As we continue with Magical Mount Month, I’d like to take some time to talk about the most ‘mundane’ of horses in my favorite book series, the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and completed by Brandon Sanderson). I’m talking about none other than Bela. (Note: there are spoilers for the series in this post.)
The readers meet Bela at the beginning of the main story. She is a patient, gentle shaggy brown mare owned by the al’Thor family, who pulls their cart full of ale to town for an upcoming celebration. Next, she helps Rand flee Rand al’Thor (the story’s protagonist) flee attackers from his farm.
The first time we see that Bela is more than just an ordinary horse is when Rand, Egwene, Mat and Perrin fled the Two Rivers with Moiraine and Lan. The group is chased by horrifying bands of Trollocs.
Bela, the calm, shaggy brown mare keeps up with Lan and Moiraine’s horses, and with the large fierce horses bought for Rand, Mat and Perrin.
Moiraine explains to Rand:
You were right about Bela, Rand. She has a good heart, and as much stubbornness as the rest of you Two Rivers Folk. Strange as it seems, she may be the least weary of all.
It’s understood that Rand is using his unknown ability to Channel the One Power to Heal Bela to help her keep up. But it is equally thought that Bela could be just so much of a bad-ass that she, a shaggy brown cart horse, can keep up with the majestic and ferocious warhorse Mandarb and Moiraine’s regal Aldieb.
While I do believe that Rand’s channeling helped Bela escape the Trollocs, there is one instance of her survival in just Eye of the World where Rand wasn’t present to help. Bela survives crossing a ferocious river where Perrin’s own horse did not.
Throughout the rest of the series, Bela is seen in just about every other book. She takes up residence at Tar Valon, the home of the Aes Sedai (Which to those who haven’t yet read the series is something like an order of Jedi Witches.)
When there is a coup in the White Tower (home of the Aes Sedai), the former leader escapes on Bela (because Bela is seen as a ‘gentle horse’). She goes through some of the scariest and most dangerous places in the world, including multiple war zones. Wherever she is, Bela seems to be on the “right” side of the story.
Ultimately, she gives her life in protection of one of the youngest human heroes of the series as he did the Thing that made him a Hero. Unlike many of the other horses in the Wheel of Time, Bela survives many of the wildest odds.
Several of the characters have horses that remain with them throughout significant portions of the books: Perrin and his wife have Stepper and Stayer, Matt has Pips. But generally, the horses don’t have very long lifespans or memorability in the book series. See the Wheel of Time Wikia entry on Horses to see an extensive list of named horses in the series.
Interesting Fan Theories about Bela
Bela is the Dark One
Bela is the Creator
Bela killed Asmodean (this character had a mysterious death midway through the series that left many fans stumped for years)
Bela is a Darkfriend
Bela Romanced Narg the Trolloc (Narg is the only named Trolloc in the series)
Bela Killed Narg the Trolloc
Bela is ta’veren (pronounced: tah-VEER-ehn), a person (or in this case, a creature) around whom the WHeel of Time specifically weaves the Pattern with all surrounding life-threads.
Bela is a Hero of the Horn (Legendary Heroes that are born and reborn with the cycles of the Wheel of Time).
Whatever Bela is, she is truly one horse that survives insurmountable odds, going to places where even some of the Heroes don’t get to go. She (or her likeness, in the case of a Dream World Bela) are around throughout most of the series. She may just be a shaggy brown mare. Personally, I think Bela is the equine manifestation of the One Power-she pulls the Cart of the Wheel of Time.