The Wheel Turns...
In the years following the Breaking of the World, various factions of female channelers formed, each claiming to be the “real” Aes Sedai. In 47 AB, a conference was called to unify the twelve largest such groups. Amongst the other matters discussed, they also decided to have built for them a permanant base of operations. The island of Tar Valon was chosen for its obvious defensive benefits, but also because the proximity of Dragonmount would remind the sisters that one day the Dragon would be Reborn and they must prepare for that day.
Construction of the city began in 98 AB. In that year Elisane Tishar was chosen as the first Amyrlin Seat. The construction work was undertaken by Ogier stonemasons assisted by Aes Sedai sisters using the One Power to create buildings stronger and taller than otherwise would be possible. The city was completed in 202 AB after more than a century of continuous effort. By this time the power and prestige of the Aes Sedai had grown to impressive levels and one of their number, Queen Mabriam en Shereed of Aramaelle led the diplomacy that resulted in the signing of the Compact of the Ten Nations, binding all the Westlands together in mutual support and alliance.
In 335 AB, Tar Valon was attacked for the first time, when the followers of the false Dragon Raolin Darksbane attempted to free him after he had been captured and gentled by the Aes Sedai. The attack, although serious, was repulsed by the Tower Guard.
Tar Valon came under attack four times during the Trolloc Wars, although its mighty walls prevented the Shadowspawn from gaining access to the city itself during the first three battles. The fourth assault, in 1290 AB, was the most devastating. Shadowspawn forced their way into the city and only a strong defence led by the famous “Soldier Amyrlin,”, Rashima Kerenmosa, prevented its fall. The White Tower’s library suffered some damage in this battle, and some important historical documents were lost. Eleven years later, Rashima led the forces of the Light to victory at the Battle of Maighande: although she was killed, the back of the Trolloc armies was broken and within fifty years all trace of them south of the Blight had been eradicated.
Tar Valon was not threatened again until the War of the Second Dragon a thousand years later in FY 943. The false Dragon Guaire Amalasan had been captured by a contingent of Aes Sedai allied to King Artur Paendrag Tanreall, the Hawkwing, and brought back to Tar Valon for trial. A large army of his followers, exceeding 100,000 in number, launched an attack on the city, seizing two of the bridges and fighting their way into the city. Hawkwing led his own army into the city and in pitched street fighting that reached the Tower grounds, Amalasan’s supporters were finally defeated and driven from the city.
Relations between the Aes Sedai and Hawkwing were cool, due to Hawkwing bringing his army onto Tar Valon’s territory without prior permission, but a personal grudge held by the then-Amyrlin Bonwhin Meraighdin resulted in her manipulating other nations into going to war against Hawkwing. After twenty years of warfare, Hawkwing had seized the entire continent bar only Tar Valon. Relations improved, with Aes Sedai serving at all levels of Hawkwing’s bureaucracy, until FY 975, when Hawkwing abruptly turned on the sisterhood, dismissing all Aes Sedai from posts in the Empire and then besieging the city. The siege, the longest of the city, lasted the remainder of Hawkwing’s life. In FY 992, Bonwhin was deposed and stilled for crimes of manipulation and endangering the White Tower through her petty jealousy. Her successor, Deane Aryman, was unable to convince Hawkwing to lift the siege. Upon Hawkwing’s death two years later, the siege was lifted as the troops left to return to their homelands as the Empire began to disintegrate, and also after the commander of the siege, Souran Maravaile, was convinced to do so by his lover, Ishara Casalain, who went on to become the first Queen of Andor. The city did not sustain damage during the lengthy siege. In thanks for Ishara’s intervention, Tar Valon and Andor forged a powerful alliance that would last for more than eleven centuries.
Tar Valon was the site of the Battle of the Shining Walls, the decisive engagement of the Aiel War, in 978 NE. However, the city itself was not attacked or threatened during the battle. The Aiel clans were after the head of King Laman Damodred of Cairhien in vengeance for destroying Avendoraldera, a sapling of the Tree of Life itself, and Laman and his allies just happened to make their stand outside the city. Once Laman had been executed, the Aiel turned and left.
Tar Valon is a vital trade and transport link between the Borderlands and the more populous, richer southern kingdoms of Andor, Cairhien, Illian and Tear. Multiple major roads meet at the city, directly linking it to the cities of Fal Moran, Shol Arbela, Chachin, Maradon, Cairhien and Caemlyn, whilst the River Erinin links the city to Tear, along with many important ports and trading centres along the way (most notably Aringill).
The island of Tar Valon is eight miles long and more than two miles across at its widest point. The city fills the entire island, bar an Ogier grove, which is the only one within a major city still maintained and kept as a garden. The buildings of Tar Valon are noted for being graceful, tall and sometimes linked together by unique ‘skybridges’. The city doesn’t just rely on its island location for defence, but also on its walls, which stretch along the full length of the banks of the island. The city is centred on the White Tower and its grounds.
The city is linked to the mainland by six bridges, each one of which is a mighty feat of engineering in its own right. Even the shortest bridge is still almost a mile long and gracefully arches from the island to the shore.
Taxation from all the trade means that the White Tower’s coffers are extremely rich. Of the great cities of the land, Tar Valon is the greatest and most beautiful, with Caemlyn not far behind.
THE SHINING WALLS
The Shining Walls of Tar Valon are thought to be impregnable, and it is said that no army has ever breached them, though this is not true. Even discounting the difficulty of taking a city filled with Aes Sedai, only the Stone of Tear can make a similar claim, amongst all the places of the world.
Spanning two miles across, the Ogier Grove is the most beautiful in all the land, a distinction formerly applied to the Grove at Manetheren. It is surrounded by an endless series of spiraling stone arches, each five spans high and ten spans wide. It contains a vast array of trees, including oaks, elms, leatherleafs, firs, and Great Trees. Like most Ogier Groves, this one contains a Waygate.
Two ogier-built basins surrounded by high walls of the same silver-streaked white stone that composes much of Tar Valon and located on the norther and southern tips of the island.
Six bridges extend across the river, three each to east and west of the city. Each bridge was crafted with the one power and has its far end in a small village.
- Tar Valon (Capital)