A Thousand Words: Bel Tine

It certainly isn’t spring everywhere in our own world right now, but in Randland, Bel Tine is celebrated right around this time–and in about three weeks, TarValon.Net will kick off its traditional Bel Tine festivities.


Associated with renewal and growth, Bel Tine is a festival celebrated in communities all over Randland to signal “the end of winder, the first sprouting of crops and the birth of the first lambs” (Companion).


In honour of Bel Tine and beautiful, growing things, here are some of the flowers and trees that crop up throughout the series. Which ones do you recognize?


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Rafe Judkins Instagram Q&A Transcript, March 22, 2020

This evening Rafe Judkins, showrunner of Amazon Prime’s adaptation of The Wheel of Time, hosted  a Q&A on Instagram. If you’re looking for a full transcript, look no further!



rafejudkins: I’ve been sick the last 2 weeks, but I’m better and answering WoT ?’s 😀


Q: Will the show have any connection to that abomination of a pilot that red eagle put out

rafejudkins: nope! 🙂


Q: What part of the books should you be caught up on for the first season?

rafejudkins: Depends on if you like to read something before you watch it or not.


Q: What are you finding most challenging about going from book to screen?

rafejudkins: The hardest thing is the physicality of production. ?In the first book alone they go to more than 20 villages and cities. To try to do that is physically impossible for the show, so most of the work we don [sic] in the room is geographical, figuring out how to condense the story an dove it through places we can physically create.


Q: Do you have a favourite chapter from the whole saga? Mine is Veins of Gold.

rafejudkins: So many. But Honey in the Tea is one off the top of my head.


Q: Who is your favourite actor from NZ that you’ve cast?

rafejudkins: Lucy Lawless. But that was another show. [angel emoji] @reallucylawless


Q: We can’t wait to see Elayne, Aviendha and Min [eyes emoji]

rafejudkins: Me either. Three of my favourites.


Q: Should Amazon do a better job of engaging fans love of theory & speculation. Pls embrace us!!

rafejudkins: I love theory and speculation! What can they do to better engage you? Send suggestions and I’ll forward them along! 🙂


Q: Has any post-production work begun or does that not start until filming is completed?

rafejudkins: Nope! We do it simultaneously. Before the corona hit, I was prepping 2 episodes, shooting 2 episodes, in post on 4 episodes and writing Season 2 simultaneously 😮


Q: Will there be a soundtrack? Who’s the composer?

rafejudkins: Of course! David Buckley. Plus a few incredible musical guests we’ve already had.


Q: Are Min/Elayne in season 1?

rafejudkins: TWWaTWW


Q: Are you going to merge Min and Elayne?

rafejudkins: Hell no


Q: First moment you were speechless on set?

rafejudkins: First time walking into Emond’s Field with my mom


Q: Is mat fluent in the old tongue yet? 😛

rafejudkins: We’ve had a couple cast members speak it already and they NAILED IT


Q: Which character has your favorite costume so far?

rafejudkins: Ooo this is tough. Probably Geofram Bornhald.


Q: How is the cast and crew weathering the pandemic?

rafejudkins: Our team in Prague did an amazing job of getting everyone out and keeping them safe. And now everyone”s home and we all live on Instagram.


Q: Who is your favorite Forsaken?

rafejudkins: Ahhh. I love the ladies. Graendal, Lanfear, Moghedien. And Ishamael holds a special place in my heart the more time I spend with him.


Q: What’s been your favourite shooting location so far?

rafejudkins: Slovenia! Spectacular stuff there


Q: Yes or no. Have you had to make any cuts be it a scene or character, that has been painful for you?

rafejudkins: Yes.


Q: How are you planning to handle the visualization of the weaves? Any little tidbits?

rafejudkins: We are trying to stay as true to the books as possible. I’ve been giving a bunch of VFX folks long diatribes about channeling, weaves, threads, earth vs. air, etc and they [sic] early stuff has started coming in. It looks FUCKING AWESOME. I screamed when Rosamund started channeling


Q: Similar to Thom performing in an old Inn, what other iconic moment filmed stands out to u?

rafejudkins:  Rand and Tam walking through the Westwood


Q: Blink twice if Min is in season 1.

rafejudkins: [two winking emoticons]


Q: Will Jeff Probst be one of the Aiel? Can you make some calls?

rafejudkins: If he dies [sic] his hair red 😉


Q: Which WOT book title best describes your self isolation experience?

rafejudkins: A Memory of Light…


Q: Can we expect a trailer for the show anytime soon?

rafejudkins: Probably not for a long while sadly.


Q: Can you guys do a big WOT Wed announcement during the hiatus to keep all us fans hyped instead of al

rafejudkins: Yeah! It would cheer us all up and we have some fun news


Q: Is Lan going to be as much or an absolute stud in the show as he is in the books?

rafejudkins: You’ve seen @danielhenney right?


Q: If you were an Aes Sedai, what Ajah would you choose?

rafejudkins: Such a good question. They all have merits but GREEN for the win. If only to hang with @priyankabose20


Q: Any funny behind the scenes stories?

rafejudkins: I once walked up to Rosamund’s dummy to say hello and then pretended to check its makeup and told everyone they were doing great work


Q: Will we have to wait till season 2 to see any Aiel? (Other than Rand)

rafejudkins: Nope And the one you see will shock you. Haha. Amazon shouldn’t let me be on here when I’ve been cooped up for a week.


Q: RJ writes a lot of internal headspace stuff. What’s 1 hint on how the show will handle that?

rafejudkins: That’s the biggest difficulty of any novel adaptation. Figuring out how to make the internal monologue come out clearly to the audience. A lot of the changes we make and stories we tell differently are designed to serve exactly that purpose–showing you what those characters internal monologues from the books are without them just saying it out loud in exposition


Q: Are you using taller actors to portray the Aiel, or camera trickery?

rafejudkins: Trying to get tall folks. But I’m less concerned with height and more concerned with acting ability.


Q: Since JordanCon was cancelled, can we maybe get an extra treat next month?

rafejudkins: Sure! What do you want?


Q: Do you have a favorite Wise One?

rafejudkins: Avi


Q: How many trollops do I have to take out to become a writing assistant?

rafejudkins: Violence is never the answer


Q: What would you say the CGI to practical ratio is going to be?

rafejudkins: Trying to do as much in camera as we possibly can!


Q: How are you handling sword forms and their names?

rafejudkins: We have a for real sword master on the show who walks into every room and tests out everything as a weapon. He could most definitely kill me with any item in my office.


Q: How are the horses on set? Is Mandarb spectacular?

rafejudkins: They are os great. Honestly I love our horses. Mandarb and Aldieb are downright sexy


Q: When will we get more casting announcements to hold us over?

rafejudkins: I’ll try to get them to put out something soon. A lot of folks in all departments are affected by the state of the world right  now though, so I can’t promise a timeline


Q: Will we see the prologue from the Eye of the World on screen in season 1

rafejudkins: You will hear that phrase


Q: What has been your favorite set so far?

rafejudkins: Fal Dara!


Q: Please tell me you’ve cut Narg!

rafejudkins: Never!!


Q: To what extent has Harriet McDougal been involved with the project?

rafejudkins: She’s a consulting producer so she’s been out to Prague to the sets and reads all the scripts and sends me her notes on them. She and Maria are hugely helpful for maintaining the truth of the series and always keep me honest when it comes to things that change too much


Q: Is any aspect of the show still in development, or has it all stalled because of the virus?

rafejudkins: A lot can be done virtually! I’m still doing VFX, editing and the Season Two Virtual Writers Room! And I can do it all in pyjamas


Q: Did you read The way of kings or Mistborn? Please make a tv adaptation for them too

rafejudkins: Read both. Love both.


Q: Will min, elayne, and avienda have to be combined into a single character?

rafejudkins: Girl you crazy. I’m not going to combine huge characters like that. Maybe sometimes a minor character folded into a more major one to make better use of our cast but nothing nutso


Q: RJ created 1000’s of character. Given that did you feel the need to create new characters?

rafejudkins: Anyone “new” is inspired by characters int he books or a number of characters combined. If we paid to cast all speaking roles in the book we could only afford to have a radio play


Q: So far, what is your favorite prop in the show?

rafejudkins: Great Serpent Ring. We all want one.


Q: Will Loial portray the Ogier species, or will he be humanised for screen?

rafejudkins: He’s an Ogier!


Q: How involved, if involved at all, is Sanderson in the writers room?

rafejudkins: Brandon is hugely helpful. I talked to him before we started Season Two while he was in Prague to get advice and he reads all the scripts and gives notes. He’s incredibly thoughtful and understands the process of adaptation and what’s required from it. I feel so lucky to have him involved. I would have him do more if I could


Q: What words of hope would you offer a fan afraid that the show will cut out a lot of content?

rafejudkins: I genuinely think we are cutting less than most people think. When I see people ask questions like “are you cutting Min?” It blows my mind. I don’t know how you do an adaptation without some of these characters. I think it’ll be more of the smaller stories you’ll miss. We can’t have Rand and May [sic] travel to many many inns on their travels across the countryside for instance. It’s just not producible. So that will be more of what you miss I think, and the books always exist to read for that 🙂


Q: I think Bella is such an important character, will the same horse play bella through the series

rafejudkins: We’ve already had to have two Belas. It turns out a horse for riding on film is not the same as a horse for pulling a card and SHE MUST DO BOTH


Q: Can you please make sure you do a great job? Book are so great

rafejudkins: This is a really good idea


Q: Now you’ve met them, settle the score: who’s better with women? Rand, Mat or Perrin?

rafejudkins: I think they’d all say it’s the other


Q: Will the show be understandable for those who didn’t read the books?

rafejudkins: That’s the idea. If there are little things they don’t get though, luckily google exists


Q: Who is your favorite Aes Sedai in the books? And you can’t say Moiraine/Siuan or the Wonder Girls

rafejudkins: So many rules. I honestly love all of them though (except Galina that bitch) Alanna Liandrin and Verin are probably my Top 3. And Siuan! There’s too many I love. Sheriam! Pevara!


Q: How has it been to work with your incredibly talented cast? Also…dinner’s ready.

rafejudkins: Okay I have to go eat now. I think I did this right. Next time I’ll use different colours. I don’t know why it was pink and orange the whole time.


rafejudkins: Sorry I didn’t get to everyone’s questions. Genuinely more than a thousand came through in like 15 minutes. I will try to do this again soon. Hope everyone is safe and sound and has a boyfriend who makes them dinner when they’re sick. If you don’t, mine is for sale.

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The White Tower and International Politics

With over a dozen independent nations and city states in the Westlands alone, national and international politics in The Wheel of Time are fascinating and complex. Many of these nations have long been at peace with one or more of their neighbours: the Borderlands, for instance, eschew hostilities with other nations to better focus their attentions on the Blight, while Cairhien has peaceful relations with the bordering nations of Andor and Tear. Other nations, however, are known for their tense or outright hostile relationships with other nearby countries; the animosity between Illian and Tear, between Arad Doman and Tarabon, and between Andor and Murandy, amongst others, has been well-documented throughout the series. Still other nations experience extreme conflicts from within, such as Altara and Murandy, where the central control of a King or Queen is barely recognized.


Although Aes Sedai are disliked or even hated by nations such as Tear and Amadicia, the White Tower has frequently been involved in attempting to establish, manipulate, and/or maintain peace throughout the Westlands. Although nations are frequently reluctant to engage the White Tower in matters of politics out of fear of ceding power to Tar Valon, the Aes Sedai—and particularly the Gray Ajah—are considered to be superior negotiators and are thus often relied upon in formulating treaties.


While we of course see Aes Sedai negotiating treaties on multiple occasions, such as the Bargain between Rand and the Atha’an Miere, over the course of The Wheel of Time we also receive interesting (and sometimes all too brief!) references to several alliances, treaties, or plans that the White Tower has attempted to enact in the past. The following are a few that I, for one, would love to know more about. The fact that all three were ultimately unsuccessful shows the extent to which international politics in the Westlands are no easy thing.



The Grand Coalition


The Aiel War posed a conflict that brought all of the nations of the Westlands together to form the Grand Coalition; Moiraine notes, in New Spring, that even the Whitecloaks come to defend Tar Valon during the Battle of the Shining Walls (NS, Ch. 3). In the aftermath of the war, the Gray Ajah attempted to make this large-scale alliance permanent, but ultimately were unable to do so. Annoura was one of the Aes Sedai involved in the negotiations—and her involvement makes Merana think the better of her (ACoS, Ch. 19).



Almoth Plain


Thirty-eight years prior to the events of Lord of Chaos, Merana Ambrey of the Gray Ajah negotiated a treaty between Arad Doman and Tarabon, one which she hoped would “put an end to the squabbling over Almoth Plain.” Merana notes that the Domani and Taraboners almost begin “a war in the middle of the exchanges” on three occasions, and that by the time she had finished, “she felt as if she had been rolled over rough hills in a barrel full of splinters” (LoC, Ch. 43). Utlimately, the treaty did not end the hostilities, and the long-time conflict between the two nations continued.





Troubled by the disunity within Murandy, the White Tower at one point hoped to see this nation truly brought together under one leader. They believed they had found the right person in a young border lord named Dulain. Because Andor and Murandy frequently conducted border raids against one another, there was fear that Dulain might be accidentally killed. The Amyrlin Seat Siuan Sanche thus pressured Andor to withdraw their soldiers from the border—an act which angered the Andoran Captain-General, Gareth Bryne. Ultimately, the White Tower’s plans were unsuccessful, as Dulain was killed when “some Andoran farmer put an arrow through him on a sheep raid” (TFoH, Ch. 28).

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Minor Key: Annoura Larisen

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.



“It should not concern you, Berelain,” she said, rising. “All are taught it, you see. Do not channel if you are too tired. There can be complications. I needed a gateway back to the palace, though. To bring him to safety, to restore…”


Annoura collapsed from her stool. Berelain dropped to her side, propping up her head. Only then did she realize that it wasn’t the braids that had made Annoura look so different. The face was wrong, too. Changed. No longer ageless, but instead youthful.


—Annoura and Berelain, A Memory of Light, Chapter 37


From her first appearance in A Crown of Swords, revealing herself unexpectedly as advisor to Berelain sur Paendrag Paeron of Mayene, Annoura is something of an exception amongst the Aes Sedai in Rand’s orbit. One of the few sisters not to choose sides during the White Tower split, she is also exempted by Rand from swearing fealty to him due to her connection to Berelain. Given that Annoura’s loyalty appears to be strongly tied to the First of Mayene, it thus comes as a surprise to learn in Winter’s Heart that she has been meeting Masema behind Berelain’s back, a decision that causes a rift to open between the two women. Set amidst the backdrop of Tarmon Gai’don, surrounded by climactic moments that have enormous consequences for all of Randland, Annoura’s actions within A Memory of Light tell a heartbreaking tale of one woman’s quest to repay a broken trust.


Having left her native Tarabon for the White Tower around the age of sixteen, Annoura Larisen was raised to the shawl approximately 125 years prior to the main events of the series. An Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, she served as Berelain’s Aes Sedai advisor in secret to avoid provoking the nearby nation of Tear. Recognizable by her Taraboner accent and braids and her sometimes “almost diffident” manner (CoT, Ch. 8), Annoura is a character who prompted numerous theories when Perrin first caught her and Masuri sneaking into Masema’s camp.


Knowing how much Galad has come to mean to Berelain, Annoura attempts to make amends for her actions by recovering him from the battlefield of Tarmon Gai’don after Demandred nearly kills him. Doing so, however, requires her to draw more of the One Power than she can safely handle. She knows the risks and proceeds anyway, resulting in her own lost ability to channel. It is well established that an Aes Sedai will sacrifice anything for the good of the White Tower: we hear, for instance, of Mashera Donavelle, who “bore seven children for a man she loathed,” of Isebaille Tobanyi, who “delivered the brothers she loved to their enemies and the throne of Arad Doman with them,” and of Jestian Redhill, who did something so terrible that Faile cannot even bring herself to speak of it (ACoS, Ch. 6). Annoura’s sacrifice—to willingly risk a fate that Berelain recognizes is “considered to be worse than death”—is instead an intensely personal gesture made only to benefit an estranged “confidante” and “friend” (AMoL, Ch. 37). It is a reminder that even while the fate of the world hangs in the balance, with major plot arcs converging and coming to a close, there are smaller but no less meaningful stories at every turn in The Wheel of Time.



Minor Key is a series that covers characters who, while not amongst the main cast, make an impression on the story and the readers. Is there a character you’d like to see featured? Let us know in the comments!

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TarValon.Net Library Resources: The Gray Ajah


Now that it’s February, TarValon.Net’s social media accounts are about to start featuring the Gray Ajah. If you’re looking for information on the Gray Ajah at TarValon.Net or in the series (or if you want to get a head start on studying for Trivia Thursday), check out some of these pages in our Library!



The Gray Ajah at TarValon.Net


The Gray Ajah Headquarters is a great place to start if you want to know what the Gray Ajah is all about at TarValon.Net. Among other things, you’ll find lists of all Gray Aes Sedai, Aspirants, and Gaidin.


Have you ever wondered what’s up with the Gray Ajah and pies? This history of Pieings should answer your questions. If you’re interested in learning about some of the Gray Ajah’s other traditions, be sure to check out this page on Guesting & Traditions.


And if you’re looking

For something to read today,

Here’s some Grayt haikus!



The Gray Ajah in The Wheel of Time


TarValon.Net’s Library has a comprehensive character list of every Gray Aes Sedai ever mentioned throughout the series, complete with links to longer articles one each. From more major characters like Annoura Larisen to very minor characters like Nisaine a’Cowel, our character summaries are a great refresher. If you’re interested in the Ajah as a whole, our article on the Gray Ajah is the place to look.


The Gray Ajah in the series is primarily concerned with mediation and establishing treaties, which means Gray sisters are exceptionally well-versed in the laws of all countries. If you’re interested in a particle nation’s laws, check out our article on that nation. You can find a list here. And if you’re interested in White Tower Law, we have an article for that as well.


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