay kingdom of Johore from 1528:

He is sometimes considered the cofounder of the kingdom with his father, Mahmud Shah, the last sultan of Malacca, who established Johore on the island of Bintang (southeast of Singapore) in 1512–13. Sometime after his father's death (1528), Ala'ud'din moved his capital to Johore Lama. The Achinese sacked Johore Lama in 1564 and took Sultan Ala'ud'din prisoner to die in Acheh (one account, however, gives Johore Lama as the place of death).

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Karale Sanghir: Karale is an Indian surname and personal name. It is also similar to various diminutives of Kara such as Karalee and Karalie. Sanghir is a place name—the Sanghir Islands are in Indonesia. Sanghir is also the surname of a Pakistani Muslim missionary who was captured in Afghanistan and held for a year at the Guantanamo base in Cuba.

Larissa Lyndel: Larissa is a personal name and place in Greece where Hippocrates, the Greek father of medicine died, appropriate since she is/was Yellow Ajah. Lyndel is a personal name and a surname.

Liandrin: Leandra is a Greek personal name meaning ‘lion woman’. Towns with name similar to Liandrin are: Liandan in PNG, Liandres in Spain and Leander in the US. Leander is also one of two lovers celebrated in Greek legend:

Hero, virgin priestess of Aphrodite at Sestos, was seen at a festival by Leander of Abydos; they fell in love, and he swam the Hellespont at night to visit her, guided by a light from her tower. One stormy night the light was extinguished, and Leander was drowned; Hero, seeing his body, drowned herself likewise.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Seeing as Liandrin really does not like men, it is not likely she would kill herself over a man. She has certainly killed men, though.

Marillin Gemalphin: Marillin is a variant spelling of Marilyn and alludes to Marilyn Monroe, who was beautiful, when Marillin isn’t. Speculation: Two towns with names similar to Gemalphin are Jamalpur in India and Jamal Pa’in in Iran.

Marris Thornhill: Marris is a surname. Thornhill is also a surname and a place in Canada, the UK and the US.

Melvara: Melvara is a personal name.

Merean Redhill: Merean is similar to Mereadan, a town in Ghana, and Redhill is a town in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, UK and the US.

Mestra: Mestra or Mnestra was a daughter of Erysichthon, the King of Thessaly in Greek mythology. Erysichthon was made permanently hungry by Demeter as punishment for cutting down trees in her sacred grove and sold everything he owned, including his daughter to buy food. Mestra’s lover Poseidon gave her the gift of shape-shifting so she could escape her bonds of slavery. If Mestra had been more adept at shifting aroung in Tel'aran'rhiod, she might not have been killed there.

Miyasi: Miyasi is a personal name.

Moria Karentanis: Moria is a place name meaning ‘black chasm’ from The Lord of the Rings; a vast underground complex with an evil reputation overrun by orcs and a balrog. Karantanis is a Greek surname.

Nacelle Kayama: A nacelle is a housing over the engine, fule or equipment on an aircraft or turbine. Kayama is a Japanese surname.

Nalaene Forrell: Nalene is a personal name. Forrell is a surname.

Nesita: Nesita is a personal name.

Notori: Notori may be derived from notorious. Natori is a town in Japan.

Ramola: Ramola is a personal name.

Rianna Andomeran: Rianna perhaps refers to Rhiannon:

in Celtic religion, the Welsh manifestation of the Gaulish horse goddess Epona and the Irish goddess Macha. She is best-known from The Mabinogion, a collection of medieval Welsh tales, in which she makes her first appearance on a pale, mysterious steed and meets King Pwyll, whom she marries. Later she was unjustly accused of killing her infant son, and in punishment she was forced to act as a horse and to carry visitors to the royal court. According to another story, she was made to wear the collars of asses about her neck in the manner of a beast.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Rianna is very similar to Riana, a town in Kenya and Australia and Andomeran is similar to Andome I, a town in Gabon.

Sedore Dajenna: Sedore is a surname and Dajena is a personal name.

Sheriam Byanar: Sheriam may be a Wheel of Time variant of the personal name Sheri, although Sheram is a place in Afghanistan. Bayanar is in India.

Talene Minly: Talene is a town in Senegal. Minly is similar to Miny, a town in Russia and Minle a town in China and in Myanmar.

Talva: Talva is a personal name and a surname and a place in Argentina.

Tarna Feir: turned to the Black Ajah. Tarna is a surname, and a place in Niger. Feir is a surname.

Temaille Kinderode: Temaile is similar to Tamail, a town in Morocco and Kinderode to Krimderode, a town in Germany. Kinder meaning ‘child’ in German may be a reference to Temaile’s child-like face with its big blue eyes.

Toveine Gazal: turned to the Black Ajah. Tovey is a surname and Tove a personal name. Gazal is a surname.

Velina Behar: Velina is a personal name. Behar is a surname.

Verin Mathwin: Verin is a surname and a town in Spain. Vera and Verity are similar personal names meaning faith or truth. Verina means protector. Verrin is the demon of impatience, whose adversary is St. Dominic. Mathwin is a surname.

Zanica: Zanica is a place in Italy.

Black Asha’man

Abors: The Abors are a tribe in India. Abors also has connotations of “abhors” in this case referring to his abhorrent allegiance.

Atal Mishraile: Atal is an Indian personal name. Atal is also the name of a town in Afghanistan and in Russia.

Charl Gedwyn: Charl may refer to Charles. Various monarchs, some popular and some not, were named Charles. Charl also hints at churl, a surly, ill bred person. It may also refer to Charel, a town in France.

Gedwyn could be derived from Godwine:

Earl Godwine became a favourite of King Canute the Great, who made him earl of Wessex about 1018. In the disputes over the succession that followed the death of Canute, Godwine was held responsible for the murder (in 1036) of one of the claimants to the throne, Alfred the Aetheling. Godwine maintained his position, however, and went on to dominate Edward the Confessor…In 1051 he outlawed Godwine for refusing to punish the men of Dover, who had defied a Norman lord.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

There are a few interesting parallels here. Like Godwin, Gedwyn held a position of influence, and was exiled for a crime. Both attempted to murder royalty.

Coteren: Coteren was one of Taim’s coterie.

Dobser: Asha’man turned to the Shadow. Dobse and Dobson are surnames.

Donalo Sandomere: Asha’man turned to the Shadow. Donalo is similar to Donald. Sandomer is a surname.

Evin Vinchova: Asha’man turned to the Shadow. Evin is a reference to the personal name Evan. Vinchova is a surname.

Kash: Kash is a place in Iran. It is also a type of cannabis.

Manel Rochaid: Manel may refer to Manuel 1 Comnenus:

military leader, statesman, and Byzantine emperor (1143–80) whose policies failed to fulfill his dream of a restored Roman Empire, straining the resources of Byzantium at a time when the Seljuq Turks menaced the empire's survival.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Similarly, Rochaid’s dreams of power were not fulfilled due to his errors of judgement.

Manel is also a town in Mozambique.

Rochaid is an Irish name.

Mezar Kurin: Asha’man turned to the Shadow. Mezar is Turkish for grave, appropriate for someone who has been turned to the Lord of the Grave and whose eyes appear dead. Kurin used to mean village in the Ukraine, but came to refer to the basic Cossack combat unit. Asha’man were intended to be weapons and shock troops.

Peral Torval: Peral is a surname—Isaac Peral, for instance, invented the Peral submarine, perhaps the first U boat in the late 19th century. The name is also similar to ‘peril’.

Torval may have been derived from Tervel (701–718), a Bulgarian ruler who helped to restore Emperor Justinian II to the Byzantine throne and was rewarded with the title “caesar.” Torval was granted a leadership title by Taim.

Raefar Kisman: Two towns with names similar to Raefar are Raeford in the US, and Rafard in Brazil. Raefar also may refer to Raphael, a personal name (including the name of an angel). Raefar had great powers, but not great ethics.

Kisman is probably derived from kismet, meaning ‘fate’. His was not a happy fate. Kitsman, a town in Ukraine, has a similar name to Kisman.

Varil Nensen: Varil and Nensen are surnames.

Welyn Kajima: Asha’man turned to the Shadow. Welyn and Welwyn are places in Britain. Kajima means “Don’t go” in Korean. Kajima is a name in Japanese.


Adden: Adden was probably derived from the real-world town of Aden in Yemen. It also hints at adder, a venomous snake.

Amellia Arene: Amellia is a variant spelling of Amelia. Arene is a town in Spain.

Anaiyella Narencelona: Anaiyella may be meant to be the diminutive of Anaiya. Anaya is a surname in Spanish speaking countries and a personal name in Latin. Narencelona is meant to sound Spanish.

Aravine Carnel: Aravin is a personal name and a surname. Carnel is a surname, but also means “flesh”, being closely related to the word “charnel”, meaning dead (flesh).

Arnin: Arnin is a personal name and a surname.

Barthanes Damodred: Barthanes may refer to John Barth (1930– ):

an American writer best known for novels that combine philosophical depth and complexity with biting satire and boisterous, frequently bawdy humour. Much of Barth's writing is concerned with the seeming impossibility of choosing the right action in a world that has no absolute values.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Barthanes had trouble choosing the right action and had little sense of moral values. Another possible origin is Bharthana, a town in India or the surname Barthan.

Damodred is probably a combination of Damocles and dread. Damocles was:

a courtier of Dionysius the Elder of Syracuse, in Sicily, tyrant from 405 to 367 BC. The courtier is known to history through the legend of the “Sword of Damocles.”

According to the legend, when Damocles spoke in extravagant terms of his sovereign's happiness, Dionysius invited him to a sumptuous banquet and seated him beneath a naked sword that was suspended from the ceiling by a single thread. Thus did the tyrant demonstrate that the fortunes of men who hold power are as precarious as the predicament in which he had placed his guest. The story is related in Cicero's Tusculanae disputationes, 5.61.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

This is basically the history of House Damodred in a nutshell—great power wielded with little appreciation of the consequences of arrogant actions. The dread in the name merely emphasises the deservedly bad reputation of most of the members of this House.

Changu: Two towns with very similar names are Changhu in China and Changghu in North Korea.

Coke: This might be an interesting statement about the healthiness of a soft drink, or a reference to cocaine, but is also the name of towns in the US and Colombia.

Comar: Comar is a town in the US and in Turkey.

Cowin Gemallan: Cowin is a town in the US. Cowan is a personal name. Two towns with names similar to Gemallan are Gemalan in Turkey and Gemalla in Australia.

Cully: Cully may be derived from Culey, a town in France. Cully is also slang for pal or mate.

Daved Hanlon: Daved is a variant spelling of David. Hanlon is a town in the US. Hanlon may also refer to the Hanlin Academy in China. The scholars of this very long-lasting and renowned Academy functioned as the emperor's close advisers and confidential secretaries, just as Hanlon hoped to influence Elayne. Hanlon also has a certain renown, just not for scholarship.

Dimir Faral: Dimir is similar to the real world personal name Dimitry. Faral is a surname.

Doilin Mellar (Hanlon’s alias): Doilin may refer to Doolin, a US outlaw:

who led a gang through robberies in Oklahoma and east Texas, 1892–95. A member of the Dalton brothers (q.v.) gang, he alone missed the bloody ambush of the Coffeyville, Kan., bank robbery (Oct. 5, 1892); his horse had pulled lame long before reaching town. Thereafter, he built his own gang, robbing stagecoaches, banks, and trains. One by one, lawmen tracked the members down. Doolin, escaping arrest in 1895, tried to retire to a small Oklahoma farm; the next year he was discovered by Marshal Heck Thompson and shotgunned to death.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Mellar is a town in Belgium.

Elber: Elber may be derived from Elbeher, a town in Mali, or Elbert, a town in the US.

Elegar: Elegar is very similar to Elega, a town in Niger.

Evon: Evon may refer to a couple of towns: Evona, in the US, or Evron in Israel and in France. It may also refer to the personal names Ivan (the terrible?) or Evan.

Fearil: The name is a combination of ‘fear’ and ‘ill’ and also has connotations of ‘feral’, appropriate in one who enjoys killing.

Hadnan Kadere: Hadnan may refer to Handan, a town in China or Hadan a town in Yemen. Cadere means ‘to fall’ in Latin, which Kadere ultimately did. Kadere may also be derived from Kadedere in Namibia, or Kadare in Nigeria.

Howal Gode: Howal may be derived from Howell, a personal name meaning ‘alert one.’ Gode was alert to Rand and Mat matching the descriptions he was given. Howal may also refer to Howell, town in the US and to ‘howl’. Gode is the name of towns in several countries: Ethiopia, Nigeria Ghana Philippines, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Haiti. Gode was also trying to goad Rand and Mat into joining the Shadow.

Ingtar Shinowa: Ingtar was probably derived from Ingar, a town in Azerbaijan and in Bolivia, and Shinowa from Shinawa, a town in Iraq.

Isam Mandragoran: Isam is a personal name meaning 'protection, security, pledge'. It is an Islamic name. Mandragora officinarum (mandrake) is a very poisonous plant:

The mandrake has long been known for its poisonous properties. In ancient times, it was used as a narcotic and an aphrodisiac, and it was also believed to have certain magical powers. Its forked root, seemingly resembling the human form, was thought to be in the power of dark earth spirits. It was believed that the mandrake could be safely uprooted only in the moonlight, after appropriate prayer and ritual, by a black dog attached to the plant by a cord. Human hands were not to come in contact with the plant. In medieval times, it was thought that as the mandrake was pulled from the ground it uttered a shriek that killed or drove mad those who did not block their ears against it. After the plant had been freed from the earth, it could be used for beneficent purposes, such as healing, inducing love, facilitating pregnancy, and providing soothing sleep.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

This plant is also likely to be the real-world plant on which forkroot was based and is one to be treated with respect. The fact that it is narcotic (sleep-inducing) as well as poisonous is particularly apt for a dream-walking killer like Isam.

The dried roots were also believed to be able to harbour a demonic spirit—the pre-scientific explanation for its powerful toxic effect. Dried mandragora roots were thought to be given to sorcerers by the Devil so that they could summon and consult the spirit in a time of need. Over time, a mandragora became the name for a familiar in the form of a little beardless man. The Forsaken can summon Isam, who has magical abilities enabling him to be used as the Dark One’s henchman. Drake was another word for dragon, and Isam was sent to kill the Dragon more than once.

Isendre: Two towns with similar names are Isendje in the Congo and Isendorf in Germany.

Jaichim Carridin: Jehoakim was king of Judah captured by Nebuchadnezzar along with the temple of God. Carridin, a leading Whitecloak, abandoned the Light and his allegiance to the Dome of Truth and became caught between his two masters.

Joachimites were a thirteenth century group who developed the millenarian apocalyptic preachings of Joachim of Fiore (1135–1202), a Franciscan monk, into a rejection of the Church and a belief that the Popes after Celestine V were anti-Christs. Jaichim Carridin, like any other Whitecloak, regards the Amyrlin (a parallel of the Pope, see Aes Sedai Laws and Customs: Administration essay) and all Aes Sedai as Darkfriends. Carridin himself listened to Ishamael preach that the Day of Return (of the Dark One rather than Christ) is at hand and looked forward to it (The Great Hunt, Prologue).

Carridin is similar to Carridine. John Carridine was an American actor who often portrayed villains. This is an appropriate name for a villain who was acting the part of a good guy.

Bors (Carridin’s alias): Sir Bors was one of the Knights of King Arthur’s Round Table. He witnessed the achievement of the Quest of the Holy Grail by Sir Galahad but he was denied its fulfilment, instead, returning to Camelot. It is ironic that a Darkfriend chose as his alias the name of one of the finest Knights in Arthurian myth.

It is interesting that the names Jaichim and Bors are similar to Jakin and Boaz, the two symbolic pillars in I Kings 7:15–22 that stood to the north and the south of the door of Solomon’s Temple. The pillars are important symbols in Masonic ritual (and Jordan was a Freemason, see Freemasonry essay), representing dark and light and feminine and masculine, with Boaz the black pillar and Jakin the white, just as Jaichin Carridin was a Whitecloak and Bors was his alias as a Darkfriend.

Jaq Lounalt: Jac is sometimes used as a variant of Jack or Jacques.

Jen Barshaw: Jen is a town in Liberia and in Nigeria. Two towns with similar names to Barshaw are: Barhaw in Iraq and Bashaw in Canada.

Jorin Arene: Jorin is very similar to Gorin, a town in Russia. Arene is a town in Spain.

Lady Torkumen: Torkaman is a surname, and Bandar Torkaman is a place in Iran.

Lifa: Lifa’s name was derived from that of reader Natasha Moana Lifa.

Madic: Madic is a town in France and a surname. Madoc (pronounced may-dock), and its pronunciation, was on a list of Welsh names in Robert Jordan’s notes.

Melindhra: Melindhra is probably derived from the personal name Melinda. Interestingly, Alva Belmont and Elsa Maxwell wrote Melinda and Her Sisters, a suffragist operetta, and staged it at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1916. This is an apt parallel for a Maiden of the Spear (spear sister). There is also a town named Melandra in Cyprus.

Milli Skane: Milli is a town in Turkey and Skane a town in Sweden. Milli may also refer to the personal name Millicent.

Murellin: Murelli is a surname.

Nad: Nad is a town in Iran and in Ireland.

Nan Belman: Nan is the diminutive of the personal name Anne and a town in Thailand. Belman is a surname. Thomas Dekker (1572–1632) wrote a pamphlet The Belman of London (1608), about roguery and crime (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Nidao: Nidao was probably derived from Nidau, a town in Switzerland or Ndiao, a town in Senegal.

Paitr Conel: Paitr is probably derived from the personal name Peter. Conel is a town in the Philippines.

Powl: Powl is similar to the personal name Paul and also to the surname Powell. Pwyll (pronounced pow-ehl), and its pronunciation, was on a list of Welsh names in Robert Jordan’s notes.

Raimun Holdwin: Raimun was probably derived from the personal name Raymond. Holdwin is a surname.

Ryne Venamar: Ryne is an uncommon personal name and a surname. Venamar may have been derived from Venamartello, a town in Italy. It also sounds like venom and mar.

Saml Hake: Saml probably refers to the personal name Samuel. Hake is a type of fish—Rand noticed something fishy about him! Hake Town is a town in Sierra Leone.

Shiaine Avarhin: Shiaine sounds like Shane. Towns with names similar to Shiaine are Shiani in India, Shanine in Algeria and Shane in the US. Towns with names similar to Avarhin are Avartin and Ardahin in Iran.

Suroth Sabelle Meldarath: Suroth is a town in India. Meldarath is similar to Meldreth, a town in the UK.

Sabelle is close to the word ‘sable’, black, which is appropriate for a Darkfriend. Moreover, Georg Sabellicus was the second Faustus, someone believed to have made a pact with the devil. Another parallel is Sibyl, queen of the Crusader state of Jerusalem from 1186–90. She succeeded on the death of her brother, usurping the throne with her husband from her son and involving Jerusalem in a disastrous war with Saladin. The Seeker similarly suspects that Suroth didn’t come by her current leadership position honestly, but had High Lord Turak murdered. Suroth has also involved the Seanchan in a disastrous war with Rand.

Tomas: Thomas is a personal name meaning ‘twin’. It was borne by one of the disciples of Christ, best known for his scepticism about Christ's resurrection (John 20:24–29). Tomas was afflicted with different doubts—he wanted out of being a Darkfriend and Verin convinced him to help her in her studies of the Shadow.

Toram Riatin: Toram was probably derived from Torom, a town in Russia or Torami, a town in Japan. Riatin may have been derived from Roatan in Honduras, Rieti in Italy or Riadi in Niger.

Torwyn Barshaw: Torwyn was probably derived from Towyn, a town in the UK or Torfin, a town in the US. Barshaw is a surname.

Vane: Vane is a surname. The word is also similar to vain; vanity being a fault of many Darkfriends.

Vram Torkumen: Vram is the second word of a Swedish place name. Torkaman is a surname, and Bandar Torkaman is a place in Iran.

Weiramon Saniago: Wiramon is a Thai personal name and surname. Saniago is probably derived from Santiago and the Battle of Santiago:

(June–July 1898), concluding engagement fought near Santiago de Cuba in the Spanish-American War, in which U.S. successes on land and sea resulted in final victory over the Spaniards.

On May 19, 1898, a month after the outbreak of hostilities between the two powers, a Spanish fleet under Admiral Pascual Cervera arrived in Santiago harbour on the southern coast of Cuba. U.S. naval squadrons in the Atlantic, under Rear Admiral William T. Sampson and Commodore Winfield S. Schley, thereupon blockaded the harbour entrance.

To support the operation by land, U.S. troops (including the Rough Riders, a volunteer cavalry regiment led by Theodore Roosevelt) disembarked east of the city and penetrated its outer defenses. Between July 1 and July 3, they took the fortified village of El Caney and completed their assault on San Juan Ridge by capturing its highest point, San Juan Hill. In an effort to escape capture, Admiral Cervera led his squadron out of the harbour on July 3. In the ensuing battle, all the Spanish ships came under heavy fire from the U.S. fleet and were beached in a burning or sinking condition. Two weeks later, Spain surrendered Santiago de Cuba. The U.S. victory ended the war, suppressed all Spanish naval resistance in the New World, and enhanced the reputation of the U.S. Navy.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

A cavalry charge led by Roosevelt, no less! I’m sure Weiramon would have approved.

Zaired Elbar: Zaired is similar to Zaire, a country in Africa. There is a town named El Bar in Ethiopia.

And in a class of his own…

Padan Fain: Padan is the ritual veil to cover nose and mouth during ordination of Zoroastrians. This may symbolise Padan Fain’s silence about his own plans. Padan is also a surname and a town in Cameroon, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Slovakia. The Padan family is documented in the Oregon Trail museum in Independence, Missouri as selling goods to travelers on the Trail.

Fain was Emperor Napoleon’s private secretary and was privy to the Emperor’s plans. Padan Fain acquired much knowledge of the plans of the Dark One and then of Mordeth. There is also a town named Fain in the US.

Jeraal Mordeth: Jeraal may be derived from the Geral Mountains in Brazil. Mordeth is derived from Mordred, King Arthur’s illegitimate son and nephew by Morguase. Mordred and Arthur mortally wound each other in battle at Camlann (a parallel of Caemlyn, see Origin of Place Names article), so it is no wonder that Mordeth/Padan Fain insisted that he must be the one to kill Rand. Yet he was wrong. Mordeth is ‘more death’ rather than ‘more dread’.

Ordeith (Fain’s alias): The name has connotations of ‘or death’, and therefore suggests the phrase “victory or death”. This fits in well with the motto of Mordeth and Aridhol: “The victory of the Light is all.” Ironic, then, that Mordeth took over the body of a dedicated Darkfriend.

Shaisam: Sounds very like Shazam or Shazzam


Written by Linda, June 2004 and updated October 2013 and December 2018

Contributor: TyranAmos, Dominic


Mik said...

I love this gem! A brilliant piece of work, Linda.
Your dedication and perseverance rivals that of Shaiel, Moiraine & Rand.

Believe it or not, I have an adition! :)

About Machin Shin:
"Chīn and Māchīn" is an old name for Great China. Perhaps a hint at the large number of twisted souls that makes up the whole that is Machin Shin?

For more info, see this link:


RabidWombat said...

Small typo: You have Moria being in the "Lord of the KINGS".

I haven't finished it yet, but it is an enjoyable read. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Great article, haven't read all of it yet, but it seems great. Like all the other Names articles have been.
One thought: I've always linked Moghedien's former name, Lillen, with the Swedish adjective liten, litet, lilla. It means "small". Which is sort of what she is.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, another comment needed, I think.

"Jumara: Jumara is a surname. The gods of Finland are collectively known as Jumala."

Jumala is the Finnish word meaning "a god". The plural is jumalat. It can mean any god of any religion.
An odd statement in any case, since I would associate "gods of Finland" with paganism, which is rare.
So, Jumala means God in Finnish, I'm not sure if it should be capitalized. Capitalized "jumala" might refer specifically to the Christian God.

Linda said...

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. Typo fixed up.

Linda said...

I do think that jumala is meant to have connotations of a pagan deity.

The jumara being a shadowspawn that other creatures of the Blight fear...

norman said...

Oh, and don't forget that in the legend, St Michael is the one who slays a dragon. Hmmm...

Anonymous said...

Mordred, the betrayer. And in an as-of-yet speculative vein: Arthur leaves him in charge while he goes off to war and is betrayed, and both mortally wound each other at the Battle of Camlann. / Rand leaves the Black Tower effectively in the hands of darkfriends while he goes off to war, and look forward to a battle in or around Caemlyn and the Black Tower involving Demandred.

He's da Shiva.

The Smurfs. Balthazar (Gargamel's godfather) + Gargamel. Like Graendal, I believe there are no coincidences among the Chosen.

Jasin Natael.
Jason and the Argonauts. Jasin/Asmodean sows some dragon's teeth (creates dissension) among the People of the Dragon by propping up Couladin.

Mary said...

Also interesting about Padan Fain. He took the name Ordeith, which means Wormwood in the Old Tongue. Wormwood is also found in Revelations....

"8:10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

8:11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. "

Voscaia Sedai said...

Small mistake with Alviarin:
Frieden in German means peace, not freedom. The German word for freedom is Freiheit

Linda said...

Mary: I put Wormwood in There Are No Beginnings or Endings...The Paradox of WOT's Eschatology article in a large section on Revelation.

Anonymous said...

Well, I thought the Jasin Natael/Jason from Jason and the Argonauts correlation at least seemed feasible, especially with the dragon warriors. The Jewish high-priest allusion seems extra esoteric, in comparison.

Linda said...

Thanks for all your suggestions and corrections everyone.

Anonymous: I don't always reply immediately, especially if I'm busy getting something ready (which I have been) and take a suggestion further (which I have).

Anonymous said...

Sorry, thought the Smurfs thing might've thrown people off.

Anonymous said...

Moghedien = Morgan le Fay?

Linda said...

Anonymous: It could be. Moiraine has also been proposed as a Morgan le Fay figure especially because she has been far closer to Rand than Moghedien.

Anonymous said...

Most Fascinating Piece of Research. I would like to add a theory on the naming of Ishamael however.

In Jewish mystisicm, there is a famous figure hiding under the name of a certain Rabi Ishmael. He is considered to have a somewhat different approach to the interpretation of the laws and for that reason the name of the Biblical character we all know is ascribed to him though this is merely a descriptive pseudo name. He is sometimes called The Other in Hebrew for his extreme dedication to an entity different from the Bilical God and equal to it in Power, the angel known as Metatron.
This Rabbi Ishmael is the one who fits more RJ's identification of him as the Betrayer of Hope, for he allegedly betrayed the hopes of the Jewish resistance to the spread of Roman influence.

He also issued 13 legal postulates (note the number used here is the same as that of the Chosen).

I believe that when we look at the attitudes of the said figure, we can find more parallels to RJ's Ishamael, his position as a noted peacemaker among the Chosen or his unquestionable philosophical achievements. So, I propose Rabbi Ishmael as the best source for the WoT Ishamael. Looks like Wikipedia has an article on him now.


Linda said...

Anonymous: It's an interesting idea. I agree that the historic Rabbi Ishamael is like Ishamael was in the Age of Legends.

Whoever the figure is that is linked with Metatron is a likely parallel of Ishamael.

TyranAmiros said...

Another fascinating article! I really love coming here to read these.

Another source for both Mordeth and Moridin is possibly the Indo-European root *mor-, to die as in Latin mori (mortuus), German Mord, or English murder.

Mordeth was directly responsible for the death of Aridhol, while Ishamael, as Moridin, is (theoretically) the death to Rand's life.

Linda said...

Tyranamiros: Thanks. Glad you like it.

That's true about Mor* - it's contained in the translation of Moridin as death.

Dr J J George said...

I see you've hit upon the Ram/Ravan comparison.

It's maybe worth mentioning that during the siege of Lanka (Ravan's kingdom), Ram's brother dies and is brought back to life (like Mat). Ram is helped by a defector from Ravan's camp (like Asmo or Moggy). Also, Ram conducts the siege without any of the 'civilized kingdoms', just a tribe of monkeys (super-simians, really), comparable to the Aiel 'savages'.

Thanks Linda, for another excellent essay.

Anonymous said...

Excellent compilation. Simply amazing work.

As someone with some writing experience, I must say that sometimes, authors draw from the simplest sources of inspiration for the names of characters, places, organizations, etc. A few observations:

1. Mordeth. This could be a perfect example, since Mortis, if I'm not mistaken, is Latin for "death". Plain and simple.

2. Moridin. Same principle as above applies here, since "Morir" is Spanish for "dying".

3. Pena. Now, the correct surname in Spanish is Peña, not Pena. Peña does mean "rock" or "stone" but pena, however means "pain", "sorrow" or "shame". Though it could be said that both words apply in the case of the Black Sister with this surname.

Another thing to consider is that sometimes, an author will twist and change a word so much from the original term, that finding the real source is almost impossible. So, all in all, unless the author reveals the secret behind the name (as RJ did with al'Thor, for instance) it's all but impossible to tell for sure, where he/she came up with the word. Still, it's a fun thing to do, though...hehehe...

Linda said...

Anonymous: thanks for your comment.

Regarding the Mor- names, I do think that they are meant to refer to Mordred of Arthurian myth. Both Mordeth and Moridin want to see Rand dead and Mordred actually killed Arthur.

Thanks for the info on Pena. It seems to be related to penal and penitent. I will add it during the TOM update, which is coming up fast!

It is fun to search for the name origins, and I am aware that I may not have gotten them right.

Anonymous said...


Also very similar to Elgar (Edward Elgar), British composer most known for his Cello Concerto, Enigma Variations, and the series of Pomp and Circumstance marches.

Linda said...

Anon: That's true. But I happen to like Elgar, so I don't think he fits the Shadowy theme. :) Unless RJ particularly disliked his music...

LestrangeLair said...

I also came up with another interesting idea about the identity of Isam.
His name sounds very similar to Isum, also known as Isimud. A messenger of the god Ea, with two faces looking in two different directions. Just like Isam and Luc are the two faces of the Slayer. A story also connected him with duplicity, however unintentional. RJ used Sumerian mythology more than once. With the name Ramman for Balthamel and the Two Rivers location. Also Isum according to wiki presided over lion creatures, which were in conflict with the bull creatures, presided over by the god Ninurta, a blacksmith god really. So I see there another confirmation, shown in the conflict between Luc and Perrin, another blacksmith.

Linda said...

Thanks for the suggestion Ishamael. It's a very interesting idea.

Vicki said...

Thanks for a very informative article. A couple more suggestions:

The name of the Trolloc band 'Ahf'frait' strongly reminds me of the word 'afraid' (quite appropriate when dealing with Trollocs, I think). 'Khobal' may have an additional connotation of 'cabal' (as in a witches' cabal).

Gholam, apart of the Golem association (another artificially made creature) is also a personal name (Iranian or Arabic, I think).

Anonymous said...

Demandred is also suggestive of 'de Madrid'. This suggests Demandred is a natural parallel with Hannibal Barca, of the namesake family of Spain's other great city, Barcelona.

Like Hannibal, Demandred is accounted a military genius and the second greatest man of his age. Though for personal preference, I think Hannibal was probably greater than Scipio Africanus, but had less favourable political circumstances on his side.

dimitrovb said...

I just want to mention that Galina's name has always been weird to me. As it is a normal name where I come from, it has a "short" version. You call someone named "Galina" "Galya" if you are close to them. 'Galya' in my language means 'to caress', so 'galina' would mean 'a caressing person', or a 'cute person', 'someone you would caress'. Maybe it fits her attitude to women, rather than her attitude towards men. Who knows..

Ellen said...

Just a little thing I noticed--Halima Saranov's surname looks like a Russian name, and if it were Russian, it would be the masculine form (the feminine would be Saranova).

TyranAmiros said...

Two comments:
Over this winter break, I was visiting the Oregon Trail museum in Independence, Missouri and saw a photo there of the Padan family--they sold goods to travelers on the Trail.

Also, I had a new idea about Tarna's name--maybe it's related to "torn" or "tarnish" or even simply "Turn", which are very indicative of her being forcibly converted.

Linda said...

Thanks for this TyranAmiros. :)

Voscaia Sedai said...

Just for the record: Salem is also a town in Southern Germany, near Lake Constance, where the German equivalent of Eton is located.

Anonymous said...

Hi, a little more depth for the Ravana-Rahvin connect for any who are interested.

Ravana is a Rakshasa, a specious of powerful, usually Evil, magic users. Rahvin is an extremely powerful, evil magic user.

Rakshasas are usually portrayed as having dark skin. Ravana is supposed to look very noble and attractive. Rahvin is both described as dark skinned and very very good looking.

Ravana was a king of a magical kingdom, Rahvin uses magic to gain a kingdom.

Ravana has a large harem, and abducts and imprisons a Princess, Sita an wants to take her for his lover. Rahvin has several lovers and also imprisons and beds a queen, (albeit through mind-control).

Ravana banishes his wise brother who tries to counsel righteousness, Rahvin banishes all Morgase's wise/righteous advisors.