|Matrim "Mat" Cauthon is one of the main characters of The Wheel of Time fantasy series by Robert Jordan. Many of his changes through the story reflect a strong connection to the Norse god Loki - the Trickster. Mat is actually being referred to as the Trickster in the second book of the series, The Great Hunt.|
Mat has a wiry body, brown hair and brown eyes. He is about 5'11" or 6' and about 180 pounds (as described by Robert Jordan). After the events of The Shadow Rising, Mat has a prominent scar around his neck which he conceals with a scarf.
Mat is known to be a troublemaker; whenever he and childhood friends Rand al'Thor and Perrin Aybara were caught out of line, Mat was frequently the impetus behind it (and his sisters Bodewhin and Eldrin frequently the ones snitching on him). He is fond of drinking, gambling and the fairer sex, though he can handle people in authority with the same easy charm. From his upbringing in the Two Rivers he acquired a farmer's outlook on life, and skill with a quarterstaff; from his father, Abell Cauthon, he inhereited a keen eye for horseflesh. He has a talent for separating fools from their money and an interest in affluence and fine living, though he has very little patience with the aristocracy and (like Perrin) continually refutes those who would call him a lord. Finally, despite his flippant ways, Mat is a person of honor; when he gives his word, he keeps it.Youth
Mat, like Rand and Perrin, was led away from the Two Rivers on Winternight by Moiraine Damodred, and it was revealed that all three were ta'veren, the focal points around which the Wheel of Time weaves. Mat was the first of the three to show any sign of his ta'veren-ness: during a battle with pursuing Trollocs, Mat gave the war cry of Manetheren in the Old Tongue, with no understanding of what he had said. Mat has throughout the series been known to unconsciously slip into the Old Tongue. On the journey away from the Two Rivers, the party stopped in Shadar Logoth to lose the Trollocs chasing them. Against Moiraine's advice, Mat took Perrin and Rand to explore the city. While exploring, they met a man calling himself Mordeth, claiming to be a treasure hunter in need of help to carry a large amount of treasure. Heedless of the danger, Mat followed Mordeth immediately, and Perrin and Rand, unwilling to leave him behind, were forced to follow after. After he lead them to a room full of various treasures, Rand realised that Mordeth lacked a shadow. Upon announcing this, Mordeth quickly reverted to his true form and vanished through a wall. Unnoticed by Perrin or Rand, Mat had picked up a dagger that he carried with him on the flight from Shadar Logoth. The dagger made Mat increasingly sick, as well as inflaming his paranoia and hostility.Tainted
Later, in Fal Dara, Padan Fain stole the Horn of Valere and Mat's dagger, having become tainted by Shadar Logoth's evil himself. Mat needed the dagger to rid himself of its taint, but also to survive until the Aes Sedai could cure him. He journeyed with Rand, Perrin, Verin, Loial, and Ingtar to Falme. On his journey, he discovered that Rand was the Dragon Reborn, and felt estranged from his old friend. In Falme, about to be overrun by the Seanchan, he blew the Horn of Valere, summoning Heroes from beyond the grave to fight for him. He is now bound to the Horn; it will work for no other as long as he is alive. He is destined to blow the Horn at Tarmon Gai'don. He journeyed to Tar Valon with Verin, Nynaeve al'Meara, Egwene al'Vere, and Elayne Trakand. When he reached the White Tower he was almost dead from the dagger's taint, but the Aes Sedai broke the bond between him and the dagger, though Mat almost died in the Healing. When he awoke, he found that he had many holes in his memory.Death and Rebirth
He left Tar Valon soon after his healing and went with Thom Merrilin to Caemlyn, where he happened to overhear Rahvin, disguised as Lord Gaebril, plotting to kill Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve in Tear. He and Thom left for Tear, aided Rand in taking the Stone of Tear, and saved the three women from the Black Ajah. After Rand had secured Tear, Mat, wandering through the Stone's collection of angreal and ter'angreal, went through a freestanding red stone doorway, which took him to the land of the Aelfinn, snakelike creatures who would answer him three questions. They prophesied he would: a) die and live once more as a part of what once was, b) marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons, and c) give up half the light of the world to save the world. A bit unnerved, he followed Rand to Rhuidean along with Egwene, Moiraine, and Lan.
In the valley of Rhuidean, while Rand discovered his Aiel heritage, Mat found another redstone doorway, which brought him to the land of the Eelfinn, who resemble foxes. He was expecting to get more answers, so when the Eelfinn offered him wishes instead, he rather squandered them: he wished to a) have the holes in his memories filled, b) be free from Aes Sedai channeling, and c) to be returned to Rhuidean. Mat now has the memories of countless historical military leaders and is thus privy to over a thousand years of cultural and military knowledge; he has a foxhead medallion that causes flows of the One Power to simply dissolve when applied to him; and Mat was found by Rand hanging by the neck in Rhuidean, suspended from a black-hafted spear set across two of Avendesora's branches. Rand managed to revive Mat, though to this day he bears the scar round his neck; he also decided to keep the spear, actually a naginata-like weapon called an ashandarei in the Old Tongue, and it has been his signature weapon ever since.Quandaries
Mat's hanging has caused fans to question whether the first Aelfinn prophecy (that he would die and live once more as a part of what once was) has yet come to pass. Though his historical memories could be considered "living as a part of what once was," fans are not sure if mere clinical death counts as having died—especially since author Robert Jordan insists that Mat was still alive, if barely, when Rand found him. Mat also died during the attack on Caemlyn in The Fires of Heaven, struck down by Rahvin's channeling, but he was restored to life when Rand retconned Rahvin's actions with balefire. Mat's death (or lack thereof) bears particularly on his status as Hornsounder: if either of these deaths count, the Horn of Valere is no longer linked to him, and can be blown in its hero-summoning capacity by anyone. The final book in the series, A Memory of Light, should resolve this; though Robert Jordan died in 2007, he dictated enough of the story to his estate that they should be able to finish it as he intended. The book, to be completed by Brandon Sanderson, is expected some time in 2009.
Mat's memories also raise questions as to the nature of reincarnation through the Wheel; Mat remembers dying, "more times than he could count" (The Fires of Heaven), due to his memories being from many individual lives of adventurers that went to the Aelfinn and Eelfinn, whether through the doorways or the Tower of Ghenjei (Tor Q&A), or perhaps his own previous lives (the books make many references to people being "spun into the pattern" many times, such as Birgitte Silverbow or, obviously, the Dragon Reborn).General: the Band of the Red Hand
Despite a substantial aversion to fighting, Mat's re-filled memories make him a consummate strategist and tactician; he remembers battles and strategies that have been lost for centuries. He can also hold his own in a fight, receiving praise even from the Aiel. He is also extremely lucky at random chance: at games like dice or cards, he wins almost all of the time, and were he to walk into a building randomly while on a quest for information, he usually stumbles across that which he is looking for. While Rand and Perrin also display the ta'veren's ability to bend chance, they usually create as many unlikely tragedies as they do miracles; Mat is the only one of three to consistently spread good luck. Starting from Lord of Chaos, Mat hears dice rattling in his head when he is about to make a critical choice; when he has made it, the dice stop. More often than not, Mat (and, by extension, the reader) never knows what the important choice is, at least until the dice stop; for instance, once the rattling ceased when a building fell on him. (He did survive, which could have been the question the dice were answering.)
His incredible knowledge and luck have combined to make him one of the finest generals in the land. Just before the Battle of Cairhien against the Shaido, Mat attempted to leave Rand's company permanently, but upon seeing a band of soldiers about to drift into an ambush, he stopped to assist them. From there, luck, chance and (to his disgust) a sense of responsibility brought him from the fringes of the battle to its center, where he personally slew Couladin, the Shaido leader, and helped bring victory to the Dragon Reborn. He also gained the allegiance of a multinational coalition of soldiers who would follow him into the Pit of Doom if he led them. This new army, Shen an Calhar, the Band of the Red Hand, is personally loyal to Mat, believing that, under his leadership, they cannot be beaten. In Mat's absence (see below), Shen an Calhar has been doubled in size by his trusted general Talmanes, currently numbering around 30,000 men.Daughter of the Nine Moons
Mat traveled to Ebou Dar with Elayne, Nynaeve and Aviendha. There, the consummate ladies' man had the tables turned on him by Queen Tylin Mitsobar, who began to pursue him in earnest—and succeeded in catching him, for that matter, despite his attempts to make his disinterest known. Despite the awkwardness of his status as (temporary) queen-consort, his confession of the matter to Elayne did manage to smooth over some of the more frosty contretemps that had gone on between them previously. He was then responsible for saving her from an attack by a gholam, deepening the gratitude between them.
Though Mat was unable to flee Ebou Dar before Seanchan conquered it, he was able to sneak out after, along with Thom, Egeanin, Bayle Domon and several Seanchan prisoners. During his escape, the Seanchan High Lady Tuon attempted to stop him. Upon restraining her, he found out that Tuon was, in fact, the Daughter of the Nine Moons, the woman he is fated to marry. After learning this he decides to kidnap Tuon and take her with them. Mat and his coterie escape Seanchan territory by means of Valan Luca's Travelling Menagerie, and during their journey Mat begins to court Tuon in earnest, seeming to finally accept his fate. Her responses are never less than opaque, though, and when they finally do complete the marriage ceremony in Knife of Dreams, just before her return to Ebou Dar to reassert control over the Seanchan, it is entirely for political reasons, though Tuon expresses interest in the idea of affection growing between them. As the prince-consort of the heir to the Crystal Throne of Seanchan, Mat is now known amongst the Seanchan as the Prince of the Ravens.Importance
Rand may be the central character of the story, but Mat and Perrin are only slightly less important; they are critical parts of Rand's battle against the Shadow, integral to his success at Tarmon Gai'don, and each in his own way is just as dangerous as the Dragon Reborn despite being unable to channel. For this reason, it should not be surprising that the books have begun to follow Mat's and Perrin's adventures independently of Rand's; by the time of Winter's Heart, the three ta'veren all run their own major plotlines and campaigns.
Mat, like Rand, has changed enormously over the course of the story. Originally the quintessential charming rogue, he has found himself in situations of more and more responsibility, most notably during the formation of the Band of the Red Hand. He has discovered what Rand and Perrin already know: that the three of them must lead, and that the Wheel will push them into positions of authority no matter what they themselves want. He is now more comfortable with responsibility, and although initially irritated by her, Mat marries Tuon at the conclusion of Knife of Dreams, making him what he always professed to despise—a nobleman. The events during Knife of Dreams also confirm what many readers had speculated from previous novels: that Mat would be crucial to the introduction of firearms to the world of The Wheel of Time via gunpowder used in the making of fireworks; he has already used explosives to breach the Stone of Tear.Beyond Tarmon Gai'don
The author said he intended to write some 'outrigger novels', one concerning Mat and Tuon. This statement suggested that both characters will survive Tarmon Gai'don. However, these 'outrigger novels' will likely never be published due to the author's death.Matt's Favorite Quotes:
- "Blood and bloody ashes." Almost every book.
- "Never dance with a girl whose brothers have knife scars."
- "One pretty woman means fun at the dance. Two pretty women mean trouble in the house. Three pretty women mean run for the hills."
- "Taking responsibility takes all the joy out of life, and drains a man to dust."
- "Always leave a way out, unless you really want to find out how hard a man can fight when he’s nothing to lose."
- "No wine for me. Strange enough things happen when my head is clear. I want to know the difference."
- "What's life like if you don't take a chance now and then?"
- "Luck is a horse to ride like any other."
- "Dovie'andi se tovya sagain" Old Tongue, "Time to toss the dice." From The Fires of Heaven.
- "Carai an Caldazar! Carai an Ellisande! Al Ellisande!" "For the honor of the Red Eagle!. For the honor of the Rose of the Sun!. The Rose of the Sun!". From The Eye of the World