|A Dragon Named Spartacus
Shadar and I have been speculating. No, don't run away...
Well, for those of you who did not leave in alarm after reading the first sentence, you may or may not be aware that when my brother and I get into serious Wheel of Time speculation, we go off in all sorts of strange directions. The directions we headed today are the subject of this particular essay. So sit down, settle in comfortably, we'll be here for a while.
The title? Yes, I'll get around to explaining that - eventually.
It began on a remark about the Dragon being by necessity a wilder. Straight from that followed the thought that wait, are we sure that is by necessity? What if there was someone to teach the Dragon? But the only male channeler around, other than one of the Forsaken (Rand's solution) who is likely to know enough to be an effective teacher, is a False Dragon.
That immediately opened up all sorts of interesting possibilities.
Suppose the timing of events from The Eye of the World had been just a little different. Suppose Rand, Mat and Perrin, the village's most adventurous youths, had headed off to see some of the world before Moiraine had reached the Two Rivers. Suppose they'd been caught up in the tide of people supporting Logain. Suppose Logain had recognised Rand as a fellow channeler and taught him to control the Power safely (or as safe as saidin can ever be). What else might have been different then?
At that point, we abandoned the whole Rand/Logain situation, and simply started speaking of a hypothetical Dragon and False Dragon in whatever permutations we could think up. The essence of it was this: A male channeler proclaims himself the Dragon Reborn and gathers other men who can channel among his followers, as Rand has done with the Black Tower. Unknown to either of them, one of those followers is the real Dragon Reborn.
This would change the story immensely.
To start with, the White Tower is going to lose all chance of getting a hold on the (real) Dragon while he's still young and innocent - because he'll be surrounded by an army, under the eye of an experienced male channeler, already learning to channel himself and probably developing a distinctly unfriendly attitude toward Aes Sedai. The White Tower may not even be able to identify the real Dragon, as Moiraine and Siuan managed to, without some fairly spectacular confirmation on the part of the Pattern. That's going to greatly alter later relationships with the White Tower - from "I'm fairly sure I can trust this one Aes Sedai and probably her friends as well, but I'd better be pretty damn careful about anyone else" to "I trust no Aes Sedai." Moiraine, and her guidance, had a big influence on Rand over the early books.
But the really interesting part would be the dynamics of the relationship between the two 'Dragons.' Presumably, the young Dragon believes his teacher is the real Dragon Reborn, and would be rather resistant to someone telling him "No, he isn't the Dragon, you are." Then, too, the False Dragon would probably be very resistant to the notion that he is a False Dragon, particularly if also told that his pupil is the real thing.
If they managed to work it out, though - and I mean that both in the sense of figuring out who's who and of coming to some kind of understanding with each other - things could get...
It goes sort of like this. If this 'replacement' of one Dragon-claimant by another became reasonably well-known, one thing that would probably happen is the appearance of more. A single 'Dragon' in existence would tend to discourage others from claiming the title, but the existence of two of them would do the reverse - other male channelers reasoning "Well, one of them is obviously false, so it's possible that both are, so maybe I'm the real one after all!" There would also be, no doubt, men who don't really think they are but figure they have as good a chance as anyone else of making the world believe it.
Shadar and I were talking about that for a while. Then we thought of something else.
If there are a number of male channelers all claiming to be the Dragon Reborn, how do you know which is the real one? And if you are the real one, wouldn't it be useful to have your enemies confused as often as possible?
Well, if you have the opportunity, why not make it happen that way?
If Rand and Logain had met up earlier, they possibly could have pulled off this trick. Otherwise, though, Rand didn't really have the resources or the opportunity to confuse others as to his identity. But in our hypothetical situation, the Dragon has at least one channeling ally - maybe others, if the original False Dragon had other pupils - and could manage it easily. It's an outrageous plan, but one that has a fair probability of working for at least a while.
It's simple. You (the Dragon), and one or more other male channelers who you trust, move to reasonably widely-spread places. Then, in a fairly short timespan, all of you proclaim yourselves the Dragon Reborn. Since you all know and trust each other, you don't have to worry about attack from that direction, and you can let your decoys take control of key areas. But the White Tower, the Forsaken and hopefully even the Dark One have no idea which one of you is the real one.
"I'm the Dragon!"
"I'm the Dragon!"
"I'm the Dragon!"
Chances are, you don't really want to keep the masquerade going for too long - although it would certainly be interesting to have four or five men turn up at Shayol Ghul, all of them still proclaiming "I'M the Dragon!" At some point, you'll want to identify yourself so you can negotiate seriously with various nations, the White Tower included, and so people can gather behind one leader in preparation for Tarmon Gai'don.
A variant of that would be to have none of the competing 'Dragons' the real thing. Instead, the Dragon is to all appearances simply some kind of advisor or adjutant to one of the claimants - not even a channeler, and totally discounted by any hostile channelers who do turn up.
Even ignoring the potential of decoys, however, the existence of a few channeling allies who you trust (and other people don't know about) has distinct advantages. Thirteen Forsaken to one Dragon? Not very fair. Let's change the odds a bit.
Now, you may be wondering if all this has any relevance to anything that's happening in the books - and the answer is, no, not really. This is pure imagination, and the reason I reorganised my essays with the new 'allity' section was so I had somewhere to put thoughts like these. Ways that things might go in another turning of the Wheel, if they happened to start out a little differently. Shadar and I have fun speculating about all these various ideas, and you'll probably see a few more.
On a tangent, you may also be wondering which of us came up with which ideas here. I'm sorry, I can't answer that for the simple reason that I don't know myself, and neither does he. If that sounds odd - well, it probably is. But the way we talk, we end up adding to each other's suggestions and adding to the additions until there's no way a single idea can be attributed to either of us - and that's assuming we didn't come up with it simultaneously anyway. Maybe we're telepathic - and maybe it's just that great minds think alike.
Well - that's about all, for today.
Oh, the title?
Back a little while ago, there were advertisements on the radio for a building/design company of some kind, which for some obscure reason began with someone saying "I seek Spartacus!" and several voices replying:
...And I'm the Dragon.