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2.1.7: The Third Man

[Leigh Butler, Shawn Hurley]

From [TPOD: 21, Answering the Summons, 408]:

"Since his reappearance inside Rand's head, Lews Therin seldom went silent unless forced. The man seemed madder than ever most of the time, and usually angrier as well. Stronger sometimes, too. That voice invaded Rand's dreams, and when he saw himself in a dream, it was not always himself at all that he saw. It was not always Lews Therin, either, the face he had come to recognize as Lews Therin's. Sometimes it was blurred, yet vaguely familiar, and Lews Therin seemed startled by it, too. That was an indication how far the man's madness went. Or maybe his own."

Then, in [WH: Prologue, Snow, 80]:

"I thought I could build, Lews Therin murmured in his head. I was wrong. We are not builders, not you, or I, or the other one. We are destroyers. Destroyers."

And in [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 436-437]:

"You destroyed them already, Lews Therin whispered in his head. Now you have someone else to destroy, and not beforetime. How many will we three kill before the end, I wonder."

So what's this all about? Who is this "other one"? What significance does he have?

There are two basic theories about the identity of LTT's "other one":

1) He's another Dragon.

Rand is the Third Age incarnation of the Dragon. LTT is the Age of Legends version. So why couldn't this third guy be a Dragon from yet another age, either the one before LTT or the one after Rand (the Fourth Age Dragon)?

As Oren Eini points out, there is circumstantial support for this as early as LOC, when LTT mutters, "'Where are all the dead? Why will they not be silent?'" [LOC: 16, Tellings of the Wheel, 273]. Rand takes it as a joke, but perhaps LTT meant it.

One idea is that the voice in Rand's head (LTT) is experiencing a voice in his own head (the Dragon before LTT). This is supported by the fact that LTT seems to know who he is, which implies communication of some kind, while so far Rand has not had any direct contact with him (that we know of).

One problem with this is that it resurrects the question of why are only these particular two Dragons in Rand's head, and not all of them? Once again, though, the counter to the latter is the idea that proximity along the timeline is an influencing factor in who Rand (and LTT) can "hear". Maybe more Dragons will appear as time goes on...

Of course, the biggest problem with this theory is that it seems to require that the "LTT is real" theory is correct, which has been mostly disproven thanks to RJ's statement that Rand has one soul with two personalities. However, that statement is still ambiguous enough that the idea cannot be discarded entirely.

But assuming that the "third Dragon" idea may not be correct, what other options do we have?

2) He is Amalgamation Man.

Several people have argued that Rand and LTT (either the person or the persona) may be slowly merging into one entity over time, and the "leakage" of memories, mannerisms, and skills from LTT is evidence of this process. The idea is that the third man will be the end result of this merging, comprising traits of both Rand and LTT, but not truly either man.

Rand's musings in COT seem to support this theory:

[COT: 24, A Strengthening Storm, 558]:

The Creator had made the world and then left humankind to make of it what they would, a heaven or the Pit of Doom by their choosing. The Creator had made many worlds, watched each flower and die, and gone on to make endless worlds beyond. A gardener did not weep for each blossom that fell.

For an instant, he thought those must have been Lews Therin's reflections. He had never gone on that way about the Creator or anything else that he recalled. But he could feel Lews Therin nodding in approval, a man listening to someone else. Still, it was not the kind of thing he would have considered before Lews Therin. How much space remained between them?

This theory has additional support from Min's viewing in ACOS about Rand and another man merging into one. It also has an advantage over the "third Dragon" idea because it works whether you believe LTT is real or a Taint-induced delusion of Rand's (i.e. whether the merge of the two is physical or psychological).

One difficulty with applying Min's viewing to this theory, though, is that after she talks about the merging, she goes on to say that either Rand or the other man he's merging with dies. Wouldn't this seem to imply that one "wins" and the other doesn't, rather than the two becoming halves of a separate whole? There doesn't seem to be any room for a third person in that viewing. Of course, the wording is so vague it's impossible to state that with any certainty.

More significantly, one of the items that support the first theory contradict this one: the fact that LTT seems to know the third man, and more specifically, is conscious of him as a separate entity from both Rand and himself. Rand himself observes that quality of separateness in his dreams (and notes LTT is startled by it). That passage from TPOD makes a point, in fact, of distinguishing the face Rand sees from either his own or LTT's, which would seem to argue against any kind of merging. Concurrent with this objection is a timing problem, since obviously this proposed merging of Rand and LTT into a third person hasn't taken place yet, and LTT's comments imply that the third is present here and now ("How many will we three kill...").

A more meta-aesthetic objection to the amalgamation theory is that it doesn't seem to sit right. Rand, after all, is the central character in the WOT universe; it's not kosher to essentially kill off your hero/Messiah figure halfway through the series and replace him with some amorphous guy in his head, of whom we knew absolutely zilch about until the eighth book, fer chrissakes.

Other, Loonier Theories

It's been suggested that the third person is actually someone else entirely, and has nothing to do with the Rand/LTT/Dragon shenanigans. The most popular candidate is Alanna, based on her being in his head already.

This doesn't wash, however, because LTT mentions the "other one" once in the WH prologue, while Rand was still only bonded to Alanna, and then again in Chapter 22, which is long after Rand was bonded by Elayne, Aviendha, and Min. So if LTT's including people Rand is bonded to, wouldn't that quote have been "How many will we six kill before the end"? [Simon Cullen] There's also the question of why LTT would regard Alanna as a "destroyer" on a level comparable to Rand and himself, when clearly she's nothing of the kind.

The other nominees are Moridin/Ishy, Taim, Mat, Perrin, Logain, Fain/Mordeth, and God knows who else. All of these are pretty clearly contradicted by Rand's dream in TPOD, since Rand is dreaming about himself. That strongly indicates that whoever or whatever the third person is, it is something going on with Rand internally [Steve Cook].

One last and even wackier theory is that Rand will eventually make like a bad Star Trek episode and split into three separate people - Rand, LTT, and our mysterious third. Though this one strikes me as patently absurd, it's worth mentioning just for the nice mythological parallel (and Women solution) James Huckaby drew from it:

"Can you say "Three in one person, blessed trinity"?
"Rand is Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu.
"Lews Therin is Brahma, the creator. He created the Randland of the Third Age by sealing away the Dark One poorly and giving him the opportunity to taint the One Power.
"The Rand persona is Vishnu the preserver. He is working to keep everything that is good about his world alive.
"Our third personality is Shiva the destroyer. It must be the inherent Dragon persona that makes every Dragon so feared.
"I think Min goes with Rand, Elayne with LTT, Aviendha with Shiva. Aviendha's hard-core and Shiva is hard-core. They would both take the laser up to eleven."

The mythology angle could also fit in with the "third Dragon" theory, although not as well as with the amalgamation idea.

Is the third man also the face in the color swirls?

No. As far as we know, the colors are simply Ta'veren Telepathy in Technicolor (tm Allen Bryan), and have nothing to do with Rand's personality problems.

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