Here's what to know about him.
The Wheel of Time is five episodes into its first season, but it’s still introducing essential characters to the narrative. (Considering the cast of thousands in the Wheel of Time novels, it will probably take until Season 2 to introduce all of the ones who are critical.) But the new face that arrived in the latest episode is by far one of the strangest fans will meet in the entire continent. So, who is Loial the Ogier in The Wheel Of Time, and what abilities does he possess?
Warning: Spoilers for The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 5 follow. Episode 4 ended for Rand and Mat with the two of them on the run, as Thom Merrilin battled a Fade chasing them. Considering Darkfriends of that magnitude are strong, it seemed like Rand and Mat were on their own. The two reached Tar Valon, but Mat’s illness worsened, and Rand, desperate to keep him safe, stopped at the inn Thom recommended.
While there, Rand met up with someone who will become deeply important to the series, Loial. If your first response to him was that he looks a bit like a tree-human hybrid, well, you’re not exactly wrong about that. (The Aiel word for his kind translates to “Treebrothers.”) These book-loving gentle nerds of the WoT world are connected to nature in a way that most humans are not.
Loial is one of the Ogiers, born and raised in a place known as Stedding Shangtai. A Stedding is the name of an Ogier city, the hallmarks of which are “Great Trees” (think redwoods) that surround their borders and act as a calming influence and a protective shield. The trees also emit a necessary chemical for Ogier survival. The longer an Ogier is away from the Stedding, the more sickly they become, with an illness referred to as “the Longing.” (Buildings made with Ogier abilities that include Great Trees can help for a while, but are no real substitute.)
Someone who has never seen a Trolloc or an Ogier might mistake one for the other, as Ogiers are giants and alien-looking next to humans. But unlike Trollocs, which are angry creatures who can barely grunt, Ogiers are highly educated and curious about their world. They are also pacifists, whose first love after nature is the arts. Before the Breaking of the World, Ogier architecture was world-renowned — buildings that looked like they were grown from nature and nearly-impossibly delicate stonework. They also have super long lives; about 19-20 in Ogier terms is 90 years in human ones.
As for the magic in Ogiers, some would say their building and artist skills are such, but their real magic is in their ability to sing to trees, which helps forests grow and heal after being ravaged by fires and battles. They can also sense things in the Pattern, including people who have strong forces around them, which is almost certainly why Loial is so attracted to Rand, who, as Moiraine has said, is ta’veren, a point in the Pattern which the wheel will weave events around.
With everyone else arriving in Tar Valon, it seems likely Loial is about to meet several more soon. The Wheel of Time Season 1 continues with new episodes every Friday on Amazon Prime Video.