Minor Key: Ingtar Shinowa

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

 

“The prophecy says, ‘Let who sounds me think not of glory, but only salvation.’ It was my salvation I was thinking of. I would sound the Horn, and lead the heroes of the Ages against Shayol Ghul. Surely that would have been enough to save me. No man can walk so long in the Shadow that he cannot come again to the Light. That is what they say. Surely that would have been enough to wash away what I have been, and done.”

–Ingtar to Rand, The Great Hunt, Chapter 46​

 

As The Great Hunt draws to a close, a Darkfriend is revealed and a redemption arc laid bare. Rand listens, heartsick, to Ingtar’s confession of guilt and his yearning for salvation and Light. It is one of the earliest betrayals of the series, and for Rand, who has counted Ingtar a hero and friend, it is almost beyond the realm of belief.

 

Lord Ingtar of House Shinowa is one of the first Shienarans we meet in The Wheel of Time. An experienced warrior stationed in Fal Dara, he maintains a trusted position within the command of Agelmar Jagad. In The Eye of the World, he escorts Moiraine and the others to the edge of the Blight on their quest to seek the Green Man’s aid. Later, in The Great Hunt, he is chosen to lead twenty men in search of the stolen Horn of Valere, charged in public with the fate of the Last Battle and “the hope of the world” itself (TGH, Ch. 9).

 

Outwardly, Ingtar strives to project an unflagging confidence that Shienar will withstand the Shadow. His apparent pride is remarked upon by Agelmar himself: “If Ingtar had to ride alone to Tarwin’s Gap,” the Lord of Fal Dara tells Moiraine and Lan, “he would ride the whole way proclaiming that the Trollocs would be turned back once more” (TEoTW, Ch. 46). And yet, from the very beginning we see cracks in Ingtar’s façade—a slight hesitation before boasting, a smile that won’t quite stay in place. These slips gesture to what lies behind Ingtar’s mask: a categorical despair he seems unable to shake. Convinced, in truth, that Shienar will otherwise fall to the inevitable advance of the Blight, Ingtar has chosen to “make […] peace” with the Dark One in the hope that his nation will be spared (TGH, Ch. 46).

 

Guilt-ridden over his own abandonment of the Light, Ingtar hopes to redeem himself by performing a legendary feat. He becomes consumed by a desire to retrieve the Horn of Valere, thinking to use it against the Shadow in atonement for his crimes. His dream is, of course, never realized. Instead, trapped in an alley in Falme with the Seanchan a breath away, Ingtar gives his life so that Rand and the others can escape with the Horn. It is, he tells Rand, the price he has chosen to pay for his oaths to the Dark One.

[​IMG]“Ingtar’s Last Stand.” Credit: Corporal-Nobbs on DeviantArt.​

Although Ingtar’s story concludes early in the series, it is intriguing to read it retrospectively in light of later events. The parallels between Ingtar and Verin, who both die defying oaths to the Dark One, cast a curious light on their interactions in The Great Hunt. We might wonder, for instance, about the alternate lives they experience when travelling to Toman Head via Portal Stone. Verin admits to being unnerved by some of the choices she might have made, and Ingtar is likewise shaken. He later reveals to Rand his recurring inability to break free of the Shadow: “I tried to escape what I’d become, but I never did. Always there was something else required of me, always something worse than the last” (TGH, Ch. 46).

 

Aravine Carnel’s exposure as a Darkfriend in A Memory of Light, along with her relationship to the Horn of Valere, offer equally interesting lines of comparison. Aravine’s fate recalls Ingtar’s fear of eternal service to the Shadow. She, too, expresses a wish to return to the Light, confessing to Faile that she had hoped herself forgotten by the Dark One. Like Ingtar in his alternate lives, however, Aravine ultimately learns her mistake, and it is here that their paths diverge. Where Ingtar chooses death to prevent the Horn from falling into enemy hands, Aravine obeys her orders to deliver the Horn to Demandred, failing only when Faile overcomes her.

 

Finally, in some ways we might see a kind of affinity between Ingtar and Rand. As Rand leaves Ingtar to his sacrifice and flees Falme with the Horn, he wishes that “he did not feel as if he were running away from Ingtar’s cry, running from what he was supposed to do” (TGH, Ch. 47). In the moment, Rand is thinking of his own wish to stay in Falme, to face the Seanchan and free Egwene from her captivity. He is torn between what he sees as competing duties—to Egwene, to Mat, to the Horn—and any decision he makes thus feels like a betrayal.

 

However, we can trace deeper connections as well. Like Ingtar, Rand is terrified of what he is and will become, continually seeking routes of escape. And like Ingtar against the Seanchan, Rand will make the choice in Falme to face what he is and Sheathe the Sword against Ba’alzamon. Considered by many to be little better than a Darkfriend himself, the Dragon Reborn knows that he is prophesied to sacrifice his own life after bringing devastation in his wake. It is perhaps, then, no wonder that Ingtar’s final desperate words ring in Rand’s ears: “The Light, and Shinowa!”

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Minor Key: Talmanes Delovinde

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

Talmanes pulled off one steel-backed gauntlet and put out his hand, but for a moment Mat only stared at it. Lead? Him? I’m a gambler, not a soldier. A lover. Memories of battles long gone spun through his head, but he forced them down. All he had to do was ride on. But then maybe Talmanes would leave Estean and Daerid and the rest to roast. On the spit Mat had hung them from. Even so, it was a surprise to him when he grasped the other’s hand and said, ‘You just be there when you’re supposed to be.’”

–Mat, The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 43​

As he finds himself inexorably drawn into Rand’s war against the Shaido, Mat meets a character who will prove indispensible to his narrative. Determined to escape Rand’s ta’veren influence and head south on his own, Mat stops only to offer advice to a force of Tairen and Cairhienin men he spies walking into a trap. It is an invitation from Talmanes Delovinde, a Cairhienin noble of no little note, which ultimately impels Mat to delay his departure and join the battle instead: “I will lead one half, if you lead the other.” Their shaking of hands symbolically initiates the campaign that will eventuate in Mat’s legendary victory over Couladin and the formation of the second Shen an Calhar, the Band of the Red Hand.[1]

 

Approximately three years older than Mat, which places him in his early twenties, Talmanes is a careful and reserved man who prefers the plain dress of a soldier to that of a lord. Rarely one to smile, he is often considered by those around him to possess nothing in the way of humour—although we certainly see glimpses that suggest just the opposite. Indeed, when the prologue to A Memory of Light gives us our very first scenes from Talmanes’s point of view, we learn that he frequently finds it amusing when others fail to comprehend his deadpan jokes.

 

Talmanes Delovinde. Precedence Entertainment.

In the aftermath of Couladin’s defeat, Talmanes is one of those who pledges to follow Mat, telling him that “Until yesterday I have followed men of other lands because I must. You I will follow because I want to” (TFoH, Ch. 45). From its very creation, Talmanes holds a position of leadership within Mat’s Band. He initially commands the First Banner of the Horse, who call themselves “Talmanes’ Thunderbolts” (LoC, Ch. 22); when the Band increases exponentially in size, he is promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General. Invariably one of Mat’s most trusted officers, he is left in charge of the Band on multiple occasions when Mat is required to travel without it—into Salidar, to Ebou Dar, to the Tower of Ghenjei.

 

Although at one point Mat thinks in consternation that Talmanes “could be almost as eager to go off and charge somebody as Nalesean” (LoC, Ch. 38), his actions reveal him to be a careful observer and a solid commander. From his first meticulous assessment of Mat, Talmanes’s watchful nature continually receives comment within the series. He is consistently among the first to perceive a problem and to grasp the solution. “Wide-eyed and alert” (LoC, Ch. 5), with his “head swiveling constantly” (KoD, Ch. 26) to survey his surroundings, he works to evaluate all conceivable risks on a potential battlefield. On their first meeting, Tuon is impressed by his apt appraisal of the area and the way he accounts even for the possibility of raken, a Seanchan military asset of which he has heard tell but never seen in person.
Though Mat is the undisputed leader of the Band, Talmanes is responsible for a significant portion of its success. It is under Talmanes’s supervision, for example, that the Band more than triples in size, a statistic that astounds Mat when he and Talmanes are reunited in Knife of Dreams after a separation of more than four books. Although it is Mat’s reputation that draws recruits, Talmanes is the one to oversee the intake of thousands of new soldiers while simultaneously securing a contract with the King of Murandy that yields more than a year’s pay for the entire Band.

 

Caemlyn, by Jan Walker.

Likewise, at the dawning of the Last Battle, Talmanes plays a crucial role in rescuing the dragons from the ruins of Caemlyn—an act that has immense significance for both the Band and the fate of humankind itself. Knowing that Caemlyn is lost beyond saving with the forces at hand, Talmanes refuses to commit his men to a senseless attempt to hold the city. Instead, he opts to concentrate on what is absolutely necessary: securing escape for as many civilians as possible and preventing the dragons from falling into enemy hands. Although Talmanes knows that he cannot “reproduce Mat’s blend of insanity and inspiration,” he is also fully aware of what he must do and how he can best do it: “We will retrieve the dragons,” he assures the Band, “but we’ll do it smartly” (AMoL, Prologue).

 

Which is not, of course, to say that they will do it without flair.

 

Footnote:
[1]The first Band of the Red Hand died protecting Aemon al Caar al Thorin, the last King of Manetheren. Mat’s Band is named after it.

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On This Day in Randland: Dahan

Two thousand years before the birth of the Dragon Reborn, the Shadow laid waste to the Westlands for three and a half centuries in what would come to be known as the Trolloc Wars (c. 1000 AB – c. 1351 AB).[1] Incited by Ishamael, who was never fully bound at Shayol Ghul, the Wars shattered much of what had been built in the aftermath of the Breaking. With armies as large as three hundred thousand men sometimes facing even greater armies of Shadowspawn, the loss of life was astronomical. Entire cities and nations were obliterated: Manetheren fell to betrayal, Aridhol to fear and darkness, and others to fire or to slow decay in the years following the Wars.

 

[​IMG]“Sing of Manetheren” by UnderdogMike on DeviantArt.​

 

Despite the monumental destruction unleashed by the Shadow, the Light eventually prevailed, helping to ensure that no Shadowspawn would venture past the Borderlands for almost two millennia. The day of humankind’s ultimate victory is still celebrated in the Westlands today on a holiday named Dahan, which falls on the 9th day of the month of Saven. In our own world, this translates to roughly the 20th of May.[2]

 

In all actuality, the exact date of ultimate victory is uncertain. According to The World of Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time,” the majority of historians in the Westlands “believe the date was arbitrarily chosen” (Ch. 31). In large part, this is because the catastrophic losses caused by the Wars engendered enough confusion that dates and records became suspect. By the time two decades had passed after the end of the Wars, a new calendar system had been adopted in response. Given the series’ investment in the fading of memory to legend and myth, it is perhaps fitting that the date of one of the most important victories in history has been lost to the shrouds of time.

 

It is also not known exactly where or how ultimate victory in the Trolloc Wars occurred or was declared. As it ended “the long push that finally drove the Trollocs back to the Great Blight” (TFoH, Glossary), it can be assumed to have taken place near or within the Mountains of Dhoom, where the former borderland nations of Jaramide and Aramaelle once stood. What is known is that in 1301 AB, a decisive victory for the human armies at the Battle of Maighande turned the tides of war in their favour. Although the Trolloc Wars lasted another fifty long years following the battle, Maighande was the beginning of the end.

 

There are two principal accounts of the Battle of Maighande within the series: the first is one of Mat’s memories, the second a glossary entry on Rashima Kerenmosa. In The Fires of Heaven, we briefly hear tell of the battle as Mat recollects “leading a flanking attack that turned the Trollocs at Maighande” (TFoH, Ch. 49). Later, from the glossary in Lord of Chaos, we learn of Rashima and her five Warders, all of whom fell at Maighande. Known as the Soldier Amyrlin and remembered as one of the strongest leaders in White Tower history, Rashima and her Warders were responsible for killing at least nine Dreadlords and countless Shadowspawn in the battle that took their lives.

 

[​IMG]“Neverborn and Twisted Ones” by PetaloMaM on DeviantArt​

 

Even after the victory now celebrated at Dahan, chaos existed for another century. Little information remains on the Wars themselves and the people who fell to their wrath. Indeed, much of what does exist, such as the fact that Trollocs and Dreadlords once “plundered and burned a part of the White Tower itself” (ACoS, Ch. 11), is hidden in the Thirteenth Depository of the Tower Library, where even most Aes Sedai cannot access it. Stories and fragments and names are often all that remain, and these can be unreliable, as evidenced by the way in which stories about Barashelle and Anselan are wrong on many counts.[3] Enough information still exists, however, that the Trolloc Wars remain a major marker of time in the Westlands–not only in terms of the holiday that celebrates their end, but as a measure of all that has been lost and gained in the time since.

 

Footnotes:
[1] The Toman Calendar designated years following the Breaking of the World as Years AB (After Breaking). Information on the multiple calendar systems used in the Westlands post-breaking can be found in the Glossary to each book, as well as in The World of Robert Jordan’s ‘The Wheel of Time.’
[2] Details on the Feasts and Festivals celebrated in various nations are given in The World of Robert Jordan’s ‘The Wheel of Time.’ For information on how the calendar used by the characters in the series matches up with our own, visit our page on the Farede Calendar in the TarValon.Net Library.
[3]As revealed by Birgitte, Barashelle was an Aes Sedai during the Trolloc Wars. Because she bonded a man while still Accepted, she was forced to release the bond and was punished for three years before being raised to Aes Sedai. After her raising, her new Warder, Anselan, was chosen for her. Two thousand year slater, love stories are told about how Barashelle had to complete some “long, arduous service to earn Anselan’s love,” and make no reference to their being Aes Sedai and Warder (TFoH, Ch. 37).

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Minor Key: Eldrene ay Ellan ay Carlan

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

 

 

And where her heart had been was left only a thirst for vengeance, vengeance for her love, vengeance for her people and her land. Driven by grief she reached out to the True Source, and hurled the One Power at the Trolloc army. And there the Dreadlords died wherever they stood […]

The Eye of the World, Chapter 9, Tellings of the Wheel )

 

 

Queen Eldrene by Erevia on DeviantArt

I begin this series of spotlights on minor but key characters of The Wheel of Time with one of the stars of a well-known scene. It is a scene, I think, that is powerful and nostalgic for many: Moiraine with her staff aflame as she tells of the Two Rivers’ history, of a people who would not yield and a loss that demanded retribution.

 

 

An Aes Sedai and the last Queen of Manetheren, Eldrene ay Ellan ay Carlan was also known to her people as Ellisande, the Rose of the Sun. Betrayed by the jealousy of the Amyrlin Tetsuan, who withheld aid in Manetheren’s moment of greatest need, Eldrene helped to facilitate the preservation of her people during the Trolloc Wars. After overseeing the safe flight of civilians into the forests and mountains, she lashed out in grief at the fall of her husband and Warder, King Aemon. Burned out and burned up by drawing too much of the One Power, Eldrene’s death precipitated the destruction of the Trolloc army sent to obliterate her land.

 

 

As Moiraine begins her story, she laments the deaths of Eldrene and Aemon—laments, indeed, “the loss of even their memory” among their descendants. The people of the Two Rivers, long generations removed from the events of the Trolloc Wars, know nothing of this history until it is revealed by Moiraine in the aftermath of their own first brush with destruction.

 

 

And yet Eldrene, like Aemon, stands as a testament to the power of history, legend, and myth in The Wheel of Time. If conscious knowledge and memory of her is gone, vestiges remain, buried deep. Her name is, in fact, entrenched unknown within Two Rivers’ parlance as a local geographical feature—Eldrene’s Veil, a waterfall that lies in the Mountains of Mist, not far west of the Taren Ferry and north of the Sand Hills.

 

 

Once the people of Emond’s Field have heard the history of Manetheren’s fall, something of it is awakened within them. Eldrene’s name becomes a rallying call for the Two Rivers’ runaways as Mat instinctively takes up Aemon’s battlecry—“Carai an Caldazar! Carai an Ellisande! Al Ellisande!”[1]—on two separate occasions when the group engages in battle with Trollocs. On the first occasion, when the group is confronted by the enemy on the Caemlyn Road, Egwene feels a glimmer of recognition, almost able to understand the words without Moiraine’s translation and thus giving rise to fan theories of Mat and Egwene as Aemon and Eldrene reborn. On the second, as the Blight rises around and against them, we are told that Mat is “lost to the present” as he takes up the cry again, his mind unconsciously drawn to ancient days as he and his friends battle for their lives. On both occasions, Eldrene’s name constitutes a deep-seated link to the past that hovers just out of sight, obscured but not erased by the veils of time.​

 

Carai an Ellisande by Alsdale on DeviantArt


Equally significant is the way in which Rand’s journey from the Two Rivers to the Eye of the World—his journey, that is, to first recognize his destiny—is bracketed by references to Manetheren and to the courage and desperation of Eldrene and Aemon. The denouement of Moiraine’s story early in the first book marks the commencement of Rand’s journey from the Two Rivers; he stands spellbound until she concludes and Lan summons him to the stables to complete preparations for their departure. It is fittingly and even poetically a journey in which Rand will learn that he has been prophesied, in a mirroring of Eldrene’s and Aemon’s deaths, to sacrifice his life for the salvation of his people—of all people. At the end of the novel, once Rand has defeated Ba’alzamon at the Eye of the World, Moiraine returns to the tale of Manetheren’s last stand when she tells Rand that “Manetheren blood was always stubborn, and more so after Aemon died and Eldrene’s heart was shattered” (TEotW, Ch. 52). Although not actually born of Manetheren blood, Rand has been indelibly touched by it, raised and fostered by its strength and stubbornness.

 

 

Although Eldrene’s name itself very rarely appears in the series as a whole, other echoes of her abound; perhaps the most blatant is Egwene’s very similar finale in A Memory of Light. Indeed, like the waterfall that bears her name, Eldrene’s spectral presence continues to hang over The Wheel of Time.

 

 

[1] “For the honor of the Red Eagle. For the honor of the Rose of the Sun. The Rose of the Sun.”

 

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