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Blademaster

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Blademasters are acknowledged masters of sword-based combat.

Training and advancementEdit

The Gaidin of the White Tower train young men with the sword, among other skills. These young men were the traditional pool from which Aes Sedai recruited their Gaidin. Others are taught by a mentor, for example Rand al'Thor was taught by Lan Mandragoran.

Students are taught named choreographies known as forms, such as Parting the Silk. These forms are thought to be an adaptation of the game, "swords" which was played in the Age of Legends. Practitioners typically used bundled lathes of wood (resembling the real-world shinai) while drilling against sparring partners.

Blademasters are formally recognized as such in the Westlands when one of two things occurs: either they defeat a known blademaster in single combat with appropriate witnesses, or they are judged by five blademasters, via unanimous vote, to have demonstrated sufficient skill.

Heron markEdit

Heron-marked Palm
Rand's heron-marked palm, by Todd Cameron Hamilton
RahienAdded by Rahien
"Once the heron, to set his path.
Twice the heron, to name him true."

   —Karaethon Cycle

A blademaster may decorate their sword with a heron mark although it is not demanded of them. Only men who have complete mastery of the sword are given the privilege of carrying a heron-mark sword. Heron-mark swords may contain the heron on the blade, on the hilt, or on both.

Rand al'Thor is confronted by Ba'alzamon while hunting for the Horn of Valere. While holding his sword Ba'alzamon heats the sword, thus branding a heron onto one of his palms. Later, in the battle with Ba'alzamon over the skies of Falme, Rand channeled saidin through his sword as he struck the final blow to Ba'alzamon with Heron Wading in the Rushes. This melted his Power-wrought sword and branded the heron mark in his other palm (the blade was held in reverse). Thus each of Rand's hands are branded with the Heron Mark, fulfilling the prophecy from the Karaethon Cycle.[1]

Heron Mark Sword
A heron marked sword.
JaymachAdded by Jaymach

Sword of a BlademasterEdit

Although the size and shape of the blades used may vary, the swords used by blademasters most often have a single edge, curved for slashing, with a hilt. Regional areas may favor one particular shape over another.[verify] Since the blademaster, and not the blade, is the weapon, he should be able to effectively use his sword forms with any given blade. However, certain types of blades are favored among blademasters and ordinary swordsmen alike.

During the Age of Legends when Aes Sedai forged weapons with the Power, some of them were swords. Power-wrought swords gave their users an advantage in battle. They are not damaged by ordinary weapons. They never rust, and they never need sharpening. When Aes Sedai started taking Oaths and vowed never to create weapons, these Power-wrought swords became rarer and rarer. Over time, Power-wrought swords ended in the hands of the elite swordsmen, noblemen, and kings; the swords carried by king of Malkier (Lan Mandaragon's sword) and the king of Cairhien (Laman Damodred's sword) were Power-wrought. These unbreakable, master-crafted blades forged by a lost art in the hands of dangerous men who have mastered the sword came to attain a powerful aura of mystique and prestige.

Heron
The heron marking on a sword.
JaymachAdded by Jaymach

Some of the surviving Power-wrought swords were made with the Heron mark. Since ordinary circumstances cannot damage Power-wrought swords, a blacksmith would be unable to engrave a heron mark after they have been produced by Aes Sedai. Thus, heron-marked Power-wrought swords became highly prized among blademasters.

Tam al'Thor became a blademaster while serving in the army of Illian. The black scabbard displayed a bronze heron. The sword itself was very slightly curved and sharp on only one edge. The hilt was worked with a bronze heron and another was etched into the steel blade itself. This blade was passed onto Rand al'Thor but was melted during his third fight against Ba'alzamon.

Known BlademastersEdit

According to Robert Jordan, there are fewer than a hundred Blademasters in the Westlands. The number of Blademasters in Seanchan is unknown.

To date, all known blademasters are male, likely because Cha Faile, the only known sword-wielding force to accept women to their ranks, has not existed long enough for any of them to achieve sufficient skill. Blademaster's names so far in the series are:

Current AgeEdit

HistoricalEdit

  • Jearom - reputed to be the best swordsman who ever lived. Historical figure.

Age of LegendsEdit

Possible BlademastersEdit

  • Laman Damodred, King of Cairhien (deceased) carried a heron-marked blade, which was taken back to the Waste as proof of his death and eventually given to Rand by Aviendha. [4]
  • Coulin, (deceased) Master of Arms in Tar Valon and a Warder, killed by Gawyn Trakand during the White Tower coup.[5]
  • Jame, Seanchan bouncer of The Yearly Brawl in Ebou Dar who kills an assassin sent after Tuon. He carries a blade with herons on the hilt, but Mat couldn't see if the blade was marked as well. It is unknown if he is truly a blademaster.[6]

ParallelsEdit

  • The story of Jearom and his loss with a quarterstaff-wielding farmer is probably an allusion to the kensei Miyamoto Musashi and the trouble he had with a staff-master although Musashi emerged victorious at the end. Musashi was widely known to have cut down many sword teachers, though he defeated many of them with unconventional tactics.

NotesEdit

  1. The Great Hunt, Chapter 15
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Gathering Storm, Chapter 13
  3. The Gathering Storm, Chapter 40
  4. The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 23
  5. The Gathering Storm, Chapter 4
  6. A Memory of Light, Chapter 11

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