Author: Atarah al'Norahn
Tar Valon is an island that lies in the middle of the River Erinin; it is also the name of the city that is located upon the island. It is the heart of Aes Sedai power. Ogier made bullwarks keep the island of TV from eroding (TGS, Ch. 41).
The island of Tar Valon is nearly ten miles long, and three or four miles across (NS, Ch. 4; TWoRJTWoT).
Where the Erinin River is split by the island of Tar Valon, it takes on two different names: the west branch is the Alindrelle Erinin, and the east branch is the Osendrelle Erinin. There are six bridges that span these rivers, three for each. At the base of each is a village.
The Alindaer Bridge is located to the west. It is wide enough for five or six wagons to pass abreast. The gates are bronze strapped (NS, Ch. 4).
The Ostrein Bridge is located to the east and leads south from Tar Valon (TSR, Ch. 1).
Luagde, Daghain and Osenrein are located on the eastern part of the river, the Osendrelle Erinin.
The southernmost end of the island is called Southharbor, while the northern most end of the island is called Northharbor (TDR, Ch. 30).
The city of Tar Valon is the greatest in the world. It covers nearly the entire island on which it lies. It was one of the first cities built after the Breaking of the World (TGH, Ch. 18).
Tar Valon is a very beautiful city. The White Tower rises from the center, but there are also spires, spirals and fluted towers that rise throughout the rest of the city. Some of them are close enough to be linked together by bridges that can be over a hundred feet up in the air. There are also towers along the city's walls, thrusting out into the river (NS, Ch. 4).
There are many squares in Tar Valon, and every one of them has a fountain or a monument located in the center. The buildings themselves are grander than the monuments that you can find in most other cities (NS, Ch. 4).
Buildings and Landmarks
The lavish homes of the wealthy merchants and bankers sport domes and spires and colonnaded walks, and even the homes of ordinary folk are ornamented with carvings and friezes. Many of the buildings in Tar Valon can pass for palaces (NS, Ch. 4).
Almost all of the buildings in Tar Valon were built by Ogier. On some of the buildings, the Ogier stonemasons were even given a free hand, and they therefore surpass all beauty (NS, Ch. 4).
The homes of the merchants and bankers are interspersed with shops, inns, taverns, stables, apartment buildings and the homes of ordinary folk (NS, Ch. 4).
Following is information on some of the buildings in Tar Valon.
- The White Tower: See "The White Tower"
- The Blue Cat: An Ogier built inn. It strongly resembles a blue cat curled up to sleep (NS, Ch. 4).
- The Great Fish Market: The largest fish market in the city. It is Ogier built. It looks like a school of huge green, red, blue and striped fish (NS, Ch. 4).
- The Kandori Merchants' Guild Hall: Ogier built. It represents horses running in surf, or perhaps surf turning into horses (NS, Ch. 4).
- The Tremalking Splice: A tavern (TDR, Ch. 30).
- The Upriver Run: An inn (TFoH, Ch. 10).
- The Woman of Tanchico: An inn (TDR, Ch. 30).
- Banking House: Banker not known. It is Ogier built and is three stories tall. It suggests a flight of golden marble birds taking wing (NS, Ch. 4).
- Ilain Dormaile's Banking House: A southern style building. It has a high, white dome with narrow spires at the four corners. There are broad marble stairs that lead to a wide, white-columned portico. The stone carvings, which are friezes of vines and leaves, are well done yet simple and not overly plentiful (NS, Ch. 13).
- Tamore Alkohima's Dress Shop: Located on the ground floor of a building that seems to be all curves (NS, Ch. 13).
The Ogier Grove
The Ogier Grove located at Tar Valon is rumored to be the most beautiful in all the world. Unlike many other groves, it is still intact, and is located south of the White Tower (TEotW, Ch. 47; TGH, Ch. 39).
The Tar Valon Ogier grove contains oaks, elms, leatherleefs, firs, and Great Trees. There is a wall, of sorts, that encompasses the grove. It is an endless series of spiraling stone arches, each five spans high and twice as wide. It is two miles across. The grove has neither the tame look of a park nor the complete haphazardness of the forest depths. Egwene thinks that it looks like the ideal of nature (TGH, Ch. 39).
Tar Valon is one of the safest, if not the safest, city in the known world. Both the Aes Sedai and the guards ensure that there are very few thieves (The Dragon Reborn).
Criminals caught in Tar Valon are taken down into the basement of the Tower and subjected to the Chair of Remorse, a ter'angreal that will show them carefully selected consequences of their crimes. Once released, the criminals usually flee the island (WH, Prologue).
Ruling and Politics
The city of Tar Valon itself is run by a council of Aes Sedai; this council is chosen by the Hall. Of course, it is not the Aes Sedai themselves who handle day-to-day problems; instead, the council oversees a group of non-Aes Sedai bureaucrats (TWoRJTWoT).
The Amyrlin Seat is the highest authority in the White Tower, and presides over the Hall of the Tower. She is considered to be a member of all Ajahs and none, and is elected for life (TWoRJTWoT).
The Keeper of the Chronicles is considered to be the second highest authority in the White Tower (TWoRJTWoT).
The Hall of the Tower is made up of twenty-one Sitters, three from each Ajah, who vote on important issues. When the Hall meets, the Amyrlin is also present, as well as the Keeper of the Chronicles, though the Keeper is not allowed to enter discussions and can only enter the Hall if the Amyrlin is there (TWoRJTWoT; CoT, Ch. 19)
Tar Valon is the only city in the world to have remained intact from the Breaking of the World (or shortly thereafter) until the present (TWoRJTWoT).
It was in the year 47 AB that the decision was made to build a city as the center of Aes Sedai power, although construction of the city did not begin until the year 98 AB. The city was completed in 202 AB, one hundred and four years after construction began. In 98 AB, Elisane Tishar was named the first Amyrlin Seat.
At least twice in the history of Tar Valon has the White Tower been breached. During the Trolloc Wars, Dreadlords and Trollocs plundered part of the Tower. Later, in the Free Era, an army trying to rescue the false Dragon, Guaire Amalasan, reached the White Tower as well (ACoS, Ch. 11).
Before his death, Artur Hawkwing began a siege of Tar Valon. It wasn't until after his death that Ishara, the first queen of Andor, managed to convince Souran Maravaile, one of Hawkwing's generals, that the siege should be lifted (LoC, Ch. 26).
There are people from every nation in the world living in Tar Valon. Because of this, there are no distinguishing factors that separate the people of Tar Valon from people of other nations and cities. There are also visitors from all over the world at any given time (NS, Ch. 4).
Tar Valon and Andor have always had a relatively good relationship. Every Daughter-Heir, whether she can channel or not, is sent to the White Tower for training. However, since Lord Gaebril/Rahvin showed up, the relationship has deteriorated. On top of that, Morgase no longer trusts the White Tower, as she believes that they are hiding Elayne from her (TDR, Ch. 45; TFoH, Ch. 19).
The Borderlands have always had a good relationship with Aes Sedai, and therefore with the White Tower. Tenobia of Saldaea, however, no longer trusts the White Tower. This is because they let Mazrim Taim escape (TFoH, Ch. 56).
The Children of the Light hate Aes Sedai and anything that has to do with the White Tower and Tar Valon. Due to this, the nation of Amadicia is also particularly unfriendly to Aes Sedai. Channeling is outlawed in Amadicia.
The nation of Tear is not as extreme in its opinion of Aes Sedai as is Amadicia, but channeling is still outlawed. Aes Sedai are tolerated in Tear, though girls who can channel are sent off to Tar Valon as soon as possible, usually on the same day that it is learned that she can channel (TWoRJTWoT).
- One of the sayings in Tar Valon is, "the Wheel of Time turns around Tar Valon and Tar Valon turns around the Tower" (TSR, Ch. 1).
- Many people travel to the White Tower to petition the Aes Sedai for help (TSR, Ch. 1).
- All women have the right to demand an audience with the Amyrlin Seat, though it is a right that is seldom exercised. Women also have the right to claim sanctuary at the White Tower (TSR, Ch. 1).