—ancient oath of Malkieri kings
Al'Lan Mandragoran, (pronounced: AHL'LAN man-DRAG-or-an; /ɑlˈlæːn mænˈdɹɑ.gɔˌɹɑn/) known commonly as Lan, is also known as Lord of the Seven Towers, Lord of the Lakes, True Blade of Malkier, Defender of the Wall of First Fires, Bearer of the Sword of the Thousand Lakes, May He Sever the Shadow, Dai Shan, and known to the Aiel as Aan'allein. He is the uncrowned king and only survivor of the royal line of the fallen kingdom of Malkier.
He is a Warder initially bonded to Moiraine Damodred, with the bond passing to Myrelle Berengari upon Moiraine's apparent death. He was later sent to Nynaeve al'Meara, whom he marries. Nynaeve subsequently acquires Lan's bond from Myrelle, and he is currently bonded to Nynaeve.
Lan is often described as having a face of stone and chilling blue eyes. He is very tall with shoulder-length hair graying at the temples, held back by a leather headband called a hadori. He wears the color-shifting Warder cloak, and uses a sword as a weapon. His skill with a sword is such that he is capable of besting two Myrddraal at once.
Although his impassive face reveals little of his emotions, Lan is a highly complex character, described as "an onion" by Rand because of his many layers. He is stoic to hardship and ignores physical sufferings, as seen when Moiraine tries to torment him with fire-ants in New Spring. Despite his hard features and cold eyes, Lan feels deeply and loves passionately. Women are divided on his physical attractiveness, with some finding him irresistible and others, chilling.
Lan's creed is that of duty and honor, influenced by his past history as a Malkieri. However, he is
not without an appreciation of poetry:
The kingfisher flashes above the pond.
Life and beauty swirl in the midst of death"
—Lan quoting poetry by Anasai of Shienar
He is also extremely fair-minded, one of the few people to completely accept Rand al'Thor once he learns he is able to channel.
Seems to have a good sense of humor as well. When Rand sitting badly wounded, covered with blood from head to toe after the bubble of evil happened in the Stone of Tear he makes a good joke on him.
The Warder's eyes swung to Rand. "I thought you were old enough to shave without someone to guide your hand."
Lan was born in 953 NE, the year Malkier was betrayed to the Shadow. When he was an infant and Malkier was falling, his parents, al'Akir and el'Leanna Mandragoran, placed the sword of the Malkieri kings in his hands. The blade of this sword was Power-forged before the Breaking of the World. They named him Dai Shan, Diademed Battle Lord of the Malkieri, and swore the ancient oath of Malkieri kings and queens in his name. His mother placed a locket around his neck for remembrance and twenty of Malkier's best swordsmen carried him to Fal Moran in Shienar. Only five reached the city, with all sustaining wounds. The survivors tutored Lan in Malkieri heritage, the Blight, and combat.
When Lan was fifteen, Edeyn Arrel made herself his carneira, or first lover. After their first night in bed, she cut Lan's hair to his shoulders and kept a lock of it, called a daori. Unknown to Lan, she intended to use the daori to compel Lan to marry her daughter Iselle Arrel. Edeyn would later raise the Golden Crane for Lan and began raising an army of Borderlanders for him.
At age sixteen Lan was given the hadori, a thin strip of braided leather holding his hair back, and named a man. He began his one man war against the Shadow to avenge his lost kingdom. The Malkieri oath defined his ongoing quest: To stand against the Shadow so long as iron is hard and stone abides. To defend the Malkieri while one drop of blood remains. To avenge what cannot be defended.
—Lan to Rand
At some point Elyas Machera teaches Lan much about the Blight and about using the sword.
Moiraine and Nynaeve
Lan met Moiraine in Kandor while she was searching for the Dragon Reborn after the Aiel War. After Moiraine was caught following his party, Lan threw Moiraine into a nearby pond, and she retaliated by using the One Power to soak him in turn. After battling the Black Ajah alongside Moiraine, and losing his friend Bukama Marenellin, he became her Warder in 979 NE.
Twenty years later, Moiraine and Lan are in the Two Rivers seeking the young man who is the Dragon Reborn. They find Rand al'Thor, Matrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara, all of whom are ta'veren. Shortly after their arrival, Trollocs attack the Two Rivers, and the group is forced to flee.
Nynaeve al'Meara follows the group to return them to the Two Rivers, and meets Lan for the first time. Nynaeve is smitten almost immediately with Lan, while he is impressed with her spirit, beauty, courage and skill in tracking. However, when Nynaeve reveals her feelings to Lan, he refuses to pursue their relationship because of his personal war with the Shadow.
He gives her his Golden Crane signet ring, which she wears around her neck at all times.
Once in Tear, he is willing to break his bond and oath to Moiraine to protect Nynaeve after her decision to visit Tanchico and investigate the Black Ajah. Nynaeve refuses to allow him to break his oaths to be with her, and orders him to stay with Moiraine. However his feelings for both women - Moiraine as his Aes Sedai and Nynaeve as his "mashiara" (lost love) cause him to feel torn between his duty and his heart's inclination.
In Cairhien, Moiraine battled Lanfear at the docks, and pulled the Forsaken through the twisted redstone doorframe. As they were both channeling large amounts of saidar, the doorway was destroyed completely, and both were presumed dead. Lan's Warder bond transferred to Myrelle Berengari, the woman Moiraine had arranged to pass his bond to in the event of her death. He asks Rand to tell Nynaeve to forget him before riding off to Salidar.
When Egwene discovers him in Salidar, she sends him to Ebou Dar to protect Nynaeve, who he rescues from drowning. Shortly afterward, they are married by the Sea Folk Mistress of the Ships. As a result, they adopt the Sea Folk custom that swaps their roles in private.
Later, on the way to Caemlyn, Lan discovers the murder scene of both Adeleas Namelle and Ispan Shefar. Once they arrive in Caemlyn, Nynaeve's captive sul'dam and damane are placed into the Kin's care. When Reanne Corly tells Nynaeve and Elayne that three damane are ready to be freed of captivity, it is Lan who reminds them that they must ethically free them.
When Rand goes to enlist Nynaeve to help cleanse saidin, Lan is balanced to attack Rand and doesn't quite trust him anymore.
They then go to Far Madding together to kill the renegade Asha'man; Cadsuane, Verin, Min and some others follow them. Rand receives an anonymous note (from Padan Fain) giving him the location of the final two renegades. Rand and Lan walk knowingly into the trap. Lan battles Toram Riatin, a fellow blademaster, while Rand battles Fain. Lan defeats his opponent and flees across the rooftops, until slipping off. Rand attempted to save him, but ended up falling as well.
They end up unconscious in the Far Madding jail. Cadsuane rescues them and they depart Far Madding for Shadar Logoth. There, Nynaeve and Rand cleanse saidin together using the Choedan Kal. Lan patrols the hill around Nynaeve during the Battle near Shadar Logoth.
He accompanies Rand and Nynaeve to Algarin Pendaloan's house in Tear, where Rand recovers after cleansing saidin. While there, he practices sword play in the courtyard with other Warders. He repeatedly defeats Jahar Narishma with no difficulty.
To Tarwin's Gap
Lan informs Nynaeve that it is time for him to leave her and Rand and ride for Tarwin's Gap. She promises to take him straight to the Borderlands, rather than having to travel by horseback the whole way, as long as he swears to accept any man that wishes to accompany him. Nynaeve deposits him in Saldaea, the farthest point from Tarwin's Gap that is still in the Borderlands. This is at least two-thirds the distance of Tear to Tarwin's Gap.
As he rides to Tarwin's Gap he encounters Bulen, who is waiting for him. Lan attempts to leave Bulen behind, but Bulen convinces Lan to let him journey with him, on the condition they tell no one their destination. They are approached by three riders when they get to the Plain of Lances. Andere, Nazar Kurenin and Rakim all decide to travel with Lan, and he eventually accepts them into his company. He asks for their oath not to reveal his identity and that they will be traveling disguised as a caravan.
The company reaches the Silverwall Keeps where a gathering of thousands await. There are many Malkieri present, as well as groups from the other Borderlander nations. Lan just about makes it through when Prince Kaisel Noramaga calls out to Lan and halts him. He wishes to ride with Lan but Lan tells him he should be riding with his nations army. Kaisel tells him that the oath his ancestors took to protect and defend is stronger than blood. Kaisel tells Lan that Nynaeve told him to wait at the Keep for Lan and to watch for Mandarb who would be undisguised. Finally giving in, Lan lets the Golden Crane be raised for Tarmon Gai'don allowing any man or woman to follow it.
Once at Tarwin's Gap, Lan's army is around twelve thousand strong. They encounter a Trolloc army of one hundred-fifty thousand. Lan then leads a charge into the Blight, not as the Aan'allein, but as the King of Malkier. Slowly, Lan's force is pushed back causing a massive death toll to the Trolloc army in the process. However, Lan's forces are severely depleted as well, being reduced by at least half. Lan realizes that the end is near for his army so has his force completely retreat from the Gap. Bulen suggests one final charge at the Trolloc army, which Lan agrees to. Lan has his army line up and charge against the Tollocs uttering a Malkieri oath as he rides to his death. As he rides he looks behind him to see his force has grown to at least ten thousand. Gateways open around him, with more Borderlander reinforcements from the Field of Merrilor coming through. The front line of the Trollocs disintegrate, having being destroyed by Asha'man arriving to the battle. Lan laughs having realized that a last stand is now instead a promising fight. King Easar Togita informs Lan that not only does he lead the Malkieri but all of the Borderlanders as Dai Shan. Lan has finished his stint on the front lines and is about to retire when the horns of alarm sound. Lan turns around and rides back into battle.
The slow retreat
As Lan is riding away from another Trolloc skirmish, his friend Bulen slips from his horse and succumbs from a wound taken. He has Jahar Narishma create a gateway to an icy mountain to persevere his companion, in order to bury him properly later. Fatigue starts affecting the men in the army due to the endless waves of Trollocs. Lord Agelmar Jagad tells Lan that his army will have to completely withdraw from Tarwin's Gap and back through Shienar. Lan is not happy with having too leave behind Malkier again and insists on staying. Agelmar tells Lan that he is selfish and that he is now a leader of all the men, his duty is heavier than a mountain. Stung, Lan agrees that this is what needs to be done and the army begins preparation to start pulling back. The army starts to get pummeled by explosions, one of Lan's greatest fears of enemy channelers is finally realized. This forces the army to retreat causing Lan to lose the Gap for good. Before going to Shayol Ghul to face the Dark One, Rand gives Lan the crown of Malkier, which he had remade from drawings, as the original was lost. He also has a crown made for Nynaeve. Rand tells Lan that although Elayne taught him to rule, it was Lan that taught him to stand. Rand Travels to the battle-field to try and make a difference, but unfortunately he cannot do much and is forced to retreat. There are Dreadlords waiting for Rand to arrive and then shield him with a full circle.
Elayne sends a message to Lan's camp that they are to burn Fal Dara and every other city in Shienar as they slowly retreat back. They continue to retreat, burning everything in their path, dogged all the way by the Shadow's armies. At one point Lan leads a quick hit and run, while the Trollocs are not ready. Andere is pulled down in the chaos and Lan rides to his aid. However, it is a trap by the Shadow to attack him and two Fades engage in combat with him. Lan defeats both, completing a feat very few have managed on their own and survived. The men around him who saw it are in awe. He rescues Andere and sends him back for Healing. Prince Kaisel tells him that Queen Tenobia si Bashere Kazadi is riding with her men into battle, and Lan asks him why she should be denied this right. The army then disengages. The Trollocs that are now starving after having all their food supply burnt off, rush forward to eat the dead and dying. Lan then chooses this moment to hit the Trollocs again while they are unprepared. Dreadlords then begin attacking the front lines forcing Lan to retreat. He is with Deepe Bhadar who tries to defeat Mazrim Taim. Deepe is killed and Lan is knocked to the ground. Kaisel helps carry Lan back to safety.
Fight with Demandred
After three others have tried to kill Demandred, the general of the Shadow army, Lan decides to give it a try. Wearing the foxhead medallion Galad had Berelain return through a gateway, he rode through the Trollocs, with Tam's archers help to challenge Demandred.
Though Demandred has the upper hand due to his channeling capabilities and skill with the sword, Lan used the void to inhumanly perceive each of Damandred's attacks causing Demandred to ask who in the world Lan could be. Ultimately, Lan realized that he could not defeat Demandred in a protracted battle due to having gone into the battle already tired, and he employed the technique of Sheathing the Sword, allowing Demandred to inflict a not-immediately fatal wound to him in order to stab him through the throat. Supposedly dead, Lan's actions result in the breaking of the Shadow army, and a strengthening in the morale of the small force led by Mat Cauthon. Rand's voice, however, is suddenly heard on the battlefield and reveals that Lan is still living. At that moment, Lan rises from where he has fallen and displays the head of Demandred, which causes the Shadow army to break completely.
He is healed by the Asha'man, Jahar Narishma.
After the last battle
After the Last Battle has been won, Lan travels to Thakan'dar and reunites with Nynaeve. Then he wears, for the first time, the crown of Malkier, as does Nynaeve.
- Seven ruined Towers are seen around his head. Refers to the seven broken towers of the Malkieri kingdom.
- A baby in a cradle holding a sword. Thought to refer to Lan's past, The sword is made with the One Power and comes from the Age of Legends.
Lan may be based on Lancelot du Lake of Arthurian mythology. This is borne out by the fact that Lan has the title "Lord of the Lakes". The name Lancelot is from an Old French word meaning "servant," so it is somewhat fitting that he is Moiraine's Warder. His name may also be an allusion to the Druid, Allanon, in the Shannara series by Terry Brooks. Lan's skills in the wilds, combat ability and royal heritage also resemble that of King Elessar Telcontar (Aragorn) in "The Lord of the Rings."