Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Angreal and Sa'angreal

By Linda

Angreal (anh-gree-AHL) and sa’angreal (SAH-ahn-GREE-ahl) allow a channeller to safely channel more of the One Power than they otherwise would be able to. Sa’angreal are like angreal, only more powerful and rare (A Crown of Swords Glossary). Both probably add a fixed increment to the channeller’s strength rather than multiply the amount of power a channeller can use:

Matt – Question: The Choedan Kal, does it amplify your power? Is it limited, for example, if I have a certain amount of power does it give me 10x what I have, or is it a certain amount of power I can access?

Brandon: One of the things I’ve been doing when I answer questions is that I’ve been saying that this is my understanding and putting an asterisk at the bottom that is a – I am speaking from my understanding and not from specific knowledge from the notes, meaning yes I am probably right but these are the questions I could be wrong on…this one my understanding is that it is a reservoir of power. It is not necessarily a magnification. A very weak person with a very powerful sa’angreal is very powerful. I’m pretty sure on that one, but I will add the asterisk just in case. If you send me an email, I can go back and look to make sure. But I’m reasonably sure on that one, the reasons being things that are talked about in the notes mixed with the way an’greal and sa’angreal worked previously in the books mixed with two specific things that he talked about in the notes when people using an’greal and sa’angreal after they become very weak or after they are weak.

The increase in the amount of the Power that a channeller obtains using a sa'angreal compared to that of an angreal is comparable to the increase in the amount of the Power obtained using an angreal compared to what they can handle unaided. According to Robert Jordan’s Aes Sedai notes in box 55, angreal are safe for any channeller to use. However, various sa’angreal are too strong for some channellers. If a channeller is not strong enough for the sa’angreal, they may be forced into drawing more of the power than they can handle, resulting in full or partial burnout, or even death. With the notable exception of Callandor and Vora’s sa’angreal, angreal and sa’angreal have buffers to protect the channeller from the extra Power (The Path of Daggers, The Breaking Storm). The access keys perform this function for the dangerous Choedan Kal (Robert Jordan’s Aes Sedai notes in box 55).

Most angreal are small enough for a channeller to easily carry or wear. They vary in potency, and shape or size is no guide (The Shadow Rising, Into the Heart). The sa’angreal so far seen in the series have been larger than the angreal; the most powerful, very large indeed.

Angreal and sa’angreal are attuned to either saidin or saidar and thus useless to those who channel the opposite half of the Source. It is possible that there are angreal usable by both men and women but none have been confirmed (A Crown of Swords Glossary) – the legendary Ring of Tamyrlin has been mentioned as possibly one of these (see Ter'angreal article).

Making an Angreal or Sa’angreal

Angreal are made from Seeds, objects in which the channeller’s power can be instilled, to the short-term detriment of the channeller’s strength:

“Here," Rand said. "The gift I mentioned." He pushed the pouch toward her.

She looked at him, curious. She untied the strings, and took from it a small statue of a woman. She stood upright, with a shawl about her shoulders, though she did not look like an Aes Sedai. She had a mature face, aged and wise, with a wise look about her and a smile on her face.

"An angreal?" Elayne asked.
"No, a Seed."
"A . . . seed?"
"You have the Talent of creating ter'angreal," Rand said. "Creating angreal requires a different process. It begins with one of these, an object created to draw your Power and instill it into something else. It takes time, and will weaken you for several months, so you should not attempt it while we are at war."

A Memory of Light, To Die Well

It is not known if a Seed is a type of ter’angreal, as Cadsuane thought (A Memory of Light, To Feel Wasted) or something else. Either way, the object is apparently slowly converted to an angreal. Nor is it known how Seeds are created. I hope that Elayne studies the Seed and works this out before she uses it.

There is apparently no difference in the method of making angreal and sa’angreal (A Memory of Light booksigning).

Using an Angreal or Sa’angreal

To use an angreal or sa’angreal, the channeller opens themselves to the Source through the angreal (The Path of Daggers, The Breaking Storm). They don’t need to touch the angreal to use it, but they need to have it on their person and know exactly where it is in relation to themselves. Angreal do not appear to glow when used, but sa’angreal do - even non-channellers can see the glow. For example, Barmellin saw the sphere of the male Choedan Kal glowing during the Cleansing (Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal).

Sul’dam and damane know of angreal:

Luckers: Do the Seanchan know of angreal? Can a damane use one?

Brandon Sanderson: They know of angreal. That’s in the notes. And yes, as far as I know a damane should be able to use one. I mean damane are essentially in links, and women in links can still use angreal, but this is a good question, because, it’s odd then that we haven’t seen them use them.

Luckers: Maybe they were thought too valuable to risk in an invasion—though that’s odd, because that would be sort of where they are needed most.

Brandon Sanderson: Yeah, I’m not sure... that is strange. But they definitely know of angreal.

Interview April 2012

But none have used any that we know of. They probably can’t use one since sul’dam can’t channel and so can’t reach out for saidar through the angreal and damane can’t lead in a link. (Even if they could, it would set the sul’dam/damane pair using one way above the others, leading to problems of trust, and so it has probably not even been tried.)

Identifying Angreal and Sa’angreal

Angreal and sa’angreal feel warm when touched by a channeller who uses the same half of the Source they are attuned to, or resonate if the same half of the Source is used nearby.

Destroying Angreal and Sa’angreal

According to Robert Jordan’s Aes Sedai notes in box 55, the destruction of angreal or sa’angreal is difficult and dangerous, due to the risk of wild surges of the Power. In the Age of Legends, the destruction of an angreal or sa’angreal was usually undertaken by a circle, though in some cases the circle was small. For the destruction of one of the Choedan Kal, the Age of Legends Aes Sedai would have used a full and perfect circle of 72 (37 women and 35 men) of the strongest available Aes Sedai, each equipped with a sa’angreal, and even then it would be a dangerous operation. Contrast this with Rand simply using the Choedan Kal’s own power to destroy it in The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold. It’s hard to say if this information makes his action more heroic or more reckless.

Angreal For Women:

Flowers Brooch Angreal

For nearly fifty years, Verin had an angreal of translucent stone carved into a lily with too many petals close by, but never wore it (or any other jewellery) until Winter’s Heart, Wonderful News. It is not a very powerful angreal (The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances) and its current location is unknown.

Golden Bracelet and Rings Angreal:

one [angreal] was an odd piece of jewellery, a gold bracelet attached by four flat chains to finger rings, every bit of it engraved in an intricate maze like pattern. That was the stronger [angreal]…Strangely, the bracelet had a tiny lock, complete with a miniscule tubular key dangling from a fine chain that was obviously made to be removed. Along with the key.

The Path of Daggers, A Quiet Place

This is the strongest of the three angreal that Elayne found in the Ebou Dar cache (see The Cache from Ebou Dar article) and it appears to fit whatever hand it is put on (Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal). It is currently in Nynaeve’s possession.

Golden Shrike Ornament Angreal

Cadsuane wears this angreal dangling from a golden chain in her hair (Winter’s Heart, With The Choedan Kal). She earned it and several ter’angreal ornaments from an old channeller named Norla in the Black Hills over 250 years ago when she was newly raised (see Cadsuane's Ornaments article and Jewellery Ter'angreal article).

Ivory Bracelet Angreal

This angreal is of aged ivory and is a bracelet worked as a person bending backwards with their wrists bound to their ankles. It is a very strong angreal, almost a sa’angreal according to the Eelfinn (Towers of Midnight, The Light of the World). Using it, a woman too weak to be Accepted would be very strong, stronger than Romanda or Lelaine (Towers of Midnight, A Rabbit for Supper).

Moiraine brought it out of Rhuidean on Kadere’s wagons and the day before her encounter with Lanfear left it lying at the foot of the redstone doorframe (The Fires of Heaven, Choices). Lanfear climbed on the wagon to get it during her battle with Rand (confirmed by Jordan on his blog). Moiraine clawed it away from Lanfear as they both fell through the doorway. Cyndane does not have this angreal; Moiraine apparently obtained it from the Eelfinn as one of her requests under the bargain, since the descriptions match and it is unlikely the Eelfinn had two exactly the same. However Sanderson thinks they are two different angreal (Interview April 2012). It is still in Moiraine’s possession.

Ivory Knife Angreal

Mesaana gave Graendal a small ivory angreal carved in the shape of a knife in exchange for information (Towers of Midnight, Epilogue).

Small Gold Ring Angreal

A small plain golden ring was found by Graendal among Sammael’s belongings (The Path of Daggers, New Alliances). It is a fairly weak angreal. This ring may have been in the stasis box Sammael found (and mentioned in Lord of Chaos, To Understand A Message), but more likely it came from the Ebou Dar cache. According to Graendal, the person that filled the stasis box followed the Dark One (Lord of Chaos, To Understand A Message). If this Darkfriend had the angreal, they would be far more likely to keep such a useful item on their person than store it away. Plus, Nynaeve’s and Elayne’s portion of the Ebou Dar cache contained both angreal and jewellery (see The Cache from Ebou Dar article). The angreal was destroyed in the balefiring of Graendal’s palace (Towers of Midnight, Epilogue).

Stone Figurine Angreal

This angreal is a hand-sized weathered stone figurine of a woman clothed to her ankles in her hair. Egwene saw it in the collection in the Panarch’s museum in Tel’aran’rhiod (The Shadow Rising, What Lies Hidden). Since Nynaeve did not take it, and none of Egwene, Moghedien or the Black Ajah thinks of it, it is probably still there if it survived Jeaine Caide’s balefire.

Stone Flower Angreal

A small stone flower angreal from the Tower’s store was used in the Last Battle (A Memory of Light, Not A Mistake To Ignore).

Turtle Brooch Angreal

Elayne found a small amber brooch in the shape of a turtle in the Ebou Dar cache ( The Path of Daggers, Unweaving). It is not a strong angreal – with it Elayne can handle twice as much of the Power as Nynaeve - and is currently with Aviendha (A Memory of Light, Drifting).

Woman Clothed in Her Hair Figurine Angreal

A seated woman in age-darkened ivory, her legs folded in front of her, her exposed knees bare, but with her hair so long and luxuriant she could not have been more muffled in the heaviest cloak. It was not even as strong as the turtle…One hand rested on a knee, palm up and fingers arranged so the thumb touched the tips of the middle two fingers, while the other hand was lifted, the first two fingers raised and the others folded. The whole figure carried an air of supreme dignity, yet the delicately worked face showed amusement and delight.

The Path of Daggers, A Quiet Place

The woman appears to be in a yoga posture and is making the sign of peace. With this fairly weak angreal, Aviendha can hold almost twice as much of the Power (The Path of Daggers, The Breaking Storm). It is the weakest of three angreal that Elayne found in the Ebou Dar cache (see The Cache from Ebou Dar article) and was last known in Elayne’s possession, although she did not use it in the Last Battle.

Woman in Robes Figurine Angreal

This angreal was taken by Moiraine with Siuan’s permission into the Two Rivers, and it is a hand-sized aged-ivory figurine of a long-haired woman in flowing robes (The Eye of the World, A Place of Safety). While Moiraine was under pressure from the Hall to return the angreal (The Great Hunt, The Shadow in Shienar), she did not, and used it to Heal in The Dragon Reborn in the Mountains of Mist. Moiraine could have used this angreal if she wanted to battle Lanfear in Cairhien. Its whereabouts are unknown.

Angreal For Men:

Man with Sword Figurine Angreal

Rand found this angreal in the Great Holding of Tear. It is a figurine of a round-faced, fat, bald-headed man sitting cross-legged with a sword across his knees worked in shiny dark green stone that fits easily into Rand’s hand (The Shadow Rising, Into the Heart). In Lord of Chaos, The Mirror of Mists, Rand was not confident that he could shield seven Aes Sedai already embracing saidar even using this angreal. It was taken from Rand when he was captured by Elaida’s embassy and lost at Dumai’s Wells. Taim had his loyal Asha’man search for it, but they did not find it (A Crown of Swords, The Butcher’s Yard). Rand did, however, when he went back to visit the battle site at Dumai’s Wells (A Memory of Light, Just Another Sell-sword). Rand sent this angreal to the Asha’man and Logain has it (A Memory of Light, The Last Battle).

Possible Male Angreal

Bayle Domon had a small, age-dark ivory carving of a man holding a sword amongst his collection of ancient artefacts on his ship. The man who sold it to him claimed if you held it long enough you started to feel warm (The Great Hunt, Leavetakings). Perhaps this man had the potential to channel, since angreal give out a feeling of warmth to those who can channel. It is not known if Domon still has it, since he and his ships were twice seized by the Seanchan and the second time he was sold as da’covale.


White Fluted Wand Sa’angreal

Vora’s sa’angreal, a white, fluted wand the length of a woman’s forearm, is one of the few sa’angreal the White Tower has, and perhaps the most powerful. With that wand, a strong Aes Sedai might be able to crumple the walls of Tar Valon (The Dragon Reborn, Healing) and a ring of ten Aes Sedai were able to Heal Mat Cauthon of the Shadar Logoth dagger. Nynaeve’s comment that she could not handle half that much of the Power as was used in the Healing is correct. ;)

Like Callandor, it has no buffer against over-drawing the Power (A Memory of Light, The Last Battle). Jordan had this in his notes ( A Memory of Light booksigning).

It was stored on the top shelf in the storeroom for smaller objects of the Power in The Gathering Storm, The Tower Shakes, but after being used to destroy Taim and the Sharan channellers, and Heal the effects of balefire on the Land, it was locked in a column of crystal in the hills which collapsed in the earthquakes:

At the very center of the explosion, Leane found a column of crystal as wide as an ancient leatherleaf tree, rising some fifty feet in the air. Frozen at its center was a fluted rod, Vora's sa'angreal. There was no sign of the Amyrlin herself, but Leane knew.

A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

Sanderson named the sa‘angreal ( A Memory of Light booksigning). Vora is both a place name and an Indian surname. There is also the undying Vorapede from Magic the Gathering with powers of vigilance and trample and the LEGO Bionicle Vorahk, which has a staff that can drain the energy of its foes…


Callandor, the only sa’angreal in the form of a weapon, was made during the War of the Power (Robert Jordan at a booksigning). It is a crystal sword that can cut as well as the finest steel (The Shadow Rising, Whirlpools in the Pattern) and may be made of cuendillar, since it parted a flow of balefire:

The shaft of light struck the blade of Callandor – and parted on its edge, forking to stream past on either side…where they struck, stone ceased to exist…A snarl of rage came from the shadows, and the blazing shaft of pure white heat vanished.

The Dragon Reborn, What is Written in Prophecy

This was more than a glancing blow. Furthermore, Osan’gar expected Callandor to survive his balefire attack on the hill near Shadar Logoth (Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal). Only if Osan’gar destroyed all of those on the hill at the one time with balefire could he expect to stop Rand using the Choedan Kal and safely obtain Callandor. Therefore Osan’gar, at least, believed Callandor is made of cuendillar.

For three thousand years Callandor, aptly named The Sword That Cannot Be Touched, was protected behind a warding of saidin and saidar for the Dragon Reborn set in the Stone of Tear. Few Aes Sedai even knew what Callandor was. Rand channelled the sword back into the Stone when he left Tear for the Waste and set traps about it. When Narishma tried to free Callandor according to Rand’s instructions, he found more traps than Rand had informed him (The Path of Daggers, Answering the Summons). Perhaps a Forsaken had added to the traps to try and kill Rand and gain Callandor.

Callandor is a very powerful sa’angreal; only two more powerful (one the male Choedan Kal, the other Sakarnen) were made that a man can use (The Shadow Rising, Decisions). With Callandor, Rand could level a city’s walls at a blow (The Shadow Rising, Whirlpools in the Pattern) or annihilate a city with balefire (The Fires of Heaven, Gateways). Using it made Rand feel overwhelmed with the Power, becoming so unstable that he felt he could do anything and die doing it and that nothing could threaten his life (The Shadow Rising, The Stone Stands). He destroyed his own troops along with those of the Seanchan in The Path of Daggers. Cadsuane knew why: unfortunately, Callandor is flawed because it lacks the buffer against over-drawing the Power that makes other sa’angreal safe to use and also magnifies the taint, inducing wildness of the mind. The flaw is a manufacturing flaw (due to the effect of the war on manufacturing standards) and was discovered when they used Callandor during the War of the Power (Robert Jordan at a booksigning).

The only safe way for a man to use Callandor, without the risk of him doing something insane or killing himself drawing too much of the Power, is to link with two women, and have one of them lead the circle (The Path of Daggers, The Bargain). The taint, of course, has been cleansed, but there is still the problem of burnout due to the absence of a buffer. Unknown to Rand, Cadsuane gave Callandor to some retired Aes Sedai to study to see what secrets it still holds (The Gathering Storm, A Box Opens) and work out how these prophecies might be fulfilled. It was retrieved by the time Rand was tested by the Borderlanders and if the Aes Sedai discovered anything it hasn’t been mentioned.

Callandor features prominently in the Prophecies:

Taking the Sword That Cannot Be Touched was one of the first major prophecies that he had fulfilled. But was his taking of Callandor a meaningless sign, or was it a step? Everyone knew the prophecy, but few asked the question that should have been inevitable. Why? Why did Rand have to take up the sword? Was it to be used in the Last Battle?
The sword was inferior as a sa'angreal, and he doubted that it was intended to be used simply as a sword.
Why did the prophecies not speak of the Choedan Kal? He had used those to cleanse the taint.

The Gathering Storm, The One He Lost

It was also called a 'fearful blade' or 'the blade of ruin' in the prophecies and Min thought it has other flaws that might make Rand weak, opening him to attack if he used it (Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light) and that Callandor may be used against Rand (Towers of Midnight, A Testing). Callandor was prophesied to “bind him by twain”, which Rand interpreted as:

"I need to be in a circle with two women to control it."

Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light

Min could not see why that should happen:

He shall hold a blade of light in his hands, and the three shall be one…

So ... Rand was to use Callandor as part of a circle, then? The three becoming one? But for what reason and with whom? If he was to fight the Dark One, then it didn't make sense for him to be in a circle with someone else in control, did it?

The Gathering Storm, Reading the Commentary

Her ominous viewing of:

A glowing sword, Callandor, being gripped in a black hand. She gasped.

"What did you see?" Rand asked softly.
"Callandor, held in a fist. The hand looks to be made of onyx."

Towers of Midnight, A Testing

was of Moridin’s hand.

Callandor was made as a trap for a male Forsaken:

He reached up to Callandor, strapped on his back, touching it. The sword's final secret lay bare to him now. It was a trap, and a clever one, for this weapon was a sa'angreal not for just the One Power, but for the True Power as well.

He had thrown away the access key, but on his back he carried something so very tempting. The True Power, the Dark One's essence, was the sweetest thing he had ever touched. With Callandor, he could draw it forth in strength such as no man had ever before felt. Because Callandor lacked the safety measures of most other angreal and sa'angreal, there was no telling how much of the Powers it could draw.

A Memory of Light, A Silence Like Screaming

Question: Was the flaw in Callandor deliberate?

Brandon Sanderson: Yes, Callandor was deliberately designed as a trap.

A Memory of Light book signing

Despite Rand’s fears, the flaws in Callandor were not aimed at him, but at Moridin.

The sword's glow turned a violent crimson. Rand could feel the power emanating from Moridin as he drew in the True Power.

This was the most dangerous part of the plan. Min had figured it out. Callandor had such flaws, such incredible flaws. Created so that a man using it needed women to control him, created so that if Rand used it, others could take control of him . . .

Why was Rand to need a weapon with such flaws? Why did the prophecies mention it so? A sa'angreal for the True Power. Why would he ever need such a thing?

The answer was so simple.
"Now!" Rand yelled.

Nynaeve and Moiraine channeled together, exploiting the flaw in Callandor as Moridin tried to bring it to bear against Rand. Wind whipped in the tunnel. The ground quivered, and Moridin yelled, eyes going wide.

They took control of him. Callandor was flawed. Any man using it could be forced to link with women, to be placed in their control. A trap . . . and one he used on Moridin.

A Memory of Light, Watching the Flow Writhe

This only works if the man leads the circle. If he is linked with women and one of them leads the circle, he cannot be taken over (A Memory of Light, At The Edge of Time). Callandor has similarities with the male a’dam, which once placed on a man allows one or two women wearing the bracelets to control him in an involuntary ring (see Male A'dam).

Callandor glowed red, rather than white when the True Power was drawn through it by a man. A woman could not draw the True Power through it, Sanderson believes (A Memory of Light booksigning).

There is also the question of how its ability to draw on the True Power was instilled:

Question: Getting back to Callandor, we know that you have to channel the appropriate power though a seed—saidin or saidar. So I was wondering how Callandor got True Power capability. Is it because of the flaw, or did someone channel the True Power through the seed at the time it was created?

Brandon Sanderson: That's an excellent question to which I do not have the answer. It's not one I had considered.

Question: Somebody had said when I posted in the Facebook re-readers group that there is a theory that the capability might be due to the Taint, but I wasn't sure that was the case.

Brandon Sanderson: I believe it was made intentionally to do what it did for a specific use. Not what it ended up being used for. I don't think it was used for that. I think it was built—you're going to have to clear it with Maria—I think it was built to be a trap for one of the male Forsaken.

A Memory of Light; booksigning

This is a different angle to Jordan’s comment that Callandor was a result of inadequate quality control during manufacture. It may be that the plan to use it as a trap was devised after its flaws were discovered, rather than Callandor being created specifically for the plan.

Callandor was presumably left behind by Rand and Moridin, since there is no mention of it after the Dark One was sealed.


Sakarnen is a golden sceptre with a cup atop it. It is very probably the second of the male sa’angreal stronger than Callandor that Lanfear said was made:

“Not with that, certainly,” she added, grimacing at Callandor. “There are only two more powerful that a man can use.

The Shadow Rising, Decisions

Taim thought that using Sakarnen drained Demandred:

Demandred sat, cross-legged, at their center. His eyes closed, he breathed in and out slowly. That sa'angreal he used . . . it took something out of him, something more than just the normal strength required for channeling.

A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

Yet he was able to use it all day, and direct the armies and fight three duels without visible fatigue. Demandred may have been keeping himself fresh by meditating as swordsmen and other practitioners of martial arts do. Taim scorned these techniques and so would not understand the power of meditation.

Demandred lent Sakarnen to Taim to fight Egwene. He prevented Taim from attacking him with it by telling Taim he had bonded the sa’angreal to himself, with dire consequences if Taim turned on him with it:

"Do not channel through that toward me. I have bonded Sakarnen to me. If you try to use it against me, it will burn you from the Pattern."
Did Demandred lie? Could a sa'angreal be attuned to a specific person? He did not know. He considered, then lowered Sakarnen, bitter despite the power surging through him.
"I am not a fool, M'Hael," Demandred said dryly. "I will not hand you the noose in which to hang me. Go and do as you are told. You are my servant in this thing, the hand that holds my axe to chop down the tree. Destroy the Amyrlin; use balefire.

A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

This may or may not be true.

Like Vora’s sa’angreal, Sakarnen may have been named by Sanderson. If it was, it is probably a nod to his favourite game. Sakarnen is close to the first part of the name of a Magic the Gathering creature with surprisingly apt parallels to Demandred:

Sarkhan Vol is a planeswalker who can wield both red and green magic. His specialty is draconic shamanism: spells that summon dragons and evoke the rage and passion of dragonkind.

Red is symbolic of blood and green of the Land, so the red magic would be equivalent to the True Power and the green to the health-giving One Power. Demandred channelled both powers during A Memory of Light, and walked Tel’aran’rhiod, another plane of existence. Demandred once defended the Land, but then turned to the Shadow and fought against it, even using balefire upon it at the Dark One’s command. At the Last Battle he claimed to be owned by the Land as “He Who Is Owned Only By the Land” (A Memory of Light The Wyld), and was focussed on summoning Rand to a duel where he intended to kill him. Ironically Demandred did not intend to use Sakarnen to fight the Dragon Reborn and his summonses were completely ineffective.

“After many years of searching the planes, he found Jund, a world tyrannized by dragons, and knew he had found his prize. It is here that Sarkhan seeks an exemplar of dragonhood, the ultimate expression of predatory perfection worthy of his worship.”

While Demandred wanted to kill Rand rather than worship him, his wariness of the Dragon and repeated statements of Lews Therin’s and presumably Rand’s skills show that Demandred has a healthy regard of the Dragon in spite of his hatred.

Sarkhan Vol is very strong. He has loyalty counters as well as hit points and can only be killed if you attack him with lots of creatures. The player can increase his loyalty counters by having him use his weaker move, whereas using his strong move decreases his loyalty counters. If he has enough loyalty counters then his strong move weakens him but doesn’t kill him. Effectively his strength comes from his loyalty counters.

Demandred also had very strong loyalty from his Sharan followers (and to a lesser degree from some Darkfriends) and their loyalty greatly increased his military strength. However, when he used his huge strength to commit atrocities to demoralise the Light, such as killing his prisoners of war, he also gave his own followers pause. There is also the question of how Demandred remained so strong using this sa’angreal extensively and physically fighting three duels. He may have drawn on other channellers for their strength while using the sa’angreal.

The name may be of conscious or sub-conscious origin, although considering the close correspondences, it may well be conscious.

Sakarnen is a real world surname, and the similar Sakarmen is a personal name.

Choedan Kal Sa’angreal

The strongest sa’angreal were the Choedan Kal, two huge statues, one attuned to saidar and one to saidin. The female sa’angreal was a stone statue of a woman, the male, a bearded man, both dignified, robed and holding a crystal sphere aloft in one hand. The spheres alone were over twenty paces across (The Great Hunt, Saidin). The male statue was in Cairhien, the female was on Tremalking.

Ter’angreal access keys like miniature versions of the sa’angreal were made to use the Choedan Kal (see Access Keys Ter’angreal article) because the statues are too large to be portable. With these keys the sa’angreal could be used from anywhere in the world. The access keys are also necessary to use the Choedan Kal, otherwise the channeller would be burned out instantly by the huge flow of the One Power (Strike on Shayol Ghul). Unknown to everyone but the Forsaken, the Choedan Kal went beyond the limits of sa’angreal and are flawed and dangerous. Trying to use the Choedan Kal without the access keys would result in the channeller being sucked in deeper and deeper and, unless they are able to pull out, as Rand did, their mind would be destroyed, or their channelling ability burned out, or they would be killed (Robert Jordan’s Aes Sedai notes in box 55). When Rand first saw the male sa’angreal, the void formed involuntarily and saidin sang to him. He had to use his utmost mental strength to force the void and saidin away—hence Lanfear’s alarm was not just that Rand had access to far more power than she. After this, he had no more reactions to touching the True Source (see Onset of Rand's Channelling article). Perhaps he learned control.

Even then, only very strong channellers could use the Choedan Kal, as Cyndane indicated in Winter’s Heart, Wonderful News. Verin thought the channeller had to be as strong as Moiraine or stronger (The Great Hunt, On the Scent), but she may be mistaken since she knew nothing of access keys and also underestimated Logain’s strength (although the latter may have been deliberately misleading). The Choedan Kal exemplify the “all power corrupts” trope, although all the sa’angreal show it to a degree.

The Choedan Kal were built towards the end of the War of Power as part of the Light’s desperate bid to end the War. The plan was to use them to defeat the Shadow’s forces completely and erect a barrier around Shayol Ghul until a safe way of dealing with the Bore could be determined (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time). The forces of the Shadow may well have tried to gain the Choedan Kal and also the access keys. In The Fires of Heaven, Gateways, Rand thinks that the male access key was finished after the bore was resealed – knowledge apparently from Lews Therin. However this contradicts detailed history in The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time and the Strike on Shayol Ghul.

The great sa’angreal were never tested in the Age of Legends (Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal), but inspired great fear on both sides, since they were thought to be so powerful that either one might enable a single person to channel enough of the One Power to destroy the world, while both together certainly would do so. Some doubted that so much of the One Power could possibly be handled safely under any circumstances (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time). Lanfear believed that using the Choedan Kal, two very strong channellers, such as herself and Rand, would be able to challenge the Dark One or the Creator (The Shadow Rising, Decisions) and Rand that he could stand against 200 damane while using the male Choedan Kal (The Gathering Storm, A Halo of Blackness).

Rand linked with Nynaeve to use the Choedan Kal to cleanse saidin, believing it was worth the risk of Breaking the World to prevent the Asha’man and himself going mad from the taint (Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal). Nynaeve acted as a conduit for far more of saidar than the entire White Tower could have handled using every angreal and sa'angreal the Tower possessed for hours without rest, let alone food or drink. She found it totally exhausting. Rand had far, far more saidin flowing through him during that time (Crossroads of Twilight, Surprises) but his greater strength in the Power and his Warder bond enabled him to do this. Moghedien was surprised that the Choedan Kal survived continuous use for so long at that level (Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal) and in fact the female sa’angreal did melt (Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep). The male access key survived intact, and was put away by Cadsuane, but the female one melted and broke.

While the Choedan Kal were being used, their spheres shone like the sun, visible to passers by. The melting of the female Choedan Kal at the end of the Cleansing was taken by the Amayar as their prophesied sign that the Time of Illusions is at an end (see Time of Illusions essay):

”The Great Hand on Tremalking melted. The hill where it stood reportedly is now a deep hollow.”

Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep

There appears to be very little left of the female sa’angreal. Since it had been used so hard for so long, it may have partially vaporised, or it may have exploded as well as melted and thus ejected some of its fragments into the atmosphere. A hollow hill isn't one that has been turned into a quarry to dig the statue out, which would be the alternative.

The melting of the sa’angreal explains why the ter'angreal access key melted and backs up Moghedien's comment that she was surprised the Choedan Kal had lasted as long as they had at the levels they were used at. Speculation: The Choedan Kal were designed at the very limit of the physical capabilities of sa'angreal.

Why was it the female Choedan Kal that melted? Maybe chance. Maybe it melted because Rand wasn't experienced at using saidar and his attempts to force the weaves stressed the sa’angreal. He used saidar in a stressful way: as the container through which he pushed saidin to filter and decant the taint.

Despite being used for such an important task, the Choedan Kal apparently don’t feature in the Prophecies of the Dragon.

Why did the prophecies not speak of the Choedan Kal? He had used those to cleanse the taint.
The access key gave Rand power well beyond what Callandor could provide, and that power came with no strings.
The statuette was freedom, but Callandor was just another box. Yet talk of the Choedan Kal and their keys was absent from the prophecies.

Knife of Dreams, The One He Lost

Rand used the male Choedan Kal in an increasingly violent and insane manner in The Gathering Storm. Its apparent freedom of access to almost unlimited power brought its own dangers: “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Rand finally realised this, and convinced that the sa’angreal was too great a temptation and could be destroyed without endangering the prophecies, did so:

Power within him reached a crescendo, and he turned it upon itself, drove it through the access key.
The ter'angreal was connected to a much greater force, a massive sa'angreal to the south, built to stop the Dark One. Too powerful, some had said. Too powerful ever to use. Too frightening.
Rand used its own power upon it, crushing the distant globe, shattering it as if in the grip of a giant's hands.
The Choedan Kal exploded.

The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold

Chodan and Chodankar are surnames.


The name sa’angreal is a reference to the San Greal, or Holy Gail, a reference to the cup that Christ used at the Last Supper and in which some of his blood and water were caught during the crucifixion and thus a Hallows object. The Fisher King, or Grail King, was the Grail’s Guardian on earth. He was wounded by a Dolorous Stroke, and correspondingly his lands were also wounded and wasted. Rand is the Fisher, as Moridin said, and he was wounded by the Dolorous Stroke of the Dark One’s taint on saidin, and also by his physical wounds that refused to Heal. Since he and the Land are one, the Land too is wounded and blighted. Logain hunted Sakarnen as the Arthurian Knights of the Round Table did the Holy Grail, but did not achieve it; instead he achieved redemption by helping others.

Apart from Sakarnen, for which we have no information, the sa’angreal were Hallows objects too, being items of inestimable power that were inaccessible or guarded and warded against the unworthy.

Demandred’s sceptre Sakarnen, with its surmounting cup, is an obvious grail parallel. It was enclosed in a cavern of crystals with M’Hael and lost when the hills collapsed on it. Vora’s sa’angreal was likewise enclosed with the Amyrlin Egwene in crystal in the hills (A Memory of Light, The Last Battle and A Field of Glass). Both are references to Merlin the wizard being trapped in a crystal cave. Sakarnen is now hidden, as unreachable as the Holy Grail. The cup part was separate and could have been used in a past Age, or a future one, as…a Grail.

Callandor, last seen in Moridin’s hand, was apparently lost in the Pit of Doom, although Moridin (so similar in name to Myrrdin, the Welsh for Merlin) was brought out by Rand.

Another sa’angreal, the male Choedan Kal which Rand eventually destroyed, was buried for centuries, and the female Choedan Kal disintegrated after the cleansing of saidin which undid the Dolorous Stroke of the Dark One, and left a hole in the hill where it had lain partially buried.


Written by Linda, July, 2005 and updated March 2013


Frank said...

It's funny how our brain plays tricks on us. I've been reading it as "Choedan Dal" for all these years!

The last quote is from TGS, though, isn't it? Not KoD?

Linda said...

Yes it is, thanks! Don't know how that slipped in.

Jack said...

Maybe I'm totally off base with this, but I think angreal neither strictly provide a flat power boost nor create a strict multiplier effect.

Rather, I think it amplifies you based on your strength, up to a limit denoted by the strength of the angreal. Thus, to work an angreal at its maximum capacity, you must be capable of pulling in a certain amount of Power yourself. I think each Angreal has a certain range, below which you cannot use it as effectively, but above which it ceases to provide more power.

Each angreal has a certain minimum power level required to access it. Fortunately, most of these minima seem to be below the threshold where an Aes Sedai could grasp the power at all. But for the sa'angreal, such as the Fluted Wand or the Choedan Kal, this minimum requirement becomes a very big factor in not frying yourself. A weakling couldn't handle the Choedan Kal without being crisped, because the minimum power output it can provide is above that person's maximum capacity.

But for maximum power output, it becomes tricky. I like to think of it as, "What if Morgase used it?"

For instance, let's take the woman in flowing hair that Elayne gives Aviendha for the Bowl of the Winds. It provides enough power to Aviendha to double her power. If Morgase grasped Saidar through it, would she be as strong as Aviendha? My mind says no. She would be far more powerful than she is, far more than twice as powerful. But I don't think she could use the Angreal to its maximum capacity - that is, to draw 1 Aviendha worth of Power out of it. She's limited by her own maximum capacity. If it was a car, Aviendha could take it all the way to 5th gear, but Morgase couldn't shift out of 2nd.

I can't really bring up a bunch of book references about this, and feel free to nail me to the wall if there's proof that my thoughts are out of line. But it seems to me like each angreal can be used at varying potential, and a more powerful channeler can draw more out of it - up to a certain ceiling, where the angreal itself cannot draw more.

In any case, I cannot think like Brandon Sanderson is quoted that it's a reservoir of power. That would allow you to take the Power where it otherwise isn't, and we already have that. It's called a Well. Rather, it seems to me like an angreal is like installing a much thicker power cable to the outlet.

Lauren Roundy said...

I could be wrong about this, but I have read a theory that Barmellin was actually a man who was able to learn to channel, but did not yet have the ability UNTIL he saw the male statue and this sparked within him the ability to channel. The amount of Power being used by the statue was enough to immediately spark his ability.

So, the statement that non-channelers can see sa'angreal glowing is more of an assumption than a fact, IMO.

Still, great great article, as always! Thanks!

Lauren Roundy said...

Also, I seem to remember a turtle shaped male angreal... Didn't Rand have a little turtle shaped angreal? Or am I confusing that with the turtle brooch that Elayne found/had?

Linda said...

Lauren: Barmellin wasn't the only one who saw a sa'angreal glow. Timna on Tremalking saw the female Choedan Kal glow. That is how the Amayar knew that the Time of Illusions had ended.

Moiraine saw Callandor glow when Rand channeleld it into the Stone, which not being able to channel saidin she 'shouldn't' be able to do.

Linda said...

Rand's angreal was a man with a sword, not a turtle. The turtle angreal is attuned to women and was found in Ebou Dar.

Linda said...

Jack: Wells store the Power for you so you can access them in restricted areas, but you can't access any more than your potential unless you use an angreal as well.

An angreal lets you access a certain amounht more Power but only in non-restricted areas (unless you use a well, and then you'd drain it very quickly).

Anonymous said...

Crescendo is never reached - in the sense Sanderson wants to convey or, really, any other sense. Rather, it is the process of reaching the higher level gradually (and even then, not necessarily the highest level - crescendo from, say, piano to mezzo-piano is eminently valid).
This irritates me to no end.


James said...

One point that might be worth adding to this article is the possibility that there could be multiple access keys to the Choedan Kal beyond the two previously held by Rand and Nynaeve.

In the short story "The Strike at Shayol Ghul", the second endnote describes an attempt to smuggle access keys out of Shadow-controlled territory in the following terms:

According to the manuscript pages, all of the agents responsible for this smuggling were caught, though that was not known until events had far outrun anyone's plans. They were brave men and women, for although those who were not killed outright were tortured, and though some revealed the purpose of their mission, none betrayed the location of any of the access ter'angreal. Still, the only real result was that the ter'angreal were widely scattered across areas held for the Shadow, their locations and even their existence to remain hidden for millennia.

One might wonder why the words "any of the access ter'angreal" and "widely scattered" were used to describe the access keys if there were only two of them.

Linda said...

James: In a way this is an artefact of classification. Access keys (and I know there were more than one set) are described in the Ter'angreal article.

Anonymous said...

I seem to have a recollection of six access keys being mentioned, three for each statue. Or six of each, though that seems like a lot. BWB info, possibly...? Or imagination. I know the Gholam were created three of each sex, could be I'm remembering that number.

Linda said...

Anonymous: You are thinking of the number of gholam. We don't know how many access keys were made for each sa'angreal, just that there was more than one for each.

Matt said...

I remember reading something about The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, that Rigney meant it to be a flawed historical record- that he would tell Teresa Patterson "guess" when she would ask him the answers to questions she had- one example of this is the 'nine rods of dominion,' which Rogney later revealed were positions of power, not objects of Power.

James said...

We did see a second female access key in TSR in the panarch's museum. It was broken and would be bad for any female channeler to attempt to use.

Yamezt said...

Pretty sure for a woman to use an Angreal in a circle, the woman holding the Angreal will put herself at the brink of embracing Saidar through the Angreal.

So the point that Sul'dam reaching out for Saidar through the angreal is incorrect.

For damane not being able to use angreal, I would argue that they are already in a link (whether they are holding onto saidar or not) since they can sense emotions through the A'dam. And therefore the damane can't reach through the angreal to use it since the link is already formed.

Anonymous said...

The Ring of Tamyrlin I think it might have gotten its name from Tamerlane Khan also called Tamerlane. Just a thought, since RJ loved history.

Travis said...

I'm surprised this never came up in the series, but could a weak channeler use a relatively weak angreal to safely use a larger angreal?

jerome gaines said...

Yes! If an angreal doubles your strength, it doubles your strength However, doubling Aviendha's strength and doubling Morgase's strength is like the difference between 2*2 and 200*2