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).
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. 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?
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.