Wheel of Time Spoiler Review: "The Flame of Tar Valon" - Comic Years
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Wheel of Time Spoiler Review: “The Flame of Tar Valon”

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BY December 12, 2021

All season long The Wheel of Time has been talking about Tar Valon – the grand city that is home to the White Tower and the base of the Aes Sedai. But it is episode 6 where we finally dig into Tower politics. This episode is all about the Aes Sedai, and two in particular: Moiraine and Siuan. Let’s dig into episode 6 of The Wheel of Time – “The Flame of Tar Valon” and uncover the secrets of these powerful women.

“The Flame of Tar Valon” – Siuan Sanche – Daughter of the Rivers

Wheel of Time Young Siuan Flame of Tar Valon Image via Amazon Prime

Episode 6 of The Wheel of Time – “The Flame of Tar Valon” – opens with a flashback – likely one of many we will see in the final episodes. Off the coast of Tear we meet a young Siuan Sanche, rising with her father to catch morning’s fish. This flashback establishes several important details. First that Siuan comes from a humble background. This directly negates Nynaeve’s claim in the first episode that the Tower turns away peasants. It also shows us how Siuan learned to channel at a young age, and her power grew rapidly.

An establishing shot in this flashback shows a mountainous city in the background. This is the Stone of Tear – an important location in the future of the story (Dana the Darkfriend also referenced it in episode 3). We also learn that the country of Tear is not kind to channelers – male and female alike. Siuan and her father return home only to find their hut has been burned to the ground, the symbol of the dragon’s fang glowing dully on the wood.

What Is The Dragon’s Fang?

Aes Sedai Symbol Wheel of Time Image via Tor Forge

We have seen this symbol before in The Wheel of Time. It has popped up several times – the most notable example being after Nynaeve kills her first Trolloc in episode 3 and the blood forms the symbol. The dragon’s fang is half of the Aes Sedai symbol, the dark half of the yin-yang. This used to represent the male half of the source, and now it is commonly as an accusation of evil. Presumably someone in Tear suspected that Siuan could channel, and basically accused her of witchcraft by scrawling the dragon’s fang on her door. This frightens her father enough to send her away, on a boat to Tar Valon.

The Amyrlin Seat and The Flame of Tar Valon

Aes Sedai Wheel of Time Image via Amazon Prime

We soon see Siuan again, all grown up as she enters the Hall of the Tower to fanfare. She has risen through the ranks to become the Amyrlin Seat – the leader of all Aes Sedai. She is the titular “Flame of Tar Valon” in The Wheel of Time.

Logain is dragged before Siuan and gives a dramatic monologue about how the power of the Aes Sedai is waning. Siuan is not fooled by his theatrics, she knows that he wants to die now that he can no longer channel. She will not give him what he wants, instead sentencing him to serve as an example to all other male channelers

Divisions Within The White Tower

Wheel of Time Aes Sedai Image via Amazon Prime

The Amyrlin turns her attention to the women who gentled Logain. And Moiraine finds herself in an uncomfortable position, forced to defend Liandrin’s actions that she clearly did not condone. Liandrin also brings up Nynaeve’s impressive display of healing, and questions Moiraine’s motivations. The Amyrlin Seat angrily chastises Moiraine, questioning if her noble blood (the first time this has been mentioned) is the reason she is so haughty.

We have seen glimpses of the divisions within the Aes Sedai several times by now. We know that the Red Ajah is gaining strength, and Liandrin’s outright defiance of the Amyrlin Seat is proof that she is becoming too bold. This episode brings this conflict into sharper focus, showing how little Sisters of each Ajah can trust one another. No one knows about Moiraine’s secret mission. No one except Siuan Sanche herself.

Pillow-Friend Subtext from Wheel of Time Books Made Canon

The Flame of Tar Valon Pillow-Friends Image via Amazon Prime

We soon learn that the rumors of Siuan’s enmity towards Moiraine – and the anger she displayed in the Hall of the Tower – was all an act. Moiraine and Siuan have always been close. In the books it is implied that they were once “pillow-friends.” This is a term that Robert Jordan utilized to imply same-sex relationships, especially amongst the Aes Sedai. The show has made this implication a reality. We see a tender scene between Siuan and Moiraine that establishes their long-term relationship. They are lovers, but they are also partners in crime. The two of them were the only ones in attendance when the previous Amyrlin Seat had a vision (Foretellling) of the Dragon being reborn. They concocted the plan together that would see Moiraine on her mission to find the prophesied child.

I absolutely love this change, and not just because it adds queer characters to the world. This scene shows us the vulnerable side of the Aes Sedai. This is especially important to see for Moiraine. She is utterly human in these moments, unguarded and candid with the person she trusts and loves most. It is a striking difference from the stoic Aes Sedai we have seen so far. This also explains why Moiraine and Lan are not lovers, despite their obvious intimacy.

Moiraine tells Siuan that her punishment must be exile, since the head of her Ajah has demanded she remain in the Tower. Siuan says that she has had visions of the Dark One at the Eye of the World. Moiraine immediately goes into planning mode, she will take the Ta’veren to the Eye in hopes of stopping the Dark One before his power grows.

Siuan Sanche: An Unbreakable Vow in the Hall

Wheel of Time The Flame of Tar Valon Image via Amazon Prime

This leads to a beautiful and emotionally charged scene in the Hall. Siuan decrees that Moiraine will be banished and makes her swear on the Oath Rod. This is the magical artifact that the Aes Sedai use to swear the Three Oaths that Moiraine told Egwene about. The magic of the Oath Rod ensures that no one can break a vow sworn upon it. Moiraine kneels before her lover and swears to her alone – to “Siuan Sanche, daughter of the rivers, clever as a pike, strong as the tides.” This is the same line that Siuan’s father used when he sent her away, something that Moiraine obviously knows.

I love the way this plays out like a marriage ritual, a vow more binding than any other. The fact that Moiraine changes the oath and swear to return only when Siuan calls her home is interesting. It is not the Amyrlin Seat that she swears to, no one but Siuan can call her back. And I can’t help but wonder how this will affect future storylines involving Moiraine and all of the doorways the series keeps metaphorically sending her through.

Catching Up with Other Wheel of Time Characters – “The Flame of Tar Valon”

Wheel of Time Photos Image via Amazon Prime

The focus of this episode was undoubtedly on Moiraine and Siuan. However, there were still a few significant moments for the other characters. Moiraine tracks down Mat and Rand and discovers how ill Mat is. Rand whips out his sword, sure that Moiraine is there to gentle Mat. Lan holds him down as Moiraine discovers the dagger from Shadar Logoth. She breaks Mat’s connection to the darkness by taking it into herself. Rand finally shows a little gratitude, as he begins to understand the lengths Moiraine would go for any of them.

Perrin and Egwene are also finally located at a Healer in the city. Here Moiraine learns about Perrin’s connection to the wolves. And Egwene returns the Aes Sedai rings taken from the Whitecloaks. Moiraine brings Egwene to the White Tower. There is a great moment where we see Egwene standing in front of the Amyrlin Seat (the chair, then the woman). She is reunited with Nynaeve, and Moiraine brings both of them to Siuan.

Wheel of Time Moiraine Egwene Image via Amazon Prime

However, we will not see Egwene and Nynaeve don Novice robes yet. They still have a role to play at the Eye of the World. As the group reunites outside of a Waygate, Loial explains that they will take a route through the Ways. This is a kind of fast-travel that exists outside of space and time. Of course the Ways have been tainted by the Darkness, and are extremely dangerous. But it is too late to turn back. As they enter, Rand looks back to find Mat is not following. The gateway closes, with Mat separated from the group. Honestly, this is probably the smartest thing Mat has done all season, even if it is a canonical change.

What Will the Season 1 Finale Bring?

Wheel of Time Ensemble Photo by Jan Thijs via Amazon Studios

“The Flame of Tar Valon” is allegedly the last time we will see Barney Harris as Mat in The Wheel of  Time. The actor was recast for season 2. This may alter some of the events that occur at the Eye of the World. But it remains to be seen how much will change. This was the last episode that reviewers saw, so we are now left to speculate how the end of the season will play out.

And you can be sure that I’ll be doing plenty of speculation in my reviews for the final two episodes in season one of The Wheel of Time. Be sure to stay tuned to Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter for news and reviews.

Featured image via Amazon Studios

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Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

AdaptationsLGBTQRobert JordanThe Flame of Tar ValonThe Wheel of TimeTV Review

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