Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Shadow Rising Read through #20 : Asmodean

The Biter Bitten

by Linda

Asmodean was persuaded by Lanfear to control Rand like a puppet. However, he found Rand’s character harder and grimmer than he liked and became interested in why Rhuidean was warded. Such strong and long-term wardings could only be to guard something valuable. Mat, flattered by the attentions of a gleeman, was very forthcoming with information about the lost city. Rhuidean’s ter’angreal seemed easier pickings than manipulating Rand, so Asmodean sent Draghkar and put the dragon markings on Couladin to distract Rand. Judging by the way the angry Couladin clutched his forearms when insulted by Lian at Cold Rocks Hold, Couladin already had dragons on them at this time, but was not to show them until Al’cair Dal. Moiraine knows how such markings could be done with the Power.

Asmodean thought to raid Rhuidean for access to a sa’angreal that would mean he would be far above the other Forsaken in the amount he could channel. No longer would he be one of the lowest ranking Forsaken. Lanfear let Asmodean go because she couldn’t see what he’d find in Rhuidean that made it worth the risk of coming into the open. She sneered that Asmodean was a coward, yet she was overly cautious here. She won’t reveal herself until Rand agrees to stand with her. Had she gone with Asmodean, she would have found the female Choedan Kal access key and would have been unstoppable.

Like another Forsaken, Asmodean discovered that he was not going to be allowed to fulfill his dreams, but that he could still teach. He made a better teacher than Mesaana though, once he was frightened into it; but then, his survival depended on it. The would-be puppeteer then started dreaming of rising high through Rand rewarding his aid, according to Lanfear:

"For teaching." She sniffed dismissively. "He will do that because he knows his lot is cast with you for good. Even if he managed to convince the others that he has been a prisoner, they would still tear him apart, and he knows it. The weakest dog in the pack often suffers that fate. Besides, I watch his dreams on occasion. He dreams of you triumphing over the Great Lord and putting him up beside you on high.”

- The Shadow Rising, Gateways

Rand cut Asmodean off from the Dark One as a matter of principle, and so the other Forsaken would think Asmodean was a renegade. Rand thought that Asmodean would cause problems but that they could not be as great as the problems of ignorance about channelling (The Shadow Rising, The Traps of Rhuidean). This was largely true.

Asmo was ‘chosen’ by Rand to be his teacher because there wasn’t anyone else. A big comedown for one of the Chosen.

Ironically, while Asmodean was linked to the Dark One, he didn’t sense the Dark One’s taint on saidin; it was only when he was cut off from the Dark One that he ever finally experienced firsthand the Dark One’s defilement. It could be considered an indication that the Pattern has begun to call Asmodean to account. The Forsaken scorn the poor living conditions of this Age, yet they are responsible for those very conditions.

The climax of Rand’s sub-thread in The Shadow Rising, mirrors that of The Eye of the World. Both places were warded and did not show in Tel’aran’rhiod. Rhuidean could only be visited once by a man. The Eye could only be visited once by anybody, but Rand summoned it despite Moiraine having already been there. Both extra visits were a matter of salvation: the party was menaced by Shadowspawn in the Blight, and a Forsaken was about to obtain access to the great male sa’angreal.

In both places Rand duelled with a male Forsaken tapping a vast source of the Power (the Eye, and the male Choedan Kal). One major difference is in the outcome: no one died or was seriously injured, and Asmodean is forced to teach on Rand’s terms, whereas Ishamael tried to manipulate Rand into wanting teaching on Ishamael’s terms. It was Ishamael’s scare tactics and Moiraine’s statement that there were no male Aes Sedai who could teach Rand that were the genesis of Rand’s plan. In The Shadow Rising, Decisions Lanfear suggested to Rand that Asmodean should be the teacher Rand knew he needed.

Avendesora was damaged in the duel, whereas its equivalent in The Eye of the World, the Green Man, was killed at the Eye.

Lanfear arrived after the duel, just as Lanfear’s nemesis Moiraine spoke with Rand after the Eye was depleted.

The glass columns ter’angreal is an equivalent of the Horn, but it summons the ancestral memories of each Aiel to show them their history, rather than summoning the souls of dead Heroes bound to Wheel.

To complement this post, an essay I wrote on the real world figures probably used to create Asmodean for Wotmania in March 2005 is republished here in the Reference Library. Compared to the other Forsaken, Asmodean has fewer mythological parallels, perhaps indicating his weaker character.

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