Author: Atarah al'Norahn
Malkier was one of the twenty-four nations formed either during or shortly after the War of the Hundred Years. It was one of five Borderlands until it fell to the Blight in the 950's NE. It was located north of Shienar and Arafel.
We are never directly told the name of Malkier's capital; there are two possibilities. During Nynaeve's Accepted test, she and Lan are standing above "the city of Malkier" (TGH, Ch. 23). However, Malkier is also known as the "Kingdom of the Seven Towers", and many people seem to think that "the Seven Towers" was the name for the capital.
Malkier was known both for the seven towers, and for it's "necklace of a thousand lakes" (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 28). The towers still stand today, broken and jagged, and are circled by the lakes (TEotW, Ch. 47).
Other locations in Malkier include Herot's Crossing and the Stair of Jehaan. Herot's Crossing was where al'Akir and el'Leanna died fighting the Shadow. At the Stair of Jehaan, armies from the other borderlands fought the trollocs and managed to push them back a little before the nation was overrun (TEotW, Ch. 47).
A similar entry appears in the Wheel of Time Companion, confirming the information. Other information is also included in the Companion, but we did not use it in the TarValon.Net Library.
Like all of the Borderlands, Malkier became a nation near the beginning of the War of the Hundred Years. Concerned about the ongoing war, the governors of the five northern provinces held a meeting; the outcome of this meeting was an agreement to form five independent nations. Because the purpose of these nations was both to work together against the Blight and to protect themselves against the fighting in the southlands, for the most part Malkier did not take part in the war outside of self-defense. The first king of Malkier was Shevar Jamelle (TWoTRPG, Ch. 12).
The Fall of Malkier
Following is an excerpt from TEotW, Ch. 47 regarding the fall of Malkier.
"Lan is from Malkier," the Wisdom said softly, looking up. She seemed troubled.
It was not a question, but Agelmar nodded. "Yes, Lady Nynaeve, he is the son of al'Akir Mandragoran, last crowned King of the Malkieri. How did he become as he is? The beginning, perhaps, was Lain. On a dare, Lain Mandragoran, the King's brother, led his lances through the Blight to the Blasted Lands, perhaps to Shayol Ghul itself. Lain's wife, Breyan, made that dare for the envy that burned her heart that al'Akir had been raised to the throne instead of Lain. The King and Lain were as close as brothers could be, as close as twins even after the royal 'al' was added to Akir's name, but jealousy wracked Breyan. Lain was acclaimed for his deeds, and rightfully so, but not even he could outshine al'Akir. He was, man and king, such as comes once in a hundred years, if that. Peace favor him, and el'Leanna.
"Lain died in the Blasted Lands with most of those who followed him, men Malkier could ill afford to lose, and Breyan blamed the King, saying that Shayol Ghul itself would have fallen if al'Akir had led the rest of the Malkieri north with her husband. For revenge, she plotted with Cowin Gemallan, called Cowin Fairheart, to seize the throne for her son, Isam. Now Fairheart was a hero almost as well loved as al'Akir himself, and one of the Great Lords, but when the Great Lords had cast the rods for king, only two separated him from Akir, and he never forgot that two men laying a different color on the Crowning Stone would have set him on the throne instead. Between them, Cowin and Breyan moved soldiers back from the Blight to seize the Seven Towers, stripping the Borderforts to bare garrisons.
"But Cowin's jealousy ran deeper." Disgust tinged Agelmar's voice. "Fairheart the hero, whose exploits in the Blight were sung throughout the Borderlands, was a Darkfriend. With the Borderforts weakened, trollocs poured into Malkier like a flood. King al'Akir and Lain together might have rallied the land; they had done so before. But Lain's doom in the Blasted Lands had shaken the people, and the trolloc invasion broke men's spirit and their will to resist. Too many men. Overwhelming numbers pushed the Malkieri back into the heartland.
"Breyan fled with her infant son Isam, and was run down by trollocs as she rode south with him. No one knows their fate of a certainty, but it can be guessed. I can find pity only for the boy. When Cowin Fairheart's treachery was revealed and he was taken by young Jain Charin - already called Jain Farstrider - when Fairheart was brought to the Seven Towers in chains, the Great Lords called for his head on a pike. But because he had been second only to al'Akir and Lain in the hearts of the people, the King faced him in single combat and slew him. Al'Akir wept when he killed Cowin. Some say he wept for a friend who had given himself to the Shadow, and some say for Malkier." The Lord of Fal Dara shook his head sadly.
"The first peal of the doom of the Seven Towers had been struck. There was no time to gather aid from Shienar or Arafel, and no hope that Malkier could stand alone, with five thousand of her lances dead in the Blasted Lands, her Borderforts overrun.
"Al'Akir and his Queen, el'Leanna, had Lan brought to them in his cradle. Into his infant hands they placed the sword of Malkieri kings, the sword he wears today. A weapon made by Aes Sedai during the War of Power, the War of the Shadow that brought down the Age of Legends. They anointed his head with oil, naming him Dai Shan, a Diademed Battle Lord, and consecrated him as the next King of the Malkieri, and in his name they swore the ancient oath of Malkieri kings and queens." Agelmar's face hardened, and he spoke the words as if he, too, had sworn that oath, or one much similar. "To stand against the Shadow so long as iron is hard and stone abides. To defend the Malkieri while one drop of blood remains. To avenge what cannot be defended." The words rang in the chamber.
"El'Leanna placed a locket around her son's neck, for remembrance, and the infant, wrapped in swaddling clothes by the Queen's own hand, was given over to twenty chosen from the King's Bodyguard, the best swordsmen, the most deadly fighters. Their command: to carry the child to Fal Moran.
"Then did al'Akir and el'Leanna lead the Malkieri out to face the Shadow one last time. There they died, at Herot's Crossing, and the Malkieri died, and the Seven Towers were broken. Shienar, and Arafel, and Kandor, met the Halfmen and the Trollocs at the Stair of Jehaan and threw them back, but not as far as they had been. Most of Malkier remained in Trolloc hands, and year by year, mile by mile, the Blight has swallowed it." Agelmar drew a heavyhearted breath. When he went on, there was a sad pride in his eyes and voice.
"Only five of the Bodyguards reached Fal Moran alive, every man wounded, but they had the child unharmed. From the cradle they taught him all they knew. He learned weapons as other children learn toys, and the Blight as other children their mother's garden. The oath sworn over his cradle is graven in his mind. There is nothing left to defend, but he can avenge. He denies his titles, yet in the Borderlands he is called the Uncrowned, and if ever he raised the Golden Crane of Malkier, an army would come to follow. But he will not lead men to their deaths. In the Blight he courts death as a suitor courts a maiden, but he will not lead others to it."
According to "TWoRJTWoT", Malkier fell to the Blight in the year 953 NE, was overrun by trollocs in the autumn of 955 NE, and was overrun by the Blight in 957 NE.
When Malkier fell, all of the Borderlands sent aid, but not the White Tower, even though Malkier had pledged to ride for the Tower whenever it called. Soon after they first meet, Lan questions Moiraine about this, and she tells him that the Tower did indeed send aid; over a hundred Aes Sedai were sent to Malkier, but they arrived too late. The Tower felt that it was better to cover up their failed effort than to let it be known that the Tower had tried and failed (NS, Ch. 25).
Now, all that remains of Malkier are broken towers and infested lakes (TWoRJTWoT).
Government and Nobility
The nation of Malkier was a monarchy, ruled by a King and Queen. The first King of Malkier was Shevar Jamelle. The last crowned King of Malkier was al'Akir Mandragoran, and his Queen was el'Leanna. Their son, al'Lan Mandragoran, was named the next king while he was still a baby, but he has yet to take up the crown (TWoRJTWoT).
At any given time, there are supposedly five Great Lords of Malkier. In order to name a new King, they must "cast the rods" on what is known as the Crowning Stone and decide who is fit to be king. As of "New Spring", three of the Great Lords were still alive (NS, Ch. 22).
In Malkier, unlike in some of the southlands, when a King is married, his wife is crowned as Queen when they exchange rings (TGH, Ch. 23).
Among the Malkieri, the Kings are denoted by the "al" before their first name, and the Queens by the "el" before their first name.
People and Customs
Most of the Malkieri that remain alive have assimilated themselves into other nations and cultures, trying to forget the memories of Malkier (NS, Ch. 22). When Lan arrived in Kandor in "New Spring", many of them re-picked up the ways of Malkier; it is unknown whether or not they reverted back to their chosen nations and cultures afterwards (NS, Ch. 15; Ch. 22).
Women in Malkier wear the ki'sain, a colored dot, on their forehead. It symbolizes their willingness to pledge their sons to oppose the Shadow (NS, Ch. 15). Unmarried women wear a blue ki'sain (NS, Ch. 25), married women wear a red ki'sain (WH, Ch. 8), and widows wear a white ki'sain (NS, Ch. 22).
Men wear a hadori, a thin, braided leather cord, around their foreheads to hold their hair back (NS, Ch. 1). If a warrior dies during battle, it is tradition for someone else to take his hadori, carry it into battle, and then return it to the body for burial after the battle (AMoL, Ch. 9).
One of the customs of Malkier is that of a carneira. The word "carneira" translates to "first", and regards a person's first lover. While young women chose their own carneira, young men do not have a choice; their carneira chooses them. When a young man is chosen by his carneira, she will have him make a daori, a long cord woven of his hair. When the man is holding the daori, his carneira has the advantage over him; the daori must be taken from the person by the carneira in order for this advantage to be laid aside. The daori is presented by the carneira to the man's bride on his wedding day. There is a saying that "a king is not a king, alone with his carneira" (NS, Ch. 22). This information comes from a scene where Lan is confronted by his carneira, so we only see the situation when the carneira is female. Presumably, it works the other way around as well.
There is little specific information on Malkier's army, but it can be assumed, of course, that their army was very strong indeed. Lord Agelmar Jagad of Shienar tells the Emond's Fielders that, fifty years ago, Shienar was not considered to be a Borderland because of Malkier. According to him, while the men of Shienar rode forth to help protect the Blightborder, it was Malkier who held back the Blight (TEotW, Ch. 47).
The soldiers of Malkier wore open helmets. Lan wears a helmet with a steel crescent moon above his forehead. In "New Spring", Bukama, one of the soldiers who carried Lan out of Malkier, wears a helmet without a crest, though Lan thinks to himself that he has the right to one (NS, Ch. 1). Members of the royal guard wore the sign of a Golden Crown on their shoulders (ToM, Ch. 42).
- The sign of Malkier was the golden crane (Glossary; TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 13).
- The ancient sword of the Malkieri kings was a power-wrought blade (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 28).
- The signet ring of the Malkier kings is gold, and almost large enough for Nynaeve to fit both her thumbs through it. On it, an etched crane flies above a lance and a crown (TGH, Ch. 8).
- When Lan was a baby, he was sworn to "stand against the Shadow so long as iron is hard and stone abides. To defend the Malkier while one drop of blood remains, and to avenge what cannot be defended". When he turned sixteen, he took up a one-man war against the Blight (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 28).
- The Malkieri made a pledge to the White Tower that they would ride whenever the Tower called. This pledge has been held since the War of the Hundred Years (NS, Ch. 25).
- In Nynaeve's Accepted test, where she and Lan are in a restored Malkier, she thinks to herself that the capital city has "a thousand gardens" (TGH, Ch. 23).
- Coin peppers were popular in Malkier (ACoS, Ch. 12).