‘The Wheel of Time’ opens with Moiraine and her Warder, Lan, searching for the legendary Dragon Reborn, who is prophesied to hold the fate of the world in their hands. As the epic saga continues, we get snippets of Lan’s tragic backstory and his apparent connection to a place called Malkier. The closer Moiraine and her group get to the foreboding Eye of the World and the Blight, the more frequently Malkier gets mentioned. So what is Malikier, what happened to it, and how is Lan connected to the place? Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD.
What is Malkier?
Malkier is a nation in the north of the Westlands and is located near the fortified city of Shienar. Many years ago, as a result of a coup and internal disturbances, the kingdom was overrun by Shadowspawn from the nearby Blight. Since then, Malkier has remained in the clutches of the Dark One and is uninhabitable for humans. The kingdom’s precarious location also places it close to Shayol Ghul — a large black mountain known to be the focal point of the Dark One’s power.
In season 1, we do not get to see Malkier, though it is mentioned several times. Moiraine and Rand, while crossing the Blight on their way to the Eye of the World, do cross the dilapidated Seven Towers, which signify where the kingdom’s former capital now lays in ruins. The capital city, named after the Seven Towers, was seemingly surrounded by multiple lakes that are now poisonous and contain a deadly variety of Shadowspawn.
In Robert Jordan’s book series on which the show is based, Malkier is described as an ancient kingdom rich in tradition. The men can be recognized by the braided leather cord they wear on their heads, known as a Hadori. The Hadori is also worn by Lan, which tells us that he is originally from Malkier. However, upon reaching Shienar, he meets some of his old acquaintances and further details of Lan’s connection to Malkier begin to emerge.
Is Lan the King of Malkier?
From what we know of Malkier’s last days before it was overrun by Dark forces, the kingdom was ruled by Lan’s father, King Al’Akir Mandragoran, whose brother’s wife, Breyan, plotted against him. Wanting to see her own son, Isam, crowned as ruler, she plotted to have the king and his son murdered. A Darkfriend also joined the plan, and a disastrous, if ultimately unsuccessful, coup ensued.
However, in the chaos of the uprising, Shadowspawn from the Blight were able to infiltrate and overrun the kingdom. Al’Akir, before being killed trying to hold off the Dark creatures, named his son Lan the King of Malkier. The young boy was then sent to Shienar to be raised in safety, which is why Lan still seems to have such a close connection to the fortified city when he arrives there with Moiraine and her group. In fact, the family Nynaeve spies him eating dinner with are actually the people that raised young Lan after his rightful kingdom was attacked.
Thus, Lan is the rightful King of the ancient kingdom of Malkier, but his land remains heavily infected by the Blight, and therefore essentially inaccessible. In Jordan’s novels, after the Last Battle and the defeat of the Dark One, the Blight recedes, and Malkier once again becomes a sovereign nation, ruled by Lan and his queen, Nynaeve.