Jan 7 2011 1:54pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Crossroads of Twilight, Part 12

Crossroads of Twilight by Robert JordanWelcome to two thousand eleventy, Wheel of Timers! Shall we a tad belatedly ring in the new year with a Wheel of Time Re-read? Why, I think we shall!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 16 and 17 of Crossroads of Twilight, in which we are in a maze of twisty political passages, all alike.

Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general, including the newest release, Towers of Midnight.

This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels, up to and including Book 13, Towers of Midnight. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

Chapter 16: The Subject of Negotiations

What Happens
Egwene sits her horse with Gareth Bryne on the bank of the River Erinin and gazes at Tar Valon, realizing for the first time that she thinks of the Tower as home. She contemplates the massive iron chain blocking the mouth of Northharbor, and the small fleet of riverships scurrying toward that harbor as fast as they can go. Egwene knows she could destroy the ships with ease using the Power, but cannot as long as there is even the possibility that the men aboard could die as a result.

Even one death would make what she did using the Power as a weapon. She was trying to live as though already bound by the Three Oaths, and the Oaths protected those vessels from her or any other sister. A sister who had sworn on the Oath Rod would not be able to make herself set those weaves, perhaps not even to form them, unless she could convince herself she was in immediate danger from the ships. But neither captains nor crews believed that, apparently.

Gareth points out how many Guard recruits are arriving on these ships, and comments that Jimar Chubain, the Captain of the Tower Guard, is too smart not to find out if Bryne inserts spies among them. He argues again that she only makes it worse by delaying, and urges her to allow him to make an assault on the city via gateways. Egwene refuses, saying that once it comes to sister killing sister, the Tower will die, and hope along with it.

Gareth shook his head with a quick grimace. But then, he never gave up, did he? “You have to keep the White Tower alive, Mother, but my job is to give it to you. Unless things have changed that I don’t know about. I can see sisters whispering and looking over their shoulders even if I don’t know what it means. If you still want the Tower, it will come to an assault, better soon than late.”

Egwene and Bryne ride back to where Sheriam, Nisao, Morvrin, Beonin, Myrelle, Anaiya, and Carlinya are waiting with their Warders; Egwene had had them arrange to be chosen as the “council of advisors” (i.e. spies) the Hall had wanted her to have. Then she sees that Delana has joined them; she says she has something important to tell Egwene, in private. Egwene reflects that Delana’s support of her in the Hall has been as often deleterious as beneficial to her goals, but she agrees, telling the others to ride back out of earshot. Delana then comments, to Egwene’s astonishment, that some people think Egwene has bonded Bryne as her Warder, and speculates on whether that would upset Siuan. Egwene answers curtly that she has bonded no one. Delana goes on to warn her that her “council” were set on her to spy and/or manipulate her either by the Hall or the Ajah Heads; she also insinuates that Sheriam was the one behind the War Vote plan, and Egwene marvels that people still won’t believe she isn’t someone’s puppet. She thanks Delana for the warning. Delana then suggests that she might want to inquire what the Hall thinks of negotiations with Elaida. Egwene asks why.

“Because the subject has come up in the Hall in the last few days. Not as a proposal, but it has been mentioned, very quietly, by Varilin, and by Takima, and also by Magla. And Faiselle and Saroiya have appeared interested in what they have had to say.”

Egwene is extremely concerned by this, because these five were under Romanda and Lelaine’s thumbs, and the one thing Romanda and Lelaine fervently agreed on was the necessity of unseating Elaida—even to the point of being relatively unconcerned with the impossible “eruption” of Power that had occurred five days earlier. Egwene calls over her council; except for Beonin, they are all incredulous at the notion of negotiations with Elaida, and opine that Takima et al are off their heads for even suggesting it. Egwene notes that Delana is pleased by their reactions, and suggests to Egwene that she move to crush the notion in the Hall, promising her support. Beonin interrupts to ask Delana angrily why negotiations are so out of the question.

“We are Gray, you and I. We negotiate, mediate. Elaida, she has stated the conditions most onerous, but that is often the case in the beginning of negotiations. We can reunite the White Tower and assure the safety of everyone, if we only talk.”

“We also judge,” Delana snapped, “and Elaida has been judged.” That was not precisely true, but she seemed more startled than anyone else by Beonin’s outburst. Her voice dripped acid. “Perhaps you are willing to negotiate yourself into being birched. I am not, and I think you will find few others who are, either.”

Beonin continues to argue for it, and Egwene grants her permission to open talks with the Tower. Everyone else dissents loudly, and Delana looks terrified; Egwene cuts them all off to clarify that the only terms she will accept is of Elaida resigning and going into exile, although to herself she thinks that she would have surrendered to Elaida herself if she’d thought it would work. Beonin swoons, and the rest stare at her in shock; Egwene calmly tells them it’s time to go back to camp.

What had to be done had to be done. Perhaps surrender would have healed the Tower, but she could not believe it. And now it might come down to Aes Sedai facing one another in the streets of Tar Valon, unless she could find a way to make her plan succeed. “We have work to do,” she said, gathering her reins, “and there isn’t much time left.” She prayed there was enough.

I suppose I could quibble about the realistic…ness of Egwene thinking of the Tower as home when I think all told she’s spent a grand total of like four months actually inside the place, but that’s being overly pedantic, I think. First of all, it does happen that you figure out whether you think of a place as “home” pretty quick, sometimes. Not to mention that, as Egwene also thinks to herself later on, “the Tower” is much more than just a big white building, and in that sense she’s been immersed in it nonstop for the last year and a half (or wherever we are timewise). So, not really that farfetched, I think.

I don’t know jack about shipping or harbors or the policing thereof, but I remember I really blinked at the notion that a chain, no matter how massive, could be an effective gating mechanism for an entire harbor mouth. Certainly I don’t think it would be particularly effective in our own day and age, but then I totally grant that a wooden ship versus a giant iron chain would probably not come out on top, so to speak. So, okay, but it’s still weird-sounding to me.

Oaths: Egh. The problem with the Oaths is the same as with time travel: if you sit down and think about it long enough you can come up with a dozen reasons why they totally wouldn’t work. In this particular case, if you take the possibility of random chance to its logical extreme, virtually any weave at all could potentially lead to someone’s death, and therefore should be impossible for anyone under the Third Oath to perform.

Just for example, take something Aes Sedai do all the time: picking or wrapping someone up with Air and holding them immobile. Sure, normally that wouldn’t kill anyone, but what if the person you’re holding has a tricky heart, and freaks out so badly that they have a heart attack and die? Does the Oath allow for freak accidents? And if it doesn’t, what happens to an Aes Sedai who accidentally kills someone? Does the Oath, like, squish her or something, or does she just get some fabulous shock therapy, or what? Have we ever seen an accidental death happen as a direct result of a sister’s channeling? Inquiring minds are inquiring!

Delana: This little plan of hers might just be the only halfway effective Evil thing Delana ever does, as far as I can tell. (Maybe I’m not giving Delana enough credit, but the FAQ’s description of her as a “wet hen” of a Darkfriend has always stuck with me rather indelibly.) I don’t know whether to be annoyed or relieved, therefore, that Egwene spikes her plan pretty much immediately, but probably the latter. As schemes go, though, this one is quintessentially Aes Sedai; I know because trying to follow the logic of it gives me a headache. More on this in the next chapter.


Chapter 17: Secrets

What Happens
Delana takes off now that her “noxious seed” has been planted, and Egwene thinks that the Sitter had planned this very carefully. She wonders aloud what Delana had really been after with airing this publically. Carlinya opines that she is aiming for conflict between the Ajah Heads and the Sitters, or possibly between the Ajahs in general, since that is exactly what her proposal will create, but Morvrin is not sure Delana necessarily thought it through that far, suggesting that Delana may simply be pursuing a personal agenda. Myrelle and Anaiya agree with Carlinya, but Nisao wants to know if they can afford to stop talk of parley regardless of Delana’s motives, which makes everyone gape at her.

“At present, talk of negotiations is limited to five Sitters, and very quiet, but will it remain so? Once word spreads that talks were proposed and rejected, how long before despair sets in? No, hear me out! We all set off full of righteous fury for justice, yet here we sit, staring at the walls of Tar Valon, while Elaida sits in the Tower. We’ve been here nearly two weeks, and for all anyone can see, we may be here two years, or twenty. The longer we sit with nothing happening, the more sisters will start making excuses for Elaida’s crimes. The more they’ll start thinking that we have to mend the Tower, never mind the cost. Do you want to wait until sisters start slipping back to Elaida one by one? I myself do not fancy standing on the riverbank defying the woman with just the Blue Ajah and the rest of you for company. Negotiations will at least let everyone see that something is happening.”

Morvrin reluctantly agrees that talks might buy time for Bryne to find ships to block the harbor with, and Egwene fails to mention that Bryne had told her that that wasn’t going to happen, with word of the siege traveling outward from the city. None of them are happy about the idea of talks except Beonin, but she is much less thrilled when Egwene instructs her that she must not reveal either the secret of Traveling or the existence of the “ferrets” in the Tower in the course of the talks. The whole party is gloomy, and Egwene nearly succumbs to the mood herself before sharply rejecting it. The council scatters when they reach camp, to start preemptively spreading the news about the talks and Egwene’s stance on it; Egwene notes workmen carrying ruined meal crawling with weevils, and shivers, thinking of how much of their food supply had to be thrown out daily.

Every barrel of meat, every sack of grain or flour or meal, had been surrounded by a Keeping as soon as bought, and whatever was woven into a Keeping could not change until the weave was removed. But still the meat rotted and the insects multiplied. It was as though saidar itself was failing. You could get a sister to make jokes about the Black Ajah before you could get her to talk about that.

Egwene thinks about the nature of Aes Sedai and the likelihood that her efforts to change it will last (she thinks not), and notes the hordes of novices scurrying about, organized into “families”—a new concept that Egwene knows has greatly lessened the confusion of having so many novices to teach as well as reducing the number of runaways among them now that they have “cousins” to support them. She sees two Browns, Phaedrine and Shemari, emerging from a gate and wonders where they’d been, recalling Nisao’s remark about sisters defecting to Elaida uneasily.

Just one sister returning to the Tower with the knowledge of [the Traveling] weave would give away their largest advantage. And there was no way to stop it. Except to keep heart in the opposition to Elaida. Except to make the sisters believe there could be a quick end to this. If only there was a way to a quick end.

Egwene stops at one tent in particular and is met by Leane emerging from it, who collars a novice to hold Egwene’s horse for her but otherwise makes no acknowledgment that she and Egwene are more than sister and Amyrlin to each other, a very useful fiction. Leane heads off and Egwene enters the tent; she is surprised to see Sharina Melloy there, who is a grandmother despite being a novice, and the one who came up with the idea of the “families” for the novices (which many sisters do not care to be reminded of). She and Tiana, the Mistress of Novices, are watching six other novices channeling, while Janya Frende (Sitter, Brown) and Salita Toranes (Sitter, Yellow) are watching two sisters, Kairen and Ashmanaille doing the same weave:

In front of each woman, a close net woven of Earth, Fire and Air surrounded a small bowl or cup or the like, all made by the camp’s blacksmiths, who were very puzzled at why the sisters wanted such things made of iron, not to mention having them made as finely as if they were silver. A second weave, Earth and Fire woven just so, penetrated each net to touch the object, which was slowly turning white. Very, very slowly, in every case.

Ability with the weave improved with practice, but of the Five Powers, strength in Earth was the key, and beside Egwene herself, only nine sisters in the camp—along with two of the Accepted and nearly two dozen novices—had sufficient of that to make the weaves work at all.

Egwene thinks to herself that at least this—the weave that makes cuendillar—is one invention she can claim true credit for, though Moghedien had supplied some of the base knowledge for it. Janya is very excited about the monetary possibilities, but Salita thinks they are lowering themselves by making “trinkets” to sell; Tiana doesn’t care about that, but opines that novices should not be allowed to perform such complex weaves. Sharina interrupts their argument to send Nicola and Bodewhin off to classes; Bodewhin doesn’t look at Egwene as she leaves, and Egwene wishes she would understand why Egwene can’t be her friend anymore. Nicola argues to be allowed to stay and practice more, but before Tiana can do anything Sharina cows Nicola instantly; Nicola scurries out, followed by Areina (who Egwene is startled to see had been in the tent). Sharina asks Tiana with perfect courtesy for permission to leave, which Tiana gives sharply. After she is gone, Janya mocks Tiana for letting a novice intimidate her, and moves on to Nicola:

“Ever since we found out she has the Foretelling, she’s been Foretelling two or three times a day, to hear her tell it. […] Some are the sort of thing anyone in the camp with half a brain and a credulous nature might think of—battles with the Seanchan or the Asha’man, an Amyrlin imprisoned, the Dragon Reborn doing nine impossible things, visions that might be Tarmon Gai’don or a bilious stomach—and the rest all just happen to indicate that Nicola ought to be allowed to go faster with her lessons. She’s always too greedy for that.”

Salita adds that Nicola is always snooping, and got caught trying to learn the Traveling weave; she thinks Nicola ought to be sent away. Tiana resents this encroachment on her authority, and snaps back that she has no intention of losing a novice of Nicola’s potential, nor Sharina’s either.

Sharina’s potential was nothing short of remarkable, far beyond anyone in living memory except for Nynaeve, and ahead of Nynaeve as well. Some thought she might become as strong as it was possible to be, though that was only speculation.

Egwene is shocked to catch herself thinking it was a pity she hadn’t arranged for Nicola and Areina to have convenient accidents, and redirects the conversation by praising Kairen’s improvement at the cuendillar weave. Kairen is rather snide in her response; Janya subtly mocks her for being worse at it than Bodewhin, a novice. Egwene watches the white creep slowly up Kairen’s cup, and thinks of how Leane’s transformations are much swifter, while Egwene’s take no more than a second to complete.

It would have to be Kairen and Leane, but even Leane was barely fast enough. Kairen needed time to improve. Days? Weeks? […] Suddenly Egwene was glad she had approved Beonin’s suggestion. Telling Kairen why she needed to try harder might have spurred her efforts, but this was another secret that had to be kept until the time came to unveil it to the world.

Jordan’s often been accused (by me, occasionally) of over-, er, complexifying things merely for complexity’s sake, and there’s more than a little bit of truth to that, but at the same time you do kind of have to appreciate that he lets politics be as messy and idiotic as politics generally are, insofar as is possible without actually turning the Aes Sedai into Congress, which, eek. I mean, holy crap: if this is the simplified fictional fantastical version of politics, it’s a miracle Washington (or any other major government) accomplishes getting everybody’s shoes tied in the morning, much less, like, passing laws and shit.

This is a plunge that more than one author (SF or otherwise) has been more than happy to either skim over or dodge completely, and one thing I’ve found reading Jordan and those other authors who do get into how unbelievably chaotic and non-productive political intrigue can be, is that I’m often irritated now when complications that should have arisen because of X thing just… don’t, because the author just didn’t want to deal with it and/or decided it would get in the way of the story.

And yeah, these things do get in the way of the story, but in my opinion it’s ultimately more harmful to my suspension of disbelief to handwave away people’s infallible ability to fuck up any given situation by turning it into a big power-jockeying pissing match, than to cut through it and pretend it isn’t there for the sake of expediency. What this says about me (or fiction, or people) I leave as an exercise for the reader.

Speaking of which, let’s think on Egwene’s thinkings about Aes Sedai in this chapter for a moment:

The world saw Aes Sedai as a monolith, towering and solid, or it had before the current division in the Tower became common knowledge, yet the pure fact was that the Ajahs stood apart in all but name, the Hall their only true meeting point, and the sisters themselves were little more than a convocation of hermits, speaking three words beyond what was absolutely required only with a few friends. Or with another sister they had joined in some design. Whatever else changed about the Tower, Egwene was sure that never would. There was no point pretending that Aes Sedai had ever been anything but Aes Sedai or ever would be, a great river rolling onward, all its powerful currents hidden deep, altering its course with imperceptible slowness. She had built a few hasty dams in that river, diverting a stream here and a stream there for her own purposes, yet she knew they were temporary structures. Sooner or later those deep currents would undercut her dams.

Depressing, ain’t it? And, given what Egwene later accomplishes, actually somewhat inaccurate, but the other great truth of politics and governments (of which the Tower can certainly be considered an example) is that pretty much the only time you can make great sweeping changes that actually stick is in times of acute crisis. And since I’m pretty sure Armageddon counts as an “acute crisis,” well, there you go.

Lucky Egwene, eh? For pretty grim values of “lucky,” of course.

(In totally, utterly unrelated news, I have been watching/reading a lot of WWII-related stuff lately, and now I’m picturing Egwene as Winston Churchill, and that is just all kinds of wrong.)

Proto-Benedict Arnold Beonin: I SLAP YOU. I SLAP YOU TWO TIMES. That is all.

Saidar failing: It isn’t; it’s just that the Dark One’s icky mojo is finally getting to where it’s stronger than anything’s ability to stop it. Unless I’m wrong, of course. Which I NEVER AM. *cough*

I was really surprised about the cuendillar thing on first reading. I also never figured out where Egwene was going with it until it happened, either. But we’ll get to that.

Sharina: Rather to my surprise, I liked her quite a lot, despite her superficial resemblance to Cadsuane. I think the difference is that, unlike Cads, Sharina is exerting her formidable willpower from a position of (supposed) powerlessness, which shifts it from having flavors of bullying to, well, just being awesome. This is also part of why I loved Egwene’s upcoming imprisonment in the Tower so much as well, so I’ll talk more about it later.

However, once again I am vaguely irritated that yet another random channeler has popped up who turns out to be stronger than Nynaeve, grumblesymmetrysomethinggrumble.

I am intrigued by the comment that Sharina “might become as strong as it was possible to be,” however, because that’s kind of a weird statement, all things considered. It’s weird because it implies that there is a clearly defined upper limit on channeling strength that everyone is aware of (for women at least). And that just seems kind of an odd thing for modern-day Aes Sedai to know, considering how the median Power-level has fallen off over the last few thousand years. Plus, how could you tell such a thing before she actually gets there? And how do you know that’s as strong as someone can possibly get? I dunno, it’s bizarre.

Nicola: I can’t decide if I feel bad or just indifferent that she bites it in ToM. I guess it’s sort of sad that she never really has a chance to grow out of her personality flaws (of which she has many), but then again I guess she also had a noble death in battle or whatever. I’m not sure whether that would mollify her much, though.

(Did we find out what happened to Areina?)

On Nicola’s viewings, I find it ominous that one of her Foretellings may have included a battle with the Asha’man, since that definitely hasn’t happened as of ToM. However, given what that assmunch Taim is up to in the Black Tower, well, someone’s going to have to put the kibosh on that shit, and the Aes Sedai are pretty much the only game in town equipped to do it. Doesn’t make the notion any less extremely unpleasant to contemplate, though. Well, we’ll see.

…But not until later! Try not to get lost in any caves in the meantime, and I’ll see you again Tuesday!

Mike McCaffrey
1. earlgrey
There are still chain links on display at West Point from the great chain used to prevent British ships from traveling up the Hudson River. One of the reasons the Brits tried to get B. Arnold to turn the fort over to them.
2. trench
Well earlgrey beat me to it. But a chain being used on a river is a great defense. Best to never doubt RJ's knowlege of tactics. Great post as usual and glad your back!
Damon Garner
3. IrishOmalley
I definitely agree that the white tower problems mirror some of our modern day squabbles in congress.

I think the battle with the Ashaman is going to be internal at first (With whats his name that can make really good gateways and is hangin' out with the two rivers folk) leading the battle with the non "zombied" aes sadai/ashaman vs taim's cronies. Then the battle of Caemlyn will spill over into it or vice versa.
Daniel Smith
4. Smittyphi
I give credit to Jordan that he wrote the crappy (in the sense of what is happening) politcal scenes to immerse his audience into the complete nuances of the world.

As far as Nicola, I took her death as indicative of her personality. She tried to meddle in affairs far above her. I highly doubt that her visions were completely true all of the time. She wanted attention and used the knowledge of her foretelling abilities to get the knowledge. Reminds me of some girls in high school
Heidi Byrd
5. sweetlilflower
Ahh... something new with which to percolate our brains.

I'll have to agree with you about the politics thingy. It really is a huge mess all around. I guess people are people, no matter what title or special abilities they may possess.

Leigh, thanks for not being stuck under some heavy object!
Jamie Watkins
6. Treesinger
I have never understood it, why did Beonin Faint?
( I have never understood the troup ofwomen fainting in fictional stories anyways. Who does that, really?)
Sydo Zandstra
7. Fiddler
Chains were pretty common for harbours in the 17th and 18th century.

London had them. IIRC our Navy (Dutch) had real fun once they got past those, in one of our 4 Sea Wars with England (Istanbul had chains over the Bosporus Strait as well, but maybe lostinshadow can tell more about that). But generally, chains are a good harbour defense.

They have to be able to be put down again though. That cuillendar scheme was brilliant, since it turned the defense mechanism against the defenders.
James Jones
8. jamesedjones
Re: Aes Sedai as an unstoppable flow of mish-mash

This is one thing that the Raven Empire would change. Unless Avi manages to figure out a way to save the Aiel, then Egghead will continue the Amyrlin tradition of being completely wrong in grasping future events. :P
Joe Sherry
9. jsherry
Oaths: I think it has to do with intent. If you cast a weave to bind, and the victim has a heart attack, it was an unintentional effect.

I view it as saying something that is false, but believing it to be true. It isn't a lie, so the Aes Sedai can say it with no consequence. It's just wrong.
10. Lsana
I don't have a problem with Egwene thinking of the White Tower as "home." I started to think of my dorm as "home" after just a few weeks. I do, however, have a bit of a problem with her thinking of it as "home for the first time," since way back in Book 3, she thought of herself as "coming home" when she returned to the White Tower with Mat. A minor point, but it just kind of bugs me.

I'm also not quite sure why we are throwing such a fit over the idea of negociating with Elaida. Given that Egwene later makes everyone in her circle apologize for starting a war with the White Tower, wouldn't it be a good idea to see if she can negociate a settlement with the Tower before this gets any worse?

The cullendar chain also bugs me. Yes, I know it's sound military strategy, but isn't the point of cullendar that it is unbreakable. Once they put up this chain, can they ever get it down? And given that they are all Aes Sedai, and this is their own harbor that they are blocking, maybe forever.
Frank Stellatto
11. Franco13
I too regret that Nicola didn't get a role in the world after the Big Fight. Her character was rich (mostly negatives) and she added quiet a bit to Egwene's power base while as a prisoner in the Tower. Nicola should have had the chance to mature and be one of the greatest supporters to Egwene's rule.
Chris Chaplain
12. chaplainchris1
Yay, post!

I took the weirdness of the AS speculations about Sharina becoming "as strong as it's possible to be" as more evidence of them talking out of their, ahem, assumptions, since they have a habit of speaking with great authority about what is and isn't possible. And they are often proven wrong, throughout the series.

Interesting comparison between Sharina and Cadsuane. I think there's another difference between Sharina and Cads, though, maybe even one more important than their relative positions (novice vs. legendary sister). Simply put, Sharina treats people with more respect. Sure, she's abrupt with Nicola, but that's ok. In the cagematch of Grandma vs. unsuccessful-FAIL-of-an-ooh-ooh-girl, I want Sharina to win. But Sharina is respectful to her superiors, but not overawed; she is polite yet dignified. I don't see her belittling folks as Cads sometimes attempts.

Sharina in later books will also show that she has the sense to respect Egwene and to see that she and Siuan are on the same side. So Sharina's got smarts, is effective, and doesn't belittle people. I'm not a Cadsuane-hater, but Cads could learn something from this woman, perhaps. (And perhaps the experience of being parents and grandparents would teach some Aes Sedai a lot about practical poltics.)

I am mildly sad that Nicola buys it in TOM, since she was giving evidence of growing up. Also, it seemed "clear" to me that she was going to bond Areina as her Warder ASAP, making the uniqueness of Birgitte the start of a trend. Without that, Areina becomes imho an utterly wasted character.

In other news, yay, cool new weave.

And that's about it for these chapters. The Delana thing was much more interesting and confusing when it was new, but now - Black Ajah causing dissenion between other Ajahs, ok, got it.
Rob Munnelly
13. RobMRobM
The interesting part of the Nicola death is that Egwene earlier in ToM knew that it put Nicola at risk and decided to proceed anyway. I'm wondering whether Nicola death will weigh on her conscience in AMOL. It should.

Re the rest, interesting Eg competency porn but otherwise not much to write home about (or blog about - but Leigh has dug up a few useful nuggets anyway - welcome back).

Stefan Mitev
14. Bergmaniac
 The negotiations proposed in these chapters are one of the most pointless ever - both sides were 100% determined not to give up anything to the other side, so there was no way they could lead to anything. Why were they a matter of such a debate here then is anyone's guess...

It's almost frightening how quickly Egwene accepted nearly all of the Tower's propaganda that they are the most important thing in the world and pretty much the only thing that really matters. In Ch 16 we get another typical example:

“If the White Tower dies, hope dies. I shouldn’t have to tell you that again.”

 Of course, the world has no chance without the Aes Sedai, it's not like there aren't thousands of other channelers, including the Dragon Reborn... *headdesk*

 And of course, Egwene is perfectly OK with the plan to starve Tar Valon into submission and most probably kill thousands of normal citizens in the process, but God forbid if even one Aes Sedai is harmed in any way, this would be totally unacceptable. 

 The siege plan never made much sense to me anyway. Even if the SAS had succeeded in blocking the harbors, it still would've taken several months to exhaust all the food supplies in Tar Valon. And at anmy moment during this time one of the SAS could've turned to be an Elaida agent or simply defected to the other side, then the TAS would've had Travelling, making the siege obsolete and the Aes Sedai would've been back at square one, only wasted a few months at the worst possible time.

 About Nicola - one thing that has been bugging me on my last reread is why are the Supergirls afraid of the possibility of Nicola spilling the beans that they were pretending to be full sisters? They had the carte blanche Siuan letter which gave them the power to do almost anything, so they could've just said "It was necessary for our mission to catch the BA and we were given the authority to do it by the Amyrlin at the time", which is actually true to an extend.

 Nicola always seemed to me to be very much like Egwene. Obsessed with learning everything quickly, willing to break the rules to do it, not above some questionable acts like blackmail. In ToM she even jumped in something which was way over her head, just like Egwene did so many times in he earlier books. Unfortunately for Nicola though, she was a redshirt and so the logical happened and she died. I can't say I missed her. Nynaeve and Elayne saved her from the fighting in Samara, took care of her on the way, and led her to Salidar she was given a chance to become what she wanted and learn. Instead of being thankful, she blackmailed them. 
15. RanchoUnicorno
As powerful as can be may just be reference to the perception of possible strength. Once upon a time, it was inconceivable that we might see someone run the mile under 4 min. There are some who would gladly posit that the fastest a human can run the 100m would be 9.50, and that Usain Bolt's 9.58 is truly the farthest reach of human possibility.

Just because we, or the AS, know something to be a limit doesn't that it is.
Michael McCarthy
16. KilMichaelMcC
Nicola hardly got a "noble death in battle." She blundered her way into a fight where she didn't belong (which is perfectly in-character for her, of course) and got a blink-and-you-miss-it offhandedly casual offing for no apparent purpose beyond a slightly increased bodycount for the good guys. It was a ridiculous and poorly-executed exercise in thoughtless character death, and the more I think about it the more it pisses me off.

As for her Foretelling of a battle with Asha'man, it needs to be kept in mind that the laundry list that Janya gives clearly contains exaggerations: "Ever since we found out she has the Foretelling, she’s been Foretelling two or three times a day, to hear her tell it."
Birgit F
17. birgit
Egwene sits her horse with Gareth Bryne on the bank of the River Erinin and gazes at Tar Valon, realizing for the first time that she thinks of the Tower as home.

She already realized that the Tower was home for her when she first returned to it in TDR ch. 11:

Even more wondrous, in its own way, was the feeling that the bridge was taking her home. More wondrous, and shocking. Emond's Field is my home. But it was in Tar Valon that she would learn what she must to keep her alive, to keep her free. It was in Tar Valon that she would learn - must learn - why her dreams disturbed her so, and why they sometimes seemed to have meanings she could not puzzle out. Tar Valon was where her life was tied, now. If she ever returned to Emond's Field - the "if" hurt, but she had to be honest - if she returned, it would be to visit, to see her parents. She had already gone beyond being an innkeeper's daughter. Those bonds would not hold her again, either, not because she hated them, but because she had outgrown them.

I have never understood the troup of women fainting in fictional stories anyways. Who does that, really?
In historical movies they faint because they wear corsets.

Nicola shows that the reckless behaviour that the heroes often get away with can also be fatal. Elayne is still needed by the plot, but a minor character can die if she acts foolishly.
Genevieve Williams
18. welltemperedwriter
I've always been a little dubious about the fainting-due-to-corsets thing. Maybe today's corsets are made to be more comfortable in this regard, but I know a lot of women who wear them regularly (and quite tightly) and none of them have ever fainted.

In the Victorian era, fainting seemed to be a cultural thing--part of the whole women-as-frail-creatures trope. Which, if so, makes it especially ironic that Jordan's female characters seem to be constantly passing out.
19. Jean Gary Diablo
I agree with jsherry (#9) -- the three oaths are all about intent. For example, an Aes Sedai under effects of compulsion could be made to kill non-shadowspawn or anyone else if the compulsion made them believe the target was a threat. Same with lying which requires the Aes Sedai to believe that what they are saying is true, even if their intention is to mislead the listener. The last oath -- making weapons -- hasnt really reared itself until ToM when Naeff (or Neald?) started making power wrought weapons. Not sure if any of the sisters can do it but will be interesting to see how they handle it since once any weapon is made, whether to use vs Shadowspawn or not, it can certainly be turned against non-Shadowspawn and Aes Sedai.
20. Lsana
@19 Jean Gary Diablo,

I think it depends entirely on what the Aes Sedai can convince herself to do. One Aes Sedai might be able to convince herself that making butcher knives is okay because the purpose of the weapon is not for one man to kill another. Others might not be able to. Still others might make swords and enchant them so that only a woman would be able to wield tham and consider it okay.

The oaths, as far as I can tell, mean whatever the Aes Sedai who took them thinks they mean. Yet one more reason I favor getting rid of them.
21. KiManiak
Welcome back Leigh! You and your post were sorely missed.

Okay, I like these chapters a little better than the previous ones, which still isn't saying all that much. I do think its interesting to view the actions of Delana and Beonin, knowing what we now know (although we already knew Delana was dirtybad).

More interesting to me is the assumptions of Delana about Egwene and her “advisors” (and Delana’s assumption of Sheriam’s role in the War Vote plan) given what we now know about Sheriam. If Sheriam was reporting to Halima, why didn’t the DFs in the SAS camp know about Egwene’s “arrangement” with her advisors? Maybe Sheriam was too ashamed and held that info back from Halima (although I view that as unlikely)? Maybe Halima continued to be ineffective in all ways possible and didn’t clue the SAS DFs into the fact that Egwene’s advisors were actually Egwene’s minions.

For what it’s worth, I thought the “chains-across-the-harbors” plan was plausible when I first read this, even without any grasp of historical naval tactics. As for removing them once they’ve been all cuendillared, I assumed that Egs probably planned to have the strength of the whole Tower behind her in removing them. In the meantime, she would have Gateways to keep the Tower supplied.

As for Aes Sedai politics, infighting, etc, my brain automatically tunes out and all I want to say is “Pfftttthhh!” Leigh, you are a braver soul than I to delve into why they choose to act the way they do, what seems properly complex and what should have been more complex . For example, the whole “Is something up with the selection of young replacement Sitters” mystery was of very little interest to me, personally. So many other fun mysteries and intrigue to explore in RJ’s books.

I really like Sharina. I never really compared to her Cadsuane. Sharina was the matriarch of a family, so she seems to understand how to effectively get things done without belittling others. I’m sure she’s used to dealing with errant children, and knows when a stern word is called for versus when other tactics might be more effective. I agree with chaplainchris1@12 that being a parent/grandparent could teach AS a thing or two about handling people and situations.

Then again, for all we know maybe Cadsuane once had a child or two and was a tyrant of a parent as well :)

I think that what happened to Nicola in ToM was kind of a let down. She had just seemed to enter her redemption arc, and then her death is mentioned as kind of an afterthought. I was hoping she would play a decent role in the last battle. Maybe even that she would become Egwene's protege. Bummer.
Maiane Bakroeva
22. Isilel
RobMRobM @13:

I'm wondering whether Nicola death will weigh on her conscience in AMOL. It should.

Why should it? Nicola was in er mid-twenties, 10 or 12 years older than some of the soldiers and older yet than the Soldier Samml al'Seen, not to mention trained for longer.
Nor was she sheltered - she used to be an independant artisan and she witnessed the Prophet's depredations. She also survived the battle against Seanchan during the attack of the WT. One of the more irritating things about the WT is it's infantilization of novices and Accepted, IMHO. And unfortunately, by extension, that of women in general in WoT itself.
Nobody seems to bat an eye at Ashaman at 14-17 being thrown into the thick of combat with a few weeks of training, not to mention that they were taught to channel tainted saidin at such a tender age, but _Nicola_ , an adult, somehow should have been extra protected? Huh?

Speaking of AS intrigue here, it felt like unnecessary filler to me. Not to mention the siege - given how AS could come and go as they wished and how they are basically independant operators, it is rather unbelievable that Elaida didn't get the Travelling much earlier. Amazing that so many AS stuck around with the rebellion, too.

The whole cuendillar thing also seemed to come totally out of the blue - that was the first time we heard that Egwene had rediscovered it.
And of course, just like in the preceding chapters re: the Kin and Travelling, here again everybody conveniently forgets that they can link and make cuendillar that much quicker. Not to mention that even as of ToM it still didn't occur to them to make armor out of it! Argh! This skill feels as pointless as Egwene's ability to sense metals or Elayne's control of the weather at this point.
23. hamstercheeks
Re: Beonin fainting

Egwene raised her voice just enough to be heard over the others. “You will approach Varilin and the others Delana named, and arrange to approach the White Tower. These are the terms I will accept: Elaida is to resign and go into exile.... Those are the only terms I will accept, Beonin. The only terms. Do you understand me?” Beonin’s eyes rolled up in her head, and she would have fallen from her horse if Morvrin had not caught her, muttering under her breath as she held the Gray upright and slapped her face, not lightly.

I think she passed out from the prospect of being in charge of negotiating the impossible while being Elaida's mole. And, Leigh, no need to slap her; Morvrin already did that for you.

Sharina always struck me as the kindly grandmother type, while Cads was like Iron Grandma. I hope they meet when Sharina's been raised. But I'd have to grumble along with Leigh: another character popping up stronger than Nynaeve? Grrr, grrr.

I love reading WT politics. They're like brain teasers! I hope Brandon writes up an AS who does Daes Dae'mar just for the giggles.
24. Pnr060
I've always been disappointed that no one in the books ever took the ability to produce cuendillar to its logical extremes. The only two real difficulties in cuendillar production are that only a few people could do it (and it takes most of them a while without practice) and that separate iron items will fuse together if they're touching when they are converted. The first isn't too much of an issue, since Egwene can apparently convert an entire harbor chain nearly instantly and a few Aes Sedai aren't far behind that. The second disadvantage could be overcome by fabricating iron items separately and attaching them with heartstone clasps or pins or something.

In one of the other threads someone pointed out that
cuendillar swords would be as good as or better than other
power-wrought weapons. Even if Aes Sedai can't make weapons, they could still create pieces of cuendillar platemail out of extremely thin, light pieces of iron and then assemble them into a wearable suit of armor. Even a hundred soldiers who aren't vulnerable to anything short of channeling (and not even that if they have some of Elayne's medallion copies) could make a huge difference in any battle.

If you take cuendillar production even furthur, you could get blacksmiths to make extremely thin sheets of iron and cover the entire White Tower in them (minus window holes with removable latticed cuendillar screens). That would give instant protection from any external attack. You wouldn't even have to worry about structural integrity, since there's no conceivable way for the outer shell to collapse short of uprooting the whole thing and the stone tower inside it from the ground and tipping it over (although the Tower itself could collapse inside the shell if there was a strong enough earthquake).

Replacing all interior doors of the Tower with thin sheets of it and using hair-thin bars made of cuendillar to barricade them (like watertight doors on a submarine) could seriously reduce the enemy's ability to attack via gateway. You could even replace the heavy harbor chains with a chain made of hoop-earring-sized links of cuendillar (just make sure they aren't touching when you convert them from iron!).

I'm wondering now if you could create a square made of
cuendillar, put it inside a closing gateway, and make permanent gateways between major cities. No doubt that kind of unstoppable force/immovable object action would permanently tear the pattern or something, though...
Susan Brownhill
25. SusanB
Re: Fainting...It's actually not as far fetched as it sounds. I've fainted quite a few times in my life. Once, on my way to the ground, I hit my head. I went to the hospital to get checked out. The ER doctor told me nothing was wrong & that it is very common for women in their 20s to faint. There is currently no medical explanation for it.
Philip Thomann
26. normalphil
Meaning this as a very shallow analogy, Egwene and the White Tower's trouble is that they're the Catholic hierarchy stuck in an Evangelical end times.
Thomas Keith
27. insectoid
YAY new post! Glad you're well, Leigh! :)

Politics: Blah. Not going there. Makes my head hurt.

Delana: Is actually being slightly compentant in the Evil department, for once!

Cuendillar: I agree that this revelation sort of came out of left field; as for its purpose, though I was surprised by the solidifying-the-chain idea, it wouldn't take too big of a leap of logic to guess what she was going to do. (Especially since the chain was mentioned in the previous chapter.)

Beonin: I could've sworn her intent was to stall the SAS; I guess dragging out negotiations is the best way to do that?

Sharina: Is actually kind of awesome, for a minor character.

Nicola: It's a shame that one of her more likely Foretellings (aside from the "Amyrlin imprisoned" that we know is going to happen) of a battle with the Asha'man is likely dismissed with the other, possibly made-up ones. Kind of like The Boy Who Cried Wolf. And I think it's a shame that she had such a lame off-screen death in ToM.

Theresa Gray
28. Terez27
I don't really have anything to say about these chapters just yet; I just wanted to make a post so I don't have to profile-hop to find this thread. So, here is a quote of the moment:

BrandonGood suggestion: @Terez27 says if you have a wot question, and want to see if it's been asked before, you can direct it to her first.

Rajesh Vaidya
29. Buddhacat

That is cool. I'm predicting a From "Q"ueen to FAQueen at some point.
Wiebke Brammer
31. bluecap
I also wished for Nicola to get a chance to mature (like Franco @11). That is one reason I don't believe in Nicola's death in TOM. The other is that we never saw the corpse, IIRC. We only watched someone/something in T'A'R, which looked like Nicola to die and fade away. It could have been anyone or anything.

It could even have been some nightmare for Egwene (like these images of Gawyn and Galad Moghedien once created to capture her). She just thought in this chapter about arranging an accident for her and Nicola died kind of accidentally here by Egwene's actions.
But that's just an unlikely theory.

Anyway, what I want to say is, that I don't believe in Nicola's death till someone, who isn't Aes Sedai, tells me that she really is.
Captain Hammer
32. Randalator
re: chains and harbors

Okay, being European and having, you know, actual medieval history and, like, stuff, let me assure you that yes, chains for protecting harbors did exist and were very effective. Even today they would stop virtually everything smaller than a fully grown battle cruiser or aircraft carrier which, in case of the latter, you wouldn't be able to maneuver into that kind of harbor, anyway, and in case of the former, you would seriously damage in the process even if it were able to break through which I'm not entirely sure of and boy, has that sentence been going on forever, or what...?

re: oathy mindfuckery

Again, it's all about intention. The oath reads "Never use the One Power as a weapon, except yadda yadda", so like with the lying thing, as long as the Aes Sedai doesn't intend to harm anyone it's pretty much anything goes.

So, as we've seen time and again, it's entirely possible for an Aes Sedai to, say, wrap up someone in Air and leave them hanging for further questioning, even if that might make him vulnerable to some serious assassinating by anyone who gets off on it and has the appropriate tools handy.

Just take Elaida as proof. She was able to beat Egwene within an inch of her life in TGS. Egwene could very likely have died from what she had to endure there, but since Elaida considered it "punishment" and not "assault with the One Power" the Oath didn't prevent her from going as far as she did. And consequently if Egwene actually HAD died from the treatment, it would have been an accident and there wouldn't have been any kind of "Oath shock collar" going off, just like an Aes Sedai who learns that she has unknowingly spread false truths, isn't suddenly reduced to a twitching, suffocating heap on the floor. If that were the case, Moiraine would certainly done quite a lot of that in the past couple of years...

re: fainting

At university, I knew a girl who literally used to faint very often when she was in any sort of unusual or stressful situation. That could be anything from a field trip to a test or having to give a lesson in front of students. Her blood pressure would plummet and she'd just collapse...

So, while that may be an overused trope, especially in fantasy, and said girl is a very extreme case, the whole thing is not just a cliché, it can and does happen...
33. Freelancer
Hi Leigh, nice to know you're still above room temperature. Some folks got morbidly worried earlier in the week.

Not much to say here. Regarding Nicola, it's a bit odd that after so many comments over the months expressing incredulity with the paucity of light-side casualties, there's suddenly angst over the loss of one who was far more often a pain than an asset. (And run that phrasing wherever you choose from there) So somebody, other than Jain Charin, who had more than a modicum of screen time bit the dust, and it's a waste? I thought it was bad writing to keep them all alive. Whatever. And thinking that she should have had a more "noble" death? What about the Accepted who foolishly went to investigate when Fain set off the ward on the storage room? She was probably a much more pleasant person than Nicola, shouldn't she have had a more noble death than getting sliced with the Mordeth blade? ::shrug::
Captain Hammer
34. Randalator
freelancer @33

Yeah, given Nicola's personality it's not like you couldn't see that coming from a mile away. To be honest, I was more surprised that it hadn't happened a lot sooner in one way or another. She always was the type to jump into the tiger's cage to pet "the cute, stripy kitty-cat" without bothering to ask anyone if that was actually a good idea or doing it anyway because "I is smartisher than you alls, yo!".

The only real surprise was the rather offhand manner in which she died. You know, like, ooh, Nicola's there, too...*fizz*...ooh, now she's gone. That seemed more Joss Whedon and less Robert Jordan; or possibly Brandon Sanderson which now makes me wonder if RJ really intended to have the scene play out that way or if it was a case of the notes reading "aprox. 20 pages of huge, epic Crowning Battle of Awesome in the White Tower; Nicola dies" and Brandon just put his trademark style on it...
Don Barkauskas
35. bad_platypus
Iilel @22:
And of course, just like in the preceding chapters re: the Kin and Travelling, here again everybody conveniently forgets that they can link and make cuendillar that much quicker.

Actually, there' no proof that strength make it go faster; Leane is second-best (after Egwene) at cuendillar but extremely weak. It's clear that the strength in Earth and Talent/talent are key, and no evidence that just pouring in more Power would help.
JOhn Johnson
36. smileyman
deleting double-post
JOhn Johnson
36. smileyman
Regarding the chain--in the defense of Constantinople in 1452-53 they actually placed a wooden chain across the harbor to block Turkish ships from entering. They used logs to help it float and it was an effective deterrent from attack from the sea. I guess Aes Sedai wouldn't need logs to keep it from sinking.

Wiki has more details

Speaking of Tar Valon--take a look at the map sometime. I can't think it's coincidence that it's shaped the way it is.
John Massey
37. subwoofer
Hi Leigh:)


Glad you are not trapped under something heavy, but I maintain that you need a St. Bernard. Think about your safety. We worry about you.

Sharina- hah! I told you people that there was yet another person who has the potential to have more juice than Ny, and one of you cossacks had the nerve to drag up some outdated link to an outdated site that said otherwise. Well, nyahhh:P

What's the problem with time travel? It happens to be the lynchpin to one of my plans to Take Over the World. I think it can happen.

Nicola- everytime I hear her name I picture some guy on a mountain top with lederhosen going on about cough drops.

And seeing as no one else is really picking up on this- Bryne is bags of awesome covered in awesome sauce. Guy is duty and integrity personified. World needs more folks like him doing the right thing.

Think about the dog Leigh.

John Massey
38. subwoofer
Saidar failing- well, that would blow goats. I mean, there is this massive stigma attached to Saidin being all tainted and stuff, and the purity of Saidar has always been held up as the example, having that go sideways has to be disquieting.

It also speaks to how the true power of the Dragon works- the fisher king aspect. All the wards and power in the world doesn't amount to much if Rand is not one with the universe. Thought that spoke volumes as to what the Tower can and cannot affect. Mice everywhere and food spoiling. Poopy.

It is a pity we don't hear much about the Black Tower and the condition of the food there. That would give us a benchmark and a tip off as to the effect of the Dark One and if Taim is cahooting, then the food may be protected or something. Just a thought.

Edit- I'm tellin' ya Leigh- a pooch is the way to go here:)

John Massey
39. subwoofer
@pnr60 wouldn't it just be easier tying off a weave?

Leigh- as far as Nicola's vision and the Aes Sedai being the only game in town to deal with Taim and his brood- I dunno. This kinda reminds me of the situation LTT created eons ago. He and his boys decided to march on the DO, unaided and they all went bonkers. In a way, LTT was responsible for breaking the world. A war of Power with Taim and Co. could have similar results. Rand created these guys, it is his mess. Maybe this is a chance at redemption for past wrongs for the Dragon. I think one of the side trips Rand is going to make on his way to FoM is to stop at the Black Tower and deal with Taim personally. I don't see any other way around this and I am sure it is weighing heavily on Rand's conscience. Once that durn spike is dealt with, I think we will see Rand popping in for a one on one.

40. lillcheese
I find it interesting that as readers we all seem to be as eager to dismiss Nicola's foretellings as the AS. As I recall, a couple of those things have or are likely to happen.

Maybe the tragedy here is that, in fact, it WAS important to push her faster than normal and this led to her death and now she won't be there to do X awesome thing. Maybe not. Just saying, maybe the AS were just really slow on picking up on clues from the Pattern.
Claire de Trafford
41. Booksnhorses
Leigh's comments have reminded me how irritated I was/am by the whole 'women are weaker in the power' thing. Yeah, women can link, blahdey blahdey blah. I can't even think about it now.
Roger Powell
42. forkroot
We've got an ironclad case that the oaths are about intention and do not prevent an honest mistake. Back in TPoD Chapter 5, several Aes Sedai blast a raken with the power, thinking it was shadowspawn (and perhaps not realizing there was a person riding it). If they had understood what it was, then the oaths would have prevented them from doing that.
Alice Arneson
43. Wetlandernw
RE: Oaths - (Mostly re: Leigh's comments) If you were an AS and so inclined, you could take the Oaths to an extreme and be unable to move, but as near as I can tell they generally take it to logical probabilities instead. Like, if you destroy a bunch of ships in the middle of a wide river, it's hard to escape the probability that some of the men would die. With the heart-attack example, it's an extremely low probability, so that wouldn't stop you. I suspect it's quite likely, though, that if it happened to you once you'd never be able to do it again.

Incidentally, for all the debates about "using the OP as a weapon" it's pretty clear here that Egwene, at least (and by logical extension the AS in general), considers a "weapon" to be defined as "something intended to kill" rather than "something intended to hurt." So by the Oath, using the OP as a means of non-lethal punishment is just fine, but using it to try to kill is forbidden unless your own life (yada sister yada Warder) is in danger. Therefore, in spite of the fact that many here are vehemently opposed to the spankings, beatings and other forms of corporal punishment, since they are generally acceptable in-world they are not considered illegitimate or weapons-grade use of the OP.

IIRC, I got pretty impatient with the politics in my earlier reads, and tended to read pretty fast without trying to catch hidden clues. Now, though, I find it much more interesting and plausible; I'm with Leigh in thinking that, annoying as politics are, it's better to include it than to simply ignore it or pretend it doesn't happen in this world. Given the scale of the events and the positions of the major characters, it would be pretty lame if they didn't have to deal at least somewhat realistically with people, governments and bureaucracies with agenda that don't really fit the big picture.

FWIW, I thought the cuendillar thing was pretty cool. It was set up way back in TGH when Egwene learned she had a strong affinity for Earth; so far, she'd only used it to manipulate a few locks & stuff, and that was quite a while back. Using it to rediscover the weave for cuendillar was both logical and unexpected, so that was good stuff. Using it to barricade the harbors - well, mostly - was a good plan, and she had plans in place already for how it would be repaired later. In the meantime, it can be used to keep mundane invaders out as well, should that be relevant during TG, and it won't harm the city all that much when they get some stable Traveling sites set up.

I agree with whoever said linking may not help any with making cuendillar. It's much more to do with affinity for Earth (which RJ also set up as rare among women) than strength in the Power. Wonder if/when the Asha'man will get involved in the making.

I have to point out some flaws in the many suggestions for using cuendillar, primarily two facts:

One, any iron touching the piece you're changing will be fused to it, so you have to support that iron object with appropriate tools. So if you want to make a harbor chain out of cuendillar, you have to turn each link separately, and make sure the subject link is not touching any other links during the process. This would be slow and painstaking work; it could be done, of course, but preferably in times of relatively slow-paced events. And of course, the finer the chain, the more links would have to be individually turned.

Two, once a piece of iron has been turned to cuendillar, you can't make any changes to it. This means that if you intend to attach two pieces together, you have to make sure there are appropriate holes for the connecting bits to go together, and they have to be perfect because there'll be no changing it once it's turned. I'm thinking that you can't connect pieces of armor too loosely, or they'll flop around and leave holes, but if it's too tight it won't be able to move properly at the joints. Then there's the issue of how to connect them. You'd probably have to use cuendillar pins or something, but then how do you fasten it off without fusing things? With iron or steel, you just bend it over or flatten it into a rivet, but once it's turned that's impossible, and if you turn it after bending or flattening, it would become one with the other bits and...oops. Making mail would be excruciating... can you imagine? Put in a link, rivet it, and then keep it sufficiently separate from the other links to turn it, then add another link, rivet, keep separate, turn, add a link, rivet, separate, turn... Yikes. Making mail is timeconsuming and finicky enough as it is; if each link has to be turned to cuendillar as it's attached... wow. I can't imagine any AS spending the time to do that level of detail work at this stage of events.

As much as we love thinking of clever uses for cuendillar, most of them are just not practical in-world. Swords would be cool, but until someone not bound by the Oaths learns the weave, that won't happen. Shields would be a good idea - single-piece item not used to kill. Other than that, I don't see any way for the rest to be implemented, in the circs.
Maiane Bakroeva
44. Isilel
Bad_platypus @35, Wetlandernw @ 43:

We have many examples that as long as the leader of the circle/user of the *angreal has minimal level of Talent and/or skill necessary to accomplish a task, then having more power and/or more precision in case of a circle, only helps. We have seen it with Healing, with use of the Bowl of Winds, with Travelling, with making of the power-wrought weapons... _If_ making cuendillar is the big exception, then it should have been specifically mentioned, IMHO.

Generally, IMHO the fact that apparently everybody strong enough in Earth can make cuendillar seriously undermines the worldbuilding. Because, if it is really so easy, then why is cuendillar rare? Why didn't they use it extensively in construction, etc. during AoL?
And it undermines the non-existent credibility of FS even more. How can they be less effective because they lack the tools that need the tools, etc. when re-creating the wonders of AoL channeling doesn't actually require any tools whatsoever?

Wetlandernw @43:

I don't get your objections re: armor. Things such as breastplates (which are more protective than mail), bracers, greaves, helms etc. are all held in place by straps and buckles.
All that would be required to make cuendillar versions, would be to make those armor pieces from very thin iron, leaving the usual apertures.
Such armor, while not making the wearer 100% invulnerable would still help massively against conventional weapons and would even be situationally useful against OP. Very useful to increase survival rate of channelers and officers.
Not to mention that big shields covered with thin sheets of cuendillar would be pretty much priceless.
Ditto the idea of covering fortress walls with thin sheets of cuendillar. If Egwene had the foresight to put all those able to make cuendillar to work, backed by powerful circles and *angreal the minute she secured the WT, all her musings about the importance of WT and it's armies in the Last Battle would have been justified. But alas, WoT women (apart from Brigitte, arguably) must be idiots in military matters...

Re: Nicola, I am all for more casualities among the more defined characters in WoT. However, my dislike for hers is three-fold:

her demise is of "Deathly Hallows" school of character kill-off and thus deeply unsatisfying, IMHO. When so few somewhat detailed characters die in a series, each death should better have a decent build-up and pay-off or it feels wasted rather than gritty.

it shows once again how idiotic the main characters approach of jumping into things unprepared is (which is the same as Nicola's MO) and that they only survive because the authors like them. This is seriously hypocritical - on one hand the powers that be are stagnant and underpowered because they don't take enough risks and don't think outside the box, OTOH when somebody apart from the main characters and Asha'man does, they die.

and finally, I kind of hoped that despite her inauspicious beginnings Areina would become the second female warder, which won't be happening now. WoT could use more non-channeling female badasses.

And ya, ClairedeT @41, the weakness of female channelers is grating, particularly since the authors, while empathizing their weakness in Earth and to lesser degree Fire, seem to constantly forget that the men are supposed to be weak in Air and Water. In fact, Asha'man seem to use Air much more frequently and expertly than any female channelers!

But even that wouldn't have been so bad, if the 1:1 linking had been an equal opportunity thing. A pair/duo is such an integral basic unit in human social/fighting order ... and so profoundly assymetric in WoT channeling, since only a man can lead.
John Massey
45. subwoofer
@Free 33- what? I was concerned about Leigh's well being- what's wrong with that?

I saw Final Destination- all of them- I know what could happen. Leigh is at home, practicing forehead karate and is not paying attention to the arrangement of her desk. One of the Aes Sedai honks her off, she goes down for another *headdesk*- not paying attention to the pen that has rolled into the danger zone- wham! Pen in head, and Leigh becomes stunned and disoriented and doesn't have a dog that can go for help... these things, they could happen. My concerns are valid.

Edit- Orrrr Leigh is pacing around reading WoT and gets to the annoying Elayne or Egwene and Gawyne sections- barf- in a fit of sheer frustration she forehead karate's the wall. Unfortunately she is in the wrong spot and wham's her oak bookcase. The thing topples like a carp, pinning Leigh underneath and her hands are also trapped, so she can't get to her cell phone and there is no doggie to go for help.

Orrr... well- you see where I am coming from here.

46. AlmenBunt
And so I jump once more into the middle of a conversation with a strange desire to insert my two cents....

In all honesty, I suspect that within the reality of the WoT, people could undoubtedly create all sorts of cuendillar wonders (the-only-kitchen-knife-you'll-ever-need), in the final days of the third age, it would simply be a distraction from the narrative for the story to delve into it, and therefore it is ignored and left to be (potentially) a wonder of the fourth age.

As for who gets to take on the Black Tower, well, "the Black Tower will be rent in fire and blood, and the Amyrlin will walk its grounds"-okay that may not be the exact quote, but Elaida's foretelling sets the stage. We know that Taim's a bad man, and his students, and we know that he's made himself a sanctuary with the dreamspike conveniently introduced in the book in which it becomes relevant. Androl gets out of the dreamspike with the help of Pevara, goes to the WT, awesomeness happens, and the darkfriend ash'aman are scattered to the enemy ranks just like the Black ajah, or some such series of events. Or rather, that's my conjecture...

I think Beonin faints because she realises the position she will be in when forced to deal directly with Elaida's envoys (perhaps Elaida herself, for all she knows), while being Oathsworn to Egwene to remove Elaida from power. I think that although fainting may seem a little far-fetched to a reader, taken as a vehicle for an author to express literally overwhelming emotion without having to give a point-of-mind for a character, it is a suitable reaction for a character who is likely stuck facing two parties to whom she is a traitor, even when both parties don't know it. At least RJ uses fainting primarily for when characters have serious internal conflicts. It seems to be only non-characters (twitter-witted nobles and the like) who faint for frivolous reasons (mentioning the forsaken and such).

I also think that the negotiations were actually a part of Egwene's grand unstated plan for retaking Tar Valon. The best way to succeed at negotiations is to place your opponent into a position where they are forced to accept your terms (incidentally this fits in well with Ishamael's description of t'cheran? where he describes how to use the Fisher piece). By cuendillaring the chains at Tar Valon, and with Elaida lacking Travelling, there may not need to be a protracted seige. Egwene was told by Bryne that he would need almost twice the army that he had before they Travelled from Murandy. Even then, back in CoS, she had her first thoughts on blocking the harbours. I think she thought that she wouldn't need to carry a protracted seige if she could block the entrances to the harbours, because it would force the Tower Aes Sedai into an untenable situation. She could forsee that they might hold out for a while, but her negotiating position becomes far far stronger if Tar Valon is facing the inevitability of starvation. I think at this point Egwene and perhaps Siuan have still dreams of getting back the Tower without a fight by forcing the Tower Aes Sedai to oust Elaida to save themselves from privation.

Only a little more rambling, I swear...

As for the politics, I think that they are necessary. It would be hard to remove the prophecied messiah, destined to lead humanity to salvation, from the courts and politics of running the world-let alone all of his other simple farm-folk friends who are rapidly becoming the rulers of the world as well, yay pastoralia!. The politics of the WoT is the setting for the narrative as much as Kinslayer's Dagger or the Blight. They create and flesh out the cultural and social setting for the characters and are important for enriching and describing the world in which they and the story live. Not only that, but they are drama. As much as grand deeds and battles are interesting because heroes contend with villains, and forces struggle against difficult odds, keeping us engaged and intrigued as we read on-so too the politics and the intrigues are simply battles of a different sort. Not only that, but it is in these quiet battles that the characters often have their most significant developments. It is very hard to change one's personality while flinging lightning and having spears poked at you. It is times of reflection and 'peace' where one has the opportunity to change onesself. Egwene's entire character (near enough) is developed and built through her intrigues and politics. She is assuredly a character of action, but that rarely manifests itself before she deals out a whopping helping of screw-you-Seanchan. At this point, she is still climbing to the fulfillment of her rising action, and the politics and intrigue are the path that she takes to her denouement.
Lannis .
47. Lannis
Re: Egwene wondering "aloud what Delana had really been after" rubs me the wrong way. I understand that the women present are all (supposedly) on Egwene's side, and present for advising purposes, but I'm surprised that my knee-jerk response is "WTF?! She's musing OUT LOUD?!" Never show your cards, woman!

Hmm... methinks RJ's Aes Sedai tendencies may have infected me a little too much...

Re: Nicola... good riddance. Do we know that she hadn't already I bonded Areina? À la "Imma gonna be just like the Supergirls and I know waaay too much incriminating info?" Anybody? Yes? No? The brain--she's not what she used to be...

Lsana @ 10: re: blocking TV's harbour. It's strategically tedious, but they've always got Traveling...

Wetlander @ 43: I love that you thought through the cuendillar issues. There was something twigging in the back of my brain, but I appreciate (once again) that you beat me to it. All I thought was: "no swords. Three Oaths." I'd've needed at least another pot of tea before the grey matter revved high enough to reach the complexity of the rest of your argument... if ever. ;)

Thanks Leigh! :)
Joseph Blaidd
48. SteelBlaidd
Count me among thoughs for whom the politics are a neccessary and, in my case, much loved part of the Wheel. One of my pet pevees is monolithic sides with no internal politics(Im looking at you Richard Rahl.) Of course one of my favorite plays is 1776 which is all about the politics of getting the Decleration of Independence signed( You think Congress is bad now).
Andrew Chute
49. AlmenBunt
re Lannis @47: I, too, had wondered about Egwene's musings over Delana. At first, however many moons ago it was when I first read the book, I had thought that it was a hint that Egwene had realised that Delana was Black, much the same way that Elayne caught on right away that Mellar was a darkfriend. Egwene has shown repeatedly that she's at least as shrewd as Elayne, and you'd think that with the Black Ajah on the brain, she or Siuan would have put two and two together by now and would at least be very suspect of Delana's behaviour. Granted, for RJ to have allowed them that knowledge would have put suspicion on Halima too early, but I always felt it inconsistent that they weren't at the very least suspicious of Delana.
Captain Hammer
50. Randalator
AlmenBunt @46

And so I jump once more into the middle of a conversation with a strange desire to insert my two cents....

Well, as long as you spare us the details of how and where exactely you are inserting your loose change, by all means, go ahead... *legs it*
Bill Reamy
51. BillinHI
Great post as always, Leigh. I can totally relate to Egwene's thinking of the WT as home after only a short time. When we first moved to Hawaii back in 1989, I was _extremely_ homesick (for Maryland) for the first month or so. It was such a major change in our personal lives and my work life that I would gladly have returned to Maryland in that first month. I believe it was returning to Hawaii after our second trip back to the mainland about a year and a half later that, when leaving the airport here, I suddenly felt "This is home now." And here we (still) are, more than 21 years later, with no plans to leave our new home.

Eurgh on the oaths, indeed! I still maintain that they are one of the worst things to ever happen to the AS and, as such, are probably a result of the DO's influence via Ishamael. I know, I know...War of the Power, the Breaking, really messed things and people up, but surely the people of the time could have/should have realized that the male AS were the problem after the taint and that the female AS were still okay and could be trusted. How many people trust them now? Everyone knows that the truth you hear from an AS is not necessarily the actual truth, etc., etc. Unless Team Jordan specifically denies it, I remain convinced that Halima had something to do with Egwene's switch on the necessity of the oaths.

More later....
Bill Reamy
52. BillinHI
On Egwene's thoughts on AS: The other major problem with the AS in this age (IMO) is this nonsense of a total lack of unity. It's bad enough that you have all these Ajahs with their separate vision statements (and, man, I REALLY HATED those things when they became popular in the workplace back when), but even within the Ajahs you have a bunch of uber-individualists who arrange themselves by power, i.e., an innate talent that has nothing to do with personal capabilities.

I know we don't have a real clear understanding of how the AS worked in the AoL, but what we have in the current age is just asinine. One of RJ's parallels here, I'm sure, is the U.S. military where you have each branch convinced that theirs is the best (and loudly proclaiming that fact) and only reluctantly working with the other branches when it becomes absolutely necessary. C'mon people, we're all on the same team here, let's get together and get the job done NOW. Of course, that would have required trust and communication and we know where they rank! Not to mention that the series would have been over ten years ago and we wouldn't have all this fun squabbling over how things ought to be ;-)

And yes, Cadsuane could learn _lots_ from Sharina. Cadsuane has lots of knowledge but no interpersonal skills. Sharina will likely retire into the Kin (assuming she doesn't die in the LB) and live way longer than Caddy and could acquire even more knowledge than Caddy has now. BTW, I won't be surprised if Caddy bites the big one in the LB, but will probably do it in a CMOA.

On Bryne: yeah, I guess we all tend to see Bryne as Bryne without really expanding on it. He is definitely bags of awesome covered in awesome sauce. The other Great Captains are certainly cast from the same mold, but we really only get to see Ituralde later on behaving exactly the same way: Totally Awesome!
Birgit F
53. birgit
"the Black Tower will be rent in fire and blood, and the Amyrlin will walk its grounds"

ACoS,Prologue - "The White Tower will be whole again, except for remnants cast out and scorned, whole and stronger than ever. Rand al'Thor will face the Amyrlin Seat and know her anger. The Black Tower will be rent in blood and fire, and sisters will walk its grounds. This I Foretell."
There are already AS in the Black Tower. The Foretelling says nothing about the Amyrlin.
Alice Arneson
54. Wetlandernw
Isilel @44 - For armor, I'm just saying that leather straps would be a significant weakness in otherwise impregnable armor, but getting around that weakness would be quite difficult. For the rest of the things you mention, I already did shields - and I wouldn't bother with a cuendillar coating on something heavy. It's not going to break, so light & strong would get my vote.

As for sheathing buildings with cuendillar, it's a fine idea but incredibly time-consuming. Take the White Tower. First you have to conscript every blacksmith in the city and surrounding countryside, and figure out a way to wrap the tower in iron. Getting that much iron, flattening it out and attaching it to the Tower would take months or years by itself, and you still have to turn it to cuendillar. Egwene could probably do it quickly, but for anyone else it would take months, at least. Even Leane can't make it happen instantly. The best you could possibly hope for is to do a section and turn it, do another section... This assumes that when iron touching cuendillar is turned, the two will fuse. (This is the assumption I made earlier regarding mail; if it's not true, then mail-making would get slightly easier in that you wouldn't have to keep the new ring separate while you turn it, but building sheathing would be nightmarishly difficult.) If you got the whole Tower involved, maybe you could get AS who are strong in Air to hold iron plates on while others lift and place more plates, and the cuendillar-makers all link and start from the bottom. Even combined, the lifters & holders could probably keep ahead of them. You don't want to just drop the weave in the middle, because it's difficult to find the exact spot to pick up again, so breaks for eating, sleeping and other necessities of nature would have to be managed carefully. Oh, and let's hope the Seanchan don't attack in the middle of the process; everyone would be so tired from all the coordinated effort they might be unable to put up any coordinated resistance.

While it should certainly be possible, it's not very practical in times like these; it could, possibly, be done in a more peaceful time, but then they might not find it worth the effort. In short, cuendillar is hardly the answer to everything. Given that except for Leane and Egwene, the few who can even make the weave work take (at least) several hours of concentrated effort to turn a simple bowl or cup, making large objects is prohibitively time-consuming. Even if linking could speed it up, it's not like it would make orders-of-magnitude difference.

Another subject in a moment, when I can clear up the invective and make it a bit less snarky than it currently stands...
Tess Laird
55. thewindrose
I am looking forward to the 'Battle of the Black Tower'. I have a feeling it will be epic. I don't see Egwene being there though. I do see Logain going back with his bonded Aes Sedai, and they will work with the non-Taim faction and Aes Sedai who haven't been 13'd(poor Tarna). Maybe Androl and Pevara will be bonded together - it seems likely(ToM Something Wrong):
She stood for a moment longer, then pulled the door open. "Come in, quickly. Tarna - the woman I share this hut with - is away. We must be done before she returns."

Have we decided who was going to take care of the Dream Spike at the Black Tower yet? I could be Perrin, as he wanted to help Grady get to the Tower to see his wife. Rand also knows that something is wrong - and that he needs to deal with it finaly. He may recognize the effects of a Dream Spike and know how to destroy one or turn it off from his LTT memories.

Obligatory - Bryne is awesome - statement from me.
I think he knows that there is a bunch of stuff Egwene is not telling him, but he takes it in stride and waits and makes plans without the withheld information. It really is too bad that Egwene isn't more forthcoming with him.

Sydo Zandstra
56. Fiddler
I love how Isilel manages to stir things up a little here. Especially since I think she has a point most of the time.

So, in this spirit, I will make a point about beloved Egwene.

Here we have Egwene thinking 'OMG, the Three Oaths are so precious. I live already like I have taken them and I cannot wait to hold the Oath Rod and swear the Oaths, so I can be the bestest Aes Sedai and Amyrlin ever!'



Egwene, after being humiliated by Elaida, and winning the AS in the Tower to her side, is having her MoA during the Seanchan attack.

Cool. Killing Seanchan!

Egwene is holding a powerful sa'angreal and uses it to torch Raken out of the sky, who fly away, knowing that there are people on them. Yes, there are abducted AS on their backs too.

And torching those is really stretching the Third Oath, since Egwene knows those sisters wouldn't be killed physically.

Now, some may reply saying that the Seanchan would be 'killing' the identity of captured sisters, and Egwene knew about that and therefore it was perfectly ok to torch everything flying around Tar Valon.

But that is not the same as killing somebody, physically.

So, hypocrisy has a name. It starts with an 'E', and it ends with 'gwene'.
Stefan Mitev
57. Bergmaniac
This reminds me - Egwene still hasn't released those Aes Sedai she blackmailed into swearing fealty to her from this oath. And it doesn't bother her in the least that this oath is breaking all kinds of traditions and laws of the Tower. Now that she's the leader of the unified tower and Morvrin and Nisao don't have much influence, she doesn't even have the necessity excuse to keep them swore to her.

But of course, she's Egwene and is not bothered by minor things like laws, customs and morality. Blackmail is more than OK in her book when it's in her favour.

When she learnt that Rand had sisters sworn to him, she considered it an outrage and concluded that he most probably used Compulsion on them, as we will see in the next chapter. Hypocricy again.
Alice Arneson
58. Wetlandernw
Fiddler @56 - Oh, she always has a point. Whether the point stands up to reasonable argument is usually in the eye of the beholder. IMO, some do and some don't. Then again, the same is true of most of us, so... there you have it.
Sydo Zandstra
59. Fiddler

That is the most evading post I ever saw in this reread. Because you are saying actually nothing.

If you agree on what I said, okidoki. If not, I am open for discussion...
Kimani Rogers
60. KiManiak
I’ve enjoyed reading the discussion about effective uses of cuendillar here. I hadn’t previously given a lotta thought to whether cuendillar was being underutilized before this. I can see where the rediscovery of how to produce a virtually indestructible metal should have led to a few more effective uses of said metal than we have seen on screen. But I think that some of the uses proposed here had flaws that Wetlandernw did a pretty good job of discrediting (with the possible exception of Isilel’s armor-with-leather-straps-or-buckles suggestion; I think this would be fairly useful).

However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t potentially multiple other practical uses for which cuendillar could be put to use. Especially when one of the Great Captains is your general (I concur with the opinions proclaiming his “Greatness,” and may expand on that later).

Unfortunately, there has been no indication (onscreen, anyways) that Bryne has even been approached regarding any suggestions he may have on effective uses of cuendillar; or even been told how easily (in terms of materiel resources such as blacksmiths shaping iron; not in terms of AS time and effort) it can be made.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the AS never even “officially” acknowledged that they converted the chains in the Harbor, and have recently rediscovered how to make cuendillar. I could see how the AS might argue that spreading that information might slightly demystify the sense of mystery and wonder that the average person has for them. Allowing the Aes Sedai’s need to control perception, work to their detriment once again…
Alice Arneson
61. Wetlandernw
Well, what can I say? My comment was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but if you want a more serious answer... You said
I love how Isilel manages to stir things up a little here. Especially since I think she has a point most of the time.
I agree that Isilel nearly always has a point to make. Your (unstated) implication is that her points are usually correct, but as you may have noticed over time, I frequently disagree with her. We then proceed to disagree back and forth a few times, and we rarely convince one another. Depending on the point, other people agree with one or the other of us, and then it becomes a bigger discussion. Sometimes minds are changed, sometimes they aren't. That's the fun of it, right?

So if Isilel (or anyone else) makes a point with which I disagree, I usually try to present reasonable argument. Many times, no one actually "wins" the debate. So does point made stand up to argument? Well, if I disagreed and remained unconvinced by the subsequent discussion, then I obviously don't think it stands up to reasonable argument. OTOH, if you agreed with the point and remained convinced that it was valid, you think it does. Eye of the beholder.

And, as I said the first time, this is true of many here. You could replace "Isilel" with "Wetlandernw" (or Fiddler, Freelancer, etc.) in any of that, and the statement would still be true: the validity of the point made is in the eye of the beholder as far as this discussion is concerned.

Oh, BTW... I personally hope that Isilel keeps making lots of points here, and I even have faint hopes that everyone will eventually spell "Isilel" correctly. Her points are nearly always thought-provoking, even if I end up disagreeing with her. And she certainly keeps the discussion from getting boring, so that's major props for her!

There. Is that any less evasive? :p
Kimani Rogers
62. KiManiak
Re: linking to improve the conversion of cuendillar – I actually think this might be effective, but not as I think was initially suggested here. I would theorize that if those (Kairen, Leane, Ashamainaile, Bode, etc) who were adept at making cuendillar were to link, maybe they could convert things as swiftly (if not swifter) as Egwene does. If strength in Earth is what plays such a large part in being adept at making cuendillar, then logically having those who have shown an aptitude for Earth link should allow for the quicker conversion of cuendillar.

I still don’t know if this would make covering the White Tower in cuendillar go that much quicker then what Wetlandernw@54 suggested. But, there’s gotta be some practical uses that Lord Gareth Bryne could devise.

If they would just discuss it with him.

Stupid series-long theme of the drawbacks of failing to communicate…
john mullen
63. johntheirishmongol
On the uses of cuendillar, I think it might make a good sheild but we don't know how heavy it would be, so it might just not be usable. As a weapon however, it's not just that it is indistructable, but is it flexible, what's its do to the weapon as it changes?

As for Nicola, I believe she is dead. She is a pretty minor character.

Chains across harbors is pretty accurate historically. If you remember any WW2 movies you see them even up until then.
John Massey
64. subwoofer
@Almenbunt- methinks you are giving Eggy waayyy too much credit for tactics and such. It was only a couple of years ago, if that, that she was making big doey eyes at Rand and had nothing else on her radar. Difference between her and Elayne is that Elayne was raised with classes for battles and tactics and history and such. I think much of Egwene's planning originated from Siuan.

Just wanted to put this out there, I think the Oaths blow chunks. And I still don't understand at what point they took effect. I mean, we have it established that the Oath Rods were originally "binders" for criminals. Sooooo at what point did we make the jump from, "this is for you scum, suffer the consequences" to "hey, I think it would be a good idea to use these, they cut our lives tragically short and everyone still doubts us, but let's fire this thing up". Seems like somebody couldn't see so they lit a stick of dynamite for a clearer view.

This hearstone debate... hmmmm. So just to put it out there, how easy is it really to make this crap? I mean, when reading the chapter, the girls were taking a fair swatch of time just to make a cup, which was lame in and of itself, unless somebody wanted Aes Sedai version of Wedgwood china set??! If we are talking on the scale of the White Tower- yoiks- that'll kill somebody to do. And it kinda misses the point, why not make a shield like Caddy and call it a day? Reminds me of folks talking about Rand vs. Gawyne- who would win in a sword fight?- Doesn't matter when Rand turns Gawyne into a turnip, does it?

The armor idea is kinda okay for the big guys, but IIRC in another series, there was this guy named Ultron who was unbreakable, but somehow always died. Makes me think of Rocky movies... everyone comments on how tough Rocky was and how he could take a punch, and all I'm thinking is why doesn't he move his head a bit and learn how to actually slip a punch... that and keep his hands up. We don't really see any of the blademasters or the Aiel wearing a whole lotta armor, because they have learned how to avoid being hit. Something to that I think.

Cuedillar stuff... I think the Aes Sedai have bigger fish to fry than making that stuff cause if it was that important, Novices wouldn't be given the honorable task of churning the stuff out. Cell phones- that would be something to focus our attention on. If everyone had a clue as to properly communticate with eachother so everyone is on the same page, that would be worth a ton of armor.

sorry- long post- warning posted after folks wade through it.

65. JimF
@6. Treesinger "...I have never understood it, why did Beonin Faint? ( I have never understood the troup of women fainting in fictional stories anyways. Who does that, really?)..."

Well, some still do: recall this? "...Doing remarkably little to combat the stereotype that women are emotionally frail and constitutionally incapable of dealing with stress, Professor Nancy Hopkins of MIT told the Boston Globe that she had to leave a lecture delivered by Harvard president Larry Summers because if she didn't she would have "either blacked out or thrown up."..."

Now she (Ms. Hopkins) - in some sense - is a modern-day Aes Sedai of Beonin's ilk. Nynaeve probably would have torn Summers a new one. Or simply regarded his ability to work with Earth or Fire as trivial compared to Healing using all the Talents.
Theresa Gray
66. Terez27
I started a thread in which I complain about Nicola's abrupt demise on Theoryland 3 days before the book came out when I was still feeling very emotional about everything. I got over it pretty quickly, though.

In other news, I have decided to blog Brandon's re-read. The first post is on TEOTW P-5 and the second will go up tomorrow. I hope to be caught up to Brandon within a few days. I decided to do this partly just because I need a re-read myself. I have started one I think three or four times in the last three or four years and haven't managed to finish yet. So you might say I have been waiting for a motivator like this. Also I figured that I have some good observations to share. Hope to see some of you there (as well as here).
Andrew Chute
67. AlmenBunt
re Subwoofer @64-I hear what you are saying, and agree that Egwene should be less savvy and shrewd given her relative inexperience in political machinations, thus making it entirely reasonable that Siuan was the shaper of the core of Egwene's grand schemes. My problem with that approach, then, is that it makes it harder to accept Egwene as the super-Amyrlin after she comes into her own. I credit Egwene with an overabundance of cunning and forethought refined by her experiences with Moiraine and the Wise Ones for the simple reason that it makes her easier to accept in her badassitude. I feel that assuming a more powerful Egwene during her planning period after being raised gives her character development a more consistent arc.

re Birgit @53- Thanks for the correction, I didn't have a chance to actually look up the reference (the in-laws showed up while I was still typing).

Cuendillar, though, I had always just assumed that it was the sort of thing that was unaffected by the amount of Power was involved. I always reckoned that sensitivity to the metal allowed the channeler to sense the atoms that needed to be changed to cuendillar as it were. If that were the case, then adding Power by linking wouldn't necessarily affect the speed of conversion at all, though perhaps the increased awareness may help.
John Massey
68. subwoofer
@Almenbunt- hells yeah! I really do have a hard time understanding how Egwene goes from Bambie- to Cadsuane Mark II in a couple of books. Rand I get- he get's his LTT memories sorted out- remembers that he is thousands of years old. Egwene- wha? She spends some time with the Aiel, gets magically summoned and raised and then suddenly, after a series of spankings she is all wise like? I don't think so. Just not buying it. Especially that whole schlock where Egwene is fighting Mesaana and suddenly Egwene is all "I am the 3000 yr old Tower". Gag. Sorry. Loved Egwene fighting Seanchan- that was an easy sell, but where a sub-20 year old girl gains wisdom beyond her years floors me. Especially from someone who expresses any kind of interest in Gawyne. Honestly- "I am old and wise like Yoda, wait, there's this cast off from Jersey Shore that I have the hots for..." Really? Just not drinking the koolaid here folks.

Philip Thomann
69. normalphil

It works because Egwene is a high-functioning lunatic. She is utterly, unassailably convinced that these things are true. It's the game face to bring in the circles she operates in.

One day I'm going to sit down and think through Egwene's psychology, starting all the way back with "Mara and the Three Foolish Kings" being her favorite story ever, serial follower habits, and running all the way through, but not today.
Alice Arneson
70. Wetlandernw
KiManiak @ 60 (and others, of course, but she got me thinking on this track) - Re: various uses for cuendillar... For some reason, the only pieces of cuendillar in existence (up until this chapter) seem to have been primarily decorative or at most in the category of "fine china" objects. Presumably, these are left from the AOL, since during the War of Power and the Breaking they probably weren't spending a lot of effort on objets d'art. One wonders, then, whether it was always a fairly rare Talent, or whether it was seen as relatively meaningless during a time of great peace and prosperity. (One also wonders if there is a particular reason for the absense of black cuendillar, if indeed the seals, half black and half white, are the result of male and female work as has been postulated. In this case, one wonders further whether some of those black "power-wrought blades" that never need sharpening are actually male cuendillar but unrecognized as such...)

Anyway, such historical questions aside, the fact is that up until now, no one in this time has seen cuendillar used for anything but decorative purposes, and people aren't always very good at thinking outside the box. Egwene's use of the cuendillar weave to make the harbor chains immovable was definitely outside-the-box thinking; it wasn't even conjecture to those who knew of the cuendillar project. They just thought of it as a way to make money, and their biggest concern was whether they should sell it right away or dole it out slowly so as not to glut the market.

For all that we as a group can come up with a zillion-and-two uses for cuendillar, it has simply not occurred to them (yet) to think in terms of either large objects or defensive forms. It would be priceless to ask Bryne (or Mat) if they can think of any use for an indestructible, Power-proof material... especially if you didn't tell them what the material was. Give them the behavior and fabrication parameters, but not the name, and see what they come up with. Still, unless the Amyrlin wanted to spend some time on it, the process would be slow; it would be slow-ish anyway, given that everything has to be crafted from iron first.

And in the realm of things-I-thought-of-while-washing-dishes, is cuendillar flexible? I have an idea that it's not; solid, unbreakable, unbendable, unyielding. I'm no expert on these things, but would that inflexibility be kind of a bad thing in a shield? I mean, something like wood will absorb a certain amount of impact; even steel will dent and provide some shock absorption. If cuendillar is truly inflexible, seems like all the shock of any blow would be transferred directly to the arm holding the shield. Could this create a problem?

Okay, enough rambling on that subject. I still have my rant to clean up. :)
Mikey Bennett
71. EvilMonkey
As an add on to Wet's post, I just don't believe they had the time to think up the 1000 and 1 uses for cuendillar since it is a fairly recent discovery book time wise. Necessity is the mother of invention, but that only counts for things everyone can do. The armor thing is a pretty good suggestion but it isn't one that is intuitive for those who don't eat, sleep and breathe fighting for a living like our Great Captains. Just as an aside, the Ever Victorious Army would have picked up on cuendillar armor as soon as they figured the capability was available, producing these items in such a number as to overwhelm the armies of Randland Proper even quicker than normal.
As for Eggy thinking of the tower as home, sure she realized it as early as book 3, yet for some people it takes a while longer from realization to internalization, if that makes sense. And as for her gaining wisdom in a little over 2 years booktime, I am drinking the kool aide. Times of personal strife and struggle cause youngsters to grow up at a much faster rate than normal. Just ask any war vet how much they have changed on a before and after basis. Add to the fact that there was always good meddle there in her personality in the first place as well as her propensity to fully immerse herself (at times to her detriment) in the policies and principles of the groups in which she wants to join and you arrive at someone who is supremely confident in herself and her cause, strangely clear thinking and levelheaded (for the most part), and a willingness to listen to people who know more than she does in order to accomplish her stated goals. She listens to Siuan and picks up political intrigue. She listens to her captain and learns something of tactics and strategy. Rand is her blindspot, but she knew him as a kid and doesn't seem to think much of his intellect or his capabilities. She has a similar blindspot with Mat and Perrin, even to some extent Nanaeve. In Nana's case it isn't as much because of first teacher status and, lets not forget, she's a woman and must automatically be smarter, more levelheaded and more capable than any man alive.
As for Nicola, she just doesn't have the pattern mojo. It has been set up from the beginning that the Supergirls, Superboyz, Rand's other 2 wives, and the newlyweds (Moraine and Thom) are pretty dayum important to the pattern in the last dayz. If one of them dies before the appointed time then Team Dark's win is certain. The pattern therefore makes some allowance for their recklessness. Nicola has no such protection. The ax was quick and not protracted, I think it's not that bad a way to go. I know she had some potential for greatness, but so does Sharina, and she is definetely more likable and more capable a character, power aside.
Finally, the Oaths. They bite but I cannot see how they survive as an organization for as long as they have without them. Given the nature of Aes Sedai post Age of Legends, it is entirely plausible that more than a few of them would be trying to carve up Randland proper between them, everyone of them having what results as nuclear bombs in their back pocket. No oaths in Seanchan gives us damane. Oaths in Randland produce a White Tower that although you don't necessarily trust, you do respect. Those who don't deal with the inside look with these women know that they are the authority you go to when certain problems arise like crazy male channelers burying villages or healing those herbs cannot touch, even negotiations between warring nations. There is no way they gain influence with normal people and rulers without those oaths. Most would be too scared to go near them for fear of obliteration or so scared of the power they hold they feel it would be no choice but to eradicate them. In the AOL, everyone knew what an Aes Sedai was and what they stood for. They were respected and loved and as a consequence no oaths were necessary. The climate after the AOL necessitated them to bind themselves in order to be arould long enough to accomplish their ultimate goal. The goal is nothing short of keeping the world aware that the last battle is coming.
Alice Arneson
72. Wetlandernw
EvilMonkey - Good stuff! I agree with much of what you said, but I'm not going to point out the specifics as I'm all but falling asleep in my chair. :)

Tomorrow, folks. Tomorrow I'll have the clean, tidy, non-rant wall-o-text for you. Bet you can't guess... :p
73. wishiwasMat
Another thing with the Oaths & the use of Saidar - how do they interact with a'dam? Does the 3rd oath not count when a sister is leashed? Considering the effect that being unable to lie had on one of the sisters in the basement in TGS ( I think, can't remember exactly which sis right now) surely there would be some physical manifestation of breaking the 3rd oath as well.
Birgit F
74. birgit
Is the bridge at Whitebridge cuendillar?
If it is effective as armor it should have been used that way in the AOL. If there are power-wrought swords left over from the past, such armor should survive, too.
It should also be useful for technical devices, like gears that don't wear out. Did the AOLers not use such things because their technology was magical, or does Turak have a collection of cuendillar screws?
Andrew Chute
75. AlmenBunt
re EvilMonkey @71- I think you are right on the money with Egwene's character, and you come to the crux of the reason why I give the 'Wener credit for all of her politics. It has been her m.o. from the beginning to through herself wholeheartedly into whatever she was doing. Even with the Tinkers, she jumped headfirst into being whatever she was surrounded by at the time. Rand, and I think maybe even Mat, remark on it way back in either tSR or FoH (I'll have to look it up after work today). Add to that a shrewd intelligence and raw grit, and you wind up with a super-Amyrlin: who has assimilated all that the Wise Ones have to teach about honour, responsibility, foresight, etc; and combined it with someone who has assimilated (or is in the process thereof at this point) all of the scheming and plotting of Aes Sedai.

re wishiwasMat @73: The Oaths still hold on the leash. Suroth even reflects on the inability to make Pura lie at one point while we see her in Cantorin. I think they even remark on it when Tuon reflects upon her damane, as to how she is almost useless in battle. I'll look up the actual references later, unless someone beats me to it.

Another thought on the Oaths, though. I accept that a stated code of laws make an organisation, and that the Oath Rod certainly makes an effective means of enforcing rules. What I have wondered at, though is why the need for the fourth Oath? If an Aes Sedai cannot lie (and re-swearing the Oaths confirms that, though Egwene can't do that to her minions), then would not a simple promise bind them as strongly as another Oath. I promise to swear fealty could not be a lie, therefore.... With all of the hooplaw and fuss over swearing a fourth Oath on the rod, it just doesn't seem to be necessary, assuming that the swearee isn't Black, but if you have the rod, then you can confirm that anyway.

edit: Another I remember correctly, somewhere early on in the series that there was mention of Everything that had been made of cuendillar being recorded at the Tower? What's on that list, and how did that manage to survive the Breaking?
Captain Hammer
76. Randalator
AlmenBunt @75

With all of the hooplaw and fuss over swearing a fourth Oath on the rod, it just doesn't seem to be necessary, assuming that the swearee isn't Black, but if you have the rod, then you can confirm that anyway.

Not necessarily, as we have seen in Towers of Midnight. There are ways to defeat the oath rod...
77. AndrewB
Fiddler @56
I disagree with your contention that Egwene is a hypocrite because she blasts raken out of the air, even knowing that Sisters or Tower Initiates may be killed.

Egwene believes that Sisters and/or Tower Initiates will be better off dead than at the hands of the Seanchan. I beleive she says as much to Adelorna during the Seanchan raid. In addition, killing them protects the remaining Sisters. If one of the captured Sisters knows how to Travel, then the Seanchan will learn this weave. As a result, the entire Tower will be potentially in grave danger.

Killing these women amounted to sawing off ones limb in order to save yourself from certain death.

AlmenBunt @ 67 and Subwoofer @68. I disagree.

Since almost the beginning, RJ wrote Egwene as having potential as someone who was very cunning. She hides Rand in the women's quarters in TGH. Moiraine comments to herself that Egwene has the potential to go a long way if she can harness her inititative. In TSR, Egwene comments to Moiraine that Egwene thinks Rand did something device, but is not quite sure exactly what. Moraine then thinks to herself that will that was observant of Egwene, she still has some ways to go.

My argument is that Egwene's political acumen is not as unfounded as you might have initially thought.

Last month, Tor let us post questions to BWS. Does anybody know when BWS will answer these questions? Will Tor post the answers in a discussion thread? If not, where we will be able to read his answers? Thanks to anybody who can provide answers to some or all of these questions.

Thanks for reading my musings.
James Hogan
78. Sonofthunder
Andrew@77, if I recall correctly, Brandon stated(this past week, I think?) that he actually already sent all his answers in to Tor, but he's not sure when/where they'll post them. As always, Brandon's on the ball!
Andrew Chute
79. AlmenBunt
re AndrewB @77- Sorry for my unintelligibility, but I actually agree with your statements. Though I can see where Subwoofer is coming from, I too feel that Egwene is possessing political acumen. Sorry if my attempts to expound that thought have been unclear.
John Massey
80. subwoofer
Right, I'm going to tread carefully here as I am in a really foul mood and don't want to overly offend people. Too much dang snow and everyone out there are a bunch of pansies.

I am going to ramble- sorry.

@EvilMonkey- btdt- I hear what you are saying- I don't have to ask anybody, I can just talk to myself. But it still grinds on me that Egwene thinks she knows best. Better than Rand and better than Mat. Prime example of miscommunication was Rand sending Mat to save Egwene. Apparently she did not need saving, speaking of blind spots. But did Egwene handle Mat descently? Not so much. Mat gets booted by Nynaeve-note the spelling, then his troops get called an army of Dragonsworn, he and and his men are made captive and stripped of their own damn horses and IMNSHO gets treated like crap. Regardless of what the case was, Mat came into a enemy camp, full of women that can channel, to save Egwene- show some love.

Rand- do I really need to get into it? He is LTT. I think he can find his ass with a hand and a flashlight. And HRH has nothing better than to march to the FoM to theoretically oppose him. Oh my aching back.

Nobody answered my question on my previous post about when the Oaths came about....

And yes, right now I am rereading TEotW and Moiraine says right off that Egwene has the potential to make it to the big seat one day. So that was RJ's plan from the word jump. Fine. I get it. Young Dragon, young Amyrlin. Never debated that at all. She just drives me up the wall.

"This is not about me. Egwene al'Vere is a child. But the Amyrlin is not. I may be young, but the Seat is ancient."... "Age is irrelevent... to an extent, even experience is irrelevent."... Gag.

To be clear, I was very happy with Eggy in tGS. Loved her opening a barrel of whoop ass. Coulda done without all the spankings, but y'know- what you gain in the swings, you lose in the roundabouts. I was happy to see her get the chair and then use the Law rule to diddle the Hall outta endless debate. I just didn't like the way that bit was written and then the bits about how she "overcame" the spankings. The pain of what is going on around her being greater than her ass on fire. Queen of Drama I name thee Egwene. She just comes off as wayyyy too sanctimonious and that just flat out bothers me. Which is why I am not drinking the Kool Aid. I actually liked Egwene and it pains me to see her become an Aes Sedai in more than just title. Nynaeve is still her under all the Tower training. Egwene is losing what made her different, beyond her stubborness, and that is what grinds.

And as I have said, I get the change in personality with Rand, because he is a different guy, he's LTT. Egwene, underneath it all, is not written as herself, or at least, I am not getting the same feeling from the text and no amount of life experience should change who you are at heart. (put this on the dreaded FB, but it fits here too).

Guess things could be worse, baby coulda rained poo on me instead of my wife. Swings, roundabouts, y'know?

Stefan Mitev
81. Bergmaniac
The current Three Oaths were introduced between the Trollocs Wars and the War of the Hundred Years, at least that's what Sheriam told Nynaeve in TGH, and even though she's Black, I doubt she'd risk giving herself away by lying about something like that.

"That we swear these oaths, that we are known to be bound, allows the nations to deal with us without fearing that we will throw up our own power, the One Power, against them. Between the Trolloc Wars and the War of the Hundred Years we made these choices, and because of them the White Tower still stands, and we can still do what we can against the Shadow."

On the other hand, the Big Book of Bad Art claims that

"These oaths were not always required, but various events before and since the Breaking caused them to be necessary. The second oath was the first adopted after the War of the Shadow.".

As for Egwene's sudden gain of political skills - it bothers me a bit, but this is WoT, and learning at superhuman speed is par for the course for pretty much everyone since the series started. I still wish Jordan had written at least a few scenes of her showing any interest in politics or Daes dai'Mar before she was raised Amyrlin. He covered that up somewhat with a brief mention right after she become Amyrlin that apparently she was present at many of the lectures Moiraine gave Rand, which was still a bit like too little too late to me.
Alice Arneson
82. Wetlandernw
Woof - no one knows for sure the history of the Oaths. Here's my recollection, without looking it up. (If I come up with the stuff to go look I'll correct what needs correcting; if I'm lucky, someone will beat me to it.) The first one (now #2?) was taken just after the Trolloc Wars, IIRC, so roughly 2000 years ago. The other two were added later but have been in place since before the Hundred Years War, so something more than 1000 years. The implication is that due to particular (but lost in history) events, the AS agreed that it would be a good idea to let everyone know that they had sworn an oath that could not be broken under any circumstances, and presumably proved it somehow. Later events caused a similar situation where they felt another oath was important enough to do the same thing, and then a third time.

Over time, of course, the emotional impetus for the various oaths would be lost, and someone would find a way to keep the letter but work around the spirit of an oath. As the circumstances which triggered the implementation were forgotten as well, it became a matter of tradition (or Law) to take the Oaths, but a matter of practice to keep them... loosely. Actually, the ones about making weapons and using the OP as a weapon (to mean killing intent, not corporal punishment) are pretty much held in both spirit and letter. It's only the one about speaking "no word which is not true" that has become so badly abused as to have come to mean, in the eyes of the world, exactly the opposite of it's original intent.

We're not told why they chose to use the Oath Rod, or even how they figured out what it would do. There's no evidence that anywhere along the line (of the Three Oaths development) anyone knew what the Oath Rod was invented for in the first place (criminals), much less that it would place a limit on lifespan. Some people are convinced that it was a Forsaken plot, but I think it makes more sense this way.

So there's my interpretation of what little we know about the origin of the Three Oaths. Does that help any?

And I see Bergmaniac answered some of it already, but I'm going to leave this just because.

About the poo.... my son rained on my mother-in-law a couple of times. :> Swings, roundabouts... or a win-win?
Kimani Rogers
83. KiManiak
subwoofer@64 – re: 3 Oaths – I also wonder when/how they went into effect. I think some have suggested that the Oaths and the use of the binding rod may have come from the influence of Ishamael or BA. I could see that as plausible.

EDIT - I see that Wetlander and bergmaniac already addressed this one.

Terez27@66 – I’m enjoying this reread, so I’ll try to catch your reread as well.

wetlanderrnw@70 – despite what my older sister would say while teasing me when were little kids, Kimani isn’t a girl’s name :-) I’ve met/hung out with 4 other Kimani’s (and know of 4 others; some spell their name slightly differently) and one was female, but we all maintain the name Kimani is quite masculine (Ok, the female Kimani disagreed, but she’s outnumbered). I don’t take offense, I get things addressed to “Ms. Kimani…” all the time. Those usually are promptly dropped in the garbage. :)

evilmonkey@71 – re: cuendillar – I guess my frustration is more so regarding the likelihood that the AS didn’t inform Bryne (or anyone else) that they had rediscovered this lost art, allowing for the possibility of someone else to come up with the “1000 and 1 uses for cuendillar.” Whether there was enough time to come up with potential uses (at least a week more in Egwene's arc in CoT, 10+ days in KoD, approximately another week/so in TGS, and 1 month while preparing for the Fields of Merrilor at the end of ToM. Wotverse has what, 10 days in a week? That’s 70-80 days) is highly debatable. But my issue is that in this time no one informed the General of the Amyrlin’s army, that on the eve of the Last Battle, the AS have rediscovered how to make cuendillar and inquired as to whether/not he could make use of that information. Do I think the AS are acting true to character by withholding information to maintain their air of mystery and superior knowledge? Sure. But, that was never my point.

birgit@74 – good questions and points made. It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of cuendillar was lost over the 3000 years since the breaking. Also, we don’t know whether/not Moridin’s AOL storage room (where he got the dreamspike in ToM) contains cuendillar weapons, armor, etc.

andrewb@77 & sonofthunder@78 – re: BWS responses to questions – I asked the same question on Leigh’s last post. Terez 27 answered (post 131 of CoT reread part 11, if the link doesn't work).

sub@80 – I mostly concur with what you said about Egwene. I’m trying to recharge before I get into another protracted discussion regarding the various issues with Egwene’s actions (most of which occur in ToM, but also are on display throughout the series), such as annoying traits like: hypocrisy, arrogance, hypocrisy, stubbornness, her tendency to think significantly less of the knowledge/skills/capabilities of her childhood friends even as she herself continues to grow/mature; and did I mention hypocrisy? .

I’ve generally liked Egwene the best of all of the Supergirls throughout most of the series (especially in TGS). Definitely more than Elayne, and although Nynaeve became incredible in ToM, she had a long way to go in my eyes before she got to the point where she is now my favorite SG. Regardless of how each of us individually feel about Nynaeve end-of-ToM, I think it’s fair to say there had been consistent character growth for Nynaeve which led to her becoming the awesome character that she currently is. Underneath it all, Nynaeve was still herself. I really like what Sub had to say in his second to last paragraph about Egwene not seeming to be who we (or at least I) thought her to be at heart.
Alice Arneson
84. Wetlandernw
Re: Egwene always thinks she's right... Anyone here want to raise their hand and say "I think most of my opinions are wrong?" Of course she thinks she's right. I think I'm right, too, or I wouldn't give an opinion. Duh. Does that mean I'm always right? Of course not. Neither is Egwene, or any of you. But we go on developing the best ideas, opinions and positions we can, based on the information we have, and we think we're right unless and until someone comes along and proves us wrong. Why is this a problem?

Case in point: with nothing to go on but a name, I made an incorrect gender assumption. My apologies. I stand corrected.
William Fettes
85. Wolfmage
Wetlandernw @ 84

"Re: Egwene always thinks she's right... Anyone here want to raise their hand and say "I think most of my opinions are wrong?" Of course she thinks she's right. I think I'm right, too, or I wouldn't give an opinion. Duh. Does that mean I'm always right? Of course not. Neither is Egwene, or any of you. But we go on developing the best ideas, opinions and positions we can, based on the information we have, and we think we're right unless and until someone comes along and proves us wrong. Why is this a problem?"

I would heartily object to that characterisation of this argument. It isn’t just that Egwene is comfortable in her own skin, backing her intuitions, judgements and her acquaintance with the relevant facts. Likewise, it isn’t that she displays generous confidence in her own abilities and will not automatically defer to exogenous wisdom. That would be entirely normal, and many WoT characters display hubris far beyond that without receiving anything like the kind of fan umbrage levelled against Egwene on this score.

The problem is that many of us perceive Egwene to demonstrate very little introspection. For example, Nynaeve is basically a banner character for pigheadedness and there are literally dozens of examples where she second-guesses herself (even if only internally) or begrudgingly concedes mistaken judgements about characters and events and re-evaluates appropriately. Same with Elayne although her type is more open-minded and concilliatory by nature. But equivalent moments from Egwene are thin on the ground, and that is rather a big sticking point for someone who has taken any number of dubious decisions, and exercised power in a rather cavalier manner on many occasions. I think that is the root cause for many people disliking her character growth. People typically accumulate wisdom by making mistakes, recognising their own shortcomings through the consequences of those mistakes and learning from it. Egwene, in contrast, seems to shortcut everything by absorbing wisdom through copy-cat behaviour and by harnesing pain and inbuilt determination to affirm her will.That's fine in small measure, but it becomes a little inauthentic when it's the only thing supporting such a magnitude of character growth between the books.

There’s also the matter of her inconsistent uber judgement. In relation to many matters, Egwene displays an incredible forensic ability to penetrate to the heart of a matter. She can intuitively recognise complex political dynamics, understand the motives of the players involved, and delicately navigate the terrain to achieve success. But at other times, she is bullheaded and makes inexplicable leaps of logic or lofty ambit claims with little to substantiate them. Which Egwene you get on any particular occasion has never felt particularly organic to her character. Rather, it is seemingly driven more by plot contrivance.

Egwene the uber-Aes Sedai impresses everyone, and gets rewarded at every turn in order to become the always-foreshadowed Amyrlin of the Ages. Whilst Egwene the idiot is there to reflect back at us female/Aes Sedai prejudices, and build tension between the old guard and Rand’s new world order. Unfortunately, Egwene the idiot never seems to impede Egwene the uber Amyrlin or suffer any kind of serious push-back from her coterie of gushing supporters or even the SGs. Excepting some minor throwaway comments from Nynaeve, she can be as hypocritical as she pleases and gets aways with it.

That’s annoying because it plays into the perception that Egwene’s growth in stature and power is somewhat inorganic.
Alice Arneson
86. Wetlandernw
Wolfmage - I think you misunderstand me. We each have our own opinions as to the validity of Egwene's opinions and decisions, and I'm not arguing that. (Now. I'll get to that later.) What I was saying is that I personally object to the statement "she always thinks she's right" as an intended insult, because it's so pointless. Of course she thinks she's right! So does Rand, so does Nynaeve, so does every significant character in the book. So does every person here with any opinion at all. Especially you and me.

I object to the use of that statement as an insult. If someone wants to disagree with her opinions, fine, but at least recognize that she (like you and me) stands by what she thinks is the right answer and that she is right to do so. What kind of lamebrain would she be to stand by something she thinks is the wrong answer? By all means be annoyed by her thoughts or choices, but don't be annoyed by the fact that she has opinions and beliefs, and that she holds them honestly.
John Massey
87. subwoofer
"Which Egwene you get on any particular occasion has never felt particularly organic to her character. Rather, it is seemingly driven more by plot contrivance"

That is brilliant. And incidentally, what I was fumbling to say. I do get where RJ was coming from- there is a balance. Two young people, both from the TR, coming into enormous power. Rand, the Dragon using Saidin and Egwene, the Amyrlin Seat, using Saidar. It fits. But Rand has a continuous line back to the Dragon- LTT. The block he had to shield his memories has faded and Rand is now complete. Where Egwene's martyr-like personality comes from totally escapes me.

@KiManiak- er... many of those characteristics you mention harken from the good ol' TR. No doubt. Dang Manetheran blood.

And thank you everyone for looking into the Oaths- big shout out to Wetlander cause much of what you said is on the forefront of my thoughts.

As I have mentioned I am currently rereading TEotW and lemme tell ya, taken into context, RJ was dropping some serious foreshadowing bombs from the word jump... like Egwene being Amyrlin. Where I was coming from with the Oaths was this-

" A thousand years later I sent the Trollocs ravening south, and for three centuries they savaged the world. Those blind fools in Tar Valon said I was beaten in the end, but the Second Covenant, the Covenant of the Ten Nations, was shattered beyond remaking, and who was left to oppose me then? I whispered in Artur Hawkwing's ear, and the length and breadth of the land Aes Sedai died. I whispered again, and the High King send his armies across the Aryth Ocean, across the World Sea, and sealed two dooms. The doom of his dream of one land and one people, and a doom yet to come. At his deathbed I was there when his councilors told him only Aes Sedai could save his life. I spoke and he ordered his councilors to the stake. I spoke, and the High King's last words were to cry that Tar Valon must be destroyed."

- now I know that Ba'alzamon is full of lies but dang- serious ramifications if even one of the things he said is true... and being that Mesaana was camped out in the Tower for eons, what I was getting at is the possibility of the Forsaken being at the heart of the Oaths. And I do agree with Wet that the Oaths are more a tradition than done with conviction. To give Egwene credit, I think she took the Oaths with heart, and that counts for something.

Where the Aes Sedai fail with the people, and this is something I get from Tam and Thom, early on in the books, is that "you see, lad, Aes Sedai are tricksome. They don't lie, not right out, but the truth an Aes Sedai tells you is not always the truth you think it is." -Tam al'Thor.

Lies balance lies. And that is the problem and the flaw with the Oaths.

The baby report- so my little girl farts and poops at the same time. It is somewhat explosive. Soooo my wife was changing a poopy diapy and it turns out that Gabby was not done. She fired off another salvo that landed on everything, including my wife. I am under pain of death not to post that photo anywhere. My wife is a saint, me notsomuch.

@ TOR- the quote function and the cut and paste function blows. There is huge spacing with the quote function and the cut and paste results in funny formatting. Just a heads up.

88. EvilMonkey
I preface this by saying I do not believe Eggy to be the most perfect character on this earth and all other parallel earths in the multiverse. I have to disagree with Wolf in regards to Eggy's character development though. From the first Egwene has always seemed to me to be a know-it-all with some amazing powers of cut-through-the-bullshyt thinking. Her judgement leaps, both good and bad, have been the baseline of her character arc, going hand in hand with her stubborness. And while some of those logic leaps she displays can sometimes strike readers as implausible, well implausible things happen all the time in WOT. Given the seeds planted by RJ about her though, I do not see them as totally unrealistic.
Woof @ 80; Is Egwene sometimes a sactimonious prig? Sure. Nynaeve is also when talking about healing, Avienda is when talking about ji'e'toh, Elayne is a huge one whenever she gets to talking about her lineage and the bravery of Andoran queens. Most of the women in this series display this trait, especially the ones who can channel. It's annoying but totally consistent with the world RJ created outta whole cloth.
Something that was built into Egwene's character that annoys me is familiarity breeds contempt with her. The longer she knows someone as an equal or below her, the more she underestimates their abilities. She is able to see her own growth as a person since she resides in her own head, but for some reason cannot take into account that others may have grown as well. All her schoolyard chums get the smackdown treatment (which makes it so satisfying when Perrin one-up's her in Tel'aran'riod), Siuan gets it even though she taught our uber Amrylin everything she knows. She even gives a backhanded slapdown to the Wise Ones by scheming to bind them to the tower with silk, the assumption being that the Tower is the ultimate and all other channeling groups are lesser organizations. It is especially annoying to the reader because we get to see these guys have individual moments covered in awesome sauce. We know they are awesome in their own unique and individual ways, so why can't the people who actually live there see it? Of all the team captains for Team Light, ZenRand seems to be the only one of them to truly recognize his friends and lovers' awesomeness for what it is, and he had to assimilate with a voice in his head to do it. I believe that Queen Witch needs something she never had much of, an enormous dose of humility. Unfortunately, at this point there are only 2 people in all of Randland who could give it to her, Rand and IshyDin. Well three. Can you imagine grey-bunned CaddySue teaching Egwene manners? That would be as cool as it would be hilarious and potentially teeth-grindingly annoying.
John Massey
89. subwoofer
And yeah... still snowing. And I left my quad out at the lake. Snow shovel attachment is here, but the highways are closed for me to get the important part. Our hero has been getting in on the shovel action:( Snow is so high now actually have to reach overhead to toss the stuff. This global warming thing that people speak of... looks around... doesn't seem to be happening in my area of the world. More like the Day After Tomorrow up here... the Blight would die in this kinda snow and cold.

Edit- @EM- yeah, I do get that, RJ really skewed the world. But Ny's internal monologue makes all the stuff she says out loud worth it. And as I am reading Book 1 here, her intentions were pure- save her flock. It blossomed to typical TR stubborness- show up that dang AS Mo. But through it all, Nynaeve grows as a person- heck marrying Lan would do that alone- but Ny also has the same feeling underlying her motives and it reads that way. Egwene has a very different feeling about her that I am finding very hard to reconcile.

And excellent point about Siuan. I was trying to illustrate the same with Mat, but Siuan really gets trod on by her prodigy. Which makes me respect Siuan all the more because she is stripped of her place, Stilled, and pretty much left for dead. But Siuan picks herself up and gets back to it. Even after her poor treatment, Siuan still puts off her marriage with Bryne until the world is resolved. That is the type of character I can believe and get behind. True servant of all- and it is consistant and it reads well too.

William Fettes
90. Wolfmage

Great post. I actually agree with pretty much everything you've said there. I do maintain that Egwene the uber Amyrlin's ascendency would have been more seamless in terms of her naive origins, and rather less irritating, if she had more moments of introspection and self-criticism. However, you're correct that her self assurance and implacable centre do provide a line of continuity which can explain a lot, including her foibles.

I absolutely love your insight about familiarity breeding contempt with Egwene. This is a great point as she really does seem to demonstrate a certain degree of mental rigidity about her fellow duopotamians. Rand is the most obvious example. But it's true as a general proposition that she does not allow for even a fraction of the growth she herself has gone through in others.

As you say, this also applies to factions she has already "conquered". I don't think it's disrespect as such - but she is certainly less deferential to her original mentors if she thinks she has already aborbed everything of use from their worldview. Her rather shabby treatment of Siuan - who she owes almost everything to - is a case in point.
Theresa Gray
91. Terez27
@Tor @Woof - I thought the copy/paste thing was fixed for some reason a while back. I think it was all those short Twitter posts I was copying over - they didn't have the same issues at first. But then I noticed it wasn't fixed. Lame, because it does indeed suck. I haven't had a post marked as spam in a while, though.

Here's part 2 of my re-read, in which I pontificate a lot.
Alice Arneson
92. Wetlandernw
You’re not going to believe this…

Well, if you know me at all, you’ll probably believe it readily. Still.

I find that the recent discussion has triggered a series of thoughts which led me to a whole new appreciation of, and respect for, Egwene al’Vere. (Surprised, anyone? Lots of people bashing her, me with dishes to do… here comes the DA again.) WALL-O-TEXT WARNING. This is a doozy. Sorry, tor. Oh, and any bold in the quotes is mine, to point up the specially important bits.

The thing is, I just realized that Egwene is not all about Egwene any more. There was a time, of course, when she wanted what she wanted above all things; that’s one of the reasons she left Emonds Field in the first place. (That thought triggered by Brandon’s comment that she’s the only one who left freely and by desire; the others were forced, in a way, by their own sense of responsibility. That’s not quite what he said, but that’s roughly what he intended, I think.)

Earlier in the books, she was about getting what she wanted, learning everything she could, being the best she could be, etc. By this point, though, her focus has changed. Top priority? The Light must win Tarmon Gai’don so that the world can be saved. How does that happen? Well, the Dragon Reborn has to do something, though no one is quite sure what, and it probably involves him dying. Along with that, though, everyone expects a whole lot of BATTLE to the Last Battle, and that means Team Light will face Shadowspawn, Darkfriends and Dreadlords. Without “Lightlords” (as a generic term for those who use the One Power for the Light, because I’m sick of typing “male and female channelers” and not nearly all light-side channelers are Aes Sedai) and a fair number of them, the world is in a heap of trouble. They need to be coordinated to some extent, as well.

Cue the next level of significance regarding which Egwene has some influence: the White Tower. If Team Light is to fight effectively, Randland needs a whole, unified White Tower to take point. Along with Aes Sedai, they ought to have the combined might of the Asha’man, the Wise Ones, the Windfinders, the damane and the Kin all coordinated to fight as Lightlords on various fronts, but not one of those groups (with the possible exception of the damane) are even mentally accustomed to the idea of functioning as a unit. The White Tower in its current form might be a pretty lame excuse for The Bastion of the Light, but it’s the best they’ve got and it must be brought as nearly up to speed as can be managed.

I’ll get back to that in a bit; for now, let’s go back to Egwene and her development. A few books ago, Egwene was busily immersed in the Aiel culture, learning to be the best Wise One she could be, but knowing that eventually she would return to the Aes Sedai. Then the SAS summoned her and chose her as Amyrlin; she neither sought nor wanted the position, but she was given no choice. Once chosen, however, she wasn’t about to be a puppet; if she was Amyrlin, she was going to be Amyrlin. Egwene al’Vere is no one’s figurehead! With me so far?

Now, here’s where I start to see a shift, and some subtle but significant character growth. (And here’s where you’re probably going to think I’m going off the deep end.) As she finally spends significant time in direct contact with Aes Sedai on equal terms (i.e. no longer a novice) she begins to see some big-picture things. She sees the White Tower as it stands for something larger: the Randland bastion of Light against the Forsaken & the power of the Dark One. Sure, there are lots of other people who are against the DO, but unlike nations and governments, the whole purpose of the WT is to stand against the Dark. Yes, I’ll grant you that not too many of the current crop of AS seem to realize this, at least in anything more than words, BUT… the thing is, they need to. And they need to do it soon. For them to realize it, and for them to be in any way effective, the WT needs to be united.

This, then, becomes Egwene’s primary purpose: uniting the White Tower for the ultimate purpose of defending the world against the Dark One and his forces.

I think this is why Egwene changed her mind about the Oaths, and (as I’ll expound later) why she made the statements in ToM so many objected to about the Amyrlin’s position. Egwene has realized that things like shortened lifespan and the way AS weasel around the truth are petty compared to what’s coming. The Last Battle is on the horizon; if the Light doesn’t win, the rest of it just doesn’t matter. As far as the current Aes Sedai see it, the Three Oaths are what define them and set them apart from everyone else. Because they believe it, it is true for them; if Egwene is to truly be Aes Sedai, she (as well as the other girls) must take the Oaths and stand by them. Time enough to make changes later, if they survive TG. I’m not saying she thought it all the way through like that before she changed her mind, but I think that on an intuitive level, she realized that the importance of the Oaths to defining Aes Sedai was not trivial and could not be set aside lightly, if at all.

I’m not going to detail much of the next chunk, mostly because this is already too long, but I’m going to jump ahead to the chapter we just read. Egwene is considering how to unify the Tower, and she’ll sacrifice almost anything to do it. She even thinks that she’d be willing to surrender to Elaida if she thought it would work, but obviously it won’t. It may sound a bit cold, but she refuses to set AS fighting AS because of the damage it would do to the reunification, even knowing that other people will die because of that refusal. From one perspective it’s cold-hearted and selfish, but from another… if the Last Battle comes while Team Light is in the current mess, they’ll die anyway and with far more dire consequences.

In upcoming chapters, Egwene will decide that she will do the harbor-chain thing herself rather than sending Bodewhin. I’m sure there are a lot of reasons, but self-preservation is not one of them. I think somewhere in here, without us realizing it – and probably without Egwene really realizing it - the survival of Egwene al’Vere is no longer all that important to her. What’s important is the reunification of the Tower. Once she’s captured, you see her in an attitude where it’s not about Egwene al’Vere at all; it’s about The Amyrlin. (From here on out, I’ll use some shorthand: The Amyrlin to designate the station or position, and Egwene al’Vere to designate the woman as an individual. Bear with me.) Backing up a step, you actually see that developing in this chapter, too, where she allows a brief moment of regret for Bodewhin and her friends from Emond’s Field.

Egwene would have loved to talk with Bode and some of the others, but an Amyrlin had lessons to learn too. An Amyrlin had many duties, few friends, and no favorites.

I’m woefully certain that I won’t find the words to describe what I mean here. Earlier, she was all about her own desires and image; now, she’s all about The Amyrlin and everything that title carries. She couldn’t care less if Egwene al’Vere is beaten or made to do the dirtiest of the chores; what matters is that The Amyrlin remains strong and focused on the White Tower for the purpose of defeating the Dark One. It doesn’t even matter if Egwene al’Vere dies; The Amyrlin will remain unbowed and strong for the White Tower, because The Amyrlin is more important than the woman who bears the name. (See? I told you I couldn’t find the right words.) We’ve all gotten annoyed at Rand for taking stupid chances, since the Dragon Reborn (one particular man, in this Age Rand al’Thor) has a particular role to play. Egwene, I think, realizes that she’s different; she might be the best one for the job, but she’s hardly the only one who could do it. Therefore, certain chances are worth taking for the sake of priorities higher than her life. If she dies, someone else will have to try to do the right thing, but she must aim for the best possible outcome even if failure means her death.

In that light, her insistence on not being rescued takes on a different character. She doesn’t want Siuan & co. worrying about her life; it’s far more important that she be where she can effect the healing of the Tower than that she be safe. From Siuan’s perspective, Egwene al’Vere is their best hope for that healing, and should be protected at any cost, but Egwene isn’t seeing it like that. For her, better that she die trying to heal the Tower than live and fail in that task.

In ToM, there are two scenes that really bother a lot of people: her talk with Nynaeve in TAR, and her confrontation with Mesaana. If I can, I’ll change up the lighting a little for you.

First, Egwene’s meeting with Nynaeve. I just went back and read that again, and it nearly brought tears to my eyes. How anyone can read that and think that Egwene is being selfish or egotistical, I simply cannot understand. Egwene begins by asking Nynaeve for advice, as one of the few people who has been in a similar situation:

"A leader that everyone thinks is too young. Who rose to her position abruptly. Who knows she is the right woman for the job, yet has only grudging acceptance from most of those near her."

"Yes," Nynaeve said, walking with Egwene, eyes growing distant. "You could say I know something of being in that situation."

Nynaeve then proceeds to give some extremely good advice on handling that situation, then…
Nynaeve froze. Suddenly, her honesty melted into suspicion, her eyes narrowing. "This wasn't about asking me for advice at all, was it?"

"Of course it was," Egwene said. "Only a fool would ignore the advice of those who support her. But how did it feel for you, those first weeks when you became Wisdom? When all the women you were supposed to be leading looked at you only as the girl they had known?"

"Terrible," Nynaeve said softly.

"And were they wrong to do so?"

"Yes. Because I'd become something more. It wasn't me any longer, it was my station."

Egwene met the older woman's eyes, holding them, and an understanding passed between them.

Egwene explains quite frankly why she needs Nynaeve’s support so much: along with many other factors, she desperately needs people she can trust implicitly. Nynaeve admits that with another woman as Amyrlin, she would, however unhappily, do whatever was required, including kneeling and kissing her ring.

"Then why is it so bitter for you to serve the Amyrlin? Not me, Nynaeve, but the station."

I love that meeting. They both face the fact that while Egwene is the woman in the job (and the best for it), the station itself is the important thing. When Egwene asks Nynaeve to start addressing her as “Mother” it’s to remind herself that she’s speaking to The Amyrlin and not just Egwene al’Vere. You can’t entirely separate the two, of course, but there are some significant distinctions – primarily, that Egwene is not on a power trip here, and she’s not after personal aggrandizement. Egwene has a vital job to do, and Nynaeve finally realizes that she has huge power to either make that job easier (possible?) or undermine it completely depending on how she treats Egwene – as The Amyrlin or as Egwene al’Vere. And Nynaeve, bless her pea-pickin’ little heart, steps up in true Two Rivers fashion and does the right thing because it’s the right thing no matter how hard it is. Love that girl.

Okay, so then there’s the Mesaana conversation, and you already know where I’m going with this. After Egwene realizes that in TAR, she doesn’t need to accept the either the power of the a’dam or the power of Mesaana’s will, there’s that conversation. Mesaana thinks she's talking to Egwene al’Vere, a 20-year-old girl from the boondocks, and dismisses her ability in TAR because she herself has been using it for decades (or centuries, whatever). Egwene rather laughs at her, because for all her claims of experience, most of her lifetime was spent in peacetime. Mesaana then tries to use TAR tricks to force a change in the way Egwene thinks.

"You will bend," Mesaana said quietly.

"You are mistaken," Egwene replied, voice tense. "This is not about me. Egwene al'Vere is a child. But the Amyrlin is not. I may be young, but the Seat is ancient."

Neither woman looked away. Egwene began to push back, to demand that Mesaana bow before her, before the Amyrlin. The air began to feel heavy around them, and when Egwene breathed it in, it seemed thick somehow.

"Age is irrelevant," Egwene said. "To an extent, even experience is irrelevant. This place is about what a person is. The Amyrlin is the White Tower, and the White Tower will not bend. It defies you, Mesaana, and your lies."

From Egwene’s perspective, her strength here is not a matter of who she is individually, but what she is, and everything that stands for. Egwene’s conviction that the WT, as represented by the Amyrlin, is an unbending force of Light against the Dark, is what wins the battle. Again, words fail me here; it’s not Egwene’s personal strength of will, but her absolute confidence in the strength and purpose of The Amyrlin, that wins. (And thank you, Perrin, for that quick lesson in perception and its power in TAR. This girl learns fast!)

So I know someone is going to accuse me of writing fanfic, since very little of this is reflected in Egwene’s POV thoughts. Funny thing is, very little is reflected in her thoughts. What we mostly get there is the surface stuff – ways, means, plans, and sometimes frustrations. Whether that’s because RJ/BWS write her as more intuitive than reflective, or whether it’s intentional to keep us in the dark about certain things, I don’t know. Certainly I can’t prove beyond argument that this is actually what’s going on, but I do believe the text supports it based on her thoughts, words and actions. In any case, I’d like to hope that if anyone has waded through all this, it’s at least given you some food for thought. Sadly, it’s late enough that I’m not entirely sure I’ve even been coherent, much less persuasive…

A few more notes. Many are hard on Egwene for disagreeing with Rand on the question of the Seals (and whether they’ve been eating red herring lately), and hold this up as an example of her arrogance and know-it-all attitude. I would suggest that, as de facto leader of the Lightlords, it is her responsibility to do all she can to make the Last Battle winnable if possible. Logically, this does not include breaking the last fragile limits on the DO’s prison. It’s quite possible that she doesn't realize, at least for the moment, that the DO will probably still be imprisoned to some extent even without the Seals, given that he was still partially contained at the time the Seals were set. She might be forgiven this oversight, seeing that it was 3000 years ago and she doesn’t have the memories of an AOL Lightlord at ready access.

Oh, and “de facto leader of the Lightlords!” you say? I would argue that, at this point, she is. The Wise Ones work as a loose unit, and might be a cohesive force under Sorilea’s leadership, but the other groups are unlikely to follow them. The Asha’man are apparently led by a DF (at best) for the time being. The Kin have no real leader, and would in any case follow the WT. The Windfinders, if they will help at all, have no single leader and are unaccustomed to working as a unit. At least Egwene has the general support and respect of the WO; the Kin, as noted, will follow the WT; and the Windfinders have some small connection to the WT through their AS and bargaining. (I think they’re more likely to end up busy with some task Rand sets them and not helping a lot overall with the LB, but that’s just my guess.) The Asha’man will, we hope, be cleaned out and the good guys will follow Logain, to meet up with Egwene & co. to work together, but for the time being they’re a big question mark. That leaves the Seanchan damane, and all I can say is… I’m really looking forward to seeing how that works out!

And what about Rand? Isn't he the leader of the Lightlords? Well, we all used to think he would be, but at this point he seems to be thinking that the rest of them are going to have to fight TG while he goes to Shayol Ghul to fight the DO, and I'm not sure he's wrong about that.

Okay, I know I left a zillion points dangling, but this is a MASSIVE wall of text already. My apologies – and my congratulations to anyone who makes it all the way through!
Jonathan Levy
93. JonathanLevy
Great Egwene discussion. Very insightful, very enjoyable.

85. Wolfmage
The problem is that many of us perceive Egwene to demonstrate very little introspection. For example, Nynaeve is basically a banner character for pigheadedness and there are literally dozens of examples where she second-guesses herself (even if only internally) or begrudgingly concedes mistaken judgements about characters and events and re-evaluates appropriately. Same with Elayne although her type is more open-minded and concilliatory by nature. But equivalent moments from Egwene are thin on the ground...

Are we really really sure that Egwene has fewer moments of introspection? Or are we letting our condemnation of her arrogance color our recollections? Maybe we should try to create a list. Here's what I've got off the top of my head - I know I'll be forgetting some really obvious ones...

Ye Olde Liste of WoT mistake-acknowledgements (public and private)
(in no particular order)

1) Sending Birgitte after Moghedien (TFOH)
2) Sending Galad and Masema after the same boat (TFOH)
3) Letting Moghedien escape in TSR (? She does apologize to Elayne about this)
4) Regretting sending Birgitte to talk to Mat in ACOS
5) Apologizing to Mat in ACOS.
6) Apologizing to Elayne for getting drunk in Salidar (LOC)
7) Thanking Mat and Juilin for saving them from Ronde Macura (TFOH)
8) Going to Cadsuane for help after Rand balefired Natrin's barrow (TGS)
9) Commiserating with Elayne while they are scrubbing pots in Salidar, implicitly regretting her outburst (LOC)

1) Apologizing to Mat after Swovan Night. (ACOS)
2) Thanking Mat for rescuing her from the gholam in ACOS
3) Apologizing to Mat for her outburst after she sees the red roses Tylin sent him.
4) Thanking Mat for Ta'veren-ning the Sea Folk (ACOS)

1) Accepting Amys' rebuke when she is caught in TAR.
2) O Wise Ones, I lied! Now spank me! Spank me!!! (LOC)
3) Changing her mind about the 3 oaths.
4) Realizing she had miscalculated while serving dinner to Elaida and Meidani (TGS - kind of weak, I know).

That's all I've got right now... But I'm sure lots of other people here have many more!

My first impression is that most of the introspection and character development happens before TPOD - but that may simply be a reflection of my familiarity with the sources.
Alice Arneson
94. Wetlandernw
And believe it or not, that's not the rant I was trying to clean up. I may not have the strength for that one. Let me just say that, for those who want to claim that Cadsuane should take lessons from Sharina, you really need to go get your book (or use google books, if your paper copy isn't handy) and read that section for yourself. An only slightly different perspective shows Sharina bullying the other novices, usurping authority she doesn't have, and being very nearly contemptuous toward those who are legitimately in authority over her. Peas... pods... dunno.

Leigh was quite correct - maybe more than she realized - when she said that the only difference is that Sharina is in a position of supposed powerlessness, vs. Cadsuane's top-of-the-AS-individual-heirarchy legendary status. Sharina, being a novice, doesn't cause our knee-jerk reaction to authority to kick in. Nope, I'm not buying it. Cadsuane and Sharina are very, very much alike - they respect those who deserve it (by their lights), set down those who act childishly, and do what they see needs to be done regardless of authority or lack thereof.

(I mean, come on. A novice whose curtsy to the Mistress of Novices comes "just short of being to an equal" and you then give her credit for treating people with respect?)

Jonathan Levy
95. JonathanLevy
92. Wetlandernw
My My what a wall of text. I will only try to address one point.

I think that you have provided the best indictment so far of Egwene for arrogance. (I do not suggest that this was your intention, nor that you were explicitly arguing for or against this point.)
Then the SAS summoned her and chose her as Amyrlin; she neither sought nor wanted the position, but she was given no choice. Once chosen, however, she wasn’t about to be a puppet; if she was Amyrlin, she was going to be Amyrlin. Egwene al’Vere is no one’s figurehead!
...Egwene, I think, realizes that... she might be the best one for the job, but she’s hardly the only one who could do it.

Think about it. An 18-year-old girl is taken from her village and after a short apprenticeship is placed as a figurehead in charge of a small nation. She knows she is a figurehead. She knows that she is surrounded by much older, much more experienced women. What thoughts come to her mind? "What am I going to do?" No, I know what to do. "Perhaps I should settle for being a figurehead, since I am so inexperienced?" No: "How am I going to manipulate the factions here so as to get my way?". Elaida will mishandle Rand. I know better. Romanda has been Aes Sedai for 200 years, and I've only just met her, but I already know she is a fool. I will play her and Lelaine against each other so as to get my way. Siuan was going to manipulate me, but I make her acknowledge that I am in charge, even though a year and a half ago I was still clearing tables in my father's inn. I know better. I will decide. I will lead.

In the real world, this usually leads to ruin. The most common case is an underaged king, who at 18 casts off his dead father's advisers and ruins his nation. Rechavam son of Solomon is perhaps the oldest example. The Emperor Nero also qualifies. Commodus as well. All brought civil war and disaster to their people.

In the real world, the young princes who do this do it because from birth they have been surrounded with sycophants who treated them with reverence, knowing they were to rule. They have never had any limits placed on their will, and by the time they are 18 they are thoroughly spoiled.

Egwene, however, manages to have the same attitude without the excuse. And the only reason she succeeds is because she's a fictional character. I think perhaps it is her success which grates on people's nerves, because it seems undeserved. If she'd caused a disaster, she wouldn't be nearly as irritating!
Theresa Gray
96. Terez27
Siuan is responsible for a lot of that. She trusted Egwene and Nynaeve and Elayne where she trusted no Aes Sedai in the hunt for the Black Ajah, and she very much guided Egwene's impressions of the other Aes Sedai in Salidar (not that Egwene needed much encouragement...but being supported by the former Amyrlin was a boost).
Hugh Arai
97. HArai
@Wetlandernw: My own irritation with Egwene comes in those cases where I can't see what justification she has to be so convinced she's correct. Maybe in some cases, I can't see it because I've missed the explanation in the text but even so, that sort of behavior from a very intelligent character is really irritating.

For instance, you mention the handling of the seals. Unless I missed a section where it detailed how Egwene learned exactly what to do about a purely saidin-based work that apparently had no eye-witnesses that stayed sane, all Egwene has is guess work and the speculations of Aes Sedai that didn't even retain the explanations of how many saidar based works were done. She takes that and decides there's no way that Rand, the reincarnation of the person that led the first attempt might be right instead. She's so sure that she decides Nynaeve and Elayne are being ta'veren influenced because they don't immediately agree with her. Why is she so sure? Because she's the Amyrlin and she says so? Because he's Rand and must be wrong by definition? Because Siuan and Amys think she's smart? Obviously these possibilities are... unsatisfying, and another gnawing irritant forms for me.

Help me out. You've done an excellent job of explaining possible viewpoints for other characters that I can accept at least as far as easing my dislike for them. Can you do the same here? You'll have brightened parts of the re-read experience a lot for me and possibly others :)
John Massey
98. subwoofer
@Wet- nice post, you shoulda put a snack shack in the middle so we didn't have to trudge all the way to the 18th hole to stop for food and water;)

I gotta rip to work or I'd get out the book and quotes but the bit with Eggy and Maseena was exactly one of the parts that made me run for my barf bag. There was something at the end about young Forsaken and ancient Tower etc. but ooohhh-... s'okay. Gag reflex kicking in. Anyways, I get the need for Egwene. I cheered for her ( as I have said in past posts), I just don't like the way some of those bits were written. I guess what really grinds on me is that for some of those parts I heard the audio version- the teaser trailers- and I can just hear that annoying voice chime in my head every time Egwene goes on a moral crusade.

And the part about Nynaeve- Ny has the grace to admit her wrongs and it is very comedic the way she reconciles her outside and inside voices. Egwene just has that grinding sanctimonious plod of a moral high horse. But that's just me. Other folks have other beefs with her.

@Terez- thank you:) I am glad it is not just me slogging around with these problems. Thought my computer needed a priest and some holy water.

99. Ryamano
@ 22. Isilel

One of the Red Sisters who goes to the Black Tower to bond Asha'man does battle an eyelash at how young some of them are at the end of KoD. Also, right after, the Red Sisters agree not to bond "children" (as they say it).

It's not that the White Tower is overprotective. It's that the Black Tower is ruthless. Rand al'Thor asked Mazrim Taim to make as many weapons as he could, to push the Asha'man hard, and so he did. He picked up lots of men, not caring how old they were, and trained them in military fashion, pushing up their potential. Lots of them got burned or went insane (the exact numbers are in TOM), making that effort more wasteful than female traditions' training. But it's as Rand said, they don't have all the time of the world.
Stefan Mitev
100. Bergmaniac
@Wetlandernw - "This, then, becomes Egwene’s primary purpose: uniting the White Tower for the ultimate purpose of defending the world against the Dark One and his forces."

See, this is what I disagree with. In my opinion her primary purpose is to unite the White Tower for the sake of uniting the White Tower and restoring its influence on the world. It's all about the Aes Sedai and her precious Tower in her mind. The Last Battle is a distant second to that. This is one of the main problems I have with Egwene.

Her insistence that Nynaeve should be tested for the shawl and subsequent participation in the testing where she created the two toughest tests is a clear example of that. If Egwene cared primarily about the Last Battle, she wouldn't have risked the strongest Aes Sedai and the only one by that point who had defeated a Forsaken, in something which will only gain Egwene a bit of political credit and won't help with the Last Battle.

And there were no signs of any battle preparations by the Aes Sedai during the one month Egwene was in charge of the unified Tower in ToM. Bryne was planning on his own what will their army of normal soldiers do when the Trollocs come, but the Aes Sedai, Egwene included, were busy scheming and plotting, and nothing indicated that they were making any kind of preparations for the upcoming fighting.
Captain Hammer
101. Randalator
HArai @97

She's so sure that she decides Nynaeve and Elayne are being ta'veren influenced because they don't immediately agree with her. Why is she so sure?

More importantly, does she even stop for a second to think about the implications? Nynaeve and Elayne being wrong because they were ta'verened into agreeing with Rand? I have to quote Moridin here: “I doubt you can understand the magnitude of the stupidity in your statement”

Ta'veren are a corrective mechanism of the Wheel, they twist the Pattern around them to provide them with what they need to fulfill their purpose. So if Rand really put the ta'veren whammy on the two, by definition, his plan must be right, because if not there wouldn't have been any whammy in the first place.

Dismissing Nynaeve's and Elayne's opinion on the grounds of it being a ta'veren effect really is beyond stupidity...
James Hogan
102. Sonofthunder
Berg @100, I'm hoping(fairly confident!) that Egwene and Aes Sedai under her direction took some measures of preparation for TG. Just because we didn't see it doesn't mean it didn't happen. We're not really sure what Rand was doing for a month - hopefully he was doing some TG prep too!!

Wetlander, thanks(as always!!) for the delightful read. I got a bit grumpy at first when I saw your post, because I knew that you'd change my mind on Egwene upon reading it. And sure enough, I'm thinking much more positively of Egwene now than previously. She's still not my favorite(subwoofer vocalized most of my feelings on her), but your well-crafted essay persuaded me of the the necessities of acting like a...sanctimonious prig,(was that it, sub?). As Amyrlin, she represents the most powerful institution on earth. Respect is due her station. Similar to how in the States, we honor the office of President, if not the man. Egwene must maintain the prestige of the office of Amyrlin and must not allow others to disrespect it(per her treatment of Bode Cauthon). Egwene, as Amyrlin, represents thousands of years of White Tower hegemony(at least, as they like to think) in Randland, and she must not act ignorant or silly in any way, lest her image(and the dignity of the Amyrlin Seat) be sullied.

I was reading TGS last night, the part where she has a short conversation with Gawyn and tells him that she has no time for him at present. And it hit me that part of the reason that some(most?) have a problem with Egwene is just that she seems so inhuman at times. We rarely see her break down like Nynaeve or emote like Elayne(which, as annoying as it is...she definitely emotes!!), so it's hard to empathize with her. And, as has has been pointed out, she's never been truly humbled(that I can think of? Correct me if I'm wrong). She seems so perfectly in control and all powerful. While Rand is definitely amazingly powerful, he was most definitely NOT perfectly in control for most of the series, and so we could relate with him. We could feel his pain. It's tough to do that with Egwene, seeing as she has no pain(or she laughs it off). Wetlander, I *do* understand her reasons for acting as she has, but they don't increase my empathy for her any. I can admire her from a distance. But I wouldn't really want to go give her a hug and be best friends, either. Again though, wetlander, thanks for the beautifully written essay. I think it just *may* be the longest wall I've ever seen from you.
103. EvilMonkey
"In that light, her insistence on not being rescued takes on a different character. She doesn’t want Siuan & co. worrying about her life; it’s far more important that she be where she can effect the healing of the Tower than that she be safe. From Siuan’s perspective, Egwene al’Vere is their best hope for that healing, and should be protected at any cost, but Egwene isn’t seeing it like that. For her, better that she die trying to heal the Tower than live and fail in that task. "

Going a little sideways from that post, it isn't just that Eggy is the best hope for the healing of the Tower. As the woman on the ground, the solver of puzzles, the instructor on political intrigue, it is obvous to Siuan that the entire rebellion is falling apart without her presence as the main symbol of defiance. The hall knows Eggy is still strong-like-bull, but there aren't any regular sisters meeting up with her in the dream world. Then the leaders in the Hall are so ambitious they cannot seem to stop scheming no matter the circumstances. Despite their attitudes and the blinders they have on, these are not dumb women. They, in particular Romanda and Lelaine, are the top schemers in a tower full of them. Without Egwene's hand on their neck there is no way they would not be able to figure out how to wrest power away from the secret council Egwene left behind. Siuan tells her this time and time again, yet she ignores her top advisor. We get it that the decision is hers, hers in fact since she worked so hard to cut whatever puppet strings others tried to attach to her. But by the end of TOM she is iggying everyone. Her opinion is the only one that matters. Of course she thinks she is right, and that conviction as well as the knowledge that this shebang is bigger than her is the only way she was able to break Messana. But a good leader has to allow for the possibility that he or she could be wrong and be willing to change tracts in the face of evidence contrary to their way of thinking. We can address the seals for example. Egwene is so set in the knee-jerk reaction of the seals must be protected and mustn't be broken that she dismisses out of hand the opinions of people she supposedly trusts. Elayne doesn't think its a bad idea because she is being open-minded. Eggy thinks she's blinded by love (btw, Elayne seems to me to be the last person to let love interfere with her duty as she sees it). Nynaeve has had first hand interaction with the soon-to-be seal breaker, had an in on his research. Nyna sees some value in what Rand has to say about it. Eggy believes Rand's personal magnetism and ta'veren nature swayed her and thus makes her unreliable. Perrin cannot channel at all so of course his opinion isn't valid to her, despite him knowing more than a little bit about building things. Three independant sources are telling her, hey there just might be something to this breaking seals thing!, yet she doesn't even consider that she might be wrong? And then there's Rand himself, the dullard who came up with the plan to Clense Saidin, just up and did it! And he has access to over 3000 years worth of memories. He is the original creator of those same seals. Egwene doesn't trust that? Not allowing for any possibility she may be wrong on this one? And the way she smacks down Gawyn even though he was right for once, it's the same shyt in miniature. She has got to get some type of humility, at least a little more than what she has.

Good Points Randalator and Thunder and Berg, especially about not wanting to give Eggy a hug anytime soon. Teach her some manners CaddySue!
Shay Garini
104. s.12gr3
i am just at the middle of my reading. It seems that many of you like the book!!So do I :)
Roger Powell
105. forkroot
Been away a bit, digesting the horrific events of Saturday. By sheerest coincidence, my wife and I had a meeting in Tucson on Saturday, a couple of miles away. Many of the people in that meeting were from Tucson and knew at least one of the victims. Now I'm back at work at Safeway (of all places!), so I've been in touch with a lot of people who are having to process the unprocessable.

My heartfelt plea to all is this: Please do not judge Arizona by the actions of one individual that appears to be a deeply disturbed young man, It seems our state has been in the news a lot recently, and there's been a disturbing national caricature developed. To the extent that that stems from our weird politics and colorful individuals, we'll take the heat (so to speak.)

What happened on Saturday is different. There's no politics now. You have to be here to feel how we hurt. We are praying desperately for "our Gabby" while we grieve for those killed. The death of 9-year old Christina Taylor especially hurts.

If you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for all of the victims and their families.

I'll stop now, and happily escape back to the WoT next post.
Roger Powell
106. forkroot
Catching up on all of your comments.


It should also be useful for technical devices, like gears that don't wear out. Did the AOLers not use such things because their technology was magical, or does Turak have a collection of cuendillar screws?

Surprisingly, cuendillar screws would be useless. You couldn't mate them with cuendillar threaded items because the way screws work involve a certain amount of material deformation. If you mate them with ordinary metal, the fastening would be looser than if both parts deformed, and the resulting joint would be no stronger than the other metal.


wetlanderrnw@70 despite what my older sister would say while teasing me when were little kids, Kimani isn't a girl’s name :-)

Kimani is a very cool name, but given it's rarity and lack of well-known association to a gender, you could have made it easier for wetlandernw to get it right by mentioning your gender in your profile. Same thought goes out to the Alexes, Caseys, Madisons, etc. Help us out here!


Siuan still puts off her marriage with Bryne until the world is resolved. That is the type of character I can believe and get behind.

I'm a Suian fan, but this is one area where I disagree with her. Face it - one or both of them may not survive TG. Wouldn't you rather go out having previously formally declaring your love to the world? Go ahead and do a quick ceremony (but perhaps a touch more than Morgase/Tallanvor, OK?) and then get back to work.

Bravo! ::claps:: When it comes to defending a character and illuminating their motivations you are just awesome. As I read your Wall 'o Text, it occurred to me that Egwene becomes very much like .... Galad! Both have taken over organizations that have drifted badly from their original charter. Both have shown willingness to sacrifice themselves if that is the price required to preserve the organization.

Jonathan Levy@95
The examples you cited of young leaders casting off older advisors were all of functioning states where the new leader came in and screwed things up. When Egwene became the SAS Amyrlin, the AS were so screwed up already it would have been certifiable insanity to continue the policies of the previous leaders.

Actually Nynaeve was just as insistent that she do the test once she realized that it would drop any possible objections to her taking Lan's bond. Can't put that one on Egwene.
107. KiManiak
wetlandernw@84 – like I said, no worries about the gender thing. It happens to me often (I think I mentioned the letters and email I get addressed to “Ms Kimani…”), and it’s not like I proclaimed “I am a guy” in any of my posts or anything. I’ve got all kinds of stories on pronunciation of my name and folks trying to guess where my name comes from, too. Oh, and let me commend you for using the apology to help demonstrate your point in your post. Very clever :)

wolfmage@85&90, sub@87&89, and evilmonkey@88 – those were some great posts in regards to different ways to look at Egwene. I may not agree with all of the points or assumptions, but I appreciate each of you giving me a different perspective, and another way to evaluate her actions and character. I especially like the “Which Egwene you get…is seemingly driven more by plot contrivance” and the “familiarity breeds contempt with her” points. Got the wheels in my brain turning...

subwoofer@87 – re: 2 Rivers folks’ character traits – Well, I’ll give you that we’re told and shown that 2 Rivers inhabitants are stubborn, and proud of it. But arrogance, hypocrisy, and a superiority complex? I don’t think those are mentioned as character traits that are more pronounced in 2R folks than anywhere else. And Egs has those in spades…

wetlandernw@92 – Food for thought, indeed. You delivered us a freaking 9 course feast for thought. Way too much to digest now, but filling and enjoyable nonetheless (although I found some portions less agreeable than others). And that wasn’t the rant you mentioned you were working on earlier?

Harai, Jonathan Levy, Bergmaniac and Randalator were able to digest quicker than I and brought up some interesting points. I’m curious as to your response to Randalator’s point about the role of ta’verens, in particular.
108. hamstercheeks
Bergmaniac@100: I agree with forkroot@106 -- Nynaeve also wanted to take the AS test, so it's not all on Egwene. And what I read into the actual event is that Egwene does trust Nynaeve implicitly; specifically, she trusts that Nynaeve will be strong enough to pass the test. And she was. So I guess from Egwene's perspective, Nynaeve taking the AS test posed a minimal risk, and excellent long-term gains for both of them.

As for the character development debate... Egwene has always been my least favorite SG, mostly because a lot of her awesomeness seems plot-driven. Except for the Seanchan raid. That was pure, pure, pure CMoA.

Anyway, Rand will pwn her (mentally or otherwise) at Merrilor.
Stefan Mitev
109. Bergmaniac
I agree that Nynaeve herself wanted to take the test, but my point is that if Egwene's primary goal is winning the Last Battle, she should've tried much harder to delay Nynaeve from taking it until it was over or given her an exception for "extraordinary achievements", an option which was mentioned as possible several times in he books. It was a risk which was really unnecessary for the Last Battle effort, it only helped Egwene politically a bit and Nynaeve's standing among the Aes Sedai, which again isn't really important for the LB.

This is just an example of Egwene's whole attitude to me. It's always the Tower first, everything else a distant second.
She made sure Nynaeve's test is tough, even created
herself a few of the toughest challenges in it, all this to gain a minor political advantage among the Aes Sedai.
110. KiManiak
forkroot@106 – I’m glad you like my name. I’ll pass your compliment on to my parents :-)

I don’t want to give the impression that this gender mixup is a big deal (because its really not) or that I’m hyper sensitive to things related to my name (I like to believe that I’m not). But you did bring up an interesting point, and I didn’t want you to think that I was ignoring you.

(I want to qualify this comment again by saying that this isn’t a big deal to me one way or the other; I’m just sharing my opinion. I feel the need to clarify because its possible to read forkroot@106's and wetlander@84’s comments and think that maybe my response@83 was received in anything other than the light, playful and (I thought) humorous response that it was intended to be).

Forkroot, I “hear” your suggestion about adding my gender to the profile, and that is an option. But, a lot of folks here have non-traditional American names where gender may be in doubt, and should the onus of gender identification be on them? I would have had no problem if someone had asked, ie. “as for KiManiak’s opinion on Mat’s supreme awesomeness, I totally agree with him/her (no offense intended, but do you mind clarifying which one is right?)" or something like that. Tektonica either guessed male (or just somehow knew) in Leigh’s last post, and I didn’t correct her. To be fair, maybe others in the past have referred to me as “she” and I missed it, so I could see that being confusing.
I did try to let wetlander know in a friendly, playful way (with a somewhat self-deprecatory reference) that she wasn’t the first to think I was female when they only knew me by name. And actually, I commend her for taking a swing at it; instead of (if she were unsure) quietly wondering and using only gender neutral references. But its possible that my comment @83 was seen as somewhat snappy or snarky, which was opposite of intent, so again, that’s why I wrote this whole clarification comment.

Anyway, like I said its sooooo not that serious to me (and this was probably waaaay too long a post on a somewhat trivial matter). I just wanted to respond to you. If folks actually care, I (and I’m sure other commenters on this reread) could relate more mixups that have come from having a non-American mainstream name. For instance, ordering anything from Starbucks and seeing how they spell/pronounce my name is always kinda fun :-)
Tricia Irish
111. Tektonica
Good Egwene defense Wetlander.
But, alas, I'm afraid I'm with some of the others that just don't buy it. I think she's all about the WT.

Oh, she's concerned about TG, but we don't see any moves on the part of the WT in preparation of the AS. She dimisses Rand's desire to break the seals as crazy, because it's Rand. She's thinks he's gone looby. (Rand is counting on this, btw. She is reacting just as he wishes, imho.)

She dismisses Nynaeve's knowledge of Rand's actions, because she's too close to him. Nynaeve, for heaven's sake! Has anyone ever been harder to convince of anything??

I agree with Jonathan Levy, H'arai, Sub, Bergmaniac....she's been pretty plot driven, and she's very arrogant. She's trying very hard, but I see her as a chameleon. She becomes what she needs to be in any given situation. She's the Amyrlin now, so she is Miss Aes Sedai.

She has a daunting job just putting the Tower back together again and many attitudes changes to make there, so I don't begrudge her her task. But I don't see the Light winning at TG as her main focus. It can't be just yet.

My hope is that she further develops into the leader you see her as. I hope she gets to see who Rand has become at their next meeting, and communication between them is honest and open. Wouldn't that be refreshing! Cooperation, fwiw!
William Fettes
112. Wolfmage
Wetlandernw @ 92

“By this point, though, her focus has changed. Top priority? The Light must win Tarmon Gai’don so that the world can be saved.”

Yeah, I don’t think Egwene’s in-principle commitment to a light-side victory can be seriously questioned. However, her single-minded focus on the White Tower frequently overtakes all other concerns, including critical matters like battle readiness, the mechanics of sealing the DO’s prison and the broader Manichean confrontation. If we knew Egwene had even turned her mind to some of these big issues, it would be less irksome. But she is entirely fixated on maintaining her authority in the White Tower and her dreams, which gives her a rather large anchoring bias in terms of the ultimate goal.

Now, I realise the floor cleaning gimmick is probably meant to serve as a literary device to explain this single-mindedness. However, it ends up mainly working to explain the micro- steps she needs to take to unite the Tower rather than really establishing the Tower’s importance in the Last Battle.

“Randland needs a whole, unified White Tower to take point. Along with Aes Sedai, they ought to have the combined might of the Asha’man, the Wise Ones, the Windfinders, the damane and the Kin all coordinated to fight as Lightlords on various fronts, but not one of those groups (with the possible exception of the damane) are even mentally accustomed to the idea of functioning as a unit. The White Tower in its current form might be a pretty lame excuse for The Bastion of the Light, but it’s the best they’ve got and it must be brought as nearly up to speed as can be managed.”

See, this is one of those funny things where you know meta-textually that this logic is bullet-proof - ie. Rand needs to work with Egwene, the White Tower with the Black, Saidin with Saidar. There’s just one problem: RJ has done so much collateral damage to the edifice of Aes Sedai credibility and power at this stage, and there’s so many new players that could easily substitute for the White Tower’s power, that it’s doubtful the logic ought to hold empirically. Obviously, it will be written that way nonetheless, but my point is we have many good reasons to doubt it.

Now, the calculus might be different if we focus on the aftermath of the Last Battle and Seanchan containment, where institutional longjevity counts, however, strictly speaking the Aes Sedai have little claim to being uniquely necessary to face off against the coming Dreadlord armies. As a general rule Aes Sedai might be more skilled across a suite of weaves than other female channellers, but their combat weaves have never been particularly impressive to start with, and a lot has transpired to narrow the skill gap considerably in the past few books. Their monopoly on the linking was their main claim to fame, because it’s such a force multiplier, however, that is now widely known, along with other important weaves like Travelling. Chalk me up as one person who doubts throwing individual fireballs and lighting is a particularly important dimension to the Last Battle.

Moreover, the one Ajah dedicated to the task of combat has demonstrated precious little to commend it in the text thus far. Greens are written as largely frivolous fiery personalities in the books, and whatever real combat experience they've had fighting Dreadlords in the past is now consigned to the history books. While Mat concedes that Joline may know a bit about what she is talking about in KoD, she still contributes nothing meaningful to the battle in either in terms of weaves or planning. She certainly does not seem to grasp the full import of the new realities brought about by the Band’s new style of combat, unlike even Tuon and Karede.

Does anyone really think we’ve seen any Aes Sedai who would do better at commanding mixed forces of troops and channellers than Great Captains like Mat, Bashere, Ituralde and Rand who’ve already accumulated a ton of experience doing exactly that? I don't.

Interestingly, the Reds might be the best equipped force the Aes Sedai can muster, as they at least have living members who’ve faced men who can channel. But even then, their experience largely consists of rounding up scared, untrained sparkers - which is needless to say a lot different to facing a proper Dreadlord or Asha’man.

Anyway, my point is that logically it’s the collective might and skill of the female channelling combined with male channelling that ought to count in the Last Battle, rather than any one institution. And that job could arguably be performed just as well by charismatic leader rallying individual channellers under a military command system, rather than depending on the institution of the Tower itself being fully intact. Given that we have a lurking reason to doubt Egwene's absolute conflation between the White Tower and the Last Battle is really justified.

Much of the rest of your post depends on accepting the assumption that the White Tower itself as an institution is critical. So I'll let the above stand against that, and won't address those parts separately.

“In that light, her insistence on not being rescued takes on a different character. She doesn’t want Siuan & co. worrying about her life; it’s far more important that she be where she can effect the healing of the Tower than that she be safe. From Siuan’s perspective, Egwene al’Vere is their best hope for that healing, and should be protected at any cost, but Egwene isn’t seeing it like that. For her, better that she die trying to heal the Tower than live and fail in that task.”

I accept that there is something admirable about Egwene’s all-encompassing attitude to the job and the way she subordinates her life and safety to that goal. However, that doesn’t satisfactorily explain her shabby behaviour toward Siuan over the rescue IMO.

If Siuan had really jeopardised Egwene’s ability to reunite the Tower, or had otherwise compromised the stature of the office, I could totally understand chewing her out. However, there just isn’t any substance to that. After the Seanchan invasion, Egwene rides into the Tower welcomed by the Hall
as provisional Amyrlin. Self-evidently she had already done enough to win that support. So, Egwene’s worry about the recuse upsetting her groundwork is entirely moot point at the time she chews out Siuan, and there’s no indication whatsoever from subsequent events that the rescue is viewed in a dim light or even remarked upon by anyone, let alone tainting the stature of the office. Her giving the cold shoulder to Siuan at that point was about her enforcing her personal authority.

“How anyone can read that and think that Egwene is being selfish or egotistical, I simply cannot understand.”

Given the history of Egwene’s poor treatment of Nynaeve, I think it’s fairly obvious why people might find this somewhat irksome. Egwene is ostensibly asking for advice that she has no actual desire to hear for herself. She is simply using that question as an artifice to adjust Nynaeve self perceptions about Egwene’s role. Now, I don’t think it’s an insidious manipulation, certainly, but it’s still a manipulation. It would hardly warrant any comment at all except that Egwene and Nynaeve have history. The problem is that Egwene has still not received any comeuppance for past her shabby behaviour including the relationship powerplay she makes to cover up her lie to the Wise Ones, and the sexual assault dream. So making Nynaeve accommodate her further is seen as further salt in an undressed wound.

“primarily, that Egwene is not on a power trip here, and she’s not after personal aggrandizement. Egwene has a vital job to do, and Nynaeve finally realizes that she has huge power to either make that job easier (possible?) or undermine it completely depending on how she treats Egwene”

I wouldn’t say Egwene is on a power trip exactly, but I’m deeply sceptical that Nynaeve’s private thoughts and dealings with Egwene in a private capacity have any real potential to undermine Egwene's office. Showing deference and using the proper honorific in public ought to count obviously. But such unquestioned obedience is not really what Moiraine gave Siuan, and I don’t see why Nynaeve ought to owe anything stronger to Egwene. You make it sound like Nynaeve could exhale too strongly and Egwene would be toppled from office.

“Again, words fail me here; it’s not Egwene’s personal strength of will, but her absolute confidence in the strength and purpose of The Amyrlin, that wins.”

Like subwoofer, I’ll just say here that I have no problem with Egwene’s victory, or the means with which she achieves it, strictly speaking. The annoying part is the incredibly pompous and ostentatious way she vocalises and thinks to build that crushing momentum against Mesaana's consciousness. It’s arguably some of the worst writing in WoT.

For the record, the issue isn’t Egwene’s egoism per se, but rather the aggrandisement of the office of the White Tower and her casting herself as the central vanishing point in this story of blinkered triumphalism. It’s a small distinction but an important one. It’s a bit like the notion of the arrogance of humility. As soon as you stop drinking the White Tower Kool Aid the whole thing starts to collapse in a heap.

"So I know someone is going to accuse me of writing fanfic, since very little of this is reflected in Egwene’s POV thoughts. Funny thing is, very little is reflected in her thoughts. What we mostly get there is the surface stuff – ways, means, plans, and sometimes frustrations"

Oh you're absolutely right that the books seldom spend significant time illuminating Egwene's inner thoughts. That's why she's a polarising figure IMO. Simplistically, I believe those predisposed to judge her kindly give her the benefit of the doubt, and fill in the gaps favourably, whereas those who've taken objection to some parts of her conduct over the books have built up a less favourable narrative that is easy to confirm without contrary evidence from her thoughts. In that way she is something of a cipher.

Anyway, I have plenty more to say, but I'll leave it there for now because this is getting too long.
John Massey
113. subwoofer
Yowza! Methinks it stopped snowing. Now just biting freezing cold... oh joy:)

@Forkroot- no fear of stereotypes- that's like judging all Canadians by this one blogger I know that lives up here that has a tendancy towards the oddball... we is all smrter than that... but keep praying- God does listen:D

As far as Siuan and Bryne- well, for me, I'd like to get hitched before I die, but I think the way it was written is in keeping with the character that is Siuan. Remember, Siuan is all kinds of awesome when it comes to leadership and political intrigue and all that stuff, but she is kinda... clueless when it comes to dealing with men, unless it involves brow beating and ordering around. I think that it is a natural thing for Siuan to put off something she cannot handle- like marriage, and deal with something she can handle- the end of the world, first.

@KiManiak- I hear what you are saying- I was just harping on the typical TR stubborness, the rest of those character traits are bonuses for Gawyn to deal with. Poor schmuck.

@SonofThunder- loosely translated I think I called her an insufferably smug pompous ass, from the latin rod-stuckus-up-the-assicuss.

Edit- Sorry Blind, it was not an intentional grab:)

114. Tenesmus
In the LB Asha men will lead cirlces in battle. The AS know nothing of fighting and weaves for killing. I think the scene where Grady (?) orders a circle when making Perrin's hammer will be repeated, except in battle. For example; An Ashaman is exploding Trolloc melons and is getting tired, he will demand that the AS near him link and give him control; they will do it because they will realize it is important, just like the hammer. They will not like it, but with a few exceptions (Nyna and a few others) the AS will be reduced to a supporting role in most large scale OP battles in the final book
John Massey
115. subwoofer
@Tenesmus- I could actually see the practicality in something like that, but two things have to happen for that to work.

First- Aes Sedai have to trust men. Now I think there have been some inroads into this as men have bonded women and turnabout. We'll see.

Second- The Black Tower has to be cleansed. No point in taking a hold of a circle only to have it turned.

As for Greens- brace yourselves folks- but Caddy is a Green, and she has proven time and again she can whoop ass. Caddy may not be up to the generaling of troops- that is Bryne's job anyways, but she can whip the Sisters into shape... and smack the occasional Asha'man around too.

::Ducks from backlash from the last comment::

James Jones
116. jamesedjones
113 subwoofer
Edit- Sorry Blind, it was not an intentional grab:)

Wait. What? Where has Blind been for the past few days? ;)
James Jones
117. jamesedjones
114 Tenesmus
They will not like it, but with a few exceptions (Nyna and a few others) the AS will be reduced to a supporting role in most large scale OP battles in the final book

Great googley moogley... Think about the horror. Leigh's desk will never survive.
Andrew Chute
118. AlmenBunt
Wow...I go to put up a couple of sheets of drywall and spread a little cement, and BLAMMO...lots of very interesting reading awaits me.

kudos one and all, whether I agree or not, kudos

My two cents...As an Egwene supporter, I see consistency in her development throughout the series. I even see a consistency in her inability to truly see how far along everyone has come, and as early references, I would say look to her 'breakup' with Rand at the beginning of tSR, or her refusal to see Mat for more than he used to be. That could be viewed as a character flaw (though characters without flaws are boring as sin), but it is also the character trait that allows her to be a powerful 18 year old Amyrlin. She can see and measure her own progression to the inch, and knows for a fact that she has a broader perspective than the very capable women who have been doing this sort of thing for 200 years or so. She has been out and a part of the world. She doesn't have all of the information, and that certainly makes some of her more willful judgements seem foolish to omnipotent readers like us, but even she is constantly striving to know what's going on. More than once we find her snooping around TAR wishing she knew what was going on in the world. Her poor, or 'arrogant' decisions are not too bad based on the information that she has access to. In many ways, her lack of current info is why she sees the old gang as they used to be, she's been out of touch for too long to know them as they are.
One final thought on Egwene. Look at the nature of the Emond's Fielders, indeed, all of the principal characters of the series. They, like the Tolkein-esque, tropes that they harken to, are superlative beings the likes of which emerge during times of great strife and turmoil. They are beyond real, they are heroes. In a certain sense, heroes are expected to be smarter, more decisive, endure more, and be more. For heroes, in order to accept the realities of their mythologies, we must accept that they are capable of heroic acts, that they uniquely possess an attribute or collection thereof that makes them stand out from the masses. Egwene is certainly not my favourite character, or even my favourite girl, but she is a hero. And I would even go so far as to posit that her heroic attribute is Will, a powerful and direct connection to the expression of her being. It is what allows her to commit wholeheartedly to all of the different groups of which she finds herself a part. It is what allows her the fortitude to bring all of the factions together, binding them together with the sheer strength of her conviction. All that she does or is done to her is secondary to the enofrcing of her Will, the Path that she has chosen. Right or wrong. (of course, being a good guy, she'll wind up getting it right in the end)
Alice Arneson
119. Wetlandernw

I knew I wasn't finding the right words... Oh well. Several of you have made very good points or asked very good questions, and I haven't read nearly all of today's comments yet. It may be late tonight, but I'll do my very best to answer them.

Please note that I don't think Egwene is or ever has been perfect, by any means. In the example Jonathan Levy quotes @95, my point was that, at that stage, Egwene was still pretty much "all about me" as are most 18-year-olds. It's after that time, over the course of the next months, that I think she comes to see the Amyrlin Seat not as "my postition" but as "the Amyrlin is the Tower" - in other words, something much bigger than herself, and she is, IMO, right to require that all Aes Sedai treat that position with respect.

Gah! I DO NOT have time to do this right now! Catch you in a few hours.
Roger Powell
120. forkroot

Gah! I DO NOT have time to do this right now! Catch you in a few hours.

Hmmm, I'm suspecting after dinner (and the dishes of course!) And it will be well thought out more likely than not.
William Fettes
121. Wolfmage
Randalator @ 101

Yeah, good point about the ta’veren effect being prima facie evidence of a non-arbitrary corrective demanded by the pattern. Although to be fair to Egwene, it’s possible to think that not every ta’veren effect is strictly the will of the pattern. That is, ta’veren are endowed by the pattern with a pulling force over other threads as part of the overall effect they are intended to produce, rather than any specific effect that may result at any one time. Under that theory, some collateral pull that is not strictly the will of the pattern may be possible. Although how you square this theory with the variable strength of such pulls at different times, I’m not sure. It seems like sometimes the pull really is peremptory and pattern-mandated, whereas other times it’s more like a magnetic force which may or may not result in a particular outcome.

Indeed, Egwene has experienced a non-mandatory pull in relation to Rand wanting to know about Salidar, and she was successful resisting it. Presumably she thinks her resistance was right on that occasion, and as a consequence, she may presume that others may not be so successful. It's still not exactly a sterling endorsement that she thinks Elayne and Nynaeve are so weak minded as to not resist a non-mandatory pull.

Of course, all this assumes Egwene has pondered these issues thoroughly, which definitely isn't textually supported.

subwoofer @ 115

"As for Greens- brace yourselves folks- but Caddy is a Green, and she has proven time and again she can whoop ass. Caddy may not be up to the generaling of troops- that is Bryne's job anyways, but she can whip the Sisters into shape... and smack the occasional Asha'man around too."

I didn't forget Cadsuane. I was just painting in broad brushstrokes to capture the general lack of any combat raison d'etre to justify the Green Ajah’s ostensible purpose.
Also, Cadsuane is hardly a poster-child for the institution of the White Tower itself, which was the context of these observations. Though she may epitomise many of the idealised traits of Aes Sedai, she is actually more of a maverick and a loner than an Aes Sedai team player. Most Aes Sedai thought she was dead precisely because she prefers to ‘get shit done’ and stay away from the corridors of power of the Tower. I think that speaks volumes about the actual utility of the Tower -- their main badass exemplar can’t stand most of the current lot and has little time for the institution itself.

Cadsuane has precious little concern for rank or authority, except where it is earned (according to her lights) by individual competence and formidableness. And that’s actually much more in line with my contention that the White Tower’s supposed importance to the Last Battle could just as easily be replaced by individual channellers uniting and being properly led by charismatic leaders and gifted generals.

I mean really, if the Greens only purpose in the Last Battle is to be foot soldiers under the command of male Great Captains then that really puts the lie to their Ajah and they are really no different to other Sisters, or any other saidar channeller for that matter.
Alice Arneson
122. Wetlandernw
Apologies to everyone, this is another huge wall of text. I responded to far too many comments in a single swoop here, so it’s too long, and while I’m sure it could (and should) be edited down, it would take me until midnight. Not being one who can go on 5 hours of sleep a night, in general, this would be a bad thing. For me. So the rest of you get stuck with a wall. (subwoofer, do these walls fit in with any of your plans to take over the world? We could negotiate…)

Jonathan Levy @95 – Okay, here’s a little more in-depth response to your comment. I look at it rather differently than you. My initial point was simply that in her 18-year-old”it’s-all-about-me” mindset at the time, she (being Egwene) could have done no other than the typically arrogant “I’m nobody’s puppet” reaction.

That said, anyone with half a brain could see from the beginning that Romanda and Lelaine were in competition for the position of puppet-master, and that the Salidar 6 also intended to play that role. This is where Egwene’s innate stubbornness and even her arrogance are a good thing (in the circs), informing her initial resistance to puppethood. The reality is that she must either choose one of those three to be her puppet-master, or choose to not be a puppet at all. She realizes very quickly that she’s got to let them each think they’re winning at first, until she can size them up and figure out which way to go. Remember “No man can serve two masters”? She’s got three master-wannabees, and there’s no way under the Light she can go with all three. She ends up making the best she can of a bad situation: choosing the best advisor she can find (Siuan) and letting the others think they’re winning – or at least still in the running – until she gets to the situation where she can clearly and decisively prove that she’s not a puppet. Not one of the three is clearly trustworthy, so what would you recommend?

Most girls would be tempted to just go with the oldest AS, or just go with the last Amyrlin she (sort of) trusted, or just go with the one who seems to be in the middle. I think Egwene made the right choice: they chose her to be Amyrlin, and qualified or not, she is now covenantally responsible. She can’t just say “Oh, I don’t know enough, why don’t you all figure out what I should do and tell me.” Arrogance aside, it’s not the right thing to do. If you are given responsibility, even unwanted, you should take it seriously. That’s why she couldn’t say “Perhaps I should settle for being a figurehead, since I am so inexperienced.” That’s why she couldn’t say “Leave Rand to Elaida.” That’s why she couldn’t say “Romanda has been Aes Sedai for 200 years, so I should trust her.”

Unlike many AS, Egwene knows (and admits) the Black Ajah is out there, and the only person she’s reasonably confident is not BA is Siuan; there's one good reason to choose Siuan’s advice and tutoring. However, the fact that Siuan was the Amyrlin doesn’t change the fact that Egwene is the Amyrlin and bears the responsibility for her own decisions. I would be far more disappointed in her if she accepted puppethood as the easy way out, than if (as she did) she accepted the responsibility fully and was willing to make the hard decisions.

I don’t see how anyone can honestly accuse her of ignoring everyone and claiming to know better all the time, because she does listen and get advice. She just takes the personal responsibility for the decisions, and I think that’s a good and right thing. She’s not infallible, and she certainly is right far more often than she ought to be given her background (thanks to the Pattern?), but I really don’t see how a person of integrity could have acted differently.

As far as real-world examples, this isn’t really in the same category as the kind of thing you cite. She’s not the rebellious kid throwing out the parent-recommended advisors so she can do her own selfish thing. (Yes, I’m quite familiar with the story of Rehoboam, as I’m accustomed to saying it.) She was chosen by a bunch of women who were taking the easy way out, intending to create a puppet Amyrlin. They were wrong to do so, but they were also wrong in their evaluation of her character. It came back to bite them, and it’s a good thing; she is more actively on the side of Light than most of them are. I disagree that “the only reason she succeeds is because she’s a fictional character” although that is obviously true in one sense. You actually made the point yourself:

In the real world, the young princes who do this do it because from birth they have been surrounded with sycophants who treated them with reverence, knowing they were to rule. They have never had any limits placed on their will, and by the time they are 18 they are thoroughly spoiled.

Egwene has not grown up surrounded by sycophants, she has not been treated with reverence, she never expected to rule, and she has had plenty of limits placed on her will. I would also submit that, as the innkeeper’s daughter, she has spent most of her life knowing full well the meaning of hard work and serving others, while still maintaining individuality and dignity. Ultimately, that’s what sets her apart from both your real-world examples as well as the “experienced” Aes Sedai. Ultimately, that’s why she’s the best candidate for the job, too, even if she’s annoying sometimes.

Maybe it would make some readers happy if she’d fall on her face a few more times, but I don’t think the Pattern (or the authors!) have time to let that happen. Fortunately for the Tower, her biggest mistakes seem to lead to her greatest triumphs – and the Tower’s greatest good. Handy, eh?

HArai @97 – I’m not quite sure why we’re given so little textual justification for Egwene’s confidence (like thinking through a situation or considering advice). Egwene might be intended to be one of those people who do their “deep thinking” at a nearly subconscious level, so that their decisions seem to be leaps of (il)logic, although I’m not really satisfied with that; it doesn’t seem to fit the narrative values. It could also be a matter of RJ (and BWS) choosing not to subject us to the details of all that thinking & considering. (Given how much people are complaining about Elayne’s political storyline, that may have been a good choice…) Or maybe something else in the authorial decision-making. In any case, when we read Egwene’s thoughts, IIRC it’s mostly about either frustration with the AS, worry over what’s coming next, thinking about how to balance the various groups tugging at her, or remembering something Siuan told her. We don’t see much of the decision-making process itself.

While I can readily see how she can grate on people, in the last 4 or 5 books, she really hasn’t made all that many mistakes. She may come across as arrogant or “shut up because I’m always right,” but during her tenure as Amyrlin, she has mostly been right. (And in some cases, both right and lucky.) I have to assume, knowing that she has extensive discussions with Siuan off-screen, that she’s listening to advice as well as doing some fair learning and growing on her own. The fact that we don’t have pages and pages of discussion and consideration leaves us with the choice to either assume that it all took place off screen, or assume that she’s just leaping to conclusions based on little more than her intuition and arrogance. Given her success, I find the former more believable, as well as more palatable.

I’m not sure that helps much, but it’s the best I can do tonight. I hope it’s a little help, anyway.

Subwoofer @ 98 – snack shack. Great idea! At least I warned you…. :} I clearly didn’t succeed in helping you to see why I thought Egwene’s conversation with Mesaana was so revelatory of her more mature understanding of her position. I’m sorry. I may give it another shot someday, but probably only if it comes up in another discussion, since this thread will likely shut down tomorrow as we move on.

Bergmaniac @100 – Obviously we disagree. I think Egwene sees farther than just uniting the WT for the sake of its influence per se; then again, I also think that the best shot for Team Light is to have a unified White Tower to take point for the Lightlords. Many disagree with that position as well. In any case, you are as entitled to your reading and opinion as I am to mine. As to Nynaeve, whatever Egwene’s intentions (and I think they were good, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment) were in her AS testing, I think it was extremely good for Nynaeve, as well as all the AS in the room, to come to the realization that gaining the title of Aes Sedai just might not be the most important thing any more, and that in light of what’s coming they need to rethink some things. I hope (but don’t necessarily expect) to see something further come of that in the last book. However, I also read that in light of the conversation I quoted from in my last post: Egwene wants Nynaeve in a position of complete trust, not only in her own eyes but also in the eyes of all the Tower. She may have been incorrect in assuming that she had to make it as hard as she did, but the risk of being seen to play favorites might be even worse than the risk to Nynaeve. That risk is not just her own political credit, but Nynaeve’s position. As it stands now, Nynaeve has withstood the great test and stands at the very top of the AS-individual-hierarchy. (Whatever you may think of its merits, it is what it is and they don’t have the luxury of change the rules because we think it’s stupid.) This should turn out to be better for both of them than if she had been refused because the other AS decided the Amyrlin had played favorites and let her off easy.

And hamstercheeks @108 said that very well! I should probably delete, but I’m running out of steam for editing. But Bergmaniac @109 – I think you’re being a little short-sighted in claiming that Nynaeve’s final raising is irrelevant to the LB. First, with Lan’s bond there are several possibilities that could be HUGE. In addition, full WT recognition of Nynaeve’s position may have far-reaching impact in terms of enabling her to do what she needs to do.

As far as signs of battle preparation – no, we didn’t see it taking place on screen, for which I am profoundly grateful. There certainly are indications, if you look, that such preparations are taking place. Start with Egwene being glad to turn the preparation over to the Hall because it was taking too much time, and add in several brief mentions of sisters who were busy with it, and you ought to realize that it’s happening; we just aren’t given the details of what they’re planning.

Sonofthunder @102 – Thanks! I almost used the analogy of the President; whatever I may think of the man who holds the office at any given time, I would treat him with the respect and courtesy due his station. I may have a very low opinion of his policies, behavior or what-have-you, but he represents my country before God and the world, and as such, treating him with dishonor shows dishonor to my country. I know a lot of people don’t agree with that, and it’s not exactly a popular perspective in our individualistic society; I think that’s one reason why people have such a hard time realizing that Egwene’s demand for the respect due the Amyrlin is not personal aggrandizement but her own respect for the position and organization it represents.

I think you make a very good point in that we don’t see Egwene emoting much; I’ll have to think about that. I think it’s one of the things that led me to conclude that she’s looking at the bigger picture; she’s willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to achieve the victory of the Light. Min is easier to like, because she doesn’t want Rand to die and all that; Egwene may not like the idea of Rand dying, but she would accept it without argument because it’s necessary. It seems pretty cold, and that’s hard for us to like.

@many – I really was going to address the question of the Seals, but it would be another massive wall and I need to go to bed. Maybe tomorrow. Then again, I think I’ve addressed it several times before, so maybe I won’t bother.

Forkroot @106 – First, let me say I grieve with and for you, and will indeed be praying for healing and restoration for all affected.

Second, WOW! You are so right about Egwene’s similarity to Galad! I never saw that at all, but it’s stunning now. This will provide some serious dish-washing food for thought. It even fits like a puzzle piece with what I said just a couple of paragraphs ago, which now reads like Elayne's comments on Galad way back when.

KiManiak @107 – Thanks! I thought I knew you well enough that I could apologize that way without being accused of being a weasel… and even thought you might enjoy it. :) (FWIW, I absolutely loathe the “gender-neutral” game, and will either take a guess or use “him” as the generic term. For some reason, I thought I knew in this case.) I apologize again for not dealing with the whole question of the seals, including Randalator’s thoughts on the way ta’veren work; I’ll try to touch it soon. Most of it will come down to “whether she’s right or wrong, her position is at least understandable.”

Wolfmage @112 – It’s far too late to get deeply into answering your comments; let me just say that I see Egwene as mentally setting aside things she can’t affect and focusing her attention where she can do something. Up to the end of ToM, the first thing she had to do was unite the Tower, the second to identify and wipe out (at least from the Tower proper) the Black Ajah. If we haven’t seen a great deal of overt thought given to the next three or four steps after that, or the larger picture questions of the Seanchan or the repair of the DO’s prison, it’s because she couldn’t do anything about those until she’d done these first two. And… I’m not going to touch the WT discussion tonight. Way too much there, and I’ll have to let it stew for a while before I can explain further why I think Egwene is correct, or at least logical, in thinking that the WT must be ready to lead the Lightlords.

Subwoofer @115 - I was just reading KoD, where Harine & Shalon are rather dreading the upcoming meeting with the Sea Folk leadership powwow, and they remind themselves by way of bolstering courage that “we have survived Cadsuane Melaidhrin – not many of them could have done that!” LOL!! Especially since Harine is such a sweet, lovable type…
Jonathan Levy
123. JonathanLevy
101. Randalator
Good point!
Though 121. Wolfmage has some worthy caveats.

106. forkroot
The examples you cited of young leaders casting off older advisors were all of functioning states where the new leader came in and screwed things up. When Egwene became the SAS Amyrlin, the AS were so screwed up already it would have been certifiable insanity to continue the policies of the previous leaders.

It is true that Egwene became Amyrlin in a crisis, unlike the examples I quoted. But the crisis was not brought on by Romanda's policies or Lelaine's. If you blame the tower coup on Elaida, there's no reason for Egwene not to follow the advice of Aes Sedai in Salidar. If you blame to tower coup on Siuan, by your argument you should be blaming Egwene for following Siuan's advice. But it doesn't make sense to say that Egwene should not follow advice of Aes Sedai in Salidar because Elaida ousted Siuan.

122. Wetlandernw
My initial point was simply that in her 18-year-old”it’s-all-about-me” mindset at the time, she (being Egwene) could have done no other than the typically arrogant “I’m nobody’s puppet” reaction.

This point I am willing to accept. My post was not really an argument against the point you were trying to make - it was something of a tangent. This may have caused some confusion.

...from the beginning ... Romanda and Lelaine were in competition for the position of puppet-master, and that the Salidar 6 also intended to play that role....The reality is that she must either choose one of those three to be her puppet-master, or choose to not be a puppet at all...She ends up making the best she can of a bad situation: choosing the best advisor she can find (Siuan) and letting the others think they’re winning - or at least still in the running - until she gets to the situation where she can clearly and decisively prove that she’s not a puppet.

Your analysis of Egwene's options is well thought-out, but it shares two preconceptions with Egwene:

1) Strong leadership of the Salidar faction is in the best interest of the White Tower and Team Light at Tarmon Gaidon.

2) The Independence of Egwene as Amyrlin is in the best interest of the White Tower and Team Light at Tarmon Gaidon.

Now most readers share these preconceptions, for several reasons.

1) We know that we can't have Elaida as Amyrlin at the last battle because she tries to kidnap Rand, is under control of Alviarin, was tainted by Fain. Plus, we just don't like her!

2) We want Egwene as Amyrlin because she is one of the protagonists.

But Egwene as a character does not have this knowledge. She doesn't know she's a protagonist in a story, she doesn't know about Alviarin's power and allegiance, she doesn't know about the kidnapping because it hasn't happened yet, and she doesn't know about Fain.

Having a strong Salidar faction lead a civil war to oust Elaida is in Siuan's interest - and she's spreading lies to advance it (via Logain). It is also in the interest of the Blue Ajah, to a certain extent. It is also in the interest of Egwene, if she is determined to gain power for herself.

But given Egwene's knowledge at this stage, it is quite questionable whether it is in the interest of the White Tower as a whole, and Team Light in general. Arguably, it is much better for TG to have a whole tower united under Elaida (even without the Blue Ajah) than to risk a civil war within the tower to replace her with Egwene. Egwene had three options which she never considered:

A) Find the faction most likely to successfully win the revolt, and ally with her.

B) Find the faction most likely to successfully lead to a reconciliation, and ally with her.

C) Undermine the Salidar faction from within, to effect a reconciliation.

Of course, none of these would have produced an interesting story for us to read. I'm not saying I would have liked them to happen. I'm not saying they would have been better for Team Light, merely that given Egwene's knowledge at the time they might have been. But Egwene isn't just thinking of what's good for the white tower. She's asking herself 'what's good for the white tower under my guidance?' It never occurs to her that someone else's guidance might be better.

And she turns out to be right. Unforgivable! :)

I think Egwene made the right choice: they chose her to be Amyrlin, and qualified or not, she is now covenantally responsible.

Yes, she is responsible. But she assumes that her judgement is equal to her responsibility. If it is, then you're right. If it's not, then making decisions yourself is a mistake. If someone were to make me one of two Vice-Presidents of an oil-drilling company whose President had just died, should I try to oust the other guy and take control, or accept his leadership? I know, I know - it's not a perfect analogy. But it's good enough to get my point across, I hope.
I really don’t see how a person of integrity could have acted differently.

A person of integrity could have admitted their ignorance and sought guidance from someone with experience. A person of integrity could have decided that the existence of the Salidar faction is not in the best interests of the tower, and acted to dissolve it, even at great personal cost. A person of integrity could have refused to play along with a charade and resigned/absconded. Of course, it is no slur on Egwene's integrity that she acted as she did - merely on her exaggerated perception of her competence.

As far as real-world examples, this isn’t really in the same category as the kind of thing you cite. She’s not the rebellious kid throwing out the parent-recommended advisors so she can do her own selfish thing. She was chosen by a bunch of women who were taking the easy way out, intending to create a puppet Amyrlin. They were wrong to do so, but they were also wrong in their evaluation of her character. It came back to bite them, and it’s a good thing; she is more actively on the side of Light than most of them are.

Egwene was chosen as a figurehead. Rehoboam/Nero/Commodus were chosen by accident of birth. But all of them had a choice, whether to be guided by their counselers or to go their own way. This is the key point of the analogy. That Egwene's advisors incur a moral blemish by deliberately choosing her to be a figurehead is beside the point. The question is whose judgement to trust, not who is morally pure. That they made an error by choosing a stubborn girl is not enough to call their judgement into question. If she had gone along with them, they would have been proven right, no? Besides, the advisor she does listen to (Siuan) has made much greater mistakes.
You actually made the point yourself: ... Ultimately, that’s why she’s the best candidate for the job, too, even if she’s annoying sometimes.

I'm not sure I made my point clear. My point is that she acts exactly like the real-world examples, even though she had a better upbringing, which should have taught her better.
Thomas Keith
124. insectoid
Such wonderful discussion going on here! A pity it's so long, or I might actually read it all...

I'm all for defending Egwene; after all, she did sort of put Humpty Dumpty the Tower back together again after first Elaida and then the Seanchan made a mess of it.

(By the way, I like Forkroot's comparison of her to Galad—that fits quite nicely.)

Wetlander @122: You know, I thought of a good warning you could put on your walls-o-text...

"Wet Wall: Climb at your own risk!"


Stefan Mitev
125. Bergmaniac
Just a minor clarification about something that's been bugging me in several of the last posts - Egwene thought that only Nynaeve was influenced by Rand being a ta'veren into supporting his position about the seals, not Elayne. Neither did Egwene thought Elayne was blinded by her love for Rand in her initial reluctance to support Egwene's position about the seals.

As for Egwene's refusal to follow the advice of any of the senior Aes Sedai in Salidar except Siuan, I never had a problem with that. Those women were obviously incompetent to lead anything, and she was right to listen only to Siuan who was the only one there with any clue about leadership and cunning political actions.

The problem I have is her hypocrisy - she spent so much time earlier thinking how arrogant and stubborn Rand was for commanding the Aiel chiefs, Tairen lords, etc, and not always following the advice of those more experienced than him (especially Moiraine), yet she did exactly the same, and it never bothered her for a second.
John Massey
126. subwoofer


You're blowing my cover!

Incidentally, what kinda dishes do you have to do? Must be something epic or you have a massive family or you are like my wife- she is the Friar Tuck of dirty dishes. Touches one dish and it is "dirty" and she goes and gets another. It takes about ten pots just to boil water. I figure you have the same thing going on in order to have such epic posting. I stopped half way through the last one and found myself in Cairo.

@JL- I hear what you are saying, but at one point in tGS Eggy says as much to Elaida's face about wanting the Tower to be whole under one Amyrlin or some such, but Elaida was such a douche that Eggy could not live with herself if that happened... And then Elaida pummels her into oblivion.

Jonathan Levy
127. JonathanLevy
125. Bergmaniac
Agree completely with your last paragraph on Egwene's hypocrisy.

Middle paragraph:
As for Egwene's refusal to follow the advice of any of the senior Aes Sedai in Salidar except Siuan, I never had a problem with that. Those women were obviously incompetent to lead anything, and she was right to listen only to Siuan who was the only one there with any clue about leadership and cunning political actions.

I disagree that those women are obviously incompetent. Egwene herself (in TGS, when she learns that one of them is gaining power in her absence) thinks that one might not be so bad, but she is better.

The reason we think that they're incompetent is because Siuan Sanche thinks they're incompetent, and we are exposed to her views over and over again - and so is Egwene. When Siuan arrives, the first thing she tells them is that they are rudderless. The Salidar crowd were halfway towards going back to Elaida, and it is Siuan's Will (and Lies) which give them the confidence to proceed.

As for Siuan's cluefulness, remember that the coup took her completely by surprise. Even with Min's warning, she had no idea that a faction was brewing to unseat her.

126. subwoofer
I hear what you are saying, but at one point in tGS Eggy says as much to Elaida's face about wanting the Tower to be whole under one Amyrlin or some such, but Elaida was such a douche that Eggy could not live with herself if that happened... And then Elaida pummels her into oblivion.

By TGS it is obvious to us that Elaida is worthless, and it is also obvious to Egwene, from observing the way the tower is splitting along Ajah lines under Elaida's reign. But this was not that obvious back in LoC.

As for Egwene's sentiment that she was willing to have Elaida as Amyrlin if only she were mildly competent - it is a noble sentiment. But was she thinking it also back in LoC? If so, then why did she not effect a reconciliation when all she knew of Elaida was that she was a stern Red? If not, then we cannot say that back in LoC she was thinking only of the Tower's interest. She was thinking of her interest.
Stefan Mitev
128. Bergmaniac
No, the reason at least I think they re incomepetent is that apart from Romanda's figuring out that about Hailma in KoD, I don't recall any moment in which any of the Salidar sitters showed much intelligence or political cunning. Just an example - it took Nynaeve one look at Siuan and Leane's "I hate you" double act and she realised they were faking it. Yet this act had everyone in the Hall fooled for months.

The Hall also thought it would be a good idea to give the Amyrlin they wanted to keep as a figurehead constant access to Siuan, the only woman in the camp who had the knowledge, the experience and the political skills to help Egwene become an Amyrlin not just in name. The Sitters kept coming up will all kinds of dumb suggestions to Egwene too, like "Let's stop paying Bryne's soldiers". I really can't blame her for not paying much heed to their advice.
Roger Powell
129. forkroot
Thank you for saving me the typing. The SAS incompetence is so overwhelming that I'm surprised that point is not readily conceded. But your arguments illustrate it well.

Having just said that, I'll immediately jump the fence and defend the SAS a little. :-)

Much of their incompetence is due to direct meddling by both the Tower sitter moles as well as machinations by the BA. Indvidually they show much more intelligence - but the "groupthink" that comes out of their interactions is awful.

IMO Wetlandernw had the right of it: Egwene knows for certain of the existence of the Black Ajah (thus placing her ahead of most of the doofuses in Salidar) and that Suian is realistically the only person she can be sure is not BA. Casting her lot with Siuan's is clearly the most rational response.

Given the manifest incompetence of the SAS, how could Egwene not share Siuan's disdain. The only point where Siuan comes up short is that she doesn't quite manage to solve the "too young sitter" puzzle (which probably would have clued her into why the SAS was so ineffective) - but at least Siuan noticed the puzzle!

Jonathan Levy@123

It is true that Egwene became Amyrlin in a crisis, unlike the examples I quoted. But the crisis was not brought on by Romanda's policies or Lelaine's. If you blame the tower coup on Elaida, there's no reason for Egwene not to follow the advice of Aes Sedai in Salidar. If you blame to tower coup on Siuan, by your argument you should be blaming Egwene for following Siuan's advice. But it doesn't make sense to say that Egwene should not follow advice of Aes Sedai in Salidar because Elaida ousted Siuan.
Hey JL I really respect and appreciate your posts, but I'm calling a "straw man" foul on that one. I cannot see how you get from my assertions to feeling that I need to consider a dichotomy of blame for the Tower Coup. My point was only that the SAS leadership was incompetent and that Eg was perfectly rational to reject aligning with either Romanda or Lelaine's factions (or the Salidar Six). She was not coming into a stable functioning government where previous policies (and the advisors who advocated them) were working just fine.
Jonathan Levy
130. JonathanLevy
129. forkroot

Thank you for the compliment at the end.

As for straw men and fouls, I suspect we're on different frequencies, and are misunderstanding each other's main points. I was addressing the argument which I understood to be implied by this statement of yours:

When Egwene became the SAS Amyrlin, the AS were so screwed up already it would have been certifiable insanity to continue the policies of the previous leaders.

I understood this to be your main rebuttal of my analogy to 3 historical events (Rehoboam, Nero, Commodus). Your argument as I understood it was this:
1) In the 3 historical examples, the new leader had to choose between wise, proven leaders and his own inclinations.
2) Egwene had to choose between incompetent fools and her own inclinations. The incompetence is proven by the poor state of affairs of the Aes Sedai when Egwene arrives.
3) Therefore, JL's analogy is invalid.

I was attempting to rebut your rebuttal by focusing on point #2. My claim was that the poor state of the Aes Sedai was the fault of Siuan, Elaida, etc. and not of Lelaine, and definitely not of Romanda. I mentioned the tower coup because I thought it was the prime example of the incompetence to which you were referring.

(I now suspect, however, that you were trying to make a different point. My thanks again for your kind words at the end, and my apologies to the other readers - it's always boring to read mutual clarifications of a misunderstanding of which you have no part.)

If you were referring to the proven incompetence of the Salidar Aes Sedai (and not of Aes Sedai in general), then my reply was poorly aimed, but I'm not sure you're on firm footing. Before Siuan arrives, the Salidar Six are still considering returning to Elaida (possibly the best decision at this point, from the little they know). It is Siuan's lies and her leadership which give them backbone. Romanda arrives a bit later, if I'm not mistaken, and it's too early for Egwene to tell whether she is incompetent or not. Also, a large part of the difficulty the SAS have in making decisions is a result of the balance of power between three or four factions - Egwene could have solved that particular problem by throwing her lot in with Romanda or Lelaine.

I must admit that the Black Ajah is a strong reason for Egwene to retain independence - but keep in mind that until Verin arrived she was doing as badly as Elaida (in that regard), if not worse. Elaida had thrown off Alviarin, whereas Egwene still had a Black Ajah keeper, and was getting neck massages by Ms. Male Lesbian Forsaken. If Egwene had reunited the Tower without the Great Purge, the situation would have been no better than before, Black-Ajah-wise.

Oh well, onto the next post! :)
Roger Powell
131. forkroot
JL - You are correct that I was just asserting the poor condition of leadership at Salidar as it stood. I see now how that could have been construed differently.

You do make some solid points regarding the state of affairs when Egwene was summoned. After reconsideration, I'll stick with my assertion for the reasons stated so well above by other posters.

We'll agree to disagree on this minor point and indeed move on to the next post. See you there!
Alice Arneson
132. Wetlandernw
insectoid @124 - "Wet Wall: Climb at your own risk!" LOL!! I like it.

subwoofer @126 - Oh, you make me laugh! Thank you!! My daughter keeps asking what's so funny... but I don't even try. The truth about the dishes is that I let them pile up all day and do the whole thing after dinner. It's my break from the kids (while their dad gets them to bed and reads to them), so it's often my time to ponder what I've read in some semblance of peace and quiet. Sadly, I usually come up with some particularly beautiful analogies and phrasing, but by the time I sit down to write I've lost them. Oh well. Cairo FTW!

Jonathan Levy - I had a great reply, but it was a wall no one wants to read any more. The (now unsupported) gist of it was that you can't really say Egwene had no business trusting her own judgment rather than someone else's; when the Hall made her Amyrlin they required her to judge. Even choosing one faction to throw in with would be a decision, based on her judgment that they were the best choice. Combining her own innate stubbornness, her Two Rivers independence, and her Aiel training in taking personal responsibility for your own choices, Egwene knew full well that her judgment would inescapably determine the fate of the SAS. As you said, she turned out to be right, and sometimes in spite of herself. But had she chosen to follow someone else (gah!), even that decision would still have been the decision of the Amyrlin, based on the judgment of a 19-year-0ld girl. You can't get away from it.
Jonathan Levy
133. JonathanLevy
132. Wetlandernw &
131. forkroot

I still think it's safer to let an 18-year-old choose a pilot than fly the plane herself, even though in both cases you have an 18-year-old making a decision.

But on to the next thread!
Thank you for sharing your feelings.Pilot is a prestigious job.
William McDaniel
135. willmcd
Great discussion on Egwene here. I can't add a lot to it; as I've mentioned before, I dislike Egwene as a character, and I think that Bergmaniac, Wolfmage and others have articulated the arguments against her very well. I did think that this passage from the beginning of Ch16 was very telling, as Egwene looks at the boats approaching Tar Valon:
She thought about weaving a flare, a starburst of light, perhaps with a loud bang, just above each of the vessels. That would certainly let anyone aboard with brains realize that neither speed nor distance kept them safe here, only a forbearance born of the Three Oaths. They should know that they were safe because of Aes Sedai.
I see nothing of altrusim or Last-Battle-preparation in her attitudes. Egwene desires to give a flashy demonstration of her power to no other effect than to demonstrate to the crews of these vessels (who are doing nothing more than practice commerce) that they are safe (from Aes Sedai!) only because of the great forebearance of Aes Sedai and the awesome wisdom of the Three Oaths. Despite Wetlander's well-articulated arguments, I cannot view this in a sympathetic way.

I also thought it was interesting, in light of the long-standing "Are burning out and stilling the same thing?" debate that no one mentioned this quote from Ch17:
It was harder to make a novice go slowly when you could not point out that she risked ending her quest for the shawl by burning herself out and losing the One Power forever.
To Egwene, at least, burning out and stilling are the same thing, and burning out can be Healed.

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