Asha'man, in the Old Tongue “Guardians”, is the name given by Rand al'Thor to the men who trained with Mazrim Taim in the Black Tower to use saidin. On joining, they are known as soldiers, as they progress and reach an undefined level, they are awarded a sword pin for their lapel and become Dedicated. Eventually, once their control and ability is sufficient, they are given a Dragon pin and are Asha'man. Unlike Aes Sedai, Asha'man are not turned out for being too weak (LoC, Ch. 42), though they will not progress (This passage needs a reference)..
They train quickly, and expand using Traveling to actively search out recruits. Within a few months, there are almost four hundred and fifty men at the Black Tower, not including deserters and those who burned themselves out or died due to the forced nature of the training (TPoD, Ch. 14). In addition to learning to channel, they also learn the sword under Henre Haslin (LoC, Ch. 11) and unarmed combat under Saeric (LoC, Ch. 42)
The Black Tower
- Main article: Black Tower
The Black Tower is the name give to the headquarters and training location of the Asha'man. The name derives from the White Tower, though unlike the White Tower, there is no physical Black Tower. The Aes Sedai do not like the name and refer to is as the “so called Black Tower" (TPoD, Ch. 17), though those who were captured and bonded do not (CoT, Prologue).
The Asha'man in Battle
The Asha'man are primarily used as weapons, though some, such as Damer Flinn exhibit great skill at Healing (ACoS, Ch. 36). They were first tested in battle at Dumai's Wells, where they rescued Rand from the Aes Sedai who had captured him, killing thousands of Shaido in the process. They were since used to push the Seanchan out of Illian (TPoD, Ch. 22) and later sent into Arad Doman to bring stability to the country and protect it from the Seanchan (KoD, Ch. 18). They accompanied Rodel Ituralde to Saldaea and helped him defend against the Trolloc hordes, though very few of those with him were full Asha'man. They were instructed to leave by Rodel when it became apparent they could no longer hold the city (ToM, Ch. 28).
Despite the recruitment process, which seeks out men wanting to fight for the Dragon Reborn (LoC, Ch. 11), many of the men are loyal to Taim first (CoT, Ch. 24), Toveine considers that there are three camps, those following Taim, those following Logain and those who are unaware there are any camps (CoT, Prologue). Logain himself believes that Taim cannot be trusted and has turned against Rand (CoT, Ch. 24). This is born out by the fact he placed the names of the men who Rand had with him on the traitor's tree (CoT, Prologue) and that he allowed Pevara to find men to bond, despite Rand having already secured an arrangement with the Salidar Aes Sedai (KoD, Epilogue). Within the Black Tower, there are growing tensions between the two factions and the quick rise in strength of men such as Kash and Nensen has had people switching to Taim's faction (ToM, Ch. 46)
When Logain takes men from the Black Tower to fight for Rand, he is the only full Asha'man not loyal to Taim (This passage needs a reference), though some of the men he takes are apparently quickly raised, as Deepe and two of the others with Bashere were full Asha'man (ToM, Ch. 28) as was Naeff (TGS, Ch. 1)
Some Asha'man fight against Rand. In TPoD, Ch. 29, these renegade Asha'man blow a hole through the Sun Palace. When Rand is searching for his attackers, he spots Dashiva, who fires a series of fireballs at him. Rand later tracks down Torval, Rochaid, Kisman and Gedwyn in Far Madding. Rogue male channelers were detected outside of Maradon, just before the final assault on the city (ToM, Ch. 28), though Deepe insisted they were not Asha'man. Another male channeler was involved with Graendal, bringing Trollocs through the Portal Stone to attack Perrin (ToM, Ch. 41).
The Asha'man Bond
The Asha'man have also developed their own form of the Warder bond. Initially developed by Canler and used by married Asha'man so they could know how their wives were (LoC, Ch. 27), it was later used by Logain and the men with him to contain the Aes Sedai sent to destroy the Black Tower (TPoD, Ch. 27). Surprisingly, they seem to get on well with the Aes Sedai they bonded (This passage needs a reference).
- Bonded Aes Sedai
- Main article: Aes Sedai - Warder Bonded Pairs#Bonds held by Asha'man
Fifty One Aes Sedai were bonded by fifty Asha'man, with Logain taking two
Asha'man as Warders
Several Asha'man have agreed to be bonded by Aes Sedai. These are
- Eben Hopwil - by Daigian Moseneillin
- Damer Flinn - by Corele Hovian
- Karldin Manfor - by Beldeine Nyram
- Jahar Narishma - by Merise Haindehl
Cats hate Asha'man, much like dogs hate Aes Sedai. In turn, dogs like Asha'man as cats like Aes Sedai.
Asha'man who have gone mad are put down. Taim slips a little bit of poison in their wine.
- Main article: Asha'man Character List
“An asha'man was a man who defended truth and justice and right for everyone. A guardian who would not yield even when hope was gone." The Light knew, hope would go when Tarmon Gai'don came,if not before. "That is what you are here to become. When you finish your training, you will be Asha'man." (Rand, Lord of Chaos, Chapter 42).
I have the honor to report that twenty-nine Asha'-man, ninetyseven Dedicated and three hundred twenty-two Soldiers are now enrolled at the Black Tower. There have been a handful of deserters, unfortunately, whose names have been stricken, but losses in training remain acceptable. I now have as many as fifty recruiting parties in the field at any given time, with the result that three or four men are added to the rolls almost every day. In a few months, the Black Tower will equal the White, as I said it would. In a year, Tar Valon will tremble at our numbers. I harvested that blackberry bush myself. A small bush, and thorny, but a surprising number of berries for the size. (Letter from Mazrim Taim, The Path of Daggers, Chapter 14).