Hey, Didja Notice This: One Man, Alone

by | Sep 6, 2022 | 0 comments

Hey, Didja Notice This: One Man, Alone

SPOILER ALERT

There are almost four and a half million words in The Wheel of Time. Twelve of them are used to make the phrase “one man, alone” four times.

FOUR TIMES

Raise your hand if you’re surprised it’s not more.

The first time it shows up is in New Spring, where we get this:

As one, the spears came down, and the Aiel shouted a single word that boomed clearly across the space between, drowning the trumpets’ distant calls. “Aan’allein!”

Lan exchanged wondering glances with Bukama. That was the Old Tongue, the language that had been spoken in the Age of Legends, and in the centuries before the Trolloc Wars. The best translation Lan could come up with was One Man Alone. But what did it mean? Why would the Aiel shout such a thing?

I don’t think we ever really get an answer to that last question, but we do find out what it means. When Moiraine and Egwene are talking to the Wise Ones on Chaendaer outside Rhuidean, Moiraine says, “Aan’allein. One man but also The Man Who Is an Entire People, and two or three other ways to translate it as well.”

The man who is an entire people.

We know he’s not the last of the Malkieri. That scene in The Golden Crane proves that.

He’s not the only Malkieri; he’s one man who is symbolic of the entire Malkieri people. His fight against the Shadow is Malkier’s fight against the Shadow. His destiny is Malkier’s destiny.

Then, in The Last Battle, we get this:

One rider burst from the ranks of their soldiers, galloping toward the Trolloc right flank. Mat would not be happy about that. One man, alone, would die. Loial was surprised that he could feel sorrow for that man’s life lost, after all of the death he had seen.

That man looks familiar, Loial thought. Yes, it was the horse. He’d seen that horse before, many times. Lan, he thought, numb. Lan is the one riding out alone.

One man, alone. Aan’allein. The man who is not just a man, but the symbol of an entire nation, rode out to turn the tide in The Last Battle.

Those three little words, a callback to the first chapter of the prequel, hammer home the symbolism. Lan isn’t just himself any more than Rand is. It may be a few chosen heroes who win the key fights, but in doing so, they represent the combined people of Randland fighting evil.

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