Author: Shirlyn Cheade
Before beginning a comparison, some background information must be given.
King Arthur is a legendary figure from the history of Britain. He is remembered as the greatest king the world has ever seen. The legend does have basis in fact, and was used by later Anglo-Saxon kings to validate their rule, as claiming to be descendants of Arthur. However, "[t]he Anglo-Saxons themselves were descended from a conquering race - their ancestors had invaded and settled in Britain from about AD 450 onward - and Arthur was thought of as a king of the Britons who possessed the country before they overran it.... He belonged somewhere in what is now called the Dark Age, after the Romans, but before such Anglo-Saxon sovereigns such as Alfred" (Ashe 14-15). It should be noted, however, that Arthur was never an officially acknowledged king. Rather, he started as a minor noble or war leader, but rose to prominence through his battle prowess. It is speculated that he led a mobile cavalry force to turn back the invaders (Ashe 64). This force is likely to be the basis of the 'Knights of the Round Table,' and probably why so many victories all over England and Scotland are attributed to him.
The Saxon invaders were barbarians. At this time, immediately after the fall of the Roman Empire, the 'light' of civilization was nearly extinguished. One of the last bastions of civilization were the Britons, who kept what they could of the traditions of the Roman Empire alive. What Arthur did, through holding them off for several years, was to keep civilization alive through this 'dark' time, so when the Anglo-Saxons did eventually overrun the Britons, they had advanced and were no longer barbarians. In this way, Europe never did fall totally under the shadow of the Dark Ages.
Lews Therin Telamon, the Dragon, was a great leader during the later part of the Age of Legends. He was Tamyrlin, and summoned the Nine Rods of Dominion. He was the most powerful channeler during this time, and when the War of Power broke out, after the drilling of the Bore, he was the primary leader of the forces of the Light. He kept the Shadow from over running the land until the Bore could be sealed. He then led the Hundred Companions (actually numbering 113) to Shayol Ghul (the site of the Bore). There they placed the seal on the Bore, trapping the Dark One and the thirteen Forsaken inside. However, the seal was incomplete, and the backlash tainted saidin, causing the surviving Companions and LTT to go insane, thus starting the Breaking.
Due to his insanity, Lews Therin killed everyone whom he loved, who loved him, or contained even a drop of his blood, thus earning him the name 'Kinslayer.' When he realized what he had done (through the devices of Ishamael, who was never fully trapped) he committed suicide by drawing too much of the Power and creating Dragonmount and the island of Tar Valon in the process. He was prophesied to return at the time of 'mankind's greatest need,' most consider this to be when Tarmon Gai'don will be fought. The prophecies say that "On the slopes of Dragonmount shall he be born, born of a maiden wedded to no man." (the Karaethon Cycle). This is only one part of the Karaethon Cycle, also called the Prophecies of the Dragon. Rand al'Thor was the result of this. He was born on Dragonmount of an Aiel Maiden of the Spear, and is now reavealed to be a very strong channeler, and the Dragon Reborn (DR). Through the few years after discovering his destiny, he has become a great leader within the Westlands. He is King in Illian, ruler in Tear, Cairhien, Aiel Car'a'carn, Atha'an Miere Caramoor, regent in Andor until Elayne Trakand claimed her rightful throne, and is gaining power elsewhere.
Many similarities can be seen between Arthur and the Dragon/DR even in these brief bios, especially if the Anglo-Saxon forces are likened to the forces of Shadow during the War of Power. Added to that, there is a folk belief that Arthur will return. This belief first came to historical attention "[i]n 1113, for example, [when] a party of French priests visited Bodmin in Cornwall. They had holy relics with them. A Cornishman with withered arm asked for prayers, hoping that the relics would do his arm good. They chatted together, and the Cornishman told them of the British hero King Arthur, who had lived in Cornwall in distant times and fought the Saxons... and was still alive. The priests laughed at this. They were startled to find that the towns peple backed him up" (Ashe 15). Others believed that Arthur would return in person. "If [he] was to [do this], then he must be in some enchanted hiding place. Perhaps Avalon was not Glastonbury, but the far off magical isle hinted at by Geoffrey of Monmouth? The poet Lydgate favoured this view. Arthur, he declared, was 'a king y-crowned in Fairye' who would reappear ro reign in Britain. But there were local legends that suggested a different idea. Arthur was asleep in a cave, and would wake up when his country needed him most. Many of his knights were asleep too, in the same cave or other caves, and would join him when the hour struck. One of the most durable of these legends said that his own cave was in the Somerset hill called Cadbury Castle, and that Cadbury was the site of Camelot" (Ashe 28). Geoffrey of Monmouth was the first to write a history of Arthur, entitled La Morte de Arthur. Fairye is the land of enchantment, and the home of the fairy-folk, also known as Tir Na Nog in the Gaelic Tongue. This land can be seen as the legendary equivalent to Tel'aran'rhiod, or the World of Dreams, where Heroes of the Horn wait for rebirth. The cave that Arthur is said to lie in could be considered the inside of Dragonmount, where LTT is entombed, and on the slopes of which Rand was born. Arthur's Knights could possibly be other Heroes of the Horn, ones bound to the Wheel, always to be reborn when the world needs them. It is possible that the knights have already been spun out, and will be available to Rand when the hour of the Last Battle arrives.
The epitaph on what is generally agreed to be the real Arthur's tomb reads: "Hic iacet Arthurus, Rex quondum rexque futurus - Here lies Arthur, king that was, king that shall be" (Ashe 46). This is similar to a passage in the Karaethon Cycle: "And his paths shall be many, and who shall know his name, for he shall be born among us many times, in many guises, as he has been and ever will be, time without end" (Karaethon Cycle). There are other similarities as well, though they are perhaps not as major, for example Arthur was revealed as King by drawing the Sword from the Stone, and one of the confirming prophecies of the Dragon was to take Callandor (the sword that is not a sword) out of the Stone of Tear.
Names of close associates of both Arthur and Rand are very similar, especially those from Andor, most notably the Emond's Field and The Andoran Royal family (both Trakand and Mantear)
Egwene al'Vere - can be considered very similar to Guinevere. However, objections to this have been raised due to Rand and Egwene's relationship when compared to the Arthur/Guinevere relationship. Rand and Egwene were to be married, but later discovered that they did not love each other "in that way." Arthur and Guinevere were married, however, Guinevere later fell in love with Lancelot and conducted an illicit affair with him. This Guienivere/ Lancelot affair can be seen in Egwene's early attraction to Galadedrid, who can be related to Lancelot/Galahad. However, in WoT, Egwene and Gawyn later fall in love.
Galadedrid Damodred - Elayne and Gawyn Trakand's step-brother, son of Taringail Damodred and Tigraine Mantear, former Daughter-Heir to the throne of Andor. Half-brother through Tigraine to Rand. Galad is very similar to Galahad, the pure knight of King Arthur's Court, because he will do whatever he feels is right, no matter who it hurts, even himself. Galahad sat in the Seige Perilous, the seat at the Round Table which was reserved for one of pure heart. He is the only Knight to obtain the Grail. In some tellings, he is Lancelot, in others, he is Lancelot's son.
Elayne Trakand - Daughter-Heir of Andor, currently securing the throne after her mother's apparent death and actual abdication of the throne. Elaine, in Arthurian legend, was Queen of Garlot, and half sister to Arthur. However, in WoT, Elayne and Rand are only distantly related at best, since both are children of Andoran nobility.
Gawyn Trakand - Elayne's brother and her First Prince of the Sword, when she fully ascends the throne. Gawain is a knight of the Round Table, and most famous for his part in the Green Knight adventure. He is considered a fierce fighter and like Gawain, is nobility. However, only the fact of noble birth and their names link them together.
Nynaeve al'Meara - Wisdom of Emond's Field, later raised to Aes Sedai by Egwene al'Vere when Egwene is raised Amyrlin of the Tower in Exile. Chose the Yellow Ajah because of her strong ability to Heal. She rediscovered a stronger form of Healing (5 thread) than the form most commonly used by the Aes Sedai of today (3 thread) and is the strongest channeler of saidar alive today, bar Alivia, a former damane. Nynaeve, in some accounts, is another name for the Lady of the Lake, an extremely powerful magical figure. This would fit, as Nynaeve al'Meara is an extrememly powerful channeler.
Tigraine Mantear - Mother of Rand, former Daughter-Heir of Andor. Left her husband, Taringail, and son, Galadedrid, on the advice of Gitara Moroso Aes Sedai, to join the Aiel Maidens of the Spear. Died after giving birth to Rand on Dragonmount during/just after the Battle of the Shining Walls at the end of the first Aiel War. Yggraine is Arthur's mother.
Merlin is Arthur's guide and teacher. He teaches important things in life, such as politics, and communion with nature, though Arthur had other teacher in battle arts. Moiraine Sedai teaches and guides Rand, she taught him all he knows about politics, while Lan, her Warder, taught Rand the sword, so Rand is now a blademaster (or close to it). Rand also had another teacher. Asmodean was tricked into teaching about saidin, mainly how to channel it, because without a male teacher, Rand would likely have died. However Asmodean was still a Forsaken, even though he was bound in the Power and forced to keep up the charade of being Jasin Natael by Lanfear.
Arthur met Robin of the Wood, who is associated with the Green Man. "He is the watcher through the leaves, the burst of laughter in an empty clearing, the joker in the ambush" (Anderson 29). Robin helped with Artur's first great adventure, which also happened to be his first meeting with and battle against Morgan Le Fay. For full story, see T.H. White's The Sword in the Stone. Rand also met the Green Man, however this Green Man was Someshta, who also can be likened to the legendary Green Man (see essay). This meeting was also Rand's first major adventure against the Forsaken, and in this case, the Forsaken to be likened to Morgan La Fay, since both are villains in this case, and both are strong in magical powers (in the Forsaken's case, strong in saidin).
Tar Valon, home of the Aes Sedai is very much like Avalon (see Avalon essay). The similarities only increase when Arthur and the Dragon/DR are included. However, the most pertinent similarities have to do with Excalibur and Callandor. Callandor, an extremely strong male sa'angreal, was the sword in the Heart of the Stone of Tear, Rand had to pull the sword in order to prove he was the Dragon Reborn. Arthur, on the other hand, had to pull Excalibur from the stone to prove him king. Callandor manufactured by Aes Sedai, is a sa'angreal, like Excalibur, a sword with magical powers. Avalon is also where Arthur is buried. As stated before, in the process of creating Dragonmount (and killing himself), LTT created Tar Valon.
Finally, Arthur died at battle of Camlann, in southern England, against another noble of the time, Medraut, also known as Mordred. In the romances, Mordred is also Arthur's son. In "537 or 539 - The Battle of Camlaun in which Arthur and Medraut were slain; and there was death in England and Ireland" (Ashe 54). There is a battle coming over the Succession in Andor at Caemlyn. However, it has yet to be seen if this is a major turning point that has a lot to do with Rand.
Ashe, Geoffrey. All About King Arthur. London: W.H.Allen. 1969.
Anderson, William. Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth. London: Harper Collins. 1990.