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Illian's elite shock troops are known as the Illianer Companions, or simply the Companions. This organization is rare in that foreigners can rise to become First Captain, the top rank in the Companions. They serve as the King of Illian's personal guard and also the backbone of the army. Rand al'Thor's father, Tam al'Thor, was a Second Captain of the Companions.
The name "Companions" is a reference to the cavalry of the Macedonian army best known as the elite guards of Alexander the Great and his father, Philip II of Macedon. The Companions acceptance of foreign nationals into its ranks is similar to the French Foreign Legion, formed because foreign nationals were forbidden to join the French Army.