Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Wheel of Time Parallels with Chronicles of Narnia


By Linda

In interviews, Robert Jordan mentioned C. S. Lewis, the author of the Narnia series of books, a few times, usually in the same breath as J. R. R. Tolkien, the most notable being:

Week 11 Question: I just started The Great Hunt and I find the religious and political aspects very interesting. I notice the dedication for The Great Hunt says, "They came to my aid when God walked across the water, and the true Eye of the World passed over my house." Has your own religion in any way helped to shape the book?

Robert Jordan: Only in the sense that it helped to shape my moral and ethical beliefs. My work certainly is not religious in even the sense that J.R.R. Tolkien's was, much less the work of C.S. Lewis. That inscription, by the way, referred to Hurricane Hugo striking Charleston, where I live. The word hurricane comes from the name of a god of the Caribe Indians, who believed that the storm was that god walking across the water. Anyone who has ridden out a hurricane, and I have ridden out several, can well believe that it is. And if a hurricane isn't the Eye of the World, it's as close as we will come in this world.

- TOR Question of the Week

Jordan was influenced by both authors to about the same degree, and, in keeping with his theme of real world myth originating from Wheel of Time history, and Wheel of Time myth deriving from real world history, he has references to Lewis’ Narnia series. This article looks at the Narnia references in chronological order of the books, starting with The Magician’s Nephew.

Reaching Other Worlds

Polly and Digory were manipulated by a selfish magician to use rings to travel to the wood between worlds. From there the rings can transport the user to other worlds. They are not the only way to reach other worlds; a wardrobe is the portal to the world of Narnia. The wood between worlds is soporific in effect, and is a parallel to Tel’aran’rhiod, which is the common place between all worlds and is usually reached while dreaming, but certain ter’angreal, including a ring that doesn’t require channelling, can take the user there. As Verin said while giving her the twisted ring ter’angreal:

”The point is that there is a third constant besides the Creator and the Dark One. There is a world that lies within each of these others, inside all of them at the same time. Or perhaps surrounding them. Writers in the Age of Legends called it Tel’aran’rhiod, “the Unseen World.” Perhaps “the World of Dreams” is a better translation. Many people – ordinary folk who could not think of channeling - sometimes glimpse Tel’aran’rhiod in their dreams, and even catch glimmers of these other worlds through it.”

The Great Hunt, A World of Dreams

The wood between worlds is an “unseen world” linking all the others, just as Tel’aran’rhiod is. Verin joined the Shadow for selfish reasons as well as benign ones, as she explained to Egwene in The Gathering Storm.

The redstone doorways transport people to the *Finns’ world but can be used only once. At the end of Prince Caspian, Aslan made a portal for the four children and the Telmarines to return to Earth, whereas Third Age channellers made gateways to places “within world” or to Tel’aran’rhiod.

White Witch

The White Witch Jadis was the antagonist in The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and has strong similarities with Lanfear. Both were very tall and strong magic users who were associated with white. Lanfear also owes quite a lot to Dumas’ Milady and Rider Haggard’s She/Ayesha; she has strong literary and mythological underpinnings. A White Witch/Queen or even Princess is a common enough trope in Fantasy.

Charn was the name of the White Witch's home world in The Magician's Nephew. The da’shain Aiel who worked for Lanfear in the Age of Legends was named Charn (The Shadow Rising, The Dedicated). His grandson participated in seed singing at the end of the war against the Shadow. Jadis and the children witnessed Aslan singing to create the animals and plants of Narnia.

Jadis was the last of the Charn nobility, monarchs who, Polly and Digory noticed, degenerated over time. The Second and Third Ages of The Wheel of Time world degenerated into chaos and apocalyptic war.

The White Witch destroyed Charn with the Deplorable Word to avoid defeat. The word was a secret that the ruling family had sworn to never learn, let alone use, but Jadis “searched long for it and paid a terrible price to learn it.” Aslan said to Polly and Digory:

"It is not certain that some wicked one of your race will not find out a secret as evil as the Deplorable Word and use it to destroy all living things.”

C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

Lewis was referring to nuclear weapons, which had been used at the time Lewis wrote the books, and equated them directly with the Deplorable Word. Balefire, too, is a parallel of nuclear weapons and its use has terrible consequences, which once understood, spurred both sides to stop using it. The method of the weave was forgotten and Aes Sedai were forbidden to learn it.

After destroying everything, Jadis put herself into an enchanted sleep. Lanfear was forced into an enchanted (or disenchanted) sleep when the Bore was sealed:

“Long did I lie imprisoned for my service, in an endless, dreamless sleep. Only Gray Men and Myrddraal are denied dreams. Even Trollocs can dream.”

The Dragon Reborn, Daughter of the Night

Jadis embodies original sin entering a pure world:

”For though the world is not five hours old and evil has already entered it..."

“you see, friends,” he said, “that before the new, clean world I gave you is seven hours old, a force of evil has already entered it; waked and brought hither by this Son of Adam."

C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

Lanfear brought evil into a utopian society by opening the Bore; the world paid a terrible price for her ambition and hubris. She is both Lilith and Eve, and also Pandora. Jadis became immortal by eating an apple from the Tree of Youth and invited Digory to join her in immortality. Lanfear tempted Rand to join her in swearing to the Great Lord, and then he would live and rule forever:

“Kneel to the Great Lord, and he will set you above all others. He will leave you free to reign as you will, so long as you bend knee to him only once. To acknowledge him. No more than that. He told me this... You and I can rule the world together under the Great Lord, forever.”

The Shadow Rising, Decisions

If Rand refused, she would kill him. The White Witch aimed to kill Aslan, son of the Emperor Over the Sea; then she would have free reign. A scion of the tree that brought Jadis immortality warded Narnia from her influence for centuries. Lanfear was bound in the Pit of Doom, the contact point with the Dark One who would give Lanfear her anticipated immortality, for an Age.

Both Aslan and Rand are the Creator’s champion/representative in their respective worlds and have parallels to Christ. In A Memory of Light, Rand sang to make grass grow and trees blossom. Aslan sang to create the flora and fauna of Narnia. Aslan’s breath strongly affects people and gives them support. In this sense it is like the True Source. It also could be likened to the “wind arising”, the breath of life or chi, which begins each book and is linked with Rand at the end of A Memory of Light.

The White Witch’s endless winter broke as Aslan approached Narnia; Rand broke the Dark One’s winter in The Eye of the World by defeating Ishamael and his army. Both winters are parallels of the Fimbulwinter which precedes Ragnarok, the end of the world in Norse mythology.

Jadis bound Edmund to her with enchanted food, but he broke free of her influence. She claimed Edmund’s life after he betrayed her; his death would have prevented fulfilment of the prophecy of four humans ruling over a Golden Age of Narnia. Aslan offered to take Edmund’s place as a sacrifice, and Jadis was even more triumphant, gloating that he would die in vain. Edmund lessened the Witch’s powers by breaking her wand. Aslan was returned to life and killed Jadis. Lanfear bound Perrin to herself with Compulsion and used him to help her kill Rand. Perrin broke free of her weave and killed her. Rand’s body perished but his soul transmigrated to Moridin’s body.

Both witches were a source of evil, who had their evil activities limitedfor an Age, and then returned to damage the land and kill the messiah figure, but were killed themselves.

There was an attempted resurrection of the White Witch in Prince Caspian but it was completely unsuccessful. Lanfear was killed and transmigrated to a new body after she spent time captive in the infernal world of the *Finns.

Horn

One of the Pevensie girls, Queen Susan, was given a bow that does not easily miss and a horn which always brings help (C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe). In Prince Caspian and also The Last Battle the horn summoned the child Heroes to Narnia from another world. It is a parallel of the Horn of Valere, which was blown at Falme and also at the Last Battle to summon dead Heroes to fight for the Light. Susan has some similarities with Birgitte, who also is an incredibly accurate archer, but Birgitte is bound to the Horn rather than the bearer of the Horn or the Hornsouder. Susan stopped believing in Aslan and Narnia, and did not remember her past experiences as real. Birgitte feared that she would forget her past lives.

Peter received a sword and shield with which he killed a wolf-man who was the White Witch’s deputy. The dark wolf Isam/Slayer was Lanfear’s deputy in A Memory of Light.

Lucy was able to Heal mortal wounds with a drop of an elixir she received as a gift – equivalent to Healing with the True Source.

The Horse and His Boy

Prior to The Horse and His Boy Narnia was invaded by Ottoman Calormenes ruled by the Tizroc, may he live forever. In this volume, a humble slave boy and an aristocratic girl “escaped” Calormene society together, averted an invasion, and eventually married. The humble boy turned out to be a Prince that saved his own land “from the greatest peril it would ever face”. The Westlands were invaded by the Byzantine/Oriental Seanchan ruled by the Empress, may she live forever. Mat kidnapped a very aristocratic girl and escaped the Seanchan, and they wed. Mat, having unwillingly been “promoted” to Lord, became a Prince (although he is regularly threatened with slavery by his wife). He stymied the advances of the Shadow and the Seanchan, the greatest threats of the Age.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, some islands were visited that have similarities to Wheel of Time places. The Lone Islands east of Narnia had a slave trade, as does far-east Shara, and the Seanchan, which both invaded the westlands at the end of the Age. It was the closure of this trade by Caspian which resulted in the Calormenes invading Narnia, and ultimately the Last Battle.

Eustace was so affected by the dragon’s treasure on Dragon Island that he turned into a dragon. Long before that he was a very difficult companion. He acknowledged the error of his ways and then returned to his own shape after a painful procedure that Aslan performed. Mat was strongly affected by the Shadar Logoth treasure and became corrupted by it. Rand, the Dragon, was adversely affected by the taint and trauma, becoming genocidal, and returned to his old self after a painful epiphany.

Burnt Island was abandoned due to being too close to the dragon on Dragon Island. There was an If world where the Trollocs destroyed humanity that had burn marks and was almost uninhabitable:

The land stretched out, low and rolling, sparsely forested here and there with grassland between, crossed by more than one stream. In the middle distance Rand thought he could see another burned patch. It was all pale, the colors washed. There was no sign of anything made by men except the stone circle behind them. The sky was empty, no chimney smoke, no birds, only a few clouds and the pale yellow sun.

The Great Hunt, From Stone To Stone

Again they crossed land blackened and burned, even the soil crunching under the horses' hooves as if it had been seared. The burned swathes, sometimes a mile wide, sometimes only a few hundred paces, all ran east and west as straight as an arrow's flight…
Nothing grew where the burns were, though some burns, at least, had the feel of a thing long done. Not so much as a hint of char remained in the air there, not a whiff even when he leaned down to break off a black twig and smell it. Old, yet nothing had come in to reclaim the land. Black gave way to green, and green to black, along knife-edge lines.
In its own way, the rest of the land lay as dead as the burns, though grass covered the ground and leaves covered the trees.

The Great Hunt, Kinslayer

The Island Where Dreams Come True in Narnia was a place where people’s nightmares were made real for them. The White Tower has ter’angreal that have the same effect on people. White Tower initiates are tested with the three arches ter’angreal which

"will bring you face-to-face with your greatest fears"

The Great Hunt, The Testing

in a way that seems horribly real, as does the oval ring ter’angreal, though the latter is actively programmed.

The voyagers go to the utmost east, towards sunrise, approaching Aslan’s country. Aslan, like Rand, is associated with the sun.

The Silver Chair

The silver chair kept Prince Rilian bound to the Queen of Underland’s enchantment. It renewed her spell on him, making him believe her lies and forget his identity. He was persuaded that he would turn into a serpent at night and harm people unless he was bound on it. A binding chair was used on male channellers to bind them to oaths they made while it was activated, according to Sammael.

The Lady of the Green Kirtle, who killed Rilian’s mother and captured and compelled the Prince, also tried to compel Eustace, Jill and Puddleglum into forgetting their identity. She also compelled a large number of people from Bism to serve her. Some have thought she is Jadis, but Aslan killed the White Witch and she was not returned to life. With her desire for Rilian and her large-scale use of compulsion, the Lady of the Green Kirtle is very like Graendal. Graendal killed the children of those she enslaved so they wouldn’t suffer; the Lady of the Green Kirtle did the reverse, killing the mother and enslaving the son. When on the attack she turned into a serpent. Graendal was transmigrated into an ugly form. In The Wheel of Time the serpent is a symbol of the Shadow.

Puddleglum, the more cheerful Marshwiggle companion, is like Loial, the more hasty Ogier. Both provide practical advice and faith to their young companions.

The Last Battle

Narnian heroes killed in a rail accident were transported from earth to Narnia by Susan’s horn in The Last Battle, just as Heroes of the Horn were summoned by the Horn of Valere to fight in the Last Battle. The manipulation of Narnians into false belief and apostasy is equivalent to efforts to turn channellers to the Shadow and the false rumours spread about Rand. The false Aslan set up with Calormene aid is a parallel of the false Dragons. Aslan and Tash were publicly proclaimed as one and the same and combined into Tashlan, to the great detriment of Narnia. In A Memory of Light, The Last Battle, Demandred claimed Rand was no better than a Forsaken. The Sharan invaders aided Demandred, knowing that he was on the side of evil, but believing it was their fate in the Pattern to do so, after which they would be free. Rand and Moridin, champions of the Creator and the Dark One respectively, are not combined, but do swap bodies. The redemption of Logain has an equivalent in the redemption of a few Calomenes, and perhaps Puzzle, who was used as the false Aslan.

Both series end with an apocalyptic last battle. The Dark One planned to kill Time and, with the power gained from that death, remake the world in his image. In Narnia, Time lay sleeping and woke at the end of the world. The Narnia world was destroyed by dragons, giant lizards and Time; the Wheel of Time world was damaged by Shadowspawn and balefire (which undoes time and reality and upsets causation). The Dragon contemplated destroying the world himself in Towers of Midnight.

Conclusion

Perhaps it was from the Narnia books that Jordan learned not to use real world slang and exclamations since these date rapidly. Lewis did use contemporary exclamations such as “by Jove!”, for example, since his humans are “of their time”, but they do date the books.

written by Linda, May 2014

No comments: