GeographyBearbeitenColored version of the WestlandsThe Westlands stretches for roughly 3,500 miles from the Aiel Waste to the Aryth Ocean and is mostly temperate, with hot summers in the southern regions and icy winters in the north. The continent consists of several large plains (notably Almoth Plain, the Plains of Maredo, Caralain Grass and the Plain of Lances) divided by extensive forests, marshes and several major mountain ranges, most notably the Mountains of Mist which divide the western coastal regions from the continental interior. The continent is dominated by two extensive river networks. The larger consists of the River Manetherendrelle and its major tributary, the Arinelle. This network rises in the Mountains of Dhoom in the far north and is navigable almost from the Blight to the river mouth at Illian. The River Erinin flows out the Spine of the World just south of the Niamh Passes westwards before turning south for two thousand miles, eventually reaching the sea at Tear. Although not as extensive as the Arinelle-Mantherendrelle network, the Erinin is by far the longer single river and has much more traffic on it, as it passes through two of the busiest cities on the continent. There are currently fourteen nations in existence in the Westlands: Altara, Amadicia, Andor, Arad Doman, Arafel, Cairhien, Ghealdan, Illian, Kandor, Murandy, Saldaea, Shienar, Tarabon and Tear, as well as four major city-states: Falme, Far Madding, Mayene and Tar Valon. In previous eras, every part of the land was claimed by one nation or another, but in the modern era there are vast stretches of the continent which are given over to wilderness and are rarely travelled.
 A map of the Westlands.
The main continent does not posses one single unified name, and is referred to by a variety of titles within the books and fandom. 'Randland' is a common fan term, but is not used in the books themselves. The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time uses the term 'The Land', but this is also not used in the books themselves. The term 'Westlands' originates from The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game and was subsequently used by Robert Jordan in occasional interviews. The only single name used frequently in the novels themselves is 'the wetlands', the Aiel term for the lands west of the Spine of the World as they are much more fertile than the Waste.
Although no scale appears on the maps in the books themselves, a scale did appear on the world map on page 146 of the guidebook accompanying the series, The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time. The scale on this map suggests that the distance from the Aryth Ocean to the Spine of the World exceeds 3,000 miles. This concurs with the designers who worked on The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game, who suggested a scale of 1"=400 miles on the color endpaper maps in the hardback editions of the books. By their calculations, the Westlands therefore measures roughly 3,500 miles from the west coast to the Spine of the World, making it approximately the size of the United States of America. In an interview, Robert Jordan seemed to concur, suggesting it was almost 4,000 miles from the Spine to the ocean.
A reliable way of measuring the maps was produced in the novel New Spring, which gave the straight-line distance from Tar Valon to the sea south of Tear as 400 leagues (1,600 miles). Other distances in the novels include 600 miles for Cairhien to Caemlyn, 100 miles for Emond's Field to Baerlon, 900 from Tear to Aringill, 800 miles for the length of coastline between Ebou Dar and Illian and 1,500 miles for Cairhien to southern Ghealdan (although another distance is given of 500 leages - 2,000 miles - for Kinslayer's Dagger to northern Amadicia).
At the 'present' time in the novels (the end of Knife of Dreams), the south-west of the continent is held by the Seanchan, whilst the north-east is held by forces loyal to the Dragon Reborn. The allegiance of the Borderlands in the north is unknown.
The islands of the Aile Somera and Aile Jafar, plus the kingdoms of Tarabon, Amadicia and Altara are held by the Seanchan invaders. Their influence also extends into Almoth Plain and Ghealdan, and there has been fighting with the armies of Arad Doman. The Aiel Waste, Cairhien, Tear and Illian are held by the Dragon Reborn, with a strong influence in eastern Andor.
The Military of the LandBearbeiten
Part of the reason the Children of the Light have thrived without serious challenge is the general lack of military organization and discipline throughout the nations of the land. Since the War of the Hundred Years, when most military science was lost, armed forces have lapsed into very casual arrangements.
The armies that do exist are in large part levied only when needed. Each levy is usually made up of a group of partially trained men who owe personal allegiance to the noble who gathers and finances them, rather than to any particular nation. This Lord or General uses his own rank and money not only to finance his unit, but to buy commissions or promotions as necessary.
The nearest thing to a standing army in most nations is a formation owing allegiance to that nation's throne. These formations can run as large as five or six thousand men, which, while quite large by modem standards, pale beside the standing armies of tens of thousands commonplace during Hawkwing's time. The main military groups of the last centuries include: Amadicia's Guardians of the Gate; the Queen's Guard in Andor; the Legion of the Wall (now dispersed) in Ghealdan; the Companions in Illian; Mayene's Winged Guards; the King's Life Guard and the Panarch's Legion (both now dispersed) in Tarabon; the Defenders of the Stone in Tear; the Tower Guard of the White Tower; and, of course, the Children of the Light.
Perhaps because of the way the Game of Houses is played in Cairhien, there has never been such an army there, since even a monarch would want the power to remain centered in the House, not the throne. Altara's and Murandy's rulers are really not powerful enough to form them. Arad Doman has never had such a formation; the king there is elected by the Council of Merchants and can be removed by a three-quarters vote; such a body of soldiers would shift the balance of power unacceptably. Because of their proximity to the Blight, the Borderlands nations are organized for war as a whole, and therefore have no separate military formations.
Weapons and ArmorBearbeiten
Most infantry are armed with pikes, spears, bills, or (occasionally) axes, with the pikemen the most usual. Spear, bill, and axe troops are all considered more mobile than pikemen, yet pikes are preferred, since they stand the best chance against a mounted attack, and most in the present day think of battles primarily in terms of mounted conflict. In addition to these weapons most footmen carry knives, and sometimes even a short-sword. Longer swords are practically unknown among the infantry, as they are considered too unwieldy for close combat.
The average footman usually wears a jerkin of padded or studded leather, and some sort of helmet. Jerkins covered with metal discs or plates are not uncommon, and mail shirts are sometimes used, but actual plate armor is very rare.
Cavalry armament and armor vary widely from nation to nation, and within nations from one noble's retinue to the next. The armor ranges from full plate-and-mail for both horse and rider in the heavy cavalry, to a steel helmet, back and breast plates, and gauntlets in the light cavalry. Some mounted units have far less armor, relying on skill for their protection. Mounted units use various combinations of lance, sword, axe, mace, and horsebow.
Merchants' guards, even though usually mounted, have at most a helmet and a studded disc-sewn jerkin as armor. Swords are their most common weapons, though some carry bows or the occasional lance.
Order of CommandBearbeiten
Generally, aside from Captain-General or Lord Captain Commander or some other title indicating supreme command, the highest official rank is Captain. In the Queen's Guard of Andor and the Children of the Light this is followed by Senior Lieutenant, Lieutenant, and Under-lieutenant. In general there is no set size for the formation commanded by any particular rank. The generic term for a unit of infantry of any size is a "company" and of cavalry either a "company" or a "squadron," and in any case it is usually given the name of the lord or officer commanding.
Among cavalry, NCO ranks are squadman and bannerman. The bannerman for a unit usually acts as the recruiting officer as well. Senior bannerman and senior squadman are "floating" ranks, indicating that the individual is just that within his unit, whatever its size. Thus one could be the senior bannerman of Captain Selwin's company or the senior bannerman of the Queen's Guard or possibly both. In any case, the "senior" designation is more than honorary; it conveys authority over others of that rank.
Among infantry, the NCO ranks are file leader (the equivalent of a squadman) and bannerman. There are also senior file leaders and senior bannermen. These designations are reached in the same way and carry the same sort of authority as their colleagues in the cavalry.
This rather simple organization has been sufficient for some centuries because most battles were between armies with five thousand to ten thousand men on either side. There have been battles with as many as twenty thousand to thirty thousand on either side, but these are rare. In these larger battles, higher command has almost always gone to the nobility and has depended in large part on how the nobles ranked themselves and their Houses.
During the War of Power many weapons were made using the Power. Among these were very special swords made so that they would not shatter or break, and would never lose their edge. Some, made for soldiers, bore no special mark. The sword of the Malkieri Kings was one of these. Others were made for lord-generals, and bore a heron or other mark deep within the metal. Today these heron-marked blades are very rare and are awarded only to those skilled enough to be given the title of blademaster. Because the number of blademasters exceeds the number of swords that survived the war, many of the current heron-marked swords are not Aes Sedai work. They are, however, the finest steel that men can temper.