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he True Nature of Ishamael

by ceallen: 2009-05-17 | 7 out of 10 (1 votes)

Recent Categories: LTT, Rand, and Moridin

My theory concerns the true nature of Ishamael. I will start off by quoting Moghedien.

"The other sounds like Ishamael, to me. All his pride at being only half-caught, whatever the price - there was always was less human left in him than any of us when I saw him again; I think he half believed he was the Great Lord of the Dark - all his three thousand years of machinations, and it comes to an untaught boy hunting him down."

- The Shadow Rising, ch 46. p771

My main concern highlighted here is: 'all his pride at being only half-caught, whatever the price.' This just showing a generally recognised fact that Ishmael is only 'half-caught'. Now we know that Ishamael has been roaming around since the breaking and was not fully sealed in the bore for the last three thousand years, unlike the other forsaken.

I believe that Ishamael, being half-caught, can only exist as a strong entity within the World of Dreams. I also believe that Ishamael is unable to Channel. Now I know many people will think this is crazy but this is what I will attempt to prove.

Throughout the first three books we do not see Ishamael operate within the physical world once (as a manifestation akin to the other forsaken). Throughout these books he comes to the three boys, Egwene, and the other Forsaken in Tel'aran'rhiod.

The main examples of this are the main battles between him and Rand at the end of the first three books. (Eye of the world. ch51 Against the Shadow) 'Darkness surrounded him, the utter blackness of total nothing. The steps were still there, hanging in the black, under his feet and ahead. When he looked back, those behind him were gone, faded away to nothing, into the nothingness around him.....The chamber, too, was as he remembered, the mad, striated sky beyond the balcony, the melted walls....the terrible fireplace with its roaring, heatless flames.' I think that Rand is in the world of dreams or somewhere between these worlds. Here we see Ishamael's 'black chord....dwarfed by Ba'alzamon. Each pulse along that black vain ate light'. I believe that Ishamael's black chord is his connection to the rest of his 'being' that is trapped in the bore. We never see a massive black chord around any of the other Forsaken both male and female in the physical world and the world of dreams at any stage in the series. This is because Ishamael is unique. Not because he is channeling through the dark one, not because he is channeling, not because he is connected to the Dark One, but because his soul is torn. Half of him exists outside the pattern and half inside the pattern (this is where we 'see' that connection).

At the Eye of the World, I don't think Ishamael expects Rand to be channeling from the pool! Rand channels the sword and Ishamael is helpless to stop him!!!

When Moiraine is talking in Eye of the World about Fain she says: Fain was summoned to Shayol Ghul where 'he met a man with eyes of fire, who named himself Ba'alzamon.' Moiraine then says when Fain returned to Lugard, Ba'alzamon came to him in a dream....'Fain claims it was Ba'alzamon himself who drove the Myrddraal...His words. Ba'alzamon appeared like a flickering candle flame, vanishing and reappearing, never in the same place twice.' Moiraine then says 'This year, Ba'alzamon walks in the dreams of those who live in the light, and actually appears, if with difficulty, at Shadar Logoth. 'Not in his own body...a projection that flickers and cannot hold'.

In the prologue of The Great Hunt Bors says: 'but then the air above the Halfman shimmered...the figure of a man floated in the air above the Myrddraal' Ishamael says: 'The place where you stand lies in the shadow of Shayol Ghul'. Reinforcing Moiraine's belief that Ishamael finds it easier to project himself closer to Shayol Ghul (as opposed to Shadar Logoth which is much further away.) Bors then says: 'Ba'alzamon was gone. The Myrddraal was gone, too, and only rough stone was where the door it had used had been.' (just Shayol Ghul/ Ishamael weirdness)

At Falme we see Rand and Ishmael leave the battle scene to fight their own battle. 'Suddenly Ba'alzamon was before him in the mists, throwing his arms wide...They were alone, only they and the rolling fog...whatever chance he did have lay in the One Power.' When Ishamael says: 'You pitiful wretch . You have sounded the Horn of Valere. You are linked to it, now'. this to me reinforces the fact that Ishamael has not beeen watching the battle in the physical world at Falme, otherwise he would see that rand did not blow the Horn, I believe he sensed Rand and manifests himself into the physical world enough to lure Rand away into Telly in the flesh!

The Dragon Reborn, p.409 - Perrin's wolf dream

" 'Great Lord,' one of the men muttered, 'where is this place?'....I was asleep in Tar Valon, Great Lord. I am asleep in Tar Valon! Where is this place? Have i gone mad?' Some of the men around him wore ornate coats full of embriodery, others plainer grab, while some seemed to be naked, or in their smallclothes. 'I, too, sleep,' a naked man nearly screamed.....'and i do sleep in Illian'...the black-clothed man did not speak loudly...eyes and mouth were holes boring into a raging forge-fire....'You all dream' Ba'alzamon said, 'but what happens in this dream is real'"

This proves that Ishmael has extraodinary power in the Dream World where he can pull people into the World of Dreams against their will, which is exactly what he does to the boys throughout the early books.

Then Lanfear appears "'you make free use of my domain', she said. 'Your domain'? Ba'alzamon said..'you claim it yours, then?.....(lanfear says) 'What have your plans come to? Three thousand years and more of whispering in ears and pulling the strings of throned puppets like an Aes Sedai!'"

The Dragon Reborn
Chapter 4

(Perrin spying on Forsaken meetin Ishmael, Rahvin and Be'lal) 'The first two men stood side by side, now, made uncomfortable allies by the presence of the newcomer...His eyes, Perrin thought. What is strange about his eyes?..abruptly the main in dark velvets threw his arms wide, as if demanding an end to it.'

Strange dont you think! Forsaken meeting Ishamael in Dream World.

Be'lal 'Take it! Take Callandor!....Take it, and defend yourself, if you can!' Be'lal's plan!

Rand: 'Slowly the shadow descended, resolving into Ba'alzamon, clothed in dead black...he hung in the air, two spans above the floor...Ba'alzamon's blow struck him as he leapt, struck inside him, a ripping and crumpling, tearing something loose, trying to pull a part of him away....The one power surged through him (callandor)....'you will not take my soul'...Ba'alzamon fled, man and shadow vanishing. For a moment rand stared, frowning. There had been a sense of -folding- as Ba'alzamon left. A twisting, as if Ba'alzamon had in some way bent what was....Rand reached out, twisted through Callandor, and twisted reality to make a door to somewhere else. He did not know where, except it was where Ba'alzamon had gone.'

Again, world of dreams in the flesh!

'Water filled the halls...he made it air again....the air gained weight...the pressure vanished...the air was solid rock...then nothing at all to fill his lungs. He sprang each trap and ran on. 'I will not be undone!' Ba'alzamon cried. ..'i cannot be defeated! Aid me!' Some of the darkness shrouding him drifted into his hands, formed a ball so black it seemed to soak up even the light of Callandor. Sudden triumph blazed in the flames of his eyes. 'you are destroyed!' Rand shouted. Callandor spun in his hands. Its light roiled the darkness, severed the steel-black lines around Ba'a;zamon convulsed. As if there were two of him he seemed to dwindle and grow larger at the same time. 'You are undone!' Rand plunged the shining blade into Ba'alzamon's chest.

Ba'azamon's final demise!(notice Ishamael does not channel at all!!!!! He just uses his powers in T'A'R!)

Now to talk about it all. Not once do we have hard evidence of Ishamael channeling! Rand never senses that Ishamael can channel or the ability to channel. I would have thought that if Ishamael tried to tempt Rand with being a teacher he would want to show that he could channel. He never does this. Referring back to Moghedien's quote : 'All his pride at being only half-caught, whatever the price - there was always was less human left in him than any of us when I saw him again'. Whatever the price!

Why are the Forsaken not jealous of Ishamael being free for three thousand years whilst they have been stuck in some timeless void outside the pattern? Well, I think the price of not being able to channel for three thousand years is a pretty good reason. I mean when you look at the nature of channeling, channeling seems to be linked very closely to the fact that your soul is connected to the Wheel. How can you channel when a part of your soul does not exist in the Wheel! This is why he can only exist with a strong presensce in the World of Dreams, it is a world between worlds. A place which is not built on the 'normal' laws of reality. I believe Ishamael forsees that eventually the seals will be weak enough that his 'trapped part' will unite with his current self and he will be whole again.

Moghedien also says: 'there was always was less human left in him than any of us when I saw him again' This implies that Moghedien has met up with Ishamael since she has been freed. We know that she is a user of the World of Dreams, so it wouldn't surprise me if that is where their meeting was too. We all know that every time you enter the World of Dreams in the flesh you loose a part of what makes you human. Well imagine predominantely living in the world of dreams for the best part of three thousand years. Don't you think that would make you a little insane? Don't you think that's why the other Forsaken think he is mad? I think that for Ishamael to manifest himself in the physical world only becomes easier if:

A) the closer he is to shoyal ghul or
B) as the seals weaken.

Otherwise it is extremely difficult. Hence why he spends so much time in the world of dream in the flesh. It is really hard for him to go around the 'real' world as a man, because his body doesnt even exist.

The symbolism of his eyes being like funaces is another give away. Isn't it the old cliche that a person's eyes is a gateway to their soul. Trust Jordan to give a souless and bodiless character flaming eyes. Ishamael exists in the void outside of the pattern as well as in the pattern.

This is also why Ishamael has built up such a strong network of Darkfriends, Black Ajah, Rulers etc. Because he needs them to track people and do his work for him (he can't stay in the physical world.) This is why he sends Fain to the Two Rivers. If Ishamael could channel there would be no way that he would not confront Rand in the real world. He feels safe at confronting Rand in the World of Dreams because (he has no other option lol) he knows that Rand does not know how to channel yet, therefore, cannot attack him. Ishamael's power and knowledge of the World of Dreams is far superior to Rands, infact he could be the strongest ever.

Why does he fight Rand with weapons? This is seriously telling us that he knows Rand is a threat and that more importantly, Ishamael is not at full strength. I mean this is Ishamael who is going up against an untrained male channeler! I believe he is fighting for his life. Obviously he is trying to destroy Rand or protect himself while he tries to turn Rand to the dark side. But as Rand becomes stronger this becomes harder. Rand's main defense against Ishamael's power in the World of Dreams is his ability to channel. I think just holding the power enables Rand's soul to seemingly remain more strongly 'connected' to the wheel. Notice as Rand becomes stronger with the Power Ishmaels confrontations with him lesson.

Other events that happen in the story that I believe help my theory:

Ishamael says in Eye Of the World

"I began the setting of your path the day you were born, a path to lead you to your grave, or here. Aiel allowed to flee, and one to live, to speak the words that would echo down the years. Jain Farstrider....whom i painted like a fool and sent to the Ogier thinking he was free of me. The Black Ajah, wriggling like worms on their bellies across the world to search you out. I pull the strings and the Amyrlin Seat dances and thinks she controls events."

This proves that Ishamael has got all his people working for him pulling strings everywhere. Note Moghedien's quote, "all his three thousand years of machinations." Again showing that Moghedien knows the 'price' he has payed for being half bound and also in what ways has he been serving the Dark Lord. Lanfear also implies a similar message, "Three thousand years and more of whispering in ears and pulling the strings of throned puppets like an Aes Sedai!"

An interesting point about Farstrider is that when he arrived in Stedding Shangtai Loial said he had an unknown sickness. An interesting thing is that nobody can enter a stedding in the World of Dreams, not even Ishamael. Funny how Farstrider suddenly started recovering, isnt it?

Another interesting point is when Verin gives the dream Ter'angreal to Egwene. Now I know Verin is a darkhorse, but why didn't she give Coreanin's notes to her if she was the last know Dreamer? We don't know how Coreanin died but to me I think it would be no suprised if she was killed by Ishamael in the World of dreams or because she had documented links between Ishamael and the World of Dream's or maybe the Black Ajah's involvement in the World of Dreams. Wouldn't it be interesting if that is what the notes contained? I don't think they contained something about the Ter'angreal being dangerous. I mean it has been used so many times by the girls with no adverse affects that that is just not plausible and I think Verin would not worry about giving Egwene that information. Quote Verin, "Once again she considered burning the manuscript, just as she had considered giving it to Egwene....But destroying knowledge, any knowledge, was anathema to her. And for the other.....No. It is best by far to leave things as they are. What will happen, will happen." Curious?

Now another theme I will delve into is that of Taim. Ah..the beloved Taim. Now I know the world is split on this issue but I have some ideas. We now know that Ishamael is the masterplanner. I wouldn't be suprised if, in his search for the Dragon Reborn, he approached all the false dragons too. Now, I know I am speculating, but I think Ishamael has confronted Taim in the World of Dreams and offered him salvation through the Dark Lord. Taim accepts. But, Ishamael cannot teach him to channel because he can't do it himself...hahaha...Taim only has the luxury of being able to channel freely because the taint does not affect him. He is still walking blindly, so to speak. Now, everything goes wrong when Taim is captured by Aes Sedai. However, we know that Ishamael is behind the Black Ajah and I believe it was Ishamael who ordered the rumoured attack by the Black Ajah to free Taim. To me this just seems so logical..Ishamael is behind the Black Ajah, he can't channel, can't strongly manifest in the real world, so he must get the Black Ajah to do it. He then instructs Taim to lay low for a while after his escape.

On a side note this is an interesting point for Cadsuane, who went to capture Taim. Cadsuane says she has never failed to do something she intended to do for 270 years. If she captured Taim and then let the other sisters take him to the tower, then she was not around for his escape. However, if she was taking him to the tower when he escaped then I think if she wasn't Black Ajah then that would be something she would see as a failure!!! Not exactly sure on this, might need some help there.

Once Ishamael knows that he loses Fain, he hires Slayer to go and kill him. Isn't it convenient for Ishamael to have a hitman that can enter the World of Dreams?

Now, obviously everything falls apart for Ishamael when he is killed by Rand. The interesting part in the Taim line of thought is what happens after Ishamael is gone. I'll now refer to Demandred's visit to Shayol Ghul in Lord Of Chaos. The Dark Lord tells Demandred that Asmodean is dead. He tells him 'who shall live and who shall die' and to 'let the lord of chaos rule' This is where the world divides on Taim. Those who are in favour of the Taimandred theory will believe that Demandred knows that Asmodean is dead, knows where Taim is, goes and kills Taim, uses a slight illusion and then goes and meets up with Rand (personally I think this is more inkeeping the Demandred's character than the next option.) The rest of the world will believe that either Ishamael arranged for Demandred to teach Taim or Demandred just went and found Taim, teaches him and then launches him at Rand, his 'proxie'. The later may also fit in with Kisman getting the same orders from Moridin, Taim, and Demandred.

And now to my final point. When Ishamael is reborn as Moridin, the True Ishamael, we see a powerful, intelligent character. He never hides his appearance, he always is in the physical world. He is always channeling. Far different from the confined Ishamael. I also think this is why the Dark One does not name a Nae'blis until Ishamael is at full strength. I believe he always knew that Ishamael was going to be Nae'blis. I mean all the others had there own personal agendas. Ishamael has been fighting for the Dark for three thousand years, going mad and not being able to channel. Dont you think he is the most loyal? If the Dark One named Ishamael Nae'blis early on, then the other forsaken would be out to get him. Somebody would Balefire him and then Dark Lord would be dealing with internal conflict. I believe he pretends to keep if up for grabs so the Forsaken are good 'pets'. When Ishmael is killed The Dark One puts Demandred as his spoksmen but does not name him Nae'blis. He is almost like a consort.

Notice how as soon as Moridin is reborn, the strongest channeler ever, best World of Dreams user, he is given the only control to True Power through Dark One, named Nae'blis and given two pet Forsaken. He is the one the Dark One trusts. Notice he never confronts Rand anymore because Rand is too threatening. He is waiting to unfold his masterplan.

As soon as he is regenerated he whips the Forsaken into line. He reestablishes his connections with Taim (if he is not Demandred) but may not be able to trust him fully now that he has gained so much power. So he sends his orders to Kisman who he knows is leading the Ashaman against Rand. Demandred gives his orders to Kisman because he is either really Taim but is still keeping his true identity from the ashaman or still is behind Taim but he too feels he needs to take matters into his own hands now that Ishamael is back on the scene.

Is he loosing control of his 'proxie'? I think at the end of 11 when we see the black and red floor tiles (Ishamael's colours) that this could mean that Moridin has established his power there again.

Obviously Moridin is now planning his master attack. With control of True power, two Forsaken, the Black Ajah, potentially the Ashaman, the connection with Rand, the most powerful channeler, something awesome is going to happen.

Anyway, I know I haven't covered everything. There are so many more quotes and references, but it wouldn't be fun if I gave them all to you. I think it is so logical when you think about how Ishamael acts in the early books and how he confronts Rand and then the transformation to Moridin when he has his 'full' soul back with his body and his power fully restored. He is one of the best characters in the book.


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Tamyrlin: 2010-10-20

I have to admit, I really enjoy this idea. And the description of the actual body of Ishamael after Rand kills him in The Dragon Reborn is interesting.

TITLE: Dragon Reborn, CHAPTER: 55 - What Is Written in Prophecy
And suddenly Rand was in another Heart of the Stone, surrounded by columns still whole, and fighting men screaming and dying, veiled men and men in breastplates and helmets. Moiraine still lay crumpled at the base of a redstone column. And at Rand's feet lay the body of a man, sprawled on its back with a hole burned through the chest. He might have been a handsome man in his middle years, except that where his eyes and mouth should have been were only pits from which rose tendrils of black smoke.

I'll let others critique it's accuracy, but certainly Ishamael does appear to be half-caught during the entire first three books. I wonder if Ishamael, as he tells Rand he can't be killed, wanted Rand to help break him from this cycle because as you point out Ishamael is far more effective and dangerous as Moridin.


wotfreak222: 2010-10-20

Very interesting theory....I have some thoughts, though...

1) In Winter's Heart (I believe), Demandred thinks that Moridin has been exclusively using the True Power, since has so many saa in such a short period of time. Interestingly, he also links this to his actions as Ishmael, from which you can draw the conclusion that Ishmael was using the True Power exclusively in his final days.

2) The True Power is hard to use, and often it's use produces side effects the channeler never intended. Ishmael, as a regular user of the True Power, would know this and thus would be reluctant to use it except at great need.

3) The World of Dreams is where you can make your wishes into reality. Ishmael does some truly extraordinary things here, things that would not be possible in the physical world. Ishmael would be able to summon all his followers at one time in this arena, and would not have to wait for everyone to gather. As well, in this setting, Ishmael would be able to feel most comfortable with the belief that no one could spy on his gatherings or slip a spy in amongst his followers.

4) I believe that Ishmael's "price" at being half-caught was that he aged - significantly - while still being somewhat immortal. He was able to venture out every 40 - 50 years and affect the course of events in the world, however the further he got from Shayol Ghul, the less his influence. Thus it does not seem that he had any presence in Seanchan at all, yet was very active in events of the Borderlands.

Very interesting theory, and very refreshing to see one that I have not seen posted in the past.


AK: 2010-10-20

Don't forget Ishamael's appearance to LTT in the prologue to EotW. I've always thought the description sounded like opening a gateway from Tel'aran'rhiod. (I don't have a copy of EotW handy right now, so I can't quote it.) It would make sense that Ishamael was "sleeping" caught in the bore, but his dream-self had escaped to Tel'aran'rhiod. (Of course, this means the Wise One dreamwalkers are wrong that somebody dreamwalking in Tel'aran'rhiod can't affect the real world, by, for instance, opening a gateway and doing something through it.)

I suppose it's possible that both the gateway and his healing of LTT's madness was done using the TP.


Vandread: 2010-10-20

No to argue against the merits of your overall theory, I think most of it is quite likely, I just want to nitpick a couple things which were explained in the books.

The stairs in the darkness were because Rand was Skimming. He used stairs the first 2 times he Skimmed. There in The Eye of the World and again in The Shadow Rising following Asmodean until he saw Asmodean was riding a platform at which Rand's stairs vanished except the one he was standing on and his stair moved forward after Asmodean.

The black cord from Ishamael was seen on Balthalmel and/or Aginor as well and rand severed it with his sword of light like he did with Ishamael. He visualized it on Asmodean and severed it on him as well. End result is Asmodean told Lanfear that Rand had severed his link to the Dark One. So that big black cord connecting to Ishamael is his link to the dark one that protects him from the taint and lets him channel the true source.

What severing that link to the dark one might have done to him and what roll that might have played in your overall theory I'm not going to speculate on, but it could very well be likely that it could have had a direct affect on why he wasn't channeling very much once he was freed.


ceallen: 2010-10-20

I think those points on the Black chords and the Skimming are right (thanks for those).

It is interesting to think about the prologue to EoTW. Are they in the real world or the dream word. Could it all be an illusion created by Ishamael? Did Lews Therin really kill all those people? If he is definitely in the real world then obviously Ishamael must have more freedom to enter the real world than my theory suggests, however if they are not, then it fits nicely. I'll have to go and read I again.

The idea that Tamyrlin said about Ishamael wanting Rand to break his cycle is also interesting.


PerrinMcBeardy: 2010-10-20

Very interesting theory! I love all of your ideas about Tel'aran'rhiod and your theory has brought up many interesting points about the nature of the most curious and powerful forsaken.

We've always known that Ishamael was half trapped, but as I remember it (though I'm not sure the reference) Ishamael was free for about 20 years in each 1000. His freedom is written to have resulted in the Trolloc Wars and the downfall of Artur Hawkwings reign. As Jalwyn Moerad, Ishamael served as Artur Hawkwing’s advisor, and turned him against Aes Sedai. I think it would have been very difficult to be a real advisor with a name that has come down in history if he were not able to exist in the real world.

I think it quite plausible that during the rest of this time he had greatly limited ability to affect the real world and was confined most of the time to Tel'aran'rhiod as you suggest. As AK reminds us he was in the real world just after the 100 companions succeeded in imprisoning the rest of the Forsaken and the dark one. My impression was not that he was acting somehow through TAR in the scenes with LTT in TEotW, but that he was actually in the real world for a short time.

You bring up a very excellent and interesting point about Moridin's channeling. It is not true that he never channels after being imprisoned as we see during the confrontation with LTT in TEotW.

Robert Jordan Q&A Budapest April 2003

Q: You’ve wrote somewhere that Moridin used the True Power and he stepped out of the Pattern or something like that.
RJ: No, he’s made a hole in the Pattern as a way of Traveling which uses the True Power, which is a different thing. If you notice as far back as the Prologue of The Eye of the World, when Ishamael Traveled in to meet Lews Therin, who was mad, the description does not match the Traveling that we see later. It’s because at that point, [b]Ishamael is using the True Power[/b], which produces a different sort of effect for Traveling. It is a different method of Traveling than either men or women use with saidin and saidar.

It does seem to be true, however, that he never channels anything but the True Power. Does he stop channeling the One Power in favor of the TP out of choice because he prefers it, or has his partial imprisonment somehow denied him a link to Saidin? It seems quite possible that Ishy was actually unable to channel Saidin during the first three books. Based on your ideas, it also seems possible that when Rand severs the black chords in TEotW, he severs Ishamael's link to the TP. However this quote from RJ makes this line of reasoning difficult:

A Crown of Swords book tour 9 October 1996, Dunwoody, GA - Erica Sadun reporting

Q: New Dreadlords? Via True Power? What are limits of True Power? When did we see it used before?
RJ: Access to the True Power is a matter of wanting it and the Dark One letting you. NOT black cords. In Prologue to The Eye of the World, we saw Ishamael use the True Power to Heal insanity. The One Power can not be used to Heal insanity. True Power used at Shayol Ghul will fry you instantly.

As Ishamael, his powers are very limited, and he seems only to have any power in TAR. I think it's also likely that right up to the time he steps into the stone of tear and lures Rand into TAR, he remains in TAR almost or completely at all times. Just speculation, but I wonder if that is how he was able to heal himself from the whole body burns of book one or the chest wound of book two? Whether or not he knows of a way to heal while in TAR in the flesh, it does seem that he healed from some pretty bad wounds seemingly on his own.

How was he able to step in and out of TAR in The Dragon Reborn if he is unable to channel at all? Well there is another character who does this at will ... Isam. Isam can step in and out of TAR at will and there is no evidence that he can channel. I believe that if it is true that Ishamael cannot channel after the the black chords are severed in TEotW, then it seems likely that Ishamael and Isam share the same TAR ability.

Again I'd like to say that I loved reading this theory. Thanks!


Xelun: 2010-10-20

I like this theory. One quibble though: Ishamael as Jalwin Moerad during Hawkwing's reign. Hawkwing's home nation was south of Tar Valon land. If I recall correctly, "Jalwin Moerad" was present for a number of years as an adviser to Hawkwing.


Great Lord of the Dark: 2010-10-20

Awesome theory!

I'm with Tam, Ishamael didn't mind fighting Rand early on because at worst he ends up reborn and free to channel again (although he seems like a constant True Power user, the One Power now being too pale for his liking).

Another way to approach this is to think about what happens to folk who go into tel'aran'rhiod too strongly. If this is what happened to Ishamael, then what happens when Perrin is there too strongly? Can we think of any likely consequences that would be supported by what you have shown of Ishamael's apparent entrapment in tel'aran'rhiod.

The only other thing to consider is whether the level of Ishamael's entrapment was reduced as the Seals (not the cuendillar focus discs)gradually thinned and freed the other Forsaken. I think they were all free in Book 2, but a case may be made that some of them need not have been freed until later. There's an RJ interview that clarified this I think. The point is that Ishamael's limits may have been eased or erased by the time he fought Rand in the Stone of Tear.


rackerson3: 2010-10-21

I may be mistaken, but didn't Asmodean (when Rand cut him off from the DO's protection) also have the black veins? They weren't described the same way as Ishmael's, but I always assumed the black lines were their link to the True Power and the taint filter at the same time. Ishmael's were simply bigger because he was the 'favorite'. Like I said I could be wrong though.


ceallen: 2010-10-21

I think PERRINMCBEARDY made some really good points.

I found a really interesting passage that might be of interest: The Dragon Reborn, chapter 55 What is Written in Prophecy - When Rand catches up to Ishamael right before he kills him: '"I will not be undone" Ba'alzamon cried. His mouth was fire; his shriek echoed among the columns. "I cannot be defeated! Aid me!" Some of the darkness shrouding him drifted into his hands, formed into a ball so black it seemed to soak up even the light of Callandor. Sudden triumph blazed in the flames of his eyes. "You are destroyed!" Rand shouted. Callandor spun in his hands. Its light roiled the darkness, severed the steel-black lines around Ba'alzamon, and Ba'alzamon convulsed. As if there were two of him he seemed to dwindle and grow larger at the same time. "You are undone!" Rand plunged the shining blade into Ba'alzamon's chest.

Ba'alzamon screamed, and the fires of his face flared wildly. "Fool!" he howled. "The Great Lord of the dark can never be defeated!"

The interesting bit is when he says 'Aid me!' and then the darkness drifts into his hands. It is as if he is calling on this black power to aid him in his attack. To me it seems like the essence of the Dark One. Then the blackness is defeated by the light of Callandor (before Rand stabs Ishamael). Maybe this is conformation that he did loose his connection with the True Power in EoTW and this is him asking the Dark One power to Aid him once more. It would also explain why he needed to fight Rand with the sword in tGH. Maybe this also is an interesting point about Callandor is that it can defeat the Dark Ones Power as we see it work against the darkness surrounding Ishamael.

Another interesting quote is from The Shadow Rising Ch 23 Beyond the Stone. The Wise Ones are teaching Egwene about the Dream 'To enter the dream too completely, though, is to lose touch with the flesh; there is no way back, and the flesh dies. It is said that once there were those who could enter the dream in the flesh, and no longer be in this world at all. This was an evil thing, for they did evil; it must never be attempted.' This to me completely screams of Ishamael. Considering he has been roaming the Dream world for three thousand years, it fully supports my theory that he can not manifest in the real world. He has lost complete attachment to his body, hence his persona as the evil Ba'alzamon is all he has left.

Thanks for all your thoughts, I will have to look into the ideas of Ishamael appearing in a cyclical loops (not sure about this yet). Are we sure that Ishamael, rather than being these figures in history was not rather working through them?


Matt123: 2010-10-21

First of all, awesome theory!

My thought on this one:

"I cannot be defeated! Aid me!" Some of the darkness shrouding him drifted into his hands, formed into a ball so black it seemed to soak up even the light of Callandor. Sudden triumph blazed in the flames of his eyes.

Notice the sudden triumph. If this indeed is the DK's power, maybe he just realised that he is still in favor to the DK and will be resurrected for sure - So he let Rand stab him to be reborn in a new body.


PerrinMcBeardy: 2010-10-21

Here is another quote from RJ on the nature of the black chords, courtesy of the Theoryland Database:

Q: What happens when Rand and Asmodean have this conflict and ...
Q1: ... and Rand severs his ties with the Dark One ...
Q2: ... and Rand severs some black ties. Isn't that ...

RJ: That was cutting off his protection from the taint and also cut off his ability, it was not like stilling them. It was cutting the ties that, most important to him, protected him from the taint on saidin, so he could draw saidin all he wanted to and never worry about the taint. But it was also those ties that represented his ability, or the conduits by which he could draw on the True Power. But it was not his ability to draw, it was not the same thing as stilling or severing, it was more like shielding.

This seems to very strongly suggest that in severing Moridin's black chord, Rand both "shielded" him from the True Power and severed his protection from the Taint. This could explain part of the reason we never see Ishamael Channel the One Power, instead of not being able to Channel because of his partial imprisonment, it is simply because he is no longer protected.

Strangely, after this we see references to the black chords again, here is the confrontation between Rand and Ishamael in the Dragon Reborn:

And then he was in the Heart of the Stone again, stalking through the rubbled gap that had been a wall. Some of the columns hung like broken teeth, now. And Ba'alzamon backed away from him, eyes burning, shadow cloaking him. Black lines like steel wires seemed to run off from Ba'alzamon into the darkness mounding around him, vanishing into unimaginable heights and distances within that blackness.

"I will not be undone!" Ba'alzamon cried. His mouth was fire; his shriek echoed among the columns. "I cannot be defeated! Aid me!" Some of the darkness shrouding him drifted into his hands, formed into a ball so black it seemed to soak up even the light of Callandor. Sudden triumph blazed in the flames of his eyes.

"You are destroyed!" Rand shouted. Callandor spun in his hands. Its light roiled the darkness, severed the steel-black lines around Ba'alzamon, and Ba'alzamon convulsed. As if there were two of him he seemed to dwindle and grow larger at the same time

The "severed the steel-black lines around Ba'alzamon" part of this quote always bothered me because we know that Rand severed his black chords in TEotW. This sounds very similar and it makes it seem like at some point, maybe during that scene, the connection to the Dark One was remade. Otherwise, Rand must not have completely severed the connection in book one.


fuller3452000: 2010-12-14

I think this is a great theory, but it got me thinking. What if Ishamael could never channel, even in the Age of Legends. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't remember any time when we see Moradin channel anything but the true power. As WOTFREAK222 points out, in Winters Heart Demandred sees the sa'a in Moridins eyes as proof that he is Ishamael because Ishamael used the true power exclusively, even in the Age of Legends. Use of the true power comes with some pretty high prices: eyes and mouth of fire, insanity, maybe even death. I dont see someone as smart as Ishamael using the true power all the time if he had another option. But if he couldnt channel than it makes sense.