Nynaeve al'Meara (married name: el'Nynaeve ti al'Meara Mandragoran) is one of the main female protagonists of the series.
Nynaeve is typically described as having dark eyes and until recently a long dark braid, which she would often yank in times of exasperation. Her hair is now significantly shorter after her harrowing ordeal in the oval ring and is too short to tug. She is also described as being relatively short and slim. She is said to be very pretty, even beautiful.
In the beginning of the series, Nynaeve vocally expresses her liking of "stout" Two Rivers wool clothing. However, as the series progresses, she demonstrates a finer sense of fashion, wearing fine silks, usually in the colors of blue or green (Lan's favorite colors). She disapproves of immodest dress, although has relaxed in that respect considerably as well.
In traditional Aes Sedai fashion, she wears a yellow-fringed shawl to formally show that she is of the Yellow Ajah, however she usually wears blue or green dresses. Nynaeve wears a ki'sain, a red dot in the center of her forehead, to show in the Malkieri tradition her marital status and her pledge to raise her children to fight the Shadow. Those who knew her as a Wisdom in Two Rivers would be surprised at the gaudy jewelry she now wears, unless they knew that each piece has a specific purpose. She wears a bracelet and connected rings angreal and several ter'angreal: a ring with green stone, a sapphire ring, a red stone bracelet, and a Well in the form of a slim jeweled belt on her person - even while she sleeps. Nynaeve also wears the Great Serpent ring of the Aes Sedai and Lan's Golden Crane signet ring.
Nynaeve was born to a father who herded sheep and grew tabac and a farmwife named Elnore. Nynaeve's father thought of her as the son he never had and taught her to track, hunt and fish. Unlike fellow tomboy Min, however, Nynaeve later integrated femininity in her adulthood. Several years older than the rest of the Emond's Fielders who left after Winternight, Nynaeve was the very young village Wisdom at the time Moiraine Sedai and her Warder Lan Mandragoran arrived.
She was orphaned around the age of fourteen and was apprenticed to Doral Barran, the Wisdom of Emond's Field, shortly afterward.
She had been the youngest Wisdom the Two Rivers had ever had, and one of the most successful. She was said to be able to cure ailments no other Wisdom ever could and wounds that would leave a man maimed for life were sometimes gone without a scar [verify]. She was the only Wisdom in the Two Rivers within the span of the books who can truly Listen to the Wind. She was able to deal with both the Village Council and the Women's Circle due to her forceful personality and her natural ability with politics.
Nynaeve's personality often runs a gamut of emotions and she struggles with often opposing contradictory opinions. She is alternately the model of self righteous assuredness and a woman who is self-effacing and in doubt. She can be meek at times before more experienced women, though she is often stubborn about doing so, but also able to stand up and run down others. Throughout the beginning of the series in particular, Nynaeve is incredibly controlling, strong and proud, near to the point of being self-centered, but fails to see it and would deny it vehemently. A running theme throughout the books is how Nynaeve will complain about someone being too stubborn or proud or leaping into things without thinking, oblivious to how she exhibits the exact same behavior. Surprisingly, no one calls her on this hypocrisy, although many will stare in disbelief after such statements. Nynaeve is also shown to have quite a temper, pulling her braid to vent her anger, an expression that quickly became well known throughout the Aes Sedai community and indeed known by anyone who spends time in her company.
Nynaeve also displays a courage that many a brave soldier would envy (and both Elayne and Aviendha have done), yet she has often been known to complain about her supposed cowardice, sometimes to the point of tears. She would describe herself as reasonable and open minded, but can have difficulty accepting differences in cultural values. Despite her limited ability for accurate self-reflection, at times Nynaeve often shows surprising insight on the surrounding situations, seeing what others do not. Nynaeve may not have been initially "wise" when named the village Wisdom, but there is no doubt she possesses an inherently sharp and capable mind. She is fiercely devoted to Lan, who is the one person able to melt her tempered exterior and gain some control over her. During her journeys, Nynaeve becomes more responsible and better able to control her temper around others as well as increasing her wisdom and, to an extent, tact. Her desire to help, heal, and protect those in need is passionate and has in no way diminished in Nynaeve's development toward self-realization.
—Nynaeve's thoughts in TSR 54
Nynaeve al'Meara is one of the most powerful female channelers in this Age. She has been known to match the Forsaken Moghedien in raw strength of the One Power in The Shadow Rising, without having even reached her full potential. She would have been considered strong in the One Power even during the Age of Legends. Of the channelers of the Light, her strength is only surpassed by two female channelers: Alivia, a former damane, and Sharina, a newly arrived grandmother novice. A Windfinder named Talaan matches Nynaeve in the One Power. Nynaeve is the strongest of the Aes Sedai in the current age.
—Nynaeve overcoming her block in ACOS 31
As a wilder, she learned how to channel by instinct, giving rise to a style of Healing unknown to any living Aes Sedai. However, channeling without knowing she was accessing the One Power left her with a block that prevented her from channeling, or even sensing the True Source, without being very angry. Even after overcoming her block, she still showed signs of little to no refinement (e.g., a young Sea Folk channeler bypassing her defenses in a few tries). This is due to her relative lack of formal training, consequently requiring her to learn most everything on her own. Nonetheless, Nynaeve develops into an incredibly quick learner, able to emulate and memorize highly complex weaves after just seeing them once.
Despite her initial obstacles with the One Power, Nynaeve is and has always been an exceptional Healer. Rediscovering the technique of healing using all of the Five Powers, a technique long forgotten in this age, her ability with Healing is only matched by one of the Kin. Due to her exceptional talent and her stubborn determination she finds a way to heal Severing, a feat not thought to be possible even during the Age of Legends. Nynaeve Delves the Asha'man Naeff who was suffering from the effects of the Dark One's taint on saidin. She sees the taint as a black mass that had extended thorn-like projections into the mind. She plucks each of these projections free and dissolves the mass thereby discovering the means to Heal a man who can channel of his madness. Nynaeve has also developed a method to identify and undo a weave of Compulsion on a person's mind.
Nynaeve is able to channel the Five Powers of Air, Fire, Earth, Water, and Spirit with equal proficiency, a feat that is incredibly rare amongst channelers; most only being strong in one or two. This, combined with the sheer strength of her channeling ability, allows Nynaeve to have some favorable skill in battle: whenever threatened in the early books she would call down lightning and spew fireballs with an ease most Accepted (and even Aes Sedai) would have trouble matching, once even instinctively using balefire, about which only a few living Aes Sedai even have knowledge.
In addition to being a great Healer and renowned Wisdom, she can also predict the weather (both physical and metaphorical) and has done this ever since she could remember. This is a passive Talent known in the Two Rivers as Listening to the Wind. It is claimed by all Wisdoms, though most cannot. It is suspected that Doral Barran, the Wisdom to whom Nynaeve was apprenticed, could Listen to the Wind and was also a channeler as the two apprentices she picked were both with the spark inborn, and the one prior to Nynaeve died of the sickness that comes about when failing to learn to control the One Power. Listening to the Wind is a form of Foretelling: it always tells her when trouble is about to arrive. As a Wisdom this "trouble" was bad weather, now it is human conflict she senses. Based on the intensity of the storm she feels coming, she can tell how great the conflict will be.
Nynaeve also exhibits a minor version of Aviendha's ability to "read" ter'angreal and can feel emotions from them, though it is not necessarily an indication of what that ter'angreal does. For example, Nynaeve may feel great suffering from one, but this does not mean that the ter'angreal brings about pain or suffering, but it may mean that it was once used or handled by one who felt those emotions. It is unclear as to whether or not the object must be a ter'angreal, for Nynaeve felt emotions emanating from one of the seals to the Dark One's prison, and it is unclear as to the nature of that feeling.
Hunt for the boysEdit
—Moiraine Sedai to Nynaeve and Egwene al'Vere
When Moiraine absconded with several Two Rivers youths--specifically Rand al'Thor, his friends Mat Cauthon and Perrin Aybara, and Rand's childhood sweetheart (and Nynaeve's apprentice) Egwene al'Vere, Nynaeve volunteered to track them down and bring them back. She seemed to think that she could face down an Aes Sedai and bring them home; she was wrong, and ended up getting swept up into the adventure with the rest. This set the tone for her relationship with Moiraine, and to some extent with Aes Sedai in particular--not only was Moiraine consistently riding rough-shod over Nynaeve, but she'd managed to ensnare Lan as well, whom Nynaeve was, quite against her will, starting to fall in love with, an attraction that was strongly returned. Even worse, Moiraine identified Nynaeve as a wilder, someone who had independently learned to wield the One Power without training. Egwene was also identified as having ability to channel (although she had not yet), but Moiraine wished to take her to Tar Valon for training and safety; not all who must learn to channel on their own survive the experience. For Nynaeve, it was too late; she'd already learned how to integrate the ability into her skill as a healer, but due to her fears, she developed a mental block against the concept. Nynaeve was totally unable to channel unless extremely angry, something which later caused her no end of trouble.
At the Eye of the WorldEdit
At the Eye of the World, Rand discovered he could channel, and Moiraine claimed he was in fact the Dragon Reborn; perhaps because of this, and to avenge herself of the perceived injustices wrought on her by Moiraine, Nynaeve eventually agreed to go to the Tower. Once there, she was immediately promoted from Novice to Accepted by virtue of her sheer strength in the Power. It was unheard of to completely bypass being a novice like this, and some Aes Sedai resented her for it. She is one of the strongest female channelers alive. Like Egwene and Elayne Trakand, she was tricked into going to Falme, ostensibly to help Rand, but really as part of a trap by Ishamael and the Seanchan; Later, she, Egwene, and Elayne were assigned the task of hunting down the Black Ajah, a journey which took her far from the White Tower and her ostensible training as a future Yellow Ajah Aes Sedai. It also took her farther and farther away from Lan, who she had developed feelings for, feelings he tried not to reciprocate due to his loyal service to Moiraine. Before Lan leaves he gives his Golden Crane signet ring to her. She wears this around her neck at all times now.
To Tear, and beyondEdit
After Rand drew Callandor from the Heart of the Stone in fulfillment of prophecy, Nynaeve and Elayne continued the quest for the Black Ajah along with Juilin Sandar and Thom Merrilin. The clues the Black Ajah left in the Stone of Tear all pointed to the city of Tanchico; Nynaeve and Elayne went, hoping that, if it was a trap, they'd have enough warning to escape it. Egwene had instead decided to learn about Dreaming from the Aiel. While hunting for the Black sisters, Nynaeve happened upon Moghedien, one of the dreaded Forsaken. The two dueled, Nynaeve expecting unstoppable force at any moment... until she realized that Moghedien was working just as hard to fend off her attacks. The two were equally matched in terms of strength. Nynaeve managed to shield and bind Moghedien eventually through ingenuity rather than strength, but a Black Sister soon intervened and Moghedien disappeared in the intervening time. The enmity between the two was to later bear bitter fruit.
To Heal what could not be HealedEdit
With chaos reigning in Tanchico, Nynaeve and Elayne set out for the White Tower -- only to receive news that it had broken, that Elaida Sedai, a Red sister (and former advisor to Elayne's mother Queen Morgase Trakand), had deposed and replaced the Amyrlin Seat, a former Blue named Siuan Sanche. With the Tower split over this turn of events, the group changed course and joined with the rebel Aes Sedai in Salidar, near Amador. Before arriving at Salidar, they encountered Galad (Elayne's older half-brother whom they both feared because of his membership of the Whitecloaks) and were forced to flee. They joined Valan Luca's traveling menagerie for a time, before running into Uno and, again, Galad. This time, Galad and Masema--through Uno--aided in helping Nynaeve and Elayne to a ship where they continued their journey to Salidar. During their stay in Valan Luca's show, Birgitte was torn from the World of Dreams by Moghedien and Nynaeve was unable to save her. Elayne bonded her as her warder in order to save her when Nynaeve's healing failed.
Upon reaching Salidar, they were punished for leaving the Tower, but continued their lessons as Accepted. Nynaeve managed to capture Moghedien and Elayne fashioned a ter'angreal akin to the damane collar without the leash, and forced knowledge out of her which they sported as their own discoveries because they chose to keep secret their capture of Moghedian. Nynaeve studied Siuan Sanche, who had been stilled as part of the deposition, as well as her former Keeper of the Chronicles, Leane Sharif. Stilling had been considered impossible to heal by the Aes Sedai, but Nynaeve, after studying for many months, healed the False Dragon Logain Ablar. The technique worked for the two women as well, though they did not regain their full strength, for reasons as yet unknown to the characters (Jordan has confirmed that severing can be healed fully only by a healer of opposite gender to the patient). Nynaeve has also developed a form of Healing which uses all five elements, instead of just Spirit, Air, and Water, as is usual for Aes Sedai-style Healing. When Egwene was made Amyrlin for the rebels, she immediately decreed that Nynaeve, Elayne, Theodrin Dabei, and Faolain Orande raised as Aes Sedai. Nynaeve joined the Yellow Ajah and learned as much as she could of Healing with the One Power, which turned out to be not much more than she already knew and considerably less effective than her own methods.
A shift in the weatherEdit
When Rand dispatched Mat to rescue Egwene and return Elayne to Caemlyn, Egwene instead assigned him as an escort to Nynaeve, Elayne and Aviendha, and sent them to Ebou Dar for the Bowl of the Winds, a ter'angreal that could change the weather and possibly break the unnatural summer the Dark One had imposed on the world. While in Ebou Dar, Moghedien struck at Nynaeve's boat with balefire, nearly succeeding in drowning her; Nynaeve's fear and desperation as she sank into the river and her surrender to her impending death broke her block and enabled her to escape the boat half-conscious. She was then saved by Lan. He told her that he was unable to become her Warder since his Bond had been passed onto another. Nynaeve predictably vowed to make sure that the Bond would be passed onto her from the Aes Sedai who held it (Myrelle Berengari, of the Green Ajah). It was the first time Nynaeve and Lan had been in each other's company since before Moiraine's death; Nynaeve had no intention of wasting time. They were married later that day.
After forming a coalition of Aes Sedai, Sea Folk Windfinders and the Kin (a previously unknown group made of people who had left the Tower), Nynaeve and Elayne led an expedition into the Rahad, a dangerous 'downtown' area of Ebou Dar, to retrieve the Bowl of the Winds. They succeeded, capturing a member of the Black Ajah, and recovered a hidden cache of ter'angreal, including the Bowl of the Winds. The 13 most powerful women in the group then used the Bowl to break the Dark One's unnatural summer. She is also given a bracelet-and-rings angreal by Elayne which she now uses. The coalition then fled to Andor to avoid a Seanchan invasion. Once the group finally arrives in Caemlyn, Nynaeve begins planning with Reanne Corly how to spirit Kinswomen away from Seanchan-controlled areas.
She seemed to be in awe of the Kinswoman Alise Tenjile and earned her respect with her decision to let the damane prisoners go free. She also began to tutor the Windfinders on how to shield and is even shielded twice by Talaan din Gelyn, a young Windfinder apprentice who has as much potential as Nynaeve.
Cleansing what could not be cleansedEdit
At the Royal Palace in Caemlyn, Rand approached Nynaeve for help with a major project: he had discovered a way to cleanse the male half of the True Source. To do it, he would need the strongest female channeler he knew of and could trust, Nynaeve, and likewise the strongest male, himself. They succeeded, using the Choedan Kal, though both required some time to recover from the intense experience of channeling huge amounts of Power for hours on end. During the beginning of the cleansing of saidin, Nynaeve is amazed how rough and harsh saidin is compared to the calm tranquility that is saidar.
She and Rand Travel to Algarin Pendaloan's house in Tear to both recover after cleansing saidin. She seems back to full health and watches Lan practise sword fighting with Jahar Narishma. Acknowledging Lan's allegiance to his never-ending battle for his lost country, she sets him on the very edge of the Borderlands. She then visits multiple cities in order to inform men of Lan's coming and says (showing Lan's ring), "My name is el'Nynaeve ti al'Meara Mandragoran. The message I want sent is this. My husband rides from World's End toward Tarwin's Gap, toward Tarmon Gai'don. Will he ride alone?" and after encountering resistance, she says: "Lan told me once that Malkier lives so long as one man wears the hadori in pledge that he will fight the Shadow, so long as one woman wears the ki'sain in pledge that she will send her son to fight the shadow. I wear the ki'sain, Master Aldragoran. My husband wears the hadori. So do you. Will Lan Mandragoran ride to the Last Battle alone?" She is joyous when she learns that Lan will not be alone, and continues her quest to recruit more Borderlanders to help Lan. However she does not trust the ex-Seanchan damane Alivia, and returns to Rand's side to keep an eye on her.
She is one of the six to accompany Rand to his meeting with the Daughter of the Nine Moons. Semirhage blew off Rand's left hand with a fireball when her illusion as the Daughter of the Nine Moons broke. Nynaeve was able to heal his arm but not restore the hand. After delving in Rand, she finds there is something wrong with his eyes.
Nynaeve Travels to Arad Doman and stays with Rand at Lord Tellaen's manor. While there, Daigian Moseneillin begins to teach Nynaeve the one hundred weaves required to become an Aes Sedai. She offers to try and Heal Daigian from her grief of losing Eben Hopwil, which Daigian rejects. Nynaeve then sits in on the meeting between Rand and the Aiel chiefs, where Rand gives the order for the Aiel to capture all the Council of Merchants.
When the Aiel help take Bandar Eban, Nynave goes along with Rand again to the capital. It is here that she sees the poverty of the people and is sickened by their unwillingness to come to Aes Sedai aid. Soon after, she is the one who manages to find the dungeon where the last messenger allegedly from the missing King Alsalam Saeed Almadar was kept. Upon arrival, she discovers the man who killed him and confirms that he is under heavy compulsion, almost certainly confirming that Graendal had a hand in it and was trying to hide her tracks.
Taking the news back to Rand, Nynaeve struggles to remove the compulsion on the young man, and get Graendal's location from him before he dies from the damage on his mind. She goes with Rand to Falme, where he meets with the real Daughter of the Nine Moons, Tuon Athaem Kore Paendrag.
After discovering that the Forsaken is located in Natrin's Barrow, Rand takes her there and sends Lord Ramshalan in, who returns under compulsion, which Nynaeve confirms. After Rand destroys the entire palace with balefire and Nynaeve then tells Rand that the compulsion is gone, it is accepted that Graendal has been burned away.
Horrified at Rand's actions at Natrin's Barrow, Nynaeve goes to Cadsuane and willingly submits her inferiority to the elder Aes Sedai in order to be allowed to be a part of her and the Wise One's plans to teach Rand how to feel again. Nynaeve is ordered to find out where Perrin currently is, which she discovers when Rand experiences his ta'veren visions. It is then that Cadsuane can Travel to Perrin's army and bring back Tam al'Thor.
She rides with Rand when he goes to meet the Borderlander rulers in Far Madding. Rand is asked by Hurin to meet with the rulers inside Far Madding which angers Rand. He picks up the ter'angreal access key and plans to destroy the whole Borderlander army but is thankfully talked out of it by Nynaeve. She also tries to get him to provide support for the army Lan is gathering at Tarwin's Gap, but Rand refuses saying that it will provide a good distraction away from where Rand needs to be.
She is with Cadsuane when an irate Tam enters the room saying that Rand just tried to kill him and has just Traveled to Ebou Dar.
Summons to the Tower Edit
She is present when Rand returns to Tear and announces that the White Tower has been reunified under Egwene. Egwene then calls her back to the White Tower to be tested and properly raised to the shawl. Before she leaves, she discovers that she can heal madness and does so for Naeff, Jahar Narishma, and Damer Flinn. Upon Delving Rand, she sees his mind is full of madness but is somehow shielded from it. Before she leaves, he asks her to go with him to Shayol Ghul.
The seven Aes Sedai who administer the test represent every Ajah, and oddly are all Sitters - "perhaps due to Nynaeve's notoriety in the Tower". They are Saerin, Seaine, Yukiri, Barasine, Rubinde, Lelaine and Romanda. Also present is Rosil, the Mistress of Novices, and Egwene. Several of Nynaeve's unexpected nontraditional responses in the pre-test ceremony reflect her unusual status, raised to Aes Sedai before undergoing the test. This perceived arrogance likely played a part encouraging the administrators to put Nynaeve through a "proper" testing.
—Saerin Sedai on Nynaeve's testing
The test is much harder than usual, brutal even, and Nynaeve is openly furious by the end. Despite the fact she completed all one hundred required weaves and passed through each exit marker, several of the Aes Sedai claim she failed the test, the purpose of which, they say, was to show "proper decorum" and the "ability to be calm as an Aes Sedai." Also, the nature of the test usually precludes the testee from channeling aside from the prescribed weaves, but Nynaeve's experience in the World of Dreams enabled her to do just that--another "rule" broken. Finally, Nynaeve's use of balefire deeply troubles the other women and they try to obtain an oath from Nynaeve never to use the forbidden weave again.
Nynaeve realizes that, despite her fervent desire to be accepted and fully embraced as true Aes Sedai, it is not a priority in of itself. She would choose Lan over Aes Sedai approval. She would choose helping those in need over the propriety demanded by the institution of the White Tower. She would choose to fight the Dark over gaining the shawl.
To Egwene, Nynaeve goes further and questions the very philosophy behind the Aes Sedai's cool detachment. She says that the point of being Aes Sedai is to serve the people, not to leave them behind to further the goals of the Tower. Egwene is troubled, but counsels Nynaeve to hold off voicing those ideas. With four votes in her favor (Yukiri, Seaine, Romanda and Saerin) and only three against, Nynaeve is declared to have "passed this test. Narrowly."
Nynaeve wastes no time in Traveling to Myrelle and demands Lan's bond.
—Nynaeve to Myrelle
Myrelle grants the request and at long last Nynaeve and Lan share the Warder bond.
- One of Min's viewings shows Nynaeve kneeling over someone's corpse in a posture of grief. This combined with of viewing of Lan showing a baby with a sword and that viewings only show the future, seems to suggest that Lan will die at the Last Battle, and that his child by Nyneave will be crowned in a manner similar to him. This interpretation has been shown to be incorrect.
Nynaeve is a parallel to Nyneve, one of the names given to the Lady of the Lake. As Lan is Lord of the Lakes, that would make Nynaeve Lady of the Lakes, a title more than reminiscent of the Aurthurian reference. In Arthurian legend, Nyneve learned to use magic from Merlin, and tends to appear during pivotal moments to use her power. This is similar to the way Nynaeve's great strength aids in many wonderful feats that other women would not be able to manage.
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