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1.1.5: Mazrim Taim-- Is he Demandred?

[Written by Pam Korda and Leigh Butler. Contributors: Bill Garrett, William Smit, John Schwegler, John Novak, OilCan, Fred Van Keuls, Joseph Slominsky, and lots of other folks.]


The question at hand: who is that guy who shows up in [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 75] claiming to be Mazrim Taim?

There are now essentially three theories concerning the identity of our favorite ambiguous character:

  1. He is Demandred in disguise.
  2. He really is Mazrim Taim, and not a Darkfriend (though not up to any good either).
  3. He really is Mazrim Taim, and the Forsaken's minion.
Here, MT = the character who appears in LOC, general of the Asha'man. Taim = the False Dragon we heard about first in TGH, captured after Falme. Demandred = the Forsaken.

How could MT be Demandred?

The idea is that the BA, or a Forsaken, or some Trollocs, broke Taim free from where he was being held in Saldaea. They took him to Semirhage, or someone else who could extract every bit of information from his skull (a la the AS Cabriana who Semirhage tortures) and drained him dry. Then they killed him. Demandred either 1) Looks kind of like Taim in the first place, or 2) Looks very different from Taim and is using an illusion (or maybe some kind of partial illusion) to look like the real Taim. This is why Bashere isn't sure that MT is Taim, and why MT says that he shaved his beard. This also explains why it is MT who brings up the things only he and Bashere know--to convince everybody that he is Taim.

There is the possibility that there never was a "real" Taim; only Demandred. The first mention of Taim is at the beginning of TGH [TGH: 5, The Shadow in Shienar, 55], and "trouble in Saldaea" is mentioned in TEOTW. At that point, at least some of the other Forsaken are loose, so it is possible that Demandred was, too. We don't know enough about the timing of events to decide for sure.

Then again, MT may really be the original Mazrim Taim. The reason we think of Demandred when we see him is not because he is Demandred, but because he is similar to Demandred in personality--he wanted to be the Dragon, he doesn't like being second-best, etc. Taim could have the ultimate plan of supporting Rand as much as he can, helping him to win the Last Battle. Since Rand is expected to die in the Last Battle, Taim plans to bide his time and take control in the aftermath. After that, well, as MT says, the winners write the histories.

The last and most recently proposed possibility is that Taim is Taim, but acting under orders--specifically, Demandred's. Any lingering notions that Taim really is a Good Guy are pretty much thoroughly killed in WH, and though he could still be acting in his own interests, the "Taim as minion" theory may be the most compelling and elegant solution to the contradictory evidence we have about his character. (It is worth noting that if the Minion theory is true, then Taim would have had to have been instructed by Ishamael, for the most part. No other Forsaken was free early enough to have started teaching Taim, long enough ago for him to have learned all that stuff, and gotten Taint protection over so many years, etc. Although, he could well have taken up with Demandred after Ish's demise, as WH seems to suggest.)

A Note on Organization

The arguments from LOC and ACOS have been left intact as a group, but modified to accommodate our three theories (Taimandred, Non-Dark Taim, and Minion Taim). TPOD and WH are discussed separately below.

1) Knowledge.

In LOC, MT knows how to test for channeling ability, and picks up Gateways with relative ease. He apparently teaches the Asha'man very well.

Taimandred: It's a little hard to believe that Taim figured all this out on his own. Look at how much trouble Rand had learning before he got Asmo as a proper teacher.

Non-Dark Taim: He's supposedly been channelling for 15 years. He had to have learned something in that time. Plus, MT mentions to Bashere that he used Compulsion on two people [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 76]. Since the real Taim did that, the real Taim DID know stuff. (Note that this does not apply if Demandred was always MT.) As for Gateways, maybe Taim is just a fast learner, like Rand, or Nynaeve. In fact, one's ease of learning seems to be a direct function of how strong one is in the Power. (examples: Rand, Ny, El, Eg are all fast learners, and even SS and Moiraine, who are stronger than your average bear, spent a relatively short time as Novices (3 years?).) This probably has to do with the fact that, the stronger you are, the easier it is for you to see the flows required for a particular action, and thus can more readily duplicate it.

Minion Taim: But the above doesn't explain Taim's learning curve; he wouldn't have had anybody to observe and learn FROM. If Taim is working for Ishy/Demandred, of course, then obviously he would have learned from the Forsaken, just as Rand did from Asmo.

2) The Seal.

Taimandred: The story about finding it in a Saldaean farmer's house is pretty fishy. Could it be that Demandred (posing as Taim) gave it to Rand in order to try to gain his trust?

Minion Taim: Or that Taim gave it to Rand at Demandred's orders?

Non-Dark Taim: If MT is Demandred or his servant, why would he, and the DO, give a seal to Rand? If the minions of the Shadow had a seal, wouldn't they break it? Maybe the DO could predict that Rand/LTT would try to break the seal, but Demandred couldn't have. MT was certainly shocked when it looked like Rand was going to smash it [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 80-1]. As mentioned, it could be that Demandred would want to give it to Rand to get him to trust him, but that failed utterly. MT's seal story is somewhat backed by Bashere's story to Perrin about a farmer in Saldaea who claimed to be the descendant of the kings of an ancient Kingdom. If MT Farmer = Bashere Farmer it would be plausible that the seal was the last item of inheritance. And who better for the farmer to give it to than the Dragon Reborn (MT's claim before Rand declared himself)?

Counter-argument: It could be that Taim was shocked when Rand looked like he was going to break the Seal because he was worried that Rand was already totally gone. It's clear that the DO had plans for Rand (though not anymore, apparently), and that the DO told Demandred something about a plan for Rand (not necessarily the REAL plan) in the "Let the Lord of Chaos rule" speech, and that Demandred liked it. If Rand was too loony to perform his role, Demandred or Minion Taim would be worried. As for why he gave the Seal to Rand in the first place, why not? The seals have been steadily weakening, and will break on their own in time. Why not give the seal to Rand in an attempt to gain his trust?

3) The Taint.

MT claims to not be affected by the Taint, after (Rand estimates) 15 years of channelling [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 76].

Taimandred: This seems pretty unlikely. Consider Owyn, who was going mad after only 3 years of hardly ever channelling at all. Many of the Asha'man have a few screws loose after only a few months of intensive channeling. The only Taint protection we know of is linking to the DO. Plus, the Red Ajah seems pretty adept at tracking down male channellers. In 15 years, one would have thought that the AS would have heard of him long before they did.

Non-Dark Taim: Unless Taim was a raving lunatic when he was leading his armies as a False Dragon, he must have still been somewhat sane, even after 15 years. (Again, note that if MT was always Dem, this does not apply.) Same argument applies for him not getting caught by the Reds. Plus, Logain, who is not a Forsaken, has been channelling for about six years (minus about a year or so of being gentled), and isn't going mad. It seems likely that the ease with which one succumbs to the Taint varies widely with the person. Owyn went under in 3 years, MT mentions some other guys who lasted for 2 years [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 79], and Logain has lasted for 6 [LOC: 51, The Taking, 647].

Minion Taim: John Novak observes, "You want to know why Taim hasn't been driven nuts by the Taint? Not because he is a Forsaken. I say, because he is a Darkfriend. He has immunity from the Taint, given by the Dark One. Which Rand never saw, because he never met with Taim in any of the locations that could be seen, like the Skimming Plane."

Counter-argument: But if that's the case, why did Torval (who was quite definitely a Darkfriend) get so starry-eyed in TPOD, when Rand talked about cleansing the Taint [TPOD: 14, Message from the M'Hael, 306]? If DF Asha'man get immunity from the Taint, why would Torval be so excited about Rand cleansing it (and in fact, wouldn't he feel the exact opposite of excited)?

Rebuttal: Of course, there are Darkfriends and then there are Darkfriends. Taim is probably quite a bit more important to the bad guys than rank and file Asha'man like Torval. If Taim has indeed been a DF for 15 years or more, and was instructed by Ishy, then he is certainly not your run-of-the-mill DF. It's reasonable to suppose that the DO would extend his Taint protection to Taim but draw the line at any other non-Forsaken. Also, one can imagine an Asha'man converting to the DO solely for Taint protection, and not being particularly keen on the whole 'servant of the Dark Lord' angle. No more Taint = possibility of getting free of the DO & Forsaken.

[One point that has often been mentioned is that Rand sees MT channelling, but he does not see the black cord connecting him to the DO and filtering out the Taint. However, this is NOT A VALID ARGUMENT! The black cords are only seen/sensed under very special circumstances. Rand has only seen them in two places-- T'A'R and the in-between space used for Skimming. Rand has never seen MT in either of those places. Note that Rand has seen male Forsaken without seeing the cords: Aginor and Balthamel at the Eye, Be'lal in the Heart of the Stone, and Dashiva/Osan'gar on numerous occasions. Thus, the fact that Rand hasn't seen the black threads on MT shows nothing one way or the other. (See section 1.3.1.)]

4) More on Taim's age.

Rand estimates Taim's age as 35, or a few years older [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 76]. However, Rand doesn't know about the "slowing" effect of using the OP. Elayne talks about it in ACOS: "'We slow, Nynaeve. Somewhere between twenty and twenty-five, we begin aging more slowly. How much depends on how strong you are, but when doesn't'" [ACOS: 24, The Kin, 408]. According to RJ, a man with the spark doesn't slow until 25, usually closer to thirty. [Post-TPOD Signing, New York, 20 October, 1998, report by Ryan R.].

Taimandred: Thus, the only way Taim could be the age he looks is if he started channelling at an unusually late age. If he's legit, he'd have to be a wilder, and thus he must have started channelling young, at around Rand's age. The depth of his knowledge of channelling, and certain aspects of his career as a False Dragon, demonstrate that he must have channelled a great deal prior to his arrival in Caemlyn. Therefore, Taim must be even older than 35. Let's postulate that men slow at a rate similar to women. We know that Garenia ran away from the Tower 70 years ago, and presumably she slowed before then, or soon afterwards (in her early 20s, as is usual for women). Garenia looks like she is Nynaeve's age, around 26. That corresponds to about five years of physical aging in 70 years. Now, if Taim started slowing at 30, then his actual age should be around 100 or so. Thus, the problem of Taim's age is even more extreme than it first appears.

Non-Dark Taim: Maybe Rand overestimated Taim's age; maybe he's only thirty or so, in which case he needn't have begun slowing noticeably yet.

Minion Taim: An interesting idea to consider is what happens to the aging patterns of channellers who start channelling after the age at which slowing begins. Flinn, for instance - he started channelling as an old codger, but will he now stop getting any older? It seems reasonable to suppose so. Non-Dark Taim would of necessity have to be a sparker (and thus would have had no control over when he started channelling), but if we postulate that Taim was Ishy or Demandred's protégé, it's possible that he is a "taught" channeller rather than a sparker. Thus he might not even have begun channelling until he was 35 or so, and if we're right in assuming that late starters will also slow from that point on, Taim could have been channelling for 15 plus years and still only look 35.

5) MT's reaction to Rand's badges and awards.

He's not pleased to be seen as subservient to Rand [LOC: 42, The Black Tower, 543], just like Demandred [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 56-7]. This wouldn't please either Taimandred or Minion Taim.

Non-Dark Taim: It is entirely possible that Taim is just plain arrogant. Nothing says the Forsaken have a monopoly on excessive pride.

6) Lews Therin.

Taimandred: LTT often raves about Demandred, and killing him, every time MT is around. Is there a method in his madness? LTT raves, "Sammael, oh, yes, but Demandred first. First of all I rid myself of him, then Sammael." [LOC: 51, The Taking, 635] LTT and Rand know where Sammael is. But why does LTT insist on killing Demandred if he doesn't know where he is? Therefore, they do know where Demandred is; i.e., he's MT. [Dash W.]

Non-Dark Taim: Again, it could just be that Taim is similar to Demandred in many ways, and LTT thinks he will betray him like Demandred did in the AOL. Anyway, LTT wants to kill all male channellers [ACOS: 7, Pitfalls and Tripwires, 139]. Furthermore, one shouldn't take anything LTT says too seriously. He's a total loon. He wants to die forever and end his suffering [LOC: 18, A Taste of Solitude, 299], but he doesn't want to die [LOC: 46, Beyond the Gate, 560]. He says "trust no one" and "the man who doesn't trust is dead" or words to that effect. LTT could be confusing Taim and Demandred.

Minion Taim: This doesn't seem to indicate anything one way or the other about the possibility of Taim working for Demandred. It's clear, though, that if this theory is the correct one, Taim has picked up a lot more than just OP training from Demandred, which could have added to LTT's confusion (more on that below).

7) The epilogue to Lord of Chaos: "Have I not done well, Great Lord?"

Taimandred: The DO's orders were to "Let the Lord of Chaos Rule," which seems to refer to "sowing chaos" in general, and to promoting divisiveness among the enemies of the Shadow. Demandred and Mesaana (and Semirhage) were working together on a plot in LOC to "let the Lord of Chaos rule." One of the main plot threads in LOC was the interactions of Rand with the SAS and TAS embassies. Rand ended up getting kidnapped by the TAS, and was rescued with the assistance of the Asha'man. The events of the battle to free Rand led to a great deal of mistrust and enmity among the SAS embassy, the TAS, the Aiel who follow Rand, the Shaido, and the Asha'man. The current state of affairs among Rand's allies (his Aiel, the Asha'man) and potential allies (the TAS and SAS) can only be good for the Shadow. We know that Mesaana was central to setting up this situation, from her place in the WT. Assuming Demandred had a hand in it as well (as is implied by his visit to SG at the end of the book), the most logical place for Demandred to be, among those factions, is the AM.

Minion Taim: The same basically applies whether Taim is Demandred or Demandred has his lackey Taim in place among them as well.

Non-Dark Taim: Sammael's speech to Graendal in [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 135] seemed to imply that Demandred was involved with the Seanchan invasion in Tarabon, which could alternately account for his part in the sowing of chaos.

Counter-argument: Demandred's thoughts in [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 313] weaken this argument: "...he wished Semirhage or Mesaana were present. Their alliance was delicate - a simple agreement that they would not turn on one another until the others had been eliminated - yet it had held all this time." This implies that Demandred is not actually working closely with either Semi or Mesaana. Since we are now 99% positive that Semirhage is Anath and glued to the DotNM's side (see section 1.1.9), it is unlikely that Demandred is with the Seanchan as well. In any case, Sammael's comment about Demandred liking to work through proxies could just as easily apply to Minion Taim as to the Seanchan.

8) MT kills the Gray Man.

Taimandred/Minion Taim: If he hadn't, Rand might have gotten information out of it. Alternatively, it could've been a set-up: Taimandred ordered the Gray Man, and killed him to "prove" his loyalty to Rand. Or, Demandred ordered the Gray Man, and had Taim kill him for the same reason. Or, somebody else sent it, and Taim-minion/Taimandred killed it because it didn't suit his plans to have Rand dead at the time.

Non-Dark Taim: It's doubtful Rand could get much information from a Gray Man. The Gray Men have no souls--they're basically walking killing machines. They probably have some sort of self-destruct mechanism, too. Jared Samet remarks: "If I were designing a perfect assassin, I'd set him up so that he could never point the finger at me...Besides, the Gray Man could only tell Rand anything damaging to MT if Demandred had sent him (possible I suppose, but why can't Demandred do it himself if that's what the DO wants?) A Gray Man with a story implicating Sammael or some other Forsaken (easy enough for a channeller to set up) could help MT more than a dead one." As for how conveniently MT showed up, recall that strange and oddly convenient things happen around Rand all the time.

9) MT's remark on "These so-called Aiel".

Taimandred: If he hadn't been around in the AOL, why are they "so-called"? [LOC: 11, Lessons and Teachers, 215] The only other person to use this (exact same) phrase is Moridin (who used to be Ishamael) in [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 356]. Only somebody from the AOL would have cause to call the modern Aiel "so-called."

Non-Dark Taim: This is the hardest piece of evidence to explain away. People have suggested rationalizations, though. For example, if Taim knew the Old Tongue, he might be simply saying that he doubts the Aiel are truly "dedicated" to Rand. Another possible explanation is that, if Taim is about 35, which seems reasonable, then he was alive for the Aiel War, although possibly too young to go east to fight. He probably heard tales about Aiel--10 feet tall, breathing fire, etc. Here he sees some in Caemlyn peacefully patrolling the streets. Not what an average wetlander would expect of Savages From the Waste.

Counter-argument: As to the first suggestion, it hardly seems in character for Taim to be making puns in the Old Tongue. As for the second, even if the Aiel Taim meets aren't the monsters he's heard about, they are undeniably Aiel. Nobody else in Randland regards them as "so-called."

Minion Taim: Of course, Taim could have picked up the phrase as the Forsaken's proteégé. It's not hard to imagine Taim trying to emulate his Forsaken teachers as much as possible, even unconsciously.

10) Another Aiel reference.

There is a second suspicious Taim quote about the Aiel. During the fight at Dumai's Wells, Taim has the Asha'man raise a defensive barrier of Air around Rand's position. Many of the people Perrin led from Caemlyn (Aiel fighters and WOs, Mayeners, Cairhienin, and Two Rivers folk) are trapped outside, among the Shaido. Rand asks Taim to lower the barrier, presumably so that the fighters could be informed of Rand's safety, and an orderly retreat could begin. [LOC: 55, Dumai's Wells, 692-693] Taim argues against this, saying, "There are casualties in battle. I lost several soldiers today, nine men who will be harder to replace than any number of renegade Aiel."

Taimandred: He is clearly talking about Rand's Aiel, not the Shaido. So why are they "renegade"? The only convincing explanation that I see is that they are renegades against the Way of the Leaf, the code of the Da'shain Aiel. [Fred Van Keuls] This makes not one, but two instances in which Taim expresses doubt about the legitimacy of the modern Aiel. In this case, in the middle of a heated battle, there is no reason for Taim to doubt the "dedication" of the Aiel to Rand's cause.

Non-Dark Taim: Taim may be referring to the vast numbers of Shaido. As far as each side's battle strength is concerned, it will be easier for the Shaido to replace a few dozen or hundred spears than it will for Taim to recruit and train nine men. [Matthew Heslin]

Counter-argument: The context of the above quote is that Taim is arguing against raising the 'Dome of Air' to save Rand's Aiel, Mayeners and Two Rivers folk from the Shaido. He is saying that Rand's Aiel (outside the Dome) are expendable compared to the Asha'man (inside the Dome). Given the discussion before the quote, it seems highly unlikely to me that Taim could be referring to the Shaido as the 'renegade Aiel'. I suppose one could argue that Taim is confused about what is going on. However, Taim has never given me that impression. [Fred Van Keuls]

Minion Taim: Same argument as above. If Taim has been hanging out with his Forsaken mentor(s), he could have picked up the attitude by osmosis.

11) Strength.

Taimandred: MT is very strong in the Power. Forsaken-class, even (almost as strong as Rand himself). [LOC: 3, A Woman's Eyes, 92]

Minion Taim/Non-Dark Taim: The real Taim was thought to be very strong. [TSR: 5, Questioners, 85] Just because he's strong doesn't mean he's evil. (And just because he's evil, doesn't mean he's Forsaken.) Nynaeve is Forsaken-class, but she's on the Good Guys' side.

12) Smile.

Taimandred: In the prologue, it is said that Demandred never smiles [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 15], [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 58]. MT doesn't either-- at the end of LOC, before "Kneel, or you will be knelt", Rand says something like "His expression was as close to a smile as he had ever seen it." [LOC: 55, Dumai's Wells, 695]

Non-Dark Taim/Minion Taim: Once again, it could just be that Taim and Demandred have similar personalities, or that Taim imitates his teacher.

13) Min's viewing of an invisible man holding a knife to Rand's throat.

Taimandred: This could indicate that Demandred is the "serpent in the bosom," masquerading as Taim.

Non-Dark Taim: The vision could be the Gray Man, as Rand thinks.

Counter-argument: Since when has Rand ever interpreted Min's visions correctly?

Minion Taim: Or, it could be MT, who is not to be trusted, even if he isn't Demandred - especially if he's working for Demandred.

14) Location, Location, Location.

Demandred takes a gateway directly out of TAR while in the Royal palace in Caemlyn.

Taimandred: Unless Demandred knows some sort of combination traveling/leaving TAR gateway, then he must be somebody, or pretending to be somebody, who comes to Caemlyn regularly, and somebody who can channel his way into the palace without inviting immediate destruction upon himself. We know that MT has been visiting Rand in Caemlyn because Rand's thoughts comment on how MT has taught him to block out heat, and a few chapters later Rand tells MT that his visits to the city would have to stop because Alanna and Verin have shown up.

Non-Dark Taim: Maybe he went out of TAR to someplace that was not Caemlyn. While initially there didn't seem to be any evidence to support this claim, in WH we see another channeller do the same thing: Slayer's mystery employer (who may actually be Demandred; see section 1.4.4) opens a gateway from the T'A'R reflection of a Far Madding inn to a "snowy forest glade" [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 449]. So, apparently, it can be done.

15) MT's behavior.

Taimandred: Bill Garrett says: Something that should maybe be added as a separate point is MT's whole challenge/submit behavior. He'll argue with Rand about something, telling him it has to be done another way, then suddenly he'll agree and say "As my Lord Dragon commands." I think it's Demandred trying to do things his way, but suddenly remembering the Dark One's orders to do what Rand says (or at least to not go directly against him). And MT sometimes disobeys Rand and frequently does things Rand doesn't expect, as with the Asha'man.

Minion Taim: The same could apply for the Taim as Minion theory.

Non-Dark Taim: How is this different from the way the Tairen lords behaved? Or the Andoran nobility? Or Davram Bashere? Hell, even the Aiel tend to do this. Everybody tries to convince Rand to do things their way, but when you get right down to it, he's going to do as he damn well pleases, and all you can say is "As my Lord Dragon commands."

16) Another slip of the tongue.

When Rand shows MT how to make a gateway, he calls it a "gateway." A little further in the same chapter, MT says, "You can Travel, but you don't know how to test for the talent."

Taimandred: How does MT know that a Gateway = Traveling? AFAIK, Rand didn't mention anything about "traveling," only "gateways."

Non-Dark Taim: Maybe MT heard the term described during his 15 years as a channeller, and added 2 and 2 to make 4.

Minion Taim: He learned it, and the proper name for it, from his Forsaken teachers.

17) Sammael and Graendal in conversation:

In [ACOS: 20, Patterns Within Patterns, 355], Sammael and Graendal are discussing their comrades. Sammael says, "I didn't arrange [Rand's] kidnapping....Mesaana had a hand in it, though. Maybe Demandred and Semirhage as well, despite how it ended...."

Taimandred: Note the despite - there is a strong implication here that Sem and Dem somehow had a hand in the conclusion of the Rand-kidnapping episode, i.e. in his rescue. Who was instrumental in the rescue? Taim and the Asha'man, Perrin and the Two Riversians, the Wolves, the Mayeners, and the Aiel. We all know that the most likely place for Demandred is with the Asha'man, as their leader, in fact. Note that this interpretation implies that Sam knows where Dem and Sem are situated. We do not know that he knows this, in fact, as of [LOC: 6, Threads Woven of Shadow, 138], Graendal doesn't know where they are. Of course, Sam could have known, without telling Graendal, or they could always have discovered it in the intervening time.

Non-Dark Taim: A totally different spin can be put on the passage. As Mark Loy explains, "To paraphrase...'I didn't arrange Rand's kidnapping... Mesaana had a hand in arranging Rand's kidnapping... Maybe Dem and Sem had a hand in arranging Rand's kidnapping as well, despite how the kidnapping ended. This interpretation means that they might have had a hand in arranging the kidnapping...in the planning" despite the fact that it ended all messed up.

Minion Taim: If Sammael knew that Taim is working for Demandred, the first interpretation of the passage could be correct, as a comment on how Demandred arranged the kidnapping despite the fact that his lackey Taim showed up to rescue Rand.

18) Yet another slip of the tongue.

Taimandred: MT has taken to calling himself "The M'Hael," which means "leader" in the Old Tongue, and giving OT designations to his lieutenants. MT knows an awful lot about the Old Tongue for a modern-day Randlander.

Non-Dark Taim: Well, maybe he does know the Old Tongue. Maybe he was a scholar or something before he became a False Dragon. Of course, that is pure speculation.

Minion Taim: Once again, he could have picked this up from Ishy or Demandred, as his student.

19) The Black Tower.

MT has pretty much built the Black Tower on his own. Rand has made little effort to be involved in it, and has left the recruiting, training, and testing of Asha'man to MT. MT, in turn, has done a fine job - in just a few months (between LOC and TPOD) he's created an unconventional military force which can take on anybody in Randland, including Aes Sedai and Seanchan. Just a handful of Asha'man have proven to be the decisive factor in many battles, some of them against opponents with channelling capability.

Taimandred: So, we must ask ourselves, if MT is so efficient at turning out combat channellers, why didn't he do it when HE was claiming to be the Dragon Reborn? He claims to have tried training other men to channel [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 79], so the thought must have occurred to him. Granted, since he lacked Rand's ta'veren-power to attract recruits, he would have had a much smaller force than the 400 or so at the BT. However, given that two or three percent of people can learn to channel [Guide: 2, The One Power and the True Source, 18], and that Taim's army of followers was of a "normal" Randland size (on the order of a couple thousand), he should have been able to get at least 10-20 men who could have been useful. Even ten male channellers is nothing to sneeze at, and yet Taim the False Dragon had no channelling followers. This can be explained easily if one supposes that Taim did not have the knowledge to identify and train channellers. MT is not Taim, but Demandred, who certainly has all that knowledge. He told Rand the story about identifying male channellers in an attempt to allay Rand's suspicions about MT knowing how to do the test.

Non-Dark Taim: There are other possible reasons Taim didn't train any other channellers. Perhaps he didn't have time. Perhaps he was worried that they'd turn against him. Perhaps when he saw his first experiments in training go mad in two years or so [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 79], he gave the idea up.

Counter-argument: As for time, he supposedly spent 15 years or so as a channeller before declaring himself the Dragon. He didn't seem to be in any big hurry. Taim isn't the sort of guy to worry about most of his subordinate channellers betraying him-- he's shown himself to be a master at inspiring admiration and loyalty in his troops; he's got a regular cult of personality among the Asha'man. As for the ones he didn't feel he could trust, he's not the sort of guy to be shy about killing them outright. As for the madness, he is known to be a totally ruthless fellow. He'd have no problem using his followers for the year or two they had of sanity and then killing them. Of course, this argument doesn't apply if Taim has always been Dem.

Minion Taim: If Taim was under the Forsaken's thumb all this time, there could be a number of good reasons why he didn't build his own Black Tower - the most obvious being that Ishy/Demandred wouldn't let him.

Arguments against MT being Demandred

Prior to WH, there didn't seem to be anything about MT which was inconsistent with him being Demandred, only ways to explain away the evidence in favor of it. Before moving on to WH, however, we should look at MT's behavior in TPOD.

What was MT up to in TPOD? Through his lieutenants Torval, Gedwyn, Kisman, and Rochaid (or some subset thereof), he set up the Illianer rebels to attempt to assassinate Rand, supposedly at the instigation of Aes Sedai. Through Torval, he tried to make Rand suspicious of Egwene's army which was, at the time, marching towards Caemlyn and the BT. Possibly, Gedwyn tried to subvert or cause problems with High Lord Weiramon. At the end, Taim set up his lieutenants as "deserters" who tried to kill Rand, thus producing a coterie of male channellers who were clearly loyal to MT, and whose actions he could disavow (see section 1.4.10).

None of this pointed one way or the other. Both Demandred and a real Taim would be interested in exacerbating the tensions between Rand and the Aes Sedai. Taim would do so because he'd fear that if Rand allied with AS, the BT could be threatened or at least become less important. Not to mention, since Taim was captured by AS, he'd have no love for them. Demandred would also want to increase Rand's dependence on the BT (and thus on Taimandred) for all his channelling needs. He'd want to widen the chasm between Rand and the AS, so that Rand would have less support, and to sow general chaos. If Taim is acting under Demandred's orders, the same reasoning applies.

Similarly, either Non-Dark Taim, Minion Taim, or Taimandred would benefit from having a force of channellers who worked independently of the BT, and whose loyalty he could count upon, and whose actions he wouldn't have to justify to Rand.

So nothing in TPOD lent strength to any of the three Taim theories. But Taim's actions in TPOD set up situations which resolved in WH in some surprising ways, and gave us our first real evidence that Taim may not be Demandred after all.

Demandred appears or is mentioned three times in WH, and each incident provides us with information which sheds new light on the Dem/Taim relationship:

1) The Forsaken Coffee Hour [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 313-319]

This entire section is from Demandred's POV. Several quotes here are of interest. First Demandred himself: "'Al'Thor has been seen in five cities...and a dozen towns since those blind fools - those idiots! - failed in Cairhien.'" A bit further down we have Aran'gar's comment: "'You were responsible for watching him, Osan'gar...you, and Demandred.'" And finally, after Moridin reveals that Rand has the Choedan Kal, we have Graendal's little fit: "'And you've just been hoping to blunder into him!' she screamed at Demandred. 'Fool! Fool!'"

What can we infer from all this? Well, it establishes - for the first time - a definite connection between Demandred and the assassination attempt in TPOD (and hence to Taim). This further weakens the "Non-Dark Taim" argument. The passage as a whole appears at first glance to argue most strongly for the Taimandred theory rather than against it. But our second mention of Demandred in WH puts a different spin on things.

2) Kisman's POV [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 441-443]

"'Kill him,' the M'Hael had ordered, before sending them to Cairhien, but he had been as displeased that they were found out as that they had failed. Far Madding was to be their last chance; he had made that as plain as polished brass. Dashiva had simply vanished. Kisman did not know whether he had run or the M'Hael had killed him, and he did not care.

"'Kill him,' Demandred had commanded later, but he had added that it would be better they died than let themselves be discovered again. By anyone, even the M'Hael, as if he did not know of Taim's order."

Before we move on, some points this POV confirms (or reconfirms):

So much for definites; what does this imply?

3) The Battle of Shadar Logoth [WH: 35, With The Choedan Kal, 643-645]

"That tottering old man was an Asha'man!"
Demandred does not recognize Flinn. If Demandred is Taim, how could this be?

There have been two basic rationalizations suggested to answer that question:

(a) The Black Tower by now has close to five hundred members. There's no reason Taimandred should recognize one particular Asha'man among them all (except his own personal lackeys/favorites), and Flinn has been gone from the BT for quite some time.

Counter-argument: Flinn hardly qualifies as J. Random Asha'man. Besides being renowned within the BT for his Healing and noted for his strength in the Power, Flinn was the very first of all the men Taim tested for the ability to channel, during which time Taim took particular notice of him (surprise at both Flinn's age and at the fact that the first man he tested passed). What's more, Taim has framed Flinn for treason, putting his name on the Traitor Tree along with Rand's other personal Asha'man. All this personal contact with/attention from Taim, and yet we're supposed to believe Taim doesn't know what the man looks like?

(b) Demandred doesn't recognize Flinn because he can't see him clearly:

"Suddenly [Demandred] saw people off to the right ahead of him through the trees, and sheltered behind a rough gray trunk. A bald-headed old man with a fringe of white hair was limping along between two women, one of them beautiful in a wild way, the other stunning. What were they doing in these woods? Who were they?"

There were branches and a tree trunk in Demandred's line of sight. Or, Demandred was simply too far away to see faces clearly. Or both.

Counter-argument: The description is too vague to say with any certainty that the tree trunk or any other hypothetical foresty things are actually blocking Demandred's view of their faces. Plus, a lot of people have misinterpreted the first sentence; it is Demandred sheltering behind that trunk, not Flinn and the AS (Flinn is "limping along" - how's he doing that and still staying behind a tree?). Since they're moving and he's not, it's very improbable that Flinn's face was never visible to Demandred.

Of course, this defense doesn't hold water if Flinn and the AS are actually moving away from Demandred; then he would only have seen the backs of their heads. However, the way the passage is written indicates that Flinn was facing toward Demandred: "Abruptly the old man stopped and thrust out his hand straight toward Demandred, and Demandred found himself frantically fending off a net of saidin..." [emphasis mine] If Flinn had been facing away from Demandred, he would have had to turn around before being able to point straight at Demandred. (It's also worth pointing out that most people don't make judgments on whether someone is "beautiful" or "stunning" when all they can see is the back of the person's head.)

As to the "distance" argument, Demandred was holding saidin. As we all know, holding the One Power greatly enhances vision, hearing, etc. Graendal, for instance, could see fine lines around Alivia's eyes at about 100 paces, later in the chapter [pg. 648]. In TPOD Rand thinks about being able to see details of terrain half a mile away "as clearly as if he were using a looking glass" while holding saidin [TPOD: 13, Floating Like Snow, 282]. Demandred is close enough to note a fair amount of detail (that Flinn has a fringe of white hair and that the two women were good-looking), which certainly seems to imply he was at least within 100 paces.

Rebuttal: If he was that close, why doesn't he realize that the two women must be Aes Sedai by their ageless faces?

To sum up, Demandred's non-recognition of Flinn strongly implies that he could not be Taim; however, it is not absolute proof against it.

So, if Demandred is not Taim, who is he?

There's something seriously bizarre about the entire episode with Flinn. Even if we suppose that Taim is not Demandred, we know that Demandred is involved with the BT in one way or another, so it's still odd that Demandred doesn't recognize Flinn. Demandred's shock that such an old man could even be an Asha'man is even odder, since Flinn is far from the only Asha'man to be past his middle years.

What it suggests, as long as we assume that RJ did not just make a glaring error, is that Demandred is not anybody particularly close to Rand. It definitely rules out Bashere. It probably rules out Dobraine and most of the nobles who campaigned with Rand in TPOD, too. It also seems to preclude the possibility of Demandred being J. Random Asha'man, though we can't say this for sure.

There is the possibility that Demandred is someone close to Rand, and is simply an idiot. After all, he sees people wandering around Shadar Logoth while colossal amounts of the Power are being channelled nearby and actually considers the possibility that they are just random farmers!


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