Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Origin of the Place Names

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 characters and place names have particularly apt real-world allusions, while minor place names are 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 distanced himself from his sources. Just as importantly, he liked 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.

Of the 400 or so place names in the series so far, the vast majority are very similar to real place names:

    20% are the same as real world names,
    39% differ from real world names by one letter,
    7% differ by one syllable,
    20% by two letters,
    7% by three letters,
    3% differ by four letters,
    2% of the place names referred to the names of people and
    2% were descriptive.

There are 12 place names derived from readers’ names: Berndt Crossroads and South Mettler in Kandor, Sabinel and Tween Forest in Murandy, Proska Flats amd Kremer Road in Saldaea. Negin Bridge at Tar Valon, and the historic names Falls of Pena, Hune Hill, Kolesar, Lahpoint Hills nad Priya Narrows.

The article is divided into two parts: current place names are first, followed by historic place names. As well as listing parallels, whether interesting or mundane, it also serves as a record of all the geographical names in the series. The names are in bold, and subdivided according to their continents and then countries. Minor place names have simple entries indicating their likely origins, but major place name entries can be more lengthy, with not only information on the historic or contemporary allusion, but also speculation on what the allusion may indicate for the story.

Current Place Names

Main Continent

Altara was derived from Altare (see photos on the Altare town website), a glassware producing town founded in medieval times near Genoa, Italy. The Genovese were a former maritime empire, and Altara, similarly has a Mediterranean maritime ambience.

  • Alkindar: Several towns have similar names: Alakinde, in Nigeria, AlKhidr, in Iraq and on the West Bank and Arkinda, in the US.

  • Brytan: Brytan may have been derived from Britain or from Bytan, a town in Russia.

  • Coramen: Coramen is similar to Coromane, a town in Mozambique and Caraman, a town in France.

  • Cormaed: Cormaed was perhaps derived from Kormend, a town in Hungary.

  • Ebou Dar: Ebou Dar was probably derived from Abu Dhabi (see right) in the Middle East and Abou Deia, a town in Chad. We spend a lot of time in Ebou Dar, so I have included two photos of Abu Dhabi. The top photo could be the Tarasin Palace, the bottom photo some of the shops around the square in the city.

    The two parts of the name Ebou Dar are also the names of real world towns: Ebou is a town in Central African Republic and the Congo, and Dar is the name of a town in Yemen, Chad, Azerbaijan and Malaysia.

    The Rahad is derived from Nahr ar Rahad (Rahad River), a river in Sudan which flows into the Blue Nile. Rahad is also a town in Sudan.

  • Ionin Spring Ionin Spring is derived from the Ionian Sea and Ionian islands in Greece.

  • Jurador: Jurador is a salt town, and since ancient times, salt has been mined in the Jura Mountains in France and Switzerland. The photo right is of the salt town Salin-les-Bains in the French Jura area. Speculation: Common table salt is not the only product of salt mines; some salt deposits also contain nitrates, an important ingredient in gunpowder (see Mat, Fireworks and Bellfounders essay.)

    Nitrates are present in the salt mined in the French Jura. The photo left shows the historic salt mine at Salin-les-Bains. Mat’s plans to develop artillery require considerable quantities of nitrates, and perhaps the salt deposits near Jurador will also provide these in addition to the nitrates from the bat guano deposits in the Mountains of Mist. (Aludra has already consulted a Jurador salt merchant). We may well see boom times for Jurador if this is so.
    The name is also similar to Jurado, a town in Colombia and the Jurado Mountains in Panama.

  • Maderin: Maderin is similar to Madera, a town in the US and in Mexico and to Manderen, a town in France.

  • Malden: Malden alludes to Maldon, a town in England near which the Battle of Malden occurred in 991 AD. The Battle of Malden was commemorated in a famous poem in Old English of the same name:

    Old English heroic poem describing a historical skirmish between East Saxons and Viking (referred to as Danes although mainly Norwegian) raiders in 991. It is incomplete, its beginning and ending both lost. The poem is remarkable for its vivid, dramatic combat scenes and for its expression of the Germanic ethos of loyalty to a leader. The poem, as it survives, opens with the war parties aligned on either side of a stream (the present River Blackwater near Maldon, Essex). The Vikings offer the cynical suggestion that the English may buy their peace with golden rings. The English commander Earl Byrhtnoth replies that they will pay their tribute in spears and darts. When the Vikings cannot advance because of their poor position, Byrhtnoth recklessly allows them safe conduct across the stream, and the battle follows. In spite of Byrhtnoth's supreme feats of courage, he is finally slain. In panic some of the English warriors desert. The names of the deserters are carefully recorded in the poem along with the names and genealogies of the loyal retainers who stand fast to avenge Byrhtnoth's death. The 325-line fragment ends with the rallying speech of the old warrior Byrhtwold (here in modern English):

    Mind must be firmer, heart the more fierce,
    Courage the greater, as our strength diminishes . . .

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Tolkien wrote that these words are

    the clearest statement of the doctrine of uttermost endurance in the service of indomitable will.

    - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Homecoming of Beorhthnoth

    The Battle of Maldon was translated and analysed by Professor J. R. R. Tolkien and he also wrote his own short drama in verse (The Homecoming of Beorhthnoth) as

    an extended comment on lines 89 and 90 of the original:…then the earl in his overmastering pride actually yielded ground to the enemy as he should not have done.

    Derek Punchard has a different opinion of Byrhtnoth:

    Much has been written about the battle tactics of Byrhtnoth. In particular, his decision to allow the Vikings to cross the causeway onto the mainland has been exhaustively discussed both from the literary point of view as to the exact meaning of the poet's words in relation to that decision and also whether it could be justified on military grounds. The words the poet uses to comment on Byrhtnoth's decision have been variously interpreted as meaning 'overconfidence', 'arrogance', 'excessive pride' and 'courageous'. Commentators have generally preferred the critical interpretation. The poet, like the historian, had the benefit of hindsight. Byrhtnoth clearly made the wrong decision for the wrong reason because he lost. However, a good case can be made for Byrhtnoth. Although it appears that the Vikings could have been prevented from landing by continued defence of the causeway, Byrhtnoth would, one assumes have been well aware that they would have sailed away to devastate other regions.

    A decisive defeat of the enemy was only possible there and then if the Vikings could be brought to battle. Such a victory might have altered the course of the war by reversing the series of defeats suffered by the Saxons. Ultimately, Byrhtnoth's action can only be sensibly judged on the basis of military calculation as to whether or not his forces were likely to defeat the Vikings. Byrhtnoth was a seasoned soldier and presumably not likely to lose his military head in an unnecessary gesture of heroism.

    As with most controversies where speculation rather than information predominates, no definite conclusion is ever likely to be reached.

    - Derek Punchard and Barbara Smith, Maeldune ‒ Light on Maldon's Distant Past published by the Maldon Archaeological Group.

    By naming his town Malden, Jordan gives a nod simultaneously to Tolkien and to military history. The allusion is thus a foreshadowing of the scale of bloodshed in the battle between Perrin’s forces and the Shaido, and gives insight into Perrin’s and Faile’s predicament and the strength of spirit required for their reunion. Perrin drew on this experience for developing his leadership qualities, and just as important, for his training in the Wolf Dream, so crucial to the victory of the Light.

    Malden is a town in US named after Maldon in England. There is another Malden in North America associated with battle—in this case the Battle for Lake Eyrie in September 1813. Fort Malden [now in Amherstburg], Ontario was where the British were based until they sailed out with six ships to fight nine small ships of the US fleet at Put-In-Bay. All six British ships were captured by the US under Commodore Perry:

    Perry’s victory proved to be one of the most important events of the war. At that moment two armies, one on the north and the other on the south of the warring squadrons, were waiting for the result most anxiously. Should the victory remain with the British, Proctor and Tecumtha were ready at Malden, with their motley army five thousand strong, to rush forward and lay waste the entire frontier. Should the victory rest with the Americans, Harrison, with his army in the vicinity of Sandusky Bay, was prepared to press forward by land or water for the seizure of Malden and Detroit, the recovery of Michigan, and the invasion of Canada.

    - Benson J. Lossing, Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812

    The Aiel are in part based on Native American tribes. The important difference here is that the Shaido were the invaders, not the invaded.

  • Marella: The name is most similar to Marela, a town in Mali and Marilla, a town in the US.

  • Moisen: Moisen is a town in Ecuador.

  • Mosra: Towns with similar names are Mosvra, in Denmark, Mosira, in South Africa, and Masra in both Turkey and Egypt.

  • Nor Chasen: Taking the two words of the name separately, Nor is the name of a town in Sweden and the Sudan and of a river is in China, while Chason is a town in the US and Chesan in Russia. Mt Chase is also in the US, as is Chase county. Nor may also allude to ‘north’.

  • Remen: Remen is probably derived from Remmen, a town in Norway or Bremen, a city in Germany, and a town in US.

  • Runnien Crossing: Places with similar names are Runingen in Germany, Ruinen in the Netherlands and Running in Australia.

  • Salidar: The name Salidar is most similar to Saladas, a town in Argentina.

  • Sehar: Two towns with similar names are Suhar, in Oman, and Sahar, in India.

  • So Eban: The two words of the name are each real world towns:
    Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Mali, Slovakia and Central African Republic all have towns named So, while Eban is a town in Chad, Nigeria and Kazakhstan. So may also allude to ‘south’.

  • So Habor: For So, see above. Habor was probably derived from Habor Bluffs or Harbor Islands in the US. A harbour is a safe place or refuge, the irony being that So Habor is no refuge, since it harbours ghosts.

  • So Tehar: For So, see above. Tehar is most similar to Tehair, a town in Yemen.

  • Soremaine: Soremaine is most similar to Solemane, a town in Mozambique.

  • Weesin: Weesin was derived from Weesen, the name of towns in Germany and in Switzerland.

Amadicia is derived from the Amadís De Gaula, a Spanish prose romance of chivalry:

The first known version of this work, dating from 1508, was written in Spanish by Garci Ordóñez (or Rodríguez) de Montalvo, who claimed to have “corrected and emended” corrupt originals. Internal evidence suggests that the Amadís had been in circulation since the early 14th century or even the late 13th.

In Montalvo's version, Amadís was the most handsome, upright, and valiant of knights. The story of his incredible feats of arms, in which he is never defeated, was interwoven with that of his love for Oriana, daughter of Lisuarte, king of England; she was his constant inspiration, and eventually he won her in marriage.

Many characters in the Amadís were based on figures from Celtic romance, and the work was, indeed, Arthurian in spirit. It differed, however, from the Arthurian cycle in numerous important respects. There was no particular sense of place or time, only a vague unspecified field for the interplay of idealized human relationships. Whereas earlier romance had reflected a feudal society, the Amadís invested the monarchy with an authority that heralds the advent of absolutism. Amadís himself was more idealized and therefore less human than such earlier heroes as Lancelot and Tristan. He was also far more chaste: French romance had already put a courtly veneer over the disruptive eroticism of the Celtic tales, but, with the Amadís, medieval chivalry achieved complete respectability.”

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

This has excellent parallels with the stated ideals of the Children of the Light and with Galad, parallel of Sir Galahad, in particular. The Lord Captain Commander is an absolute monarch rather than a feudal one.

  • Abila: Abila (see right) was an ancient city in northern Jordan from at least 3000 BC until 1500 AD. It was one of the cities of the Decapolis. Abila is also a town in Congo.

  • Almizar: Almizar was probably derived from Al Mazar in Jordan or Almazar in Uzbekhistan.

  • Amador: Amador is a county in California. Amadora is a town in Portugal.

  • Bellon: Bellon is a town in France.

  • Jeramel: Jeramel was probably derived from Juremal, a town in Brazil.

  • Mardecin: The towns with most similar names are Marzecin and Madlecin in Poland.

  • Nassad: Nassad is similar to Nassau, a town in the Bahamas and the US and to Nasaud in Romania.

  • Sienda: Sienda was probably derived from Siena, a town in Italy.

The name is probably derived from Endor in the Bible. In the Old Testament, 1 Sam 28:3‒25, the witch of Endor (see right) conjured up the spirit of the prophet Samuel for Saul. Andorans send the Daughter Heir to be trained in Tar Valon by the ‘witches’ (from a Whitecloak point of view). The name Andor was also used by Tolkien as an historic name of Numenor, and was probably derived by him from the Bible. This is as much an example of a common source as it is an example of Jordan borrowing from Tolkien, since Jordan’s allusion is so close to the original.

Another parallel is Andorra, a small independent principality in Europe.

  • Arien: Arien is a town in Chad. Arrien is the name of a town in France, Paraguay and the Netherlands.

  • Aringill: Aringill was probably derived from Aringeli, a town in Sudan, or Arangel, a town in Macedonia.

  • Baerlon: The towns with most similar names are: Bayon and Beaulon, both in France.

  • Caemlyn: Caemlyn alludes to the Battle of Camlann in Arthurian myth, where Arthur and Mordred/Modred mortally wounded each other (see right) and very few knights survived the battle. Arthur left Mordred in charge of Britain while he fought on the continent, but the traitor took advantage of Arthur’s absence to claim the crown and marry Guinevere. Arthur hurriedly returned and defeated Mordred at Camlann. After the Battle, the wounded Arthur was:

    led away in a ship wherein were three queens; that one was King Arthur’s sister, Queen Morgan le Fay; the other was the Queen of Northgalis; the third was the Queen of the Waste Lands. Also there was Nimue, the chief lady of the lake…

    - Le Morte D’Arthur, Sir Thomas Malory, Book XXI, Chapters V and VI

    This is a foreshadowing that Caemlyn would be the site of a titanic battle, heralding the onset of the Last Battle. Demandred, a parallel of Modred, was the Shadow’s general and he gave orders for Elayne to be killed. As well as being Elaine the Lily Lady of Arthurian myth, Elayne is one of Rand’s Guinevere figures.

    Arthur’s departure on the boat for Ta Valon is paralleled in Nicola’s Foretelling that “he who is dead yet lives” would be on a boat with three women and Melaine’s and Bair’s dream of Rand “on a boat with three women whose faces they could not see and a scale tilting first one way and then the other” (Lord Of Chaos, Matters of Toh), but these have not been fulfilled.

  • Carysford: Town names for fords of rivers are commonly derived in this way in English: Carysford on the Cary River. The Cary River is in England. A similar real world name is Carysbrook, a town in the US.

  • Cullen's Crossing: Cullen is a town in Scotland and in the US, and Cullen Point is in Queensland, Australia.

  • Damelien: The towns with most similar names are Dameliai, in Lithuania and Damileni, in Romania.

  • Deven Ride: Deven is a town in Germany, and Deven Dale is a town in the US.

  • Emond's Field: The name alludes to Edmond, a personal name and also a town in the US. Two other towns with similar names are Emod in Hungary and Emmons in the US.

  • Farrier’s Green: The name refers to an important occupation in rural areas—taking care of horses’ hooves. There are localities in the UK named Farriers Green.

  • Forel Market: Forel is a town in Switzerland.

  • Grafendale: The similarly named Gräfendorf is in Germany. Dorf means village; a dale is a broad valley.

  • Harlon Bridge: Harlan is a town in the US.

  • Jornhill: Jorn is a town in Sweden.

  • Kore Springs: Kore was the daughter of Demeter, abducted by Hades to underworld. Nigeria, Sudan, Honduras, Papua New Guinea and Ethiopia all have towns named Kore.

  • Market Sheran: Sheran is a town in Pakistan.

  • New Braem: Braem alludes to Braemar, the Scots village where the standard was first raised for the Jacobite rebellion in 1715 (see right). Another town with a similar name is Braam, in Germany.

  • Sheldyn: Sheldyn was probably derived from Sheldon, a town in the US and a personal name.

  • Taren Ferry: Taren is a town in Venezuela. Taren Point bridge spans Botany Bay in Sydney, Australia.
  • Two Rivers: Andor as a country has an English and American ‘feel’ and this is enhanced by so many of the places containing words like market, hill, ford, ride, dale, springs, etc in their names. However, the Two Rivers isn't 16th‒17th century England like Andor is. It's meant to be like the East Coast US colonies of the same period. South Carolina in particular according to Jordan, who stated at booksignings that he lived in the Two Rivers. When I visited Charleston, Jordan’s home town, I saw company names that had Two Rivers in the title. Charleston lies between the Ashley and Cooper rivers and Charles Town, as it was in those earlier, non-slave-holding, times was an outpost of the colonies that grew tobacco.

Arad Doman
This is a complex name. It alludes to ‘arid domain’. Real world towns with similar names are Ad Damman, in Saudi Arabia and Ad Diman, in Yemen. Taking the two parts of the name separately, Arad is the name of towns in Romania, Israel, Iran, Yemen and Slovakia and Doman is a town in Chad.

By referring to the people of Arad Doman as Domani, Jordan makes further allusions:

Domani are female professional singer-actors belonging to the lower classes in the Punjab. They use exaggeration, absurdity, malapropism, comic gags and lewd references.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica
In a similar way, Domani women in the series dress in very revealing clothes and are very seductive.

  • Bandar Eban: While the two parts of the name are each the names of real world towns, Bandar being the name of towns in Chad, Mozambique, Somali, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq and Malaysia, and Eban being the name of towns in Chad, Nigeria and Kazakhstan, Bandar Eban may well allude to Bandar-e Abbas on the straits of Hormuz in Iran. (There is also the Banda people of central Africa.)

  • Darluna: Dar is the name of a town in Yemen, Chad, Azerbaijan and Malaysia. Luna means moon, and is also a place in US, Romania, India and the Philippines.

  • Kandelmar: Towns with similar names are Kandehar in Afghanistan and Kandalama in Sri Lanka.

  • Katar: Qatar is a country in the Middle East. Katar is a town in Kyrguzstan and also a Hindu dagger with a flat triangular blade.

  • Maseen: Maseen was probably derived from Masein, a town in Myanmar.

  • Natrin’s Barrow: Natrin is a surname and also the venom toxin of the Chinese cobra, appropriate when you think who lurked there. Natron preserves the body of the dead, just as the minds of Graendal’s pets were dead, while their bodies were still alive.

    Barrows are an ancient form of burial consisting of a mound of earth or stones raised over a grave. In Britain at least there are usually several people interred in a barrow: a main grave with additional burial, perhaps those of lesser status, around it. In Ancient Egypt, the mineral natron was used to mummify bodies. The bodies of Graendal’s servants are alive, but their minds are not. Rand balefired Natrin’s Barrow to kill Graendal, the scores of her people also killed at the time were effectively already dead in his opinion (The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light).

    Natrin’s Barrow as a palace with references to a grave is a parallel to Carinhall, the grandiose hunting lodge Hermann Goering (a major source for Graendal’s character, see Graendal essay) built to impress visitors and display his looted art treasures. It was named after his Goering’s first wife, whose remains were disinterred from her original grave in Sweden and buried there. Carinhall was demolished in 1945 under Göring's orders as the Red Army closed in, the art works having been previously removed.

  • Solanje: Towns with similar names are Selange, in Luxembourg, Slanje in Croatia and Selanjan in Malaysia.

  • Lake Somal: Somal is derived from Somel, a town in Belgium or from Somalia, a country in Africa.

Two towns with similar names are Asrafel, in Morocco and Arafali, in Eritrea. Arafel is a Hebrew word meaning 'fog' or 'cloud darkness' used regarding the apocalypse. In Frank Herbert's Dune series, the 'cloud darkness' at the end of the world, the prophesied destruction of mankind, was called Arafel. Note that the Arafel monarch sits on the Throne of Clouds. This is yet another name alluding to the desperate battles that took place in the Borderlands during Tarmon Gai'don.

  • Firchon Pass: Brandon Sanderon used Mathias Firchow’s name in Towers of Midnight.

  • Jakanda: Jakanda was probably derived from Jakanka, a town in Bolivia and Jacaranda, a town in Brazil.

  • Shol Arbela: Shol is a town in Sudan and Pakistan. It may also refer to sheol, meaning 'grave', 'pit' or 'abyss' and a link with or threat from Shayol Ghul (see below). Arbela (see right) was an ancient Assyrian town which was conquered by the Babylonians and then the Persians. It was the site of the Battle of Arbela between the forces of Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia in October 331BC. Darius had collected an enormous army, including Iranian heavy cavalry and many chariots with knives protruding from the wheels. The Persians cleared a level plain near Arbela, east of the Tigris River. The Persian cavalry outflanked Alexander's left and captured his camp. But, with a charge which he led himself, Alexander routed Darius, and the Persian Army retreated to the east. It is considered on of the most decisive battles in history.

  • Silverwall Keeps: No obvious parallel, except perhaps Silver Reef, Utah, which is now described as a ghost town.

  • Tifan's Well: Tifan is a town in Morocco.

The name could be derived from Cairenes, the people of Cairo, Egypt. The Cairhien emblem is the sunrise and Ancient Egyptians also worshipped sun.

  • Cairhien: Cairhien was probably derived from Cairenes, people of Cairo. Towns with similar names are Cairire and Caibarien, both in Peru.

  • Eianrod: The name sounds like ‘iron rod.’ It might also refer to Arianrhod of Welsh mythology, the mother of Lleu Llaw Gyffes.

  • Jurene: Towns with similar names are Jurema and Juruena, towns in Brazil and Juren, a town in China.

  • Maerone: There are a few towns with similar names: Meyronne in both Canada and France, Merrone in Italy, Maraone in Chad and Marone in Ghana.

  • Morelle: Towns with the most similar names are Mourelle, in Spain, Morello in Italy, and Morella, in Queensland, Australia.

  • Selean: Selean was probably derived from Seleen-Kyuyel, a town in Russia or Selesan, a town in Congo.

  • Taien: Two towns have similar names are Taian, in China, and Taein, in South Korea.

  • Tremonsien: Tremonsien was possibly derived from Tremonton, a town in US, or Tremoins, a town in France.

Far Madding
Far Madding was derived from the novel Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. The title of the novel comes from Thomas Gray's famous 18th-century poem Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard:

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Hardy used Gray’s poem as a starting point in his novel about the desirability of living a rural lifestyle in harmony with the natural world. The novel also exposes the inconsistencies and betrayals that often plague romantic relationships. There are many couples in which one partner is more in love than the other, and Hardy shows the disastrous events that result from this inequality.

Far Madding also distances itself from the rest of the Wheel of Time world. With the social structure of Far Madding, Jordan put an interesting twist on inequalities in relationships and between genders.

Taking the two parts of the name separately; Far is a town in Iran and Madding a town in the US.

Towns with similar names are Geldan, in Afghanistan, and Giahdan, in Iran. An allusion to history could be Galdan, a general who led attacks against Mongols in Central Asia and conquered vast territories.

  • Bethal: Bethal is a town in Namibia and in South Africa.

  • Boannda: Boannda is derived from Boanda, a town in Cameroon.

  • Cosamelle: Cosamelle may have been derived from Cozumel Island, Mexico.

  • Fyall: Fyall is probably from Fayal, a town in US.

  • Jarra: Jarra is a town in Sudan. Another town with a similar name is Al-Jahra, a town in central Kuwait.

  • Jehannah: Jehanna is probably derived from Gehenna (see right). Gehenna is the name of the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, which was the site of human sacrifices by fire to the gods Baal and Moech mentioned in 2 Kgs 23:10; 2 Chron. 28:3; Jer. 32:35. It came to be associated with a place of torment and unquenchable fire that was punishment for sinners. Perrin’s forces were attacked on the Jehanna Road by a large army of Shadowspawn in Towers of Midnight. The landscape as describved there seems to fit the photo of Gehenna well.

  • Samaha: Samaha is a town in Madagascar.

  • Samara: Samara is the name of a city, province and river in western Russia. There is also a town called Samara in Mali, Namibia, Nigeria and Uzbekistan. The name also alludes to Samaria, an historic region in the Middle East mentioned in the Bible.

  • Sidon: Sidon is an ancient city in Lebanon. There is also a town called Sidon in Guinea, Sudan, Myanmar, the US, Colombia and Solomon Islands.

  • Tallan: Two towns with similar names are Tallen, in The Gambia, and Tallinn, in Estonia.

  • Willar: Towns with similar names are Willard, in the US, Willah, in Victoria, Australia, and Willer, in France.

Illian was derived from Illion or Illium, which are alternative names for the city of Troy,

an ancient city in north-western Anatolia that holds an enduring place in both literature and archaeology. The legend of the Trojan War is the most notable theme from ancient Greek literature and forms the basis of Homer's Iliad.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Troy was strategically placed between Europe and Asia and became a great power in the Bronze Age. It was destroyed and resettled many times. The city was destroyed in the Trojan War and was resettled by Greeks in about 700 BC and renamed as Illion. Alexander the Great conquered the area around the 4th century BC and the Romans captured it in 85 BC. After the occupation of Constantinople, Troy lost its importance. The photo is a view across the plain of Illium to the Aegean Sea.

There is a town named Illiana in the US.

Kandor was derived from Kandora, a town in Congo or Khandor, a town in Pakistan.

  • Berndt Crossroads: Brandon Sanderson wrote on Twitter that he used Shannon Berndtson’s name in Towers of Midnight.

  • Broken Lands: May be a reference to the disastrous search for the Northwest Passage in the Arctic commemorated in Robert Edric’s historical novel The Broken Lands. The Broken Lands in Kandor’s north are considered just as dangerous to travel.

  • Chachin: Chachin is a town in Peru.

  • Canluum: The name was probably derived from Canlaua and Canlula, towns in Mozambique.

  • Manala: Manala is a town in Zimbabwe. It is also the name of the Finnish underworld.

  • Ravinda: The towns with most similar names are Ravinia and Ravina, in the US, and Revinda, a town in France.

  • South Mettler: Brandon Sanderson wrote on Twitter that he used Sharon Mettler’s name in Towers of Midnight.

  • Uncapped Hills: No particular parallel.

Malkier is in the New Era section of the historic placenames.

Mayene is a town in Gabon. The name also alludes to Mayenne, an area in France south of Normandy and east of Brittany and also the name of an ancient town within it. This is appropriate, since Mayene culture has a ‘French’ influence.

Murandy was probably derived from Murarandia Two, a town in Kenya.

  • Hinderstap: Hinder could mean ‘hold back’ or ‘rear end’. Or both. Stap is an obsolete word meaning stop. “Stap me vitals!” was an eighteenth century exclamation of surprise meaning ‘stop up my bodily organs’ and goes with both meanings of hinder. Mat came close to being stopped at Hinderstap, and indeed some of his men returned to the village in the Last Battle and are stuck there, held along with the unfortunate villagers in a terrible loop of the Pattern.

  • Inishlinn: The name may have been derived from Inisheer, Inishmaan or Inishmore, which are all towns in Ireland, or from Inisli, a town in Turkey.

  • Lugard: Lugard was derived from Lugarde, a town in France.

  • Mindea: Mindea is similar to Mindera, a town in Chad.

  • Sabinel: Brandon Sanderson named Sabinel after Joff Brown’s family name.

  • Trustair: Trust air and nothing else? Verin said she couldn’t trust Travelling to behave as it should, and neither Verin not Mat were entirely sure who is trustworthy.

  • Tween Forest: Name from Murandy in Mat’s fake past named after Neil Tweed by Brandon Sanderson.

Saldaea was derived from Saldae, which was a Roman veteran’s town on the coast of Algeria. A garrison fort in Byzantine times, it was abandoned and then re-founded by the Berbers in the eleventh century. It is now called Béjaïa. Another town with a similar name is Saldeana, a town in Spain.

  • Asnelle: Asnelle was derived from Asnelles, a town in France.

  • Bashere: Bashere is similar to Bashera, a town in Pakistan. Bashere is a surname in the Middle East.

  • Gahaur: Gahaur was probably derived from Gauhar, a town in Pakistan.

  • Ganai: Ganai is the name of a town in China, India and Papua New Guinea.

  • Irinjavar: The name was probably derived from Irian Jaya in Indonesia, or Irnijarvi lake in Finland.

  • Kayacun: Kayacun is similar to Kayaca in Turkey and Kalakun in Guyana.

  • Kremer Road: Brandon Sanderson wrote on Twitter that he used Robb Kremer’s name in Towers of Midnight.

  • Kunwar: Kunwar is a town in India.

  • Maradon: Maradon was most likely named after Marathon in Greece. The Battle of Marathon (September 490 BC) was a decisive battle in which the Athenians repulsed the first Persian invasion of Greece. The Athenian army was to be commanded by ten generals, each of whom was to hold operational command for one day. (This is a real life parallel to the Battle of the Shining Walls in the Aiel War). The generals were evenly divided on whether to await the Persians or to attack them, and the tie was broken by a civil official, Callimachus, who decided in favour of an attack. Four of the generals then ceded their commands to the Athenian general Miltiades, thus effectively making him commander in chief.

    The Greeks could not defeat the Persian cavalry on the open plain, and waited until the cavalry were temporarily absent from the Persian camp, whereupon Miltiades ordered an attack upon the Persian infantry. Miltiades reinforced the flanks of his forces and decoyed the Persian’s strongest troops into pushing back the Greek centre. The Greek flanks then suddenly wheeled in and surrounded the Persians. The Persian troops fled to their ships with great losses.

    According to legend, an Athenian messenger was sent from Marathon to Athens, a distance of about 25 miles (40 km), and there he announced the Greek victory before dying of exhaustion. This tale became the basis for the modern marathon race.

    Likewise, Maradon was the site of a major battle in Tarmon Gai’don. Ituralde’s army was saved from defeat on the plain outside Maradon by a subordinate (or insubordinate) officer who sortied from the city and brought them there to safety. Ituralde and his forces made a marathon effort to hold the city until messages were delivered for reinforcements. They decoyed the Trolloc hordes into traps in the city. The Shadowspawn army was destroyed by Rand.

    Maradun, a town in Nigeria, also has a similar name.

  • Mehar: Mehar is a town in Pakistan.

  • Proska Flats: Brandon Sanderson wrote on Twitter that he used Rick Proska’s name in Towers of Midnight.

  • Plain of Lances: No particular parallel.

  • Shahayni: The name was probably derived from Shahanji, a town in Iran.

  • Sidona: Sidona was probably derived from Sidon, an ancient city in Lebanon. In the Phoenician era (beginning in the 12th century BC), it was an important centre for trade, glass manufacture and the production of royal purple dye from Murex shellfish. The city reached its height during the Persian Empire (550‒330 B.C). In 351 B.C., unable to repel the superior forces of Artaxerxes III, the Sidonians locked their gates and set fire to their city rather than to submit. More than 40,000 died in the fire. The name may reflect the over-running of the Borderlands by Shadowspawn in Towers of Midnight.

    Guinea, Sudan, Myanmar, the US, Solomon Islands and Colombia all have towns named Sidon. Sidoni is a town in Mali.

  • Tyr: Tyr is a town in Russia, although the name also alludes to Tyre, an ancient city in Lebanon (see right). It was a great maritime trading centre in Phoenician times. The royal purple dye (Tyrian purple) was manufactured there from Murex shellfish. Early in the sixth century B.C. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, laid siege to the walled city for thirteen years. In 332 B.C. Alexander the Great set out to conquer this strategic coastal base in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. Unable to storm the city, he blockaded Tyre for seven months. The conqueror used the debris of the abandoned mainland city to build a causeway and once within reach of the city walls, Alexander used his siege engines to breach the fortifications. Alexander was so enraged at the Tyrians' defence and the loss of his men that he destroyed half the city. The name may reflect the over-running of the Borderlands by Shadowspawn in Towers of Midnight.

Shienar is derived from Shinar, ancient Babylonia, which is mentioned in Genesis 14. The Tower of Babel was built there. In the Book of Daniel, the Israelites were taken to Shinar; just as Moraine took the five Emond’s Fielders there.

  • Ankor Dail: The two words of the name each have separate derivations: Angkor is an ancient city and temple complex in Cambodia, while Dail is a town in Scotland. Dail alludes to dale, an open valley.

  • Camron Caan: Camron is most similar to Cameron, a town in US, and Camaron, the name of a town in Haiti, Mexico and Panama. Caan is probably derived from Khan, the name of towns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Oman and Pakistan.

  • Fal Dara: Fal is the name of a town in Iran and a river in England. It is also a Belgian assault rifle. Many countries have a town named Dara: Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Afghanistan Indonesia, Tajikistan, Romania, Papua New Guinea and Syria.

  • Fal Eisen: Fal is the name of a town in Iran and a river in England. It is also a Belgian assault rifle. Eisen means iron in German and is also the name of a town in Germany.

  • Fal Moran: For Fal see above. Moran is a town in the US, while Moran Hill is a huge underground theatre in Pyongyang, North Korea.

  • Fal Sion: For Fal see above. Sion is the name of a town in Switzerland, India, Vietnam, France and Peru.

  • Field of Merrilor: There are two villages named Valea Merilor in Romania.

  • Medo: Medo is a town in the US.

  • Mos Shirare: Mos is a town in Spain and in Portugal. Shirare could be derived from Shiraoi or Shirane, both towns in Japan. The whole name is similar to Moshirabad, a town in Iran.

Tarabon was derived from the Taraba River, Nigeria or from Tarab, a town in Yemen and a state in eastern Nigeria. Tarab is the Islamic term for music and musical style:
The term tarab, which designates a whole scale of emotions, characterizes the musical conception of the time and even came to mean music itself.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica
Tarabon includes the word 'arab'.

  • Alcruna: Alcruna was possibly derived from Al Qurna’ah, a town in Yemen or Al Qurnah, a town in Iraq.

  • Elmora: Elmora was probably derived from El Morra, a town in Algeria, or Elmira, a town in US and in Canada.

  • Maracru: Maracru is most similar to Maracai, a town in Brazil, and Sierra de Maracaju, a mountain in Brazil.

  • Serana: Serana was probably derived from Serrana in Brazil.

  • Tanchico: Towns with names most similar to Tanchico are Tanchichi, in Mexico, Tanchikha, in Russia, and Tanquinho, in Brazil.

Tar Valon
The name refers to Avalon of Arthurian myth, where King Arthur was taken on a boat by three queens to be healed after being mortally wounded at the battle of Camlann. Tradition has it that, as he was dying, he was transported off to the Isle of the Dead, Avalon, to be cared for by the ancient British priestesses, and to lie in wait for a time when he would come again, to lead the British once again.

Nicola Foretold that Rand would be transported by boat by three women (see Foretellings article).

Tar Valon may also refer to Tara, the traditional seat of the High King of Ireland from the times of the mythical Fir Bolg and Tuatha De Danaan. The name of the Tuatha’an, the Sea Folk, now allies of the Aes Sedai, was derived from the Tuatha De Danaan. In turn, the name Aes Sedai was derived from Aes Sidhe, the people of the mound, fair(y) folk, who defended their abodes fiercely (as Egwene did against the Seanchan). The legends that Aes Sedai served the High King (a parallel of Rand), whos palace was at Tara, links Aes Sedai with Tara.

The two parts of the name each also allude to real world names. Cameroon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Hungary, Turkey and Kyrgyzstan all have towns named Tar. Tar River is in the US. Vallon, meaning ‘small valley’ in French, is common as part of place names in France. Valona is the name of a town in Madagascar and the US.

There is a White Tower in the real world, part of the Tower of London complex (see right) which has served as fortress, armoury, treasury, mint, palace, place of execution, public records office, observatory, refuge, and prison, particularly for "upper class" prisoners. The White Tower of the Aes Sedai is a similar symbol of the strength, power and stability of the Aes Sedai.

Ravens have lived within the walls of the Tower of London for hundreds of years, and legend has it that if they ever leave, the kingdom will fall. In The Wheel of Time series, ravens are a symbol of the Shadow which tried to destroy the cohesion of the Aes Sedai, and also of the Seanchan which raided the Tower and want to enslave the Aes Sedai…
The Citadel, the South Carolina military college which Jordan attended also has a white “Tower”. Graduates of the Citadel say “I wear the ring” (Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline). Aes Sedai are keen on discipline and the Accepted earn the Great Serpent ring. Par Conroy’s book was dedicated to Robert Marks, the same person to whom Robert Jordan dedicated The Shadow Rising.

  • Alindaer: Alinder is a surname and Alinda a personal name.

  • Dagain: Dagain is a personal name.

  • Darein: The similarly spelled Darien is a personal name and a town in the US.

  • Dorlan: Dorlan is a surname and personal name.

  • Eldone Market: Eldon/Eldone is a personal name.

  • Jualdhe: Juald is a surname.

  • Luagde: The most similar name is Lugade, a surname.

  • Negin Bridge: Brandon Sanderson wrote on Twitter that he used Laura Negin’s name in Towers of Midnight.

  • Osenrein: Osen is a municipality in Norway and Osenring is a surname.

Tear was derived from Teer, a town in the US. Interestingly, Tear has one of the most tiered societies in the Wheel of Time series. Moiraine also said that the Pattern could be torn in Tear (The Dragon Reborn, The Hammer).

  • Tear: see above

  • Godan: Godan is a town in Iran and Spain. The name also alludes to the Golan Heights (see right) which are fought over by Israel and Syria and overlook the Jordan valley. Godan is a Tairen town overlooking and threatening Mayene.

Other Regions

  • Almoth Plain: Almoth was probably derived from Alamut, a fortress of Seljuq empire which was a base for assassins and was itself besieged. Almoth Plain is overrun by warring forces. The name also alludes to Amroth, a place name in Gondor in The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien (who in turn borrowed the name of the town Amroth, in Wales).

  • Caralain/Carralain/Carallain Grass: The name may have been derived from Caralian or Corralan, which are towns in the Philippines.

  • Plains of Maredo: Maredo was derived from Maredro, a town in the Congo.

  • Seleisin: Seleisin was probably derived from Selesen, a town in Austria. Not that remote after all!

  • Toman Head: There is a town named Toman in Togo, Indonesia, Haiti and Russia.
    Falme on Toman Head was probably derived from Falamae, a town in the Solomon Islands, Falmer, a town in England, or Falma, a town in Ethiopia. Falmouth is the most south-westerly good harbour in Great Britain and often was the first port of call for returning Royal Navy ships. Falme is the most westerly port on the mainland and the first mainland landing place of the Seanchan Return.

Bodies of Water

  • Aryth Ocean: Aryth was probably derived from Arith, a town in France.

  • Bay of Remara: Remara alludes to remoras, a type of fish noted for attaching themselves to, and riding about on, sharks, other marine animals, and ocean-going ships (Encyclopaedia Britannica). The name is also similar to Remera, a town in Rwanda.

  • Kabal Deep: Kabal could be derived from Kabale, a town in Uganda, Kabalo, a town in Congo and Indonesia, or Kabala, a town in Sierra Leone, Turkey, Congo, Gabon, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria and Estonia.
    Kabal also alludes to a cabal, a secret conspiracy, and thus the mysterious depths and undercurrents of that part of the ocean.

  • Morenal Ocean: Morenal is probably derived from Morena, the name of a town in India, the US, Papua, New Guinea, Bolivia and Brazil.


  • River Alguenya: Alguenya is derived from Alguena, a town in Spain.

  • River Antaeo: Antaeo is probably derived from Antao, a town in Philippines.

  • Arinelle River: Arinelle is similar to Arenilla, a town in Costa Rica and in Chile.

  • River Armahn: Armahn is probably derived from Arman, a town and river in Russia.

  • Boern: Boern may allude to Berne, a city in Switzerland, or to Boeren Wetering (canal) in the Netherlands.

  • River Cary: Cary River is in England.

  • Dhagon: Dhagon may have been derived from Dhadgaon, a town in India, or Dagon, a town in the US and in Nigeria.

  • Eldar: Eldar may have been derived from Elda, a town in Spain. The name could also be a borrowing from Tolkien, who named the Elves as Eldar.

  • Erinin River: Erinin was probably derived from Erini, a town in Latvia.

  • River Gaelin: There are several towns with similar names: Gaolan, a town in China, Gelin, a town in Haiti, Gellin, a town in France and Gallin, a town in Germany.

  • Iralell: Places with similar names are Irayel, a town in Russia, and Iredell county in the US.

  • Ivo: Ivo River is in Papua New Guinea. Ivo is also a town in Bolivia, Brazil and Sweden.

  • River Luan: Luan is a town in Philippines and China, while the Luanhe River is also in China.

  • Manetherendrelle: The name is a combination of Manetheren + drelle. Manetheren alludes to Manetho/Manethon, an ancient Egyptian historian who divided Egyptian history into dynasties. Eren is a town in Vanuatu and it is also the first word of the names of towns in Inner Mongolia. While, drelle means ‘river of’ in the Old Tongue, there is a town in France named Druelle.

  • Mora River: Mora River is in the US. Many countries have towns named Mora: Spain, Sweden, Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Mali, Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Norway, Portugal, Cyprus, Costa Rica, the US and Argentina.

  • Reisendrelle: The name is a combination of Reisen + drelle. Reisen is a town in Germany. While, drelle means ‘river of’ in the Old Tongue, there is a town in France named Druelle.

  • Shal: Shal is a town in Afghanistan and in Iran. Lake Shala is in Ethiopia.

  • Storn: Storn may be derived from Stornaway, a town in Scotland, or Stor-En, a lake in Sweden.

  • Taren River: Taren is a town in Venezuela.

Mountains and Ranges

  • Banikhan Mountains: Banikhan was probably derived from Banikan in Niger.

  • Blinder’s Peak: Blinders are used on some horses to restrict their vision in the rear and sometimes the side. The mountain may be associated with storms and fog that restrict vision. The name may be a comment on Mat’s group not knowing where they are, and what lies ahead of them in Murandy, or on the group being too narrow in their aims.

  • Cordese Hills: Cordese was probably derived from Cordes, a town in Spain, or Cordesse, a town in France.

  • Cumbar Hills: There are several places with similar names: Cumbal Volcano in Colombia, Cumbaru, a town in Brazil, Cumbari, a town in India, Kumbar, a town in Sudan, and Cumber, town in the US.

  • Damona Mountains: Towns with similar names are Dimona in Israel, Diamona in Guinea and Damana in Niger, Nigeria, India and Sri Lanka. Damona was the Gallic goddess who was the patron deity of the hot springs at Bourbonne-les-Bains and Bourbon-Lancy.

  • Doirlon Hills: Doirlon was probably derived from Doiran Lake in Macedonia.

  • Favlend Mountain: Favlin is a surname.

  • Hills of Absher: Absher is a town in the US.

  • Hills of Kintara: Places with similar names are: Kinvara, a town in Ireland, and Kinrara, a town in Scotland.

  • Jangai Pass: Jangai is derived from Janghai, a town in India. It also probably refers to the 'tongue of Jagai' from Rudyard Kipling's poem, The Ballad of East and West. In the poem, a native bandit steals the prized horse from a British Colonel's stables and the Colonel's son tries to catch the thief before he reaches the 'tongue of Jagai':

    But if he be past the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then,
    For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal's men.
    There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,

    It's a place considered savage and barren; too dangerous for a lone westerner to go. Similarly, Jangai Pass is one of the entries into the deadly Aiel Waste.

  • Malvide Narrows: Malvide is similar to Malvadi, a town in India. Malvide is also a Portuguese surname.

  • Molvaine Gap: It may have been derived from Mulvaine, a surname.

  • Mount Sardlen: Sardlin is a surname

  • Mountains of Dhoom: The name alludes to Mount Doom, where the One Ring was cast to be unmade, in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

  • Mountains of Mist: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth has a mountain range called the Misty Mountains.

  • Nemarellin Mountains: The name is most similar to Namralan, a town in India.

  • Niamh Passes: Towns with similar names are: Niah, a town in Malaysia, Niama, a town in Congo, Central African Republic and Mali and Niami, a town in Mali.

  • Rhannon Hills: Rhannon may allude to Rhiannon, the Welsh fertility and horse goddess. It may also refer to Rhaunen, a town in Germany, or Rannen, a town in Israel.

  • Tarwin's Gap: Tarwin is a town in Victoria, Australia.

  • Venir Mountains: Venir may have been derived from Veniers, a town in France.

Other Landmarks

  • Alianelle Spring: Alianelle is probably derived from Alianello, a town in Italy, or Alliancelles, a town in France.

  • Arran Head: Arran is an island in Scotland, on which there is the 34 metres deep King's Cave where Robert the Bruce took shelter from the English and their allies in the early fourteenth century.

  • Braem Wood: Braem alludes to Braemar, the Scots village where the standard was first raised for the Jacobite rebellion in 1715. It may also refer to Braam, a town in Germany.

  • Dhallin Forest: Dhallin was derived from Dhallan, a town in Pakistan.

  • Dumai's Wells: Dumai is a town in Indonesia.

  • Garen's Wall: Garen may have been derived from Garren Hill in the US. Garen’s wall could also be a joke on ‘garden wall’.

  • Haddon Mirk: Haddon is a town in Jamaica and in Victoria, Australia. Haddon Hills and Haddon Town are in the US.

  • Paerish Swar: Paerish refers to perish and implies danger. (Parish is another, less likely alternative). Swar could refer to schwartz, ‘black’ in German, although Sawar is a town in India and in Indonesia with a similar sounding name.

  • Shadar Logoth: Shadar is similar to ‘shadow’, and Logoth to ‘logos’, knowledge, so the name alludes to knowledge of the Shadow, appropriate for a place that ended up knowing the Shadow only too well and ‘out-shadowing the Shadow’. The name also contains the names of real world towns: Shadar is a town in Syria and Logoth is a town in Afghanistan.
    Mashadar may have been derived from the names of several towns: Mashad, in Iran, Mashra’ar-Raqq, in Sudan, Mashad-i-Sar, in Pakistan or Mashadana, in Kazakhstan.

  • Shayol Ghul: Shayol alludes to Sheol, which the Ancient Israelites believed was:

    a dark region in the lower world in which both good and evil souls continue to exist as shades in constant thirst

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Ghul refers to ghoul, a demon.

    The two parts of the name each also allude to real world names. Shayol-li is a town in North Korea and Ghul is a town in Oman.

  • Thakandar: Thakan'dar is probably derived from Thakarda, a town in India.

  • Tower of Ghenjei: This is a complex name.

    Ghenjei alludes to the Genji or Minamoto family of samurai, who had great power in Japan in the 11th century AD:

    In the late Heian period (the Heian period was from 794‒1185 AD), the more powerful of the samurai, who first established their power in the provinces, gradually gathered in or near the capital, where they served both the military needs of the state against potential outbreaks of rebellion and also as bodyguards for the great noble houses. Through association with the aristocracy, they gradually established a foothold at court.
    Outstanding among these samurai were the branch of the Minamoto (or Genji) family descended from the emperor Seiwa and the Taira (Heike) family lineage that traced its roots to the emperor Kammu. The Seiwa Genji established themselves as clients in the service of successive Fujiwara regents even before Michinaga was regent. Their fame as a warrior clan was greatly heightened in the mid-11th century when they quelled a rebellion in northeast Japan.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    It also alludes to The Tale of Genji:

    a masterpiece of Japanese literature by the Lady Murasaki Shikibu, written toward the start of the 11th century. It is considered the oldest full novel in the world and one of the finest. The Tale of Genji captures the image of a unique society of ultrarefined and elegant aristocrats, whose indispensable accomplishments were skill in poetry, music, calligraphy, and courtship. Most of the story is concerned with the loves of Prince Genji and the different women in his life, each of whom is exquisitely delineated. The work is supremely sensitive to human emotions and the beauties of nature; but the tone darkens as it proceeds, to reflect a Buddhist conviction of the vanity of this world.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    It is interesting that courage and iron (samurai) and music (court) play such a large part in the allusions, because the Tower of Ghenjei is a gateway to the Aelfinn and Eelfinn and these are things that they avoid.

    Another important allusion is to Genie (or Jinn). A genie is:

    in Arabic mythology, a supernatural spirit below the level of angels and devils. Ghul (treacherous spirits of changing shape), Ifrit (diabolic, evil spirits), and Si’la (treacherous spirits of invariable form) constitute classes of jinn. 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; however, those human beings knowing the proper magical procedure can exploit the jinn to their advantage.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    While the Aelfinn and Eelfinn have humanoid form, they are considered so alien that they are evil. They have mysterious powers and grant to those that enter the redstone doorways either three wishes or answers to three questions, reminiscent of the genie of the lamp. The game foxes and snakes (see Foxes and Snakes article) is a remembrance of dealings with these creatures and holds the key to exploiting the ‘Finns to advantage.

    The name Ghenjei is also similar to the town of Ghenju, in Afghanistan.


The name ‘stedding’ alludes to the steadying influence that such good and peaceful places have on everyone (except the Shadow). The stedding is the stead (place) or homestead for Ogier. Ogier is in turn derived from Ogre and from Ogier the Dane, a character in Legends of Charlemagne. Ogier is also a surname and the name of a street in Jordan's home city of Charleston.

There is a strong Chinese influence in nearly all Stedding names and there is also a number of references to Chinese books and writing, which brings to mind the Ogier’s reverence for books. In his The Dragon Reborn Development notes, Jordan originally called the Book of Translation the Book of Changes—a reference to the I Ching, a Chinese classic. Ironically, the stedding in Shara, a land with strong parallels to China, are all long abandoned because:

no Ogier found their way to that part of the world after the Breaking and those who were already there were killed or died of illnesses, accidents etc.

Robert Jordan, Ogier notes

  • Stedding Cantoine: Cantoine was probably derived from Canton, a city in the US and in China.

  • Stedding Chandar: There are several places with similar names: Chandalar River, Alaska, Chandwar area, in India, and Chandan River, in India.

  • Stedding Chiantal: Chiantal was probably derived from Cantal region, in France, or Chiantar glacier, Pakistan.

  • Stedding Chanti: Chanti was derived from Chianti, a town and wine in Italy, or Chantilly, a town in France.

  • Stedding Chinden: Chinden was derived from Chinde, a town in Mozambique, or Chindwin River, Myanmar.

  • Stedding Chosium: Chosium was probably derived from the Choson period (1392‒1910 AD), Korea.

  • Stedding Daiting: Daiting was possibly derived from Datian, a town in China, or Datong, a city in China.

  • Stedding Feindu: Feindu was probably derived from Fengdu, a town in China.

  • Stedding Handu: Handu was probably derived from Handa, a town in Japan, Hangu, a town in Pakistan, or from Hindu.

  • Stedding Jenshin: Jenshin was probably derived from Jinshan, a town in China.

  • Stedding Jentoine: Speculation: Jentoine may have been derived from Gentinnes, a town in Belgium.

  • Stedding Jinsiun: Two towns with similar names are: Jinxian and Jinyun in China.

  • Stedding Jongai: The name is similar to Jongkha, a town in China and to the Jonglei Canals to control the White Nile started in Sudan in early 1980s.

  • Stedding Kolomon: The name alludes to:

    Koloman/Coloman, The Possessor of Books, Kálmán king of Hungary from 1095 AD, who pursued expansionist policies and stabilized and improved the internal order of Hungary…Though his accession to the throne was irregular, Coloman was a wise and just ruler…It was as a legislator and administrator, however, that Coloman was greatest. He was not only one of the most learned sovereigns of the early Middle Ages (hence his byname) but was also one of the most statesmanlike…He is noted particularly for enacting a law forbidding trials of witches, whose existence he denied.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Ogier have great respect for books and for Aes Sedai, even though Aes Sedai can’t channel in a stedding (unless they have a well).

    Kolomon also alludes to the Kholomon massif in Greece.

  • Stedding Lantoine: Lantoine may have been derived from Lantien district, in China.

  • Stedding Leitiang: Leitiang was probably derived from Leiyang or Litang, towns in China.

  • Stedding Madan: Madan is a town in Bulgaria.

  • Stedding Mardoon: Mardoon may have been derived from Mardan, a city in Pakistan.

  • Stedding Mashong: The name may have been derived from Mastung, a town in Pakistan.

  • Stedding Mintai: Mintai was possibly derived from Minto lake and inlet in Canada, or Mintia, a town in Romania

  • Stedding Nurshang: Nurshan is a surname and a personal name.

  • Stedding Qichen: Qichen was derived from Qichun, a town in China.

  • Stedding Saishen: Saishen was derived from Sishen, a town in South Africa.

  • Stedding Sanshen: The name was derived from Sansha, a town in China.

  • Stedding Shadoon: Shadoon may have been derived from shadoof, an irrigation device from Egypt.

  • Stedding Shajin: Shajin may allude to Li Shaojun:

    Li Shaojun (fl 2nd C BC), Chinese Taoist who was responsible for much of the mystical content of popular Taoist thought.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

  • Stedding Shamendar: Shamendar may have been derived from Shemanker town and river in Nigeria.

  • Stedding Shangloon: The name may have been derived from Shangqui, a town in China.

  • Stedding Shangtai: Shangtai was derived from Shanghai, a city in China.

  • Stedding Shanjing: Shanjing was derived from Shanjiang, a town in China.

  • Stedding Sherandu: Sherandu was derived from Sherando Lake Recreation Area, Virginia

  • Stedding Sholoon: The name may have been derived from Shelon River, Russia.

  • Stedding Sintiang: Sintiang was derived from Sinkiang desert province of China, or Sintang, a town in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

  • Stedding Taijing: Taijing was derived from Taixing, a town in China.

  • Stedding Taishin: Taishin was derived from Taishun, a town in China.

  • Stedding Tanhal: Tanhal was derived from Tanha, restlessness or craving, which is:

    one of the forces that prevent enlightenment in Buddhism and Hinduism.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Ogier are wary of restlessness and hastiness. The name may also refer to the Tanala people:

    the People of the Forest in Madagascar and [they] are skilled woodsmen, food gatherers, and hunters.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    The Ogier are the ultimate woodland dwellers.

  • Stedding Tsochan: Tsochan alludes to Tsao Chan:

    born 1715? AD, Chiang-ning, China, died Feb. 12, 1763 AD, Peking, the author of Hung lou meng (Dream of the Red Chamber), generally considered China's greatest novel.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Another allusion is to Tsao Chun:

    in Chinese mythology, the Furnace Prince whose magical powers of alchemy produced gold dinnerware that conferred immortality on the diner.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Ogier are very long-lived.

    Yet another allusion is to the Tso chuan, which is:

    an ancient commentary on the Ch'un-ch'iu, and the first sustained narrative work in Chinese literature. The Ch'un-ch'iu, the first Chinese chronological history, chronicles events during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC) of China's history. The Tso chuan is a detailed commentary on this work and provides extensive narrative accounts and ample background materials concerning the events chronicled in the Ch'un-ch'iu. The Tso chuan also provides authentic historical documents and written evidences (though fragmentary) of the philosophical schools of the time. As such, the Tso chuan is a comprehensive account of the principal political, social, and military events of the entire Spring and Autumn period. The commentary also occupies a seminal place in the history of Chinese literature because of its influential narrative style.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Many published historians in the Wheel of Time world are Ogier, who revere books and memories of events.

  • Stedding Tsofan: Tsofan was perhaps derived from Tofa, one of the Turkic languages.

  • Stedding Tsofu: The name alludes to Ono Tofu:

    born 894, Japan, died 964, Japan, Japanese calligrapher known as one of the Sanseki (“Three Brush Traces”), in effect the first calligraphers of the age. His writing, which departed from the traditional Chinese style, may be regarded as the model for subsequent Japanese calligraphy.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    This literary allusion emphasises the Ogier reverence for books and writing. Tofu, bean curd, features in Asian cuisine and is consistent with the strong Asian ‘flavour’ of the Ogier place names.

  • Stedding Wenchen: Wenchen was derived from Wencheng, a town in China.

  • Stedding Yandar: Yandar was probably derived from Yandal, a locality in Western Australia.

  • Stedding Yongen: Yongen was derived from Yongan, a town in China.

  • Stedding Yontiang: Yongtiang was probably derived from Yongtai or Yongyang, both towns in China.

Other Continents

Aiel Waste

Aiel is a complex name. Aile means ‘wing’ in French, alluding to the speed at which Aiel move and the distances they can cover. Ail in Mongolia are settlements of a few families of nomads; Aiel are a tribal society. Ailey was an American dancer, choreographer, and director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Salvatore Aiello is a dancer joined the North Carolina Dance Theatre as Associate Artistic Director in 1979 and became Artistic Director in 1985. This reflects RJ’s interest in and knowledge of dance. The names are appropriate, since Aiel refer to battle as a dance.

  • Alcair Dal: While Alcair Dal means ‘golden bowl’ in the Old Tongue, there are real world towns that are similar to the two parts of the name. Alcair was probably derived from Alcains, a town in Portugal or Altair, a town in the US. Nigeria, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Belgium, Norway and Sweden all have a town named Dal. Dal River is in Sweden.

  • Rhuidean: Rhuidean is very similar to from Ruidian, a town in China. The name also implies ruined, which is what it became. In his White Goddess notes, Jordan developed Rhuidean from the Irish surname Ruidain, and linked it with the Irish bruidhean, which were inns open all hours that gave shelter to travelers or fugitives, where they were protected by tradition and the king's law. The fairy palaces of the Aes Sidhe were also called bruidean.

  • Termool: The name was probably derived from Termoli, a town in Italy, or Terzool, a town in Netherlands. The name also refers to the turmoil of endlessly shifting sands.


  • Aile Dashar: Taking the two parts of the name separately, Aile is derived from Aille, a town in Ireland. Aile also means ‘wing’ in French. Furthermore, Aile is pronounced similar to isle and shows how names can change over time. Dashar is probably derived from Dar Shahr or Dasht Zar, towns in Iran or Dasher, a town in the US.

  • Aile Jafar: For Aile, see above. Jafar is a town in Mozambique and in Pakistan.

  • Aile Somera: For Aile, see above. Somera is a town in Estonia.

  • Cantorin: Cantorin was probably derived from Cantoin or Cantaron, towns in France. Since the “Chinese” Seanchan hold it, it may also be a reference to Canton, the Chinese mainland city closest to Hong Kong.

  • Cindalking: Cindalking was probably derived from Cindakir, a town in Indonesia.

  • Dantora: Dantora may have been derived from Dantra or Dantewara, towns in India.

  • Qaim: Qaim is the first word of the names of three towns in Pakistan: Qaim Bharwana, Qaim Gopang and Qaim Magsi.

  • Retash: Retash is a personal name.

  • Tremalking The cloest real world place name is Tamalekong, a town in Indonesia.


Pronounced “shawn chan”, the name was probably derived from Shenchen or Shanshan, towns in China, and also Sancian Island in China.

  • Abunai ‘on the Sea of L'Heye’: Abunai is a town in Brazil and Heye is in China.

  • Aldael Mountains: The closest real world place is Alda in Spain and the US.

  • Alqam: Alqam is a town in Egypt.

  • Anangor: Anangore was probably derived from Anangon, a town in Myanmar, or Anandor, a town in Papua New Guinea.

  • Ancarid: Ancarid may have been derived from Ancara, a town in Bolivia, or Andarud, a town in Iran.

  • Asinbayar: Asinbayar was probably derived from Azerbaijan in Asia, or Assiniboia, a town in Canada.

  • Barsabba: Barsabba was probably derived from Barabba, a town in South Australia, or Baraseba, a town in South Africa.

  • Dalenshar: Dalenshar may have been derived from Derensa, a town in Ethiopia.

  • Emerald Cliffs: The Emerald Cliffs are in Normany, France and their counterparts are the White Cliffs of Dover across the English Channel, so perhaps they are a reference to the Seanchan invasion.

  • Imfaral: Imfaral was probably derived from Imphal, a town in India.

  • Ijaz Mountains: The Ijaz Mountains are noted for their coffee, and in the real world Arabic coffee is one of the main varieties. Ijaz is the Arabic term for the act of rendering incapable or powerless. It is also an Arabian surname.

  • Jeranem: Jeranem was probably derived from Jeronim, a town in Slovenia.

  • Jianmin: Jianmin is a town in China.

  • Kaensada: Kaensada may have been derived from Carne Assada, a town in Portugal, or Kaena Point in Hawaii.

  • Khoweal: Khoweal was possibly derived from Khanewal, a town in Pakistan.

  • Maram Kashor: Maram is a personal name, Kashor is a surname.

  • Marendalar: Two towns with similar names are Mariendale and Mariendal, in the US, and Malandala, in Tanzania.

  • Merinloe: Towns with similar names are Merinso, in Nigeria and Morenillo, in Argentina.

  • Muyami: Muyami was probably derived from Mouyami, a town in Congo, Mayami, a town in Tanzania, or Muyani, a town in Zambia.

  • Nirendad: Nirendad was probably derived from Nyirenda, a town in Malawi.

  • N'Kon: N’Kon may have been derived from Nkono, a town in Cameroon and Congo or from Nokon, a town in Papua New Guinea.

  • Noren M'Shar: The two parts of the name are each derived from real world places. Noren Lake is in Sweden. M’Shar is similar to Mashar, a town in Sudan.

  • Quirat: Quirat was derived from Quirhat, a town in Philippines, or Quira, a town in Panama.

  • Ramdore: Ramdore may have been derived from Ramore, a town in Canada, or from Ramdane, a town in Algeria.

  • Salaking: Salaking was probably derived from Salakan in Indonesia, Silakang in India or Sara Kinga in Chad.

  • Sa'las Plains: Salas is a town in a few countries: Spain, Latvia, Czech Republic, Serbia and Romania.

  • Seandar (shawn-DAHR): Seandar, being the capital city of Seanchan, may allude to Seanad, the senate of Ireland. Shanidar, one of oldest settlements in Mesopotamia, may be another allusion.

  • Sen T'jore: Sen is a town in Russia and in Turkey, while Tjore is a town in Norway.

  • Serengada Dai: Serengada may have been derived from the Serengeti Plain in East Africa. Another similar name is Serenga, a town in Mozambique. Cameroon, Sudan, Indonesia and Chad each have a town named Dai.

  • Shon Kifar: Taking the two parts of the name separately, Shon is a town in the Czech Republic, while Kifar ‘Asyun is a town in the West Bank in the Middle East and Kifa is a town in Mauretania.

  • Sleeping Bay: Sleeping Bay is in Michigan, US.

  • Sohima: Sohima is probably derived from Soshima, a town in Japan.

  • Takisrom: Perhaps a reference to Takistan.

  • Tuel: Tuel was probably derived from Tual, a town in Indonesia, Tuela, a town in Mozambique, or Tuelo, a town in Sierra Leone.

  • Tzura: Tzura was probably derived from Tura, a town in Russia, or Tsuruta, a town in Japan.

Place names in the Seanchan continent are from a variety of real world cultures, reflecting the cosmopolitan makeup of Seanchan.


Shara is also known as Shamara, Co'dansin, Tomaka, Kigali and Shibouya. Each of these names will be examined in alphabetic order.

  • Co’dansin: Co is the first part of many place names in Vietnam. Dansin is derived from Danxian, a town in China.

  • Kigali: Kigali is the capital of Rwanda.

  • Shamara: Shamara is derived from Samara, a city, province and river in western Russia or from Shamarka, also a town in Russia.

  • Shara: Shara is a town in Ethiopia and Russia. It also sounds similar to Sahara.

  • Shibouya: Shibouya was probably derived from Shibuya-ku or Shibukawa, towns in Japan or Sibuyan Island and Sea in the Philippines.

  • Tomaka: Tomaka is similar to Tomika, a town in Japan, Tomoka Creek in the US and Tamaka, a town in Nigeria.

The multiple names of this continent simultaneously evoke an African and Eastern Asian influence. The Eastern Asian influence is particularly apt, because Shara, like China and Japan in the past, has largely isolated itself from the other continents.

Historic Place Names

Age of Legends

  • Asar Don: The two parts of the name were derived separately from real world places. Asar may have been derived from the Asir region in Saudi Arabi or from Asa. Asa is a common name for towns: there is an Asa in Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Kalimantan, Philippines, US, Chile, Norway, Sweden. There is a Don river in Russia, France and England and also towns named Don in Cameroon, Chad, Russia, US, and Australia.

  • Adanza: There are several names from which Adanza may have been derived: Adana, a city in Turkey overlying a Hittite settlement, Adanda, a town in Central African Republic and in Turkey, Adanga, a town in Chad, Adanka a town in Togo or Azanza, a town in Cuba and in Spain. There was also an Adanzoan King in Dahomey during the slave trade.

  • Ansaline Gardens: Ansaline is a rare personal name.

  • Aren Dashar: Aren is a town in France and Spain. It also alludes to Arin, an extinct Paleo-Siberian language. Dashar is probably derived from Dar Shahr or Dasht Zar, towns in Iran or Dasher, a town in the US.

  • Comelle: Comelle was probably derived from Commelle or La Commelle, towns in France. It also alludes to the Comel River, which has a famous ancient Assyrian fountain.

  • Devaille: Devaille was probably derived from Deville, a town in France and in the US.

  • Emar Dal: Emar was an ancient city located at the confluence of the Euphrates and the Galikh rivers. Nigeria, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Belgium, Norway and Sweden all have towns named Dal. Dal River is in Sweden.

  • Halidar: Halidar alludes to the Battle of Halidon Hill (July 19, 1333), the last of the battles fought over Scottish independence. The Scots forces under Sir Archibald Douglas were slaughtered by the English forces under Edward III while trying to relieve the siege of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

  • Kemali: Kemali was derived from Kemalli, a town in Turkey, Kimali, a town in Tanzania, or Kamali, a town in Iran.

  • Larcheen: Towns with names similar to Larcheen are Lachen in Switzerland and Germany, Larshin in Kazakhstan and Lachine in Canada.

  • M'jinn: The name probably refers to Majin, a town and kingdom of Korea. The Majin kingdom was a short-lived state in central Korea which emerged for a time during the chaotic last years of Silla (about 900 AD). It was renamed T’aebong in 911 AD and lasted until 918 AD. All these changes are an apt parallel to M’jinn, which was noted for its changeable weather (Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven Of Shadow). Another town with a similar name is Mjindi, in South Africa.

  • Mar Ruois: Mar Ruois may allude to the Forest of Morois in Arthurian legend, where Tristan and Isolde fled to safety. The name is also similar to Marruas, a town in Brazil. The two parts of the name each are the names of real world towns. Many towns are called Mar: in Sudan, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Portugal, Spain and Canada. Mar/e also means sea. Ruois is similar to Rois, a town in Spain, and Raois, a town in the Philippines.

  • Paaran Disen: The greatest city in the utopian Age of Legends was named after Paradise.

    Accounts of a primordial earthly paradise in the higher religions range from that of a garden of life (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) to that of a golden age of human society at the beginning of each cycle of human existence (Buddhism, Hinduism).

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    The Age of Legends was regarded as a golden age, although it is the Second Age in the Pattern, not the First Age. Paaren Disen has gates (the Gates of Hevan) where Ishamael was defeated by Lews Therin. Heaven (Paradise) also has gates.

    Taking each name separately, the similarly spelled word ‘paaren’ is German for 'mate', 'pair' or ‘match’; one of a matched pair. The disen were Scandinavian goddesses of fate and fertility. The Valkyries and female goddesses of both the Aesir and Vanir were called Disen. In Jordan’s paradise there was a balance of male and female.

    Furthermore, the two parts of the name are the names of real world towns; Paaren is a town in Germany, and Dissen a town in Germany and in the US.

  • Paral: Paral was derived from Parral, a mining city in Mexico on the Parral River.

  • Rorn M’doi: Rorn was probably derived from Roron, a town in Sweden and M’doi from Midori, a town in Japan.

  • Satelle: Satelle may have been derived from Sautele, a town in Congo, Sotele, a town in Tanzania, or Sitele, a town in Zambia.

  • Shorelle: The name Shorelle means ‘little shore’, appropriate for the port where Asmodean was born. Following on the Asmodean theme, the name also has a link with the performing arts: Walter Sorell wrote on dance:

    Dance in Its Time (1981) analyzes the subject within a wide cultural and social context.

    - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Jordan had a considerable knowledge of dance. Shorelle may also refer to Sorrelle, a town in US.

  • Tsomo Nasalle: Tsomo River is in South Africa. Nasalle was derived from Nasale, a town in Poland.

  • Tzora: Tzora may have been derived from Zorra, a town in Brazil.

  • V'saine: V‘saine may have been derived from the Visayan Sea, islands and language group of the Philippines or from Visani, a town in Romania.
    Collam Daan was the university at V’saine. Collam was derived from Kollam, an Indian town which was a port for the spice trade. Daan is a town in China. Furthermore, Daniel Colladon was a physicist who was the first to measure the speed of sound in water and the name alludes to this.
    The Sharom was a sphere which floated above the Collam Daan and was destroyed when the hole was drilled in the Bore. Sharom may be derived from Sharon, a section of Mediterranean coastal plain in Israel. Shalom means ‘peace’.

The Compact of the Ten Nations

Aelgar was derived from Algar, a town in Spain.
  • Ancohima: was probably derived from Ancohuma Peak, Bolivia.

  • Condaris: Condaris was possibly derived from Condarco, a town in Argentina.

  • Mainelle: There are a few places with names similar to Mainelle: Maine, in the US, Mainalon Range in Greece and Maibelle, a town in Belgium.

  • Shar Honelle: Shar was possibly derived from Shahe, a town near Beijing, China or from Shahi, a city in Iran. Honelle was probably derived from Hornell, a town in the US.

Almoren was derived from Almora, a town in India, or from the Almerian region in Spain, an important area in the Bronze Age.
  • Al'cair'rahienallen: While the name means ‘hill of the golden dawn’ in the Old Tongue, there are real world towns that are similar to segments which compose the name. Alcair is similar to Alcains, a town in Portugal and Altair, a town in the US. Rahien was derived from Raheen, a town in Ireland, or Rahier, a town in Belgium. Allen is the name of a town in Argentina, and a river in England.

  • Jennshain: This means ‘Jenn peace’ in the Old Tongue, Jenn referring to the Jenn Aiel, the true Aiel, a parallel of the real world Jain. There are towns with names similar to the segments comprising the name. Jenne is the name of a town in Liberia, Yemen and US, Jen is a town in Liberia and in Nigeria and Shian is a town in Iran.

Aramaelle probably alludes to the Aramaean tribe, which occupied Aram (a large region in northern Syria) from the eleventh to the eighth centuries BC. In eleventh century BC, a coalition of Aramaeans, Ammonites and Edomites attacked Israel and were defeated by King David.
  • Anolle'sanna: Anolle was derived from Anole, a town in Somalia. Sanna is the name of a town in India, Sweden and Estonia.

  • Cuebiyarsande: This name means ‘heart of the sun’ in the Old Tongue, but also has real world parallels. Cuebiyar is similar to the Cuebe River, in Angola and to Chebaya, a town in Chad. Several countries have a town named Sande: Germany, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Pakistan Norway and Portugal.

  • Mafal Dadaranell: Mafal was probably derived from Mafala, a town in Ivory Coast, or Mafalla, a town in Spain. Dadaranell probably alludes to the Dardanelles Strait (see photo right) near Gallipoli Turkey, the site of military invasion in history (eg Gallipoli in WWI) or to Dardanell in California. Mafal Dadaranell was destroyed in the Trolloc Wars.

  • Rhahime Naille: Rhahime was derived from Rahimah, a town in Saudi Arabia or Rahimya Khan, a town in Pakistan. Naille was derived from Nuaille, a town in France or Naile, a town in Mauretania.

The name foreshadows what Aridhol would become once Mordeth arrived—an arid hole. And of course, as a result of the cleansing of saidin at the end of Winter’s Heart, there is now literally a hole where Shadar Logoth and Aridhol once stood.

  • Abor'maseleine: Abor was derived from Arbor, a town in the US (more than one) or from Abor Isu, a town in Nigeria. Maseleine Harbour is in Guernsey, UK.

  • Aridhol (capital): Arid hole

  • Cyrendemar'naille: Cyrende may have been derived from Cherendey, a town in Russia. Naille was derived from Nuaille, a town in France or Naile, a town in Mauretania.

Coremanda alludes to the Coromandel Coast, India, which was a major trading area between Europe and China.
  • Braem: Braem alludes to Braemar, the Scots village where the standard was first raised for Jacobite rebellion in 1715.

  • Hai Caemlyn: Hai = High. Caemlyn alludes to the Battle of Camlann in Arthurian myth, where Arthur and Modred mortally wounded each other.

  • Nailine Samfara: Nailine is probably derived from Nailin, a town in Inner Mongolia. Samfara is derived from Samafara, a town in Somalia, or from the Zamfara tribe in Nigeria.

  • Shaemal: Shaemal was probably derived from Shamal, a town in Afghanistan and a hot, dry wind from the north in Iraq, Iran and Arabia.

Eharon was derived from Ehara, a town in Madagascar. There is also the Castle of Arahona, a medieval castle in Spain.
  • Barashta: Barashta was probably derived from Barasat, a town in India and Barasti, the fronds of the date palm in Arabic.

  • Dorelle Caromon: Dorelle is a personal name. Caromon was probably derived from Carimon Islands, Indonesia or Caramon, a town in Venezuela.

  • Londaren Cor: Londaren Cor is the capital of Eharon and Londaren is derived from a real-world capital city: London. While Cor means ‘night’ in the Old Tongue, cor means ‘heart’ in the real world.

Essenia was probably derived from Essonia, a town in Gabon or Essen, a town in Germany and in Belgium. The name also alludes to the Essenes, an ascetic Jewish sect.
  • Aren Mador: Aren is a town in France and Spain. It also alludes to Arin, an extinct Paleo-Siberian language. Mador was derived from Mardor, a town in France. Aren Mador links to the future Far Madding, which was founded on its site.

  • Dalsande: While Dalsande means ‘sun bowl’ in the Old Tongue, there are also real world places with similar names—Dalsland, a province of Sweden and Dalslunde, a town in Denmark.

  • Tear: Tear was probably derived from Teer, a town in the US. Interestingly, Tear has one of the most tiered societies in the Wheel of Time series.

There are two places with similar names: Jaramillo, the name of a town in Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Argentina Venezuela and Panama and the Jarama River in Spain.
  • Allorallen: Allora is a town in Queensland, Australia, and Allen, is a town in Argentina and a river in England.

  • Barsine: Barsine was probably derived from Barsin, a town in Pakistan. Barsine was the name of one of Alexander the Great’s wives.

  • Canaire'somelle: Canaire is similar to Canaries, a town in St Lucia and to the Canarias administrative region in Spain. Somelle was probably derived from Samele, a town in Chad.

  • Deranbar: Deranbah has a few allusions. The name is most similar to Duranbah, a town in New South Wales, Australia. Deranbah was the capital city of Jaramide, and a durbah was the name of an Indian court or audience chamber, which were imperial assemblies to mark state occasions. Another allusion is to Dunbar, a port in Scotland, and Dunbar castle (see right), an important Scots stronghold which was destroyed in 1568 for political reasons—especially that it was associated with Mary Queen of Scots. The Battle of Dunbar in 1650 between English under Oliver Cromwell and Scots under David Leslie resulted in a Scots defeat.

  • Nashebar: Nashebar was probably derived from Neseber (Nessebar), an historic town in Bulgaria or from Neyshabur (Nishapur) a town in Iran.

Manetheren alludes to Manetho/Manethon, an ancient Egyptian historian who divided Egyptian history into dynasties. Eren is a town in Vanuatu and it is also the first word of the names of towns in Inner Mongolia.
  • Corartheren: Cor means ‘heart’. Arthur is a town in Canada. The name also links to King Arthur. Corartheren is similar to Carmarthen, a town in Wales.

  • Jara'copan: Jara is the name of a town in several countries: Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. Copan is a ruined ancient Mayan city in Honduras and also a town in US.

  • Manetheren: see above

  • Shanaine: Shanaine was probably derived from Shanine, a town in Algeria.

Safer was probably derived from Safar, a town in Pakistan and in Iran.
  • Iman: Iman mountain is in Argentina and ‘Iman is a town in Yemen.

  • Miereallen: The name means ‘ocean hill’ in the Old Tongue, but there are real world towns with names similar to segments of the name. Mieres is a town in Spain and Allen is the name of a town in Argentina and a river in England.

  • Shainrahien: The name means ‘peace dawn’ in the Old Tongue, but the segments of the name have real world parallels. Shain was probably derived from Shian, a town in Iran and rahien from Raheen, a town in Ireland, and Rahier, a town in Belgium.

Other places of this time:

Hai Ecorimon: Hai alludes to ‘high’. Ecorimon is similar to Curimon, a town in Chile.
Kaisin Pass: Kaisin is a town in several countries: Norway, Kazakhstan, Iran, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea.
Larapelle: Larapelle is probably derived from Lacapelle, the first part of the name of several towns in France.
Maighande: Maighande is probably derived from Maigana, a town in Chad and in Nigeria.
Mosadorin: Mosadorin may have been derived from Moradores, a town in Brazil, or Mosorin, a town in Serbia.
Tel Norwin: A tel is a large mound resulting from the accumulation of rubbish on a long-settled site. Tel is also a town in Central African Republic and in Guinea-Bissau. Norwin is a town in Queensland, Australia.
Soralle Step: Soralle was probably derived from Sorrelle, a town in the US, or Siralle, a town in Nigeria.

The Free Era

Abayan: There are several towns with names similar to Abayan: Ayabayani, in Indonesia, Abyan in Saudi Arabia, and Ablayan and Abaya in the Philippines.
Aldeshar: Aldeshar was possibly derived from Aldeshot, the largest military base in England.
Balasun: Balasun was probably derived from Balansun, a town in France, or Balasan, a town in the Philippines.
Basharanoe: The name was probably derived from Basharino, a town in Russia, or Basharan, a town in Afghanistan.
Caembarin: Two towns with similar names are Cambairan, in the Philippines, and Cambarinho, in Portugal.
Cole Pass: Cole is a common name for a town in the US. Cole River is in England. More interesting, is Cole Gap (pass) in North Carolina.
Dal Calain: There are towns called Dal in Nigeria, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Belgium, Norway and Sweden. Dal River is in Sweden. Calain could be derived from Calais in France or Calan, a town in Romania.
Darmovan: The name was possibly derived from Darmoxa or Darova, both in Romania.
Dhowlan: Dhowlan was probably derived from Dholan, a town in Pakistan, or Dowalan, a town in Iran.
Elan Dapor: Elan is a town in Ethiopia and in France. Dapor was probably derived from Dapur in India.
Elsalam: Elsalam was probably derived from El Salamas, a town in El Salvador and in Guatemala.
Endersole: The name may have been derived from Eversole, a town in the US.
Esandara: The town with the most similar names is Esfandaran in Iran.
Farashelle: Farashelle may have been derived from Farashah, a town in Iran or Farcasele, a town in Romania.
The Court of Takedo was in Farashelle. Takedo is similar to Takeo and Taketo, towns in Japan.
Fergansea: Fergana, a town and province in Uzbekistan, has the most similar name.
Hamarea: Hamarea could be derived from Hamaresa, a town in Ethiopia, Hammara, a town in Morocco or Hamarah, a town in Iraq.
Ileande: Ileande was probably derived from Ileanda, a town in Romania, or Ilande, a town in Gabon.
Jolvaine Pass: Jolvaine may be derived from Josvainiai, a town in Lithuania.
Kharendor: Two towns with similar names are: Kharanor, in Russia, and Karrendorf, in Germany.
Khodomar: Towns with similar names are Khodayar, in Afghanistan, Kodomari, in Japan, and Kodomoro, in Chad.
Mandenhar: The name could be derived from Mandemar, a town in New South Wales, Australia or Manhenha, a town in Portugal.
Maraside Mtns: Maraside is similar to Marasesa, a town in the Philippines.
Masenashar: Masenashar was perhaps derived from Massanassa, Spain.
Moreina: Moreina was derived from Morena, a town in India, or the Sierra Morena mountain range in Spain.
Nerevan: Nerevan may have been derived from Neverin, a town in Germany, or Norrevang, a town in Denmark.
Oburun: The name was probably derived from Oberon, a town in Australia and in the US, Ozburun a town in Turkey, or Oburdon, a town in Tajikistan.
Rhamdashar: Rhamdashar was perhaps derived from Randaspur a town in India that is now called Amritsar and is the centre of the Sikh religion, or from Ramsahar, a town in Bangladesh.
Roemalle: Roemalle was probably derived from Romaelle, a town in Spain.
Shandalle: Shandalle was probably derived from Shandala, a town in Congo.
Shiota: Shiota is a town in Japan and also a surname.
Talidar: Talidar was probably derived from Talidar Kaur in Palistan.
Talmour: Talmour may have been derived from Talmor, a surname, or from Talmori, a town in South Korea.
Tova: Tova is a town in Russia and in France.

The New Era

Almoth: Almoth may allude to Alamut, a fortress of the Seljuq empire which was a base for the assassins and was itself beseiged. Almoth Plain is overrun by warring forces. The name also alludes to Amroth, a place name in Gondor in The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien (who in turn borrowed the name of the town Amroth, in Wales).
Caralain/Carralain/Carallain: The name may have been derived from Caralian a town in the Philippines.
Battle of Cuallin Dhen: The name may allude to the Battle of Culloden where Scots were slaughtered by English 1745. Other places with similar names are Cullen and Cullicudden, towns in Scotland, Lough Cullin, in Ireland and Cullin Hills in Scotland.
Goaban: Goban is a town in Congo and in Iraq and an Irish saint. Gaoban is a town in China.
Harad Dakar: Harad is a town in Saudi Arabia and in Yemen. Dakar is the capital city of Senegal and is the name of towns in Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, India, Syria and Iraq.
Hardan: Hardin is a common town and county name in the US. Hardan is a surname. Other similar names of towns are Abu Hardan in Syria and Al Bu Hardan in Iraq.
Irenvelle: Irenville may have been derived from Ironville, a town in the US and UK, and Irreville, a town in France.
Kintara : Places with similar names are: Kinvara, a town in Ireland, and Kinrara, a town in Scotland.

Malkier was probably derived from Malkera, a town in India and Malkira, a town in Iran. Another allusion is to the malka (see right), a cloudberry native to Arctic and sub-Artic. This is appropriate, since Malkier was the country at the highest latitude.

  • Herot's Crossing: Herot was probably derived from Herat, a city in Afghanistan, but it could also refer to King Herod of biblical times.

  • Jehaan: Jehaan could be derived from Jahan, the name of a town in Ethiopia and also in Pakistan, and Johan, a town in Pakistan.

Mar Haddon: Several countries have towns called Mar: Sudan, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Portugal, Spain and Canada. Mar also means sea. Haddon is a town in Jamaica and in Victoria, Australia. Haddon Hills and Haddon Town are in the US.
Maredo: Maredo was probably derived from Maredro, a town in the Congo.
Mosara: Mosara was porbably derived from the Mesara Plain in Crete.

Other Historical Locations

Cuaindaigh Fords: Cuain means harbour and Daigh is a personal name meaning fire. Harbour of Daigh.

Enkara: Enkara was probably derived from Ankara, Turkey (see right) and alludes to the Battle of Ankara fought between the forces of the Ottoman sultan Beyazid I and the Mongol horde of Timur Lenk in August, 1402. The battle began with a large-scale attack from the Ottomans, countered by swarms of arrows from the Mongolian horse archers. During the battle the well in the nearby village of Çubukovasi was captured by the Mongols. Since it was the Ottoman army's only source of water, the Turks had no choice but to try to recapture it. The Turkish army was attacked from behind and slaughtered by the Mongols and Sultan Beyazid captured.
Falls of Pena: Brandon Sanderson used the name of Edward Joseph Pena in A Memory of Light.
Hune Hill: Brandon Sanderson used the name of Hugh Hill in A Memory of Light.
Jenje: Jenje is a surname. Other similar names are Jinjie, a town in China, and Jinja a city in Uganda and also a Japanese Shinto shrine.
Kolesar: Battle site in A Memory of Light named by Brandon Sanderson using the surname of Daniel and Deanna Kolesar.
Lahpoint Hills: Brandon Sanderson used the name of Lauren La Pointe in Towers of Midnight.
Priya Narrows: Brandon Sanderson used the name of Priya Reynolds in A Memory of Light.
Sulmein Gap: Sulmein alludes to Suleiman (Suleyman), a sultan of Ottoman empire from 1520-1566 AD, whose reign was noted for its military power. In his time he was regarded as a great ruler by both Muslims and Europeans. His military empire expanded greatly both to the east and west, and he threatened to overrun the heart of Europe itself. While he was a brilliant military strategist and canny politician, he was also a cultivator of the arts. Suleyman's poetry is among the best poetry in Islam, and he sponsored an army of artists, religious thinkers, and philosophers that outshone the most educated courts of Europe.
Tarmandewin: Speculation: Tarmandewin may have been derived from Thamindwin, a town in Myanmar.
Tora Harad: There are towns named Tora in Benin, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Togo, Afghanistan and Italy. Harad is a town in Saudi Arabia.
Tora Shan: For Tora see above. Shan is an area in Myanmar.


Written by Linda, August 2004 and updated September 2013

Contributor: Cannoli


Anonymous said...

It's a very good list. Lots of research there.

About 30% of these are extremely convincing, including very insightful theories like the joke on Garden Wall (that one has to be dead on the money!).

It's a very long list, though. The fun of going through it all is marred a bit by the "completist" bias that made your numerous gems a bit lost in a sea of pure guesses of much more limited interest (and the occasional "loony bin" theory)

The problem is, all too often (your excellent finds apart) for every word you've singled out as a "likely" source there are many more which are just as likely, especially when Jordan could have kept the middle and change the beginning, making them very hard to spot in dictionaries and such.

And Cairhien derived from an Egyptian name? The name sounds definitely celtic, from northern France/Britain and Ireland. There are plenty of words to choose from: cair and cairn, and rhion, rheen, rienne (a sound pronounced like Jordan's "rhien" and common in toponyms in France/Belgium etc.) etc. and that's even without getting into the older name, which seems built on a celtic model. Cairheen is even a name in an Irish epic. What's Egyptian in Cairhien? Your parallel to the ancient Egyptian sun cult is quite undermined by the fact Cairo is the English rendition of al-Qāhira, an arabic name with no connection whatsover to ancient Egypt or the sun.

Your theories on how Jordan derived his prefixes and suffixes (with rare exceptions like Tel which are more convincing) aren't always very convincing either. -drelle from the town of Druelle? I don't think so! There are plenty of real life examples of such particles in many languages without Jordan turning an obscure town name into a prefix/suffix instead of making up something he liked, or that fit words from his Old Tongue. Nor and So for north and south isn't really convincing either since there's no correlation to their locations within Altara. The "So" towns are usually near the river, the nor ones are inland.

Overall, I think you might underestimate how much Jordan made up not from geographical names but from already established words in the Old Tongue we know or don't know about and that may come from far more varied sources. There are probably quite a few more ciphers in the names like the ones you have found, maybe especially those for which RW names are not very convincing (Baerlon from Bayon? That sounds very unlikely)

Still, the 30% of very good finds and the extra 15% of fairly good guesses are illuminating and fun enough as long as you read through the rest really fast. A bit like RJ's descriptions of clothing... :P

Linda said...

This is why this is one of the later articles to be republished.

The trouble with leaving stuff out is that I get queries as to why. Especially if it happens to be a major place. So they're all there.

The majority of the place names are the same or almost the same as real world place names. Not only that, so are many of the character names. Sanderson confirmed that RJ used place names for character names on Twitter:

Most readers know that Robert Jordan looked to real world names and places as inspiration for names in the WoT. In order to help maintain this feel, I’m doing the same.

Examples are: Kiruna, Jarna Malari, Ispan, Fera, Talene, Zanica.

Yes I realise that Cairo isn't derived directly with Ancient Egypt and the worship of the sun, but it has such associations, just as the French Sun King's court and the Land of the Rising Sun were mishmashed together to create Cairhienin society. The latter two societies provided inspiration for the intrigue, clothing and customs and Cairo might have supplied the name.

Frank said...

Isn't "Baerlon" much closer to "Berlin" than anything?

And I always read "Aryth Ocean" as "Earth Ocean."

Anonymous said...

"Isn't "Baerlon" much closer to "Berlin" than anything?"

With the ironworks there, the source of the name may have been inspired to Jordan from the german metallurgic industry.

"Rhuidean: Rhuidean was probably derived from Ruidian, a town in China. The name also implies ruined, which is what it became."

Isn't a far more likely source the common name bruidhean? That's what the magical and hidden cities of the Aes Sidhe in Irish folklore (they are joined by the fairy paths, much like the Ways), plus the spelling is just one letter away from Rhuidean.

Weren't the Irish acknoweldged by Robert Jordan as a big source for the Aiel?


Felix Pax said...

In a response to Frank's, "And I always read "Aryth Ocean" as "Earth Ocean."":

Avast ye, landlubber! Ye recall that the name "Aryth Ocean" is a Westlands origin name for that body of water. Foreigners call that same body of water different names:

Ishamael called it "World Sea" in tEoW book, Chapter 14

Furyk Karede referred to it, as "Eastern Sea" in CoT, Chapter 4


Misopogon said...

Anonymous above said it for me, and I'm glad you understood it too. But if people are asking why X wasn't included, and you don't know the answer, the right thing to do is say "I don't know," not throw something out there.

"I don't know" is okay, Linda. We still love you for making and curating this awesome site!

When you reorganize, maybe put the ones that really found something on top, and then have a speculative section below. Having just a list of names from each region is useful if you find patterns (again, only point out those you can support).

Ultimately, I don't think there is that much information to be gleaned from RJ's place names. Tolkien, who was keenly interested in language, put worlds of meaning into all of his place names, and it enriched his world. RJ is nowhere near the etymologist that Tolkien is. He followed some forms, but as we've seen with familiar names, RJ mostly grabbed a name that looked pronounceable, maybe moved a letter or two, and let it stand. Some are direct references, and insightful (e.g. Tar Valon/Avalon), while others ("Cairhien: Cairhien was probably derived from Cairenes, people of Cairo. Towns with similar names are Cairire and Caibarien, both in Peru.") come off like a 10-second Google search.

For Cairhien (and, indirectly Caemlyn), I believe we're actually seeing a real RJ attempt at etymological place naming (or, as a native English speaker, an accidental one). "Cair" or "Caim," both from the Welsh "Caer," meaning "fort" or "castle," equivalent to the Anglo-Saxon "burgh."

Camelot and Camlann are place-names of Arthurian myth that retain the Q-Celtic (Britannic) "m" sound of a hard-r (would have sounded like "Karm.") Caernarfon, Caerfuddai, Cambridge, Caerleon are modern cities that retain the name. "Chester" (Worcester, Leicester, Gloucester) is a Latin translation - the Welsh names of these towns (e.g. Leicester = "Caerlyr" or "King Lear's Fort") retain the old word.

C.S. Lewis' "Cair Paravel" is a likely use in fantasy.

Thus, Cairhien could be an accidental or purposeful reference to real-world castle towns (he would later do this purposefully with "Far" for "Fort" in place-names for Shienar, and whether directly "Lyn's Castle" or indirectly (a reference to Camlann), so is Caemlyn.

While we're on it, "Andor" I think is either a reference or just a familiar use of Tolkien's Sindarin naming conventions, where "or" mean "land," examples: Gondor (land of stone), Pelennor (fenced land), Arnor (land of the king). If so, it's extremely tenuous, but mentionable in a would-be-cool way, that "Andor" literally means "Land of [R]and," i.e. "Randland."

t ball said...

The field of Merrilor immediately brought to mind Tolkein. Pellenor, I think (don't have the books with me) is the name of a field of battle in Middle Earth history and I figured Merrilor was a reference to that.

Anonymous said...

I think Seanchan is a reference to the future "cruel empire of Tsan-Chan" from the Cthulhu Mythos.

Linda said...

An interesting idea on the origin of Seanchan.

Mik said...

What might be nice to add to the info on Shienar, is that "Shinar" was located somewhere in Mesopotamia.
In both ancient Greek and Arabic Mesopotamia means something like 'land between rivers' (meaning the Tigris and Euphrates).
It is therefor believed that "Shinar" is derived from Shene nahar. And that is Hebrew for Two Rivers. :)

Coincidence? ;)


Linda said...

Mik:Yep, Babylon is/was located in Mesopotamia.

And of course the whole two rivers things isn't coincidence! :)

Vicki said...

I wonder if RJ was a Biblical scholar, particularly in the original Hebrew. While Shinar can be found in the English translation of the Bible, he would have had to read the Hebrew to come up with Arafel. (I'm not familiar with the Apocalypse stories, but the word 'arafel', meaning 'dense darkness', appears in the account of G-d's revelation at Mt Sinai in the Book of Exodus.)
If the Hebrew scholar hypothesis holds, 'Malkier' may also be an allusion to 'malkei or', Hebrew for 'kings of light'. After all, for most of the series Malkier is a one-man nation represented by Lan, the king who is rather prominent in the battle on the side of Light.

Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to say something about Hinderstap from the first time I read it and I immidiately thought of the word "Hinder" which is dutch for obstacle, nuisance, disruption...
and "stap"
which is dutch for "step".
Actually, I have seen it being used once or twice. (the word hinderstap). It was really weird when reading the dutch translation of the book.