Tue
Feb 22 2011 1:54pm
The Wheel of Time Re-read: New Spring, Part 5

New Spring by Robert JordanThe cake may be a lie, you button-mashers, but the Wheel of Time Re-read, she will never steer you wrong!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 9 and 10 of New Spring, in which Our Heroine has come to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And she’s all out of gum. Yay!

All my previous post are belong to ME! And, er, you too, sure. Go ahead. The Wheel of Time Master of Unlocking 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, then your princess may be in another castle!

Okay, fine, that made no sense. WHATEVER. It's dangerous to go alone! Take this. And now, sit your ass down in that chair and drink your goddamn TEA! And, er, also, read the post!

Chapter 9: It Begins

What Happens
Moiraine tries not to panic as she follows Merean, convinced she is going to fail. She begins making contingency plans for when she is put out of the Tower, and takes comfort in her determination that she will still search for the Dragon Reborn no matter what happens. Merean leads her to the lowest basement level of the Tower and into a large domed chamber that contains a large iridescent oval ring standing unsupported in the center, which Moiraine knows must be a ter’angreal. Besides Merean, there are six other Aes Sedai in the room, one from each Ajah, and Moiraine is dismayed to see one of them is Elaida. Merean begins the ritual opening of the ceremony, and Moiraine is surprised that her answers sound calm. She disrobes as the ceremony continues, and almost falters as she remembers that she still has the notebook on her, but recovers and hides it under the rest of her clothes.

“You will see this sign upon the ground.” [Merean] channeled, and her finger drew a six-pointed star in the air, two overlapping triangles written for an instant in fire.

Moiraine felt one of the sisters behind her embrace saidar, and a weave touched the back of her head. “Remember what must be remembered,” the sister murmured. It was Anaiya, the Blue. But this was not part of what she had been taught. What did it mean?

[…] “When you see that sign, you will go to it immediately, at a steady pace, neither hurrying nor hanging back, and only then may you embrace the Power. The weaving required must begin immediately, and you may not leave that sign until it is completed.”

“Remember what must be remembered,” Anaiya murmured.

“When the weave is complete,” Merean said, “you will see that sign again, marking the way you must go, again at a steady pace, without hesitation.”

“Remember what must be remembered.”

“One hundred times you will weave, in the order you have been given and in perfect composure.”

“Remember what must be remembered,” Anaiya murmured for a final time, and Moiraine felt the weaving settle into her, much as Healing did.

The sisters kneel around the ter’angreal and channel into it until it begins to glow and spin, but Moiraine notes that Elaida takes the time to glare at her. Moiraine knows that to break serenity now means failure, though, and shows no reaction. She enters the spinning ter’angreal, and finds herself in a corridor, with no memory of how she’d gotten there or why she was naked. Suddenly a rich dress in her House colors appears, and Moiraine puts it on before exiting the corridor into a courtyard with a six pointed star at the center. She walks toward it, and her dress melts away right before three rough-looking men enter and begin ogling her.

They began sauntering toward her, oily smirks twisting their faces. She had no fear of them, just the burning consciousness that these… these… ruffians… were seeing her without a stitch – without a single stitch! – yet she dared not channel until she reached the star. Utter calm and a steady pace. Deep-buried anger twitched and strained, but she held it down.

She reaches the star and channels the required weave, blocking the men with a shield of Air. She sees the next star and heads for it, ignoring the cursing men and remaining calm with an effort. She steps out of the courtyard into another corridor, and forgets everything again except what she must do. She finds fresh garments and dresses again before exiting into a deserted village with a star painted next to the well. She reaches the star and begins to channel, but is suddenly snared in thorny bushes; she ignores the pain of the thorns and continues, but then sees that the bushes are crawling with poisonous death's-head spiders. She continues with the main weave, but splits flows off to torch the spiders with Fire.

Light, how many were there? Her eyes, the only part of her that could move, searched hurriedly, and almost everywhere they lit, she found another death's-head, crawling toward her. Every one she saw, she killed, but so many where her eyes could find them begged the question. How many were below her sight? Or behind her? Calm!

Burning spiders as rapidly as she could locate them, she began to weave faster at that great useless lump. In several places, thin tendrils of smoke rose from blackened spots on the branches. Holding her face in a smooth, frozen mask, she wove faster and faster. Dozens more spiders died, and more tendrils of smoke rose, some thicker. Once the first flame showed, it would spread like the wind. Faster. Faster.

She completes the weave, and the bushes and spiders vanish; she resists the urge to shake herself all over to check for spiders on her, and continues to the next star, ending up in a small house that paradoxically goes on for quite some time.

A very peculiar place, this. A dream, she would have thought, had she not known it was not.

She ends up in a walled square with the star in the center, but Trollocs begin climbing the walls as she heads toward it. She forces herself not to channel until she reaches the star, and then begins hurling fireballs at the Trollocs while working on the third weave. She kills them as fast as she can, but there are too many, and they are making her lose track of the main weave. Moiraine is determined not to fail, and hits upon the idea to dance.

After all, however quickly her feet moved, what could be more serene than a court dance, with her face properly smooth, as though she were dancing in the Sun Palace? She wove the Five Powers as fast as she could, faster than she had ever woven before, she was certain. In some way, the dancing helped, and the intricate weave began to take shape like the finest Mardina lace. Dancing, she wove, hurling fire with both hands, killing Shadowspawn with both hands. Sometimes they came so close that their blood spattered her face, sometimes so close that she had to dance out of their way as they fell, dance away from their down-curving swords, but she ignored the blood and danced.

Finally she completes the weave, and kills the rest of the Trollocs in the square before heading toward the next star.

Commentary
So, okay, this was pretty darn cool.

Not the least part of what was cool about it, of course, is Moiraine being completely badass, especially in the bit where she’s calmly dancing around and torching Trollocs like it ain’t no thang, but it was also cool in that the storytelling here actually managed to generate tension about the outcome of the test, at least for me, even though I knew perfectly well that Moiraine was going to pass. Which is a pretty neat trick, really.

Also, that scene with the thorn bushes is not recommended to those with arachnophobic tendencies. I’m not even especially creeped out by spiders and I found that bit hair-raising. I think it’s the realization that they could be coming from behind her, eeeek. Also, you know, poisonous. Not fun.

I wonder: if Moiraine had gotten overwhelmed by Trollocs, or spiders, or whatever else, would the sisters have stopped the test, or let her die? Let’s be incredibly optimistic and assume the first, yes?

The mechanics of the test itself were alternately interesting or puzzling, or both. As with the Acceptatron ter’angreal, the world inside it is clearly some version of the Dreamworld, though of course Moiraine doesn’t have the knowledge to recognize it as such at this point. It’s never been explicated as to whether the test subjects in either situation are actually supposed to be in Tel’aran’rhiod proper, or whether the ter’angreal creates a sort of, er, closed system clone version of the Dreamworld, to get all metaphorically cyberpunk on you for a second, that imitates all the properties of the larger system without being connected to it. The fact that the channelers participating in the shawl test seem to be actively in control of what happens in the world inside suggests strongly to me, though, that it’s the latter.

Which is kind of hilarious when you consider that the Aes Sedai testing thingy has (apparently) been a perfect template to teach them how to handle the Dreamworld all along, and yet it seems that no one ever made the connection that that’s what they were doing. Silly rabbits, Trix are for kids!

How all that actually works, of course, is another question, and one I’m going to let slide under “because it’s cool, okay?” Similarly, I’m choosing to not look too closely on the question of how one actually creates a weave that enforces incredibly specific selected (and temporary) memory loss.

Also, was I the only one who got a very video-game savepoint feel out of the star thing? Just me? Okay then!

 

Chapter 10: It Finishes

What Happens
Moiraine has completed ninety-nine weaves, in every environment imaginable and while threatened by everything from wild animals to rampaging mobs, each time unable to remember where the fresh injuries had come from. In pain and almost too tired to stand, she hobbles toward the last star, in a garden next to a fountain. As she begins the weave, her father steps into the garden and tells her that she must come with him immediately; her mother is dying. Moiraine wants to weep, but she finishes the weave and tells her father to give her mother her love before brushing past him, and…

…found herself staggering into a round white chamber, the reflected light of stand-lamps dazzling her eyes. Memory crashed back into her, nearly buckling her knees. Unable to think as that torrent flooded in on her, she managed three more steps before stumbling to a halt. She remembered everything, the making of every weave, where every injury had been received. All of her missteps, her frantic efforts to hold on to some outward semblance of serenity.

“It is done,” Merean intoned, clapping her hands together with a loud crack. “Let no one ever speak of what has passed here. It is for us to share in silence with she who experienced it. It is done.” Again she clapped her hands loudly, the blue fringe of her shawl swinging. “Moiraine Damodred, you will spend tonight in prayer and contemplation of the burdens you will take up on the morrow, when you don the shawl of an Aes Sedai. It is done.” For a third time she clapped her hands together.

Merean leaves, and Elaida goes with her, but the other sisters come to Moiraine to offer Healing. Moiraine is amazed that she passed, and Anaiya laughs and tells her that if blushes counted, no one would ever pass. Moiraine remembers one part of the test where she had been thoroughly kissed by a handsome man, and flushes to realize they had seen everything. Moiraine is dismayed to see that Verin is holding her clothing, but the notebook is still in her pouch. After she is Healed and dressing, she comments that the last test had been very cruel.

“It is not to be spoken of, however cruel,” Anaiya said firmly. “Not ever, to anyone.”

But Yuan, a slim Yellow, half glanced toward the door, displeasure in her gray eyes. So. Merean had been no part of the test. Elaida had tried to make her fail, and harder than anyone else, or the Arafellin sister would not have disapproved. So.

Moiraine goes back to the Accepted gallery, looking for Siuan, and finds Myrelle and Sheriam. Myrelle tells her excitedly that Siuan was taken away for her test a little while ago, and Sheriam asks if Moiraine passed. She says yes, and feels a pang when they both stand respectfully, knowing that they will no longer be her friends until the gap is closed and they are all Aes Sedai. She leaves them and goes to her room, where she finds a huge meal waiting for her. She eats every scrap, and fights the temptation to sleep, determined to wait for Siuan and grimly deflecting thoughts that Siuan might not have passed. She overhears Accepted in the hall; when they hear Moiraine has passed and is in her room, they go quiet so as not to disturb her. Finally, Siuan enters.

“Did you…?” Moiraine began, and could not finish.

“It was as easy as falling off a boat,” Siuan answered. “Into a school of silverpike. I almost swallowed my heart when I remembered this…” she slapped her belt pouch, where she also carried her book of names, “but after that, it went well.” Her whole face suddenly turned bright red. She managed a smile through it. “We'll be raised together, Moiraine.”

Moiraine leaped to her feet, and laughing, they danced hand in hand for joy.

Moiraine exhorts Siuan to eat, but Siuan has a better idea; she got six mice from one of the grooms earlier. Moiraine protests that they are practically sisters, they can’t be pulling pranks, but Siuan insists that this is their last chance, and adds grimly that mice are only a small repayment for the beatings Elaida gave them.

Moiraine drew breath. Without Elaida, she might never have practiced trying to weave faster, and without that, she might well have failed. But she suspected her father had not been Elaida's only special addition to her test. Too often, her weaknesses had been laid bare by someone who knew them particularly well. The woman had tried to make her fail.

“Only after you have eaten,” she said.

Commentary
That was too close, you were almost a Moiraine sandwich!

(Yes, I know, I’m rolling my eyes at myself at this point. But I can’t help it!)

Two new icons this round, by George! Though I’m a tad bemused that “mice” got one of its own. Or maybe it’s “prank-pulling” in general, but either way, really? Especially considering that I think neither Nynaeve nor Egwene have their own icons, still! I’m just saying, interesting priorities there, iconically, ha ha.

I faintly remember that this is made more of later, but I was really reminded here of Jordan’s military background, with Myrelle and Sheriam’s reaction to the news that Moiraine was about to be promoted to Aes Sedai—not to mention the way the other Accepted behave. Something about the artificiality and yet indelible reality of rank within its own system; the way a battle-hardened sergeant of twenty-five years’ experience will still unhesitatingly salute a cherry lieutenant straight out of boot camp. Because that’s how it is; a true, more bone-deep respect may have yet to be earned for the individual person, but the rank carries its own inherent respect which may not be denied. At least, that’s how I understand it.

Moiraine hasn’t changed because of the symbolic addition of a shawl, and yet she has, and like many things in strict rank-based hierarchical systems, it’s perfectly logical while simultaneously being very illogical indeed. As a civilian in a world where hierarchy is generally ill-defined at best and given misleading, faux-casual lip-service at worst, I have always found this kind of sharp definition to the divisions between one level and another both attractive and faintly repellent at the same time. But fascinating, either way.

(This can, by the way, also apply to the strength-based hierarchy of the Aes Sedai as well. I’ve spent plenty of time bitching about it, and no doubt will have occasion to do so again in the future, but thinking about it from this angle, it does make a certain logical/illogical, typically militaristic sense to find some way to further increment the ranking system in an ordered, easily-definable way. Though I can’t help noting that at least real military ranks make a token nod to having something to do with merit, and not just arbitrary inborn factors. But whatever.)

Verin: Yay! Hi, Verin! Fancy meeting you here! Did you sneak a look at Moiraine’s diary, you sneaky Verin you? I bet you did. I don’t remember what happens next, but I bet this comes up again. Don’t make me a liar, now!

Elaida: News flash: SHE SUCKS. There, now you’re all shocked and stuff. Or, you know, not. Will she get mice, or will Moiraine and Siuan get severely pantsed? Well, I sure as hell can’t remember, so I guess we’ll find out when I read the next chapter, eh?


You fool! You gave cheese to a lactose intolerant volcano god! Now we’ll have to end the post! So, see you Friday, right? If we haven’t all died of dysentery, of course. Whoot!

148 comments
Ken Ray
1. Maclir
Re Military, saluting and ranks. When I did my time in the Australian military, we were taught that when you salute an officer, you are showing respect to the rank, not necessarily the individual. I would imagine that is the same in most military organizations - you respect the rank or position that the person holds, not the person themselves.
Sean Banawnie
2. Seanie
similiar in some respects to the medical world....
i think someone had a turbo sarcasm latte.......mwahhhaha
what a trip you are leigh....lol.
FellKnight
3. FellKnight
Not all militaries have even the token "merit" of rising through the ranks as you describe. The Dutch, for example, assign people a rank based on the level of schooling completed. I worked for a full Colonel (a rank that normally requires 20-25 years of exemplary service to attain), in a NATO multinational force who had been given that rank and in the Dutch Air Force for 6 months, strictly because she had a Ph.D.

The more you know ;)

Fell
Brandon Wood
4. brad21088
Using strength to rank Aes Sedai is still stupid, no matter how you look at it. (Though I do appreciate your trying to see it in a different light haha.) The Windfinders and Wise Ones have a perfectly good system for determing rank that doesn't rely on strength in the power, and even the Kin have a more logical way to rank their members (being oldest of the Kin means you survived being caught for so long, so you're probably not an idiot, etc). I wonder if the Aes Sedai way of determing rank came about during the time when the White Tower was founded after the Breaking. It would make a brute kind of sense for the strongest Aes Sedai to be in charge, since (from what I understand) women who could channel were being forced into the White Tower and competing groups of women channelers were disbanded (again, by force). Either way, it's a silly way to rank Aes Sedai now, and I hope Nynaeve and Egwene can figure out a way to change that (good luck to them haha).
Sorcha O
5. sushisushi
I just checked and the star icon does indeed reappear for Nynaeve's testing in ToM. I always thought that the six mousey icon was supposed to echo the six pointed star of the previous chapters, given that it represents Siuan and Moiraine's last prank between passing the test and actually becoming Aes Sedai.

Also, girls, if Elaida didn't hate you already, you've just gone and killed the goat...
lake sidey
7. lakesidey
Evidently they haven't bought into the rank system quite yet. Else they wouldn't be running off to put something in Elaida's bed, given how far above them she stands currently. (Of course, they don't at this point know how the hierarchy works, but then, almost any other conceivable system would still put them way below Elaida (except pure egalitarianism amongst AS, and even that would kick in only after they were raised). So, no, rats in the bed of someone who already hates you and is more powerful than you by buckets, not a good idea!

I've always hated spiders myself, so....this creeped me out. and now I am seeing the test for AS as being their version of Fear Factor - they present the things which scare you a lot and make you face them (and since it is drawn from your own memories, partly, you can't even bluff about what you're scared of. Nice, not!)

I'm guessing the AS Test ter’angreal is to the Dream world as a very realistic video game would be to our world. It has a lot of the look and feel, but you can control some things you can't here, and vice versa. And yes, as you said Leigh, you can save the game after every level. But if you fail one level, you don't get to start from scratch again. That....sucks.

I guess if Moiraine had broken down, they would have stopped the test and thrown her out of the tower. But if she died in there, well, that would be that, I think. We know of accepted who did not emerge....

In the acceptatron I remember being inclined to think that was because they found an alternate future they glimpsed better than the real world and hence chose to stay (as Nynaeve almost did when she was queen of Malkier - note that she broke the rules there too, and channeled to get out after the way back had pretty much gone! She makes a habit of this, doesn't she?) I wonder if that could be the case here too? I suspect the worst though. But I have to wonder - unlike in the Acceptatron, here the other AS are aware of what is happening to you. So how come they don't even seem to know what happened to the ones who don't return? Strange, I say!

As for the icons, maybe RJ had a few doodles left over and saw no way he was gong to use the 'mice' one at any future point....so he decided "the wheel weaves as the wheel wills" and put them in here and made them put mice into Elaida's bed (rather than some other prank)?

@4 brad21088: I am not exactly enamoured with the windfinders' system either. Your boss dies, so you go straight back to the bottom and start over? How exactly does that make sense? All that wisdon and experience accumulated over years in top positions, and you're windfinder on a raker? As for the Wise Ones, I don't think we've ever figured out their system (besides that force of personality plays a large part). The closest I remember to a hint is Sorilea and Amys (possibly?) determining who should lead while accompanying Perrin to Dumai's Wells. The Kin's system works because channeling apparently buffers one from senility as such, so extreme old age doesn't weaken mental faculties significantly (Hi Cads!)

However, if Nynaeve and Egwene do try to change that system (assuming they and the system survive TG, that is), they'll have a fair chance to succeed - for one, they have a few centuries to do so, for another, being among the strongest tower initiates currently, they are almost the only ones who could do so and clearly not have any ulterior motive of boosting their own position. (Of course, this also acts as a strong disincentive towards doing anything to change the status quo in the first place...)

~lakesidey
Erik
8. gadget
I would just like to note that I believe it is the ter’angreal that enforces the memory loss, not the weave that is placed on the person being tested. It seems that the weave just counteracts this memory loss for certain things that must be remembered.

Good recap. And yes, now that you mention it, it does kind of remind one of save points in a video game.
j p
9. sps49
You understand the rank thing as well as anyone needs, Leigh, and better than most. (Even some of those cherry butterbars.) In some communities, though- nuclear power for me, also submarines, some special forces, etc.- there is some fuzziness, especially when someone is in a position of authority over someone nominally of higher rank (instructors, senior watch stations).

I am shocked (shocked!) that Elaida drew the wrong conclusion entirely from the facts as she understands them.

And yeah, what happens if you fail? Do you die, vanish, or get burned out? If someone is too harsh, can you request a different group? Does Moghedien stalk the testing TAR and pick off promising subjects?
FellKnight
10. Psionandonandon
This was awesome, and is making me seriously want to re-read Nynaeve's test - which was a personal favorite of mine.

Also, a quick question: how many of the Aes Sedai administering the test were Black Ajah?
lake sidey
11. lakesidey
@9 sps49: Does Moghedien stalk the testing TAR and pick off promising subjects? Eeks. I am going to have nightmares tonight. (Though at the risk of opening old cans of worms, that might explain why the prettiest of the accepted vanished - maybe Moggy likes PYTs?)

Wait. This is twenty years ago. Moggy was safely sealed up then! goes back to sleep easefully

@6 MAT : Well you know what they say, if you've got nothing to say, at least say it very eloquently!

~lakesidey
Zayne Forehand
12. ShiningArmor
I find myself feeling much more "eh" about this sequence than I did the first time reading it. After Nynaeve's testing in all its awesomeness, this just seems very "here's what the testing is so you'll stop wondering". Despite just showing us that Moiraine passed, I don't feel like it showed as much character as Nynaeve's did. I feel like Ny's test was a character defining CMOA. I thought it was a big nod towards what the Aes Sedai could become in the future. I was very much on the edge of my seat during their decision for that one.

Don't get me wrong. Moiraine's test is still awesome and I do remember the sense of awe I had finally getting a glimpse into the final Aes Sedai test but it has lost a little of its new shiny glow for me.

Edit for Sidenote: I finally caught up and finished TOM a little over a week ago. It's really exciting to finally be able to get in on these discussions. I can't wait until we get into KoD and on.
Tina Pierce
13. scissorrunner
ooglers, spiders, & trollocs, Oh my!

erp
drinking my tea & reading

Psionandonandon - I want to reread Nyneave's test now too!
Sorcha O
14. sushisushi
Psionandonandon@10 We only know who four of the seven were (Verin, Elaida, Anaiya and Yuan), and only Verin is Black (or Purple :), but we don't know who was there for the White, Green or Gray. But the Mistress of Novices was Black and she was overseeing matters, so was the only one who would have been able to rummage while the rest were involved with the testing.

ShiningArmor @12 I dunno, I read this one first, by several years, and I found that the knowledge of what a more or less average test was like only made Nynaeve's reaction rock all the more.
FellKnight
15. pwl
It's amusing that the only reason the AS testing (and even Accepted testing, to a point) can occur as it does is because they forgot knowledge and aptitude in the World of Dreams, something that was normal training for channelers in the AoL. As Nynaeve showed, even simple familiarity with TAR (and no real talent or training) can allow you to break the rules of the tests. I wonder if it was intentional that these tests of such significance could be circumvented with very basic knowledge from the AoL, or if TAR simply provided a useful "Danger Room" as it were for these various testing scenarios and it just so happened to be a forgotten skillset.
FellKnight
16. fbstj
I'd suggest that the Testing world *is* T'A'R, but 'those outside' (and the ter'angreal itsself) force it into the problem space. I'd guess that its much easier to subset-ize T'A'R than it is to emulate it.
James Hogan
17. Sonofthunder
Do we know for sure that Elaida's the one who made Moiraine's test tougher? Could it have been...Merean? Just a thought.
lake sidey
18. lakesidey
@12 Shiningarmor: Hi, and welcome to the mudpit. Jump right in - I hope you don't mind (much) if your armor loses its shine?

I agree with you that Nynaeve's test was more awesome - but I think that is precisely the point! Remember, NS was published waaaay before ToM, so if that test had been more awesome and Nynaeve's had been 'bleh, whatevah!" it would have been a let-down. As it is, if you read the series in publication order, this test would still be very awesome - and then Nynaeve's would come along to show us how it could be even more awesome.

I guess you, like me, read ToM before NS (the novel) and hence your feeling of 'yawn, no big deal'. (Not that I felt so, not with the poisonous spiders around to give me the chills! Brrrr).

Also, to me, Moiraine's 'rejection' of the last scene was impressive in one so young - I'd guess she and Siuan (and possibly Elaida) are the youngest to have ever taken the test till date - they joined the tower at 15 or 16, which is as young as they normally take women, and then they cleared the Accepted and AS levels in record times of 3 years each, making them 21 or 22. And Nynaeve is already older that this when she takes her test...(maybe Elayne could go for the record. And get lost in there. May we can get George Martin to write that bit? Make it long-drawn-out and painful?)

@13 scissorrunner: Careful, it might be forkroot!

@15 pwl: maybe the original purpose of that ter’angreal, in the Ageof Legends, was to train people in TAR in a controlled environment? Kind of like a flight simulator for the World of Dreams?

@16 fbstj: That makes sense. So, probably, cocoon off a small bit of it so that random loose dangers (free-roaming nightmares for example) can't attack that area, and then mould it into a training ground?

~lakesidey
Kimani Rogers
19. KiManiak
Hey Leigh! Thanks (as always) for the great recap.

This does give us hints of Moiraine’s future badassness. She shows she’s able to deal with multiple situations and adapt/show ingenuity when necessary (dancing while flaming Trollocs; well done!). This book reminded me how much I missed Moiraine and had me eagerly awaiting her return.

Leigh, it would indeed be funny if the test thingy is a type of trainer for T’A’R that the AS have been using for centuries and never knew. Although, if the observation were made by Egwene or Nynaeve, I would like to think that many Sisters would be able to handle T’A’R a lot better once they change their mindset.

I do think that there are potential flaws in any “ranking” system. I do respect trying to see the merit in a ranking system, especially in a quasi-military organization like the White Tower. I think that if you are in an organization, you do need to follow the chain of command; but I also encourage trying to positively impact that chain when necessary (I’ve never been in a military organization, but I am a believer in managing “up” when you have incompetent bosses, and I would like to believe that posing suggestions in a non-threatening way is allowed).

lakesidey@7 – re: the acceptatron’s possible futures: that’s why I will continue to hope (and possibly delude myself) that Aviendha’s trip through the Rhiudean ter’angreal in ToM may have just been of a possible future, similar to what the Acceptatron shows. I really am clinging to the belief that all Aviendha did was recalibrate it from “actual past” to “possible/plausible future.”

ShiningArmor@12 – I agree that Nynaeve’s test was a lot more in depth (and was probably longer, word-count-wise), but to be fair, this was written first. At the time, this was a cool view into the mysterious “test” that created Aes Sedai. After using this test as a model, RJ &/or BWS were able to make Nynaeve’s test cooler, and more fraught with tension and excitement. Also, Nynaeve challenges the system, which makes it more of a CMoA for her.

EDIT: I see lakesidey@18 got there before me :-) I tip my hat to you again, sir.

pwl@15 – I like what your proposing. I wonder if future tests with some of the Accepteds that Egwene trained in T’A’R will also go the same way. Or, maybe AS will institute a policy where Accepteds aren’t to be trained in T’A’R (which I think would be a mistake, as they would be in the best position to learn).
Birgit
20. birgit
The mice icon reappears in TGS ch. 8 where Siuans wants to put mice in Bryne's bed but then decides against it. Siuan's icons are fish and mice, not figs and mice.

However, if Nynaeve and Egwene do try to change that system (assuming they and the system survive TG, that is), they'll have a fair chance to succeed - for one, they have a few centuries to do so, for another, being among the strongest tower initiates currently, they are almost the only ones who could do so and clearly not have any ulterior motive of boosting their own position. (Of course, this also acts as a strong disincentive towards doing anything to change the status quo in the first place...)

Ny already found out that it is not a good idea to teach the Kin to stand up to AS. She might be more careful next time.
lake sidey
22. lakesidey
@21 scissorrunner: I'm sleepy too. But that might be just because it is almost 2 am in my part of the world!

~lakesidey
Zayne Forehand
23. ShiningArmor
I read New Spring a few years ago and at the time I ate up the fact we were getting so much information on Aes Sedai which has always been one of the more interesting aspects of the series to me. What I was saying in my earlier post was that re-reading this sequence post-Nynaeve test made it seem less impressive.

@14,18&19 I hadn't thought about it providing context of a "normal" test to make Ny's that much more awesome. Good point.

@lakesidey Eh, my armor's been shining long enough ;). This is the first time I've been current with the fandom in these books despite starting them back in 2000 (I quit mid-WH and just picked it back up from the beginning last year through to ToM). I'm thrilled to trudge into the mudpit with the masses.
FellKnight
24. Lsana
While the "Mice" icon is certainly amusing, I'm reminded of a comment from a few threads ago (sorry, I don't remember who made it) that Suian are remarkably childish for women in their 20s. This is the sort of action most people in our world would outgrow by the time they are about 10. For that matter, even in Randland, it is considered childish: Mat was younger than this when he proposed his "Badger" prank in the first book, causing Rand to roll his eyes about how Mat still hadn't grown up. It does suggest that whatever else Aes Sedai training does, it doesn't really produce adults.

@7 lakesidey,

I can't see Egwene being all that interested in changing the system. She's bought into the White Tower value system pretty completely. This helps her sometimes; she would never have beaten Mesaana if she had just been "Egwene al'Vere, pretty talented channeler" rather than "Amyrlin of the White Tower, representative of 3000 of power." It does, however, suggest to me that she's not going to be upending Tower tradition, certainly not in ways that don't work in her favor.

Nynaeve might, especially after the way her AS test went and her interactions with Daigan. I think she would need Eg as an ally, though, and I don't think she will get it.
Simon Southey-Davis
25. Glyph
Aw Moiraine... you were so Little Miss Badass and now you've only got one book left. Can't wait to see what you do with that new angreal of yours... (and I really, really hope you don't get sidelined by plot after all the build-up to getting you back.)

I admit: I caught up in the re-read and then, um, failed to stop. It was quite a blast and I Foretell some juicy threads coming up in the near future...

M's testing here fluctuated between awesome and meh for me: the Trolloc dance just rocked, but the final test fell somewhat flat by comparison with the emotionally harrowing descriptions of, say, Eg and Ny's acceptatron experiences. I do tend to the opinion that the two ter'angreal use T'A'R directly - I'm less than convinced that it would even be possible to 'clone' the dreamworld - but I'm on board with the idea that the way the AS use them is probably leagues removed from their original purpose (see: Oath Rod).

I'm sure we'll get onto the AS ranking system, ooh... real soon now, but for the moment I'll just note that Eadyth's infodump on the subject really illustrates how jarringly nonsensical it is. I can see how it might have developed as a slow perversion of a once-sensible system, but eh. As in many things, it seems we're meant to think that the Aiel are probably the ones with their heads most screwed on about this.

(Also, @Lsana courtesy the Preview page...)
I agree that Siuan and especially Moiraine come across as pretty childish at various points in the book, with Moiraine particularly showing herself up after gaining the shawl. At least it doesn't go unremarked by other charactesr; I can't quite decide if I prefer the view that we're getting to see how Moiraine began so that we can appreciate her maturation over the next 20 years, or that we're seeing the more impish, impulsive side of her character that's almost completely hidden in the woman we met in Emond's Field so long ago and far ahead.
lin mei
26. twicemarked
Even though Leigh chose not to pursue it further,


Similarly, I’m choosing to not look too closely on the question of how one actually creates a weave that enforces incredibly specific selected (and temporary) memory loss.

I want to raise the point that RJ did something quite subtle here.

“Remember what must be remembered,” Anaiya murmured for a final time, and Moiraine felt the weaving settle into her, much as Healing did.

If one read between the lines, it strongly suggests that the weave used here in a type of compulsion, which often asks the person compelled to remember something, but forget other things.

I recall in TOM there is textual evidence that compulsion feels much like healing. Since we know there is no point healing Moiraine here, it suggested even stronger that a form of compulsion is used here.
Sorcha O
27. sushisushi
Glyph@25 I'm on board with the idea that the way the AS use them is probably leagues removed from their original purpose (see: Oath Rod).

It would be kinda funny if all the Aes Sedai’s precious and institution-defining ter’angreal turned out to be the Age of Legends equivalent of training wheels, pace Elayne's dream ter-angreal…
FellKnight
28. ican'tremembermyusername
I think it's hilarious that every accepted and aes sedai testing we've seen (I think) has featured the testee desperately worrying about something in her possession she doesn't want seen/found.
Hugh Arai
29. HArai
I wonder if the testing ter'angreals being T'A'R "lite" is the original reason for making such a big deal about being serene: the test subject was originally being warned not to daydream about charging rhinos etc and throw off the test. As Nynaeve eventually points out there's nothing wonderful about being pokerfaced for the sake of being pokerfaced.
Justin Levitt
30. TyranAmiros
Regarding the ranking system, I find it actually a very elegant solution to the Tower's massive coordination problem (sorry, I'm a grad student in political science). Approach it from the Tower's perspective. We need a system of ranking sisters that accomplishes three things:
1. Comprehensive (all sisters must be included in the system)
2. Universal (the ranking criteria must be something that all sisters can be ranked by)
3. Immediately knowable (does not depend on some listing in Tar Valon or Ajah-specific ordering or having to ask for personal details)

The ranking method succeeds not only on all three main criteria, but it also adds a layer of mystery to the Aes Sedai from outsiders' perspectives. It's not simply that Aes Sedai always are in control, they even just seem to know who leads amongst themselves.

In addition, from a military standpoint, it's likely that those who are stonger in the power are able to do more (obviously unless someone has a particular talent in one power). And at most you need to know about one or two sisters who are at the same level as you.

The Kin's method is actually very close to the AS method--the age you live to correlates with strength in the power--but it fails criterion 3, particularly since agelessness makes most AS look the same age. On a similar note, the Aiel method has to account for the fact that WOs include women who cannot channel, so nothing based on the One Power would work for them.
Jane Smyth
31. Kaboom
When I originally read these 2 chapters, I felt very disapointed with the test for the shawl. For years we were led to expect something awsome but when I first read it it was a letdown. The accepted spends years (most of them probably) to learn a set of weaves that is just useless. I thought that is was a waste of time.
But later I changed my mind a little. I still think it is a waste of time to learn these weaves, but that is not really the purpose of the test.

And since I wasn't on the board for all the discussion on the AS ranking...
It never bothered me so much. First the story would never have been possible if it was any other ranking system. This was the only way I think that 3 young girls with no experience could be able to have influence enough in the organisation to be able to lead/change things.
In addition I remember reading somewhere (Maybe from Moiraine in the first book) that strenght in character is linked with strenght in the power. Perhaps originally the leadership in the tower was more related to the strength of character of the AS but got eventually diverted to strength in the power. )more easily compared)

As a few posted before I also think that it is the TerAngreal that causes the loss of the memory and that the weave is to make the person remember important things (like the 6 pointed star). But for that reason, I don't think that it was originally made to train people for TAR as it would not make sense to lose your memory for that. I do agree though that the test was not the original purpose of the terangreal.
Tess Laird
32. thewindrose
To bad there isn't a scene where the Forsaken are laughing about the fool Aes Sedai of this age using the T'a'R teaching chamber as the test to become a sister.
It would make sense that there is such a contraption to visit T'a'R with guides that can pull you out very fast if need be. Then you graduate to the dream ter'angreal that allow you to visit T'a'R a bit more freely - maybe if you show promise in the teaching chamber.

I did read NS when it came out, so it was cool to see Moiraine go through this test, as we don't see any go through it until Nynaeve does(and that was a CMoA for her!)

tempest™
Jay Dauro
33. J.Dauro
OK, this is not really a great bit of deduction, but reading these chapters just fixed this in my mind.

Many of us have discussed that the Aes Sedai have distanced themselves from the outside world. Other comments are that they live in an Ivory Tower. Many have said that the Tower would be accepted better by the outside world with sisters out healing, sisters in the Borderlands helping to fight Shadowspawn, etc.

Well shall we look at what they test for to become an Aes Sedai?
First, you do have to face your fears, not really a bad thing. Except when your fears are losing your connections to people outside the White Tower, you are expected to leave them.

Then you have to ignore the pain, the death, injuries to and the needs of anyone except yourself. One Hundred times. You are to do this serenely, all the while weaving a useless bit of the power.

OK, you may attempt to do something to help, but in the end you are expected to walk away from completing the job, and from continuing to aid the persons in need.

Could it be that the Accepted who don't return fell victim to caring too much about the other people?

Is it any wonder that Aes Sedai are detached from the Real World?
Simon Southey-Davis
34. Glyph
twicemarked @26: Ooh, interesting point re: Compulsion there. I hadn't really thought too closely about that one; I've simply taken the memory weave as the plot device that keeps the person from forgetting everything when they step into the ter'angreal, and not the cause of forgetting. (Another point for the T'A'R interpretation: dreams often start in medias res without any memory of how you got there - hat tip to Inception here.)

TyranAmiros @30:


In addition, from a military standpoint, it's likely that those who are stonger in the power are able to do more (obviously unless someone has a particular talent in one power). And at most you need to know about one or two sisters who are at the same level as you.


This is where I can see the system having some sensible and practical roots, but having become twisted and unhelpful over the centuries; for example, a simple code of deference to greater power in situations of urgency and action, for the reasons you list, but one which has morphed into a counter-productive 'custom stronger than law' which now demands that emergency measures hold at all times, to the detriment of the Tower when deference to reason, intelligence and subtlety would give better results.

That the Tower also has customs preventing one Sister from interfering with another's activities outside the Tower itself hints at such a distinction, and also suggests that the AS themselves recognise the system as an inexpert and inadequate tool.
Kimani Rogers
35. KiManiak
J.Dauro@33 – re: Aes Sedai actions and the test weeding out certain types – I think that’s a fairly sound argument. I think that RJ & BWS touch upon this when they give us Nynaeve’s test in ToM. She questioned the rationale of being calm, of not assisting those who need it. I’m a little too lazy right now so I’m not going to look it up (although I love reading that section of ToM), but I think Nynaeve even mentions that the AS distance themselves from the people as opposed to helping them, and that she views that as a problem.

(EDIT: Ok, after posting I decided I wanted to read it again and overcame my laziness. Nynaeve tells Egwene "' I wonder if,' Nynaeve said, 'we sometimes put the White Tower -as an institution- before the poeple we serve. I wonder if we let it become a goal in itself, instead of a means to help us achieve greater goals...So even while we try to guide the world, we separate ourselves from it. We risk arrogance, Egwene'" (A Choice, ToM))

I think (again, speaking from memory here) that Egwene either quietly supported Nynaeve or gave her token resistance, when Nynaeve confronted her 6 evaluators immediately after her test. I believe that Nynaeve (who is now the highest ranking non-Sitter/Amyrlin/Ajah-Head Sister using the AS ranking system currently discussed on this reread post) could potentially lead the charge to make some changes in a post-TG world (assuming she and the AS survive). I think Egwene could be useful in passing certain measures through the Hall, but she would need Nynaeve and some of the more recently raised, yet powerful Sisters (like Sharina and some of the other world-wise women currently Novices/Accepteds) to provide the initial charge and gain traction throughout the Tower. If any outrigger novels were ever authorized and that was a story that Harriet would find worthy of telling.

As for the Accepted who didn't make it through the test, I could believe that they fell victim to caring too much about others...
Richard Chapling
36. Chappers
pwl@15
Alternatively, it may just be that Nynaeve's very good at breaking these ter'angreal: she managed to will the final Acceptatron archway back into existence a whole book before Egwene gets the twisted ring, and also after T'A'R is mentioned (AFAIK) only once. Considering that she's not especially talented in T'A'R (it took a her lot of practice to hold her clothes, for example), it seems more likely that there's something else going on here.

There is one thing to suggest that if it is T'A'R, they enter physically: candidates do disappear completely if they fail to come out (by definition, I suppose...). The resonance that occurs when Egwene had the twisted ring in the room is an obvious pointer as well.

Or maybe Nynaeve just breaks *angreal... the female Choedan Kal broke while she was using it...
Stefan Mitev
37. Bergmaniac
The whole idea of a test which kills or leads to the disappearance of many of the women which are tested is just horrible on so many levels. Ethically, of course, but also it's such a waste of a valuable channellers. Besides a lot of the Aes Sedai don't really need to be able to channel quickly under extreme pressure. Think of all those Browns who spent their lives in the library, for example.

The gap in status between Accepted and Aes Sedai is so huge no wonder Myrelle and Sheriam reacted that way. Gaining the shawl is a really big step up in sociey especially for those girls who come from lower class families like Siuan - they gain more money they've ever dreamed about and in most countries the Aes Sedai are treated with the respect demanded for high nobility. We see later than in the Borderlands even a noble from a royal family like Moiraine Damodred gets less respect than an Aes Sedai in the court. And of course, any Aes Sedai is free to punish the Accepted with penances and even a beating almost at whim.
Simon Southey-Davis
38. Glyph
Chappers @36: Yeah, I've had the same thought on the testees entering T'A'R fully / physically. Makes me wonder how the Wise Ones would react to the process, along with Perrin's wolves.
Heidi Byrd
39. sweetlilflower
While I have a second in between cleaning the kitchen, something occured to me while reading Leigh's recap. Doesn't the whole, "remember what must be remembered" sound a little like compulsion? Just me? Okay then, I'll go read the comments now...

Edit: I see that twicemarked at 26 already posted this idea. So, not just me then...
john massey
40. subwoofer
@Leigh-

I’m going to let slide under “because it’s cool, okay?

Yeah, I tried that a couple of posts ago... but some folks insist on iceskating uphill. I guess we'll expand the saying to "Only Nixon can go to China, and only Leigh can "like" stuff and not get into in dept explinations";)

Hmmmm... I've a feeling that many of the angreal in the Tower are not being used as they were intended. What if the female CK was originally meant to be like er... a bridge type device to part the water so folks that want to go across to the mainland can? I'm sure Ny isn't the only one that gets sea sick. Or what about the red doorways? Maybe they were not meant to be used for people to "access" the Finn world. Maybe they were created to let AS prank the Finn, leave exploding whoopie cushions, iron wrapped Hershey's Kisses or something. There is always that red Rod thingy that Elayne used, we could speculate on that too...

When the star was described, I was picturing something er... more religously symbolic, not the icon given.

Test was cool. Moiraine did everything proper, and passed, which, put in place with Ny's test, makes Ny's test that much more covered in awesomesauce... think a couple of other people mentioned that but I had to chime in too:)

What else?- Let's just say that I was disappointed with the prank too. I was picturing something more permanent. Like maybe singing off Elaida's eyebrows permanently or maybe trimming them so she looks constantly surprised (something I saw on Russell Peters). Maybe something Matlike so Elaida eats something and she has the runs... and nobody can Heal her. Anyways, there is never an easy badger around when you need one:)

Woof™.
FellKnight
41. LoghainsBrother
Just to add my 5 cents:
Leigh,
Your understanding of rank was pretty accurate as far as I can tell.
However, if you want a fresh look at a military structure, you can consider the Israeli army (Learn about them, not join...)
While the Israeli army has ranks like any other, there are some differences:
1. Most of the army is "battle hardened". Probably the most battle hardened western army.
2. Commanding officers are usually chosen from among the ranks. That means that the youngest officer usually does have more experience than a Sargeant.
3. The moment a soldier gets out of boot camp, he no longer salutes, he calls his superiors by their first name, and is generally freer to express his opinions. Which also ties with...
4. While many armies have rules against fraternizing, the Israeli army unofficially encourages it.(And it's definitely not a secret, there are movies about it)

Seeing how it's one of the more successful armies in the world, it seems that this attitude works well. Some argue they could be better if it wasn't so. The debate is quite calm because everybody is comfortable the way it is.
Heidi Byrd
42. sweetlilflower
Also, I wanted to add that I think the AS ranking system is just that...rank. Hahahaha!
Hmm... on the difference b/t Moiraine's and Nyneave's tests, I think that they are both awesome in their own special ways. Just as the two characters are. I agree with whoever said that Ny's test would not have been as cool w/o having this scene to compare it to, but that does not diminish the badassery that is Moiraine.
Alice Arneson
43. Wetlandernw
Leigh, you were in fine form today! Thoroughly enjoyed both the recap and the commentary - and it was much needed on this wierdly snow-shower-sun-shower-storm-threatening day. :) Now to go read everyone else's comments before I actually... uh... comment.

Oh, just wanted to say I liked the bit about the military-rank reflection. I think you're spot on - and I completely agree with the mixture of "it makes sense in a way and it's stupid in a way" reaction to it.
D. Funk
44. archaeo
Re: the merits of the testing, I think Sanderson managed to indicate Jordan's general feelings through Nynaeve. KiManiak@33 brings up the relevant quote.

Both tests (for the ring and the shawl) emphasize the same lesson: the Aes Sedai are more important than anything else. Of course, the test for the shawl requires channeling under pressure and the ability to think your way through a situation, but the requirements (being calm, walking) suggest the primacy of the AS over anything else.

Now, there are two reasons we have the tests we have. The first reason is the logical one: it passes people who aspire to the ideals of the organization. The second is the metafictional reason: it looks really badass.

The first reason is torn to pieces through any number of indications, most of them coming from Nynaeve's mouth. The ranking system, the testing system, the very priorities of the AS require major revision, especially in a Fourth Age world. But the second reason can't really be denied. These chapters are cool because it's a cool test, with cool characters, etc.

Sigh, I'm all conflicted. Maybe when I read through more of these comments I'll have something a bit better to say.

Edit: I think the ranking system, on the other hand, has no redeeming qualities, and can be summed up with Nynaeve's conversation with Daigan in, uh, tGS? But it's not really a plot thread I expect to see movement in; seems like one of those things we'll just expect to be fixed after the series ends and our characters are living Happily Ever After.
Hugh Arai
45. HArai
TyranAmiros@30: I agree their system admirably meets those 3 requirements. I simply maintain those 3 requirements are useless if you don't have 4)Strongly biased towards people with actual knowledge, successful experience and proven ability at a given task being in charge.

Put it this way. Would you pick Ituralde or Elaida to plan a battle campaign? Zero strength in the Power vs one of the strongest in the Power. Obviously it should be Elaida right? Bah. I think it comes down to this: the Aes Sedai have to maintain that strength in the Power trumps everything else or they have no justification for putting themselves in charge, and they obviously want to be in charge.

The way you can tell it's a crock? Rand is the strongest in the Power by far. How many Aes Sedai have said, "Oh he's obviously stronger in the Power than I am, guess he's in charge..."? All of a sudden, "strength isn't important, he's so young and inexperienced and has to be guided".
Eric Hughes
46. CireNaes
Leigh,

I enjoyed your commentary on Rank. Having gone from Enlisted to Officer, I've gained a new appreciation for both. That being said it never ceases to amaze me how much some Enlisted gripe and complain about their Junior Officers. Step up or shut up. Make the effort and meet the educational requirement. Not saying that some of the complaints were not valid, but most were inspired from an attitude of laziness. I appreciated Moiraine's friends reaction to her passing the test. It gives me hope for their survival come the LB.
FellKnight
47. XLCR
First, I would like to thank all of you for your sympathy and kind words. They are truly appreciated. We gave him a simple soldier's funeral, with full military honors, the local mayor presiding as a personal favor. I have always found these to be strongly moving, and never more so than now. They are based on traditions that go back centuries, often starting from customs that go back to the British Royal Army and Royal Marines.

The 21 gun salute, the lone bugler playing taps, and the intricate folds of the flag ceremony all have old and powerful meanings to those of the military culture, and to people like me, who have studied it so thoroughly. I found them satisfying and right, a fitting tribute to my father.

This is even more true of RJ, who lived, grew up in, and was educated in that culture, and it shows very strongly in his work. I know it may sound odd to relate what I've been through back to WoT, but it's my way of moving on, and I actually did find myself thinking back to the ceremony and thinking about what a fine job RJ did of capturing not just the traditions, but even the state of mind of the military person.

Yes, we can moan and pull our hair about his alleged failings when dealing with sexual/interpersonal relationships, but when it comes to military personel, whether it be generals and captains, drill instructors, or non-coms, he has a much surer touch. Like that scene in whatever book where a Sheanchan non-com manages to stop a possible brawl between members of her unit and members of Luca's circus, impressing Mat in the process. Those scenes always seem to come off as believable because he is writing from what he knows.

In the case of the borderlanders, he has constructed entire military cultures where in time of need there really are no civilians as such. At least, not male adult civilians, everyone is a soldier. This is equally true of the Aiel.

Which brings me to the Aes Sedi, specifically to the Green Ajah. So here's my argument. RJ knew exactly how a military organization is supposed to work, and how a military person is supposed to think and go about his or her duties, so it couldn't possibly be an accident that the Greens are about as far away from a workable military organization as it is possible to get. Teamwork, a sensible chain of command based on merit and ability, the proper sort of culture and tradition, all of this is missing with the Greens. Any group of soldiers that is not a team is nothing but a mob, and the Greens and the Aes Sedi in general show all of the teamwork of a herd of cats.

Furthermore, RJ has been setting this up from the beginning. The Greens supposed role in things was made clear early on, and if any would like to go back though the books a bit to check as I did, you will find no real trace of redeeming military prowness in any action performed by the Greens anywhere in the series. In almost all instances they acted as individuals, with no thought of co-ordination with others.

So was there a reason for this? Was the idea just to use them as fall guys to demonstrate the unreadiness of the Aes Sedi and the world in general for TG? I'm wondering if Egwene is hip to this and ready for a drastic reorganization in the last book.
FellKnight
48. JimF
Looks like few writing here today have military experience. Leigh says: "...Something about the artificiality and yet indelible reality of rank within its own system; the way a battle-hardened sergeant of twenty-five years’ experience will still unhesitatingly salute a cherry lieutenant straight out of boot camp. Because that’s how it is; a true, more bone-deep respect may have yet to be earned for the individual person, but the rank carries its own inherent respect..."

That's exactly right. If that young officer has a clue he gets with that sergeant and they set out together to keep the unit running properly. Sarge kicks ass and Lt. adds class to the exercise!

But the Lt. didn't just pop out of a cabbage: he's (or maybe she's) a graduate of a service academy (e.g. West Point), or he's got four years of ROTC training including course work and military training exercises including summer camp, followed by officer's basic training in his branch of service (e.g. infantry, artillery, armor, engineering, etc.). Or else he has been in the service as an enlisted man, and has then applied for and got through OCS (Officer's Candidate School) - a very rigorous process (sort of like Nyn's passage into AS), and an officer's basic course.

After essentially automatic promotions through 2Lt-1Lt-Captain, the transition to "field grade officer" (major) is based on merit. Each promotion after that is merit-based. Many conclude their careers by being "passed over" (not being selected to proceed) at Major or Lt. Colonel.

41. LoghainsBrother: "...1. Most of the army is "battle hardened". Probably the most battle hardened western army...." I dispute that; second to the United States Army (and Marines). The Israeli's need to look very carefully at themselves; the last conflict in Lebanon didn't go well at all.

Lt. JimF, CE (a long time ago)
Thomas Keith
49. insectoid
Great post, Leigh!

I had a few things to say earlier, but now my mind is muddled with code and I need to sort it out. Though I am enjoying the Acceptatron and Weaveatron (Shawlatron? Sedaiatron?) versus T'A'R discussions! I found it very amusing that Nynaeve was able to "break" both of them.

Bzzz™.
Alice Arneson
50. Wetlandernw
Sonofthunder @17 - the MoN doesn't participate in the test, so it couldn't have been Merean. Moiraine asks about the last scene afterwards and while no one will tell her (it's not to be talked about) Yuan shoots a dirty look after Elaida & Merean; she obviously knows Elaida was responsible for that one. Moiraine also thinks that some of the other scenes were also Elaida's doing, because they reflected knowledge of her personal weaknesses that only Elaida (of the 7 AS running the test) would have known.

@ several - One good thing about the rank system; it clearly and unequivocally puts someone in charge in any situation. It may not be the best qualified person, but even that is generally better than sitting around arguing over who has precedence. Ideally, the one in charge would then be able to delegate responsibilities as appropriate (based on the various merits of the individuals in her charge) - including, potentially, choosing someone more qualified by education, experience etc. to be the de facto leader. It's not a bad system - but it's prone to abuse, especially by those who are blinded by their rise to power or are simply not very good at assessing the skills of others. Sadly, a reasonable system will, with time and "tradition," deteriorate into a hard rule that emphasizes the negatives and downplays the positives originally intended, until you're left with this. We do see a few times where the strongest one will make use of their authority to give that authority to those who can best use it.

Interestingly enough, in the next couple of chapters we'll see that sometimes, merit does get "rewarded" - if you can call it that - by making use of particular talent regardless of strength. Sometimes (maybe even often) the head of the Ajah and its Sitters are not the strongest in the OP, but the ones best suited to the job; the strength hierarchy is still subject to the positional hierarchy, so it's not a complete loss. (I'm not sure that made sense; I just meant that even if you're stronger in the OP than your Ajah head, you're still below her in terms of deference and authority.)

And... I have more to say, but I have to go to bed. I'm bordering on incoherence.

(Don't say it, don't say it!)
Alice Arneson
51. Wetlandernw
One more thing - to all of you in New Zealand (who probably aren't on here anyway) and those of you who have relatives there, my prayers are with you and yours for safety, comfort and restoration.

May God stand between you and harm in all the empty places you must walk.
Jonathan Levy
52. JonathanLevy
28. ican'tremembermyusername
I think it's hilarious that every accepted and aes sedai testing we've seen (I think) has featured the testee desperately worrying about something in her possession she doesn't want seen/found.
LOL! I also noticed that. I wonder if it reflects a traumatic experience of Robert Jordan's... say, in basic training, standing in the barracks shower, and suddenly remembering that his favorite barbie doll was in the pocket of his army pants, folded up on the bench, and desperately hoping that none of the other soldiers would find it before he could hide it again in his kitbag.

Not that I've ever done anything like that, mind you... just a hypothetical example. :)

18. lakesidey
Also, to me, Moiraine's 'rejection' of the last scene was impressive in one so young
I dunno, I wasn't so impressed by the last one. It was too much of an echo of the Acceptatron.

If Moiraine's Acceptatron experience was anything like Nynaeve's, it's no wonder she passed this one without stumbling.
maybe the original purpose of that ter’angreal, in the Ageof Legends, was to train people in TAR in a controlled environment?
Also 19. KiManiak
Also 32. thewindrose

The Testing Ter'angreal makes you forget everything, including the fact that you're in (something like) TAR, and how to manipulate it. It's designed to test a person's reaction in a configurable scenario, not to test their abilities to configure the scenario themselves. I don't think it's suitable as a trainer in TAR.

8. gadget
Ahhh, I was just about to say that :)

23. ShiningArmor
Welcome aboard!
Jonathan Levy
53. JonathanLevy
41. LoghainsBrother

Ok Ok, I'll share my saluting experience from the Israeli army, though not from a particularly battle-hardened section of it :)

As you said, very informal, no-one ever saluted anyone, everyone's on a first-name basis, just like the rest of the country.

Then the Base Commander decided that he wasn't getting enough respect from the rank-and-file. Which was, of course, perfectly true, as his job was entirely administrative and he couldn't even do that properly, besides being a pompous ass. Sort of an Elaida in khaki.

But he can't pass an order that all the soldiers must salute just him. That would look silly. So he gives an order that any private/NCO must salute any officer of his rank (Colonel) or higher.

A week later, his deputy decides that if his boss is being saluted by everyone, then he also has to be saluted by everyone. So the rule is changed to Lt. Colonel or higher.

A week later, all the officers in the base complain that they can't get anything done, because all their soldiers are saluting them all day. You speak to your officer at least a dozen times a day (did you watch the basketball game last night? Can you postpone my guard duty?), and each time he opened his mouth you could interrupt him with a salute which he had to answer. That was a lot of fun.

So then the rule becomes 'each soldier must salute an officer the first time he sees him that day'. This led to the question of how to keep track of which officer had been saluted or not, with various helpful suggestions like 'every day each soldier will get a ticket with all the officers' names, and each officer will have a hole-puncher and punch out his name when he gets a salute', which is how the bus tickets work.

A week later the whole thing was scrapped. From that point on, the only officer who got saluted was a grandfatherly fellow so bashful that his entire face would go red each time someone saluted him. That was also a lot of fun.

The whole thing just created a lot of laughs for everyone, except for one or two poor fellows who didn't salute the pompous pricks who made up these rules, and got two weeks detention.
James Hogan
54. Sonofthunder
Chappers @36...*angreal don't break Nynaeve; Nynaeve breaks *angreal. She's just that awesome!

JL...that's a great story!!

I have no army experience of any kind, but work in an office instead. Sometimes I *wish* there was some kind of ranking system so that things would be done more efficiently instead of everybody passive-agressively pushing the work off on others. Sadly(or maybe not so sadly!), we don't have any saidar/saidin ranking system to know who ranks higher than who. I appreciate all your comments above and don't think I can summarize the pro/cons of the system any better...but to say again that while the power ranking system *does* have its benefits, it's been so rigidly institutionalized, the negatives now outweigh the positives. Time for Egwene to scrap it. Nynaeve, lead the way!!!
FellKnight
55. Namdonith
You fool! You gave cheese to a lactose intolerant volcano god!

Nice Curse of Monkey Island reference leigh..
Kurt Lorey
56. Shimrod
@53 Jonathan Levy. Now THAT is my kind of army. lol
FellKnight
57. Lsana
@40 subwoofer,

The CK are one of the few *angreal whose purpose we know: they were created specifically to fight the DO but never used until Rand and Nynaeve used them to clean saidin.
D. Funk
58. archaeo
In the interest of, well, curiosity, what would a reasonable ranking system look like in the AS community? Is there an actual need for one? I would think that an organization as small as the modern Tower could operate without a strict ranking structure, or that ranks could be left to the Ajahs so as to better organize themselves for their individual mandates.

Johnathan Levy@52, I don't know if we can even assume that it's used "to test a person's reaction in a configurable scenario." It could be for a number of things. Off the top of my head... psychological therapy, post-Bore-drilling officer training, experimental testing for T'A'R, esoteric entertainment, an AS sex toy, etc. I don't think we know if it'll work with non-channelers or anything else really.

I think the fact that some test takers die indicates a poor level of control, and whether that's on the part of the AS or the oval ring is hard to tell. It makes for a very cool scene, but it hardly seems necessary, especially since we see so many AS who are terrible at controlling emotion and dealing with events in a cool and rational manner.

The Wise Ones are the only other group of channelers we know that use ter'angreal in training, and their tests require different kinds of strength. Both happen automatically, requiring no action besides passive viewing. Death in their silver arches suggests that the woman failed to accept the future, while death in the forest of glass rods suggests the woman couldn't accept the past. It could be compared with the idea of fraternal or Masonic secrets, or even the OT levels of Scientology, except Jordan manages to make the whole "you might die if you hear this" thing actually seem kind of reasonable.

In the end, the only thing the AS tests actually test for is dedication to the organization, to becoming an AS. It's another part of the entire hazing ritual that the AS put their initiates through, and I think it has contributed to the pretty crappy state of the Tower in the "present." It doesn't seem to weed anybody out for lacking calmness under pressure or wisdom or anything like that; it just weeds out people who don't want it enough, and that rubs me the wrong way.
Maiane Bakroeva
59. Isilel
I am among those who were underwhelmed by the AS test (and subsequent raising) in NS. It just doesn't measure up to the intense Acceptatron experiences in TDR.
And if Moiraine's ultimate test was supposed to be emotionally devastating, her love for her parents should have been established more believably.
She doesn't even think of them or possess their pictures, for Pete's sake! It feels very distant, when compared to Pevara's deep sadness towards her dead family, which has been gone for a century.

Oh, and it is possible to pull a failed candidate out of the test for the shawl, though there is no guarantee. They did it to one of the Kinswomen, didn't they? Sumeko, I think.

Lsana @24:

I disagree that practical jokes are testimony of particular general immaturity. While they have fallen out of vogue currently, there were periods when they were quite widespread among the adults in RL, though mostly among the men for obvious reasons. And being cloistered with very limited opportunity for entertainment would obviously encourage this.

TyranAmiros @30:

Couldn't disagree more about the OP hierarchy. No, it doesn't make sense in extreme situations either, for the simple reason that resources aren't everything.
In fact, without superior judgement, leadership and organizational ability they could do more harm than good. And it is highly unlikely that all those qualities would reside in the same individual. Heroes of the story always excepted.

That's why the Forsaken are such tossers, no? And that's why Egwene, who could barely channel a candle during the Seanchan attack, was way more effective than Elaida, the strongest resident channeler, or others who could channel incomparably more than she at the time.

It is funny how RJ gave the AS all the negative military trappings, without allowing them any of the positives, such as teamwork, comradeship and ability to act as a body ;).
Whereas his armies, unless commanded by foolish southern nobles, got all the good stuff :).

Bergmaniac @37:

The whole idea of a test which kills or leads to the disappearance of
many of the women which are tested is just horrible on so many levels.

Well, as far as I understand it, not many actually die, since if the MoN is doing her job, then only those who are very likely to succeed are given the opportunity to test.
And unlike many, I actually think that there are some worthwhile rationales behind it. No matter how well trained, unblooded troops are inferior to veterans and apt to panic.
Much as the AS have been denigrated in the books, they actually tend to hold up pretty well when danger threatens. People should be able to count on some things from the AS and it is one of them. There is no way to ensure these standards without exposing the candidates to real danger either.

Even the whole "being AS über alles" attitude favored by the Acceptatron has some worthwhile rationales behind it. Unless they go off the deep end into DO worship, the sisters are remarkably incorruptible and safe from outside blackmail. This is the flip-side of the "ivory tower" attitude that has been decried so much.

Not that we are going to see how the temptations to amass wealth, set up one's children in important positions or being blackmailed to act against one's conscience by having them threatened, to advance one's nation, etc. will be kept in check where Asha'man and the new reformed female channelers will be concerned. RJ just wasn't interested in going there.

Just as Rand is baselessly proclaimed to be spiritually stronger than LTT... when the authors actually cheated by sparing him the kin/lover-slaying experience that broke the latter.
Richard Chapling
60. Chappers
I wonder how the AS know how to use the Acceptatron and the Oval Ring. Is there a manual, or do some unlucky testees get practised on? The Acceptatron seems to just need Powering, but the Oval has an interactive element that one presumably has to learn to use. Do AS get certification that they can use them? Also, considering the very small number of Testings these days, there likely isn't much opportunity to practice (someone with some numbers at hand could probably do an estimate, but Elaida's been AS 5 years and knows, probably because of her strength.). It would've been quite funny if all the AS who could use the Testing ter'angreal had become rebels...
stephanie keenan
61. adriel_moonstar
I have to wonder if somewhere in Robert Jordan's notes there is a list of the original purposes of all the mysterious ter'angreal...(And where can I get one of those library statues...?)

I actually think that the idea of the shawl test ter'angreal as some sort of virtual reality training for the world of dreams makes a lot of sense, since it seems it can be controlled by the test administrators, and the "glowing symbol" would make a good save point to pull out the trainee. (But I suppose sex toy works too...)

I've always thought the arches, both the Acceptatron and the WO's, were some sort of attempt to either study or recreate the portal stones.

I have to agree that these scenes were much more interesting on the first read when the test for the shawl was a big mystery. However, this does set us up to understand how brutal Nyneave's testing is by comparison. And looking at Nyn's experience through the lens of a more "normal" raising makes it even more awesome. (Although I was so rooting for her to destroy the instrument of torture testing device.) Rereading Moraine's experience actually gave me some sympathy for Nyn's testers. (Well sympathy might be going a bit too far-insight perhaps?) They are about to be hoisted on their own collective petard, because once Nyn passes they can no longer pretend that she's not a real sister and she moves to the top of the food chain defering only to Egwene.

Now I suppose that I could start my own rant here about how we seem to be getting the message about how women can't form an effective military force on their own. (And recalling the appalling behaviour of the Citadel cadets after the first female student washed out, I could get up a good head of steam on that argument.) However, given the whole dreadlord factory at the BT, I guess the men aren't doing all that much better. So I am maintaining hope for the theme of balance between the sexes to play out in the final book.
D. Funk
62. archaeo
Isilel@59, lots of good stuff to unpack there, although I disagree somewhat, obviously. The uniformity of AS intentions is both the biggest advantage and disadvantage of their training paradigm; it keeps them operating as a cohesive group, but it has effectively separated them from the people they are ostensibly serving. The tests are the keystones of this training, requiring unthinking dedication to the AS as a whole. I just think the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, and I feel pretty confident that Jordan was headed in that direction as well. As for the testing, I just gave my big wall-o-text on that subject, so I'll leave it alone for now.

And the whole "baseless" thing at the end, well, I don't know, I feel like Sanderson did what he could with Rand's "I was raised better" schtick. And it makes sense, anyway; LTT, when granted sanity, committed suicide immediately after discovering what he did while insane. Rand, who doesn't even have insanity as an excuse for many of his psychological scars, decides not only to keep going but to actively try and fix what he did wrong. It didn't shake my suspension of disbelief, anyway.

Chappers@60, I feel like the BWB has some info on when they started instituting the tests. The Acceptatron was discovered during the Trolloc Wars, for example. One imagines that they just stumbled through figuring them out; Sheriam talks with Egwene during the test (tDR, I think) about the women who originally figured the thing out, burning themselves out and such. Given the amount of strife since the Trolloc Wars, it's entirely possible that those AS knew much more about working with ter'angreal than modern-day AS and we just don't know about it.

It's entirely possible that the use of saidar alone severely limits these ter'angreal. Maybe if some guys came in and started channeling at these things, it would do something totally different. I'm sure we'll never find out at this rate, but it is interesting to note that most of Elayne's failures in making *angreal can probably be ascribed to working with only one half of the power. Maybe Perrin's Asha'man friend can help her out at the FoM.

adriel@61, given that Sanderson has talked about Jordan's notes like there are thousands of pages, I bet that information is around. We'll just have to wait for Harriet's encyclopedia.
Birgit
63. birgit
The Acceptatron seems to just need Powering, but the Oval has an interactive element that one presumably has to learn to use.

Eg seemed to have no problem using it although she never experienced it from the other side. There is probably always at least one sister who knows how to do it. If an experienced sister does the first tests, the less experienced ones can learn how it is done by watching her (of course that only works for fast learners who can repeat a weave after seeing it). The bigger problem is how the AS first learned how to use the ter'angreal when they rediscovered it. If the 100 weaves are a required part of using the ter'angreal, how did the AS work that out? If they aren't, what gave the AS the idea to use the 100 weaves with the ter'angreal?
Simon Southey-Davis
64. Glyph
Birgit @63: I'd bet heavily that the 100 weaves are (intentionally) just as useless as they appear. The Oval test, as others have noted, seems to be geared towards holding the causes and expectations of the Tower above all other considerations: not allowing oneself to be sidetracked by compassion, nor regret, nor fear. Against that backdrop, it seems... fitting - for me, at least - that the sister knows full well that the weaves are useless: what matters is that they must be completed in the prescribed manner, because the Tower demands it.

Since the Oval is, if I understand correctly, something rediscovered since the Breaking, then we can probably safely assume that the 100-weave test was developed by the Third Age AS and not a replica of the AoL raising process.

On the related note of usage, I would generally assume that all ter'angreal and other AoL relics are being used incorrectly unless specifically told otherwise. I haven't done the research to back this up, but my understanding is that just about every non-obvious item mentioned has been of 'forgotten purpose' or similar, and its current usage has developed by trial and (often painful or fatal) error. Certainly the Forsaken have commented on the Third Age AS mangling the uses of AoL relics, or even coming up with new ways of using them that their creators never envisaged.
FellKnight
65. chaplainchris1
Recovering from flu, so I'm posting from my phone rather than the computer at work, sorry in advance for the concomitant drop in editing. Anyway:

Isilel@59 - is it fair to compare Moraine and Pevara? As you say, Pevara's loss is centuries old, and the tragedy of her family's death shaped her whole life, including her choice of Ajah. Moiraine's just been off at boarding school, and while she loves her parents, she's glad to be away and not really even homesick.

And pictures of family isn't common in this society. Pevara commissioned her miniatures,iirc, after becoming Aes Sedai, precisely to commemorate her murdered family. Normally, such things wouldn't be possessed eden by a wealthy novice or Accepted, who aren't really allowed non-utilitarian personal items anyway. (Note Elayne doesn't have a pic of her mother while in the Tower, but certainly she loves Morgase.)

On the other hand, I agree that pranking isn't necessarily childish. There's a great group of late college and early grad school students in my church - very responsible, very smart, hardworking, service oriented - and great pranksters.

Plus, Mat pranks Joline in TOM. :)
FellKnight
66. LoghainsBrother
JimF @48 I won't start a flame war over this, but I think we're in disagreement. I do agree with you about the Lebanon war. We learned a lot of lessons there...

In any case, I just wanted to show another outlook at army structure. With what Jonathan @53 told, it only enforces the impression that sometimes it's a wonder armies get anything done at all.
Justin Levitt
67. TyranAmiros
Isilel @ 59: I would agree with you that the ranking doesn't produce the best leaders. That's true of most institutional designs in the real world. Organizations want predictability and stability, so they design procedures that work "generally speaking", and these become fossilized as custom over time.

The Tower has a check built in: the Hall and the Amyrlin are not simply the strongest Aes Sedai, but rather are chosen for other reasons. And they can set particular individuals in charge of delegations, task forces, etc. However, this covers a very limited range of situations, and if the Aes Sedai were to try for a more complete ranking themselves, it would certainly devolve into petty squabbling. Seniority was adopted by the US Congress for a very similar reason.
Rob Munnelly
68. RobMRobM
Pranking is a quintessential college activity, which is more or less what the Tower is. Lots of people do it then go on to responsible adulthood. Not that I would ever have done that in my college days....

Rob

P.s. There is a whole culture of it at M.I.T., the big science university in Cambridge, MA. They put models of police cars atop the dome, took over the electronic scoreboard at a Harvard football game and replaced the school names with MIT and CalTech, and even broke into a kid's dorm room and moved all of the furniture in the same configuration (bed, dresser, side table, lamp, electronics) a half-mile away out into the middle of the frozen over Charles River that faces the school, etc.
FellKnight
69. ImmortalOne
I've always thought that the Aes Sedai ranking system is a little like the older British (and colonial) systems where you had Lord Generals and the like - if you were a noble (thats usually an 'innate, inborn ability' isn't it?) you automatically gained a few ranks (then again the nobles who actually wanted to become a part of the military are those who are more likely to be able to afford to be educated in the necessary areas, like tactics and strategy).

Also, somewhere (I read it somewhere but can't remember where), I heard about some military where the higher ranks were actually paid less than the lower ranks and aren't supplied with the required equipment simply so only the noble class (and other particularly rich families) could afford the armour, swords and uniform required for those higher ranks.
Actually, now that I think about it, it was prbably another work of fiction so you don't really need to pay much attention to this.

@50 Wetlandernw
Yes I agree, sometimes the Aes Sedai do choose leaders on merit or ability/skill. The most amusing example (sorto of) of this, that I remember, is when Rand re-appoints the Salidar Aes Sedai embassy leader - he puts er... what's her name? in charge of the whole group, because she was oringinally in charge of the embassy to him, instead of Bera and Kiruna who had assumed leadership due to their greater strength in the Power.
Of course that example could also be used as an example of the person stronger in the Power delegating authority of those weaker than him in the Power.

@58 archaeo
Yes, we see many Aes Sedai who are terrible at controlling their emotions and dealing with events calmly an rationally, but you also have to realise that those who go through this test (except apparently Nynaeve) have had weeks or months of training specifically related to what they'll need to do. They already know beforehand what will be required of them - namely, to make the required weave; not to channel unless you're standing on the star; and be serene. Those Aes Sedai you're talking about in the real world do react calmly and rationally to most events; they only panic when totally unexpected things occur (teaching Seafolk, meeting the Dragon Reborn, facing the Forsaken, etc). So, the test isn't really sufficient for the purposes the Aes Sedai seem to want it for, they need to do more training to learn how to react to the unexpected rather than learning to be serene when it's unnecessary.

@59 Isilel
TyranAmiros (@30) didn't say extreme situations, they said emergency situations. The difference being, in my opinion, that in an extreme situation all actions and reactions become critical to the surivival of those concerned; whereas in an emergency situation the first real concern is the speed at which those first actions and reactions are taken. In an emergency situation it's important for everyone to know exactly who is in charge in seconds; even if those decisions are poorly thought out it's still better than stumbling around argueing about who is in charge, and then perhaps (more than likely with Aes Sedai) making foolish decisions anyway. Of course there are better ranking systems, but unless you want Aes Sedai to always wear rank markers of some kind, there are few other ways of determining rank at a glance.

@65chaplainchris1
I agree with what you said about pranking, but also, I have to say "Well, that's just Mat"
john massey
70. subwoofer
Pranking... well back in my university days, the aggies and gears, er... faculty of agriculture and mechanical engineers used to prank each other continually- vehicles showing up in classrooms, 8000lbs of macaronie in a lab, 4 story buildings covered in tp and silly string... ahhhh memories.

A fair chunk of folks seem to be scratching their heads in regards to the AS ranking system re- the most powerful having the higher rank. Maybe RJ was making a commentary about the folly of might making right vs. actual wisdom guiding the way. For instance, the States is a Mega Power in the world, does that mean they know what they are doing in regards to foreign policy? Just putting it out there...

*ducks, covers and runs for bunker*

Woof™.
D. Funk
71. archaeo
Sorry for flooding the thread y'all, slow day here.

ImmortalOne@69, I had a longish rant in mind, which basically comes down to the fact that AS calmness is merely another brick in the entire Tower mystique that has only served to sever the AS from the interests of the people they claim to protect. I don't really need to make the argument, since Nynaeve does it rather splendidly after her testing in ToM.

I mean, honestly (and I'm not using this tone with you in particular, Immortal, just feeling spicy), Jordan and Sanderson have pretty clearly shown how incredibly ineffective and silly the modern AS are, along with most of the other institutions that are currently crumbling throughout Randland. It all comes down to trust, which is the most scarce resource in the whole WoT. There's less trust going around than seals and sa'angreal and ta'veren. And our heroes all try to push this back in their own small ways; Jordan has been fairly realistic about how slowly societies accept change. We can argue until we're blue in the face, but the writing's all over the wall when it comes to the Tower: it was broken, and it is only slowly being fixed.

Sub@70, any room in that bunker?

Re: pranks, I again note that anyone who has ever lived in a dorm has been involved in this situation, and I don't think age has anything to do with it. It relieves built-up stress, provides a largely harmless outlet for rebellion, and doesn't really do anybody any lasting harm, although if Siuan and Moraine had managed to give the plague to Elaida via some sick rats, it would've saved everybody a whole lot of trouble.
Tess Laird
72. thewindrose
Jonathan Levy - What if the weave the sister places on the initiate before she enters the ter'angreal is something akin to Compulsion?
"Remember what must be remembered," Anaiya murmured for a final time, and Moiraine felt the weaving settle into her, much as Healing did.



Perhaps this makes the initiate forget what they have done each time the go to the next star. Yet also makes them look for that star after they have finished a weave.

Also of some interest in this chapter is this:

"To wear the shawl." And with that, she began to disrobe. According to ancient custom, she must be clad in the Light, symbolizing that she trusted to the Light's protection alone.



I thought the major reason the Aes Sedai were always disrobing was to prove they were women, (although this one might just be to impress upon the initiate what an important test/step this is).

And do we know if the same sisters administered both the tests(for Moiraine and Siuan)?

tempest™
Tess Laird
73. thewindrose
subwoofer - Only when it comes to Canada;)

tempest™
FellKnight
74. XLCR
Careful there, Sub, lest the fecal matter contact the rotating blades.

Just like to make the point that with chaos breaking out everywhere in the dictatorships of the Middle East, in the form of a desperate grass-roots form of democracy that has nothing at all to do with American influence, American money, and American troops and is bringing down our so-called friends as well as our so-called enemies, our foreign policy, such as it was, is in smoking ruins now, and our leaders totally clueless on how to deal with it.
Stefan Mitev
75. Bergmaniac
Thewindrose @73 - "I thought the major reason the Aes Sedai were always disrobing was to prove they were women"

No, the main reason is that Jordan liked writing about naked women. ;)

The excuse here though at least make some sense on a symbolic level, unlike the totally ridiculous "they have to prove they are women" justification during the raising of the Amyrlin. The ability to channel saidar can't be faked, and any of the Sitters can sense it in the others.
FellKnight
76. DivergingCents
FWIW to the weave-haters, I think any Accepted might have saved Noal in Finnland using the 100 weaves. They seem designed for dealings with the snakes and foxes (different light and noise combos). Even if they don't prove useful, they may just be safe training weaves that are dissimilar to anything dangerous (i.e. they won't ever collapse into balefire if half or inaccurately finished). As much as the AS test is worthless, the weaves might not be.
stephanie keenan
77. adriel_moonstar
I seem to recall a Cads POV in which one of the supergirls used one of the testing weaves for something 'gasp' useful...Can't quite access the specifics though.
Jane Smyth
78. Kaboom
If I remember correctly it wasn't Cads POV but Egwene after Nynaeve's test. During the test, Nyn used one of the weaves to "attack" whatever was a danger to her. To do so she increased a lot the intensity of the weave and directed it towards her attacker.
Mikey Bennett
79. EvilMonkey
Re: The Ranking System

Most of us on this forum hate the ranking system. We can see its good points and can also see how it could have devolved from something useful and decent to what it is today. I remember back when the Salidar delegation fell apart and the leader was pushed out of her role by Bera and Kiruna. She said something immediately telling, that they need a strong Amrylin to make things work, otherwise they are just a collection of powerful women instead of a team who represents the best interests of the Tower and (hopefully) the world as a whole. And it occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, she may be right. The promotions and missions based on merit can be, hell should be assigned by the Amrylin. She is after all supposed to shape this collection of individuals into a force for good by determining their purpose and putting sisters in place to achieve Tower goals. Maybe the reason the system is so broken is because the person whose job it is to assign people based on merit has been lacking. No guiding force = a broken philosophy. The way the Tower selects for its initiates and their overall mission to be prepared for the Last Battle can get them through the bad times when leadership is lacking, but without good leadership the system ulimately breaks. Think about it, when was the last time the Tower really had good leadership in the past 20 years? After Tamyra was offed there were 3 Amrylins in 10 years who could not keep the office b/c the Black Ajah felt the need to go on a killing spree. Siuan was initially very weak as well as distracted by the search for the DR. By the time she gained sufficient enough power to maybe do some things she gets bumped by crazy ass Elaida, in the process initiating a tower split. Then there's Egwene who also starts off weak, not to mention having the (dubious if best) support of only a third of all living AS. She has had a full strength Tower for a month book time while Armegeddon is about a month away. It's no wonder that the ranking system is in shambles, the keystone for making it work has been cracked for at least 20 years. Sure it isn't the best system, but completely scrapping it, at least before the LB, will backfire horribly. First, sisters wouldn't accept it anyway, and second, the attempt throws everything in disarray on the eve of the most important battles of the age, not a good thing for people u need. Can it be scrapped after? It kind of depends on what u are going to replace it with. Whatever it is has to make sense for them, not just anything will do.
D. Funk
80. archaeo
Don't we get a POV from Moraine during her practice where she discusses how the weaves cause various painful, embarrassing, or unpleasant effects when they're incorrectly woven? I think they're needlessly complex for the sheer purpose of needless complexity, adding to the difficulty of the test. I think you had it right with that last idea, DivergingCents@76: they won't collapse into anything dangerous, just loud and obvious, making the failure a punishment that conditions better behavior. Messana could've thought of it.

OTOH, maybe we're going to find out that the hundred weaves are secretly the key to destroying the Dark One, Padan Fain, and every a'dam in the world.
Alice Arneson
81. Wetlandernw
FWIW, Moiraine used the first weave in her test to put a wall around the three oglers, keeping them from pestering her while she walked calmly to the next star.

Okay, now wall-o-text warning...

Many people here have been complaining that the tests (both Accepted and Aes Sedai) are testing only whether the candidate is sufficiently committed to becoming Aes Sedai. I don’t think that’s at all accurate, however. While in the test, they don’t even know why they are there; how can it possibly test their commitment to the Tower or their conscious desire to be Aes Sedai? As near as I can see, it tests their ability to follow instructions without questioning – or at least without understanding - the rationale for those instructions, at least as it stands now.

One thing is very similar in the two tests: they are given instructions prior to entering the test, and the only context they have within the test is the urge to follow the instructions. Whoever suggested Compulsion, I think you are right, or at least close. That inner desire to go to the arch, or the star, seems to be one of the few things the candidate can recall as being very important. In the Accepted test, they aren’t even supposed to be able to remember that they are able to channel; they just have to interact with their surroundings to some extent and then go through the arch when it appears, no matter what else is happening. This, in particular, seems to test their ability to follow instructions even when the instructions don’t seem to make sense. Come to think of it, this might be a very necessary element for an Accepted; it’s a bit like training your kids to obey so promptly and unquestioningly that when you tell them to jump to you from the window, they’ll do it in spite of their fear of the distance and the fire behind them… Accepted are entering a new level of learning and training, and the ability to obey without full understanding can be a necessary step to developing that understanding. Anyway…

In the AS test, they know only that they are to go to the star and perform a particular weave; when finished, they are to go to the next star. In addition, this must be done calmly, without hurrying or being distracted. Still, they don’t know what awaits them; they only know they must follow the instructions. They have no recollection of the shawl which may or may not await them, nor even (apparently) of the fact that they are being tested. They only know what they are to do, and in what manner it should be done.

Sorry, guys, I just don’t see the “AS above all” element to the testing. The fact that they have to go through their own personal hell may make it a far more valued achievement afterward, but that’s not what’s being tested.

My own guess is that the real purpose of the AS test (originally) was to test their self-control, not their outward serenity. (Judging by the decision re: Nynaeve, they might even realize this, at some level.) Most candidates take it as a requirement that they must not lose their composure, by the standards of “what an Aes Sedai looks like” in this time period; in other words, as they have been told, they must be calm and unhurried. No running, no emotion. Aes Sedai are always calm, always serene. Therefore, that must be what they should look like. If you look at what Nynaeve did, though… she never for a second lost control of herself, but she followed the dictates of her conscience as well as the instructions; she didn’t “look like an Aes Sedai” by the usual definition, but she fixed what she could fix while obeying the critical part (to her) of the instructions – get to the star, do the weave, get to the next star. She hadn’t absorbed as much as most Accepted about the “cool, calm, unruffled, gliding-swan” image, so the image itself was less vital to her. I think she looked like what she thought an Aes Sedai ought to look like – one who uses her Power to help the world around her. (Remember that conversation with Egwene about serving the rest of the world?)

If I’m correct, I can see it as a test with real value. Given the responsibility an Aes Sedai bears, not only in her ability to use the OP but as representing the White Tower (and it is important, if not quite the way they currently think), a woman who attains the shawl must have a proven ability to control herself in the worst situations she can imagine. If she panics, if she loses her temper (as opposed to using it), if she is paralyzed by fear, or a dozen other ifs, she jeopardizes those around her as well as the influence and reputation of the WT. She must be able to control her appearance, her emotions, and her actions no matter what the provocation.

In this day and age, the AS seem to have lost sight of some of the depth of meaning in this. They’ve gotten ingrown eyeballs. They have developed a mindset of image for the sake of the image, Tower for the sake of the Tower. They need to realize that the image is for the sake of the Tower, and the Tower is for the sake of the world. In that context, a test which requires self-control above all things is quite valid. If your task affects the fate of the world, you’d better not lose control of yourself or you may doom the world.

Before anyone jumps up and down about how the WT is too arrogant and thinks too highly of itself and needs to shut up and jump when Rand says jump, let me say this one more thing. The WT, as it now is, has lost a great deal of its purpose and influence through insularity and over-fondness for navel-gazing. The WT as it should be, however, is another matter, and that’s what I’ve had in mind in these last few paragraphs. It should be the foremost bastion of the Light; the center of resistance to the Dark One and his forces; the training ground for those who will wield the One Power in any and every fight against the Shadow; a repository and dispenser of knowledge, information, and history; a recourse for justice and reconciliation between nations; a place from whence to go out with Healing, wisdom and service to both nations and individuals. If it were all that, Rand wouldn’t have needed to try to manipulate the Aes Sedai (though he might have anyway, because he was messed up too); he would have been able to work with them as a group instead of having only a few that he trusts a little bit, and two that he trusts almost completely. But… too many centuries, too much human failing, too much Forsaken meddling, and the Tower is less than it should have been.
Mikey Bennett
82. EvilMonkey
Hey Wet,

Excellent point and something I was going to try to explain in another post. That you did it so much better saves me a lot of time. If I recall correctly establishing a working relationship with the Tower (at least Salidar's side) was in fact Rand's purpose when he met them in Andor. That he tried to use Elaida's faction against them was just good bargaining since he knew if he had acted like a country hayhair rube they would have skinned him alive.
FellKnight
83. JimF
@66. LoghainsBrother: then we'll just agree to disagree. ;)

@76.DivergingCents "...They seem designed for dealings with the snakes and foxes (different light and noise combos)...." That's interesting. One wonders what experience the pre-Breaking AS had with the A&E. Lots of folks - given Mat's memories - had dealings with them, probably to their detriment. I suspect the AS would have thought up ways to come out on top.

@79.EvilMonkey "...Most of us on this forum hate the ranking system...." Damn right, they are a disaster in a military sense or anytime two or more of them face some disturbance. The Windfinders and the Wise Ones seemingly have much more ordered and hierarchical systems (the Navy will always be very much so based on defined rank; the Wise Ones seem to be more a system of dominance of individual strength of will that has survived numerous conflicts.) These groups probably could help inform a new reordering in the White Tower. Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne have the experience of them to lead the effort.
FellKnight
84. Ruruna
Props to the monkey island reference at the end XD
lake sidey
85. lakesidey
@75 Bergmaniac: "The ability to channel saidar can't be faked, and any of the Sitters can sense it in the others".

Two words: Halima Saranov ;) Yes I know it doesn't really hurt your argument in any way (and in fact I agree with what you said) but it is theoretically possible that there could be a guy there, who could channel saidar; not that the AS even know it's possible!

I always thought it was an excuse for keeping men out, in the earlier (and probably more volatile) days of the hall. You know "This ceremony is going to be clad in the light. No men allowed". So in case it gets into squabbling. the warders aren't around to get tempted to do something violent.

@76 DivergingCents: Nice idea. Though I have the uncomfortable feeling that the snakes and foxes would be well-protected from such things - they have ter-angreal which protect against channeling (and they feed off and drain a channeler's abilities, for Bob's sake!). Also I seem to remember Moiraine telling Rand it was dangerous to channel in their world (when they all go through the red doorway in the stone). So, I dunno....

~lakesidey
FellKnight
86. Louis Theodore Telman
@28, 38 & 60 -
Tee hee... you said, "Testees"
D. Funk
87. archaeo
Wetlander@81, what an excellent point, and one that I seem to have completely missed in a thousand words of text or so. Let me try to bring it back to the "AS above all" thing that I was harping on about.

For one thing, you point out yourself that the test takers are only told that they must perform a hundred weaves, maintaining calmness befitting the shawl while being distracted. This certainly focuses the mind on achieving a certain something: AS perfection, cool mystique and ageless patience. Even knowing only those things, it's enough to assume (as Moraine and Siuan do as they practice) what the goal of the test will be.

I don't follow the logic of testing "their ability to follow instructions without questioning." One would assume that, if this were the point of the test, they would only be told what to do instead of having the idea stamped into their mind. They are literally unable to question the instructions, and failure comes from breaking AS-esque calmness. As Egwene notes after Nynaeve's testing, she shouldn't have been able to even break the rules; T'A'R training, and possibly Nynaeve's natural Compulsion resistance (c.f. tSR), caused her to forget there were even rules to follow.

(Re: is it Compulsion? I think any memory-related weave is going to involve Compulsion of some sort. I would be interested to know whether or not the total loss of memory between segments is due to that Compulsion or is a feature of the oval ring.)

You are right, however, that the testing ideal is calmness under pressure; it seems to be the only thing being tested. But I think that directly leads to one's willingness to become AS, which is a test that extends from the moment a girl puts on white to the first step through the oval ring. And yes, I think I'm contradicting what I said earlier, but pish posh. The test requires one to become so wholly indoctrinated in the AS paradigm that one can face a hundred horrors without showing any fear. I think that logically leads to the test being about becoming AS no matter what.

And I think that self-control (which I agree would be a much more valid use of the test) is a valuable quantity that doesn't really require the level of danger that the test entails. I wish we knew more about how common death really is, and whether or not it's more due to Black Ajah messing with the test or if it's just a design flaw.

I agree wholeheartedly with everything else, though. And hey, even though I disagree with the first part, it definitely made me think.

Oh, and EvilMonkey@79, unless we get a long epilogue, we're not going to see any of these changes; they're being projected into the future. Let's just hope that Egwene and the AS have been doing some serious work offscreen to get ready for the Last Battle for now.
lake sidey
88. lakesidey
@87 archaeo: Well, the way it is described seems to me very much dreamlike - very often you are just "there" in a dream and with no clue how or why you are in that situation...and what RJ describes in the tests (both Acceptatron and this....Sisteratron?) seems very dreamlike to me. And when you switch to a new dream, you seamlessly enter a totally new reality with no memory of the previous one except a vague feeling that vanishes very quickly. So I am prepared to believe that the Sisteratron keep inserting people into a set of dreams one after another and that explains the limited memory.

Possibly the phrase I am groping for is "willing suspension of disbelief" though I am not sure how to connect it what I just said.

@86 LTT: So if the 'tron is designed to weed out the testees who are not good enough, would the process be a testee cull?

*sub, open the bunker door dammit! I need to get in quick!!*

~lakesidey
lin mei
89. twicemarked
Wetlander @ 81,
Look again at what you are saying. You are saying this is testing "their ability to follow instructions without questioning." What others are arguing is that this is testing "their ability to follow White Tower's instructions without questioning."We all know that they can follow instructions. It is the origin of the instruction that is under dispute.

For a contrast, look at how Aviendha passed her equivalent test of 100 useless weaves. The AS and the Accepted know the 100 weaves are useless, but they just followed the instructions and kept doing it. Aviendha also know her task are useless, and she kept dipping her finger into water, or separating colored sand, or 98 other kind of useless labor.

The Accepted passed the test by completeing the 100 weaves under duress without complain. Aviendha passed the test by rejecting the useless labor under duress.


Even go through the military example, are we training soldiers to follow commands without questions? So if the President asks the army to kill any civilitians who question his authority, the army should obey that command? The soldiers should be able to tell what a clearly illegal command is, and rejecting it, even if given through the chain of command. "I am just following commands" is no excuse for committing war crime.

From this point of view, the AS are just one step behind to the Wise Ones. That the White Tower did this is very plausible historically. It is merely not as progressive as other examples in the book.
Jonathan Levy
90. JonathanLevy
70. subwoofer

Judging by the USA's choice of neighbors to the north, I'd say no. ;)

72. thewindrose
What if the weave the sister places on the initiate before she enters the ter'angreal is something akin to Compulsion? ...Perhaps this makes the initiate forget what they have done each time the go to the next star.

It looks like a sister-weave of compulsion, to me. It affects the person's mental state (their memory) but not their will. But she says "Remember what must be remembered", not "Forget everything else". Regardless of that, it seems to me that the ter'angreal causes the person to forget everything, and this weave is used to counter that to a very small degree.

85. lakesidey
and
75. Bergmaniac
The excuse here though at least make some sense on a symbolic level, unlike the totally ridiculous "they have to prove they are women" justification during the raising of the Amyrlin. The ability to channel saidar can't be faked, and any of the Sitters can sense it in the others.
Are you sure it can't be faked? Perhaps with saidin? :)

Even if it can't, this ceremony has a symbolic value - the rejection of men from the ranks of Aes Sedai. In the third age, this is taken for granted, but at some point it must have been a contentious issue. After all, in the AOL, male Aes Sedai sat in the hall as well. And after the counterstroke there were still male Aes Sedai who had not gone mad (yet), perhaps even sitters. Should they be allowed to sit in the hall? Slowly they went mad, and others wanted to replace them. But at some point a decision was made to permanently exclude them - and it was probably a difficult decision, with much controversy. This ritual was adopted to hammer home the point.

81. Wetlandernw
I agree with you that the shawl test does not test for determination to become Aes Sedai.

As for testing to follow instructions blindly, I'm not sure I'd put it that way. Testing self-control? Yes, but I think there's a bit more to it.

I think it also tests a woman's ability to complete a task, regardless of distractions, obstacles and fears. This ability is sought for and developed in officer training. A platoon has been ordered to take hill 101. But there's an unexpected barbed wire fence, or defensive trench, or flanking machine gun. Does the unexpected obstacle stymie the commander, or can he get the job done anway? Do the soldiers hunker down after the first man is hit, or will they accept some (reasonable) casualties to accomplish their mission?
Maiane Bakroeva
91. Isilel
Archeo @71:

AS calmness is merely another brick in the entire Tower mystique that has only served to sever the AS from the interests of the people they claim to protect.

May I point out that outward calmness of commanding officers under trying circumstances is highly praised in most maritime literature and in "War and Peace"? And Tolstoy had actually seen combat, too.
AS is often in a public eye and in volatile situations she could easily cause uncertainity and panic by acting precipitiously. A lot of what AS are reproached for is just (military) leadership 101 as seen in 19th century. Show of calmness and certainity, training people to obey (as Moiraine and Elayne try to do), etc.

EvilMonkey @79:

The promotions and missions based on merit can be, hell should be assigned by the Amrylin.

Yet how can a weaker sister, whose opinions are routinely disregarded and who is expected to shut up and follow, develop leadership skills? How far can she afford to step on toes while in temporary position of authority, knowing full well that she'll be back at the bottom as soon as the mission ends? Etc, etc. No, OP hierarchy can't be made workable by intervention of a good Amyrlin, IMHO. I found it difficult to believe that weaker Sitters would ever chose to step down unless they intended to leave the WT for good.

ImmortalOne @69:

The British (and some others) actually _sold_ officer comissions in the army, so the wealthier people could start in higher ranks. I don't remember how far that could go - IIRC it wasn't possible to legally buy a general's comission, that had to come from promotion. But maybe even as far as Colonel comissions could be legally bought. Promotions on merit among the junior and middle-rank officers were possible, but not very common.
The Navy was different as it was considered too dangerous to entrust a ship to somebody with zero training/requisite skills. And maybe artillery as well, I am not sure.

As to who should be in charge - first of all, with even 4K of AS establishing some other ranking system, even the one relying on sisters memorizing their respective positions, shouldn't have been that difficult. And why would rank insignia be impossible? AS already got a lot of less pleasant military traditions, why not something useful and neutral?

Twicemarked @89:

The WO tests also kill(ed), so I am not really sure what you mean here. The Aiel are generally very ready to test themselves via mortal dangers, so what's the difference?

Wetlandernw @82:

Couldn't agree more.

Chaplianchris @65:

is it fair to compare Moraine and Pevara?

It is, if we are supposed to think that her last test was truly that "cruel". Moiraine had reasons to think about her family during NS and her love for her dead parents should have come through. Instead we get only some kind of distant approval. Not to mention that all those early deaths should have been quite fishy given the availability of AS Healing to high nobility, but never mind.
All I can say that we think and talk more and more emotionally about our beloved dead relatives in my family and they have been dead for longer than the couple of years that Lord Dalresin had.

Re: pictures, Moiraine was allowed to keep jewelry, she could have kept pictures too. And Darmodeds were more than wealthy enough to have them made. After all, Lini did!

As I said, there are a lot of opportunities lost to truly deepen Moiraine's character in NS, to add some genuine conflict and emotion to her character. IMHO, YMMV of course.
john massey
92. subwoofer
The bear goes over the mountain... to see what he can see...
-Raffi's the Man!

Ahhhh, good times:)

Wow! I make an incendiary comment and we are still not over 100? Tough crowd. I was expecting torches and pitchforks at least... "Where is that dang dog?!"....

Ahem, lemme see here.... okay how's about this?- Some folks have suggested that the Amyrlin is weak and ineffective. It may be due to choosing a bad Amrylin- re. Elaida, or it may due to sooo much time it takes to pass policy or ensure stability- re. Siuan. Maybe the Hall and the Amyrlin reflect the balance of power between the Senate and the President?

@JL- tell me about it! I get charged a $5.50 user fee just to step my toe into the States now! Gah!

Woof™.
James Hogan
93. Sonofthunder
Yeah I almost said something, sub....but then thought better of it. ;)

And in further thoughts...I maintain my position that the whole ranking-by-Power deal needs to be scrapped ASAP. Please, Egwene??? I'm with you, Isilel, that rank insignia would be sufficient. I really like that idea. Maybe some kind of weaving/pattern on the skirt? They sure spend enough time smoothing their skirts - might as well make the skirts useful for something besides clothing. Ranking could be assigned based on useful/notable things the individual has done in service of the Tower, decided by a committee chosen by the Amyrlin and confirmed by the Hall. This committee would have a lot of power and would thus be a nice counterbalance to both the Hall and the Amyrlin. A certain level of rank should be almost impossible to obtain without sufficient service outside the Tower.

Sure, the first few years will be difficult for the Old Guard AS...but soon enough the novices come into power and will slowly start setting good examples(i.e., weaker sisters won't constantly be deferring to the stronger ones)...and within a few generations, the power-ranking system will be GONE. Sure, it will be a tough and messy transition. But needs to happen.
Jonathan Levy
94. JonathanLevy
EvilMonkey @79:
The promotions and missions based on merit can be, hell should be assigned by the Amrylin.
This will give the Amyrlin much too much power, and completely wreck the current balance between the Amrylin Seat/Hall/Ajahs.

93. Sonofthunder
And in further thoughts...I maintain my position that the whole ranking-by-Power deal needs to be scrapped ASAP
Practically speaking, I think an ancient, unwritten, and almost unspoken custom like the power-based rankings is one of the most difficult things to change. Rational arguments like "it's better for the collective" have no force against ingrained cultural customs like this one. It cannot be done by decree - that will just make people cling harder to their old habits. See comment #53 for an example of a real-world attempt - a minor change in behavior failed to be enforced even with all the disciplinary options available in a modern army, against soldiers who had been in service for less than 3 years. Good luck trying to do that to women who have been Aes Sedai for 200 years.

Theoretically speaking, I think we should be more cautious in suggesting alternatives to the power-based ranking systems. The ways in which human institutions (like a committee) can be corrupted are many and varied, and not at all easy to predict ahead of time. Quotas per Ajah can make a mockery of the system. Favoritism and cronyism can undermine it. The committee can develop the power to strip a rank which it has bestowed, rendering it tyrannical (remember Shemerin Ex Sedai?). Repeated errors can discredit it, causing its ranks to be ignored. Over the 200-year period required to replace the old system, each of these failures can manifest itself several times. Each failure will create pressure to return to the old system.

The power-based ranking systems has faults. But all ranking systems will have faults. Even in this case, it is not at all obvious that the new faults will be better than the old ones. It is not sufficient to prove that the current system has serious flaws, to convince me that it should scrapped.

91. Isilel
AS is often in a public eye and in volatile situations she could easily cause uncertainity and panic by acting precipitiously. A lot of what AS are reproached for is just (military) leadership 101 as seen in 19th century. Show of calmness and certainity, training people to obey (as Moiraine and Elayne try to do), etc.
I agree. Elayne makes precisely this point when Merilille and the other Aes Sedai are about to freak out and run while Rand is cleansing Saidin.

92. subwoofer
That was precisely the example I had in mind!
BTW, is that USD or CAD? So typically USA-centric to just assume everyone would understand.
Alice Arneson
95. Wetlandernw
twicemarked @89 - I didn't say I thought it was necessarily a good thing to follow instructions unquestioningly. I said it appears to be what they are testing.

My point (and I haven't yet seen anything to convince me otherwise) is that within the test, they have no idea or memory of earning the ring or the shawl, so it isn't a test of their commitment to becoming AS. I was fishing for a more accurate definition of what is being tested, and that's what popped out. Next time I have dishes to wash, I'll work more thoroughly through what the tests might actually accomplish, if it's anything other than following the instructions in a vacuum.

(Note, I haven't read all the comments yet. I'm using someone else's computer and don't have my usual tools at hand, so I'm responding to one comment at a time.)
Alice Arneson
96. Wetlandernw
Isilel @91 - Thank you. You made another excellent point that I was trying to get hold of last night and couldn't for some reason. The perception of AS by the rest of the world is not insignificant; an AS in a panic would cause absolute chaos in the people around her. As long as she remains calm, she can have that "it's okay, someone is in charge and it's not lost yet" effect on others, even if they sometimes resent what she represents.

And... I still didn't say that very well. But you already did, so it's okay. :)
Alice Arneson
97. Wetlandernw
Oops. Double post.
Heidi Byrd
98. sweetlilflower
Well, another positive of the test is that the AS have to weave complicated weaves very fast and remain calm while doing so. Even if the weaves for the test are "meaningless", they still learn how to spin accurately, quickly, and competently without panic. That's gotta be worth something when they are facing trollocs and dreadlords in the next month.

From Moiraine's POV:
She wove the Five Powers as fast as she could, faster than she had ever woven before, she was certain.

This quote is from her test when she is "dancing" with the trollocs.
Rob Munnelly
99. RobMRobM
Re the test - to me, and sorry to oversimplify, but it focuses on discipline (to learn 100 weaves perfectly and in the correct order) and appearing serene and untroubled to the outside world even if stressful situations. Both seems to be appropriately tied to the overall goals of the WT and consistent with the way the WT has operated for centuries. In short, it works for me.

Rob
Rob Munnelly
100. RobMRobM
Can I beat Woof to 100? Edit - yes I can, apparently.
Maiane Bakroeva
101. Isilel
Jonathan Levy @94:

Practically speaking, I think an ancient, unwritten, and almost
unspoken custom like the power-based rankings is one of the most difficult things to change.

Abrupt changes do happen. France in 1788 and France in 1794 were 2 drastically different countries and most unwritten rules went out of the window. Ditto Russia in 1914 and 1918. Reading the diaries... it was almost like a different planet. And change of an Age is a fitting point. So much was already changed, that it is a bit strange to view the worst AS customs as immutable.

BTW, the Aiel already have the system of merit in ji, which they track both for themselves and others. I bet that the WOs who are in running for leadership have most ji, as well as strength of personality.

And we shouldn't forget that normally the OP hierarchy doesn't work outside of the WT, so it is pretty useless for providing the immediate command structure in emergencies.

And also, people don't need such exact and all-encompassing hierarchy gradations to get anything done. WoTland armies make do with relatively few ranks, for instance (as armies of 17th - early 18th centuries did iRL) and it doesn't mean that every time a group of soldiers has to work together it denigrates into endless squabbles over precedence. Aiel have very few gradations too.
Erick G
102. Erick G
I love how you wrote this, by seperating each chapter and going into depth for each one. I am currently doing somethine similar to this, but your style and structure far surpass what I have. I may have to steal some of this, especially the breaking up of the book into chapters in seperate posts instead of trying to get everything in and done in blocks of writing that can't go into the depth I would like to without taking up so much space. This was a great post, very insightful and enlightening.
lake sidey
103. lakesidey
@89 twicemarked: "So if the President asks the army to kill any civilitians who question his authority, the army should obey that command?" Unfortunately, there are a lot of countries where that is exactly what happens. (And that's without even getting into events in Vietnam or suchlike - remember that RJ clearly knew what he was talking about in this kind of thing)

An important aspect of troop training seems to be to obey without question in times of out-and-out war. (Again, reflected in various places in Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow - seem to be remembering those a lot today! - where there were several occasions where a plan would have failed if the subordinates had stopped to ask "why do need to do this?". Of course, if the person giving orders were some stupid Tairen lord incompetent then it is still a recipe for disater. And I think I argued myself into a corner? (Where was I going with this anyway?)

@91 Isilel: Perhaps Moiraine was deliberately avoiding making it too obvious? Because of the Great Game in Cairhien, and because of the fact that whether she likes it or not she is perceived as a potential heir to the throne, letting people know of her deep and abidng love for her parents might be giving someone else a lever to manipulate her in some way? But of course she can't hide from her own thoughts, and so when the Sisteratron rummages around in her memories, it finds her love for her parents and voila!

@93 Sonofthunder: Skirts would not be visible on a sitting Aes Sedai (a Sitter?) so maybe an insignia on the shawl would be better?

@94 jonathan Levy: I agree it would be hard to change. But I think it can be pushed through, and soon. The reason being that, post-TG, with Saidin cleansed and a male channeler having (presumably) just saved the world, there will be no reason for the Tower (or the Hall of Servants) to remain closed to men. I wouldn't be very surprised if the Asha'man and AS don't end up forming a grey (or zebra-striped?) tower. This immediately raises two problems for the status quo: one, men and women can't sense each other's strengths (unless bonded) and hence would not be able to base their deference on this and two, on average, men are stronger in the one power (though women are more skillful). It is this latter point which makes me think that it would not be very difficult to make the AS change their power structure - one thing common to RL women; they may argue indefinitely about precedence among themselves but will blow up the whole world commit seppuku before letting the men have more power, if they can avoid it. My bet is they will shamelessly adopt the kin's system of age, as most of the current sisters are well beyond even Damer Flinn's seniority, and leave it to future generations to work out an alternative (which will feature epaulets and uniforms and be based purely on merit. Really!)

~lakesidey
Kimani Rogers
104. KiManiak
Lakesidey@103 - re: women and power and blowing up the world - you sure you didn't want to make another run for the bunker after dropping that grenade? :-)
Tess Laird
105. thewindrose
So lakesidey just made me think of something with the impending aggregation of the female and male Aes Sedai - will they still conduct testing clothed in the Light?
I know, we won't get to see how everyone gets along after TG, but a major part of this series is how everything works so much better with both sides working together. I would think Egwene could use the clothing issue to get some of the old customs that are 'stronger' then written law changed.

Hmmm, KiManiak - Pretty sure that subwoofer let lakesidey into the bunker already, so lakesidey should be safe - as long as there are more treats :)

tempest™
FellKnight
106. Lsana
@Isilel,

A couple of points from various points:

Perhaps I have a different perspective on pranking due to the fact that I was more often the victim than the perpetrator. It usually isn't harmless fun from that perspective. However, I want to point out that this isn't just my perspective but a general perception in Randland outside the White Tower: Mat's pranking is seen as a sign that he has yet to grow up.

The difference between the Aiel test and the Aes Sedai test as far as the reader is concerned is that we can see the purpose behind the Aiel test quite clearly: can you accept the truth about the past, however unpleasant? Can you face the future, even if it isn't the future you want? As opposed to the Aes Sedai test: can you do a bunch of useless weaves really fast? Whether fair or not, that helps readers see the Aiel test as rational and the Aes Sedai one as a foolish risk.

Yes, France and Russia managed to overturn the old hierarchies--by killing pretty much everyone who held power under the old system. I'm no big fan of the AS or the current top of the Tower (yes, including the SGs), but even so, I don't really want that to happen here.
Benjamin Moldovan
107. benpmoldovan
Wet: great points.

Their system isn’t perfect, but what system is? The Aiel system is all well and good, if that’s what you’ve had all along. Kind of hard to start now. There’s a certain kind of logic – the stronger in power being able to enforce their orders – hard to do it the other way. And with age, you get fuddy-duddies like Romanda keeping a lousy status quo. At least with the current system, you get fresh blood, Siuan, Moiraine, Egwene, etc. can possibly get changes made.

Lakesidey @ 103: hadn’t thought of that. Problem is, age is a huge disadvantage to the wondergirls. In any case, isn’t the OP supposed to vanish at some point? And then it’ll be a moot point for multi-thousands of years.

Isilel @101: sudden sweeping change isn’t always a good thing. Many thousands were slaughtered after the French and Russian revolutions, for example. Just saying. Not that that would happen in the WT.

Point of all this? I dunno. You read someone’s post, think of something, keep reading more posters, and it can become hard to keep track of it all, everything you were thinking of, who you were going to respond to. Oh, well. Gotta make notes as you go, I guess.

Oh, yeah. I remember one of the other things I was going to say. Re: ji. The Aiel system doesn’t seem to be that formal. I don’t know that it’s really accumulated as such. “I earned 100 pts of ji today, that puts me 10 ahead of Melaine.” :) Of course they have a general idea.

BenM
Benjamin Moldovan
108. benpmoldovan
I originally thought I had a chance at 100. Bummer. :)
Benjamin Moldovan
109. benpmoldovan
I see Lsana beat me to the point about the Revolutions.
FellKnight
110. chaplainchris1
@106 Lsana: there's all sports of levels of pranking, of course. The pranking I reference among my students, for example, is among tight-knit friends where no one person is singled out-but nor is any one person safe! Things like tossing straw paper into your drink at lunch, or when introducing a friend who is to be honored, making a glowing introduction that nonetheless uses all four of that friend's least favorite, pet peeve words.

Silly stuff, but harmless stress relief, and there's a form of maturity in not taking yourself too seriously. I think many Aes Sedai could benefit from that!

But yes, some forms of pranking are not only childish, but cruel. Not all, and as for Mat's pranks being a sign of immaturity, what about Siuan with Gareth, stripping the polish from his boots?

Another more important post to follow on the Aiel ranking system.
lake sidey
111. lakesidey
@104 KiM: I was talking only about Randland women, honest! _flutters eyelashes innocently_

@105 thewindrose: Actually I wandered round to thinking about the implications of the asha'man from the "clothed in the light" thing - at some point men were Aes Sedai too, and part of the hall (as someone pointed out very succinctly) and this ritual clearly comes from after those days. And almost certainly, so do many others.

@107 benpmoldovan: "Wet: great points." I read this and went into a fit of uncontrollable giggles - somehow it read like a description of the winner of a wet t-shirt contest or something.

Goes back to the bunker. Finds that sub has locked the door. Ulp...

~lakesidey
FellKnight
112. chaplainchris1
Why is everyone so quick to admire the Aiel ranking system? You know, the one where there is no rank, and your position is basically whatever you say it is? The beautiful system that gave us the Wise One Sevanna?

The Aiel system sounds all very egalitarian, where everyone is basically equal apart from whatever respect you can earn. But in practice, that would just mean debate during crisis, with no rank or checks and balances to appeal to when somebody like Sevanna comes along. Luckily, the clan chief commands during battle - but unless you see the Aes Sedai picking a male chief to call the shots when they fight, I don't think the Wise Ones "ranking system" is very helpful.
Chris R
113. up2stuff
You know, Wet has a good point at 81 regarding an AS keeping her head. It is almost like the the "void" or "oneness" that Rand, Lan and all of the blademasters talk about. It kind of makes a symmetrical sense that women should have that, too. Seeking the void gives control for sword play or channeling. Loose the Void and you are sunk.

Emotion, pain, etc are still noted to us in these instances but, we get it as "pain slid across the surface of the void, meaningless" or "Rand's body was exhausted, but inside the void he did not feel it." Those arent exact quotes, but you get the gist. These things aren't and can't be erased, they are just excluded.

Point is, these people are allowed or noted as still feeling these things, but they control them or ignore them. The AS seem to want the testees (heh, I said "Testes") to not even experience this. But I agree it is a misinterpretation of the original intent.

Hell, they don't even practice what they preach. In TEOTW, I don't remember Moiraine being cool and serene when fighting the Shadowspawn. Controlled and focused, yes. But serene and unhurried. (Snorts)

Furthermore, Verin practically screams at Egwene and the others on their way back from Falme, when they use the power to scare off the WC's. After Suain is healed, she is AS again, but she always seems aggitated about something Bryne has said. Alana's a basketcase most of the time we see her, and it seems like someone is blubbering, shrieking or fainting during EVERY SAS meeting.

Clearly the emotionless aspect that the AS want to convey is a sham, and a bad interpretation of what they should be testing for. I think keeping one's head (on thier shoulders), and not losing control should be the focus and whoever pointed out that Ny did just that was absolutely right.

Edit LTT @ 86. Aww, man! You beat me to the "Testes" joke.

Edit 2: Lake @88. That is one of the WORST jokes I have seen on these posts. CONGRATS! I LOVE IT!
FellKnight
114. Lsana
@chaplainchris1,

I suppose I can see pranks between friends as being a fun thing. But that is totally irrelevent to Moiraine and Suian's actions here.

About the Aiel ranking system producing Sevanna: the problem with the Shaido was not Sevanna. There were multiple people who could have stopped Sevanna but didn't. The Shaido chose to follow first Couladin (who didn't have any legitimate leadership position) then her. They got the leader they deserved and no "better" system of picking a leader would have stopped that.
Alice Arneson
115. Wetlandernw
lakesidey - Yeah, you'd better Ulp - or hope subwoofer hears you pounding on the door.

::scowls loudly::

....


::snickers at the mental image of lakesidey alternately pounding on the bunker door and looking for a place to hide from The Scary Lady™::

(Hah. Didn't know they used to call me that here, did you? Nyah.)

Here follows a rambling wall of text, enclosing... well, not much. I just had some free time this afternoon, and I'm enjoying it. So I built this wall to meander through a pasture or something and get in the way of the shepherds.

All the talk about pranks reminds me of a summer spent working in one of the national parks. Most of the employees were college kids, including a fair few grad students, who needed a real break for a few months, so except for the supervisors the age range was about 18 to 25. Jobs were mostly manual labor, quarters and food much like what you'd expect the novices to have, but the scenery was spectacular and on your days off you were free to hike, bike, or otherwise enjoy the mountains.

Lots of pranks, many games and much silliness ensued, but my favorite prank was the time one of the housemaids climbed into the attic and captured a bat. That night she sneaked in and gently placed it on the pillow of one of the guys who was known to drink more than a little. The results, when he came in three sheets to the wind and joined the bat on the aforementioned pillow, were... quite spectacular. Being "novice quarters" equivalent, the damage was fairly minimal except to his macho pride. He never did figure out who did it, and never suspected the girls at all - after all, it was a bat! ::eyeroll: His alcohol consumption decreased for a while, though... after all, it's embarrassing to have the entire cafeteria burst out laughing when you walk in, even if you know you deserve it.

chaplainchris1 @112 - Yeah, but Sevanna's not a real Aiel, is she? ;) It is rather funny, when you step back and look, how many people have a knee-jerk reaction to Aiel and Aes Sedai - if it's Aiel it's probably good, and if it's Aes Sedai it's probably stupid, annoying or both. Personally, I don't think I'd recommend the Wise One's ranking system, if only because no one else can actually figure out what it is. They know but they aren't telling - like just about everything else they do. The only thing we know for sure is that it's not based on channeling strength, and your perception of yourself in relation to others probably has a lot to do with it.

For purposes of the story, the AS system is perfect because, as has been mentioned, our young and inexperienced girls would have no authority whatsoever without it. As a system in general, it's fairly silly to have an intelligent, well-trained and experienced woman of 150 deferring to a powerful but inexperienced girl of 22 simply because of their relative strengths. The only thing that keeps it from being an unmitigated disaster is that, in general, a woman who is raised to the shawl, especially that young, is still building up to her potential strength, so she starts out with quite a few still above her and hopefully gains some experience before she stands too close to the top. (Egwene is the notable exception, because she was forced and reached her full potential much younger than most WT initiates.)

On the other hand, I'm not sure I've seen any system suggested that would be significantly better. Strength of personality and self-confidence are no guarantee of intelligence, much less wisdom. "Merit-based" systems sound good, but who is to determine who merits what? And even the pseudo-military systems that have been suggested are demonstrably fallible; everyone who has ever served in the military seems to be able point to a superior officer who should never have been given so much as command of the dishwashing crew. I haven't been there, but I worked in the aerospace industry long enough to know that people make it into positions of management without any qualifications other than spectacular brown-nosing abilities. The number of managers willing to bust a lower-level manager back to the "ranks" are vanishingly small, so they keep getting promoted even though they are manifestly unsuitable.

So the Wise Ones have some unknown ranking system that is generally fairly fluid and is based on several unknowns along with self-confidence (arrogance?) and strength of personality. They seem to know who's in charge, but no one else can figure it out. The Kin don't have much rank, except that the 13 oldest who reside in Ebou Dar form the leadership council, and the oldest of those 13 is the de facto leader of all the Kin. (When they're away from Ebou Dar, there's no heirarchy at all, which leads to some problems in Caemlyn.) The Windfinders appear to start at the lowest rank, move up with the sailmistress to whom they are assigned, and start over at the bottom when their sailmistress dies or retires, with little or no reference to their own talent. (At least they have a visible system of identifying their ranks, though.) The Asha'man system has only three official ranks and is nominally based on achieving certain skills, but we all know how well that's not working. Taim decides who gets what rank, and his favorites get new ranks above the official three just because he says so. As near as I can tell, the damane don't have a ranking system, since they're all subhuman anyway; the sul'dam seem to have some sort of internally recognized status based on experience and skill, and official promotion to der'sul'dam at some level. We don't know much more than that. Sharans are hardly worth mentioning, because we know virtually nothing about them except that the channelers live completely separated from the rest of the people and the rulers have a rotating male/female joint rule, and are ritually murdered after 14 years of rule. (Oh, it's "natural" though.)

Not much to choose from in the existing channeling organizations. As for the AOL, we simply don't know enough. Some people earned a third name, but we don't know if that was only channelers or more general, and we don't know much about how they were earned. We don't know how they chose leaders; we only know who some of them were. Not much help, unless Rand can give us some insight in the next book.

All that (!!) just to say that, as silly as the current system seems to us, the reformation of the AS hierarchy is not something that can be resolved simply if it's to be effective.
William Fettes
116. Wolfmage
chaplainchris1@112

“Why is everyone so quick to admire the Aiel ranking system?”

I won’t say I admire the Aiel system overly. But I do think the fact that they at least look to non-arbitrary traits like wisdom and formidableness is obviously better than ranking based on strength in the power, which is entirely arbitrary. The Aes Sedai’s secondary ranking system through Novice and Accepted progression is seemingly better, but unfortunately that too is mostly arbitrary on closer inspection. Progression in the Tower is still mostly influenced by strength and skill with the power, and ironically, those who progress most quickly receive less education than those who are less strong in the power.

That said, whether you can conceivably replicate the Aiel system in the Wetlands, removed from the insular nature of Aiel society and their ingrained system of honor and obligation is another question entirely.

“You know, the one where there is no rank, and your position is basically whatever you say it is? The beautiful system that gave us the Wise One Sevanna?”

That’s a fair point to raise, but hardly dispositive of fundamental issue of non-arbitrary merit vs arbitrary power. It’s also worth pointing out that the Aiel system also seems to work pretty effectively for every Clan aside the Shaido - which is like 92% of every Wise One.

But I will admit I am rather uneasy about the implications of Sevanna. I've never particularly understood why the 'good' Wise Ones are supposed to be enjoined from exposing such an obvious fraud in their ranks. Obviously she didn’t even go to Rhuidean, and there are ways of testing for that objectively whatever the other Shaido Wise say in vouching for her. It just strikes me as odd that they must go along with such a farce for the sake of Shaido Wise Ones who are basically uniformly corrupt.

Then again, I suppose it's not really that unusual for even modern political systems to function well in normal cases, due to good incentives and barriers to entry. It's the unusual cases that strain the system, and many political systems have inadequate ways of dealing with incompetent, corrupt or criminal sovereigns/leaders.

“The Aiel system sounds all very egalitarian, where everyone is basically equal apart from whatever respect you can earn. But in practice, that would just mean debate during crisis, with no rank or checks and balances to appeal to when somebody like Sevanna comes along. Luckily, the clan chief commands during battle - but unless you see the Aes Sedai picking a male chief to call the shots when they fight, I don't think the Wise Ones "ranking system" is very helpful.”

Do you have any evidence that the Wise Ones are typically standing around debating in a crisis? I don’t think that’s a fair characterisation of the kind of universal combat preparedness we see amongst all Aiel, nor the kind of firm, pre-established lines of authority that Wise Ones have in relation to each other. There may be isolated moments where adjustments are made, such as Amys asserting herself against Sorilea, but that is a relatively rare, textually at least, and it seems to be resolved amicably and removed from combat. I don’t see any evidence that Wise Ones’ system is particularly vulnerable to bickering during a crisis.
Valentin M
117. ValMar
It's late here so I'll quickly state an opinion:
To me the Aiel appear almost as a breed apart. To make their practices and customs apply to the Wetlands is a very strong stretch, in general. Especially when we have insufficient info, like for the WOs.
There is one limited exception with the "Maidens and Lads of the Spear" in Cairhien.
john massey
118. subwoofer
Who keeps on hammering on the washroom door?! Occupied!

::Bunker thataways-> ::

@JL- dollar is pretty much on parity so no dif.

As for AS maintaining dignity- fiddlesticks! Lookit Ny, she is gonna be a legend, and she spends most of her time honked off or scowling. Rand had the basic idea when he told Ny to not let the Tower change her. I think the AS loose their individuality and their humanity working so hard to maintain calm. Nope, don't like it. Mind you, I've never been good at maintaining calm myself so I have a biased opinion:)

@SoT- maybe if the AS learned how to iron they wouldn't have such wrinkled skirts...

Well, somebody brought up an interesting point- the AS are gonna be stubborn about the Power ranking? When the guys come along that's gonna suck. Yeah, they can't sense each other's power but I'm sure we can have a round robin tourney of ass kicking.... Or a "you must pick up this tree" test or something. Point being, guys are gonna have a fair chunk of the ladies deferring to them. That's gonna burn somebody's ass.

Aiel ranking system seems to be based on the idea that the person that can give the best STFU stare gets a pass. Sorilea wins so far. I think she downs cranky pills on a daily basis... or uses rocks instead of tp...

Woof™.
Stefan Mitev
119. Bergmaniac
The Wise One system gave us Sevanna, but the Aes Sedai one gave us Elaida, and she's even more of a disaster as a leader. So even by looking at the worst results of the two systesm, the Aiel have an advantage IMO.

I disagree that the "ranking by strength" system among the Aes Seda was necessary for the story to work. If you look at it, Egwene was chosen for Amyrlin mostly because she was someone who the Dragon Reborn knew and (supposedly) trusted, and because she was supposed to be easy to manipulate and suitable for a figurehead role. Her strength in the Power helped her case, but it wasn't the main reason she was chosen. It wasn't the reason she got the Tower firmly under her control either.

In Elayne and Nynaeve's case, the only significant relevance the strength ranking had on them was for allowing them to take control over the Ebou Dar group of Aes Sedai. That could've been achieved by appointing one of them the leader of the mission, which would've given her authority according to the rules of Aes Sedai. Elayne could've been put in charge as the resident expert on ter'angreal, for example. Overall with a few minor alterations the story could've worked with a different ranking system.
Alice Arneson
120. Wetlandernw
Bergmaniac - I was actually referring to Moiraine & Siuan as much as to Elayne & Nynaeve. (Egwene is an exception in many ways, including the fact that she started at the top regardless of the strength hierarchy, so none of this applies to her. I only mentioned her forcing as the exception to the rule whereby women gradually attain their full potential at something significantly more than 19 years of age.)
Sam Mickel
121. Samadai
I think they should give up the whole strength in power hierarchy for some thing even more random. Why don't they use bosom to body size ratio. It would be perfect. This way it is more random than even power levels. The tall skinny women with a large bosom would have more power than the shorter stumpier women with a large bosom. They could incorporate "clad in the light" into all their meetings. Though it might have to incorporate one of the ter'angreals that stop weaves from working nearby( that way no one can cheat with the Mirror of Mists).

It also can help 2 problems in one. The Aes Sedai would now have a reason to bear children. this would then increase thier ranking in the power structure, both temporarily and permanently(at different levels, depending on pre delivery and post feeding of said child.) and the more children those AS have the more they would bew able to climb the power structure of the tower.

Another benefit is, as the sisters get older and more prone to hanging out snacking, they would lose prominence as their bosom to body size ratio changed.

Runs for bunker encased in cuendillar armor
Kimani Rogers
123. KiManiak
Samadai - That was HILARIOUS! I damn near fell out of my chair!
FellKnight
124. JimF
81. Wetlandernw "...But… too many centuries, too much human failing, too much Forsaken meddling, and the Tower is less than it should have been...." That's sort of the central story of TWoT. The most potent force for good in this age basically is adrift. In places the AS are revered, but elsewhere they are widely despised, feared or both. There is, to borrow a quote, "no there, there".

This always struck me - no cohesion, no planning, just politics. The Three Oaths have to do with an individual's behavior, but nothing really to do with the meaning of the WT/AS society. There are no "think tanks" examining the Prophecies and recommending policy (following Gitara's Foreseeing, shouldn't something have happened out in the open?), no constitution, no guidelines really other than Tower Law, which basically is an object of political gaming.

Maybe it's just the unspoken knowledge that the Black Ajah is present and working its way that so quashes activity (but throughout the book, many AS deny or are shocked by revelations of the BA). In a sense the AS, with the exception of the BA and the covert activities of Moiraine and Siuan, seem to be women who are leading essentially pointless lives (the Black Ajah hunt of Pevara et al. is the most extensive example of unity of purpose we've seen yet).

They do respond to certain crises, and offer some specialized insights to other leaders, but there are no "universal objectives" or effective controls on their system. The way Elaida overthrew a legitimate Amyrlin, and then entirely corrupted the system is shocking.

And to date, I do not see Egwene doing anything to mend the system. She holds her cards close to her chest; she's as big a gamer of the system as anyone; and her attempting to deter Rand is based on what?

I really look forward to seeing what becomes of the WT in the future book (s) {I'm of the opinion that there will in fact, be two more books. As good as the last two are, and as efficiently as they dealt with many story lines, the last book has to be about 2000 pages long to really terminate this thing gracefully! I won't complain a bit, either.}
Hugh Arai
125. HArai
Samadai@121: Plus they'll now have a reason to keep ignoring men's opinions! Sure Rand is the Dragon Reborn, but he can't even cross his arms under his bosom!
Hugh Arai
126. HArai
JimF@124:


and her attempting to deter Rand is based on what?



He's a boy and she's a girl.
FellKnight
127. Lsana
@112,

One more thought on the fact that the Aiel system gave us Sevanna:

No, the Aiel system didn't prevent Sevanna but I don't think any system would. One of the problems that the characters in the book as well as the readers as well as...well honestly, as well as humanity in general has is trying to create a system to guarentee the right outcome with no loopholes that can't be abused. Such a system does not exist. There will always be loopholes and ways to abuse the system. The key to keeping everything functioning is to have people who aren't trying to game the system and frown on those who do.

The Aiel system gave us Sevanna, yes, but it didn't have to. Couladin and Sevanna rose to power because there were a large number of Aiel who wanted someone who would tell them that the whole "we were once pacificists" story was a lie and the reality was the Aiel were great warriors destined to conquer the world. So that's what they got. No different system would have changed that. But when the Aiel are buying into the system, it seems to work well. They respect those who can handle what Rhuidean gives them. They consider the opinions of other Wise Ones but don't dismiss their own intelligence.

The Aes Sedai system, on the other hand, seems flawed no matter how good the intentions of everyone involved. Daigan will always be a second-class citizen, no matter that she has more experience than any half-dozen newly raised Aes Sedai. Elaida will always be near the top of the heap, no matter that she hasn't interperted anything correctly in her entire life. In this case, it's not just the people but the system that's the problem.
Mikey Bennett
128. EvilMonkey
JL @ 94

I don't think that the Amrylin appointing whatever sisters she feels will be the most effective to complete a given mission would upset the balance. That is her job. The Hall sets policy; they have a large role in determining the missions the Tower takes on. The Amrylin has a say but if she tries to abuse her power she'll find the Hall will not stand for it, at least not forever. Sarielle Bagand (I think that's her name) was an Amrylin who tried to bully her way with her power and ended up squandering everything. As far as I can see, Ajah heads are only supposed to govern conduct within their own Ajah. The additional power they recieve is almost totally dependant on their personal will and the acceptance of the sisters in their charge.

For the ranking system, I never said that it shouldn't be scrapped; that is something that can be debated and has been a few times. I'm just saying it's a bad idea to do it right this second. Let em do what they're comfortable with until the time of crisis is over.
FellKnight
129. JimF
@126 HArai - Heh! That probably 'splains it, and more so since they know each other.
Chris Chaplain
130. chaplainchris1
Arg! Too much to say, getting really frustrated with texting instead of typing. Finally back to a real keyboard!

@116 wolfmage - formidability seems an arbitrary trait to me. As for wisdom, definitions there vary, but neither Sevanna nor Therava seem like bastions of wisdom to me. As far as I can see, the only things that set WOs apart from each other are "ji" - which may or may not be arbitrary, but is certainly incomprehensible - and standing up for herself. This can measure rashness and stubborness as well as wisdom, as shown by Sevanna simply declaring herself a WO and being stubborn enough to make it stick.

I find I've lots to say about AS education, but I'll make that a separate post. Sticking with the WOs, the problem of not just Sevanna but all the Shaido WOs drives home the fact that the WOs are not a centralized body like the AS. That has the advantage of avoiding bureaucracy, but it also lacks a mechanism for things like stripping a WO of her position. The AS, when the Hall functions as intended, has that power, which means there is generally a check on the AS ranking system which the Aiel lack.

But since the Aiel WOs aren't a centralized body it isn't a fair comparison. I think what we’re looking at with the Aiel is that they’ve perhaps done a better job teaching personal responsibility, but a lesser job teaching corporate responsibility. Sevanna and all the Shaido WOs can go their own way indefinitely, up to and including the rapine of a dozen neighboring cultures, and no other WO will act to put a stop to it despite being disgusted by it. At least the AS didn’t require Rand to give them an order before they acted to put their house in order. Without Rand having his Aiel oppose the Shaido, the WOs would never have acted.

Your request for evidence of strife and debate between WOs likewise is reasonable, but I again point to Sevanna and the Shaido as exhibit A of how catastrophic their egalitarianism can be. And given that we have SO much info about AS internal workings, and almost nothing from WOs, including (almost?) no POVs, it's again not a fair comparison. There are hints of the debate between Amys and Sorilea, but we never know who’s on which side. What Perrin observes hints to me that it comes down to politicking, with most WOs eventually siding with Sorilea. This has the potential to be like the politicking in the Hall of the Tower, but instead of 3 reps from each Ajah plus a Keeper and Amyrlin, the debate is between EVERY WO. Again, very egalitarian, but hardly efficient, esp. when there’s no Tower Law to refer to. Call me crazy, but I prefer the rule of law to ji’e’toh, which has nothing in it that teaches any respect for human dignity or universal rights. The AS have taught the world to fight the DO; the WOs haven’t fully agreed among themselves how important the Last Battle is, much less been able to get the rest of their people on board.

And no, Aiel battle readiness does not serve as evidence of efficiency – the battle readiness is a trait of the culture, not of anything having to do with the WOs. Until recently, the WOs were the only segment of their population (besides blacksmiths, I guess) that didn’t have to be battle ready, since before Dumai’s Wells they didn’t participate in battle. (I also note that in 3000 years they did nothing to curb the internecine warfare among the Aiel, whereas keeping the peace was a goal of the AS.) Rand is really lucky that the debate among the WOs was resolved before their group caught up with his kidnappers, is what I’m saying. What if they’d been able to follow Rand by gateway, but their debate was still unresolved? Then what?

Dumai’sWells reminds me of a point I wanted to make on the last thread, which is still appropriate here. For all that we compliment the Aiel and critique AS ability to act and fight in a coordinated manner, I recall that 39 Tower-trained AS defended themselves very handily against several hundred channeling Shaido WOs, backed by 40,000 Aiel troops. The AS had the advantage in the channeling arena, in fact, even though it was expected that numbers would eventually get the best of them.

Still, the performance of the Ashaman, or the dismal showing of the AS when attacked by the Seanchan in the middle of the night while most were probably in bed, shouldn’t blind us to the fact that Oath-bound AS out-channelled easily 10x their number of WOs. Says something about the AS system to me. (Not least that they were the only channeling organization in the world known to have retained knowledge of linking – without which knowledge, saidin would never have been cleansed.)

In the final analysis, I think I stand by what I typed earlier - the AS do a better job teaching corporate responsibility, but aren't as good at personal responsibility. Both these organizations need each other, and Egwene is right to want each to learn from the other.
Thomas Keith
131. insectoid
You guys/gals sure have been busy!

::being very careful not to compose comment in HTML:: Yes, I've still got code on the brain. :)

My mom has been re-reading New Spring along with us, and is about done. Maybe I can talk her into bringing some of her numerous questions here.

Lakesidey @111/Wetlander @115: ::falls on floor laughing::

::picks self up off floor:: That's the hardest I've laughed all day. Be careful not to use the word 'Free' in the same sentence. XD

Sam @121: LOL!!

Bzzz™.
Chris Chaplain
132. chaplainchris1
@119 Bergmaniac
The Wise One system gave us Sevanna, but the Aes Sedai one gave us Elaida, and she's even more of a disaster as a leader. So even by looking at the worst results of the two systesm, the Aiel have an advantage IMO.
That's...um...not my opinion. Sevanna led the rapine and destruction of entire nations. Elaida's havoc was at least mostly contained to the Tower.

Moreover, the AS were organizing themselves to put a stop to Elaida...or at least, to resolve the split. The split between Shaido WOs and other WOs has never moved to any resolution, nor is there any evidence that non-Shaido Aiel would ever have opposed the Shaido's actions, without Rand's direct orders to do so. In other words...in the AS system, there are checks and balances. The Aiel system has ji'e'toh, but nothing resembling the rule of law.
Eric Hughes
133. CireNaes
Based on how much stock is put in Aviendha's vision (ToM), the Seanchan system of leadership has the most staying power out of the "flawed" options we have to argue for or against. And we all know who to point the finger at for that discovery...
lake sidey
134. lakesidey
@130 Chaplainchris1: "that the WOs are not a centralized body like the AS. That has the advantage of avoiding bureaucracy, but it also lacks a mechanism for things like stripping a WO of her position."

Errr, the AS also didn't have a mechanism for stripping an AS (of her position, I meant! Pervs!). At least, until a few months ago when this lost Talent was rediscovered by Elaida Aes Sedai, Flame(ing idiot) of Tar Valon.

@121 Sam: ROFL! _like_ Of course, this would mean the men, having no chance at egalite, would probably change their mind about joining the AS (and I was so looking forward to a chapter titled "the Two Towers"!)

Perhaps they could go off and form their own organisation again....one which survives (even after the One Power vanishes) right up to the present day. Ladies and gennelmen, I give you.....Manchester United!!

Hmmm......Sevanna would still rank high, in the bosom hierarchy. Or do I mean 'Sevanna would still be rank'?

~lakesidey
James Hogan
135. Sonofthunder
Wetlander @115...I just might have inhaled a good deal of coffee after seeing your loud scowl. Thanks a lot!!! (On another note entirely...interested in seeing how you like Name of the Wind when you read it - since I'm hoping to get it soon as well!)

And I can't bring myself to even think about Sevanna...ugh, it's too early for that. Actually wait. It's never a good time for Sevanna. Why are we even talking about her? I do like Sam's idea for ranking AS though. That was just classic.
Kimani Rogers
136. KiManiak
Trying to read Deadhouse Gates, catch up on the Malazan reread posts (only 3 behind, Tek! ) and be active on this post is hard! Darn real life, eating into all my free time. But, I gotta put in at least one of my Walls of Text during this post…

JimF@134 – re: the role of Aes Sedai – I’m not the biggest fan of the Aes Sedai as a group and I agree that their role in regular Randland society doesn’t have much obvious value. But, to be fair, I think the AS have subtly played an important role for centuries.

As someone else (I think it was Isilel or maybe Wetlandernw; if not, my apologies for not giving out credit to the appropriate individual) on an earlier thread pointed out, the Aes Sedai have been the major force behind keeping the threat of the Shadow, and the promise/threat of the Dragon, consistently in the minds of the majority of the average individual. Over 3000 years it would have been easy for knowledge of the Dark One, the Forsaken, and the Prophecies of the Dragon to be restricted to only specific scholars and select nobles (and, probably the Borderlanders).

The AS were instrumental in keeping information of the Dark One and the Dragon from becoming myth or legend before fading into obscurity. Oh, and the Red (hunting male channelers) and the Gray (negotiating/mediating) Ajahs apparently serve some practical purposes too.

Having said all that, I still think the AS hierarchy and governing structure is incredibly flawed (other posts here have done a good job of pointing out the specifics). But, I believe that RJ created this incredibly flawed system on purpose, and not just to facilitate the elevation of certain characters (whether it was Moiraine or Egwene) quickly within the story that he created. I agree with those that have pointed out that one of the major themes in this story is about balance, and the dysfunction and problems that occur when things/organizations/roles are imbalanced.

So, could there and should there be a greater way for the AS to operate. Sure. But, I believe that is meant to happen post-TG and will probably have to occur slowly (I think I mentioned Nynaeve and some of the powerful world-wise Novices/Accepteds like Sharina Malloy that can slowly work to change the system from the inside, probably with the aid of the Ashaman being integrated into the Tower).

I’ll pass on the whole Rand and Egwene thing this time.

I do agree with Lsana@127 that Sevanna is an exception to the Wise One system, not the standard. I think that if you were to compare the Aes Sedai and Wise One systems objectively, the Wise One system appears to allow for status and authority to be acquired due to merit, intelligence, and/or competency the vast majority of the time. Conversely, the Aes Sedai acquire status and authority due to a quirk in their genetic code. That’s why Samadai@121’s example was so funny; because it was ridiculous to base authority on something as (mostly) uncontrollable as breast size, just like basing an organizational structure mostly based on another God-given/genetic trait is fairly ridiculous.

Again, I think that RJ did this on purpose.
Kimani Rogers
137. KiManiak
Chaplainchris1@130 – re: the Hall stripping an Aes Sedai of her position – If you meant their position as the head of a delegation or as an advisor, the Hall has that power. But, you seemed to be comparing the Wise Ones’ inability to strip Sevanna of her position as Wise One with the Aes Sedai’s ability to strip an AS of her position as an Aes Sedai. The Hall doesn’t have that ability, and the Amyrlin shouldn’t have had that ability either (it was only because Shemerin accepted her demotion that allowed for the other Sisters to go along with it, as Silviana explains in KoD or TGS).

EDIT: And I see that lakesidey@134 once again is faster than I am. I tip my hat to you again, sir! :-)

As for the AS acting to oppose the actions of the leadership, well yes, but that was done by a coup (Elaida overthrowing Siuan), rebellion (the Blue and other Sisters splitting the Tower) an almost Civil War (Egwene’s siege of the Tower) and finally the forcible removal of yet another Amyrlin (the Seanchan capturing Elaida) and “election” of another Amyrlin (who happened to be the Amyrlin of the Rebels). The Wise Ones were led by Rand (specifically, his capture) to make a major shift in their culture in order to have Wise One fight Wise One, which wasn't the initial intent when the rescue party left from Cairhien. But, clans had been fighting each other for centuries, Rand didn’t encourage any major change in their culture in order to have the clans fight the Shaido in Cairhein.

I do agree that a lack of Wise One Point of View does make it difficult for us to make a completely fair comparison between the Aes Sedai structure and the Wise One structure, but I think we know enough to make an initial assessment based on existing information.

I disagree with your characterization of the debate between Amys and Sorilea. As I recall, those two went off and discussed things over tea or water or some type of drink (which immediately got my approval). When they came back, Sorilea led but Amys’s stature and position also seemed elevated as well. Amys didn’t plan any type of political “backstabbing” to strike at Sorilea. Compare that to Elaida’s overthrowing of Siuan and Siuan’s creation of rumors about the Reds and false dragons in an effort to tear down Elaida from power. I don’t think the comparison is even close.

As for the AS effectiveness in channeling compared to the Wise Ones, you’ll get no argument from me there. The AS are better channelers. The bulk of their training focuses on being effective channelers. From what we saw (and inferring from the fact that not all Wise Ones could channel), channeling is not the most important part of being a Wise One. It appears they are taught the basics, but they are probably not drilled in channeling techniques like the AS are.

Chaplainchris1@132 – Sevanna as a Wise One didn’t lead the rapine and plundering of nations. Sevanna as “Speaker for the Chief” (hmm, kinda reminds me of Ender and Speaker for the Dead) led the Shaido to plunder. Wise Ones couldn’t lead the spears to battle, to my understanding.

So, Sevanna as a Wise One was a corrupt “one” of “many.” Elaida as Amyrlin was corrupt, incompetent, dense, short-sighted, selfish, and just plain bad. As for the AS working to “resolve the split” again, yes, but via a type of “Civil War” as a mechanism. We don’t know what the Aiel would’ve done without Rand’s leadership, but then again, the Shaido (with the aid of the Meradin) probably wouldn’t have plundered through the Westlands if not for Rand being elected the Car’a’carn, either.

Chaplainchris1, sorry if it looks like I was picking on you. I do enjoy reading your points; I just respectfully disagree in this case.
lake sidey
138. lakesidey
@136&137 KiM : Heh it seems I just happen to teal your thunder all the time. We really do seem to think alike (even unto Ender references).

I can't remember as such, but were the AS at Dumai's Wells linked? If so it might explain how they were able to hold out as long as they did (not very long, actually, before the Shaido got taken from behind by first Perrin's folks and then Taim's).

Of course, it helps that they were defending - once you put up your large shields and stay behind them, you're cool till you get too tired to maintain them...especially since the Shaido can't just blow up the whole shebang - they want Rand alive! Defending is probably like locking your elbow when arm-wrestling, or like holding a narrow pass against several thousand Persians with just 300 Spartans...

P.S. If the AS did move in the direction Sam indicated, I can just see Nynaeve and Egwene 'accidentally' inventing the silicone implant, saidar version
'Mother, you're getting so thin - are you alright? Let me delve you....let's see what happens if I bridge this with a little water and fire?'
'...you might try a little bit of earth, perhaps add some sand? EEK!'
'....wow. How come you aren't falling over forward?'
'How am I going to explain this to Gawyn?'
'You won't need to, Mother. He won't object. Men!' sniffs. pulls braid.

@115 Wetlander: Hmm, I have a reputation for being scary as well. But possibly that is due to my day job as a maths teacher. Which ranks somewhere between torturer-using-figs-and-mice and black ajah for most of my students, apparently. Meh.

~lakesidey
Jonathan Levy
139. JonathanLevy
101. Isilel

Abrupt changes do happen. France in 1788 and France in 1794 were 2 drastically different countries and most unwritten rules went out of the window. Ditto Russia in 1914 and 1918. Reading the diaries... it was almost like a different planet. And change of an Age is a fitting point. So much was already changed, that it is a bit strange to view the worst AS customs as immutable.



Certainly, abrupt changes to happen. But the specific examples you've brought reinforce my point rather than undermining it. The French and Russian revolutions brought about a change in the method of government rather than a change in the habits and customs of a group of people. And even so, the change in government was accomplished by and large by replacing the existing elites with a new elite - usually after murdering the elites of the ancien regime. This is very different from what you're trying to accomplish in the Tower.

My point - which I should have stated with more precision - is that an ancient, unwritten, and almost unspoken custom like the power-based rankings is one of the most difficult things to consciously and deliberately change into something else that one has chosen. Often the change is impossible to make; sometimes you get something very unexpected and undesired. The French and Russian revolutions were supposed to set the people free, not spawn a bloody Terror or a Gulag. Consider also the efforts of Ataturk to create a new secular Turkey. He had all the power of a military dictatorship, and was able to push his reforms through - and yet two generations after his death, his accomplishments are being unravelled by a rising Islamism that no-one could foresee in 1921.

103. lakesidey

The reason being that, post-TG, with Saidin cleansed and a male channeler having (presumably) just saved the world, there will be no reason for the Tower (or the Hall of Servants) to remain closed to men. I wouldn't be very surprised if the Asha'man and AS don't end up forming a grey (or zebra-striped?) tower. This immediately raises two problems for the status quo: one, men and women can't sense each other's strengths (unless bonded) and hence would not be able to base their deference on this and two, on average, men are stronger in the one power (though women are more skillful). It is this latter point which makes me think that it would not be very difficult to make the AS change their power structure



Can you find one historical example in which two parallel power hierarchies willingly and voluntarily merged into one (as opposed to forming a union which preserves the existing structures)? Even the Ajahs which merged to form the White Tower maintained their internal hierarchies, and three thousand years later the tower split on the very fractures on which it had been glued together. The Orthodox Church has not merged with the Catholic. The Thirteen States did not dissolve into one nation, they maintained their separate identities within the Union. Belgium is still divided between the Waloons and the Flemings, Yugoslavia broke apart in a bloody civil war, Czechoslovakia split in two, and the fragmentation of the Soviet Union hardly needs to be mentioned. The Swiss Confederation still maintains the identities of the Cantons which originally merged.

A true merger can be accomplished by conquest (e.g. Wales, the Roman Empire), or when one of the hierarchies dissolves or is discredited (e.g. East Germany).

If the Black Tower fractures completely due to a civil conflict, then the remnants may flee to the White Tower (like the Asha'man who were afraid to return to the Tower, and allowed themselves to be Bonded). In this case, a place will be found for them, and they may eventually attain an equal status with the women. But if the Black Tower maintains its identity, then even the closest merger will maintain the existing structures. I doubt you'll ever see a man in charge of the Blue Ajah - you're more likely to get one or more separate Ajahs of men. The history of an organization has a powerful effect on its future development.


128. EvilMonkey
I'm quite willing to have the Amyrlin appoint ambassadors, delegate specific tasks, etc. But she does that already - no change is needed - and it works pretty well. But that's not the same as the Amyrlin appointing a standing committee to determine ranks/precedence which affect everyday conduct of all the Aes Sedai.

118. subwoofer
I know! The only reason I posted that was because I saw they were equal :)

121. Samadai
I thought of that myself but I wasn't going to say it!
Rob Munnelly
140. RobMRobM
@130 - finally, someone (Chris) mentioned Therava in a discussion of flaws in the WO's ranking systems. She, not Sevanna, is the true fly in the ointment for those touting the WO's system of elevating leaders. Powerful, nasty and especially honorlesss should not have gotten her qualified to head her clan's WOs in a well functioning selection system. I agree with those who have taken the position that all of the channeller leader selction systems are seriously flawed.

@138 - implants, LOL.

@139 - Agree with JL that the France and Russia examples were not as effective as Isilel's usual argument points for the reasons stated.

Looking forward to the new post - we're getting much more out of this than I would have expected.

Rob
Valentin M
141. ValMar
lakesidey @ 134

re: male AS forming their own org that survives to modern days as Manchester Utd- this can happen only if Taim wins ;) Obviously if the Black Tower splinters Logain's faction will survive as Manchester City!

re: WO vs AS organisation
The comparisons are interesting. I am leaning towards the chaplain's opinions.
But as far as one group adopting the others org, I believe this is pointless. The two groups are too different. Their roles and character etc, are incompatible, in general. "Wetlander" and Aiel societies are too different.
It may do the AS some good to borrow some of the WO's practices. But it will take more than that to significantly improve the WT. I think the AS shoild find their own solutions. But I'll leave this to Egwene the Omnipotent.
Jay Dauro
142. J.Dauro
Everyone seems to be commenting on Sevanna having rank as a Wise One. IIRC, she does not have rank as a Wise One, but as the wife of a Clan Chief who died (Suladric). She is treated as a Wise One for certain things, but as a Wise One, she does not outrank many other WO.

And this is a problem in the Aiel ranking. Although there is a selection process for Clan Chief, allowing the wife of a Dead Clan Chief to lead until a new Clan Chief has been selected and gone to the columns is the cause of the Sevanna problem.
Stefan Mitev
143. Bergmaniac
Good point. Sevanna became a leader not due to a problem with the WO ranking system, but due to completely different flaw in the Aiel customs. So whatever she did is no fault of the ranking system.

Therava would be a better example. But my memories on her are scethcy since the Shaido plotline bores me to tears, so I can't comment further on her.

I am not saying that the WO system is perfect. But at least it teaches each WO to stand up for what she believes in, and gives her a chance to earn enough respect among her peers to become a leader, unlike the Aes Sedai, where if you are weak, you are completely ignored and doomed to simper around the strong sisters.

One of the things which make the Aes Sedai system so stupid in my eyes is that they don't even use their channelling powers often and very rarely they need to channel to the limit of their ability. They are mostly politicians, researchers and healers, not soldiers or officers. They haven't been in a war in ages. So the channelling strength matters very little most of the time. Being stronger in the power doesn't make yu a better mediator and negotiator (for the Grays), or make you think more logically (for the Whites), etc. Yet they base their hierarchy on it. It's ridiculous. If they fought with the Power all the time, strength based hierarchy would still have been problematic, of course (best fighter and best leader are quite different things), but at least it would've been some justification. Now it makes no sense, especially for the Ajah outside of the Green and the Red.
James Jones
144. jamesedjones
142 J.Dauro
IIRC, she does not have rank as a Wise One, but as the wife of a Clan Chief who died (Suladric).

Kinda. Remember the WO policy is for a suitable apprentice to decide for themselves that they are a WO, and declare it.

When Sevanna did this, the other WOs made it official by accepting it, instead of shaming her and making her an apprentice (like the WOs of any other clan would have).
Benjamin Moldovan
145. benpmoldovan
After a lot of thought, I've come to the conclusion that the important thing is order, opposing the chaos brought about by the shadow. As many have said, no sytem is perfect, or ever will be. If a system more or less works for the people involved, don't seek to overthrow it. Not to say that you can't work within the system to effect positive changes. But you don't need to scrap it altogether.
Chris Chaplain
146. chaplainchris1
@142 J. Dauro - jamesdjones already answered this to an extent @144, but to add a bit: yes, Sevanna's position as 'speaking for the clan chief' is derived from her position as widow of the clan chief (first Suladric, and then Couladin). But she gained herself additional power by declaring herself a WO - among other things, making herself (at least until Dumai's Wells) sacrosanct in battle, so that she could stroll into the Aiel camp in Cairhien with impunity, something Couladin wouldn't have been able to do. "Our" WOs allowed her to steal this power, accepting her claims to the powers and privileges of a Wise One, even though they knew she'd never been to Rhuidean.

It's similar to Elayne's situation, having some of her rank through her position as Daughter-Heir and then Queen, but some through her position as Aes Sedai. But she didn't just name herself Aes Sedai - she was named so by the Amyrlin. Even then, many Aes Sedai didn't accept it - because no Aes Sedai is going to accept someone just "naming" herself one of them, the way the WOs accepted Sevanna.

Imagine how much later trouble would have been averted if, when Sevanna strolled into Cairhien in LOC, our WOs had said "nope, she ain't no WO - Maidens, take her into custody and give her to the Car'a'carn for punishment!" Bye bye, plotline of doom.

This is what Aes Sedai would have done to a pretender to that title, be she queen or clan chief.
Chris Chaplain
147. chaplainchris1
@134 lakesidey
Errr, the AS also didn't have a mechanism for stripping an AS (of her position, I meant! Pervs!). At least, until a few months ago when this lost Talent was rediscovered by Elaida Aes Sedai, Flame(ing idiot) of Tar Valon.
Um, yes they did. What do you think happened to Siuan and Leane? They were formally stripped of their position as Aes Sedai (and their other titles) as well as being stilled.

The crux of Egwene's finger-pointing at the Hall in Tar Valon, during TGS, is that they failed to act as a check on the Amyrlin's power in the way that they are meant to. The mechanisms were there - and the Hall did inflict some penance on Elaida - they just didn't follow through as they are meant to do. But in the WOs case, the mechanisms don't even exist for stripping a WO of her position in case of malfeasance.

@136 KiManiak, I see you, I hear you. You're correct, but misunderstanding what I was saying. No, an Amyrlin can't declare an Aes Sedai not an Aes Sedai. But the Hall of the Tower can hold a trial in the case of malfeasance, and women can be, and have been, stilled and stripped of their titles. Likewise, a woman who simply declares herself Aes Sedai will be dealt with rather harshly by the real Aes Sedai. If the WOs had a similar mechanism for dealing with a pretender like Sevanna, or a sadist and criminal like Therava, then much harm could have been averted.

I agree completely that, overall, the WO system works better...as I've said before, individuals are prepared and trained to a superior standard. But there is no ability to rein in a fractious individual, which means that there's nothing to stop the next Sevanna or Therava who comes along, as things stand now.

You also misunderstand my characterization of Amys and Sorilea's debate. To call it "political" does not mean I'm suggesting "backstabbing." Despite our world's politicians, the two need NOT go hand in hand. Politicking simply means, in this context, gathering support. The text describes WOs swirling around Amys and Sorilea as centers of two differing points of view. Each had people on her side. As you say, the two worked it out - but my point was, if they'd had to fight for the Cara'a'carn that first day, before they'd had a chance to talk and manuver and come to an agreement - would they have worked together? At that point, they'd have been in disagreement, and neither would have had the authority to overrule the other and get everyone to work together.

Boiling it down: the AS system is completely arbitrary and neglects merit, but has some mechanisms in place to mitigate these problems - via appointment to higher position by one's Ajah or by the Hall or Amyrlin, and likewise via punishment and penance imposed by these authorities when one transgresses. (As Elaida, in NS, does penance for abusing her position.)

The WO system rewards individual merit and strength of will, but has no mechanism in place to punish wrongdoing. Everyone is expected to police themselves via ji'e'toh, but when someone fails to do so, there is no fix.

By the way - when stating that Egwene has the right idea, I mean it. Egwene has no intention of absorbing the WOs - she just wants the organizations relating to each other and teaching each other. That's what I want, too. Each has its strengths and its separate goals - but each has a lot of good to offer to the others.

@138 - we're not told if the AS at Dumai's Wells were linked. I imagine there was some linking going on, but that there was also enough activity in enough different directions that they needed more than just a few big circles. From the description, though, the AS were more impressive than just hunkering down behind big shields. Many of the WO flame bursts and lightning bolts (you see, they did attack quite offensively) fizzled out before ever reaching any shield - as the weaves were presumably cut. By contrast, the Shaido were constantly having fireballs and lightning bolts blast them.

@139 - agreed that we're not going to see men merge into the White Tower. The guardians will balance the servants - sounds like parallel organizations, not a return to AOL standards of "we're all Aes Sedai".
FellKnight
148. MickeyDee
Chappers@36:

"Or maybe Nynaeve just breaks *angreal... the female Choedan Kal broke while she was using it..."

LOL - My mind went off on a tangent like this:

Queen Elayne: "Really Egwene you simply *must* try this new sa'angreal I made."

Nynaeve (which is Two-Rivers Elvish for "I break things") El Mandragoran: "Oh let me have a look first Elayne."

Queen Elayne + Egwene Al Vere (in chorus): "Nynaeve! Nooooooo!"

Nynaeve El Mandragoran: "Oooops! I'm sorry Elayne. Look let me just fix this.....Ooooops! Look at that. Now there's four pieces. Let me um, er, here you have it back."



What? You can't see the humour in this?

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