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cottillion
12-02-2010, 01:56 AM
So parts of this theory are definitely out there and probably don’t fit but I’ve been thinking on it a lot so I’m gonna give it a shot anyway. I also don’t have any of the books on me so very little of what I say will actually be cited unless I can find it online.
So the theory is basically that the game Sha’rah is essentially the battle against the dark one and it provides the answers on how to win.

What do we know about Sha’rah?

First is that it is an ancient game with unknown origins.
“A complex game, ancient long before the war of power…”
“Only nine living people even remember the game”
These nine are clearly the nine forsaken that were still alive at the time.

“…The reasons, like the source of the name, were lost in the mist of time.”
If even in the age of legends so much about the game was “lost in the mist of time” then it is at least a few ages older than the age of legends. I believe it is as old as the wheel itself and that it is one of the few constants among all ages.

The Fisher King
“The (black and white) Fisher is always worked as a man, with a bandage blinding his eyes and one hand pressed to his side, a few drops of blood dripping through his fingers.”
This role is clearly played by Rand as it is basically a description of him up to this point and it matches up with countless prophecies/visions/dreams.
The Fisher King can always starts the game in the center of the board and can be captured by either side. Rand was born a farm boy and at the time was not controlled by either the light or shadow. I forget who says it, possibly Ishmael, but in one of the earlier books it is stated that through the ages the dragon has fought for both the shadow and the light. This has been dismissed by many as just a lie but it would fit that the dragon(Fisher) can be captured and used by both sides but the game isn’t won by simply capturing the Fisher.


How to win
There are three ways to win in the game of Sha’rah:
1. The easiest way to win is to capture the Fisher and move him onto a square of your color on your opponents side of the board.
The shadow was attempting to do this through the taint. The forsaken were instructed not to kill Rand because you can’t win by killing the Fisher only by controlling him. Morridin even went so far as to save Rand at Shadar Logoth because the easiest way to win is through him. They were instead instructed to either capture him outright where I believe they would 13x13 him and instantly gain control or to constantly push him and hurt him which I believe accelerated the spread of the taint. I believe that the taint is essentially a form of compulsion used by the dark one. Nynaeve comments in the chapter while she was healing Naeff that the taint was very similar to compulsion and she even ponders the fact that that could be the case. This could also be why the only time the shadow has really been sent in full force is to stop the cleansing of Saidin. The taint was the main way the shadow was gaining channelers and was the best way to bring Rand to the side of the shadow.
So the forsaken are constantly harrying Rand trying to either capture him or progress the taint to the point that the shadow can control him. I think that the taint can progress to a point where the person can be controlled as much as anyone else under compulsion. I believe the proof in this lies at the end of TOM with the three red veiled aiel.
I believe as many others do that these are male aiel channelers that were sent into the blight to spit in sightblinders eye when their ability was discovered. The difference is that I don’t think they were converted by the 13x13, I think the taint progressed so far that they fell under the control of the shadow. There was probably orders put out not to kill them when they came up only to push them as the forsaken are Rand into progressing the taint to a point where they fall completely under the dark ones control. The closer you get to Shayol Ghul the strong the dark one is which could mean that the effect/progression of the taint is stronger the closer you get.
There are two reasons I don’t think they were turned with 13x13. I don’t think there has been enough dreadlords around for long enough to turn enough to make a real difference if that’s what has been happening. If this has been a recent thing then they wouldn’t have turned more then like a couple dozen of these male aiel which would mean very little in the grand scheme of things. If my theory is correct then they could have an entire army of them up in the blight which would somewhat even the sides since the light seems to have many more channelers at this point in time.
The second reason is that these red veiled aiel don’t seem to act at all like the others we have seen that have most likely been turned.
The one thing I’m not sure is what the shadow has to do to win in this way. The obvious answer is to break the dark one free but there is one thing that makes me think that that is not all that has to be done. It is specifically mentioned that in order to win in this way the player has to control the Fisher and maneuver him into the goal row “on the opponents side of the board”. This might work for the light as they have to go into shadow controlled territory at Shayol Ghul to seal the dark one. If the shadow simply had to break the dark one free from Shayol Ghul then it would be the equivalent of moving the Fisher to the goal row on your side of the board. I haven’t really came up with anything for how the shadow would win in this way but it makes me believe that the end game for the shadow does not lie in the blight. If they gained control of the fisher they would have to somehow use him to do something on the light side, whatever that is, to free the dark one.

2. Trap your opponent into moving the Fisher onto a square of your color anywhere on the goal row around the board.
This is the most obvious one as they have been trying to make Rand do what they want throughout the whole series. They simply want to try to make rand screw up and release the dark one on his own in his attempt to seal him.
3. Destroy all of your opponent’s pieces
This is also a fairly obvious one but it is known as the hardest way to win the game which is why the main focus of the shadow has been on the fisher. They have now put a big bullseye on Matt and Perrin. They also eliminated the Seanchan empress in an attempt to eliminate that piece from the game. Then there’s Messana’s attempt to take out Egwene. I’m sure there are a lot more that I’m missing but the point is the shadow is now falling back on the third option of trying to eliminate all of the lights pieces to win.
I think that with Saidin cleansed the shadow’s plan of pushing Rand over the edge to gain control of him is much more out of reach so they are implementing the secondary strategy which is just total domination. They haven’t given up on Rand because he is still the most important piece and can be captured and forcefully turned but I think with saidin cleansed they have somewhat changed strategies.

This theory is still pretty raw and unorganized but I really need to get to bed so I’m just gonna put this up for review then probably come back and work on it some more tomorrow.

klye
12-02-2010, 10:24 AM
It might just be a coincidence, but maybe the "black halo" surrounding rand in TGS was predicted by this quote about the game?

He is, after all, "moving to a black square". And he later says that the DO almost won.

I know... real stretch there.