Monday, April 6, 2009

Moghedien in a Nutshell

The Age of Legends

- Her original name was Lillen Moiral.

- A Moghedien is a little spider from the Age of Legends.

- The Forsaken call her the Spider sometimes (which is really just a translation).

- In the Age of Legends she was an advisor of investments where she frequently overstepped ethical boundaries and was disciplined.

- She turned to the Shadow during the Collapse and long before the War of Power began.

- Before the War of Power she held a medium-level position in Lews Therin’s cabinet, where she acted as a master saboteur and instigator of several major disasters.

- She says that Lews Therin was an arrogant man who stank of piety and goodness.

The War of Power

- She was revealed as a minion of the Shadow, and barely managed to escape – setting up a public transport disaster as a diversion which killed thousands of innocent people.

- She headed the main spy network of the Shadow during the War of Power. Balthamel was the other Forsaken who had an effective network which competed with hers.

- Although she wasn’t a general, her plans lead to the deaths of as many people as any of the generals of the Shadow.

- Her statements imply that she was present when Paaren Disen fell, and at another area of conflict called the Asar Don.

Since being released

- She disguised herself as a servant, Gyldin, in Tanchico – where she hid her ability but did not use an Illusion. During this time she tracked both the Black Ajah, Nynaeve and Elayne. Her primary target was the male a’dam to leash Rand al’Thor.

- She dueled Nynaeve in the Palace in Tanchico, where she was defeated and shielded. She escaped by unravelling her tied-off shield.

- She later defeated Nynaeve in Tel’aran’rhiod and was on the verge of Compelling Nynaeve to capture Elayne too, when Birgitte shot her in the chest with a silver arrow. Moghedien pushed Birgitte out of Tel’aran’rhiod permanently. Chesmal Healed Moghedien in the real world.

- Liandrin tried to use her half-trained Compulsion on Moghedien at this point, and was shielded with a complex shield which Moghedien claimed only the Forsaken knew how to unravel.

- Moghedien was later defeated again and placed in an a’dam in Tel’aran’rhiod. Nynaeve used Moghedien’s own strength to burn Rahvin. Moghedien was actually in Salidar and from then on became Nynaeve and Egwene’s prisoner.

- She taught Nynaeve and Elayne some weaves, but at the same time sabotaged their efforts and taught them a lot of rubbish too.

- Moghedien was freed by Aran’gar and went to Shayol Ghul where she was mindtrapped. Her mindtrap is held by Moridin.

- Some of her punishment included imprisonment in a vacuole, a recurring nightmare, and the attentions of Shadar Haran.

- She is indirectly responsible for breaking Nynaeve’s block after attempting to balefire her.

- Graendal was worried that Moghedien would want to exact revenge on her for using Compulsion on her.

- Moghedien spent most of the Cleansing of Saidin hidden behind a hill where she did almost nothing. She was then pulled into the huge vortex which occurred when the dome around Shadar Logoth collapsed. KoD suggests that she wasn’t harmed.

- She now only wears red and black.

- She hasn’t said a word (that we’ve seen) since WH.

As an Individual

- She is a natural coward, and is not ashamed of the fact – but has rather turned it to her advantage.

- She was, however, jealous of those who were brave and could move against their enemies openly. According to Graendal she hated anyone who had more than her, from strength to anything at all really.

- She never confronts her enemies openly, unless she is vastly superior or is forced to.

- She could apparently hold a grudge until the Wheel of Time stopped turning.

- She is not described as good-looking, but often as regal or handsome.

- It is theorized that she is the weakest Forsaken in the One Power. She mentions to the Dark One that she was often ignored in the War of Power because she was not seen as a threat. She was also apparently looked down upon by several of the Forsaken and some of her enemies, until they died by her treacherous hands. Graendal said that Cyndane was much stronger than her in raw strength.

- She possesses the most powerful Talent for Tel’aran’rhiod known, where she surpasses any of the Forsaken. She attempted to trap Egwene in Tel'aran'rhiod by using a very complex scenario of Emond's Field. Egwene managed to elude the trap.

- She implies that she cannot Heal well, and she wishes her abilities with Compulsion were better. She had basic knowledge on how to make cuendillar.

Image property of Dabel Brothers.


BobH said...

Nice article, Doc.

You know, I was sure (until CoT came out) that Moghedien had died at the end of the Cleansing. It just seemed so appropriate, for several reasons:

1. The irony in her thinking that "if she survived this, she would never feel fear again", just before dying.

2. The irony in dying when she basically tried to sit the whole thing out, and not get involved. She deserves to die where she hides, in the shadows.

3. The justness in dying as a result of something Nynaeve was directly involved in.

But alas, I was mistaken.

I wonder is she is now masquerading as Sylvase? It seems that of those people who think a Forsaken is posing as Sylvase, most suspect Lanfear (for a variety of reasons; the similarity between "Sylvase" and "Sylvie - a known Lanfear alias - being one of them).

It wouldn't surprise, though, if the name similarity is a red herring, and it turns out that it's actually Moghedien who is posing as Sylvase. Moghedien reacted rather stoically to being tumbled about at the end of the Cleansing ("never feel fear again") which kind of fits with Sylvase being described as having no detectable personality or emotion (something that could never be said about Lanfear).

I'm certainly not convinced, though. If not Moghedien, then it could be Lanfear posing as Sylvase, or it could be no one is posing as Sylvase. All 3 scenarios are possible, but I personally thing that "no one is posing as Sylvase" is the least likely - I just don't think RJ would introduce a character like her, at this late stage, unless there was (much) more to her than meets the eye.

Dominic said...


Not much of my reasonning about her is plot based - it's almost wholly related to storytelling/technical reasons, not clues in the books as such.

The main origin for my idea (not unique, though at the WMB I suggested it first, I think - it was during my first read of KOD) that Sylvase could be Cyndane (ie: Cyndane was ordered to kill her and take her place) comes from a flash I had in KOD - her sigil is a silver sword (this is a symbolic equivalent to a moon crescent) and a red star over a black field. The connection to Moridin's colours is obvious, and the symbols are Lanfear's. Her banner is also called 'The Black Banner', which used to be the name of Ba'alzamon's banner in the TW - to further the connection.

Another element is that Sylvase is a girl. Lanfear is now condemned to appear as the girl she used to affect being (as Selene). Different look and body, of course, but I mean she looks a young girl now, among the Forsaken. As Lanfear she was a polymorphic character, altering between all stages of the Moon Goddess (Selene the maiden, Lanfear the Queen, Silvie and Keille the Crones) - but her ability to morph into whatever she wants is curtailed now. It makes sense to me that if RJ disguised Cyndane, he would do so as a girl - I don't think he planned on showing the 'mature' side of Lanfear ever again (not that Lanfear has any - she's stuck at the stage of her youth she fell in love for the first time, never got over it).

Another element is thematic: Nasin feared Sylvase wanted to take his place as High Seat, he sensed her impatience and was imploring her to wait til he died. This plays much better in the themes developped for Lanfear than for Moghedien.

Another element is that Lanfear contacted a nobleman in WH. We have yet to discover who that was, but it's rather obvious RJ was giving us a clue of what Lanfear is involved with. It would make sense she was arranging things so she could take Sylvase's place, for example, right as Moriding was spreading his net around Elayne.

Yet another element is that it makes a lot of sense to me that Moridin, who is, obviously, creating a very dangerous trap for Rand around Elayne, would decide to place near Elayne the Forsaken who would terrify Rand the most: Lanfear isn't dead, and she's near Elayne and her babies... If that doesn't work to bring Rand to Caemlyn at the very moment Moridin decides to spring his trap - nothing would. Back to mythology, the main inspiration behind Lanfear, Lilith, was a scorned woman who hated her former mate second wife and became a demon haunting men's dreams and threatening pregnant women and children (the Children of Eve, by extension all children)

If we keep things simple, we know Moridin seems very focussed on Elayne, and preventing her victory or killing her wasn't his goal, and never was. He knows she's involved romantically with Rand, he certainly knows he's the father of her child (Shiaine even had a moment of worry once, asking Mellar to confirm he wasn't the father and had not touched Elayne - clearly she had instructions to report any rumours concerning the pregnancy). This is the theme Lanfear fits best. Her involvement with Rand is personal and of a romantic/obsessive nature. I expect RJ planned on bringing this to its end - and involve Lanfear with Rand's love life at the climax of the story(Rand even believed back then in TDR she was a threat to Elayne - in fact she was referring to Ilyena, but it's still foreshadowing).

As I said in the same 'theory', Moghedien is also obviously involved, but she runs errands between the agents Moridin has in Caemlyn and around. From the Link to Tarabon, to the use of Compulsion to make her victims believe anything they want to believe, to her love to punish and inflict pain (no matter what she says of Semirhage) and from the references to torture using 'ropes' (ie: the method of 'torture' used by a spider with her prey), I have this original if admitedly far fetched theory that Jordan has disguised Moghedien as the torturer Jaq Lounault, now Sylvase's crony. Another important agent of Moridin who is around is Slayer - Luc Mantear. Anyone really believes Jordan made him Tigraine's brother for no good reason? This too will somehow play out in the Caemlyn storyline. Moridin has the 'Dream Team' encircling Elayne right now. This storyline is also full of Moons... Arymilla's, Full Moon Street etc. In RJ's writing, this sort of things count. Another episode full of Moons and Dreams symbolism had the characters associated to the Moon : Lanfear, Be'lal and Egwene come together at the Stone, the fortress of the Moon. Rand conquered it *at night* and went on immediately to become 'He who comes with the Dawn', aka the Rising Sun - he then proceeded to conquer the Hill of the Golden Dawn. With RJ, this sort of things are important to notice - they rarely if ever are coincidences.

BobH said...

Well, that makes a lot of sense. Thematically, I agree that Lanfear is the more likely suspect, given all the reasoning you outlined (most of which had not occurred to me, to be quite honest).

A few counterpoints (just to keep things interesting :) ):

1. Since Moghedien is also Moridin's "pet", the thematic elements that you associate with Lanfear that reflect back to Moridin would also apply to Moghedien.

2. It seems quite likely that Nasin's mind has been mucked with. And mucking with the mind (via Compulsion) is more Moghedien's modis operandi than Lanfear's (from what we've seen, anyway).

3. If Jaq Lounalt is NOT Moghedien, then it makes a bit more sense (to me) that Moghedien is Sylvase, since it is she that has a past link to Tarabon, not Lanfear.

4. As I touched on previously, it's hard for me to picture Lanfear playing a "vapid girl with no detectable personality or emotion". That's quite contrary to any of the "characters" she has posed as, in the past. I just think it fits Moghedien better. But, it doesn't mean that Lanfear isn't capable of playing that part, certainly.

5. If Lanfear is Sylvase, then it seems (to me) that she shouldn't have been so eager to kidnap Rand to make him tell where the Seals are (as she suggested in the KoD Ansaline Gardens Forsaken meeting). If she were posing as Sylvase, she would know that kidnapping Rand could disrupt Moridin's Caemlyn plans (i.e. everything she's been involved in recently), if as you say (and I tend to agree) Moridin's ultimate plan is to use Elyane to get to Rand. Whereas, if Moghedien were posing as Sylvase, Lanfear wouldn't give a whit about disrupting plans she wasn't directly involved in.

Dominic said...

1. Since Moghedien is also Moridin's "pet", the thematic elements that you associate with Lanfear that reflect back to Moridin would also apply to Moghedien.

Not all the Moon + Star elements, though.

I agree Moghedien could be Sylvase, by the way, I just put it as less likely than Lanfear being Sylvase. Moghedien seems to be moving around too much, notably.

2. It seems quite likely that Nasin's mind has been mucked with. And mucking with the mind (via Compulsion) is more Moghedien's modis operandi than Lanfear's (from what we've seen, anyway).

Definitely, and I was implying Jaq Lounalt had an 'interview' with him, as many people around Arymilla did. Nasin in LOC was really not as far 'gone'.

3. If Jaq Lounalt is NOT Moghedien, then it makes a bit more sense (to me) that Moghedien is Sylvase, since it is she that has a past link to Tarabon, not Lanfear. Certainly, though I think if Lounalt is 'involved', he's probably there because of orders given by Moghedien, like everybody else in this plot beside Shiaine that Moridin dealt with in person. Shiaine, Carridin and the two BA are the ones he blames most for the BOW, IMHO - only Moridin would think of devising a punishment for these DFs by expanding them in a trap by which he takes care of Elayne.

4. As I touched on previously, it's hard for me to picture Lanfear playing a "vapid girl with no detectable personality or emotion".

Cyndane constantly seems 'out of it', though. I'll explain more below, but I think Cyndane is on assignement against her will, and she's profundly bored. I think the second she went out of character marks the moment the assignement was at last finished, that the assault was about to come, she could kill Nasin and switch side to end up near Elayne.

5. If Lanfear is Sylvase, then it seems (to me) that she shouldn't have been so eager to kidnap Rand to make him tell where the Seals are (as she suggested in the KoD Ansaline Gardens Forsaken meeting). If she were posing as Sylvase, she would know that kidnapping Rand could disrupt Moridin's Caemlyn plans (i.e. everything she's been involved in recently), if as you say (and I tend to agree) Moridin's ultimate plan is to use Elyane to get to Rand. Whereas, if Moghedien were posing as Sylvase, Lanfear wouldn't give a whit about disrupting plans she wasn't directly involved in.

I don't think Cyndane has any idea what she is truly involved in, because I'm quite certain Moridin does't care if she survives the trap or not. She's a bait for Rand is how I see it, and given all Lanfear, it's one more layer of ironic punishment to use her that way. Sylvase is kept in an incomfortable camp playing dumb. No one in Arymilla's camp has any idea Elayne is involved with Rand - she's pregnant by Hanlon is the rumour spies would report. So I think Cyndane is just bored to the bone, with no idea she's a bait for Rand. The one who knows more, the one who has to have told Moridin about Elayne and Rand, has to be Moghedien. The other one who could reveal this is Dyelin, who obviously puzzled it out. The rest are certified non-DF, like Birgitte, Min, Siuan etc.

This is why I don't buy the argument that Moridin would not use Cyndane because of Rand. I believe his intention is to use Elayne to force Rand to Caemlyn. He's going to throw a very great deal of his resources at Rand at the same time: Taim, Lanfear, Moghedien, Slayer etc. He may even unleash Demandred on Rand in Caemlyn as well, when time comes.

RJ left us a big clue in KOD : "Al'Thor will die when and the way I want". We don't have to look any deeper than this: Moridin is organizing Rand's death, his trap for the Fisher he has focussed on almost since his return. It's late enough in the game now (Pattern-Wise) and chaotic enough to attempt to kill Perrin and Mat, and IMO to test Rand's strength. Rand's next on the list. Caemlyn's to be Rand's grave in Moridin's mind. Killing the Dragon is the Last Battle in Moridin's mind. Once this is done, either they find a way to free Shai'tan (they have none tour knowledge, their attempts in the WOS have all failed, despite having Lanfear with them), or they unleash their massive world war on a world almost on its knee already, without a Dragon to lead them, the most skilled Asha'man already on the Shadow's side, the White Tower waiting to be wiped out, the Seanchan quite possibly at Tar Valon the largest Shadowspawn army and the best soldiers of the Shadow - in no time the World will be the Chosen's, until Shai'tan himself figure out out to break free. Moridin takes roundabout ways and is most, most careful, because there is one disaster to avoid: Rand pulling off another 'Sealing of the Bore'. It's one reason Moridin avoids at all cost alarming Rand, why he remains so elusive.. not to precipitate anything before the time is ripe... and why he's setting up his death trap, ready to be sprung, far away from SG. He also intends to give 'LTT' a new Kinslaying, by the way - he knows that after ten years of War and setbacks, this is _the one_ thing which shattered Lews Therin. He will give him his palace drama. He can't count on LTT-Rand going totally insane (though I suspect this is exactly what he is trying as well as an alternative) but unleashing Lanfear on 'Ilyena' (true or false, Moridin hardly will shy lying about this!) will do. Incidentally, we've seen Lanfear at work.. .what do you think the odds are that has not repeatedly attempted to assassinate Ilyena? Very slim, I'd say, though saying early would have been too much of a clue, I guess. She hated Ilyena, and Ilyena looks like Elayne, and his pregnant with Rand's children. That should be more than enough for Lanfear, when Moridin decides it's time to reveal the truth to her.

So, in summary, I think Lanfear is meant to be unleashed on Rand, with Moghedien hidden not far, who may succeed if Lanfear gets herself killed again. Eventually, at the moment chosen by Moridin, when he will 'mentally' let Rand/LTT know he is Elan Morin, that all the Forsaken he killed are not dead but brought back Shai'tan and hidden from him, that Rand is about to be defeated the same way as before, that his precious Ilyena is about to be killed, that she is in Lanfear's hands. I think the plan will more or less succeed, but a spark of life will remain in Rand, and Elayne will give him the anti-Shadow dagger. And then, Moridin will unleash all hell on the world, believing Rand to be dead. I won't know for a long time if this is remotely close to the truth, though, as I think the Battle of Caemlyn was the event BS has referred to as reuniting at last all the main characters and being sort of the kick off of TG. This sounds like it will now be the ending of Book 2, if I calculate correctly.

Linda said...

Dom, I agree with all you say about Moridin's plans and pregnant Elayne being a lure for Rand to Caemlyn. That's the Arthur crossed with Revelations.

I just think that this can happen without a Forsaken being disguised as Sylvase. The Sylvase and Nasin thing is not manufactured by the Shadow; it's genuine long-term abuse. Sylvase became desperate enough to strike and now her abuser is gone she is showing actual personality.

Dominic said...

I agree with you it's possible without having any Forsaken involved, but we're reaching the point where RJ couldn't introducing new plots and new characters and had to move the pieces on the board so they are in place for the finale. One way or another he has to encircle Elayne - I doubt it will all happen in AMOL. He also needed a plot - he couldn't have Elayne do nothing, and suddenly Lanfear comes knocking at the door out of the blue. It's one reason why I find the Sylvase-Lanfear idea attractive. Like Bob I'm not too sure I see why RJ introduced this character so late. I tend to agree with your assessment of what happened to Sylvase, but I think she's no longer the real Sylvase - in KOD, Nasin was clearly becoming afraid of her. Moridin needed some traitors in Arymilla's camp as well - he couldn't risk Arymilla taking the throne, it would have defeated the whole plan. Mind you, Sylvase is not the only candidate - Lir is another who's highly suspicious.

Another thing that makes me suspicious is that in the Camlann version of the legend, the battle is sparked by a plot of the nobles. RJ has the set up for using that version, with most of the players right with Elayne... but who are the traitors inside the Walls. It's why I think there's a major asset of Moridin inside Elayne's inner circle. Is it a fake Sylvase, is it Lir, is it Dyelin herself (she's still not in the clear, as far as I'm concerned - there's still slim chance she's a very clever DF), is it Luc Mantear who will make a sudden appearance at young Perival's side? Something has to happen among all those nobles for RJ to have assembled them all around Elayne, and based on hints by Brandon, it seems the something in question is simple enough, that Elayne doesn't have a full storyline in the first part of the book.

Dr Saidin said...

I disagree with a trend running through these comments. I'm a big fan of Sylvase being a Forsaken, and personally I do think it's Cyndane, but that is my point - Cyndane.

RJ has used every opportunity to show that Cyndane is not similar to Lanfear. He's gone to a great deal of trouble to do so. Not even her peers know who she used to be, and it seems she wants it that way. Using her previous identity would spare her a lot of trouble e.g. the sexual attentions of Aran'gar. And yet, she never does so. Yes, the reasons are clear : pride, humiliation etc, but the implications are not.

Cyndane is short whereas Lanfear was tall. Cyndane is weaker whereas Lanfear was stronger. Cyndane wears black whereas Lanfear wore white. Cyndane has no signs of the moon and stars sigil, and her dominion of TAR seems to have ended just by implication. Cyndane hates Lews Therin whereas Lanfear loved him. Cyndane is cool and dispassionate whereas Lanfear was impulsive and tempestuous.

So what am I getting at? Well, you can't look for qualities in Sylvase that are similar to Lanfear. Cyndane would not entertain a sigil linked to the moon, unless Moridin instructed her to as a sign of ownership. At the same time, any previous characteristics of Lanfear seem irrelevent to this new character. One should compare Sylvase to Cyndane. Does she match up?

Well yes... she is vapid and dispassionate, and she might even be there without an illusion. Sylvase also hints at silver... Silvie etc... but once again we're back at Lanfear which she'd try to avoid. And yet I can't help shake the feeling that she conjured up that storm above the palace to test Elayne and Aviendha, though some people consider it to be a miasma.

In summary : choose Lanfear or Cyndane. I don't think we can use both to prove a point. RJ went to great lengths to separate them completely.

BobH said...

I understand your point, Mark, but I think you overstate it a bit. Cyndane is not a new character - she is Lanfear on a leash, as RJ envisioned such a thing. None of the other transmigrated Forsaken has undergone any sort of character metamorphosis - they are still the same characters they were, in a new body.

So is Lanfear - the difference is she is leashed, and RJ has her act in a way he envisions how someone like Lanfear would act when leashed. She's not eager to reveal who she was, because (as you said) it would be humiliating. She's dispassionate running errands for Moridin, because she hates her situation, hates following orders, and would much prefer doing what she wanted to (i.e. kill Rand - no different than the last time we saw her as Lanfear; and note that Moridin is keenly aware of this, too). In other words, I think Cyndane is ever bit as passionate as Lanfear was, she's just not in a position to act on it. As I see it, she's acting much like Lanfear did when Lanfear was doing something that did NOT directly involve Rand. She was never impulsive or tempestuous in those situations - she was always cooly manipulative.

I personally think RJ's depiction of a leashed Lanfear is quite believable.

Therefore, I think it is a mistake to ignore Lanfear's characteristics when considering Cyndane. Whatever climactic role she has left to play will be as the scorned lover Lanfear, not as any sort of new Cyndane character.

Where I do agree with you (with respect to Sylvase) is that we should consider how a leashed Lanfear would act posing as someone, and being involved in a plot, that she has no personal interest in. In that case, she certainly wouldn't act as the impulsive obsessed-with-Rand character we know from the fist books. She'd act like the reluctantly-following-orders-bored-with-the-job-she'd-been-given character we have to imagine. That was essentially Dom's point to me previously, and I agree.

And, in that case, I can see that Lanfear posing as Sylvase isn't as out-of-character as I originally suggested. I agree with you, there.

Dominic said...

Cyndane at the meeting in KOD showed she's just like Lanfear. She had this aggressive moment of passionate hatred for Rand.

I'm still convinced the fact she isn't allowed to tell the others she's Lanfear is part of her punishement, not just her decision - perhaps all the more so because Lanfear has 'invented herself' as a Forsaken, rather than making her own a name she was scorned with (now, was this because she didn't attract enough attention at first to get a Forsaken name or because she was too afraid on which nail the people would hammer to scorn her... the story doesn't say!! J/k... it's pretty obviously the later). Actually, none of the other transmigrated Forsaken ever use their previous names either. They even think of themselves as Aran'gar, Moridin etc. The DO has a 'thing' for names, starting with his own, and it seems he forces the 'new' Chosen to even think of themselves under their new names he gave them. They exist solely through his will, that's his point.

I agree with Bob, however - underneath Lanfear hasn't changed that much - no more than Moridin, the Gars. It's only in Moridin's presence that she is cowed. At Graendal's etc. - she was a mix of her not doubt profound humiliation and her old arrogance.

She is still also a moon goddess/night creature too - RJ just shifted the parralels from middle-eastern and classical to more strongly norse and celtic. She hasn't lost her connection to silver/white - it's now her hair colour.

If she is Sylvase, she has to use a MoM. Sylvase is not widely known in the noble circles- especially her personality etc., but she isn't a complete stranger either. Her appearance is no match from Cyndane's anyway.

BobH said...

Relating to why RJ would introduce a character like Sylvase if she weren't a Forsaken in disguise ... I have a question.

Is there any Real Life parallel (either historical or fictional) to Sylvase (the depicted character)? For example, in the Camlann legend you mentioned (of which I'm not familiar), or anything else that RJ may have drawn from to shape what's to happen in Caemlyn?

That's the only other reason I can think of that RJ would insert such an ... odd ... character into the story at this late point (if she isn't someone in disguise, that is).

Dominic said...

Well, there's certainly a version in which Mordred (not sure it was under this name in that version - I'm far more familiar with the French tradition) and rebellious nobles hold Arthur's Queen prisonner to force him to rush back home, where the big 'Arthurian Armaggedon' takes place. I don't remember another woman specifically involved, but this doesn't mean much as Jordan has completely changed the roles played by the Arthurian women (not always symbolically, but plotwise certainly)

The elements seem in place so that Moridin and Mordeth may be combined as Mordred.

The most succint of all versions (one line!) - the one in which Camelot is called Camlann is a reference in the Mabinogion, in which Camlann is the result of a plot of the nobles inside the wall. My dictionnary of folklore says it obviously is a survival from a much more elaborate version, as Camlann has long remained in those areas as an expression for something apocalyptic/cataclysmic ('a real Camlann')

Neither Sylvase nor Cyndane is very 'Arthurian' - they are more reminescent of evil germanic night or river monsters.. you know, the ones with almost white hair, trapping men - Lanfear is returning to her oceanic roots maybe (Mierin sounds like an obvious reference to the sea - O.T. Miere) - several of her mythological parralels have water/abyss references.

Another possible for Cyndane, with her silvery hair, is the welsh Arianrhod, the Silver Wheel (ie: the Moon), the antagonist of the hero Llew. It's obviously where Jordan picked Tel'aran'rhiod, much as he created Aes Sedai from Aes Sidhe who incidentally are also known as the Tuatha dé Danaan on which he made up 'Tuatha'an', and who lived in magically protected fortresses known as Bruidhean.

Arthuriana is the trickiest, because Jordan retained a few key elements - the most deeply symbolic and mythological like the Sword in the Stone - and Three in a Boat toward Avalon which is yet to come, and he pretty much had a field day twisting everything else on its head. From Gauvain to Bors, they pretty much all have very different roles and relationships. Egwene is somewhat unlikely to be involved, for instance, and she is Gauvain's lover, not Lancelot.

Linda, and I tend to agree, see Moghedien as a likely candidate to be the adder in the bushes, which in one version triggers the whole battle by biting a soldier at the wrong moment.

I think she also agrees with me Padan Fain/Mordeth is rather likely to have a part, possibly as a major wildcard which precipitates the battle, sooner than Moridin plans, perhaps. It may be the tiny little thing which changes everything and let Rand survive the battle. I also like the theory that Fain may kidnap Elayne from Moridin's agents and Mat's the one who saves her, and confronts Mordeth. These two have major unfinished business, that and I'm pretty secure that my theory that the Band of the Red Hand is named to honor the Hand Prince Caar severed (spec.) to escape Aridhol's dungeons - so the Band also has unfinished business with Mordeth, in that sense. I get the feeling it will be a Manetheren vs. Aridhol finale RJ had in store for Fain. I'm not really favouring the option of Fain surviving all the way to get involved at SG - I think is final role could rather be at the beginning of the LB, as trigger of the Battle of Caemlyn (much as he was the trigger of the 'festival' is the Two Rivers - he brought the Shadow, and his wagon exploded on the Green during the battle).

Dominic said...

As for a reason why RJ would introduce Sylvase if she isn't a Forsaken.

Two obvious ones is that a) he needed a turncoat in Arymilla's camp, and b) there is a fairly important theme in Elayne's storyline involving torture. It started in TDR and has grown episodically since. With the strong possibility Byar is coming this way as well, Sylvase/Lounalt etc. whatever RJ had in mind to conclude this theme seems to be in preparation and Sylvase has a role in it - she may actually have played most of her role, if she is in truth just an irrelevant player - she may have been designed mostly as the 'bridge' to get Lounault from Arymilla to Elayne and that's all. I don't think it's the case, but it could be just that. Torture is likely to be somewhat of a big theme in part of AMOL - the other characters associated with the theme (Aviendha and Nyaneve) are with Semirhage. RJ was setting the stage for the 'it's a fine line between not doing enough and letting the Shadow win, and going too far and becoming as bad as the Shadow' theme. Amazing how all those themes go wayyyyyy back. It's all his EOTW stuff coming full circle at last... Semirhage and Nyaneve are even introduced close to one another, and Nynaeve enters the series pretty much as the village's Semirhage - moms probably had better results telling kids if they weren't nice Nynaeve, not Semirhage, would come for them!! The kids in EOTW stepped around Nynaeve much like the Forsaken do around Semirhage, even Thom is wary of her. It's finally coming to their face to face now.

Linda said...

I certainly do think that Fain the Fool is going to precipitate things too soon! And play a part at the very end, gollum!

As for whether Sylvase is 'mythic' or 'modern', if she were mythic in her allusions, that would be a pointer to her being one of the Forsaken. If she were 'modern' then she whould just be herself.

Sylvase is a victim of abuse, and has acquired a tast for abusing others...That's what I see here. Fain, the ultimate blend of the Shadow versus Shadar Logoth (the evil that came about from committing evil to combat evil) will probably be the climax of this sub-thread.

Chris Moorhead said...

Sylvase as a victim of abuse... I'm not too sure what I think of that. It is certainly possible, something I didn't consider, but it might be leaping to conclusions too.

Sylvase not being a Forsaken is what I tend to believe too. That she is an agent of the Shadow may also be dubious, since Moridin pretty much has Caemlyn under wraps. Arymilla's faction did smack of Forsaken involvement, but just how so remains to be seen.

Linda said...

Nasin tried to screw any woman who came near him no matter her age or station. Elenia was most pointed about it. Couple this with the fact that he wouldn't let any man near Sylvase and you get a rather nasty picture. We've had two cases of very long term imprisonment and sexual slavery by close male relatives in the news only recently: the one in Austria and another in Italy. Nobody seemed to notice there either.

Chris Moorhead said...

It's not impossible, I think, but also not a certainty. I do, however, think that Nasin's death is suspicious and Sylvase the most likely culprit. Abuse would certainly give her a large motive for that.

With regard to Nasin being the one that kept Sylvase close to Arymilla with the intention of keeping himself on the position of High Seat, I'd be more inclined to interpret it as Arymilla keeping Sylvase close as a bargaining chip to keep Nasin in line. Just as she used similar threats to keep Naean and Jarid in line. Nasin seems to know, at times, that his end is near and Sylvase is the heir to the most powerful House in Andor. Those two facts alone would make her well-being very important to Nasin. It is extremely likely that less scrupulous nobles would take advantage of a young girl and a mad grandfather. Yet I agree that Norry's comments indicate that his behavious was still odd. But he is meant to be insane, after all. Being protective because he is abusing her is only one possible explanation.

Dominic said...

On the matter of abuse, it's hard to tell. We've barely seen Nasin (in LOC) before his brain took a major turn for the worse (he went from a little senile in LOC to barely in touch with reality anymore when we saw him again - this may just be a shift in his characterization, however).

The fact remains that Nasin has completely lost control of his sexual instincts, and now that he can't maintain his social mask and his secrets anymore he shows the instincts of a sexual predator. So yes, it's a good possibility he has abused the granddaughter he virtually has kept prisoner. Either that or the opposite: he used to control his pulsions or had a go at any servant wearing skirt at his manor, but his own libido has convinced him all men are pigs and he became overprotective of his female kin.

To conclude on the possible link to the Shadow... If Moridin wanted to infiltrate _one_ great House of Andor to place a Forsaken near Elayne, House Caeren is definitely the best choice:

1. The High Seat was already a bit senile and erratic. Any Compulsion would automatically disguised by this fact, and any excentricities, absences, oddities in his behaviour wouldn't be excused by the senility. Not only that, but any weird decisions/illogical goals etc. demonstrated by Nasin would be excused. Let's not forget the Andoran Great Houses have been told by Rand that Morgase was Compelled by Rahvin and that it was the reason for her behaviour. Those who believe it, like Dyelin and Elayne, would be suspicious if Arymilla or Naean or Pelivar started acting too strangely. The similarity between Nasin's behaviour and Morgase's (down to the overtly sexual behaviour) could be a clue left by Jordan.

In any case, Nasin shown compulsive/obsessive behaviour, most of all to have convinced himself he was supporting the claim of his daughter Arymilla for the Throne... (of course, that may just be the senility... that's the point - it's a perfect up).

2. All the main members of the Great Houses know each other very well. Elayne can analyze and even predict the behaviour of all the High Seats and their entourage. She also knew what to expect of the Guardians of the young High Seats etc. This makes it virtually impossible to infiltrate a House - no way Moghedien or Cyndane could play Naean, Dyelin etc. for more than a short while before oddities start showing. There is one highly placed noble that Elayne admits no one knows much of anything about, and it's Sylvase Caeren. She's the only highly placed Andoran noble we know who can be replaced. She was also kept prisoner and out of sight all her youth, and gods knows how Nasin may have educated her, so that leaves room for errors and oddities. She is also believed widely to be stupid, so this helps (Beside, the Shadow has a resident expert in Andoran ways, customs and political players who can teach Moridin, Cyndane, Moghedien all they need to know - and beside he's th agent of the Shadow who is the most convenient for two Dreamwalkers to meet regularly: Lord Luc Mantear... who happens to be making TAR apparitions in the Royal Palace lately, incidentally. Sounds like someone is keeping him close)

3. Sylvase was the designated heir of Nasin, and it's implied the choice was fairly recent. That too is odd, considering he also believed Arymilla was his daughter, about to take the throne. But not his heir, though... again senility or compulsion could explain the illogism just as well.

Sylavse's not his only grand-child, she has cousins, cousins who in the blink of an eye during the battle at the Walls all threw their support for the High Seat to Sylvase. For someone who is apparently widely believed (even by Elayne etc.) to be more than a little slow, Sylvase sure is convincing... Arymilla's defear placed the House in a precarious position, not the best of time to push for the most stupid and inexperience of the Caerens to the High Seat... and not even follow her to the Walls, incidentally - she left her cousins behind at the camp, it's implied.

4. I can't help but also find suspicious the timing of everything... Sylvase didn't commit herself, didn't put herself in any position to be forced until the moment it was time to switch support to Elayne and doom Arymilla's cause. Then, in a matter of a hour or two, she managed to get Nasin killed, to convince Lounault to serve her, to get all her cousins to confirm her as High Seats, and seemingly to bring into her plot to switch sides the one High Seat most suspect of being a Darkfriend: Lor Lir. It is suspicious to see Sylvase suddenly allied to the man through which Arymilla controlled/terrorized all the High Seats on her 'side'. They all had secluded 'sessions's of 'convincing' with Master Lounault and his 'ropes'. Who could tell what was really going on in that tent, and even if ropes really were involved? It's a good disguise for a DF torturer, and it's also a good disguise for a Forsaken in need of Compelling a bit the main players in Arymilla's camp. A foreigner, a man everybody fears, avoid and wouldn't socialized with, and someone who do his business in secret.

Of course, none of this amount to hard evidence. Jordan never leaves much in terms of 'hard evidence', he's rather the 'rabbit of the hat' kind of writer when it comes to mysteries.

We'll see in AMOL if House Caeren is just one of those Houses with a very dark streak, with troubled and perverse characters - in the vein of Damodred, of if there's more to it than that.

And to conclude, we all seem to agree that Elayne is being surrounded and that Moridin has plans for her. How likely in that case that RJ didn't put in place any of the Shadow's agents in KOD, when we know Brandon stacked Elayne with the 'other POVS' because she isn't as present as the other main players in the early parts of AMOL? Surely if House Caeren is not a suspect, then we have to look elsewhere. Don't underestimate Moridin - he knows perfectly well the principles of using cells of agents who aren't even aware of one another. It's not because the cell Jordan chose to show us early, Shiaine's group, has been exposed that there are no cells at work very close to Elayne. Moridin is the inventor of the Black Ajah and its Heart system, and has organized the Darkfriends into isolated, terrorist groups style, circles. Shiaine's group is all the more expandandable that all its players are people who have committed big blunders, blunders that incidentally Moridin had promised himself to get revenge for. Shiaine was as responsible as Carridin, Marrilin etc. for the Ebou Dar blunder, and she may fancy that her own earlier blunder (EOTW) is safely guarded... she doesn't know Morididn is Ba'alzamon. Shiaine was charged by Carridin/Sammael with finding the cache, and out of personal ambition to eventually rise above Carridin she botched the job and failed.. Ask yourself why she was promoted when all the others involved were punished...

RJ even left us a clue: days after Shiaine's arrest, the arsons have not declined... And we know these arsons were ordered by Moridin...

There's something rotten going on in Caemlyn. Elayne's exits the book with a rather moody scene: RJ chose to accompany her victory by a massive, ominous thunderstorm... in a book which opening snippet warned about the deceptions underneath some apparent victories.

Chris Moorhead said...

Sylvase being a pawn or agent of Moridin does make sense, I agree, though I'd also point out that I think Arymilla was a pawn of the Shadow. General opinion of Arymilla is that she isn't smart enough or capable of generating such huge support by herself.

Nevertheless, Caeren is the most powerful House in Andor. The Shadow's influence could be more subtle in that Marne garnering the support of Caeren may have given her the clout to have freed Elenia and Naean and therefore get their 'support'. Those four Houses by themselves may have been enough to get the support of Lir and Karind - two people who, incidentally, have loyalties only with who they think the victors may be.

Sylvase's rise to power is indeed very suspicious, for all the reasons you name. Nasin's death is suspicious.

The Andor politics are one of my favourite parts of the later books, so I'll be looking forward to further developments. One also wonders whether or not the Lady Danine Caendred is a complete red herring or if she has a part to play. She is the only High Seat in nineteen main Houses to have done nothing. A third option might be that she represents those that fail to act even in the direst need. Plus we have Ellorien Traemane entirely divorced from Elayne as Queen, though promising to appear at the Last Battle. I predict a fairly touching turn-around there.