Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Winter's Heart Read-through Post #8: Cleansing the Taint

By Linda

When Rand asked the Aelfinn how to cleanse saidin he received a riddle for an answer; a riddle that, according to Herid Fel, stated "sound principles, in both high philosophy and natural philosophy" (The Path of Daggers, Message From the M’Hael). Rand solved it and used saidin’s opposing power, saidar, as a filter and the taint and its opposing power in Shadar Logoth to annihilate each other (Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal).

Jordan explains how this was done:

Emma: Can you give some more details on how the taint was cleansed? I was sort of confused reading the book.
RJ: You don't think it's obvious? Err, let's see. You have… You're using both repulsion and attraction of opposites here. Repulsion of things that are opposite and repulsion of things that are the same. The taint upon [saidin] as versus the conduit, which is made of saidar through which the saidin passes. The saidin and saidar, as men and women, are in many ways opposite. It repels one another. It is safe to make this conduit of saidar between saidin and Shadar Logoth, because there can be no mixing. As the eh.. as [saidin] passes through, as the taint passes through, the saidar actually repels it, pushes it away from [saidin]..., alright? Now, you have a taint on... the eh Source, the male half of the Source, you have the taint on Shadar Logoth. They're not the same, yet they are. The taint on Shadar Logoth did not come from the Dark One. The taint was created by humans, who believed that they must do whatever was necessary, anything that was necessary to defeat the Shadow. And because they would accept no limits to what they would do, to what could be done, to what needed to be done, they created their own destruction. Their evil is, or was, as great as that of the Dark One, but diametrically opposite. It is an evil created for the best of intentions, created for good intentions. So it is the opposite. So, this attraction created the conduit begins to pull the taint from [saidin] to siphon it off. Remember, it's always been described it's not at mixed all through [saidin], it is like a thin skin of rancidness, think of a thin skin of rancid oil floating on a pond, and if you get through it, you've got clean water, but you can't get through it without putting your hand in that oil. You're getting it on your hand... To attract one another because they are opposites, but because even being opposite, they have gone far enough around the circle, they act to destroy one another. You see, it's not opposites along a straight line. We're actually talking opposites along a circle. Continuing the motif of the Wheel of Time, if you will. So you've got two things that are both opposites and the same. That will both attract one another and negate one another.
Do you understand better now?
Emma: Yes, thank you.

- Netherlands tour April 2001, Leiden

I think you’ll find this covered elsewhere, but here goes. The evil of Shadar Logoth and the evil of the Shadow might be considered positive and negative poles. They attract, as do the positive and negative poles of two magnets, but if they make contact, the result is more like making contact between the positive and negative poles of your car battery. Big sparks. Really big sparks.

- RJ on his blog

Rather like matter and antimatter annihilating each other.

Rand chose a hill a few miles north of Shadar Logoth so he could easily pool the taint there and yet be far enough away to escape the effects of any explosion or implosion.

While Rand concentrated on the actual taint removal, Cadsuane organised the defences. Most of the Warders were sent out into the forest to scout. Three rings of channellers plus an augmented Alivia were stationed in different directions around the hill.

Alivia went to the north where she fought Cyndane.

Demandred gated into Shadar Logoth south of the hill. Not a good idea. He moved a short distance (since he Travelled without learning the area), so he was still south of the hill, and encountered the ring of Sarene, Flinn (leading) and Corele.

I presume the other two rings (Verin (leading), Kumira and Shalon, and Daigian (leading), Eben, Nesune and Beldeine) went west and east. We don’t know which went where.

The innermost defence was Cadsuane herself with her paralis-net and a ring of Narishma with Callandor, Merise and Elza (leading) on the hill-top. Cadsuane wove a large inverted shield over the hill.

Apparently Erian mucked up and was relegated to guarding the onlookers on the hill. Jordan forgot to mention her:

Q: Was Erian Boroleos meant to disappear during the battle at Shadar Logoth or was that a mistake?
RJ: Erian Boroleos was not meant to disappear. In my notes, she is placed guarding those with Cadsuane who cannot channel and not too pleased about it (there are reasons why she was chosen out for this, which I won't go into here), and there is even a note (under CHECKS AND CORRECTIONS, a category I use to make sure that I haven't blinked at the wrong time) to make sure of mentioning her in passing. It didn't happen, for which, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I was so certain that I had done it, that I didn't find out I hadn't until the paperback came out, but a correction will be made.

- Wotmania/Dragonmount interview 2002

It was a humiliating posting for a Green, but with two Warders recently killed she might have been considered too emotionally unstable for a ring.

The circles were in the main supposed to be led by Cadsuane’s trusted Aes Sedai (Merise, Daigian, Verin). Damer Flinn led his ring because he is respected and trusted – as he should be – and moreover had both army as well as Asha’man combat experience. Or maybe Corele wanted him to lead.

Merise was supposed to lead her circle but she found the taint revolting and surrendered the lead to Elza when she asked. Elza was prepared to kill Forsaken and get into trouble with the Dark One (though she hoped not too much) to ensure that Rand reaches the Last Battle.

Each Forsaken aimed directly for the beacon from wherever they were when they felt the channelling begin. Therefore where they landed relative to the hill indicates the direction from whence they came.

Cyndane killed a bearded Darkfriend – probably a Borderlander – and Travelled south. Saldaea is where she most likely was when she felt the channelling start. It's north of Shadar Logoth and beards are popular there. Cyndane recognised that Alivia is not an Aes Sedai, but at 100 paces was not close enough to sense whether Alivia could channel.

Her comments:

Just as it reached the woman, almost close enough to singe her garments, the web of Fire unraveled. The woman did not do anything; the net simply came apart! Cyndane had never heard of a ter'angreal that would break a web, but it must be that.
Then the woman struck back at her, and she suffered her second shock. She was stronger than Cyndane had been before the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn held her! That was impossible; no woman could be stronger. She must have an angreal, too.

- Winter’s Heart, With the Chodean Kal

are ambiguous. They could be taken to mean that Alivia has an angreal as well as the weave-breaking ter’angreal (true) or that Alivia has an angreal just as Cyndane did before the Finns got hold of her. (This angreal is not the ivory bracelet that Moiraine clawed away from Cyndane when they went through the ter’angreal doorway.) The latter interpretation supports this conversation between Matt Hatch and Brandon Sanderson:

Matt: …so Lanfear, the theory goes, that maybe she was accentuated from a beauty and/or Power perspective by going to the 'Finnland previously.
Brandon: Okay.
Matt: Would the 'Finns have the ability to accentuate someone’s beauty and/or quantity or access to the One Power through their own capabilities and talents?
Brandon: Yes, but it might involve third party ter’angreal, angreal, this sort of thing.
Matt: So, they don’t have power to affect the soul’s capability of increasing its total channelling?
Brandon: Certainly not permanently; as far I understand, that is outside the realm of their ability.
Matt: From a beauty perspective can they affect the outer body of some individual?
Brandon: I would say that, yes they can, but they may have to be using some type of ter’angreal or…
Matt: …some item of Power?
Brandon: Some item of Power, something like that…of which they have great stores…

- The Gathering Storm, book tour

If Lanfear did receive such an item, it gave her an increase modest enough to be believeable as a natural strength for a woman. Perhaps it was a very weak angreal. She no longer has her item/s (and they were very likely the stars and moons jewellery and the woven silver belt that she always wore); the ‘Finns took them back because a) she violated the agreement and went through the doorway again and b) she had joined the Shadow.

Cyndane is not shielded and doesn’t have any item of the Power:

Cyndane is not under any shenanigans. What you see is what you get.

- The Gathering Storm, book tour

Alivia was able to channel more saidar than Cyndane and was very good at battling with the Power, but Cyndane knew far more about channelling, including how to reverse weaves, which is why Alivia ended up with a badly injured arm as Jordan explained:

When Alivia faced Cyndane, Alivia was by far the stronger because of her angreal, and had various tools [ter'angreal] to work with besides which she had only just been given, but Cyndane was much, much more knowledgeable about channelling. Alivia, after all, knew relatively little except how to be a weapon. That was very useful in the situation, but in this case, knowledge versus strength made it an even match.

- RJ on his blog

Demandred encountered the ring of Flinn, Sarene and Corele near Shadar Logoth. He correctly deduced that someone on the hill had a ter’angreal that could detect saidin being channelled and was using it to locate him and attack him. At this stage he cannot have spent much time around Aes Sedai or Asha’man since he did not recognise Flinn as an Asha’man, when he is one of the most noted, or know there were old Asha’man, and he did not recognise Aes Sedai as such. (This also puts paid to the theory that he disguises himself as Taim.)

Graendal was most likely to the west of the hill since she probably came from Arad Doman. She hid her ability to channel and reversed her weaves when she attacked the ring of Verin (leading), Kumira and Shalon. With her weak angreal, Graendal was stronger than the ring and Kumira was killed. Shalon expected to lead the circle since she was strongest and had worked out that the Aes Sedai ranking is by strength in saidar.

Aran’gar fought the ring of Eben, Daigian (leading), Beldeine and Nesune. Daigian might have been the most trusted Aes Sedai of the ring, but she was the weakest and least experienced in combat. Eben made the crucial discovery that Aran’gar can channel saidin and bravely attacked her physically even though it would be his death. He held onto life long enough that Daigian could drive Aran’gar away. Without him Aran’gar would not have been exposed among the rebels.

Osan’gar worked out more than most. He was an amusing mixture of fearfulness and megalomania. Interestingly Osan’gar expected Callandor to survive his balefire; therefore he thought it was made of cuendillar. Elza incinerated him and half the hill he was on with Callandor and her circle.

Moghedien did nothing but watch at a distance. Her hill was not in the south since she could see Shadar Logoth beyond the hill that Rand and co were on. She was probably further north than where Cyndane landed.

Mesaana did not attend and was punished by Shaidar Haran.

Jordan said Semirhage was there – but he also said that he didn’t show Graendal at the cleansing:

Week 15 Question:At the risk of being RAFO'd: Mesaana was punished for ignoring her orders to go to stop Rand from cleansing Saidin. Was Semirhage also punished for ignoring orders, or did she have special exemption? (If you're going to RAFO us, consider giving us some other little tidbit instead?)

Robert Jordan Answers: Semirhage was present at Shadar Logoth, though not seen. You didn't see Graendal, either, though admittedly Moghedien thought of her, thinking it would be good if she or Cyndane died. If I always tried to show everyone who was present at a battle or the like, the books would be a LOT longer than they are now. And those battles would get rather boring, a list of names. Go down the checklist and make sure everyone gets mentioned. Boring. Anyway, Mesaana was the only one who tried to sit it out. By the way, Moridin also was not present, for reasons that will become self-evident as you read on.

By the by, Rand and his companions very likely would have been killed or captured if the Forsaken were not who they are, if they had been willing to form links and coordinate their attacks. But they suffer from a combination of arrogance toward the "ignorant peasants" of the current Age and distrust of one another. Forming a link is all very well, but who leads? Which of them would be willing to give up control over their own ability and put it completely under the control of another of them? Who are you willing to let get behind your back in a fight? Moghedien? Semirhage? I didn't think so.

- TOR Question of the Week

Even Mesaana attending the Cleansing and/or Moghedien participating would have increased the chances of one of the Forsaken getting through to attack Rand.

Moridin was not there because he gets nauseous when Rand seizes saidin just as Rand gets nauseous when Moridin channels due to their link (Knife of Dreams, Within the Stone). He would not have been feeling too well with Rand channelling so much saidin for such a length of time and may have used the True Power to duck outside the Pattern for a while, as he did after watching Sammael disperse the Shaido in A Crown of Swords, Patterns Within Patterns.

Moridin ordered all the Forsaken to attend the Cleansing and even intimidated Cyndane and Moghedien through their mindtraps, but he surely knew they would never cooperate with each other. I guess he didn’t want the Dark One to think that he let saidin be cleansed without doing anything. Or he was passing along the Dark One’s orders even though he knew the others wouldn’t carry them out in the best possible way. Maybe he thought that one or more of the Forsaken would be thinned out and that this would make the rest more malleable.


Rand performed two tasks on this day that were considered impossible. He removed the taint from saidin and he destroyed the evil of Shadar Logoth (apart from the contained wound in his side and Fain and the dagger).

Rand and Nynaeve were unconscious for some time. Rand’s unchanged wound shows that what damage already done by the taint stays. Eben and Kumira were killed and Sarene, Alivia and Beldeine were badly injured. The Warders all survived but Lan’s horse was limping, so they did encounter danger. Osan’gar was killed, but we do not know if any Forsaken was injured.

The female access key crumbled and the female Choedan Kal sa’angreal melted – where it was is now a hollow hill (Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep). The female Choedan Kal and its access key disintegrated either from sieving the entire taint, or because they broke under the strain of being used by a male channeller inexperienced in channelling saidar.

Callandor is now safer to use. It still has no buffer to prevent over-drawing of the Power but at least it no longer magnifies the taint (The Path of Daggers, The Bargain). The male a’dam is less risky to use than it was because the taint no longer seeps through to the women wearing the bracelets. There is still the slowly increasing struggle for dominance between the women enslavers and the collared man though, according to Moghedien (The Shadow Rising, Into the Palace).

The tomb of Shadar Logoth is open to give the world hope. Shadar Logoth may be one of those collections of rubble that must be cleared before Rand can build which Fel referred to in his message (Lord of Chaos, Thorns).

The Time of Illusions (ordinary existence) ended for the Amayar and they committed mass suicide and murder. The illusions of the Third Age that the Forsaken were still Sealed away and that there were places of safety also ended.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Winter's Heart Read-through Post #7: About Cadsuane

By Linda

Cadsuane is one Aes Sedai who has been instrumental in getting people to serve Rand and keeping them there. Verin is another. The difference is that Cadsuane has been open about it whereas Verin has been sneaky and somewhat more unscrupulous.

Ever since she gained the shawl more than 265 years ago, all Aes Sedai except the official Aes Sedai leadership and her Ajah Head have had to defer to her and nearly all to obey her. Cadsuane has been the highest ranked Aes Sedai, with no equals. Since she had no equals in strength until very recently, all Aes Sedai are effectively on much the same level from her point of view and she rates them on their merits and treats them all with courtesy unless their stupidity or character flaws warrant discipline. Hence her consideration to very low ranked, but skilled and trustworthy Aes Sedai like Daigian and Kumira who normally have miserable lives around other Aes Sedai.

Why is Cadsuane so different? The answer to that is the same as the answer to why she survived the depredations of the Black Ajah after the Aiel Wear, when a great many sisters were killed, particularly the highest ranking and therefore the strongest. (I wonder whether some Black sisters took advantage of the chaos of those times to ‘thin out the ranks’ of those above them.) The answer is her protective ter’angreal jewellery which she did not appropriate, but had to earn:

But fifty years would have meant that Norla died in her little house in the Black Hills before Cadsuane Melaidhrin ever went to the White Tower…She could not recall the last time she had let shock reach her face. It might have been all those years ago, in the Black Hills, when she began earning the ornaments she now wore.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Ornaments

Along with learning a few harsh lessons:

And she [Nynaeve] had not been put through the lessons that what must be endured, could be endured. In truth, Cadsuane sympathized with her. Somewhat. It as a lesson not everyone could learn in the Tower. She herself, full of pride in her new shawl and her own strength, had been taught by a near toothless wilder at a farm in the heart of the Black Hills.

Winter’s Heart, The Humming Bird’s Secret

Since there are three ter’angreal in her paralis-net that have an unknown function, Norla probably died before Cadsuane finished earning them. An article on the function of Cadsuane's Ornaments I wrote for the Wotmania FAQ way back when is now released on the blog.

The ter’angreal’s protection have allowed Cadsuane to take risks other Aes Sedai dare not and to accomplish tasks unachievable by others. Without them she would not be a legend as she freely admits to herself:

That [Not earning her ter’angreal] would have altered a great deal of history. For one thing, it would have been unlikely that she would be in anything approaching her present circumstances.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Ornaments

She wouldn’t be regarded as a legend, followed by possibly as many as nearly a third of Aes Sedai. She probably wouldn’t even be alive.

Knowledgeable Aes Sedai are only aware of a rumour that she has a weave breaking ter’angreal:

I think that means you possess a ter'angreal that can disrupt flows of the Power. I've heard of such things—Cadsuane Melaidhrin supposedly had one, or so rumor said— but I've never seen the like.

- Knife of Dreams, A Cold Medallion

Due to the custom of not interfering with the activities of another sister and the lack of concrete evidence, she has not been questioned or asked to hand it over. With her paralis-net, as Semirhage called it, Cadsuane has been able to stand up to Rand and treat with him boldly, a tactic Moiraine recommended to Egwene and Aviendha.

Rand will need both of you in the days to come. You handle his temper well – though I may say your methods are unusual. He will need people who cannot be driven away or quelled by his rages, who will tell him what he must hear instead of what they think he wants to.”
“You do that, Moiraine,” Egwene told her.

- The Fires of Heaven, News Comes To Cairhien

This is exactly what Cadsuane is doing.

Cadsuane has not been the only Aes Sedai who has used corporal punishment on Rand: so have Moiraine, Elayne and Aviendha, although only Cadsuane has done so manually; the others used the Power.

After quickly testing him to assess his character, and more importantly his sanity and emotional state at their first meeting (quite reasonable in dealing with a male channeller), she realised she would have to use reverse psychology on him – as the Aiel Wise Ones are doing, though not quite so successfully:

"Most men will take what is offered, if it seems attractive and pleasant," Sorilea said. "Once, we thought of Rand al'Thor so. Unfortunately, it is too late to change the path we walk. Now, he suspects whatever is offered freely. Now, if I wanted him to accept something, I would pretend I did not want him to have it. If I wanted to stay close to him, I would pretend indifference to whether I ever saw him again." Once more, those eyes focused on Cadsuane, green augers. Not trying to see what lay inside her head. The woman knew.

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

While toughness, boldness and sternness are not regarded as the feminine ideal, Jordan portrayed these traits in Cadsuane positively. Sanderson is much more partisan.

In Crossroads of Twilight, while musing on her protective ter’angreal, Cadsuane wonders about the male Aes Sedai back in the Age of Legends:

The others [Nynaeve’s ter’angreal] were much like her own decorations, too, ter’angreal and plainly made at the same time, during the Breaking of the World, when an Aes Sedai might find many hands turned against her, most especially those of men who could channel. Strange to think that they had been called Aes Sedai, too. It would be like meeting a man called Cadsuane.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Ornaments

She, or Jordan, makes a good point. If Cadsuane were male, would ‘he’ have anything like her unpopularity with readers?

I looked around to see if any male channeller on the side of the Light behaved like Cadsuane. Logain comes closest. He’s faced down Rand, disbelieved Rand’s accomplishments, told him off for hoarding knowledge, has set up his own faction, has been bold in his bonding of Aes Sedai, was somewhat boorish with the Sea Folk in the midst of their grief for the Amayar… and nobody worries about it. Including me. But then, I don’t worry about Cadsuane either.

Cadsuane is honest about her strengths and weaknesses. She is uninterested in legalities and mundane matters, impatient with politicking and human weakness:

Cadsuane preferred to be direct, when possible. She had tripped up any number of clever people who had not believed she meant exactly what she said.

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

A refusal to accept selection as a Sitter was unheard of, yet it was said she had refused, and at least twice. It was said she had spurned being raised head of the Green Ajah, too. It was said she once vanished from the Tower for ten years because the Hall intended to raise her Amyrlin. Not that she had ever spent a day more in Tar Valon than absolutely necessary.

- A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars

Unlike other Aes Sedai, she believes the spirit of the law is more important than the letter (Winter’s Heart, Wonderful News). This has not gone unnoticed by the Wise Ones who respect that she keeps her word and works for Rand’s benefit. She is good at assessing people and bringing out the best in them as her treatment of many Aes Sedai including Samitsu, and her handling of male channellers shows. Her skills in research have made her knowledgeable and led her to develop new weaves.

Cadsuane is very competent:

But then, over two hundred and seventy years had passed since she last encountered a task she could not perform

- A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars

The unconventional doesn’t put her off at all:

While Merise had become somewhat accustomed to doing the unthinkable—most sisters would faint at the very idea of bonding a man who could channel—she was never comfortable giving them voice. Cadsuane was, yet she kept her voice neutral.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Ornaments

which is ideal in dealing with a dangerous and unique situation.

Cadsuane’s initial assessment of Rand and how to proceed was:

"If you want to see what a man is made of, push him from a direction he doesn't expect. There's good metal in that boy, I think, but he's going to be difficult." Steepling her fingers, she peered across them at the wall, musing to herself. "He has a rage in him fit to burn the world, and he holds it by a hair. Push him too far off balance .... Phaw! Al'Thor's not so hard yet as Logain Ablar or Mazrim
Taim, but a hundred times as difficult, I fear."

- A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars

And as explained above, once she realised the extreme distrust other Aes Sedai had sewn in Rand, reverse psychology was the only option left to her.

The al'Thor boy needed to be kept intrigued enough that he allowed her near him, and off-balance enough that she could nudge him where she wanted without him realizing. One way or another, anything that might interfere with that must be controlled or suppressed. Nothing could be allowed to influence him, or upset him, in the wrong way. Nothing.

- A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars

Interesting that she regarded Logain as well as Taim as hard.

According to Rand Cadsuane’s tactics of discipline alternating with disinterest were working:

The woman made him unsure of himself, uneasy in a way he had not felt since before the Stone of Tear fell.

- A Crown of Swords, A Crown of Swords

which is the effect she planned from the first.

Cadsuane was aware that free advice is rarely valued and so she made Rand work for it and grant concessions:

But I must wait for him to come to me. You see the way he runs roughshod over Alanna and the others. It will be hard enough teaching him, if he does ask. He fights guidance, he thinks he must do everything, learn everything, on his own, and if I do not make him work for it, he won't learn at all."

- Winter’s Heart, Bonds

and made a bargain with him:

"You sound . . . uneasy. I don't like to tell a man he's afraid even when he has reason to be. Uneasy over a sister you haven't turned into a tame lapdog snaring you in some fashion? Let me see. I can make you a few promises; perhaps they will set your mind at rest. I expect you to listen, of course - make me waste my breath, and you'll yelp for it - but I won't make you do what I want. I won't tolerate anyone lying to me, certainly - that's another thing you'll find decidedly uncomfortable - but I don't expect you to tell me the deepest yearnings of your heart, either. Oh, yes. Whatever I do, it will be for your own good; not mine, not the good of the White Tower, yours. Now, does that ease your fears? Pardon me. Your unease."
Wondering whether he was supposed to laugh, Rand stared at her. "Do they teach you how to do that?" he demanded. "Make a promise sound a threat, I mean."
"Oh, I see. You want rules. Most boys do, whatever they say. Very well. Let me see. I cannot abide incivility. So you will be properly civil to me, to my friends, and my guests. That includes not channeling at them, in case you haven't guessed, and holding your temper, which I understand is memorable. It also takes in your . . . companions in those black coats. A pity if I had to spank you for something one of them did. Does that suffice? I can make more, if you need them."

- The Path of Daggers, The Bargain

Rand was going to refuse, but then Cadsuane proved her worth and knowledge to him by warning him about Callandor. Min’s foresight alarmed him as well as convinced him:

Min said he needed the woman, that she would teach him something he needed to learn, but if anything, that only made him more uneasy about her.

- Winter’s Heart, Bonds

Actually Min saw that Cadsuane is going to teach all the Asha’man something that they have to learn but none of them will like learning at all (A Crown Of Swords, A Crown Of Swords).

Since not all Asha’man are emotional cripples, or are arrogant or destructive (Damer Flinn for instance) her lesson may not be of laughter and tears, or humanity, or that they are not only weapons.

It is to be noted that Cadsuane is the only Aes Sedai we know of who was involved in the capture of Taim and Logain. She knows a lot about Logain and is comfortable around him. What she teaches may have something to do with Taim - that he is not who the Asha'man, good or bad, think he is, for instance - and breaks his disguise with her ter'angreal. Cadsuane's role in revealing that Taim is not what people think may alarm the dark Asha'man as well as the good.

What has Cadsuane achieved for Rand’s good and not her own or the White Tower’s?

  • In Winter’s Heart she did get Rand to keep his bargain with Harine after some pressure. He backslid on this in The Gathering Storm making the value of his word questionable to his supporters or would-be allies.

  • When she learned that three of Rand’s Asha’man rightly feared being sentenced as deserters by Taim she suggested to her trusted Aes Sedai that they ask them to be their Warders. This is contributing to the paradigm shift regarding male channellers.

  • She got Rand released in Far Madding when the Counsels had imprisoned him and were going to sell him to the Tower.

  • She organised the defence of Rand and Nynaeve so that Rand could cleanse saidin. He otherwise would have failed.

  • She also effectively discouraged Rand, with drastic measures that showed she is not afraid of him, from using balefire at least gratuitously for quite a while. The Gathering Storm, showed the terrible price paid to use balefire.

  • She also managed to get him to treat people with consideration so he doesn’t drive them away. Since Rand’s task is to unite the world against the Shadow he needs to work cooperatively with them and get them to do the same with each other. By the Wise Ones’ accounts, they are doing this for him among the Aiel. Cadsuane was doing the same among the Aes Sedai and by force of example the nobles who were supporting Rand.

Her diagnosis of where Rand was going wrong and what she intended to do about it was:

"The boy confuses them," she said. "He needs to be strong, and makes himself harder. Too hard, already, and he will not stop until he is stopped. He has forgotten how to laugh except in bitterness; there are no tears left in him. Unless he finds laughter and tears again, the world faces disaster. He must learn that even the Dragon Reborn is flesh. If he goes to Tarmon Gai'don as he is, even his victory may be as dark as his defeat."

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

"He is turning into a stone, Verin, and if he doesn't relearn that he's human, winning the Last Battle may not be much better than losing.

- Winter’s Heart, Bonds

The Shadar Logoth effect. All her efforts along these lines came to nothing when Rand became very dark and saw not only Cadsuane, but everyone, in the worst possible light.

Cadsuane’s failures in The Gathering Storm are directly due to Rand’s psychological and moral disintegration from the corruption leaking through his bond to Moridin and from his evil acts in using balefire and the True Power. Lews Therin acted like touching the True Power was a mortal sin:

Oh, Light, Lews Therin suddenly screamed. That's impossible! We can't use it! Cast it away! That is death we hold, death and betrayal.

- The Gathering Storm The Last That Could be Done

There no way Cadsuane could have countered this.

Finally, her embroidery described in The Path of Daggers, New Alliances is of a Seal being held in a man's hand. It is framed by bands of flowers (roses, starblaze, and sunburst alternating with daisies, heartsblush and snowcap) separated by bands of nettles and long-thorned briars. Presumably the flowers are the good guys and the nasty thorny plants the Shadow.

The big deal is the cracks in the Seal and whether the man is holding it together or breaking it. Cadsuane has her own idea on that which she does not share with us, and is waiting on events to indicate whether she is right.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Winter's Heart Read-through Post #6: Mysterious Slayer

By Linda

In Winter’s Heart, Slayer attempted to kill Rand on the orders of a Forsaken, but killed two other people instead.

All Forsaken know of Slayer and he knows all of them. Darkfriends other than Forsaken beg his favours:

Few save the Chosen knew how to reach him, and none of the men among those few could channel, or would have dared trying to command him. His services were always begged, except by the Great Lord himself, and more recently by the Chosen

- Winter’s Heart, To Lose the Sun

No Darkfriend Asha’man knows how to reach him. Some of the Black Ajah probably do, since he thinks that “few save the Chosen would dare try to command him”, and surely Aes Sedai would be among those few. High up male and female Darkfriends also probably know how to reach him.

After the failed attempt he reported to the disguised Forsaken and was convinced his patron is a man. However definite evidence for his opinion is lacking and the Forsaken are adept at disguising their appearance and voices, so he could be wrong…

When Isam was an infant, his mother Breyam fled Malkier with him, but was killed by Trollocs. Isam was spared because the Shadow saw he could be useful. Yet he was not raised directly by the Shadow:

Question: Why was the infant Isam spared death at the hand of the Trollocs?

Jordan: Possible political use later. You’ve got somebody who is related to the royal family of Malkier and you can raise him exactly the way you want, you can instil whatever belief system you want. He’s a blank slate and he might be a very powerful tool.

Question: Was Isam raised by the Shadow directly, by his mother, or by someone else?

Jordan: By someone else. Read and find out.

- Robert Jordan at Dragoncon

Isam’s alter ego Luc left Andor in about 973 NE, a year before Tigraine did. Gitara Moroso probably convinced him:

that his fame lay in the Blight, or his fate. Others said it was that he would find the Dragon Reborn there, or that the Last Battle depended on him going.

- Lord of Chaos, Tellings of the Wheel

It doesn’t sound like Luc was a Darkfriend at that time. (Andor seems to have been beset by Aes Sedai with the Foretelling who try to manipulate the royal family.)

According to the Dark Prophecy, Isam met Luc in the Mountains of Dhoom and one killed the other:

Luc came to the Mountains of Dhoom.
Isam waited in the high passes.
The hunt is now begun. The Shadow's hounds now course, and kill.
One did live, and one did die, but both are.

The two souls now coexist in the one body and they hunt and kill for the Shadow and for themselves.

By both Isam’s and Luc’s thoughts, Luc is now as evil as Isam and as focussed on being the Shadow’s henchman. How did the change occur? Luc can only have been forcibly turned to the Shadow by 13 linked Dreadlords and 13 Myrddraal if he could channel. However, he could have been corrupted by psychic leakage along his link to Isam, as Rand was with Moridin after a few months. With a far longer time to take effect, and no escape, this corruption could be entirely successful. In the Two Rivers when Luc remarks to Perrin:

I know something of taking an enemy into your bosom. His blade goes in quicker when he is close.

- The Shadow Rising, The Tinker’s Sword

he may have been referring to Isam’s soul corrupting his rather than their duel.

Slayer was granted many gifts, and not necessarily only by the Dark One. One gift was the transmigration, and therefore continued life, of one soul - we don’t know which - into the body of the survivor of their duel.

Another of these gifts is the ability to shape-shift. On exiting or entering Tel’aran’rhiod, Slayer can choose whether to ‘be’ Luc or Isam:

Slayer just chooses who he will be when he steps into or out of Tel'aran'rhiod. The stepping in and out is part of the mechanism for his change. He couldn't do it in the middle of a street, say, not without the stepping in or out. Which might be a little noticeable, since he would vanish from sight for a perceptible time.

- Robert Jordan on his blog

This includes their persona, appearance and scent. Both Isam and Luc have hardly human scents, probably because they enter Tel’aran’rhiod frequently in the flesh, which results in a loss of the person’s humanity. Slayer is a shape-shifter who changes human form, while Perrin shape-shifts mentally from man to wolf. Perrin worries that he might lose his humanity when he does this. Isam/Luc presumably do not worry about losing their humanity.

Slayer’s ability to enter and leave Tel’aran’rhiod physically without making a gateway is also probably one of his gifts. What he has not been granted is immunity to poison or any weapon (Winter’s Heart, Out of Thin Air).

He has obtained knowledge of the Finns and might have entered the Tower of Ghenjei in Tel’aran’rhiod in The Shadow Rising, which is a very dangerous thing to do. Quite remarkably, the Shadow’s information on the three ta’veren was passed on to him. An example of communication in WOT!

We don’t know what other abilities or gifts Slayer has. He may have some immunity to the One Power – why else was Slayer considered able to kill Rand? Perhaps he obtained a weave breaking ter’angreal from the Finns – this would explain where he got his knowledge of the Finns and his possible ability to come and go from the Tower of Ghenjei.

Slayer’s Deeds

  • It was probably Luc, or Slayer in Luc mode since Slayer probably existed then, who killed Janduin in the Blight after the Aiel War (The Shadow Rising, He Who Comes With the Dawn).

  • Slayer killed one Grey Person in the White Tower – the Grey Woman found in Black sister Sheriam’s bed or the Grey Man who tried to kill Egwene and Nynaeve.

  • Isam killed Amico and Joiya in Tear (Winter’s Heart, Out of Thin Air). Slayer gloated over assassinating two Aes Sedai in the Stone of Tear and a Gray Man in the White Tower yet did not reminisce about killing a renegade Forsaken (Asmodean), which would be an even rarer and highly prized event, so he probably did not.

  • He brought Trollocs and Myrddraal to the Two Rivers by the Ways.

  • He brought two Grey Men to the Two Rivers to kill Fain (The Shadow Rising, Assurances and A Missing Leaf). The order to kill Fain was still current as of Winter’s Heart, Wonderful News.

  • Both Isam and Luc kill wolves in Tel’aran’rhiod.

  • Luc encouraged the Two Rivers people to stay on their farms and defy the Whitecloaks.

  • Isam shot at Nynaeve in Tel’aran’rhiod (The Shadow Rising, A Cup of Wine).

  • Luc tried to lower the morale of Perrin’s group so they didn’t hunt Trollocs, then sent Trollocs to attack the group in a different direction and greater numbers than they expected.

  • He led a group of Two Rivers men to antagonise the Whitecloaks.

  • He was furious that Taren Ferry was attacked by Trollocs and people escaped across the river to spread information about what was happening. He rightly blamed this on Fain and knew his alias of Ordeith (The Shadow Rising, The Tinker’s Sword).

  • Isam tried to kill Perrin in Tel’aran’rhiod and was shot by him in return.

  • As Luc he deliberately revealed himself eavesdropping on the three girls in Tel’aran’rhiod so that Temaile would see him (Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds).

  • Slayer was ordered by a Forsaken to kill Rand (Winter’s Heart, Out of Thin Air) and killed two other people mistakenly in the Crown of Maredo inn rooms that Rand and co left suddenly.

Slayer’s Names

Isam is a personal name meaning 'protection, security, pledge'. He is pledged to the Dark One and was given gifts to carry out assassinations. His surname Mandragoran refers to Mandragora officinarum (mandrake), the real world equivalent of forkroot (see HerbsHerbs article), a very poisonous plant which in earlier times was believed to have certain magical powers. Its forked root, seemingly resembling the human form, was thought to be in the power of dark earth spirits.

Dried mandragora roots were thought to be given to sorcerers by the Devil so that they could summon and consult the spirit in a time of need. The Forsaken can summon Slayer, who has magical abilities enabling him to be used as the Dark One’s henchman. Note that drake is another name for dragon. Forkroot can nullify the ability to channel and may hint that, as speculated above, Slayer has some immunity, or an item that grants him some immunity, to channelling. He certainly has no fear of the Forsaken and was considered able to kill Rand, who one would think sleeps with a ward around him.

Mantear has the connotations of tearing men (‘man tear’).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Winter's Heart Read-through Post #5: Dark Red Aes Sedai

By Linda

One of the impressive things about Jordan’s writing is that even quite minor characters are rounded and have character development. Teslyn is a case in point. When we first see Teslyn she is a typical hard, unfeeling, man-hating Red:

She looked a woman who wanted to skin something, and whoever was handy would do.

- A Crown of Swords, A Touch on the Cheek

The woman saw every man as a potentially rabid wolf, and there was no gainsaying her when she truly wanted something. As inexorable as Elaida, she ground down whatever lay in her path.

- A Crown of Swords, The Triumph of Logic

She cannot bear men touching her – not Domon when he tried to help her to her feet after she Healed Egeanin, nor Mat when he needed to attract her attention in the dark at the start of a battle (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box).

In Winter’s Heart, Teslyn wrote a note telling Mat to warn Elayne and Nynaeve they could be taken back to Elaida. Yet she suggested to Joline that perhaps the two of them should take Elayne, Nynaeve, Aviendha and Mat to the Tower – not a lie, just a possibility. While Joline believed she was manipulating Teslyn into waiting before doing anything that might please or help Elaida, Teslyn was manipulating Joline into holding this view more firmly. Which is why she, who is usually so discreet about Aes Sedai, and particularly Red Ajah, secrets, passed on to Joline Elaida's insult that Joline was immature and would remain that way. Teslyn seemed convinced that Joline wanted the girls despite what Joline said and drugged her with forkroot to keep her from the girls until they were safely away. And 'girls' is how Teslyn thought of them when she arrogantly spurned Nynaeve’s warning of approaching danger - and ended up collared for it. (Joline did want to take the girls to the Tower, she just wanted to wait until Elaida was deposed before she did so. Faced with the girls getting away though…)

The Seanchan efforts to tame Teslyn to the a’dam, aimed at breaking her if necessary, left her traumatised. Mat showed insight into her feelings:

Teslyn herself looked increasingly grim every time he saw her, staring fixedly straight ahead. Every time, there seemed to be more determination on her face. And something that might have been panic, too. He began to worry about her, and her impatience.

- Winter’s Heart, News In A Cloth Sack

There was a nervousness in her eyes, put there by her weeks as a damane.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Fan Of Colours

Teslyn was horrified that the Seanchan’s efforts were effective:

"When I do something that does please them, the sul'dam do give me sweets. I do find myself looking forward to those rewards." Breathy horror crept into her voice. "Not for liking of sweets, but because I have pleased the sul'dam." A single tear trickled from her eye.

- Winter’s Heart, Three Women

and was grateful and almost unbelieving that a man could show kindness or offer aid.

"You do be serious," she whispered, so low he nearly did not hear. "I did think you only did come to taunt me."

- Winter’s Heart, Three Women

She started to give a promise that if freed she would do anything that did not endanger the Tower in return, but stopped:

"If you do help me escape, I will do anything you ask of me that does not encompass treason to the White—" Her teeth snapped shut, and she sat up straight, staring right through him. Abruptly, she nodded to herself. "Help me escape, and I will do anything you ask of me," she said.

- Winter’s Heart, Three Women

We have seen Aes Sedai being physically prevented from saying things before: when the Oath against lying cuts in. Either their mouth clamps shut, as with Teslyn, or they nearly choke. I think this happened here (which means that Teslyn, despite her almost black clothing often indicative of a Black sister, is probably not a Darkfriend) and was a major realisation for her as she bitterly accepted that she would do anything to get away, even betray the Tower. It was the first time that the Tower didn’t come first for her, I think, and from here on she was portrayed much more sympathetically.

There are still flashes of hardness though; against the sul’dam, for instance, which is understandable given what she suffered at their hands:

"Let her [Bethamin] die," Teslyn said harshly. "We can keep her shielded until we can be rid of her, then she can die."

Turnabout, since it was Bethamin who decided that Teslyn should be treated harshly due to Bethamin’s fear of Aes Sedai and because she quite rightly thought from Teslyn’s cheerful demeanour that she was plotting escape (Winter’s Heart, Questions of Treason.) Bethamin intended to break Teslyn’s spirit with harsher punishments and sporadic rewards and came pretty close.

Elaida’s treatment of Teslyn, unchairing her and sending her to ‘unimportant’ (ironic!) Ebou Dar because she lost Elaida’s favour, may also have played a part in keeping her harsh. However thoughts of Elaida don’t make Teslyn lose emotional control as thoughts of being re-collared do.

After Mat freed Teslyn a second time from the a’dam Teslyn, who was weeping and trembling, kissed Mat’s hands and thanked him repeatedly (Knife of Dreams, A Short Path); Teslyn, who can’t bear men normally. (It is interesting that Mat is the only man in the whole series Teslyn has touched, and that twice.)

In turn Teslyn made Joline stop hitting Mat with indirect weaves of the Power (Knife of Dreams, A Short Path), and unlike the other two Aes Sedai she never asked even to see his ter’angreal, let alone demand he hand it over.

Mat now thinks of Teslyn as someone worth gaining the respect of, which is certainly not how he sees Joline. After he was rude to Joline:

Teslyn gave him a shocked glance, seeming disappointed…Teslyn trailed after [Joline and Edesina], regarding Mat with a curious expression. She still looked disappointed in him too. He glanced away, then felt annoyed at himself. What did he care what she thought?

- The Gathering storm, On A Broken Road

Hopefully she will not change her positive attitude to Mat.

Quite a senior and tough Aes Sedai was brought very low by the Seanchan. Formerly dominating even her equals, she now lets them have their way most of the time, as we saw in The Gathering Storm. This adds weight to Egwene’s fears and revulsion from her time as damane and prepares us for what Elaida is going to go through.

The Empress usually treats damane well, far better than do other sul’dam, but will she Elaida? Or should I say Suffa? Elaida’s new name hints not.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Winter's Heart Read-through Post #4: The Imperial Return

By Linda

And so we come to the long-anticipated arrival of the (at the time) future Empress who, while she won’t live forever will, after she channels, live for a very long time. Her entry onscreen often cues Handel’s triumphal music “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” in my mind, although Mat is definitely no Solomon!

As befits someone with large amounts of magical as well as temporal power, Tuon has parallels with quite a few powerful mythological and historical figures and these are described in the Tuon parallels essay newly released here on the Thirteenth Depository.

Some of the parallels link her closely to her consort Mat, well-matched mates for each other as they are, but others are Tuon’s own: Tuon is no mere adjunct to Mat, but an important figure in her own right. Like Mat she has strong links with deities of the sea and horses, wealth, luck and war, the last leading on to her important role as Queen of the Underworld/Dead. Independently, however Tuon has links to justice and order goddesses and mother-plenty-fertility goddesses. She is the dedicated Mother of an Empire always at war or in rebellion, and the prosperity, order and justice she brings is supported by her well-honed armies at her back. Her purpose with the Return is:

to reclaim what had been stolen from her ancestor.

- Winter’s Heart, What A Veil Hides

In other words she is Nemesis restoring proper order as she sees it and changes the Fortunes of the Westlands.

Tuon is very much the empress - be it a conquering warrior one or a caring one, but has an end of era feel about her, like Emperors Hirohito of Japan and Puyi of China, as though she is the last of the traditional type of Seanchan ruler. And like them has a strong war and corruption motif surrounding her.

How can the Empress’ sovereignty not be changed when Tuon currently has no heirs, or even family, her homeland is in anarchy, she has made an unconventional marriage and even more potentially explosive: she could learn to channel? She almost certainly will channel in these Last few Days to save somebody or something. Her predicament is mirrored in that of the sul’dam Bethamin who, knowing she could be damane, agonised over her duty to the Empire to be collared and finally channelled to ‘save’ herself from the dreaded Aes Sedai (who ironically are bound not to kill with the Power). This same threat of channelling hangs over Tuon, symbolised by her changing all her names except one upon becoming Empress and keeping the seemingly insignificant one which is an anagram of athame, a witch’s knife. Tuon has cut the Aes Sedai witches once already, and will again now that she has her long line of women to call lightning against the Tower, as Egwene dreamt (The Dragon Reborn, Questions and see Egwene’s Dreams essay). However, will the blade of ‘witchery’ cut Tuon in her turn, leaving Nemesis hoist by her own petard? Very likely. I believe she will be forced to channel and she is going to face rejection by some of her own people as a result. This is where Berelain sur Paendrag may step to the fore, whether she wants to or not. It’s one reason why Berelain has been kept prominent in the series. If the Seanchan start focussing on the Last Battle instead of dividing and distracting the westlands and enslaving women channellers, the Shadow can disunite them by revealing the sul’dam’s, and therefore Tuon’s, ability to channel. Berelain, who flies Hawkwing’s hawk standard as his descendant, may become an alternative ruler for the disaffected.

Like Berelain, Tuon uses Hawkwing’s colours of blue and gold as we see in her first scene: the carpet in Tuon’s cabin was of gold and blue and so was the cape she wore for her arrival at Ebou Dar. For Berelain these colours refer to being a ‘royal hawk’ as Artur Hawkwing was, but in Tuon the hawk has partly been displaced by the Seanchan raven, and the colours also refer to royalty on the sea – or at sea.

The Daughter of the Nine Moons wears a raven and rose motif marking her as the much-loved flower of the Seanchan Empire. The raven is a carrion eater and scavenger associated with the Dead. (It would be interesting to know when and why the Seanchan adopted a symbol used by the Shadow.) As the flower of the Seanchan ravens, Tuon has come to pick over the remains of Hawkwing’s empire. After the Last Battle, the nations – what is left of them – will resemble that empire even less, which is why I think Tuon won’t be Empress of the Westlands.

But back to her arrival: Tuon has quite an entourage as befits a goddess empress.

  • 6 damane – the best of her damane, and interestingly an Aes Sedai is one of them, so Tower training is not so bad!

  • 18 sul’dam

  • 10 maids

  • Anath, her Soef'eia

  • Selucia

  • Ronde Macura

  • Yuril, her Secretary and Hand for her Seekers

  • >500 Deathwatch Guards

  • 25 Gardeners on ship with her but 100 Gardeners all told.

  • Tuon ends Winter’s Heart rolled in a rug like Cleopatra to be taken by, rather than to, the great general Julius Caesar/Mat.

    * * * * *

    EDIT: I've decided to change the format of the read-through posts that introduce essays to include the first page of the new piece. So here is my analysis of Tuon:

    Character Parallels Tuon

    This essay will deal with the sources I think were used to create Tuon. Due to her late, though long anticipated, entry in the series, many see Tuon as no more than Mat’s wife. However Tuon also has important functions that have nothing to do with Mat.

    Each one of the couple finds the other very complex, with Mat complaining about Tuon:

    That little woman made a blacksmith’s puzzle simple.

    - Knife of Dreams, Dragons’ Eggs

    Just like Mat, Tuon has many parallels: mythological and historical references to the sea, war, wealth, horses, empires, fertility and marriage, justice, and the Underworld.


    With the Return figuring large in Imperial planning for over a hundred years (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time) and taking up considerable resources, the Seanchan Empire has become increasingly associated with the sea. Tuon’s triumphant arrival with thousands of great ships crossing a large and underexplored ocean links the heiress of Seanchan to sea goddesses.

    At one stage Tuon considered making Tar Valon her capital (Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota) but she announced publicly in her audience hall with its ceiling painted with gulls and fishers at sea, and the walls a soft blue, that it would be the maritime port of Ebou Dar, and this while wearing a pleated gown of the deepest sea blue, a white cape fluttering behind her like wave foam (The Gathering Storm, Gambits). Her fingernails were lacquered blue in this scene, instead of their previous red.


    Mazu, or Mat-su ("Mother-Ancestor"), is the East Asian goddess of the sea who protects those associated with the ocean. According to legend, she was born Lin Moniang in 960 AD as the seventh daughter of Lin Yuan of Fujian, China. The menfolk of her family earned a living by fishing. Lin Moniang started swimming relatively late at the age of 15, but soon was an excellent swimmer. She was greatly concerned about the dangers of the sea and stood on the shore wearing red clothes in all weathers to guide the fishing boats home. She was said to have saved her brothers and father from drowning at sea in a storm when she was either in a trance or dreaming. Lin Moniang also healed the sick and could predict the weather. After she died, she became a folk hero for her deeds and for trying to save those at sea, and was ultimately deified as Mazu.

    Mother-ancestor would be an excellent description of how the Seanchan regard their Empress. Red is the colour of the Seanchan Imperial family, which is why Tuon’s long fingernails are lacquered red (Knife of Dreams, Prologue) much of the time. Saidar itself is often symbolised by water in the series, and Tuon teaches damane in a much more positive and caring way than most. Having trained damane, Tuon has the potential to learn to channel, and may well be forced by events to do so – relatively late at age 20. Channellers, even those made damane, exhibit similar talents to Lin Moniang: Tuon has taught her damane Healing and has one which can tell ‘fortunes of the weather’ (The Gathering Storm, A Halo of Blackness), presumably similar to or the same as predicting the weather by Listening to the Wind. In Seanchan, people adopt new names as they change rank: Tuon took a new name when she was invested as Empress.

    In paintings Mazu is usually depicted wearing a red robe, and in sculptures she is a heavily bejewelled empress holding a ceremonial tablet or a jewel staff, and wearing the flat-topped imperial cap with hanging beads front and back. She is usually accompanied by two guardian generals known as "Thousand Miles Eye" (usually red in colour) and "With-the-Wind Ear" (usually green). They are believed to be former suitors whom she each challenged to fight her for her favours. Mazu defeated them in unarmed combat and they are now completely loyal and do her bidding.

    In Ebou Dar Tuon wore much jewellery and was interested in Mat’s ashandarei, and in Jurador, she had Mat buy her many shades of red silk which she had made into clothes. Tuon showed her skill in unarmed combat when she wrestled with Mat. The colours of the Deathwatch Guard are red and dark green. Like Mazu’s two generals, they are supposed to be loyal guardians. When hunting Tuon they likened their task to ‘catching the wind in a net’ (Crossroads of Twilight, The Tale of a Doll).


    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Winter's Heart Read-through Post #3: Sevanna the Noble Savage

    By Linda

    Many of the westlanders deride the Aiel as savages; in Sevanna we have a noble savage - although not quite in the usual sense of the term.

    From Winter’s Heart, until her capture, Sevanna wore only silk – dark grey silk skirts divided for riding, white or cream silk blouse laced very loosely and red or blue silk headscarf with or without a circlet of gems upon it – plus a crimson cloak, red boots and large quantities of looted necklaces, bracelets and finger rings. Laundering of luxury fabrics like silk is arduous and requires a lot of water, hardly acceptable to a semi-nomadic desert warrior society.

    Red symbolises blood and fire and this is echoed in Faile’s thought that Sevanna had:

    painted her name across the sky in blood and fire.

    - Winter’s Heart, Offers

    It is not a colour that Aiel wear everyday. Red fabric is expensive to produce, more so than almost all other colours, as well as conspicuous. But then that’s what Sevanna was trying to be. Sevanna’s red cloak is lined with white fur, yet the other Aiel won’t even add white to their cadin’sor for winter camouflage because it is a colour reserved for gai’shain. Neither do Aiel wear finger rings. Finger rings, especially in large quantities, reduce or limit the work capacity of the hands wearing them, which is why many people remove their rings for rough or messy work.

    Since her clothes are impractical and expensive and violate the Aiel values of work and hardiness, Sevanna was the first Aiel noble.

    Further support for this is that, contrary to Aiel custom, Sevanna intended her children to inherit her rank:

    The wetlander notion of handing down rank to your children, and their children, for instance

    - A Crown of Swords, Prologue

    and had her gai’shain – slaves, in reality – refer to her as ‘the Lady Sevanna’ (Winter’s Heart, Offers).

    These excessive numbers of gai’shain, all formerly of considerable wealth or rank, were dressed in white silk robes and elaborately jewelled gold belts and collars/torcs (Winter’s Heart, Offers) as a humiliating reminder of their fall, and, intentionally or not, as a mockery of the gai’shain and the Da’shain ideal as well as a semblance of a personal livery. Perhaps Sevanna was tempting fate wearing white fur. Under her leadership huge numbers of Shaido were made da'covale, exactly in the way the Shaido's wetlander captives were to be permanently gai'shain.

    By Winter’s Heart, Sevanna’s feet were no longer good enough for transporting her, and she took to riding a horse – although it did keep her silk skirts out of the snow. It also literally raised her above the other Aiel. Since horses are often a symbol of saidin, riding one reflects Sevanna’s intention to control and use Rand. It is impressive how consistent the layers of symbols are in the books.

    And even Faile was amazed at Sevanna’s new bathing routine:

    The water for Sevanna's morning bath—she bathed twice a day, now!—had not been hot enough…

    - Knife of Dreams, As If the World were Fog

    especially considering that they are living in a crowded camp. Bathing twice daily would be unheard of in our world in the 17th and 18th centuries (see Private Lives article). Faile, too, thinks it decadent.

    Sevanna was almost Graendal-like in her desire for servants - or rather, slaves - who were formerly of high rank (she just used different methods of coercion) and the trouble she takes over dressing:

    Sevanna gathered the rich, the powerful and the beautiful, simply taking them if they were gai'shain to someone else…once she [Sevanna] did rise, all her talk had been of what clothes and jewels she would wear, especially the jewels. Her jewelry chest had been made to hold clothing, and it was filled to the top with more gems than most queens possessed. Before putting on any garment at all, Sevanna had spent time trying on different combinations of necklaces and rings and studying herself in the gilt-framed stand-mirror.

    - Knife of Dreams, Something Strange

    By Aiel standards, Sevanna was as decadent as Graendal, too, and both wanted to enslave Rand. Sevanna thought she would be able to bind Rand with a ter'angreal from Sammael, marry him, collar him, and use him as a puppet. Graendal said she would like to make Rand one of her pets – her most prized pet, to be the centrepiece of every display (Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow). I guess this makes the austere, threatening and sadistic Therava an equivalent of Semirhage.

    Ironically, while the Aiel have been regarded as savages for many years by westlanders, they have been a strictly ordered society with strong values. However under Sevanna the Shaido became closer to living up, or maybe down, to the insult than any Aiel previously.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Winter's Heart Read-through Post #2: Schooling Their Thoughts - Wheel of Time Academies

    By Linda

    In Winter’s Heart, Rand re-visited the Academy of Cairhien after his campaign in Altara and Illian. Rand’s aim in establishing academies is to preserve knowledge in the face of the Last Battle and feared breaking of the world. There are now three academies – one each in Cairhien, Caemlyn and Tear. It is certainly a good idea to have more than one centre of knowledge to increase the chance that one academy at least will survive the Last Battle, and to provide variation in ideas. The latter reason is also why Rand has insisted that scholars of all types be given a place at them.

    The first academy since Artur Hawkwing’s time began in Lord Barthanes Damodred’s palace after Cairhien was taken. On the site of a former Ogier grove, its search for, and collection of, knowledge is probably the best possible use in Ogier eyes – short of replanting the Great Trees - of what was effectively sacred ground to the Ogier.

    Idrien is the headmistress of the school and her name is similar to that of Idris, the Islamic legendary inventor of writing and sewing and patron of craftsmen (see Parallels for Character Names starting with I now released on the blog).

    We do not yet know what inventions or improvements have been developed at the Academy of Tear.

    Elayne has taken over the Academy of Caemlyn and for a similar reason to Rand:

    So far the school consisted of only a few dozen scholars with their students, scattered about the New City in various inns, but even in winter more arrived every day, and they had begun to clamor for more space. She did not propose giving them a palace, certainly, yet they needed something. Norry was trying to husband Andor's gold, but she was looking to Andor's future. Tarmon Gai'don was coming, yet she had to believe there would be a future afterward, whether or not Rand broke the world again. Otherwise, there was no point in going on with anything, and she could not see just sitting down to wait. Even if she knew for a fact that the Last Battle would end everything, she did not think she could sit on her hands. Rand started schools in case he did end breaking the world, in the hope of saving something, but this school would be Andor's, not Rand al'Thor's. The Academy of the Rose, dedicated to the memory of Morgase Trakand.

    - Winter’s Heart, A Cup of Tea

    The Academy of Caemlyn will play an important role in developing weapons for the Last Battle. It is the natural place for Aludra and Mat to work on developing their projects. If the Murandian mechanical engineer who designed the current crank for the Band’s crossbows reached Caemlyn despite the dangerous conditions, Mat would surely be interested in meeting him and discussing his new concept of a crank with which to load the crossbow without lowering it (The Gathering Storm, Legends). This mechanic may also suggest improvements to Aludra’s dragon carts that will absorb recoil upon firing, or increase their mobility and angle of aim, perhaps by mounting each cannon on two wheels with a trail (see Mat, Fireworks and Bellfounders article) if he is shown the designs or a prototype.

    A wealthy royal patron such as Elayne can assign her city’s foundries to casting the cannon. Elayne would also have scribes or clerks, perhaps even Norry himself, who could complete the costing for the ‘feasibility study’ of the cannon that Aludra began in Knife of Dreams, Legends. Mat joked that if Rand won’t finance the dragons he might have to dice with the Queen of Andor to raise the money or resources for their manufacture, and this may well occur, since Rand spent a great deal of his wealth on food for Arad Doman:

    It was a pittance [Tellaen’s compensation] compared with the amount of money Rand was spending to fund his armies, and even that was small compared with the funds he'd dedicated to bring food to Arad Doman and other troubled areas. At this rate, his stewards worried that he would soon bankrupt his assets in Illian, Tear and Cairhien.

    - The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could Be Done

    The last minute development of substantial fire power might leave too little time for the Shadow to react to intelligence received and prevent their construction. Apparently the Pattern believes in ‘just in time’ ordinance manufacture.

    Whatever else the Academy of Cairhien produces – and since it has made telescopes it can make gun-sights or even crossbow-sights or field-glasses – it has already provided something vital: Herid Fel’s books on philosophy. In Winter’s Heart prologue Min collected many of them and has been studying them assiduously ever since for clues on winning the Last Battle. Her findings may be crucial to the Sealing of the Bore. Herid Fel was killed to prevent him making just this contribution.

    With a generous endowment by Rand (although Elayne can now afford to fund Caemlyn’s academy independently), the academies are making rapid progress. They are bringing about a renaissance in learning plus an ‘industrial’ revolution. A variety of inventions and new developments have been made besides the crossbow crank, and I have detailed them in the Inventions From Rand's Academies article now released on the blog and also compared them with their real world equivalents. Most of the inventions date from 1700 to 1860 in our world. These inventions might imply that there won’t be a One Power powered technological revolution after the Last Battle, and certainly not a total reliance on the One Power as occurred in the Age of Legends.

    Since the assassination of Herid Fel, the Shadow has apparently not seen the academies as a threat. Perhaps coming from a highly technological age, a technology based on the One Power, the new developments seem too primitive. That is, however, their strength. Anyone with understanding and fairly simple tools can make these devices for themselves, whereas once the Age of Legends society was disrupted enough for the standing flows which powered the ter’angreal to be destroyed, the populace was left with almost no technology, or tools to create and maintain it, at all since only a few percentage of people could access the Power source, i.e. channel.

    Knowledge, real and false, and its acquisition or destruction, is an import theme in the Wheel of Time series. Dominic wrote an essay on the Price and Prize of Knowledge prior to the release of The Gathering Storm.

    The destruction of knowledge is supposedly Mesaana’s favourite modus operandi, but Ishamael works more insidiously and perhaps effectively, by substituting real knowledge with false. Being a philosopher himself, it was likely he who saw the threat Fel constituted and arranged for Fel to be killed.

    Directly or indirectly, the academies will contribute greatly to the Light’s efforts at the Last Battle. They are not just academic.

    * * *

    The first page of the new article:

    Inventions From Rand's Academies

    This article describes the technology being developed by the members of Rand’s academies in order of their occurrence in the series. All these technologies have been developed before in Jordan’s world, but, in keeping with his ideas on cyclic time, they were forgotten during the Breaking or the early Third Age and are only now being rediscovered.


    This was Rand’s first academy and it is located in Barthanes Damodred’s former palace.


    During the siege of Cairhien, [Idrien] had built a huge crossbow, all levers and pulleys, that hurled a small spear a full mile hard enough to drive through a man.

    - Lord of Chaos, A Taste of Solitude
    This is a small ballista, and would be fastened to a mount. In our world ballistas were developed in Ancient Greece. Idrien may not have (re)invented the ballista in the Third Age, since in The Shadow Rising, Verin and Alanna used catapults, a related device, against the Trollocs in the Two Rivers and no one was particularly surprised.

    In general, military technology currently lags behind other technologies in the Wheel of Time world. Gunpowder is not used yet, for instance, though its military use in our world predated the invention of the printing press (which has been developed in the Third Age).

    Improvements in paper quality

    One of the academy’s inventors has developed a method to improve the quality of paper:

    An array of screens and scrapers and crocks full of linen scraps produced finer paper than anyone made now.

    - Lord of Chaos, A Taste of Solitude
    Unfortunately Jordan gives no details of this method.

    In our world paper mills were in existence in Europe by the 14th century, and the process remained largely unchanged until the late 18th century, with linen and cotton rags as the raw materials. Eventually the great demand for paper was more than the rag industry could provide, and a process was developed to make paper from wood pulp in the 18th century.


    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Winter's Heart Read-through: Post #1: Hunting Black Sisters

    By Linda

    The hunt in the White Tower for the Black Ajah is one of my favourite sub-threads. I like the Sitters' blend of personalities and skills, the by-play and cooperation. They aren't stereotypes of their Ajahs either: for instance, Pevara is far warmer and more open to others and ideas than the average Red and Saerin is a fierce, bold Brown who has fought duels.

    The hunters knowingly commit crimes and break Tower laws to find Black sisters:

    She [Seaine] had laid hands on another sister, on a Sitter, had helped bundle Talene along deserted basement hallways wrapped in flows of Air, had broken a dozen Tower laws, committed serious crimes, all to hear an answer she had been nearly certain of before the question was asked.

    - Winter’s Heart Prologue

    Some of their crimes would be abduction, using the Chair of Remorse on an initiate, coercion of sisters with the Power and appropriating ter’angreal, although we don’t know all the laws they broke.

    So far they have not been charged with any crimes or received the punishment they feared – unchairing, birching and exile. They were not hoping or expecting to get away with it; they are prepared to pray the price to rid the Tower of Darkfriends.

    Egwene is aware of the methods they used but knows the necessity, or at least the temptation, of breaking the law to catch Darkfriends. After all, she did worse herself keeping Moghedien.

    Finally in Winter’s Heart the hunters have some success though they found it rather alarming. Talene’s agony on being freed of the Oaths in particular stunned them. No non-Darkfriend has had anything like as much pain unswearing three Oaths simultaneously. For instance, in The Gathering Storm:

    Romanda took the Oath Rod, and did as instructed, releasing herself from the oaths. The process was obviously painful, but she held herself to a controlled, hissing intake of breath.

    - The Gathering Storm, Sealed To The Flame

    Perhaps it is the nature of the three Black Oaths that they are more agonising to remove.

    Having achieved something in their hunt, Seaine suddenly wonders whether they are doing what Elaida ordered or if she got it wrong:

    Had Elaida really set her to dig out the Black Ajah? She had never once actually mentioned the name. Could she have meant something else? Elaida had always jumped down the throat of anyone who even mentioned the Black. Nearly any sister would do the same yet….

    - Winter’s Heart Prologue

    This is what Elaida actually said:

    "I charge you to follow the stench of treason, no matter where it leads or how high, even to the Keeper herself. Yes, even to her. What you find, whoever it leads to, you will bring before the Amyrlin Seat alone, Seaine. No one else must know. Do you understand me?"

    - A Crown of Swords, Sealed To The Flame

    What Elaida was aiming for was for Alviarin to be charged with treason:

    She had not spoken to Seaine, in case someone might see and tell Alviarin when she returned, but Seaine was certainly working away as instructed, following the path of treason that surely would lead to Alviarin Freidhen.

    - The Path of Daggers, An Unwelcome Return

    As Seaine noted, Elaida has never considered the possibility of the Black Ajah existing, not even after she was blackmailed by Alviarin. So Seaine’s interpretation of Elaida’s orders was indeed wrong:

    "She [Elaida] was very circumspect, but after a little thought, it was clear to me what she wanted. I am to hunt out..." At the last, courage failed her tongue. "... Darkfriends in the Tower."

    - The Path of Daggers, An Unwelcome Return

    Seaine was so frightened at the thought of hunting Darkfriends that she broke the law on keeping information Sealed to the Flame secret. This is actually treasonous under Tower law (A Crown of Swords, A Morning of Victory and A Crown of Swords, Sealed to the Flame) so the person Elaida charged with exposing treason in the Tower immediately committed it herself!

    Seaine surely needed Pevara’s courage and focus for her search. Pevara was the least put out by Talene’s confession and was not as appalled as Seaine was:

    The Black Ajah really did exist. She [Seaine] was staring at a Black sister, a Darkfriend who wore the shawl. And believing turned out to be a pale shadow of confronting. Only her jaw clenched near to cramping kept her teeth from chattering. She struggled to compose herself, to think rationally. But nightmares were awake and walking the Tower.

    Someone exhaled heavily, and Seaine realized she was not the only one who found her world turned upside down.

    - Winter’s Heart Prologue

    But then Pevara had faced up to the existence of the Black Ajah years earlier, the Reds being heavily involved in the ‘vileness’ right after the Aiel War and its aftermath. Which goes to show that if you refuse to think about something it can assume too great a power in your mind.

    The world turned upside down motif will become stronger as we get closer to Tarmon Gai’don. It is part of the Shadow’s plan to weaken the world with anarchy and chaos. Poor Herid Fel’s insight that belief and order give strength was by itself enough to sign his death warrant, never mind his other useful deductions.

    Talene made a faulty deduction about Elaida’s relation to the Black Ajah:

    “Elaida is Black Ajah!...she must be. They know every report she receives, even the secret ones, every word spoken to her. They know every decision she makes before it’s announced. Days before; sometimes weeks. How else, unless she tells them?”

    - Winter’s Heart Prologue

    It is the reverse that has been happening: the Black Ajah are telling Elaida what to say. This is something that few Aes Sedai, even Black sisters, would ever imagine.

    The five hunters could not get far in their quest without the Hall’s knowledge or cooperation. They were only exposing and binding one Black sister at a time, and as it turned out, there were too many Black sisters – well over 60 in the White Tower at the time - for that method to work. They couldn’t know that of course. Verin was the crucial factor. Egwene had the advantage of Verin’s list of names and from this was encouraged to trust her Hall. She was thus able to strike quickly and extensively – and still many got away.

    While ultimately and disappointingly the Black Ajah hunters got nowhere, they did achieve some good – they were five Sitters of different Ajahs working together and they showed Egwene how to use the Oath Rod to expose Darkfriends.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Wheel Of Time Embroidery Collection #3 - Rand's Coat Sleeve Embroidery 2

    By Linda

    This is the second of two posts on my embroideries of Rand’s coats. The previous post on Rand’s black and silver coat is here.

    Nearly all of Rand’s coats are embroidered in gold thread, thin strips or wires of actual gold metal wound around a silk thread, to reflect his royal status. The gold thread is sewn onto the right side of the fabric with silk thread because it would damage the fabric if drawn in and out of it. Also, the thread was so valuable that the embroiderer aimed to have as much of it as possible on the right side of the fabric.

    Moiraine had a number of coats made for Rand in Fal Dara and pretty much foisted them upon him. Lan instructed Rand to wear one of them to his meeting with the Amyrlin in Fal Dara and chose this one (see photo right):

    Tangled, long-thorned briars climbed each red sleeve in a thick, gold embroidered line, and ran around each cuff. Golden herons stood on the collars, which were edged with gold.

    - The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

    The briars are of two strands of thick gold thread sewn down with gold coloured silk thread onto red silk fabric.

    Perhaps Lan thought the coat appropriate because the briars with their long thorns were a warning that Rand is no pushover. Lan was concerned that Rand not seem easy meat to the Amyrlin and those with her:

    "I am on your side, sheepherder. A little. Enough to help you a bit." The Warder's face was stone, and sympathetic words sounded strange in that rough voice. "What training you've had, I gave you, and I'll not have you groveling and sniveling. The Wheel weaves us all into the Pattern as it wills. You have less freedom about it than most, but by the Light, you can still face it on your feet. You remember who the Amyrlin Seat is, sheepherder, and you show her proper respect, but you do what I tell you, and you look her in the eye."

    - The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

    He thought the red colour right, too. Lan may have been thinking of the red eagle of Manetheren, which was a thorn to the Dark One's foot, because he gave Rand a pin with the Manetheren symbol on it to wear with the coat, but it has other associations too. With its thorny stems, the red coat may have reminded Siuan of her troubles with the Red Ajah, and of the threat the Red Ajah, and Elaida in particular, would be to Rand. Red and gold are two of the Dragon's colours: red symbolising Rand's anger and 'soul of fire', and the blood he has to spill, and gold his royal heritage and his role as the Lord of the Morning and Prince of the Dawn and as champion of the Light of the World, the Creator. And, of course, the colours are eye-catching and impressive.

    Rand’s coat probably had two herons, one on each side of the collar (see photo of heron, left), since at that time Moiraine was trying to consciously fulfill the prophecy of:

    “Twice and twice shall he be marked, twice to live, and twice to die,
    Once the heron to set his path. Twice the heron, to name him true.

    - The Great Hunt, Discord

    Thom pointed this out to Rand in Cairhien (The Great Hunt, Discord). Moiraine needn’t have bothered; Rand's body received the prophesied markings soon enough.

    I sewed the heron’s body in very thin silk thread wrapped with gold strip sewn down onto red silk fabric. The wings, tail and eye of the heron are coils of gold wire sewn down with gold silk thread.

    The dragon’s colours being red, gold and white, it is perhaps not surprising that the second coat I illustrated, the one Rand wore in Tear when he hurled Callandor into the Stone, is also red embroidered with gold:

    Rand strode down that corridor, looking straight ahead, imperious in a red coat embroidered with golden scrolls up his sleeves, cradling Callandor in his right arm like a scepter.

    - The Shadow Rising, Into the Heart

    The scrolls of Rand's sleeve panel shown right are thin gold (synthetic in this case) braid sewn onto red silk with gold-coloured silk thread. There is just the single line of embroidery along the sleeve, and none outlining the cuffs.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    New Article Released: Lord of the Rings parallels

    By Linda

    Today I am republishing an article from the old Wotmania FAQ on the parallels between The Wheel of Time and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I didn’t write it, although I did make the odd contribution, along with many other readers.

    As Jordan said on his blog:

    I did try to make the first roughly 100 pages of EYE seem somewhat Tolkienesque. I wanted to say, "This is the place you know, guys. Now we're going somewhere else." And then the Trolloc kicked in the farmhouse door.

    He deliberately used The Lord of the Rings as a familiar starting point, since at the time The Wheel of Time was begun, the 1980s, Lord of the Rings was the series against which all other fantasy books were measured. He then gradually diverged into his own world and themes still adding a reference to Tolkien’s books from time to time.

    It may have been this Tolkienesque beginning that was the origin of the New York Times review blurb

    With The Wheel of Time, Jordan has come to dominate the world Tolkien began to reveal.

    on the back cover of many Wheel of Time volumes.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    New Article Released: Private Lives of the 17th to 18th Centuries

    By Linda

    The many domestic scenes Jordan included in the books add realism, while often making a point. The laundry scenes, for instance, show the hard labour of the novices, or the humiliation of queens, princesses and Forsaken. Elayne’s obstetric care is a mix of 20th century attitudes grafted onto 18th century practice. These are perhaps better appreciated with some background on what living conditions were like in the west in the 17th to 18th centuries. In the Private Lives of the 17th and 18th Centuries article, now re-published on the blog, I compare descriptions of underclothing, personal care, laundry, vermin, sanitation and childbirth in the Wheel of Time series with those of the equivalent time period in the real world.

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    New article Released: Names of the Shadow

    By Linda

    An article on the allusions underlying the names of all the characters allied to the Shadow, Names of the Shadow, is now published on the Thirteenth Depository. It dovetails in with the regular Character Names articles series (where I am up to the letter I). The Forsaken's names, with their references to demons, devils, monsters, and gods, are there of course, plus their various aliases, which are usually more innocuous, but hint at knowledge that genuine Third Agers would not know.

    I've also looked at the names of the Shadowspawn including the Trolloc clans.

    The names of the Black Ajah and Ashaman and Darkfriends are sometimes merely derived from surnames or place names, but some, such as Ryne Venamar (venom + mar) refer to the evil they cause.

    My favourites? Moridin, M'Hael, Maisia and Jaichim Carridin, I guess.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    JordanCon 2010 now only a few weeks away!

    By Linda

    JordanCon, the Wheel of Time convention, will be held in Atlanta Georgia at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia hotel from April 23 to 25 2010. It’s coming up breathtakingly fast. Pre-registration closes in 30 days time!

    Jennifer Liang, the JordanCon Chair, and her team have organised a wonderful list of guests, including Brandon Sanderson, Harriet McDougal, Jana G. Oliver, author of the Time Rovers series, David Wong, author of John Dies at the End, Maria Simmons and Alan Romanczuk of Team Jordan, Jason Denzel, webmaster of Dragonmount, and Matt Hatch, webmaster of Theoryland.

    There will be heaps of discussion of course, plus panels, the Seanchan Homecoming Ball, a charity silent auction and poker game, a Writer’s Track, costuming and gaming. It will be really great! Visit to pre-register or for more details.

    I plan on attending and have booked plane tickets and a room. I’ve still got a few things to organise, like my costume for the Ball. I finally obtained the fabric I wanted this afternoon. Old Salt, who has also written articles and a theory for the Thirteenth Depository, is also going.

    I hope to see you there!