Minor Key: Annoura Larisen

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Author: Atarah al'Norahn
Published: February 10 2020 Tar Valon Times Blog Link

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

“It should not concern you, Berelain,” she said, rising. “All are taught it, you see. Do not channel if you are too tired. There can be complications. I needed a gateway back to the palace, though. To bring him to safety, to restore…”

Annoura collapsed from her stool. Berelain dropped to her side, propping up her head. Only then did she realize that it wasn’t the braids that had made Annoura look so different. The face was wrong, too. Changed. No longer ageless, but instead youthful.

—Annoura and Berelain, A Memory of Light, Chapter 37

From her first appearance in A Crown of Swords, revealing herself unexpectedly as advisor to Berelain sur Paendrag Paeron of Mayene, Annoura is something of an exception amongst the Aes Sedai in Rand’s orbit. One of the few sisters not to choose sides during the White Tower split, she is also exempted by Rand from swearing fealty to him due to her connection to Berelain. Given that Annoura’s loyalty appears to be strongly tied to the First of Mayene, it thus comes as a surprise to learn in Winter’s Heart that she has been meeting Masema behind Berelain’s back, a decision that causes a rift to open between the two women. Set amidst the backdrop of Tarmon Gai’don, surrounded by climactic moments that have enormous consequences for all of Randland, Annoura’s actions within A Memory of Light tell a heartbreaking tale of one woman’s quest to repay a broken trust.

Having left her native Tarabon for the White Tower around the age of sixteen, Annoura Larisen was raised to the shawl approximately 125 years prior to the main events of the series. An Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, she served as Berelain’s Aes Sedai advisor in secret to avoid provoking the nearby nation of Tear. Recognizable by her Taraboner accent and braids and her sometimes “almost diffident” manner (CoT, Ch. 8), Annoura is a character who prompted numerous theories when Perrin first caught her and Masuri sneaking into Masema’s camp.

Knowing how much Galad has come to mean to Berelain, Annoura attempts to make amends for her actions by recovering him from the battlefield of Tarmon Gai’don after Demandred nearly kills him. Doing so, however, requires her to draw more of the One Power than she can safely handle. She knows the risks and proceeds anyway, resulting in her own lost ability to channel. It is well established that an Aes Sedai will sacrifice anything for the good of the White Tower: we hear, for instance, of Mashera Donavelle, who “bore seven children for a man she loathed,” of Isebaille Tobanyi, who “delivered the brothers she loved to their enemies and the throne of Arad Doman with them,” and of Jestian Redhill, who did something so terrible that Faile cannot even bring herself to speak of it (ACoS, Ch. 6). Annoura’s sacrifice—to willingly risk a fate that Berelain recognizes is “considered to be worse than death”—is instead an intensely personal gesture made only to benefit an estranged “confidante” and “friend” (AMoL, Ch. 37). It is a reminder that even while the fate of the world hangs in the balance, with major plot arcs converging and coming to a close, there are smaller but no less meaningful stories at every turn in The Wheel of Time.

Minor Key is a series that covers characters who, while not amongst the main cast, make an impression on the story and the readers. Is there a character you’d like to see featured? Let us know in the comments!