—from The Dragon Reborn. By Loial, son of Arent, son of Halan, the Fourth Age
His appearance changes throughout the length of the series. By the time of Winter's Heart, for example, his hair is in "dark, reddish curls that hung to his neck". Other physical changes occur in the form of injuries or permanent marks. His palms have brands in the shape of a heron and his forearms are covered by two scarlet and gold dragon tattoos that mark him as the Car'a'carn. He has a wound that does not heal in his side, although this is not visible while he is fully clothed. Lastly, he lost his left hand from a fireball thrown by Semirhage.
Asides from raw strength, his skill in the One Power may be unsurpassed, something that may be expected as the prophesied saviour of the world. There are many examples of this prowess; in the Stone of Tear, he effortlessly held Egwene al'Vere and Elayne Trakand captive in shields while weaving over a dozen other flows. Later, this ability to split flows is even greater, notably at the Shadowspawn attacks at Algarin Pendaloan's manor and Maradon, where Naeff is unable to track the number of weaves created by Rand.
It hinted that he is particularly strong in both Fire and Spirit, because he can force his dreams on others, which requires strength in Spirit, and he can create weaves of Fire without much trouble at all. Although he learned much from the Forsaken Asmodean, he still lacked some areas of knowledge that might be considered basic among male channelers of the Age of Legends. Mazrim Taim, for example, expresses surprise that he did not know how to detect the ability to channel in another man, yet knew how to Travel. As he merges more with Lews Therin, it can be assumed that he knows as least as much as the Dragon did about the One Power.
In addition to his own natural strength, he has several angreal and sa'angreal that allow that strength to be boosted by a considerable factor. Of these, only the fat man angreal is of practical use at close range.
Family and Ancestry
Throughout the series, Rand gradually finds out more about his true heritage.
Initially, all he knew was that he was born to an Aiel Far Dareis Mai on the slopes of Dragonmount where he was rescued by Tam. In the Aiel Waste, Rand finds out that his father was Janduin of the Iron Mountain Taardad Aiel and clan chief of the Taardad. His mother was "Shaiel", which means "she who is dedicated" in the Old Tongue, a Wetlander that appeared in the Aiel Waste six years before Rand was born. His mother and father were never married, even after Shaiel fell pregnant, as she refused to give up the spear. Seana tells Rand that he more resembles his mother than his father.
After conquering Caemlyn and holding court with Andoran nobles, their strange reactions to him prompts him to ask questions. Dyelin Taravin tells him that he bore a striking resemblance to the former Daughter-Heir Tigraine Mantear. Dyelin's father blamed Gitara Moroso, Queen Mordrellen's advisor who seemed to spend more time with he children Tigraine and Luc than with the Queen, for the disappearance of Tigraine. Gitara had convinced both Mordrellen's children to leave Andor, which indirectly brought about the Third Andoran War of Succession when a grief-stricken Mordrellen died soon after without leaving an heir. Later, Elenia Sarand explains to Rand that, although the Andoran Houses are all related and are "cousins", he and Elayne Trakand could not be said to be related at all in terms of how a commoner would think.
Rand's extended family has the following members:
- Luc Mantear: Rand's uncle.
- Galadedrid Damodred: Rand's half-brother.
- Mordrellen Mantear: Rand's grandmother.
- Dolera Mantear: Rand's great-grandmother.
Given the comments by Elenia mentioned above, he is related in some fashion to all the Andoran nobles, if distantly, including Elenia herself, all the way back to Ishara Casalain.
Some others share no blood relation with Rand, but are nonetheless closely connected in terms of degrees of separation:
- Taringail Damodred: His mother's ex-husband.
- Moiraine Damodred: Taringail's half-sister.
- Lan Mandragoran: Cousin to Isam who shares a body with Luc.
During Rand's visions in the Ter'angreal of Rhuidean, he sees the lineage of his very distant ancestors. Mandein, the most recent of these, however, lived over 3000 years ago, only twelve generations from the drilling of the Bore and less since the beginning of the Breaking of the World. This is long enough for the principle of most recent common ancestor to apply and this lineage would be shared by all living Aiel.
Aiel ancestry of Rand al'Thor
"Maybe I do. Light help me, I think maybe I do. Does that make me a lecher, or just a greedy fool?"
—Min and Rand, Lord of Chaos
Rand is bonded to his three lovers, Min Farshaw, Elayne Trakand, and Aviendha of the Nine Valleys sept of the Taardad Aiel; he is also unwillingly bonded to Alanna Mosvani. Elayne is pregnant with his twins. According to Min's viewings, Aviendha will have four children from him, all at once. [verify] Min's significance is pronounced well before the Last Battle.
"Rand put his arm around her [Min] waist. Light, what would he have done without her? I'd have fallen, he thought. During the dark months... I'd have fallen for certain."
Connection with Moridin
During Rand's battle with Sammael in Shadar Logoth, a mysterious figure only identified as "The Watcher", but later revealed to be Moridin, helps Rand when a floor collapses beneath him. When a wave of Mashadar threatens them both, they simultaneously weave bars of balefire to destroy it. The balefire streams, one woven with saidin, the other with the True Power, cross and create a paradox that gives Rand a ringing headache and double vision.
A side-effect of this event was that Rand and Moridin became linked by body and soul. Rand begins to see another face in his mind's eye and Lews Therin refers to there now being three of them and that each one of them are "destroyers". The effect is mirrored in Moridin, who can feel whenever Rand is injured. This overlapping in consciousness increases with time with Moridin being able to speak to Rand. Eventually, this will lead to a consciousness swap where Rand inhabits Moridin's body, allowing him to live on after his battle with the Dark One and his old body, that contained Moridin's consciousness who wanted to die, is burned with the assumption that it is that of the Dragon Reborn.
Figure of Prophecy
Many cultures have prophecies concerning his return and the end of the Third Age. In the Westlands, they are generally known as the Karaethon Cycle, or more simply The Prophecies of the Dragon, and are translated from the Old Tongue with several translations mentioned throughout the series.
The Aiel have prophecies concerning the Car'a'carn, or "He who comes with the dawn", which are held above the Prophecies of the Dragon as they pertain more to the Aiel people. There is likely some awareness of the Prophecies of the Dragon among the Aiel as they appear to be a highly literate people who purchase written material from peddlers passing through the Aiel Waste, but they do not associate the Dragon with the Car'a'carn. Rand just happens to be both of these figures at the same time.
The Atha'an Miere have the Jendai Prophecies that concern the Coramoor. Among other things, they say that the Atha'an Miere will not return to the land until the Coramoor comes to herald in a new Age. Like the Aiel, they do not associate this as being the same as the Dragon Reborn. The JEndai Prophecies are not specified in detail, but include some connection with the city of Tear, Aes Sedai serving him and the White Tower being broken by his name. The Atha'an Miere also seem to be aware of his coming long before the taking of the Stone of Tear as a recent surge in activity is noted in Fal Dara by Anaiya Carel as being related to the coming of the Chosen One. She obtained this information from the few Atha'an Miere Aes Sedai, who were otherwise tight-lipped on the subject.
The Seanchan have their own prophecies similar to the Prophecies of the Dragon which they call the Essanik Cycle. How they differ from the prophecies in the Westlands is unknown. They may have been known in the Westlands at some point, but the knowledge was lost over time, or may be native to that part of the world and discovered or predicted after the arrival of Luthair Paendrag Mondwin to the continent. Alternatively, they may have spawned from the Karaethon Cycle as it was known in the time of Hawkwing and been changed, mistranslated or altered for political reasons. It is also possible that these prophecies are more accurate and it was the Westlands one that became corrupted, and this is the Seanchan belief. The most obvious difference is that their versions say that the Dragon Reborn will kneel to the Crystal Throne before Tarmon Gai'don. Another option is that successive generations of functionaries "amended" the originals in order to please the Emperor/Empress at the time. A third option still is that both version of the prophecies have changed over time and the divergence just became greater with an ocean and a millenium separating the two.
Lastly, the Amayar have their own prophecies about what they call the end of the Time of Illusion that is predicted by the activation of the Choedan Kal on Tremalking. This does not prophecy the coming of Rand, but he is the cause of the fulfillment of their prophecy, leading to the mass suicide of their entire people.
Rebirth and Parentage
—Gitara Moroso, Keeper of the Chronicles
At the moment of his birth, the Keeper of the Chronicles Gitara Moroso shouted out in a brief moment of Foretelling, prophesying the coming of Tarmon Gai'don. His mother, Shaiel, died in childbirth and the abandoned newborn was rescued by Tam al'Thor to eventually be raised in the Two Rivers. His father Janduin, distraught at the death of Shaiel and loss of his baby, gave up his position as clan chief of the Taardad Aiel and went to seek a glorious death in the Blight, where he would be killed by a man resembling Shaiel. This man was, in fact, Shaiel's brother Luc Mantear, otherwise known as Slayer.
Rand was brought up in the Two Rivers without knowing his true origin until he overhears Tam speaking during a fever following an injury sustained in an attack on his village. His adopted mother, Kari al'Thor, died when Rand was five years old.
Bound to the Wheel
Rand al’Thor is the current reincarnation of the soul of Lews Therin Telamon who was first named Dragon during the War of Power in the Age of Legends. The concept of being "bound to the Wheel" was mentioned by Artur Hawkwing, and later Birgitte Silverbow, is a greater concept than being the Dragon and is related to the Heroes of the Horn spun out to "fight the Shadow". The Dragon is a specific incarnation of this bound soul. According to Robert Jordan himself: "This soul is one of the Heroes, and bound to the Wheel, spun out as the Pattern wills. "It" is born in other Ages, but in a non-Dragon incarnation, to suit the pattern of that Age."
Ishamael claimed to have "divined secrets" regarding this pattern of rebirth. What these might be, or whether they existed at all, as Ishamael and Moridin are both seen as mad in the eyes of others, are unknown. He claims to have knowledge of having faced Lews Therin "a thousand times a thousand times", although he may not have any knowledge or memories of those Turnings other than their existence. It's possible that one of those secrets is that, in order for the Shadow to win, the Dragon must turn to the Shadow of his own free will. During the lives lived out by Rand in the Portal Stone, Rand fails, but never turns to the Shadow. It should be noted, however, that these are parallel lives, and not previous lives. Robert Jordan makes the following analogy:
"Imagine two tapestries hanging on a wall, and you look at them from the back of the room to the front of the store. And to look at them, they look identical to you. But as you get closer, you begin to see differences. And if you get close enough, they don't look anything at all alike. That is the difference between the Ages. Between the Age in one Turning and the Age in another. So it's quite possible that someone other than Rand could be the reborn soul of the Dragon Reborn."
Note that this is a different person, but the same soul. In the Portal Stone lives, Rand is always the Dragon Reborn. It could also be the case that the whole setup was manipulated by Ishamael in order to convince the Dragon Reborn to join the Shadow.
Lastly, although there are other prophecies about the Wolf King and the Fox, there is no indication that these souls are bound to the Wheel in the same way, not least because Hawkwing does not address Mat or Perrin in the same terms as "Lews Therin". This is a further differentiation between ta'veren, prophecy and what it is meant to be "bound to the Wheel". Birgitte, for example, is not ta'veren, but bound to the Wheel.
Rand, Lews Therin and Madness
Given the nature of the Taint, it should be inevitable that Rand suffer from madness in the same way all male channelers have since the Breaking of the World. It is also known that Rand is the Dragon Reborn and hence the reincarnation of Lews Therin Telamon. For some readers, and Rand himself, there was a question of whether or not the voice of Lews Therin was something real or simply a symptom of saidin-induced madness. Cadsuane Melaidhrin asks Rand if he has started hearing voices yet, something that she has presumably had experience with with the many male channelers she has encountered in her life. Semirhage too seems to know that Rand is hearing the voice of Lews Therin and, although she suggests such a voice may be real, indicates that it would lead to madness all the more rapidly for being real.
Various pieces of evidence can be gathered to suggest that Rand has memories of the Dragon or has new skills that he did not have before Lews Therin appeared in his thoughts. These include, but are not limited to:
- Information about the Forsaken such as their real names, atrocities they performed, character, preferred tactics etc
- Memories of other people known to Lews Therin, such as the image of Ilyena's face
- References to places such as the Can Breat unknown to anyone in the Third Age
- Memories of Lews Therin's childhood
- New abilties possessed by Lews Therin but not by Rand, such as the ability to draw life-like sketches.
- Age of Legends One Power terms for instead of the modern ones eg. "web" instead of "weave", "shield" instead of "ward".
- Many types of weaves that he did not learn from Asmodean eg those woven at Lord Algarin Pendaloan's manor against the Shadowspawn
- He recognises Semirhage's face when Cadsuane breaks the Mask of the Mirrors disguising her
- Exhibiting nervous tics that were Lews Therin's and not his
A skeptic, however, may say this is part of a complex hallucination or inferred from other information. This would not be true, however, as Rand is able to recall facts such as Sammael's real name, Tel Janin Aellinsar. Rand thinks to himself that "No history recorded the name, no fragment in the library at Tar Valon; Moiraine had told him everything the Aes Sedai knew of the Forsaken". His mental image of Ilyena's golden hair matches the women we see killed in the opening of the whole series. The Forsaken use the term "web" rather than weave in their point of view. Lews Therin also makes astute observations about the identity of the third man inside their head before Rand is even aware of him. Even harder to dispute is the sudden ability to draw portraits to assist Rand in the search for the renegade Asha'man.
It should also be noted that Rand does not have all of Lews Therin's memories and that he gained more memories as the series progresses. He does not, for example, recognise Lanfear nor Asmodean face to face.
Whether Rand possesses (at least part of) Lews Therin's knowledge is a subtly different to whether the voice in Rand's head is real or not. This is less easy to prove. After Nynaeve discovers that she could Heal the Taint-induced madness of the Asha'man  she Delves Rand as well for madness, and she discovers that the entirety of his mind is so heavily covered with the web of tiny thorns of blackness that it seemed impossible to her to remove. She is surprised by how could Rand even think with that on his brain. She also, however, discovers that there is a protective glowing white insulation between the web of thorns and his brain. "Light given form and life. Coated each of the dark tines, driving into Rand's mind alongside them." This implies that Rand received some kind of protection from the Taint from the Creator that should have long ago driven him to madness and, going further, that Lews Therin could not be a product of a madness whose cause is the Taint. Indeed, after Rand's epiphany on Dragonmount, he has he realisation that he and Lews Therin are one. After that point, the merging of both personalities and memories is complete and he no longer hears the voice. When he meets with Egwene in the White Tower, he states that he can remember Lews Therin's life "as a clear dream".
For a full chronology concerning the activities of Rand al'Thor ordered by book see Rand al'Thor/Chronology.
- A sword that isn't a sword (fulfilled - refers to Callandor).
- A golden crown of laurel leaves (fulfilled - he now rules Illian, accepted the Laurel Crown, and renamed it the Crown of Swords).
- A beggar's staff (fulfilled by his visit to Ebou Dar).
- Pouring water on sand (fulfilled - refers to when Rand creates rain in the Aiel Waste, or to opening an underground river at Rhuidean, or may refer to the attempted healing of the wound on his side, of which the flows of power sink into it "like water into sand", or may refer to the Prophecy of Rhuidean that mentions him spilling the blood of the Aiel "as water on sand").
- A bloody hand and a white hot iron (partially fulfilled with Semirhage blowing his hand off, the other half could refer to Semirhage's death as balefire is often described as a bar of white hot iron).
- Three women standing over a funeral bier with Rand on it (the three women are Min, Aviendha and Elayne).
- Black rock wet with blood (Clear reference to the Karaethon Cycle -"His blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul, washing away the shadow, sacrifice for man's salvation."-).
- Rand will be hurt by Aes Sedai (fulfilled refers to when the White Tower Aes Sedai captured Rand, kept him in a box and beat him).
- Dragonmount is seen cloaked in shadows from storm clouds, then a pinprick of light will burst through the storm cover (fulfilled - refers to the land covered in clouds and Rand having his epiphany).
- An open cavern, gaping like a mouth (could refer to the Bore).
- Bloodstained rocks (fulfilled - his old wound opening at Shayol Ghul and spilling blood onto the rock).
- Two dead men on the ground, surrounded by ranks and ranks of Trollocs (perhaps a reference to Lan's charge at the Shadowspawn in Tarwin's Gap).
- A pipe with smoke curling from it. (fulfilled - signifies Rand's ability to channel being replaced by having the power to "Will" things into existence in the Waking World)
Rand is associated with many iconic possessions throughout the series. These mark variously coming of age, great victories and reminders of the possibility of failure. We list them in the order in which they were gained:
- Tamlin al'Thor's sword: A heron-marked sword given to him by Tam al'Thor on Winternight after the Trollocs attacked Emond's Field. It was this sword that marked his palms with herons. It was destroyed during Rand's battle against Ishamael.
- Callandor: The famed "Sword That Cannot Be Touched" or "Sword That Is Not a Sword", one of the most powerful sa'angreal attuned to saidin ever made. Attained when he took the Stone of Tear. It is used only four times by Rand in the series.
- Fat bald man angreal: Found by Rand among the objects of Power collected in the Stone of Tear. It is a shiny green stone carving of a fat bald man with a sword. He loses it when he is kidnapped by the White Tower Aes Sedai, but recovers it later in the series.
- Choedan Kal Keys: Discovered in Rhuidean, these ter'angreal give access to the most powerful sa'angreal ever constructed, each of which has the power to "melt continents". He used them to cleanse saidin of the Dark One's Taint. The female access key was destroyed during this feat and the male sa'angreal destroyed by Rand later in the series.
- Laman's Sword: Gifted to him by Aviendha to meet her toh, this used to belong to Laman "Treekiller" Damodred and was passed around the Aiel for twenty years. The original was set in a gem-encrusted sheath and hilt, but Rand discarded these and kept the most useful part - the heron-marked power-wrought blade - which he had reset with a more practical hilt.
- Dragon Belt Buckle: Another gift from Aviendha. When she gave up her spears to become a Wise One's apprentice, she had them melted and forged into a buckle in the shape of a Dragon.
- The Dragon Scepter: Obtained when Rand and Aviendha visited Seanchan for a brief raunchy encounter. Hurled by a Seanchan soldier, it was cut clean in two by a closing Gateway. Rand keeps it as a reminder that the Seanchan are still a force to be contended. He uses the spear as a scepter and keeps it with him when receiving various important nobles and Aes Sedai delegations. It was destroyed during Semirhage's attack on Rand.
- Crown of Swords: The crown worn by the King of Illian and officially known as the Laurel Crown, but renamed by Rand. He obtains this after defeating Sammael and is crowned King by the Council of Nine.
- The Dragon Sword: Uncovered shortly before the Last Battle, this is a two-handed sword that he is incapable of wielding as a weapon due to only having one hand at this point. It formerly belonged to Artur Paendrag Tanreall and was called Justice. The scabbard is lacquered black with a long, sinuous, red-and-gold dragon decorating it and the blade is not heron-marked. He bequeathes it to Tam before entering Shayol Ghul, much in the same way Tam gives Rand his sword at the beginning of the series. When Tam asks whether it is Power-forged, Rand says he doesn't know.
Robert Jordan draws on a number of sources from myth and legend to create the Dragon archetype. A list of these can be found at Rand al'Thor/Parallels.