Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Off-shore Prophecy

By Linda

Both the Sea Folk and the Amayar each had their own prophecies, and these will be discussed in turn in this article.

The Jendai Prophecy

The Sea Folk have prophecies concerning the Coramoor, the Dragon Reborn.

"He can wield the One Power ... and he holds the Sword That Cannot Be Touched. The Aiel have come over the Dragonwall to his call. ... The Stone of Tear has fallen, and war breaks over the nations of the land. Those who once ruled have returned, and been driven back for the first time. ... The White Tower shall be broken by his name, and Aes Sedai shall kneel to wash his feet and dry them with their hair.

- The Shadow Rising, The Wavedancer

Fulfilled. Rand can channel, he has held and used Callandor, the Aiel follow him and have left the Waste, the Stone of Tear fell, and war is everywhere. The Seanchan returned and were repelled at Falme; the Tower broke ostensibly over Siuan's handling of Rand. "Drying his feet with their hair" refers to Aes Sedai swearing fealty to Rand and serving him. The Sea Folk don’t dread the Coramoor, they look forward to the new age he brings, although they:

must wander the waters until the Coramoor returns, and serve him at his coming.

- The Shadow Rising, The Wavedancer

“That is what the Jendai Prophecy says. The Sea Folk will serve the Coramoor.”
"The Jendai prophecy says you will bring us to glory, and all the seas of the world will be ours. As we give to you, you must give to us."

- A Crown Of Swords, Ta'veren

With this in mind, the Sea Folk sought to Bargain with Rand, to make sure that he provides them with a suitable gift of exchange. They are serving him in exchange for land and for domination of ocean travel (for what that’s worth).

Note that we don’t know the actual wording of the prophecy, so we don’t know if they got it right or not. It could be argued that without this interpretation of the prophecy, the Sea Folk would not have contacted Rand, helped restore the seasons, contributed to the Last Battle, or exchanged apprentices and knowledge with the other women channellers. It’s amazing what belief in prophecy has resulted in. Jordan’s notes on the Sea Folk indicate that the Jendai prophecy was believed because it spoke of things that did not exist at the time it was made, such as the White Tower.

Rand’s ideas on the bargain were:

She had already admitted she had to make the Bargain. She had admitted the Sea Folk would serve.
"What I require of you is not onerous," Rand said. He had thought about this since deciding to come. When I want ships to carry men or supplies, the Sea Folk will give them. I want to know what is happening in Tarabon and Arad Doman, and in the lands between. Your ships can learn—will learn—what I want to know; they call in Tanchico and Bandar Eban and a hundred fishing villages and towns between. Your ships can travel farther out to sea than anyone else's. The Sea Folk will keep watch as far west in the Aryth Ocean as they can sail. There is a people, the Seanchan, who live beyond the Aryth Ocean, and one day, they will come to try to conquer us. The Sea Folk will let me know when they come."

- A Crown of Swords, Taveren

The bargain as finally agreed was:

"Harine din Togara Two Winds, Wavemistress of Clan Shodein, speaking for Nesta din Reas Two Moons, Mistress of the Ships to the Atha'an Miere, and thus binding all the Atha'an Miere, has promised such ships as the Dragon Reborn needs, to sail when and where he needs them, for whatever purposes he requires…In return, Rafela and I, speaking for you, promised that the Dragon Reborn will not change any laws of the Atha'an Miere, as he has done among the...shorebound."...
"Secondly," Rafela took up, folding plump hands at her waist, "you must give the Atha'an Miere land, a square one mile on a side, at every city on navigable water that you control now or come to control…Within that area, the laws of the Atha'an Miere are to hold sway above any others. This agreement must also be made by the rulers of those ports so that ..."
"So the agreement will survive me?"...
"Thirdly, the Dragon Reborn agrees to keep an ambassador chosen by the Atha'an Miere with him at all times. Harine din Togara has named herself. She will be accompanied by her Windfinder, her Swordmaster and a retinue."...
"And fourthly, the Dragon Reborn agrees to go promptly to a summons from the Mistress of the Ships, but not more than twice in any three consecutive years."

- The Path of Daggers, The Bargain

The Mistress of the Ships [must] be prepared to attend him up to three times in any two years.

- Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep

But the Dragon is now believed dead, so the fourth clause no longer applies. Neither side liked it anyway…

However, with the common knowledge of Travelling, sea voyages are not going to be as important as they were in the past. The steam wagons will also erode the Sea Folk’s market share of long-distance haulage. This is why they showed so much interest in the wagons in A Memory of Light, To Ignore the Omens.

Moreover, Fortuona was the one who ceded the Sea Folk islands back to them and this was at Egwene’s insistence as part of the Seanchan’s treaty with the White Tower.

Callandor is mentioned in the Sea Folk prophecies as binding Rand by twain:

"Have you ever wondered why Callandor is so often called a 'fearful blade' or 'the blade of ruin' in the prophecies?"
"It's such a powerful sa'angreal," he said. "Maybe it's because of the destruction it can cause?"
"Maybe," she said.
"You think it's something else."
"There's a phrase," Min said, "in the Jendai Prophecy. I wish we knew more of them. Anyway, it says 'and the Blade will bind him by twain.'"
"Two women," Rand said. "I need to be in a circle with two women to control it."
She grimaced.
"What?" Rand said. "You might as well be out with it, Min. I need to know."
"There's another phrase, from The Karaethon Cycle. Anyway, I think that Callandor might be flawed beyond that. I think it might…Rand, I think it might make you weak, open you to attack, if you use it."
"Perhaps that's how I'll be killed, then."

- Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light

Rand correctly thinks the prophecy refers to him using Callandor in a circle with two women and one of them leading as Cadsuane suggested to circumvent Callandor’s flaws (see Angreal and Sa'angreal article). However, that was not the full solution to how to use Callandor.

‘Bind him by twain’ is an overly negative way of describing a circle trusted to keep Rand safe. The prophecy actually was referring to Moridin, not Rand, as the one to be bound by the two women in a circle and then linked to Rand, who takes leadership of the circle and seals the Dark One.

Amayar Prophecy

The Amayar had their own prophecies, and some of those spoke of the hand and the sphere. And the end of Illusions.

- The Path of Daggers, To Keep the Bargain

A great stone hand stuck out of the ground clasping a clear sphere as large as a house. And that sphere was shining like a glorious summer sun. All thoughts of the Atha'an Miere gone, Timna gathered her cloak and sat down on the ground, smiling to think that she might see the fulfilment of prophecy and the end of Illusion.

- Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal

The Amayar believed that when the sphere of the sa’angreal glowed the fulfilment of the prophecy was imminent.

“The Great Hand on Tremalking melted. The hill where it stood reportedly is now a deep hollow. It seems the Amayar had prophecies that spoke of Hand, and when it was destroyed, they believed this signalled the end of time, what they called the end of Illusion. They believed it was time for them to leave this…this illusion”—she laughed the word bitterly—“we call the world.”

- Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep

And on distant Tremalking, the word began to spread that the Time of Illusions was at an end.

- Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal

The melting of the sa’angreal was the sign to the Amayar that reality, or the world as currently known—which they saw as the Time of Illusions—was about to end. The Amayar then organised the mass murder of their children and their own mass suicide (see Time of Illusions article). They correctly remembered the Dark One’s aim to kill Time and the real risk he might succeed, but had no hope that his victory could be prevented. While they retained the millenarianism and apocalypticism of the Wheel of Time eschatology (see Eschatology essay), they had no faith in a messiah to save the world from the Shadow.


Written by Linda, December 2009 and updated April 2013 and July 2017


Anonymous said...

"... the Tower broke ostensibly over Siuan's handling of Rand."

Did you mean, it's broken by Elaida's handling of Rand?

Anonymous said...

It was Siuan's handling of Rand (i.e. keep it secret, let him run loose with Moiraine as advisor) that led to her stilling and subsequent splitting of the Tower into loyalists and rebels.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, the Aiel also refer (once or twice) to the their lives being dreams, and that death is waking from that dream. I don't recall the exact references off hand, but it makes you wonder.

LordJuss said...

There's plenty of evidence that the Amayar are another off shoot of the Da'shain Aiel. The similarity of outlook (life as a dream) is just one of these. Others include their physical similarity (fair skin, hair, blue eyes) and the similarity between the water way and the way of the leaf.

Interestingly there are also hints of a link between the Da'shain and the inhabitants of the Kaensada Hills in Seanchan.

LordJuss said...

Nice update. I wondered if the Sea Folk interest in the steam wagons was related to the creation of steam ships, so freeing them from the need to follow the winds. This could, in one interpretation, give them access to 'all the seas of the world'.

According to The World of RJ's Wheel of Time, in the Age of Legends Travelling didn't make that much difference to trade and transport because there were never enough channellers to cover all that was needed (particularly since tying off gateways is so problematic). Given that, the sea folk are still in a strong position.



Chris Cottingham said...

First time I've read this article, I think; good stuff, Linda!

It may be beyond the scope of this particular article, but of course the Aes Sedai "drying his feet with their hair" is also biblical imagery, recalling the story of the woman who washes Jesus' feet with perfume and her tears, and drys them with her hair.

Like LordJuss, I always assumed the Sea Folk saw the possibility of the steam wagons for steamships, too. It may well be both - that they saw a threat and an opportunity in the new technology.

Linda said...

Yes, I think that the steam wagons are a threat and an opportunity, which is to say that if/when the wagons are beginning to be commercial, the Sea Folk had better invest in the technology or they will have serious competition.

I am aware of biblical reference the Sea Folk image and it is discusses in the Eschatology essay which I will be undertaking a major rewrite of once River of Souls is out. (Its 3 major sections will become 3 essays.)