Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Ter'angreal

By Linda

The ter’angreal articles in the Reference Library have been updated with new information from The Gathering Storm and the book tour. Those articles with the new information now include spoiler warnings and the information itself is in bold.

Major additions include information on the access key, a'dams, crystal throne, dream ter’angreal, Far Madding’s ter’angreal, oath rod, Seals, miscellaneous ter’angreal and security measures for ter'angreal.

Two notable new ter’angreal were introduced in The Gathering Storm:

All further information is under the spoiler alert.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

Verin's Bookmark ter’angreal, which performs an important role, and the Bloodknife's Ring ter’angreal, an intriguing gizmo with such interesting potential ramifications that I have posted its entry here as well.

Bloodknife’s Ring

The Seanchan assassins, the Bloodknives, wear a black stone ter’angreal ring which grants them:

strength and speed, and would shroud them in darkness, allowing them to blend into shadows.
The incredible abilities came at a cost, however, for the rings leeched life from their hosts, killing them in a matter of days. Removing the ring would slow that process slightly, but once activated—done by touching a drop of one's own blood to the stone ring while wearing it—the process was irreversible.

- The Gathering Storm, The Death of Tuon

The ter’angreal certainly makes the Bloodknife hard to see: even the enhanced senses of a Warder barely detected one (The Gathering Storm, A Fount of Power).

The Bloodknives receive a benediction from the Empress (one of whose parallels is Queen of the Dead, see Tuon essay) as though they had died:

"May your death bring victory," she said softly, speaking the ritual words. "May your knife draw blood. May your children sing your praises until the final dawn."

- The Gathering Storm, The Death of Tuon

They are effectively dead men walking, who give their lives in exchange for enhanced assassin abilities, just as Grey Men and Women do in service to the Dark One and are thus one of the parallels the Seanchan society has with the Shadow. The Bloodknives’ ability to blend into shadows is reminiscent of another creature of the Shadow: Myrddraal. Many mainlanders liken the strange creatures the Seanchan use in battle to Shadowspawn, and of course ravens are important symbols for both the Seanchan and the Shadow, which is not surprising since Ishamael having encouraged Luthair’s invasion of Seanchan.

The assassins are also like ninjas, and thus one of many examples of the Seanchan society’s strong resemblance to Japan. The roles of ninjas were sabotage and espionage as much as assassination and their abilities were the subject of legends. Tuon (who also has parallels with a Japanese Emperor) described the role of Bloodknives as to cause as much damage as possible to the enemy, in this case to be achieved by assassinating Aes Sedai.

The wording used to described the ter'angreal's functions (leech, shroud) suggests an influence from games such as Magic the Gathering. There are Magic the Gathering cards with leeching spells similar to that of the Bloodknives’ ter’angreal, notably certain black-coloured spell cards (and Brandon Sanderson said on Twitter on November 10th that he favours Magic decks composed of black- and blue-coloured cards). For example, with the Magic card called Hatred you pay x life and your creature gets x stronger, just as the Bloodknives receive strength and speed in exchange for losing life. Hatred is an appropriate description of this mission aimed at weakening the Dragon Reborn by assassinating as many of the hated and feared Aes Sedai as possible. The Bloodknife killed by Gareth Bryne died with the words ‘marath’damane’ (his target) on his lips. Another black card called Unholy Strength strengthens the creature’s power far more than its toughness, just as the Bloodknife has enhanced powers but is ultimately weakened by the ter’angreal. There are other Magic cards that could also be considered apt descriptions. Some Magic cards grant the ability called ‘shroud’ which makes creatures untouchable by their opponent’s attacks. The Bloodknives are “shrouded in darkness” by their ter’angreal.

We do not know if the ter’angreal of the sole known dead Bloodknife was even found let alone recovered from his body. The other four Bloodknives are assumed to be alive and at large, since the Tower sub-thread ended less than 48 hours after the Seanchan raid.

1 comment:

Timmay said...

I have to think that this ter'angreal was originially designed by the shadow back in the war of power. It's just so vile.

A (set of) ring/s were likely discovered by one of the the Aes Sedai of Seanchan after the breaking and reproduced. Luthair and his crew once they had damane would have had them reproduce the ter'angreal as well, not knowing it's origin.