Minor Key: Bael of the Jhirad Sept of the Goshien Aiel

 

This article contains spoilers.

 
 

“‘Rand al’Thor,’ Bael said loudly, the name slicing through Couladin’s shouts, cutting off the roar of the crowd like a blade.
He stopped to clear his throat, head swinging as though seeking a way out of this. Couladin turned, folding his arms confidently,
no doubt expecting a sentence of death for the wetlander.
The very tall clan chief took a deep breath. ‘Rand al’Thor is the Car’a’carn. Rand al’Thor is he Who Comes With the Dawn.’”

-The Shadow Rising, Chapter 57

 

With multiple appearances that span the greater part of the series, from The Shadow Rising to A Memory of Light, Bael is one of the leading clan chiefs in terms of narrative development within The Wheel of Time. Although frequently remarked upon for his tremendous height, which exceeds even that of other Aiel, Bael leaves more than just a physical impression on those he encounters. Steadfast, courageous, and possessed of the Aiel sense of humor that continually baffles wetlanders, Bael remains one of Rand’s most trusted advisors from almost the moment of his first introduction.
 

In some ways, we might say that Bael’s storyline runs parallel to that of Rhuarc, the only Aiel clan chief to receive more page time throughout the series. The two men frequently perform similar narrative functions. Both are early supporters of Rand’s, counted amongst the original five clan chiefs to proclaim him the true Car’a’carn on the fateful day of revelation at Alcair Dal. Each is entrusted with the surveillance of a major city; with Bael in Caemlyn and Rhuarc in Cairhien. Each is husband to two women, a roofmistress and a Wise One; with their marriages setting a precedent for Rand’s own relationships with Elayne, Aviendha, and Min. And both provide necessary caution and advice as Rand’s journey becomes darker, and spirals towards its ultimate end.
 

However, despite these distinct narrative similarities, Bael is far from a simple recapitulation of Rhuarc. Over the course of the series, Bael facilitates a key moment in the Aiel journey to Tarmon Gai’don, provides crucial insight into Aiel culture and traditions, and helps to point the way towards a viable future for his people beyond the Last Battle.
 

Although it is Rhuarc who brings Rand to Alcair Dal as He Who Comes With the Dawn, it is Bael who takes the significant first step in verifying Rand’s explosive announcement about the origins of the Aiel. Like the other clan chiefs, Bael displays reluctance to break the traditional silence that shrouds the truth of Rhuidean, telling Rand in the aftermath that his revelation has been “ill done” (TSR, Ch. 58). It is a truth that has been hidden for so long because it brings a despair that kills two out of three men sent to Rhuidean to become clan chiefs. He is so affected by the “long road” now facing the Aiel that he “turns his face away” (TSR, Ch. 58) at Rand’s mention of it. And yet nevertheless, he forges resolutely ahead, unbreaking even as he faces the fulfillment of devastating prophecy. It is his voice, wielding Rand’s name as a blade, that sets the Aiel on their new path.
 

Although Bael breaks with custom by speaking of Rhuidean, elsewhere in the series he is an important source of information about Aiel traditions. In The Fires of Heaven, once members of the Goshien, Chareen, Nakai, Shaarad, and Taardad clans have crossed the Spine of the World with Rand, Bael’s character presents us with a glimpse into two important aspects of Aiel culture: marriage and blood feuds. The description of Bael’s wedding ceremony to Melaine in Chapter 21 is the only such description in the series. Similarly, the tension between Bael and Jheran, whose Goshien and Shaarad clans hold blood feud with one another, helps to elucidate formalized tensions amongst Aiel clans.
 

Finally, Bael’s frustration with his useless guardianship of Caemlyn, where he has been set to help a ruler who does not “want or need help” (TGS, Ch. 7), stands as precursor to a major concern that arises in A Memory of Light: that leaving the Aiel idle, with no task to occupy them, can only end in disaster. We see the devastating results of this idleness through Aviendha’s visions of the future in The Towers of Midnight, and it is a problem that will only be resolved in the final book upon the Field of Merrilor. It is here where the Aiel are given a future that will hopefully veer them away from the long road to final destruction.

1 Comment

This Month in Randland: Amadaine

 

On June 7, the Randland month of Amadaine begins. The seventh month of the year in the Farede Calendar[1], Amadaine possesses 28 days and corresponds to our own dates of June 7 – July 5.

 

There are four known feasts or festivals that take place during Amadaine, although little is known of two of them.  On the sixth day of Amadaine (June 12), the Feast of Maia is celebrated in the nations of Altara, Andor, Ghealdan, Illian, and Murandy.[2] Just a few days later, in the nations of Amadicia, Arad Doman, Tarabon, and Tear, Bailene is celebrated on the ninth day of Amadaine (June 15).

 

The Feast of Teven, which is celebrated in Illian, also occurs during Amadaine, although an exact date is not known. The Feast of Teven is known for “its famed contests and prizes for gleeman,” with “the greatest prize of all, as always” being given to “the best telling of The Great Hunt of the Horn” (TGH, Ch. 7). Somewhat fortuitously, in the year 998 NE (the year in which the series proper begins), the Great Hunt for the Horn happens to be called around this time, meaning that a good portion of the book The Great Hunt occurs in Amadaine.

 

One final holiday occurs during Amadaine, although properly speaking, it is not actually considered to be one of the 28 days of this month. As the midsummer festival, Sunday is a day of great merriment. More information on this holiday can be found in our previous article on Sunday.

 


[1] The Farede Calendar came into use after the end of the War of the Hundred Years. There are thirteen months with twenty-eight days each.

 

[2] While The World of Robert Jordan’s ‘The Wheel of Time‘ places the Feast of Maia on the sixth day of Amadaine, there are two conflicting entries for this feastday in The Wheel of Time Companion. One entry states the sixth day; the other states the ninth. As Bailene occurs on the ninth day of Amadaine, albeit in different nations, quite possibly this is a typo.

No Comments

A Thousand Words: Wolves

Throughout the month of May, our social media accounts will be featuring the Val’Cueran Company! Represented by the colours red and gold and with the wolf as their symbol, Val’Cueran is Old Tongue for “The Heart Guard.”

 

In honour of the wolves of The Wheel of Time and TarValon.Net, we’ve collected together the names of every wolf in the series.

 

No Comments

This Month in Randland: Saven

 

In just a few days, the month of Saven will begin in Randland. The sixth month of the year in the Farede Calendar[1], Saven possesses 28 days and corresponds to our own dates of May 10 – June 6.

 

There is only one holiday that is located during Saven for certain. On the ninth day of Saven (approximately May 18), Dahan is celebrated to mark the victory of the Light during the Trolloc Wars. (You can read more about Dahan and the Trolloc Wars in our previous blog article on the this feast day!)

 

Regarding another holiday, the Feast of Fools, there is more uncertainty. While The World of Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” states that it in most nations it takes place during Saven (with the exception of Arad Doman and the Borderlands, where it takes place in Tammaz [July 6 – August 2]), The Wheel of Time Companion instead states that the Feast of Fools occurs during the fall. Known for its topsy-turvy inversion of roles, in which “servants gave orders and those whom the servants worked for had to serve” (Companion), the Feast of Fools is also known as Foolday–or, in Saldaea, as the Festival of Unreason. Stay tuned later in the month to learn more about this day.

 

Finally, of interest is the fact that parts of The Shadow Rising likely happen during Saven, given that we know it is late summer during parts of The Fires of Heaven.

 

 


[1] The Farede Calendar came into use after the end of the War of the Hundred Years. There are thirteen months with twenty-eight days each.

No Comments

JordanCONline Panel: Rafe Judkins on “WoT on Prime”

One of today’s JordanCONline panels, “WoT on Prime,” had a bit of an unexpected visitor when Rafe Judkins himself dropped in to discuss the upcoming television adaptation of The Wheel of Time. (You can view the full panel HERE.) Although there were no new casting releases (sad face), Rafe was able to confirm a few important points and give a look into the process of working on the show.

 

First, the basics: Rafe was able to confirm that there will be eight episodes in the first season and eight episodes in the second season, and that filming has been completed for the first six episodes of season 1.

 

Although filming has temporarily halted due to COVID-19, Rafe revealed, in answer to a question from TarValon.Net’s Amyrlin Seat, Shannan Lieb, that the hiatus is being put to good use for the second season. Rafe, who prefers to have all scripts for a given season written before beginning prep for that season, expressed that the ability to put together all eight scripts for season 2 is a “huge gift and a bonus.” He laughingly said that he is still working 12-hour days on the show.

 

Rafe also shared some behind-the-scenes stories. He revealed that all of the actors have become friends, spending time together even when not filming; they all even go to the same gym in Prague. When asked by panelist Daniel Greene about how the actors are bonding, Rafe shared that the experience of travelling together to Slovenia, where scenes from a couple of episodes were shot, was a huge bonding experience. We even learned that Josha Stradowski (Rand al’Thor), Marcus Rutherford (Perrin Aybara), and Barney Harris (Matrim Cauthon) love mischief almost as much as their characters do: one day, when Madeleine Madden (Egwene al’Vere) and Zoë Robbins (Nynaeve al’Meara) were shooting a scene together, the three boys rented a car and snuck off to explore the countryside.

 

Rafe also spoke a bit towards his love for the book series. When JordanCon’s Jennifer Liang asked why he was driven to take on such a huge project, Rafe replied that he had a feeling that “I can’t let anyone else do this. […] If someone screws this up I will never forgive myself.” When he learned that the project was coming up, he immediately got in contact to express his vision for the show.

 

Theoryland.com’s Matt Hatch wanted to know whether Rafe felt a little like Brandon Sanderson did upon taking over completion of the book series, and Rafe confided that he and Brandon have both experienced the “intense desire to do right by this thing that you love” and have felt the “burden of this in the same way.” Rafe emphasized the huge amount of help that it has been to be able to “bounce ideas off” of Brandon. And as to how the show will honour Robert Jordan’s vision, Rafe said that in addition to speaking with Harriet McDougal, Maria Simons, and Brandon, he often turns to interviews and recordings from book signings with Robert Jordan in order to “go back to the words that he [Jordan] said.”

 

Dragonmount.com’s Adam Whitehead wanted to know about Rafe’s interpretation of gendered magic in The Wheel of Time, and whether Rafe could speak to any of the changes that he’s been making to give a more “modern interpretation” of gender issues. Rafe shared that he feels that “the book series is so much […] about gender and the balance between things,” and that he hopes to emphasize this in the series. While some of the things that might have felt feminist about The Wheel of Time decades ago might no longer feel so, Rafe hopes to hold true to the books’ intention and desire to be feminist.

 

Rafe also reiterated his commitment to maintaining the core of the book series in the television adaptation, stating that “My job is to protect the spine and heart of what the books are.” He stressed that sometimes, doing this actually requires changing things in order to properly convey them to a new audience, and that although these are “little losses,” it is nonetheless exciting and beautiful when “you see something come together.”

 

Rafe’s final message to the fans: “I just really hope that everyone enjoys it.”

No Comments