What’s With the “Al” in ‘Wheel of Time’ Character Names? From al’Meara to al’Thor.

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What’s With the “Al” in ‘Wheel of Time’ Character Names? From al’Meara to al’Thor

Nynaeve al’Meara is played by Zo Robins in the new Amazon series The Wheel of Time.

Egwene al’Vere is portrayed by Madeleine Madden.

As Rand al’Thor, Josha Stradowski.

Are you noticing a pattern? We are, too.

So, in The Wheel of Time, what does the “al” prefix mean?

In a forum post in 2019, a fan of the Robert Jordan book series — the series on which the Amazon show is based — asked the same question.

“Some families have it, some don’t,” that fan observed, “but it doesn’t appear to denote social standing.”

“I mean, Rand, Nyneave, Egwene, and their families all have the ‘al,’ but they don’t seem to have a higher social status than the Cauthons, Aybaras, Luhans, Cenn Bui, or anyone else.”

So, what exactly does it imply?”

In ‘The Wheel of Time,’ Josha Stradowski portrays Rand al’Thor.

“Is it like the ‘O,’ ‘Mac,’ ‘Mc,’ or ‘Map’ found in Celtic cultures or the ‘ibn’ found in many Islamic states?” wondered the inquisitive fan in that forum post.

That fan had a point.

All of those prefixes are part of patronymics, or names derived from one’s father or ancestor in various cultures.

The prefix “al'” is also used for some characters in The Wheel of Time.

Others, on the other hand, regard the prefix as a sign of royalty…

In Chapter 2 of The Great Hunt, the second book in Robert’s Wheel of Time series, he explained the “al” prefix.

Rand al’Thor attempts to leave the borderland city of Fal Dara in that chapter, but is stopped by a stablehand named Tema, who has the annoying habit of addressing Rand as lord.

(“I am not a lord for the hundredth time, Tema,” Rand says.)

“As my Lord wishes,” Tema replied.)

So, why is Tema perplexed? According to Robert, “the royal ‘al'” denotes a king’s name in the nearby kingdom of Malkier.

“‘al’ was just a part of his name for Rand,” Robert added, “though he had heard that it had meant’son of’ once, long ago, before the Two Rivers was called the Two Rivers.’ Some of the servants in Fal Dara keep, on the other hand, had taken it to mean he was a king, too, or at least a prince.”

Despite his best efforts, he was only able to get himself demoted…

a brief summary of Brinkwire

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