The Forsaken were channelers who served the side of the Shadow in the War of Power. They were known to followers of the Shadow as "Those Chosen To Rule The World Forever," or simply the Chosen. Among the Atha'an Shadar (Seanchan Darkfriends) they are known formally as Da'concion, or "the Chosen Ones". The Aiel call them the Shadowsouled.
As time passed, The Forsaken came to mean the thirteen most powerful of the Forsaken, who were caught in the sealing of the Bore and imprisoned with the Dark One. The horrific deeds of each were remembered long after their disappearance. In the Third Age, these thirteen were such symbols of the Shadow that mothers would use stories of their exploits to frighten children.
A well known catechism about the Forsaken is as follows: "The Dark One and all the Forsaken are bound in Shayol Ghul, bound by the Creator at the moment of Creation, bound until the end of time," or a similar variant. This is incorrect, of course, as the Forsaken were not even born until the Age of Legends, and it is unclear if there even was an original "moment of Creation"—nor is the imprisonment forever. Due to the general weakening of the Seven Seals, some, perhaps all thirteen, had escaped by 997 NE, and all were certainly free by 998 NE.
In the Age of Legends, those who could channel the One Power afforded the most status and honor as Aes Sedai, living up to the literal translation "servants of all." They employed their various Talents in ways that served the good of society. If a channeler used the Power in a way that was harmful or deceitful, which was relatively rare, he or she would be bound as a criminal by a binder that prevented a repeat offense. Although some such individuals existed who were immoral, there existed little or no opportunity to prosper through corrupt means as service to humanity in general was the means by which one could acquire status.
This changed when the Dark One's touch entered the world. It began when research at the Collam Daan led to an energy source, seemingly outside the Pattern, which could be tapped by both men and women equally, without the restrictions associated in the gender split of the One Power. Led by researcher Mierin Eronaile, later known as Lanfear, a bore was drilled where the Pattern was thin, into the energy source so tantalizing - and straight through into the Dark One's prison. The Bore had been created, and the effects the Dark One had on the world would affect society at its basest level, and cause the Collapse.
The worst side of human emotions were released; violence and corruption blossomed where once there had been a near Utopia. In addition, there were now rewards for evil acts. The Dark One encouraged those discontent with their lot with an option for power. Average people who swore allegiance to the Shadow called themselves Friends of the Dark and were promised immortality. Those who dedicated themselves to the Dark One and could channel were given the highest status and became the "Chosen" by swearing oaths at Shayol Ghul. These Chosen, dubbed the Forsaken by humanity, fell or were seduced to the Shadow for various reasons. Many of the male Forsaken, including Sammael, Rahvin, Demandred, and possibly Be'lal all joined due to their jealousy of Lews Therin. Others, particularly Semirhage, were utterly corrupt from the beginning, or, like Lanfear, they joined for the promise of power and immortality. Ishamael, who was something of a nihilist even before the Bore was drilled, was unique in that he joined because his logic concluded that humanity was doomed, as the Dark One could achieve permanent victory, while humanity could never truly destroy the Dark One without losing their free will. As victory was impossible, he reasoned that it would be better to join the Shadow and rule for a time before the Dark One brought the world to an end.
The War of Power and the True PowerEdit
The War of the Shadow was largely led by Forsaken. They held positions of power and leadership, commanding armies that ravaged mercilessly against defenders of the Light and innocent civilians alike, and governing territories for the Dark with rule marked by terror. They worked behind the scenes fomenting discord, spreading propaganda, and orchestrating disastrous "accidents." They perpetrated countless atrocities against humanity in the name of science, knowledge, or with no "cause" whatsoever. Acting as Dreadlords, each of the Forsaken was marked in a manner such that no Shadowspawn could disobey them. The mark also enabled the Dark One to find them at any time, such that they cannot hide from their master.
Once there were many Forsaken, at least thirty of high rank, but they schemed against each other as often as against the forces of the Light. Twenty-nine of the Forsaken were given special permission from the Dark One to touch the True Power. This was the unified source of energy originally sought by Lanfear's research, equally accessible to males and females, but only with the access granted personally by the Dark One.
By the last days of the War of Power, none approaching the strength of those now known as the Forsaken still lived, though none had died through the efforts of the Light. The Forsaken schemed and plotted against one another, each vying for the highest honor bestowed by the Dark One, which was to be named Nae'blis: the one who would stand greater than all other Forsaken, to stand higher than all humanity, second only to the "Great Lord" himself. The Dark One encouraged such activity among his servants, as he only wished the strongest to serve him. The Dark One himself had a considerable number of Forsaken killed due to his own suspicions, according to Demandred.
The Forsaken all joined the Dark One for selfish reasons - power, glory, immortality, revenge, freedom from societal restrictions, etc. This selfishness has led Verin Mathwin to make the statement that, for all their power, the Forsaken are actually fairly predictable. The sole exception to this may have been Ishamael, who may have joined the Shadow simply because he believed humanity's struggle against him to be without hope.
After the Bore was sealed, the active members of those who were called Forsaken turned their armies against each other. It is assured that none managed to survive the Breaking.
The lead thirteen however, managed to survive, though trapped. They had been summoned to Shayol Ghul and all thirteen were gathered deep within the mountain when Lews Therin Telamon arrived with the Hundred Companions. The Strike sealed the Bore to the Dark One's prison using the cuendillar seals, imprisoning the Dark One and the thirteen Forsaken.
Scale of Power (highly speculative)Edit
The thirteen imprisoned Forsaken were the thirteen most powerful channelers on the side of the dark, and all of them are very high on the general scale of how much of the One Power a human being of either respective gender can channel. However, there is much speculation regarding the true strengths of some of the Forsaken, as many of the Forsaken of each respective gender were very similar in power to each other. Additionally, there are very few direct statements regarding the strengths of the various Forsaken; their behavior towards one another and their private thoughts about their individual strengths compared to their comrades provides the bulk of the available information on their strength. While the possibility that these opinions may have been somewhat biased due to the arrogant and degenerate characters of many of the Forsaken, it should be noted that they had all likely known of the strength of their peers before turning to the Shadow. Additionally, most of these judgments were made in the privacy of the Forsaken's own minds, and in situations where self-deception could have potentially been very dangerous.
Below is a ranking of the Forsaken largely based off of evidence from the books, the WoT Guide, statements by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, and a considerable amount of speculation. With a few exceptions, the placements of the individual Forsaken on this list is NOT official.
- Ishamael: Known beyond any doubt to have been the most powerful of the Forsaken. Like the Dragon, he had reached the maximum level of strength that a human being could achieve in the One Power. He and whichever incarnation of the Dragon happened to be alive at the time appeared to be uniquely powerful amongst their peers; no other human being has been known to have achieved their level of strength in the One Power. When he is resurrected as Moridin, he maintained the same level of power as the same soul inhabited both bodies.
- Aginor: Frequently referred to as having been "second only to Ishamael" in his strength in the power. Despite this however, he appears to have been somewhat subservient to Demandred and flat-out admitted on one occasion to being terrified of Ishamael. He was believed by Demandred to have been Chosen only due to his expertise at genetic engineering. As such, his lack of talent for combat with the Power may have contributed substantially to his apparently lackluster stature amongst the Forsaken. He retained the same strength in his incarnation as Osan'gar. Additionally, while he was stated to have been second only to Ishamael, this does not exclude the possibility that others among the Forsaken could have been equal to him.
- Lanfear: Lanfear is likely either stronger than Aginor and weaker than Ishamael, or weaker than Ishamael and Aginor but above all the others. Speculation of her strength based on observations by other Forsaken is highly circumspect, especially given that RJ directly states that most of the Forsaken are delusional about their own power. Rahvin is sometimes argued to be stronger than Lanfear because he states that he thinks he and Sammael could have overwhelmed her, but he is known for his pride. Even the Dark One states he died because of his pride. Moiraine describes Ishamael and Lanfear as being the strongest of the Forsaken and pride or delusion would not play in her assessment of Forsaken history. The arugment that Lanfear could not overwhelm Rand even with her angreal is also flawed. Just as Rand could not bring himself to kill her, we know that Lanfear loved him (at least her version of love) and did not really want to kill him. She's emotionally unstable, and using the fight between them to determine her strength is flawed because ultimately she never wanted him dead. Lastly, Be'lal is said to have been jealous of Ishamael and Lanfear for their power, a rare thing for one of the Forsaken to admit. If The Envious directed his jealousy at Ishamael and Lanfear and not Aginor, Demandred, Sammael, and Rahvin, it suggests that Lanfear was the second strongest next to Ishamael. This could also be used to surmise that Be'lal himself was just below Ishamael and Lanfear, but so little is known about him that few place him so high.
- Demandred: Likely equal to Aginor in terms of strength, as Aginor appeared to be somewhat afraid of him yet was stated himself to have been surpassed only by Ishamael in terms of power. Mesaana stated at one point that had Lews Therin never existed, Demandred would have been the most acclaimed Aes Sedai of the Age of Legends, which may serve to lend further credence to his placement.
- Sammael: speculated to have been slightly weaker than Aginor and Demandred but may have been slightly stronger than Rahvin. Possibly Demandred and Aginor's equal or near-equal.
- Rahvin: Believed to have been either fractionally weaker than Sammael, or possibly equal/near-equal to Sammael, Demandred, and Aginor.
- Graendal: Known to be the second strongest of the women but weaker than Sammael and likely Rahvin as well.
- Balthamel: Based on statements by the Robert Jordan, it is speculated that Aginor was possessed of enough ability to channel the Power that overwhelming Balthamel in a direct contest of strength would not have been terribly difficult for him. Additionally, Balthamel appeared to have been afraid of Logain Ablar, who, though incredibly strong in the power, was relatively limited in his knowledge of how to use it. He retained the same strength in his incarnation as Aran'gar, and had essentially been serving Graendal before being killed again.
- Semirhage: Seemed to show some deference to Graendal, but virtually nothing else is known for certain about her level of strength.
- Be'lal: Virtually nothing is known of his strength and capabilities, so his level could reside anywhere between Aginor's and Asmodean's. He was said to have been envious of Ishamael and Lanfear especially, though the reasons for this envy are unknown. As such, his position on this particular list is only a somewhat educated guess.
- Mesaana: Mesaana demonstrated a measure of deference to Semirhage. Brandon Sanderson has noted that Mesaana was weaker than Nynaeve.
- Asmodean: Known to be the weakest of the male Forsaken.
- Moghedien: Known to be the weakest of all of the Forsaken in terms of pure strength in the One Power. However, her mastery of Tel'aran'rhiod was unsurpassed, despite Lanfear's claims to the contrary.
Ishamael, the first of the Chosen to reveal himself, haunted the dreams of Rand al'Thor, Mat Cauthon, and Perrin Aybara, suspecting one of them to be the Dragon Reborn and attempting to turn them to the Shadow. He was badly burned by Rand during a skirmish in Tel'aran'rhiod, during the same struggle that killed Aginor, and was wounded again in another battle in the skies above Falme. He was finally killed in the Heart of the Stone after Rand defeated him a third time, with Callandor.
Besides the partially trapped Ishamael, Balthamel and Aginor were sealed closest to the surface of the metaphysical prison and were not protected from the effects of aging along with having nightmares. Time wore away at their bodies leaving both gruesomely disfigured, but no less powerful. Their proximity to the surface of the Bore also meant they were first among the trapped Chosen released into the current Age.
They set themselves to controlling the Eye of the World, but were foiled by the Green Man and Rand's inexpert channeling. Balthamel was killed by the dying Someshta, while Aginor was killed in a struggle with Rand over the pure saidin pool.
Sammael, Be'lal, and Rahvin became political powers, assuming the identities of Lord Brend in Illian, High Lord Samon in Tear, and Lord Gaebril in Andor respectively. All three died battling Rand al'Thor. Be'lal was killed in the Stone of Tear by Moiraine Damodred using balefire, while Rand distracted him. Both Rahvin and Be'lal were killed by balefire, so neither may be reincarnated by the Dark Lord. It is believed that Sammael was killed by Mashadar at Shadar Logoth.
Lanfear first appeared as Selene; she tried and failed to lure Rand to her side with her sultry beauty and whispers of glory. She was eager to reclaim Lews Therin, her once-lover, as her own in his new incarnation as Rand al'Thor, but he was no more interested than he had been in his previous lifetime. Lanfear posed as a peddler named Keille Shaogi and, along with Asmodean disguised as the gleeman Jasin Natael, led a train of Darkfriend merchants into the Aiel Waste. They intended to disrupt Rand's plans with the Aiel, and to get closer to Rhuidean and the access keys of the Choedan Kal.
In Rhuidean, Rand cut Asmodean's ties to the Dark One, at which point, Lanfear betrayed and shielded Asmodean. Asmodean was forced to teach him much about channeling the One Power as his power, limited by a partial shield courtesy of Lanfear, allowed. Asmodean was eventually killed in Caemlyn by Graendal.
Lanfear died in Cairhien after she learned that Rand had taken a lover. She confronted Rand at the docks of Cairhien, meaning to kill him, but Moiraine tackled her and they both fell into a twisted redstone doorframe, which subsequently melted to the ground, trapping them both in the land of the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn. She was drained of power and killed for the pleasure of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn.
Semirhage attached herself to the seat of power in Seanchan. She took the guise of Anath Dorje, Truthspeaker of the Seanchan Daughter of the Nine Moons, and also controlled the High Lady Suroth, a known Darkfriend. Failing to control Tuon, Semirhage had the entire royal family in Seanchan murdered, plunging Seanchan into chaos. She then gave Suroth the task to find and kill Tuon and promised her the Crystal Throne if she succeeded. Semirhage plotted to capture Rand al'Thor by tricking him into attending a meeting where she posed as High Lady Tuon herself but, forewarned, Rand captured Semirhage, though not without injury. She was killed by Rand, who escaped her use of the Domination Band by accessing the True Power and channeling balefire at her.
Mesaana positioned herself in the White Tower, posing as Danelle Sedai. She had a hand in stirring up the chaos during the White Tower Schism, manipulating Elaida by way of Alviarin of the Black Ajah. Mesaana had planned to have the Dragon Reborn within her hands within a couple of months after the White Tower delegation went to meet him. There were a number of Black sisters in that embassy who kidnapped and tortured Rand, likely due to Mesaana's orchestration of events.
When the plan failed to deliver Rand to the Tower, Mesaana remained there and continued to plot, using the Black Ajah as her tools. On the other hand, some Aes Sedai were aware of her presence in the Tower. After stalking Egwene al'Vere in the White Tower, Mesaana coordinates an aggressive attack in Tel'aran'rhiod. She fought against Aes Sedai, Wise Ones, and Egwene until the latter delivers an overpowering blow that fractures her mind. Though her body is alive, Mesaana remains only as a limp, mindless husk.
Graendal disappeared into Arad Doman, plotting to aid the Shadow's cause under the guise of the ailing Lady Basene. Moridin hinted to her that there will be a place, a promotion for her, subordinate to him but above the rest of the Chosen if she were to cause Rand great anguish, while not harming him. She must not allow Rand to restore order in Arad Doman. Rand tried to kill her with balefire that destroyed the entirety of Natrin's Barrow, and Rand believed he had succeeded in eliminating Graendal from existence.
Graendal survived the attempt on her life, however, escaping through a gateway at the last moment. She was forced to flee Arad Doman, failing to keep Rand from gaining a foothold in Arad Doman. To regain favor from the Nae'blis, Graendal later tried to kill Perrin Aybara, but failed in this too. She was punished harshly by Shaidar Haran for her failure. During the Last Battle, she uses her mastery of Compulsion to manipulate the commanders of the Light into blundering strategic decisions.
Moghedien took command of a small group of Black Ajah sisters, but was defeated and captured by Nynaeve al'Meara and controlled with an a'dam. She was released by Aran'gar and summoned to Shayol Ghul, where she was mindtrapped by Moridin.
Service beyond the graveEdit
By the beginning of the Last Battle only Demandred and Moghedien survived in their original forms. Some of the dead Forsaken have been resurrected in new bodies by the Lord of the Grave: their new incarnations are named Osan'gar, Aran'gar, Moridin, Cyndane, and Hessalam.
Moridin is nae'blis, lord of the Forsaken, and the reincarnation of Ishamael.
Cyndane is the reincarnation of Lanfear, but is currently out of favor with the Dark Lord and, like Moghedien, is mindtrapped by Moridin.
Aran'gar, the reincarnation of Balthamel, was placed in a woman's body but still channeled saidin. She recently hid with the Salidar Aes Sedai using the alias Halima Saranov. She worked as secretary to Delana Mosalaine, a Black sister posing as Gray, and servant of the Amyrlin Seat Egwene al'Vere. When her cover is compromised by an Asha'man sensing her saidin, she flees. Aran'gar is destroyed by Rand al'thor's balefire while in Natrin's Barrow. Graendal had shielded her, which prevented Aran'gar's escape.
Responsible for the deaths of Asmodean and Aran'gar through balefire, and Mesaana's defeat within the White Tower, Graendal has earned the Great Lord's disfavor. She was last seen about to be punished by Shaidar Haran.
Demandred was the last Forsaken to be accounted for. He was once suspected to be masquerading as Mazrim Taim, but that theory has been disproved. Newer theories place him in Murandy, where he may have used the Band of the Red Hand in order to cement his rule there.
Mazrim Taim was named Chosen by Moridin shortly before the Last Battle and has taken the name M'Hael. Graendal has apparently been killed and brought back as an ugly old woman given the name Hessalam, which is "without forgiveness" in the Old Tongue.
- Moghedien (Collared by Seanchan)
- Graendal (as Hessalam) (under deep compulsion)
- Mesaana - Brain dead
- Aginor/Osan'gar - Burned by Rand al'Thor/Killed with Fire by Elza Penfell
- Asmodean - Killed by Graendal
- Balthamel/Aran'gar -Killed by Someshta/Killed with balefire by Rand al'Thor
- Be'lal - Killed with balefire by Moiraine Damodred 
- Rahvin - Killed with balefire by Rand al'Thor
- Sammael - Killed by Mashadar
- Semirhage - Killed with balefire by Rand al'Thor
- Ishamael/Moridin - Killed by Rand al'Thor in the Heart of the Stone of Tear/Killed when Rand sealed the Bore
- Lanfear/Cyndane - Killed by Moridin in Sindhol for resurrection/Neck snapped by Perrin Aybara
- Demandred - Beheaded by Lan Mandragoran
- M'Hael - Killed by Egwene al'Vere using the Flame of Tar Valon
- ↑ The Eye of the World, Chapter 1
- ↑ The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 51
- ↑ The term Dreadlords may not be the most accurate description, as some assert that the term didn't appear until after the sealing of the Bore.
- ↑ Towers of Midnight, Chapter 5
- ↑ A Crown of Swords, Chapter 25
- ↑ With the possible exception of Ishamael, who appears to have joined the Shadow due to the perceived logic of the impossibility of humankind's fight against the Dark One.
- ↑ The Gathering Storm, Prologue
- ↑ A Memory of Light, Prologue
- ↑ Towers of Midnight, Chapter 38
- ↑ Winter's Heart, Chapter 35
- ↑ Towers of Midnight, Glossary
- ↑ Towers of Midnight, Prologue
- ↑ The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 55
- ↑ The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 55
- ↑ A Crown of Swords, Chapter 41
- ↑ The Gathering Storm, Chapter 22