5

In "A Crown of Swords", readers were introduced to the deadliest of the Shadowspawn - the gholam - and Birgitte (via Mat) explained that only six were ever created because even the Forsaken feared them. This particular gholam was released from a stasis box by one of the Forsaken, but we're never told who. I originally thought that Sammael was the one who sent it, given that he had earlier mentioned finding a stasis box. However, the gholam's inner monologue had the following thought:

The one who commanded it wanted the man who had wounded it dead perhaps as much as he did the women, but the women were an easier target.

Sammael had no particular interest in "the women" (Elayne, Nynaeve, & Aviendha). In fact, the only Forsaken with a vested interest in seeing those specific characters dead was Moghedien, but by the time the gholam was awakened, she was

already a 'pet' of Moridin, having her soul captured in the mind trap.

Was it ever revealed which Forsaken commanded the gholam?

  • 1
    I always thought Moridin was a strong candidate, especially given Moghedien's actions in Ebou Dar. It also matches his casual disregard for the things that even the Forsaken find threatening. – gowenfawr Mar 21 '18 at 14:39
7

Sammael.

  1. For what little it's worth, none of Demandred, Graendal, Mesaana, and Semirhage will admit to having found a stasis box:

    Mesaana nodded. "That leaves whatever might lie buried in ancient ruins or forgotten in an attic. If you want to count on finding something by chance, do so. I will not. Unless someone knows the location of a stasis box?" There was a certain dryness to that last. The stasis boxes should have survived the Breaking of the World, but that upheaval had likely as not left them on the bottom of an ocean or buried beneath mountains. Little remained of the world they had known, beyond a few names and legends.

    -- Lord of Chaos, Prologue

  2. Sammael does admit to having found a stasis box, one with Darkfriend valuables:

    She paused in front of Ceran Tol's "Tempo of Infinity". Not a copy. "One might think you had looted a museum, Sammael." It was hard to keep the envy from her voice, and when she saw his faint smile, she realised she had failed.

    Filling two silver-chased goblets with wine, he handed her one. “Only a stasis box. I suppose people tried to save what they could in the last days.” His smile pulled at that awful scar across his face as he beamed around the chamber, with especial fondness for the zara board projecting its field of still-transparent boxes in the air; he had always liked the more violent games. Of course, a zara board meant his stasis box had been filled by someone who followed the Great Lord; possession of a single once-human playing piece had meant imprisonment at the least on the other side. What else had he found?

    Sipping her wine—and suppressing a sigh; it was from the here and now; she had hoped for a delicate Satare or one of the exquisite Comolads—she stroked her gown with beringed fingers. “I found one as well, but beyond streith, it contained the most appalling collection of useless rubbish.” After all, since he had invited her here and let her see this, it was a time for confidences. Small confidences.

    “How sad for you.” Again that faint smile. He had found something more than playthings and pretties. “On the other hand,” he went on, “think how awful it would have been to open a box and rouse a nest of cafar, say, or a jumara, or one of Aginor’s other little creations. Did you know there are jumara loose in the Blight? Full-grown, though they’ll never transform now. They call them Worms.” He laughed so hard at that, he shook.

    -- Lord of Chaos, Chapter 6 (emphasis mine)

    The fact that Sammael's thought process and conversation jump directly from his stasis box to some of Aginor's beastly creations even hints (or rather foreshadows) that perhaps such a creature might have been inside, just not cafar or a jumara.

  3. Sammael promises to send Carridin "someone" to deal with the Aes Sedai.

    "Great Master..." He worked his mouth to find moisture. "Great Master, there are witches ... Aes Sedai ... here. I cannot be sure how many. If they hear a whisper..."

    Waving him to silence, Sammael paced a few quick steps, three times up and back, hands clasped behind his back. He did not look worried, only ... considering. Finally he nodded. "I will send you ... someone ... to deal with these Aes Sedai." He barked a short laugh. "I almost wish I could see their faces. Very well. You have a little while longer. Then perhaps someone else will have a chance."

    -- A Crown of Swords, Chapter 15 (emphasis mine)

  4. Finally, if the evidence isn't enough, Maria Simons confirmed that Sammael sent the gholam.

    Terez: Who had Herid Fel killed?
    Maria: That was A Crown of Swords right?
    Terez: It was in the epilogue of Lord of Chaos. They found out about it in A Crown of Swords. And it was the gholam. So it had to be—
    Maria: Sammael, yeah. That was Sammael.

    -- Q&A with Maria Simons

    (Maria Simons has been part of 'Team Jordan' for twenty years as a continuity editor and research assistant. She knows her stuff.)

As for why he wanted the women dead as much as Mat ... well, even if they're not part of the Ta'veren Trio, they're still pretty important figures for the Light side - very strong channellers, personally close to Rand, and potentially powerful in the White Tower and/or Andor. Killing them would be a great victory for the followers of the Shadow, regardless of any personal "vested interest".

  • Works for me. I guess the gholam had no way of knowing that Sammael was dead, or perhaps he wouldn't care either way. – Omegacron Mar 21 '18 at 16:15

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