A similar entry appears in the Wheel of Time Companion confirming the information available in the main story arc.
Author: Annouk Vinkona Ulfanna
Idrien Tarsin is the headmistress of the Cairhien Academy, which is located a mile from the Sun Palace in a palace which used to belong to Lord Barthanes (LoC, Ch. 18). Rand founded the school in order to created something lasting after all the destruction he has brought and will bring to the world (WH, Prologue).
Idrien is "a stocky woman in a plain gray dress, straight-backed enough to seem a head taller than she was." She has more gray than black in her hair (LoC, Ch. 18).
She holds a tight rein on the school. She guides Rand through it on several occasions when he comes to visit to see the progress of the inventors (LoC, Ch. 18).
She is a very practical woman. During the siege of Cairhien, she invented a crossbow (LoC, Ch. 18). She does not approve of anything that she does not see the need for. She does not see the need for philosophers, historians or arithmatists, and disapproves of many of the inventions that are developed at her school. Some of those inventions are a wagon that runs on steam, a kite that allows a person to glide, and lightning trapped in a jar (WH, Prologue).
- Idrien shows Rand around the school when he visits for the first time (LoC, Ch. 18).
- Idrien tells Rand that Herid Fel has wandered off, but that it happened quite often. Rand shouts at her (LoC, Ch. 28).
- Rand visits the school again (LoC, Ch. 50).
- During the Feast of Lights, after Rand disappears from Cairhien, abducted by Elaida's embassy, Perrin finds Idrien kissing a man young enough to be her son. Perrin was hoping that she could tell him where Rand was (LoC, Ch. 53).
- Idrien finds Herid Fel dead in his study (LoC, Epilogue).
- Idrien tells Rand about Herid Fel's death (ACoS, Ch. 18).
Relationship with other characters
She believes in the Dragon Reborn, though Rand is not sure whether that fits her practical nature (WH, Prologue).
"Idrien Tarsin was the head of the school he had founded here in.Cairhien, a woman so practical he was not sure she believed in the One Power since she could neither see nor touch it." (Rand about Idrien; A Crown of Swords, Chapter 18).
"Bad enough I must give space to philosophers and historians and arithmatists and the like, but you said take in anyone who wanted to make anything new and let them stay if they showed progress. I suppose you hoped for weapons, but now I have dozens of dreamers and wastrels on my hands, every one with an old book or manuscript or six, all of which date back to the Compact of the Ten Nations, mind, if not the Age of Legends itself, or so they say, and they are all trying to make sense of drawings and sketches and descriptions of things they've never seen and maybe nobody ever did see. I have seen old manuscripts that talk about people with their eyes in their bellies, and animals ten feet tall with tusks longer than a man, and cities where?" (Idrien Tarsin; Winter's Heart, Prologue).
"Foolishness, my Lord Dragon, that is what they make. Kin Tovere constructed his big looking glass. You can see the moon through it plain as your hand, and what he claims are other worlds, but what is the good of that? He wants to build a bigger, now. Maryl Harke makes huge kites she calls gliders, and come spring, she will be throwing herself off hills again. Puts your heart in your mouth to see her sailing downhill on the things; she will break more than her arm next time one folds up on her, I warrant. Jander Parentakis believes he can move riverboats with waterwheels off a mill, or near enough, but when he put enough men into the boat to turn the cranks, there was no room for cargo, and any craft with sails could outrun it. Ryn Anhara traps lightning in big jars...I doubt even he knows why...Niko Tokama is just as silly with her--" (Idrien Tarsin; Winter's Heart, Prologue).