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Interviews: Brandon's Aon Descriptions

Summary:

Entries

12

Date

2005

Type

Verbatim

TourCon

Elantris

Links

Brandon's Store

  • 1

    Brandon Sanderson

    AON EHE

    Meaning

    Aon Ehe represents the primal force of fire. A complex Aon with only basic symmetry, its form has often been likened to wisps of tickling fire burning out from a central coal.

    While the many poets in history seem to have preferred the overall symmetry of an Aon like Aon Omi or Aon Rao, not a few preferred Aon Ehe for its distinctive look and feel. (Much like Aon Shao, this Aon breaks with traditional Aon form in appearance.) For this reason, and because of the destructive yet vital power of fire, the poet Lenehe of the fifth century named Aon Ehe "The most inspiring of all Aons, a symbol for those with a creative heart and an unhindered mind."

    Recently, this Aon—easily recognizable, even to the uneducated—has become synonymous with "danger," and is used as a warning. In many cases, in fact, it is printed on warnings which have nothing at all to do with fire. One might find it upon an unsteady bridge or outside a forest hiding dangerous wolves just as easily as one might find it referencing actual flames.

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  • 2

    Brandon Sanderson

    History and Use

    All Aons exist independent of humankind, their symbols inherently tied to their meaning, but few have distinct origin stories explaining how the Aon was first discovered. Some modern scholars scoff at such tales, but Aon Ehe's origin myth is well known among the common people and believed by most.

    The story tells of the first princess of Arelon. This was some years after the founding of Arelon following the migration of the Aonic people from other lands. Elantris, of course, had already existed as a city when that migration occurred, and had been discovered empty. While some people assumed it haunted, Proud King Rhashm (later renamed Raoshem) determined to conquer the fears of his people and set up a kingdom centered on Elantris.

    The transformation of the first Elantrians happened beginning several decades later. Princess Elashe—the first of Raoshem's line to be chosen as an Elantrian—claimed to have seen the pattern of this Aon inscribed on a coal in her hearth the day after she underwent the transformation. Whether or not this story is true, a coal or rock written with Aon Ehe on it is considered good luck and a ward against winter spirits. (Though this kind of superstition is frowned upon by the Korathi priests.)

    Other uses of Ehe are plentiful. It is one of the primal elements, and is often used in scientific writings. It is a ward and warning against danger. It is used on signs in conjunction with other Aons to mean warm food or warm beds available. Some artists and poets choose it as their symbol, both to hint at the dangerous nature of artistry and to speak of the passion of artistry.

    Footnote

    It is unclear if "other lands" is on planet(Sel), or from somewhere else.

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  • 3

    Brandon Sanderson

    Naming and Usage in ELANTRIS

    (Warning, spoilers below! Don't read this section if you haven't read ELANTRIS!)

    Aon Ehe is often mispronounced as "E-hay." Though scholars of Aonic insist that the proper pronunciation "E-Hee" is more accurate, the former is slowly being acknowledged as an acceptable pronunciation as well. It is infrequently used in names during modern days, as the meaning of "danger" is seen as unfavorable. However, historically, it was a favorite Aon for poets and artists (who often took new names for themselves when entering into their maturity as an artist, a tradition by which they removed themselves from their old body of work and indicated that they were beginning anew).

    Some famous examples of names from Aon Ehe include the poet Ehen, the artist Ehelan, and Mehen the philosopher.

    In the history of Elantris, Aon Ehe played an interesting role as it is the first known Aon to have been drawn with the Chasm Line. During the research of King Raoden, he was practicing this Aon (for its complexity) when he realized the problem with AonDor. The story goes that he added the Chasm Line without thinking, making Aon Ehe spurt out a column of fire and destroying an entire bookshelf.

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  • 4

    Brandon Sanderson

    AonDor

    Aon Ehe is one of the most spectacular, useful, and awe-inspiring of base Aons when used by an Elantrian. There are many Aons that have destructive or powerful effects, but none are as strong without modification as Aon Ehe.

    Drawn simply, the Aon creates a column of flame, acting as a direct and primal conduit to the Dor itself. The diameter of the column depends on the size of the Aon drawn, and the direction the column is launched depends on the direction the Aon is facing. Often, this Aon is drawn on the floor so that a column of pure fire can be launched up into the air. The column is brief—only lasting a few seconds—but incredibly powerful.

    With some enhancement modifiers, this Aon can be made to last longer. The pre-Reod AonDor scholars crafted lamps with flames that continued to burn no matter which way they were turned. They would even continue to burn beneath water. This Aon can be used in warfare, if necessary, though Aon Daa is generally a better weapon.

    As a modifier, Aon Ehe can be used to create a ward that sets off other Aon chains. It provides one of the more useful tools in an AonDor practitioner's repertoire, though the complexity of drawing it can make it difficult to use for the less talented.

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  • 5

    Brandon Sanderson

    AON ENE

    Meaning

    Aon Ene represents wit, intelligence, and cleverness. In recent years, the Aon has also begun to be associated with prosperity and wealth as well. It was once a popular Aon for names, though recently it has fallen out of favor in this regard, and names using it are now considered a little old-fashioned.

    The Aon has become a favored symbol of merchants, as cultural bias looked unfavorably on a shop using the symbol for gold or jewels. (Such symbols on a shop were seen as lavish or presumptuous by some.) Instead, many bankers instead use this Aon on their door to indicate their profession. The appropriation of the symbol is a reference to a quote from the appropriately named Enelan, a scholar who lived about a hundred years before the fall of Elantris: "No wealth of gold and silver can purchase a keen mind, but the man of wit will often find treasures beyond what mere lucre can provide."

    More traditionally, the symbol was used—and still is used—as a representation of books and scholarly research. Indeed, many scholars, scribes, and illuminators have grown upset by the banking industry's tendency to use this Aon, as they see it as an appropriation of what they believe to be their own symbol. Part of the tension between the groups has made the Aon fall out of favor for names, though others—generally those who are more traditional—still favor it.

    The shape of the Aon is said to represent two sides of an argument, interacting together in different ways. If one looks closely, one can see that there are, indeed, two halves that are simply the same set of symbols reversed.

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  • 6

    Brandon Sanderson

    History and Use

    Some scholars have expressed amusement that this symbol should come to mean intelligence in a broad sense, as the classical meaning of Aon Ene was far more narrow. Ene was the Aon which represented cleverness, the ability to outwit and outthink opponents. It was often applied in stories and tales to those who had a slyness about them, and often was the symbol which represented the trickster figure. Indeed, those who played tricks on others were said to be Enefels—literally, Wit Killers, or those who kill with wit.

    During the Middle Era, when Elantris's influence expanded and the kingdom of Arelon began to take shape, Aon Ene was attributed to the guild of storytellers who brought tales of the marvels in Elantris. It was often rumored that these people, who took upon themselves the Enefel name, were agents of the Elantrians. Their purpose was to spread good will about the city and its inhabitants, calming the rural populace, who regarded Elantris and its magics with suspicion.

    Over the centuries, this guild of storytellers transformed into a more scholarly group who gathered stories and histories from the people. By the dawn of the Late Era—about two centuries before the fall of Elantris—the group had burgeoned beyond its origins into several distinct sects of scholars and philosophers. By the time of the fall of Elantris, the constant association of this group with Aon Ene expanded its meaning into the more familiar use, representing scholarly intelligence and study.

    Some still remember the original meaning, however. Most of those are themselves scholars, and find the entire transformation to be something of a humorous joke played by history itself.

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  • 7

    Brandon Sanderson

    Naming and Usage in ELANTRIS

    (Warning, spoilers below! Don't read this section if you haven't read ELANTRIS!)

    As use of the name is out of favor recently, the only character in Elantris who appears with Aon Ene in their name is Sarene. Eventeo, Sarene's father, is not only a traditionalist, but a scholar himself. He is well aware of the ancient meaning of the Aon, and has remarked on occasion that he finds the choice particularly accurate when applied to his daughter.

    Ene is one of the primary constellations in the Arelene sky, and the star pattern is the most easy to pick out. It contains the pole star of the world, a concept which has fascinated philosophers throughout history.

    Eventeo's use of the simple word "Ene" as a nickname for Sarene is another traditional association with names attached to the Aon. Much as some cultures shorten words or names into common nicknames, Ene—pronounced Eeenee—is a commonly applied term of endearment for someone who has this Aon in their name.

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  • 8

    Brandon Sanderson

    AonDor

    This Aon has a powerful and unusual AonDor counterpart. A properly drawn Aon Ene puts forth a light, known by many as the Light of the Mind. When sitting in this Aon's light, one's mental abilities are enhanced. The Elantrian—or anyone else who happens to be close to the Aon—can memorize more quickly, think more clearly, and stave off mind-clouding effects of tiredness and sickness.

    Used in conjunction with other Aons, Aon Ene is what is known as a "linking Aon." Using it properly in the Aon equation will link subsections of Aon lists together, coordinating which effects take place at which times during the Aon list's progression. It is an important Aon to learn to use well for complex Aon linkings, and no true AonDor master is without substantial practice in its use.

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  • 9

    Brandon Sanderson

    AON OMI

    Meaning

    In its most basic form, Omi is used to represent love and benevolence. It is a common root Aon for a wide variety of words, including affection, care, passion, piety, zeal, and some synonyms of loyalty.

    A complex Aon with strong symmetry, the Aon has often been used as an example of balance and even perfection. The great AonDor scholar Enelan of the fourth century called it "The most perfect of Aons, fully incorporating the base of Aon Aon and spinning it into a complex icon that is artful and complicated, yet somehow simple at the same time."

    In later centuries, the symbol has come to mean not only love, but divinity as well, an association created by the Korathi church's appropriation of the Aon. Many devout Korathi also regard the symbol as representing the potential unification of all mankind through peace, temperance, and love.

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  • 10

    Brandon Sanderson

    History and Use

    Aon Omi is best known as the official symbol of the Korathi church in Arelon. It was chosen by Korath (known as KoWho in JinDo) himself to represent the church and God. Scholars of the time say that Korath made the decision late in his life, after decades spent preaching his interpretations of the tenets of Shu-Keseg (which eventually became the Korathi religion) in Arelon and Elantris itself.

    The choice was shocking to many, as the young Korathi devout saw the Elantrians and their worship as a competing religion. Their Aons, the basis for Elantrian magic an power, were then regarded as heathen symbols. Korath was always bothered by this competitive streak in his believers, and it is widely accepted that he picked an Aon to represent God and his religion as an attempt to show that all people were acceptable beneath the blanket of the Korathi doctrines. He himself called the Aon a "Thing of Beauty" and asked an Elantrian smith of his acquaintance to craft a silver pendant for him bearing the symbol.

    That event, and the subsequent adoption of Aon Omi by the Korathi church, led to the odd relationship between the Elantrians and the Korathi religion which took root in their homeland. (Though, following Korath's death, his right-hand man and follower ShanVen moved the religion's center of operations to Teod instead, where the young monarchy there had embraced Shu-Korath as its official religion.)

    Over the years, many other Aons have been adopted by the Korathi religion, but this one—Aon Omi—has remained their most powerful and important symbol. It is used extensively in Korathi religious services, and pendants bearing Aon Omi are commonly worn by the devout. (Many simply call them Korathi pendants, or Korathi religious pendants.) Such pendants are commonly exchanged during Korathi wedding services. (See the end of ELANTRIS the novel for an example.)

    Many Korathi priests now look at the use of Aons by their religion as a symbol of the potential unity of all mankind, when different beliefs, sects, and cultures will be drawn together through sincere affection for one another.

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  • 11

    Brandon Sanderson

    Naming and Usage in ELANTRIS

    As can be expected from its meanings, Aon Omi is a common root Aon for names in Arelon, particularly among those who follow the Korathi religion.

    The most obvious word using Omi as a root is the name Domi itself, the Korathi word for God. This usage did not become common until the seventh century; before then, the Jindoeese name Dashu was used by the Korathi, and the Elantrians preferred a word using Aon Daa as its root. In an interesting exchange, the Aonic word "Domi" eventually became a loan word back to Jindoeese, where the word DoMin came to mean "god."

    The head priest of the Korathi chapel in Kae, Father Omin, also uses this Aon in his name. (As a side note, like many Korathi priests, Omin chose a new name for himself once he joined the priesthood. In his youth, he went by the name of Elenan.) Father Omin wears a jade pendant of Aon Omi.

    Eondel wears a pendant of Aon Omi, his sky blue. Sarene wears one of green and gold, while Raoden wears one of black.

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  • 12

    Brandon Sanderson

    AonDor

    Aon Omi is a powerful Aon, and before the fall of Elantris could perform powerful magics. When drawn it puts out a powerful and pure white light; any who are touched by this light find their negative emotions wiped away, replaced by a sense of serenity and peace. It is difficult indeed to maintain a sense of hatred while Aon Omi is in force.

    So powerful is this Aon, however, that using it requires much of the Elantrian who draws it. The Aon will be weak unless the one drawing it feels a sincere affection for those around him, making this Aon very difficult to use in tense situations. This strange requirement has fascinated AonDor practitioners for centuries, as it is one of the few Aons which requires something other than drawing skill from its Elantrian.

    Aon Omi is also used in other places in AonDor equations. It can be used to tie other Aon chains together, and is also a weaker power modifier, if used in the correct way.

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