|What's In A Name?
by Shadar the Mad
It is telling that while the other Forsaken accepted the names given them with pride, Lanfear rejected them, instead styling herself 'Daughter of the Night'. The name suggests a great status in the Shadow - a claim which, several books later, seems to have been mostly in her mind. With the exception of Moghedien, any of the female Forsaken seems to show a good deal more competence, not to mention mental stability than Lanfear.
The name also suggests a superiority in Tel'aran'rhiod, and in tDR, she speaks to Ishamael, claiming it as her territory. But while her ability was unquestioned, evidence suggests that she was far from being the owner of Tel'aran'rhiod. Birgitte states that while Lanfear claimed it as her own, Tel'aran'rhiod was truly the domain of Moghedien the Spider.
In her defense, I can see why Lanfear rejected the names others gave her. While 'Betrayer of Hope', or 'The Spider' could be taken as compliments, it is difficult to put a positive interpretation on 'Wedding Disrupter' or 'The Obsessed'.
According to the Guide, Moghedien 'was named the Spider because she preferred to lurk unseen in the shadows until her prey was safely caught in her web.' Elsewhere, a Moghedien is defined as 'a small poisonous spider, with a tendency to hide in the shadows'. Indeed, the name suits her perfectly - with special emphasis on 'lurk', 'hide' and 'safely'. Moghedien is indeed an outright coward, seeing it as an ideal way of working with minimal risk.
The name also suggests an ability in Tel'aran'rhiod. In tDR, Verin translates the name as 'the unseen world' - what better place for a spider to lurk. It gives her the ability to go anywhere, and spy on anyone, without ever being in danger. Certainly, her abilities are sufficient to deal with the occasional dreamwalker she might encounter.
Another image comes to mind though. Wouldn't it be ironic if Moghedien died of a total accident, perhaps killed by a stray bolt of balefire, as almost happened in tFoH. Crushed like a spider underfoot - no one would ever know what happened.
There are no clear reasons why Elan Morin Tedronai was named the Betrayer of Hope, One possibility is his behaviour shortly after the Bore was opened. Previously one of the great figures of AoL civilisation, Elan Morin began calling for the complete destruction of everything - this in a time where crime was rising rapidly, indeed civilisation was unravelling.
Another possibility is that he gained the name as the leader of the new born Dark forces. It was Ishamael who led an attack on Paaren Disen - the capital of the world, and center of the light's forces. While he was defeated, the symbolic value of the attack remains - even the stronghold of the light could be attacked.
'I remember when he was first named Destroyer of Hope. After he betrayed the Gates of Hevan, and carried the Shadow into the Rorn M'doi and the Heart of Satelle. Hope did seem to die that day.'
Before the War of the Power, Tel Janin Aellinsar was apparently a close friend of Lews Therin, and during the war stood beside him as one of the great generals of the Light. He had a reputation for skilled defense, and it was this that set the scene for his new name.
As far as I can see, Tel Janin commanded the defense of this city, but for unknown reasons betrayed the Light, joined the Dark, and opened the gates, leading the forces of the Shadow into the city. Hope would be destroyed, when the great defender revealed himself as a traitor.
What isn't clear is when Sammael joined the Dark. Possibly, he may have turned beforehand, helping to set the scene for a terrible defeat. This ties in with his later enmity of his friend Lews Therin - he turned partly because of a growing dislike for his former friend.
On the other hand, it may have been a decision made during the siege, when he realised he could neither save the city, nor retreat. Doomed to total defeat, he joined the winning side - surrendering the city to its fate. This suggests that his enmity with Lews Therin began later, after suffering many defeats at his hand.
There are two possibilities for the translation - either 'the Envious' or 'the Netweaver'. Given that the Forsaken are unlikely to accept names excessively insulting to themselves, Netweaver is probably the correct translation, but I will discuss both.
Several sources refer to Be'lal as being envious, both of Lews Therin, and of others among the Forsaken. Indeed, Be'lal was not renowned as one of the great men of civilisation - he was not like Demandred, always just one step below Lews Therin. Rather, he was in the second level - in the shadow of men like Lews Therin or Barid Bel. It would be surprising if he did not envy such men for their success - the Dark One's touch increasing it to the level expected of a Forsaken.
The other option is "Netweaver." Be'lal was known for setting traps, and carefully leading his enemies into them. Not particularly surprising, since the Guide identifies him as being the AoL equivalent of a lawyer. We saw evidence of this in tDR, where he crafted a careful trap, using the girls to attract Rand, then personally encouraging Rand to take Callandor, so that he himself could take it.
Little is known about his past, but I suspect he was also a skilled commander when he chose to fight. Like Sammael and Lews Therin, his strength was probably in defense, particularly in setting careful ambushes for his foes.
No direct translation is ever given for the name Graendal, but we can make a few good guesses from what we know of her.
Firstly, we do know that the word 'dal' means bowl, or something similar - there is a place in the Waste called Al'cair Dal - Golden Bowl.
Secondly, the other part may be guessed from her personality. Graendal is by far the most competent Forsaken, with the possible exception of Moridin. She knows exactly how to keep the others off balance, with her carefully tactless remarks about Sammael's height and Mesaana's teaching. All of the Forsaken acknowledge her as a master of manipulation, yet all of them are constantly fooled by the image of careless frivolity that she cultivates.
As well, Graendal does not seem to possess the same loyalty to the dark that the others have. She had no real reason for turning to the Dark - the Guide states that she realised that the world couldn't match her high standards. Looking at her in the Shadow, I wouldn't be surprised if she made the same realisation.
In short, Graendal is the Bowl of Poison. How many stories tell of poisoned wine being left for an enemy, only to end up killing a friend. I think Graendal is like that - sooner or later, the Dark One is going to learn the consequences of leaving poison lying around. Remember her remark in PoD? 'Moridin might be Nae'blis today, but there was always tomorrow.'
The word encompasses a range of ideas, including death and the grave. Both are appropriate, as Moridin was possibly the first of the Forsaken to defy death, and rise from the grave. As Ishamael, he was finally killed in tDR, only to reappear in his new guise in aCoS.
There's more to it though. Just as the name Ba'alzamon (Heart of the Dark) linked Ishamael to the Dark One, so too does the name Moridin. Lord of the Grave is one name for the DO, and Ishamael is once again associated with it.
Finally, there's the obvious. A name like Death may be a good indication of things to come.
In the deadly sport of sha'je dueling, these were the poisoned left and right hand daggers. As they were named by the Dark One personally, I'd say he intends to use them as tools - they do exactly what he commands, not what they want.
By all evidence, these two are the reincarnations of Aginor and Balthamel. The first of the Forsaken to die, they were also the first to be deemed incapable of working on their own. While they retain their freedom, they are little more than tools for either Moridin or Shaidar Haran to use. They have been joined in CoS and PoD by Moghedien and Cyndane, both held by the mindtraps Moridin wears.
According to Graendal, the name Cyndane means 'Last Chance.' The name suggests someone with a fairly poor track record. This also means it must be someone previously encountered in the books. Since her appearance is not recognisable, it implies to me that Cyndane is one of the Forsaken, who was killed, and reincarnated with a new body and name.
The obvious candidate is Lanfear. Cyndane channels saidar, and thus cannot be a male reincarnated in a female body, as with Aran'gar. That leaves only Lanfear - the only female Forsaken to have died so far. Not to mention other matchups - greater strength in the power than Graendal, unsurpassed arrogance.
Besides, the name does fit her. Lanfear spent so much time doing her own thing, with little regard for the wishes of the Dark One. When she inevitably fell, the DO gave her one last chance. Like Moghedien, she is controlled by Moridin, having proven incapable of working unsupervised.