7 Randland Cities We Don't See Enough Of
This article contains spoilers for the entire series.
One of the most immersive aspects of The Wheel of Time is the depth of the imagined world within which the story unfolds. With more than 150 distinct cities, towns, and villages visited or named throughout the series, Robert Jordan’s Randland continues to be one of the most three dimensional worlds in the fantasy genre.
Nonetheless, although we spend ample time in cities such as Caemlyn, Cairhien, and Tear, there are others that it would be fascinating to get a better look at. Here are a few that we know just enough about to make me want to know more.
7. Deven Ride
In The Eye of the World and The Shadow Rising, we spend plenty of time in Emond’s Field; we even get a glimpse of Taren Ferry and the area around Watch Hill. This most remote of Two Rivers’ villages, however, is visited by Perrin only in the Wolf Dream—at least so far as readers see. Right up against the Forest of Shadows, Deven Ride is the furthest Two Rivers village from the River Taren; according to Perrin, it has “even fewer visitors than Emond’s Field” (TSR, Ch. 53). Although both Watch Hill and Deven Ride are supposedly quite similar to Emond’s Field, with Taren Ferry being the “strange” outlier (TEotW, Ch. 3), it’s hard not to wonder about this little-known village.
Although we as readers don’t visit Maradon until Rodel Ituralde defends it against the Shadow in The Towers of Midnight, it is mentioned as early as the first book. Home of the Cordamora Palace and the seat of Queen Tenobia Kazadi, it is said that “you can see the Blight from the highest towers in Maradon” (TEotW, Ch. 20). The city we eventually get to see is little more than a shell, “emptied of most civilians” (ToM, Ch. 24). What might this city be like when it is full of life—and Saldaean tempers?
Throughout the series we hear frequently about the dangers that Mayene faces from Tear, but no character actually visits this independent city-state until A Memory of Light—and then, we see only the inside of the building that serves as a hospital for the wounded during the Last Battle. Given that we spend time in the other two city-states of the Westlands, Tar Valon and Far Madding, one wonders about this tiny nation that Berelain fights so hard to protect.
4. Shol Arbela
Although it is referenced multiple times by various characters, we never do see the capital city of Arafel. In fact, Shol Arbela is one of only two capital cities in the Westlands that never make an actual appearance on the page. (The other, if you’re curious, is Shienar’s Fal Moran.) We know virtually nothing of Shol Arbela, except that it was not built by the Ogier (LoC, Ch. 20) and is known as “the City of Ten Thousand Bells” (KoD, Ch. 9). With an epithet like that, it’s hard not to be curious about this city.
3. Tar Valon
It is said by the people of Tar Valon that while “The Wheel of Time turns around Tar Valon,” so “Tar Valon turns around the Tower” (TSR, Ch. 1). As far as the city’s presence within the series goes, this appears to be the case; references to “Tar Valon” are frequently taken to stand in for the White Tower. Although we do visit the city on several notable occasions, with its beautiful Ogier-built buildings and throngs of people from all over the world, we primarily see the grounds and rooms of the Tower itself. With tantalizing tidbits from the The Wheel of Time Companion—such as the fact that the city itself was “administered by a council of Aes Sedai chosen by the Hall of the Tower”—what might life be like in Tar Valon, both for those who live there and those who govern it?
2. Paaran Disen
Thanks to Rand’s journey through the glass columns at Rhuidean, Paaran Disen holds the distinction of being the only city from the Age of Legends that actually makes an appearance in the series. With the city decimated by the War of the Shadow, we read of Rand’s ancestor Jonai as he hurries down the “empty streets” with their “shattered buildings and dead chora trees” (TSR, Ch. 26). The home of the Hall of Servants, which was the center of Aes Sedai power, Paaran Disen must truly have been a sight to behold in the centuries before the opening of the Bore.
Early in The Eye of the World, Moiraine holds characters and readers spellbound as she tells the story of Manetheren. She tells of its beauty, “a mountain city so lovely to behold that Ogier stonemasons came to stare in wonder.” She tells of its last King and Queen—of “fearless” Aemon and “beautiful” Eldrene, of a “Bravery and beauty and wisdom and a love that death could not sunder.” And she tells of it’s betrayal and it’s fall, of the sacrifice made by its people and “the fires that consumed [the] empty city […], even the stones of it, down to the living rock of the mountains” (TEotW, Ch. 9).This scene is legendary amongst Wheel of Time fans, and Moiraine’s tale, along with the small visual glimpses of the city to be found in the graphic novels, have long inspired readers. I think it’s safe to say that many fans would love to know more about the fabled Mountain Home.
You can read more about all of these cities in TarValon.Net’s Library. What cities would you have loved to see more of in The Wheel of Time?