Nynaeve bests Moghedien in a duel in The Shadow Rising and subsequently shields her from the True Source, in addition to trapping her in Air (and tying the weave). However, Moghedien disappears literally seconds later while Nynaeve was momentarily distracted by balefire.

The shield of Spirit slid between Moghedien and the Source; the halo surrounding her winked out.


With no need to defend herself, it took only a little effort for Nynaeve to weave Air around the fleeing woman. The Forsaken froze in midstride. Hurriedly Nynaeve tied her weaving.


Suddenly she stared in disbelief. Moghedien was gone! The balefire had not come nearer than ten feet from where she had stood, but she was not there any longer. It was impossible. She had been shielded.

The Shadow Rising, Chapter 54, Into the Palace (TOR Fantasy page 910, emphasis mine)

Nynaeve was known to be exceptionally strong in the Power; certainly her weaving should have been strong enough to hold her for a mere few more seconds. So how did Moghedien escape?

I'm quite certain that this was mentioned somewhere in the series, but I can't put my finger on the exact quote.

  • 2
    Rand does this as well in an earlier book, 6, the dragon reborn, if memory serves me. It explains how and Moghedien knows the same technique as it comes from Lewis Theron memory Sep 25 '18 at 13:27
  • 1
    @GarretGang Yeap, Lord of Chaos actually. Hm, I should probably check that book, first book where Moghedien becomes a prisoner after all.
    – Voronwé
    Sep 25 '18 at 14:13

Once a Shield is tied off, it can be broken.

That is why captured male channelers were traditionally actively shielded by 6-13 Aes Sedai. An actively maintained Shield is described as "soft" and a tied-off Shield as "hard" or "knotted"; with only one tied-off Shield, Moghedien would have been able to break through and escape quickly.

This is explored in Lord of Chaos (as per Garret Gang's comment above). In Chapter 53, "The Feast of Lights", Lews Therin educates Rand al'Thor as to the nature of Shields:

Slowly he reached for saidin again.... And came against the shield, of course. The thing he had been seeking in any case. Slowly, ever so gently, he felt his way along it, to where a hard plane suddenly turned into six soft points.

Soft, Lews Therin said, panting. Because they are there. Sustaining the buffer. Hard when they knot. Nothing to be done when they are soft, but I can unravel the web if they knot it. With time.

And in Chapter 55, "Dumai's Wells", which begins with Rand hopelessly Shielded by 6 Aes Sedai, four of whom tie off their Shields in order to run into battle:

Doubled painfully inside the chest, panting, Rand fumbled at the shield between him and the Source. Moaning floated across the Void, grim fury and burning fear slid along the edge of it; he was no longer altogether certain which was his and which Lews Therin's. Suddenly his breath froze. Six points, but one was hard now. Not soft, hard. And then a second. A third. Rasping laughter filled his ears; that was his, he realized after a moment. A fourth knot became hard. He waited, trying to stifle what sounded uncomfortably like deranged giggling. The last two points remained soft....

Cautiously, blindly, he felt at the four hard points. There was nothing there, any more than the shield itself was anything he could feel or see, but somehow he could feel around this nothingness, feel a shape to it. Like knots....

Rand could not have explained what he did next, though Lews Therin had explained how; .... It was as if he flexed what he had extended through the knot, flexed it as hard as he could. The knot resisted. It trembled. And then it burst. There were only five. The barrier thinned.

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    This seems like the most likely explanation; but at the same time, it's not really clear from the text if she attempted to tie off the shield or just the air weave. "Hurriedly Nynaeve tied her weaving" I guess implies both.
    – JMac
    Sep 25 '18 at 17:28
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    @JMac yes, it's ambiguous, but I think it would be odder to say "tied her weaving" to mean "tied one of the two weaves" as opposed to "tied both of the weaves". An alternative explanation I've considered in the past is that that the copious Balefire being sprayed around by Jeaine Caide somehow obliterated the Shield without harming Nynaeve or Moghedien, but there's nothing in the text to support that.
    – gowenfawr
    Sep 25 '18 at 17:36
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    Yeah, I think "tied her weave" would have been extremely suspicious; but "weavings" has enough ambiguity to suggest she tied off both. All the balefire does leave a lot of room for strange consequences of the strange mechanics of balefire; but it would take some mental work to come up with a good reason it could break her shield.
    – JMac
    Sep 25 '18 at 17:39
  • Accepted this still instead of my answer - would do injustice to your effort in explaining. :)
    – Voronwé
    Sep 27 '18 at 13:01
  • Didn't one of the forsaken also break free of Rand's shield in the beginning of book 4, in The Stone? That only took her a few seconds as well. Nov 28 '18 at 21:18

After reading through Book 6, Lord of Chaos1, again, I found the quote I was looking for.

Once, in Tanchico, Nynaeve had left Moghedien shielded and bound with the Power, for just a few moments, and she managed to escape. The how of that had been one of the first things Nynaeve questioned her about once she was captured again, though prying out an answer almost required wringing her neck. A tied-off shield was vulnerable, it seemed, if the woman shielded had a little time and patience.

Lord of Chaos, Chapter 12, Questions and Answers (TOR Fantasy page 300, emphasis mine)

From Moghedien herself, which also entirely supports @gowenfawr great answer.

1: Thanks @GarretGang for the prod in the right direction.

  • why don't I convert my answer to Community and then you can edit this quote in, making for a single better answer overall? Interested?
    – gowenfawr
    Sep 27 '18 at 13:12
  • I think it's fine - your answer will perpetually be "above" mine for active, oldest and highest votes, so after reading your great analysis my quote will be seen next, which would have the same outcome as combining answers, I believe. Besides, you get to keep your rep. Thanks for suggesting it though.
    – Voronwé
    Sep 27 '18 at 14:28

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