Black Cords

Posted by Kalessin on 23.01.01 00:00

The question of what exactly the black cords are and do has been bugging Wotists pretty much from the very beginning of WoT. We first saw them on Ishamael at the end of The Eye of the World. We have since seen them on Ishamael in The Dragon Reborn and Asmodean in The Shadow Rising. Here’s what we know for sure: they have only shown up on male Forsaken and they have only showed up in Tel'aran'rhiod (the Skimming place is part of Tel'aran'rhiod if you didn’t know). Many thought that they were links to the True Power, but Jordan has said that they have nothing to sowith the True Power.

We do not know for a fact that female Forsaken do not have them, but we have seen both Lanfear and Moghedien in Tel'aran'rhiod multiple times without either showing any sign of them. And the argument that it takes men to see the male cords and women to see the female cords doesn’t work because female channelers have seen Moghedien in Tel'aran'rhiod many times and she didn’t have any black cords. So, while not certain, it seems quite likely that only the male Forsaken have the black cords. From Rand’s point of view at the end of The Shadow Rising it seems fairly clear that the cords cannot be seen outside of Tel'aran'rhiod, though they can be sensed. So, for the rest of this, I’m going to assume that the black cords are only on the male Forsaken and that they can only be seen in Tel'aran'rhiod.

I had thought that they might be the link to the Dark One that grants the Forsaken immortality, but since they only appear on male Forsaken, that seems rather unlikely. You could argue that they are what grant the male Forsaken immortality and that the females have a different link that don’t look like cords, but no one has seen anything strange on the female Forsaken that suggests itself as such. There is also the problem that the cords are not always the same size. If they were the source of the Forsaken’s immortality, why would they change size? There is no good reason that I know of. The problem of the changing sizes is what gave me these two ideas.

1)They are what protects the male Forsaken from saidin
2)They are the links to saidin for the male Forsaken

If you’ll notice, the cords vary in length depending on how much the Forsaken is channeling. The more he is channeling, the thicker they are. This would also easily explain the instances in Tel'aran'rhiod that we have seen male Forsaken without the cords. The first one was Asmodean in The Shadow Rising. If he wasn’t channeling, there would be no need for the cords. Whether the cords are the protection or the link with saidin itself, doesn’t matter for this. The cords wouldn’t be visible if Asmodean wasn’t channeling. And there was no evidence of him channeling. The other instance is with Rahvin. No one saw the cords on him. Rand wouldn’t have seen them because he didn’t see much of Rahvin. They were chasing each other around and glimpses were the most that Rand would have gotten. The other case with Rahvin is when Nynaeve saw him right before he died. We don’t know if women can see the cords, but since he didn’t appear to be channeling at the time, we don’t know. He was using Tel'aran'rhiod against Rand at that point, not channeling.

So, the question is whether the black cords are the links with saidin or whether they are the protection. For the first to be true, the cord must somehow know how much protection to give the man. And the second reason requires that something be making the links visible. Ideas can easily be found for either one. I’m more inclined to say that the second one is true and that the One Power flowing through it is colored black by the Taint. That would explain why the cord from the Eye in The Eye of the World was silver. The second one also makes more sense from the standpoint of the silver cord. The silver cord certainly wasn’t protection. It was pure saidin. But if the cords are black because of the Taint, why doesn’t every male channeler have them? From what Asmodean said, it’s pretty clear that they’re a connection to the Dark One in some manner. I really don’t have a good answer at this point. But I have come to the conclusion that the cords are caused by the male Forsaken channeling and that they are related to protecting him from the Taint. Perhaps I’ll come up with some better arguments to inject into this, or maybe you will. But until we get more information, it will probably be a mystery that’s unsolved. There’s just too little to information at this point to come up with definite answers. It’s almost completely theoretical at this point. I hope that we get more information in future books, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully this theory of mine sheds some light on the subject.

wotmania says: Okay, this is a long theory and this just popped out at me. But your idea number two seems incorrect, because if I remember correctly (I'm too lazy at the moment to look it up in the books! ) Rand actually cuts through Asmodean's black cords when they are fighting in Rhuidean. And after that Asmodean can still channel, it is just that the taint can now reach him. So I would certainly be inclined to think it has something to do with their protection from the taint on saidin.



Posted by Lord Nazh on 15.04.01 00:00
If I wasn't so lazy, Id look up the conversation and write it ver batim, but I am so Ill paraphrase Asmo says something on the lines that when Rand cut the cords, he'll go crazy and die like every other male channeller case closed

black cords

Posted by bigfish on 05.07.01 19:58
The black cords were protection from the taint on saidin and also the male Forsaken's link to the Dark One. When Rand cut Asmodean's cord in TSR, Asmodean told Rand how he was doomed because not only was he not protected from the Dark One's taint, he was no longer connected to him, and I remember Rand thinking that he refused to be taught to someone actually linked to the Dark One.

Black cords on Rahvin

Posted by The Hammer on 03.08.01 17:21
The times Rahvin has been seen there were no black cords on him. Secondly the black cords i am pretty sure are somehow the link between the man and the Dark One. You are probably right about them only being on men but that is because they are shields against the taint which is why Asmodean was so horrified he had been cut and why he said he was just as vulnerable as Rand. >:1

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Umm, just my thoughts on it

Posted by Fenrar on 23.10.01 11:14
I've been thinking about it for a while too (among other things of course). And what I came up with so far is that the cords are like straws.
The taint is always described as an oily layer on saidin. The cords could be DO-granted straws that go through the taint, directly into saidin. So with a straw, you 'drink' saidin without the oil. When the straw gets cut, you can still drink from the cup, but now WITH the taint.

Just my thoughts on it anyways. First post here, go easy

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(*mumble* Did that make sense? .... Oh well)

No need..

Posted by karlaan on 22.02.02 12:05
There was no need for your theory, it's stated outright at the end of tSR.


One word . . . Asmodean.

Posted by Wicked Demenor on 03.03.02 19:22
The black chords are what ties the forsaken (or the maile ones at least for that is all that has been shown) to the dark one`s service, and will. Take into consideration Asmodean. Rand severs Asmodeans black chords while in the waste. From that point on Asmodean has no connection to The Dark One. He cannot Channel the True Source, and has no more immortality. The black chords tie you to the Dark One. Being tied to the Dark One gives you immortality, and the ability to channel his form of the One Power. Plain and simple.

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Posted by Lord Slaanesh on 11.04.02 22:35
the black cords are definately what protects the make forsaken from the taint.

little this, little that

Posted by GoldenEyes ( () ) on 13.09.02 04:22
I don't know about the rest of you but I've come to the conclusion(theoretically) that the cords are both the link to the dark one and the protection from saidin, the male cords are visible because of the added ingredients for protection needed in their case.

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Berelain is a whore,
Faile is insatiable,
who could ask for more?...

beside the point...

Posted by UnbelieverDjak on 17.09.02 11:38
Yes, we know the dark cord is a link to the dark one, protecting the Forsaken from the taint. The bigger question would seem to me to be why Rand could see them. Of course the Forsaken could feel their connection (or lack thereof), but how could Rand see the link, much less sever it? Perhaps a Talent?

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Are the same" Ikkyu Sojun

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Not in the mouth that speaks." Giantish saying

fenrar is right

Posted by SSJ Jozan on 24.09.02 11:51
oh yeah

I am SSJ Jozan

swords are awesome

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uhmmm. . .

Posted by wicked demenor on 18.12.02 21:53
Uhmm,I may not be toopositive aboot this,soforgiveme, but when Rand saw Ishy`s chords weren`t they in the real world, not TAR? So that would in n way affect it.Now, I personally beleive that the chords are the connection to the dark one. The taint was TGL`s revenge for the sealing of the bore.It was the back wash of his power.It would then make sence that TGL could control it. Just me thoughts though.

Now, we can not say for sure that these are only on the men. Just like how many talents have been rediscovered, and new talents have been made, could not yet another one be forged? Remember that it`s a Talent to see taveren. Could it not then be a Talent to see Forsaken,or at least Dreadlords?And like with Fortelling, it could show up spasmadicaly.

Just a few thoughts, nothing is proven though. Thank you for your time.

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Squirter out of Easy Cheese.

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Prince of Coolavin
Lord of the Darmods

"If you must mount the gallows, give a jest to the crowd, a coin to the hangman, and make the drop with a smile on your lips."

Silver Cord...

Posted by Fanatic-Templar on 08.08.04 01:03
That poses the problem of why Rand himself was connected with a silver cord. And if severing the Forsaken's Black Cord cuts their link to the Dark One, remember that Ishamael had his cut in the very beginning. If he's no longer connected to Shai'tan, I don't thing that he would be Nae'blis.

War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend

probably connected to all

Posted by domeran on 29.03.05 20:39
I think the black cords connect to all DF's. I think they can only be seen in certain situations like skimming. I think if Rand took everybody skimming we would see quite a few Black Cords and would be able to find DF's with ease

black cord nature

Posted by BFunk on 11.06.08 22:30
how can something tainted (the True Power), protect someone untainted by something tainted (Saidin)? confusing...