Five Other Times Verin Saved the Day

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

 

 

 

Verin’s revelation in the twelfth book of The Wheel of Time took the fandom by storm: her heart-to-heart with Egwene on the eve of her own death now features on numerous “Best Of” lists, and her decades of dedicated espionage against the Black Ajah has made her a favourite character for countless readers. Her unyielding desire “to change the future”—to “produce something lasting,” a “research or study that will be meaningful” (TGS, Ch. 39)—ultimately leads to a resounding victory for the White Tower and the Light in the days leading up to the Last Battle.

 

 

And yet, while her exposure of the Black Ajah rightfully assumes its place as one of the best moments in The Wheel of Time, Verin Mathwin was in the habit of saving the day and steering the tides of the future long before her final scene. Join us as we revisit some of Verin’s other great moments throughout the series!

 

 

The Portal Stones

 

 

“‘The Brown Ajah knows many things,’ Verin said dryly, ‘and I know how the Stones may be used.’” 

—Verin to Alar, The Great Hunt, Chapter 36

 

Although Rand finds it unsettling that he must accept the help of an Aes Sedai so soon after becoming “free” of Moiraine, Verin comes through for him in a big way during the hunt for Padan Fain. By leading the others to believe that she herself will transport them to Toman Head via portal stone, she allows Rand the freedom of channeling, and of doing what he feels he must, under the mantle of secrecy. While it is true that the group actually ends up losing time when Rand uses the portal stone, in the end they wind up exactly where, and when, they need to be. Incidentally, this event also raises one of the most interesting unanswered questions about Verin: what other possible lives did she see on that journey—lives that were so startling she “never thought” (TGH, Ch. 37) herself capable of them?

 

 

The Two Rivers

 

“I think it might rain in…oh…half an hour. Maybe less. Quite a downpour, I expect.”

—Verin to Perrin, The Shadow Rising, Chapter 33

 

Verin does a number of important things while in the Two Rivers, from searching out girls who can channel, to warning Perrin to be wary of Alanna, to helping in the battle against the Trollocs. However, her hint that she will channel a storm to help cover the rescue of the Cauthons and Luhhans from the Whitecloaks is so quintessentially Verin that it is one of my favourite lines in The Shadow Rising. Ultimately, the storm she provokes is so powerful “that it had surprised even her with its ferocity,” bringing continued storms over the next six days (TSR, Ch. 40).

 

 

Verin Mathwin, New Spring: The Graphic Novel, adapted by Charles Dixon, artwork by Mike Miller, Harvey Tolibao, and Joseph Cooper

 

 

Oaths of Fealty

 

“Of course, the thing was not truly Compulsion as ancient texts described it. The weaving went with painful slowness, cobbled together as it was, and there was that need for a reason. It helped a great deal if the object of the weave was emotionally vulnerable, but trust was absolutely essential.”

—Verin, The Path of Daggers, Prologue

 

Although Compulsion is strictly forbidden by the White Tower, Verin’s actions in bringing the Aes Sedai prisoners to swear fealty to Rand in the aftermath of Dumai’s Wells has a profound impact on Rand’s storyline over the remainder of the series. Among other things, the “suggestions” that Verin gives to the prisoners even convince members of the Black Ajah that Rand must survive until the Last Battle.[1] Fully aware of the consequences of discovery, Verin is nevertheless willing to risk stilling and execution in her quest to “keep young Rand alive until it was time for him to die” (TPoD, Prologue).

 

 

The Caemlyn Waygate

 

“There are many potential complications to my next task, however, and a large chance that I will not survive. I needed to know that I’d left someone behind who could see this work done.”

—Verin’s letter to Mat, Towers of Midnight, Epilogue

 

Her precarious position as a spy makes it difficult for Verin to explicitly warn Mat or Elayne that the Shadow intends to invade Caemlyn by use of the Ways. Nonetheless, as a contingency against her untimely death, she manages to strike a deal with Mat that will keep the Band of the Red Hand in Caemlyn’s vicinity. Although Mat stubbornly refuses to open the letter that would have alerted him to the upcoming attack, Verin’s actions still ensure that Talmanes is in a position to erect a desperate campaign to rescue the dragons and to save as many lives as possible.

 

 

Uncovering Moiraine and Siuan’s Secret

 

“I assume, Mother, that he is the Dragon Reborn? I cannot believe you would do this—leave walking free a man who can channel—unless he was the Dragon.”

—Verin to Siuan and Moiraine, The Great Hunt, Chapter 7

 

As the first Aes Sedai after Moiraine and Siuan to learn of Rand’s true identity, Verin uses her knowledge to support and aid the Dragon Reborn before most others are even aware that the Last Battle has begun, inexorably, to approach. As Verin tells Siuan and Moiraine in The Great Hunt, she first began to suspect the Dragon’s rebirth “nearly twenty years ago, with Tar Valon besieged” by the Aiel (TGH, Ch. 7). Knowing what we learn of Verin in The Gathering Storm, it is interesting to read these words in retrospect—and to consider the plots she might have begun to weave on the day she confirmed the truth.

 

 

What are your favourite Verin moments?

 

 

[1]Elza Penfell is the most well-known Black amongst those who swear fealty to Rand (unless we count Verin herself), but at least two others—Fera Sormen and Nalaene Forrell—exist. We know of Nalaene from Verin’s own research.

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Winning Words: Moiraine Damodred

With all of the hype surrounding Moiraine since the announcement that Rosamund Pike will portray her on screen, I thought I’d turn to The Eye of the World for a refresher on how our favourite itinerant Aes Sedai was first rendered in writing. Check out some of the words I found to occur most frequently in connection with Moiraine.

And in case you’re wondering why you can’t find it: while Robert Jordan compares her height (or lack of it) to other characters on multiple occasions, imagine my surprise that the word “short” doesn’t appear in direct connection to Moiraine even once!

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Which words do you most commonly associate with Moiraine?

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Minor Key: Deane Aryman

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

 

“Sallie Daera. I don’t know who she is or was, but I was told to give her name to any Blue who came around looking lost, so to speak. You may not be one of the sisters, but you carry your nose high enough for one, so there it is. Sallie Daera. Make of it what you will.”
–Duranda Tharne to Siuan Sanche, The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 26​

Although Deane Aryman’s name appears on only four occasions in The Wheel of Time proper, in many ways her memory provides an indelible backdrop to the White Tower rebellion, serving as a north star of sorts to those set adrift in the sudden wake of Siuan’s deposal. Referred to in cipher as “Sallie Daera,” it is Deane’s hometown of Salidar that comes to stand as both a refuge and a symbol of resistance at one of the most critical points in the series.

Born in Salidar in 920 FY, some twenty years before the rise of Artur Hawkwing, Deane Aryman began her training in the White Tower around the age of sixteen. Raised to the shawl after nine years and to the Amyrlin Seat merely fifty years after that, Deane remains one of the most famous Amyrlins to be selected from the Blue Ajah. A thousand years after her death, she is remembered for guiding the Tower following Bonwhin Meraighdin’s disastrous efforts to manipulate Artur Hawkwing (LoC, Glossary; Companion).

In large part, Salidar is chosen as a gathering place by the rebel Aes Sedai for practical reasons; abandoned and located but a mile from the Amadician border, Siuan notes that it was “one of the last places anyone would look for Aes Sedai short of Amadicia itself” (TFoH, Ch. 11). It is not difficult, however, to imagine that Deane herself in some way embodies the hopes of the rebels. Although Siuan claims that “Only a Blue would know, or even suspect” that “Sallie Daera” refers to the “Birthplace of Deane Aryman” (TFoH, Ch. 11), memory and admiration of Deane’s reign are certainly not confined to the Blue Ajah. Hoping that the rebels have already chosen “Someone very strong, in the Power and in her heart” to be their Amyrlin, Merana thinks to herself that “It would take another Deane […] to make them once more what they had been” (LoC, Ch. 49).

Minor Key - Deane Aryman
Map by Ellisa Mitchell​

To many amongst the rebel Aes Sedai, Egwene does not appear likely to live up to Deane’s legacy—at least initially. Chosen as a puppet and a figurehead, Egwene is meant to be guided rather than to lead. Nonetheless, we can see a number of connections between the two women, which is narratively fitting given that Egwene is raised to the Amyrlin Seat in the town of Deane’s birth. An obvious parallel, of course, lies in the salvific arc of each woman’s reign: where Deane sets the Tower to rights in the aftermath of Bonwhin’s mistakes, Egwene does the same in the wake of Elaida’s. There are, however, other points of interest as well. Both Deane and Egwene are, at the time of their raising, the youngest Amyrlin to ever wear the stole—a distinction shared also by Siuan. Furthermore, both are linked in different ways to historically important sieges of Tar Valon. Deane is (perhaps wrongly) credited with ending the twenty-year siege begun by Artur Hawkwing.[1] Egwene, meanwhile, both begins and ends the siege enacted by the rebel Aes Sedai.

Ultimately, Deane’s untimely death in 1084 FY reflects one of the major themes of The Wheel of Time: that chance, for good or bad, can change the course of destiny. At the age of approximately 164, Deane took a fatal fall from her horse; she had been on the brink of solidifying the White Tower’s leadership over the land, a goal that her successor, Selame Necoine, was unable to realize. While Deane did a great deal to rebuild the influence of the Tower over the course of the Hundred Years War, in the end one of her biggest potential achievements was cut short by a tragic accident.

[1]The World of Robert Jordan’s ‘The Wheel of Time’ states that it was actually Ishara, the first Queen of Andor, who convinced Souran Maravaile to lift the siege; Maravaile was not only one of Hawkwing’s generals, but Ishara’s husband. Deane Aryman, however, has long received this credit and is known to have “met with him [Maravaile] and made serious attempts to undo the damage Bonwhin had done by attempting to control Artur Hawkwing” (Ch. 13).

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A Series of Fortunate Events: Ranking Mat Cauthon’s Gambles

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

Reluctant hero, ta’veren, and commander extraordinaire, Mat Cauthon undoubtedly has some of the best scenes in the series. His charismatic blend of wit, impulsiveness, skill, and luck consistently make for compelling reading (particularly, in my opinion, once we’re past the whole fiasco with the dagger in the first two books). Although he famously complains about the situations he finds himself in, Mat is a consummate risk-taker who frequently gambles with far more than money. “What’s life,” he asks, “if you don’t take a chance now and then?” (ACoS, Ch. 39)

“Prince of the Ravens,” by EdselArnold on DeviantArt​

 

I’ll say right off the bat that my own personal rankings for Mat’s best gambles often change based on my most current re-read, and I’ve had to leave a lot of scenes I love off this list. Like many fans of The Wheel of Time, Mat is one of my favourite characters, and I read most of his chapters with relish. The following, however, are always highlights for me no matter how many times I re-read them.

 

5. The Malvide Narrows

“She goes with you. But you leave me a dozen of your Deathwatch Guards and some of the Gardeners. If I’m going to take these people off your back, I need them to think I’m you.”
–Mat to Furyk Karede, A Memory of Light, Chapter 36​

I always love seeing other characters trying to keep up with Mat. Here, it is the Seanchan who are left confused while Mat directs a brilliant decoy that ensures Tuon’s safe return to Ebou Dar. Mat has to juggle a lot of different things to pull this off. The timing needs to be right; Tuon’s would-be-asassins have to buy the decoy and walk into Mat’s trap, thinking they’ve caught Tuon unawares; Aludra’s weapons have to work; and the Aes Sedai have to find themselves in enough danger to channel killing weaves at humans. And all the while, leading a force that would normally be at each other’s throats, Mat can sense “so many tensions in the air he could almost feel that hanging rope around his neck again” (KoD, Ch. 37). In the end, it all comes together, but it’s a little like watching a puzzle.

 

4. Rescuing Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve from The Stone of Tear

“At least I know where they are, now. All I have to do is get them out.”
“Get them out, you say. Just like that. Out of the Stone.”

–Mat and Ailhuin Guenna, The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 52​

In this sequence, Mat not only sneaks into an impenetrable fortress—he gets to play with fireworks in the process! Despite the fact that it is supposedly impossible to do, Mat manages to break into the Stone of Tear with only Juilin as backup. It is a feat that even Birgitte later says she would not attempt for anyone but Gaidal. In order for his rescue plan to succeed, Mat has to count on numerous things going his way—not the least that Juilin is trustworthy and Aludra’s fireworks don’t get them both killed.

 

3. Freeing Nestelle din Sakura South Star from the Seanchan

“‘I want you to answer a question,’ he whispered. Blood and ashes, what if he had mistaken the room? What if this was not a Windfinder at all, but one of the bloody Seanchan women? ‘What would you do if I took that collar off your neck?’ Lifting his hand, he held his breath.”
–Mat, Winter’s Heart, Chapter 31​

Mat’s escape from Ebou Dar is one of my favourite plotlines in the series, but his encounter with Nestelle din Sakura South Star in particular always gets to me. Realizing that he cannot leave the Atha’an Miere Windfinders as prisoners of the Seanchan, he decides to take a chance on freeing them. Despite the fact that this might jeopardize his own escape, he ultimately decides that “if he could not take the chance, then who could?” Mat spends a lot of time throughout the series insisting that he’s not a hero. However, in moments such as this, we repeatedly see him go out of his way to help others at great risk to himself. Although Mat later feels guilt over those who died in the Atha’an Miere rebellion, he also knows that “Freeing the Sea Folk Windfinders had been the right thing to do, the only thing he could do” (CoT, Ch. 1).

 

2. Rescuing Moiraine from the Tower of Ghenjei

Matrim Cauthon was the only man to have diced with the fate of the world itself in the prize pouch.”
–Mat, A Memory of Light, Chapter 15​

One of the most long awaited moments of the series, rescuing Moiraine is risky business indeed. In her letter to Thom, Moiraine confesses that she has seen many possible futures in which the rescue does not go well. Mat agrees to help anyway, both for Thom’s sake and because he feels he owes a debt to Moiraine; inside the Tower of Ghenjei, he learns he has made the right call. It is here that Mat will fulfill the Aelfinn’s promise that he will one day “give up half the light of the world to save the world” (TSR, Ch. 15). This is the gamble that ultimately has the biggest payoff in the series—without Moiraine, Rand is doomed to lose the Last Battle, and Mat’s presence in the Tower of Ghenjei is necessary for her rescue.

 

Mat, Gawyn, and Galad, by Ariel Burgess​

1. Fighting Gawyn and Galad in Tar Valon

“I have to win this. I opened my fool mouth, and now I have to win. I can’t afford to lose those two marks. Without those to build on, it will take forever to win the money I need.”
–Mat, The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 24

This is hands-down my favourite scene of Mat’s in the series. Still recovering from the intensive Healing that severed his link to the dagger, Mat decides on the spot to challenge Gawyn and Galad to a duel. He bets two silver marks against two from each of them that he can beat them at once; as he tells Elayne’s brothers, “You can’t have fairer odds than that.” I think what I love so much about this scene is that Mat doesn’t yet have his memories or much experience with his enhanced luck. Thus, he’s really just taking a chance on himself and his own skill with a quarterstaff. His win sets so many things in motion for him; with the marks he wins from Gawyn and Galad, he goes on to start his fortune.

 

Honourable Mention: The Last Battle

“Without a gamble, we’re dead. Finished. Buried.”
–Mat to Elayne, A Memory of Light, Chapter 37

When I was drafting and redrafting this list, I couldn’t quite decide what to do with the Last Battle. The problem is that there are so many moving parts that I didn’t want to lump them together as one point on the list. The complexity of the Last Battle is such that Galad describes Mat as playing “the Game of Houses on the battlefield.” From sending one of the foxhead medallions to Galad, to his staged fight with Tuon, to his use of Hinderstrap, the Last Battle is full of so many brilliant plans and gusty moves from Mat that it really deserves its own list. Because I couldn’t leave it out entirely, I opted to place it separately from the man portion of the list.

 

What are your favourites?

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On This Day in Randland: Sunday

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

Occurring midway through Amadaine, although not officially considered one of the twenty-eight days of that month, the festival of Sunday corresponds to our own June solstice.[1] Mentioned more frequently in the books than any other holiday except Bel Tine, we as readers have a wealth of information on the importance that this holiday holds within the Westlands. Although the vast majority of these references are by characters from the Two Rivers, the glossary to The Dragon Reborn states that Sunday is “widely celebrated in many parts of the world.”

 

Observing the longest day of the year, on Sunday communities gather for celebration and feasting. It is one of the few times of the year when Tuatha’an caravans meet in groups larger than three (KoD, Ch. 12). In the Two Rivers, merriment abounds: people dance, give gifts, decorate carts, and participate in competitions of speed, strength, and archery. If the Village Council is able to arrange for it, a gleeman and fireworks can occasionally be a special part of the festivities. It is a day that also provides ample opportunity for other, less officially sanctioned shenanigans: in the words of one Matrim Cauthon, there is little as fun as “stealing applecakes at Sunday” (TDR, Ch. 46).

 

As much as it is a day of public celebration, Sunday can also be a day of personal remembrance. It is a day on which Rand routinely leaves flowers at his mother’s grave (TEoTW, Ch. 1), and this type of remembrance appears to be common; while telling stories to a crowded common room in Cairhien, Thom finishes a tale of Rogosh Eagle-eye and Dunsinin by describing how Dunsinin lays “a single rose, one crystal teardrop like dew upon petals” upon Rogosh’s grave every Sunday in remembrance (TGH, Ch. 25).

 

Seamus Gallagher, The Eye of the World Graphic Novel, Volume 1​

References to Sunday in the books are linked to memory in other ways as well. Especially in the early books, thoughts of Sunday are linked to feelings of nostalgia and homesickness for the Two Rivers characters. On several occasions, Egwene especially feels sadness at missing the celebrations in Emond’s Field, and she hopes to share in them again. One particularly poignant moment occurs when Egwene and Perrin are hiding from the Whitecloaks in The Eye of the World. Concealed within the massive stone hand of Artur Hawkwing’s statue, Egwene suddenly asks Perrin: “Will you dance with me at Sunday? If we’re home by then?” (TEoTW, Ch. 30). He promises that he will, and hopes, through the terror, that they will survive. It is a moment that Perrin later recalls in The Towers of Midnight when he is on trial for killing two Whitecloaks that night long ago. As Bornhald recites his own version of the story, Perrin recalls pain, and shouting, and Egwene’s voice in the dark as she speaks of home.

 

While Sunday holds great importance as an annually reoccurring festival, there are a number of particular Sundays on which important events have occurred. Yurian Stonebow is said to have proclaimed himself the Dragon Reborn on a Sunday around the end of the Trolloc Wars, and to have been captured on a Sunday some few years later (Companion). Much more recently, it is in 994 NE that Hurin gains his talent and becomes a sniffer (TGH, Ch. 9).

 

As one final point of interest, Sunday in the year 998 NE appears to have fallen early in The Great Hunt, approximately around the time the Two Rivers characters depart Fal Dara. Although the exact date is not directly mentioned in relation to the timeline of the book, we can approximate it through other references. It is around this time that the Feast of Teven occurs, an Illianer festival that also takes place in the month of Amadaine. In this particular year, the Feast of Teven is known to have “coincided with the calling of the Hunt for the Horn” (Companion), an event that Bayle Domon is in Illian to witness (TGH, Ch. 10) and which occurs roughly around the departure from Fal Dara. There is something poetic, in a way, about watching Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaeve begin to set off on separate journeys so near to a holiday they are accustomed to spending together. These journeys will take them far from home, and while they will experience many wonderful things, some of them will never return to Emond’s Field.

 

Footnotes:
[1] In the calendar observed in the Westlands, Amadaine is the seventh of thirteen months. For more information on calendars and dating systems in The Wheel of Time, see The Wheel of Time Companion and The World of Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time.” For more on how the days of these calendars correspond to our own world, see the article on the Farede Calendar in TarValon.Net’s Library.

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