Jul 26 2011 2:04pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Knife of Dreams, Part 15

Knife of Dreams by Robert JordanSalaam and good day to you, worthy WOTlings! I bring you a Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 24 of Knife of Dreams, which is STUPID LONG, and in which we discuss conservation of royal asses, the aesthetics of villainy, and how I epically fail to correctly categorize certain brands of Awesome.

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

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

And now, the post!

Chapter 24: Honey in the Tea

What Happens
The first morning in Silviana’s study, Egwene tries to embrace the pain of her beating as the Aiel did, but though she accepts it, she can’t seem to welcome it like she is supposed to. Silviana is satisfied at her howling, and mentions that she’d confirmed that the other prisoner is indeed Leane Sharif, and that Egwene is free to visit her if she has time. Egwene leaves without curtsying, which earns her another visit to the study that night. She sees Alviarin outside and realizes the White sister is there for a penance herself, and wishes she knew why. At breakfast, the cafeteria full of novices falls silent when they see her, and one novice trips her. Egwene picks herself up calmly and asks for her name.

“Alvistere,” the young woman replied, her accent confirming her face. “Why do you want to know? So you can carry tales to Silviana? It will do you no good. Everyone will say they saw nothing.”

“A pity, that, Alvistere. You want to become Aes Sedai and give up the ability to lie, yet you want others to lie for you. Do you see any inconsistency in that?”

Alvistere’s face reddened. “Who are you to lecture me?”

“I am the Amyrlin Seat. A prisoner, but still the Amyrlin Seat.” Alvistere’s big eyes widened, and whispers buzzed through the room as Egwene walked on to the kitchen.

She eats without showing any signs of her pain, and accepts her hourly dose of weak forkroot tea without complaining before going to her first class. The teacher, an Accepted named Idrelle, attempts to humiliate Egwene by commanding her to form a ball of fire, thinking she would be too weak to channel, but Egwene divides the flows fourteen ways to create a complex kaleidoscope of balls and circles of flame. This earns her another trip to Silviana’s study; Katerine attempts to beat her when she refuses to run, but her other Red guard, Jezrail, chastises her for it. After two more classes that go much the same, Egwene is switched to having classes alone with various Aes Sedai.

Egwene knows the names of the Rebels’ “ferrets,” but not their faces, and dares not ask after them. She visits Leane as often as she can. Leane is being kept in relative comfort, and asks Egwene when they are escaping; Egwene explains that they aren’t, and tells her what “tidbits” to introduce into conversation with the sisters who come to see Leane, hoping to get the secret of Traveling out of her. Meanwhile Egwene is doing the same during her lessons, though her success varies sharply from sister to sister. Bennae Nalsad (Brown) concludes Egwene has little left to learn in terms of channeling, and instead quizzes her on history, asking her what mistakes Shein Chunla made that caused the Third War of Garen’s Wall. Egwene answers that Shein made no mistakes, as she was not allowed to make any decisions at all; it was the Hall, who had taken over in the face of Shein’s intractableness, who bungled things so thoroughly that eventually the rest of the Tower mutinied and pulled them all down, and later Shein was smothered in her bed. Astounded, Bennae declares she’s never heard of any of this, and Egwene tells her it’s all in the secret histories, in the Thirteenth Depository.

Secret histories? A thirteenth Depository? If such a thing existed, and I think I would know, why should you not have told me?”

“Because by law the existence of the secret histories as well as their contents can be known only to the Amyrlin, the Keeper, and the Sitters. Them and the librarians who keep the records, anyway. Even the law itself is part of the Thirteenth Depository, so I guess I shouldn’t have told that either. But if you can gain access somehow, or ask someone who knows and will tell you, you’ll find out I’m right. Six times in the history of the Tower, when the Amyrlin was dangerously divisive or dangerously incompetent and the Hall failed to act, sisters have risen up to remove her.” There. She could not have planted the seed deeper with a shovel. Or driven it home more bluntly with a hammer.

Bennae is thoughtful afterwards, but not all her attempts go as well. Pritalle Nerbaijan (Yellow) sends her to Silviana for pointing out that letting Elaida reduce Shermerin from Aes Sedai to Accepted is tantamount to granting her absolute power, and Serancha and Adelorna are worse. Silviana decides that Egwene will need Healing twice a day now.

She was fighting a war, not a single battle, and every time she was beaten, every time she was sent to Silviana, it was a sign that she had fought another battle and refused to yield. The pain was a badge of honor. She howled and kicked as hard as ever during that slippering, but while she was drying her cheeks afterward, she hummed quietly to herself. It was easy to welcome a badge of honor.

Nicola and Areina have been spreading tales of Egwene’s exploits among the novices, and at first many of them try to emulate her, but that soon stops, and instead the novices begin to come to her for advice and help with their lessons, and also for comfort from their fears. The Tower is changing, and the dead are often seen walking about, and Egwene is angered that no one else seems to have thought to reassure the novices’ fears about this. She also does many chores, and notes that Laras is indirectly protecting her when she works in the kitchens. When she works in the Accepted gallery she manages to indirectly assuage their nervousness as well. She also manages to overhear enough conversation among the sisters to know about the disastrous expedition against the Black Tower, and the aftermath of Dumai’s Wells, and although she is less than happy about Rand’s actions there, she makes comments when she can laying both catastrophes at Elaida’s feet.

On the second day of her captivity, Alviarin approaches her to suggest obliquely that if Egwene is looking for an avenue of escape, Alviarin might be able to help her. Egwene refuses, saying she is “content with [her] situation”. Alviarin is disbelieving of this, and continues to make the offer periodically in the days that follow. On the fourth day, she encounters Mattin Stepaneos, who insists on speaking to her in spite of his escort’s (a Red named Cariandre) attempts to dissuade him from speaking to a mere novice; he’s heard who she is, and that she grew up with Rand al’Thor. Egwene tells him he looks well for a kidnapping victim, and Mattin tells her Elaida saved him from al’Thor. Egwene asks why he would need protecting from Rand, and Mattin answers that he’s already killed Morgase and Colavaere, and supposedly poisoned numerous High Lords in Tear to boot.

“Colavaere hanged herself,” Egwene said, making sure she sounded patient. “The Sun Palace was damaged later by someone trying to kill the Dragon Reborn, maybe the Forsaken, and according to Elayne Trakand, her mother was murdered by Rahvin. Rand has announced his support for her claims to both the Lion Throne and the Sun Throne. He hasn’t killed any of the Cairhienin nobles rebelling against him, or the High Lords in rebellion. In fact, he named one of them his Steward in Tear.”

“I think that is quite —” Cariandre began, pulling her shawl up onto her shoulders, but Egwene went on right over her.

“Any sister could have told you all that. If she wanted to. If they were speaking to one another. Think why you see only Red sisters. Have you seen sisters of any two Ajahs speaking? You’ve been kidnapped and brought aboard a sinking ship.”

Egwene gets sent to Silviana again for that, but it is more than worth it for the thoughtful look on Mattin’s face. On the seventh day, she runs into Beonin, to her shock, and exclaims in outrage, so it was she who had betrayed her, and accuses her of being Black Ajah. Beonin insists that she betrayed nothing; once Egwene was captured, she ceased being Amyrlin, and so Beonin’s oath no longer held, and the rebellion is finished anyway. Egwene dryly observes that she protests too much, and points out that the rebellion is still going strong. She divines that Beonin betrayed the ferrets, and strongarms her into warning them that Elaida is having them watched. Beonin protests that sisters have been assaulted just for going too near another Ajah’s quarters, which appalls Egwene, but she insists, and also gives her instructions to help in her anti-Elaida campaign. Beonin agrees reluctantly, but also adds that she would enjoy seeing Elaida brought down. Egwene goes to visit Leane that night even though she is aching all over.

Strangely, she had not had one of those wretched headaches since being taken prisoner, nor any of those dark dreams that left her disturbed even though she could never remember them, but she thought she might be heading for a fine headache tonight. That would make telling true dreams difficult, and she had had some fine ones lately, about Rand, Mat, Perrin, even Gawyn, though most dreams of him were just that.

Egwene tells Leane about Beonin, and that she believes Beonin didn’t actually betray them. Leane agrees, but thinks Beonin had been a spy for Elaida all along, and probably didn’t get the reception she had hoped for when she returned, which would explain her last comment to Egwene. They don’t think Beonin taught Elaida Traveling, though, and agree that she can probably be trusted to a small extent. On the ninth day, Doesine (Sitter, Yellow) comes for her Healing, and comments that Egwene isn’t going to give up, is she.

“Should the Amyrlin Seat ever surrender?” Egwene asked as her head popped out at the top of her dress. She doubled her arms behind her to do up the buttons of white-dyed horn.

Doesine snorted again, though not in contempt. Egwene thought. “A brave course, child. Still, my wager is that Silviana will bloody well have you sitting straight and walking right before much longer.” But she left without calling Egwene down for naming herself the Amyrlin Seat.

After her morning punishment, she asks Silviana how Shemerin could be reduced to Accepted. Silviana tells her there’s a loophole in the law which technically allows it, but it wouldn’t have worked if Shemerin hadn’t accepted it; then she notices they are having an actual conversation, and ruefully sends Egwene out. When she enters the dining hall, all the novices suddenly stand, and one runs to fetch her meal. They do not sit until she does.

There was honey in the tea! Novices got honey only on special occasions. She tried not to smile as she cleaned her plate, and clean it she did, even picking up crumbs of bread and cheese with a dampened finger. Not smiling was difficult, though. First Doesine – a Sitter! – then Silviana’s resignation, now this. The two sisters were far more important than the novices or the honey, but they all indicated the same thing. She was winning her war.

And here we have the best chapter in this book; probably one of the better ones in the series, in my arrogant opinion. So perhaps it is ironic that I’m having so much trouble coming up with what I want to say about it.

Possibly this is because I know, deep in my brain somewhere, what this chapter is, structurally, but I can’t put my finger on it concretely enough to put a name to it. Seriously, I trawled through TV Tropes for like four hours (not that that’s hard) trying to find the right thing to call this, but none of the tropes I found were exactly right.

It’s not an Infiltration, because there’s no real subterfuge involved. It’s not I Surrender Suckers, because the whole point is that Egwene is refusing to surrender. It might be the Batman Gambit, but I’m not sure where the one fatal flaw might be (though Egwene’s later unwilling rescue by Siuan et al might count, now that I think about it). It’s a little bit of the Play-Along Prisoner or the Trojan Prisoner, but those are problematic in that they assume Egwene’s captors are her enemies, which they aren’t, really. The closest is probably an inverted version of Poisonous Captive, but… argh.

…And now that you’re back from the hours-long detour I no doubt just sent you on, I’ll continue!

Well, whatever this is, I really like it. Winning minds and hearts, building a cult of personality, cheering for the underdog, conducting a war of the mind, pick your clichéd phrase, it’s all here and I heart it. Or maybe it’s just that I like a character being totally awesome.

(No, you will, in fact, get NO work done today. Mwhahahaha!)

Basically this is where, after an often shaky previous track record, Egwene suddenly became one of the most awesome characters in WOT, and has not stopped or slowed in her pursuit of the title of Most Awesome Character in WOT since. Aw, yeah.

This chapter loomed so large in my memory of KOD, in fact, that I later assumed Egwene had had a huge role in the book, when in fact this is the only chapter in which she appears. Granted, I’m pretty sure this is also the longest chapter in the book (though I’m sure as hell not going to check), so there’s that, but still.

So, in conclusion, Egwene rocks. Yay!

Thirteenth Depository: in the ongoing parallelism of the Tower with the Roman Catholic Church, this is a reference to the Vatican Secret Archives, which up until recently (1881, which totally counts as “recently” when you’re as old as the RCC) was forbidden to outsiders, and, of course, contains records of the Church’s less than exemplary behavior over the centuries as well as all the nicer stuff. I have no point to make here, I just think it’s neat.

Beonin: This re-read is actually only the third-ish time I’ve ever read KOD (“-ish,” because the second time was a hasty pre-TGS skim that probably shouldn’t count), and it’s only now that I’m finally getting what Beonin’s deal is. Which is, not Black Ajah, not Egwene’s betrayer (not re: the kidnapping, anyway), but WAS a mole for Elaida. I’m really not sure why I found that so difficult to parse the first two times, but maybe I was just reading too fast. Or, I didn’t care. Which is, uh, a distinct possibility.

I did, however, catch that Egwene and Leane were mistaken about Beonin not giving up Traveling. Their mistake there was to assume Elaida wouldn’t hog that one for herself. Because Elaida is a dumbass. And we all know what the eventual result of that is. Beonin deserves to be kicked from here to Shara for that alone, if you ask me.

Alviarin: How the mighty have fallen, you guys. I once had so much respect for Alviarin as a villain, and now she’s reduced to hovering around Egwene and just hoping Egwene’ll take her up on the escape offer. The Alviarin of yore would have found a way to make Egwene take it, by gum.

…Not that I’m complaining that she can’t, exactly, but, uh. You know. It’s just kind of sad from a purely aesthetic standpoint. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but I hope she has a more appropriate (bad) end in store for her than to just… fade out, like she has as of ToM. (I know she was involved in the attack on the Tower in TGS, but she can’t have done anything terribly effective and/or interesting, because I couldn’t tell you what she did if my life depended on it. Which totally clinches the matter, of course!)

Stepaneos: While I really liked his interaction with Egwene here (mainly because it gave Egwene yet another chance to be Awesome), I still don’t know why we need him here. Or, indeed, anywhere. I mean, not that I wish him dead or anything, he seems like a perfectly nice person, as puffed-up royal twats go, but… eh.

Well, on further thought, maybe he does need to be here, since I honestly don’t see Rand settling down to rule Illian after Tarmon Gai’don even if he does survive it in a non-Avalon kind of way (which is looking problematic, Prophecies-wise). I definitely see Rand pulling a J.D. Salinger if he makes it past the apocalypse (I mean, hell, wouldn’t you?), so maybe it’s nice that we have a convenient previous seat-warmer for that particular throne stashed away, n’est-ce pas?

Dreams: Egwene mentions here that now that she is mysteriously migraine-free again (*rolls eyes*), she’s been having more true dreams about the Superboys (and Gawyn, blah whatev). And now inquiring (and forgetful) minds would like to know if we’ve heard about any of these new Dreams in any kind of detail since then. Because if we have, hell if I can remember. But I is very curious!

Also, I really use a lot of parenthetical asides, don’t I? (I would say I’ll work on that, but who am I kidding, really.)

So, bye for now, Egwene! See you for a metric fuckton more of Awesomeness in TGS! We out!

Daniel Smith
1. Smittyphi
I, too, thought Egwene had a bigger part in this book. No matter, she is awesome. This is Egwene's best storyline for me.
F Shelley
2. FSS
I think Egwene starts to get interesting in this chapter because it really shows her as the person she is starting to become.

What I mean is: I used to dislike Egwene in part because she had an issue with self-identifying with whomever she was with at that time.

First - farm-girl
Second - Tinker
Third - Mini-Moiraine
Fourth - Mini-generic Aes Sedai
Fifth - Mini-Moiraine (again)
Sixth - Mini-Aiel
Seventh - Mini-Suian Sanche

Here she starts showing her true self, which appears to be reflection of the White Tower's ideals, which are not bad ideals.
3. BFG
To an extent I'll agree that Egwene is pretty cool from here on out (although I did like it when she started to 'deal' with Nyn by ignoring her tantrums). But the fact that when it comes to working with other female channelers she's brilliant, her way of dealing with men still sucks (and the one makes the other worse). Having said that we haven't seen her dealing with any men since Gawyn rescued her in ToM so maybe she's learned that men sometimes do have worthwhile things to say :) How she deals with Matt will clinch it for me.

(Imagine this in a whisper) And dare I say it, the content of the chapter is brilliant, the structure in terms of time jumping around could maybe do with a little work?
Birgit F
4. birgit
Can't Siuan show Eg the faces of the ferrets in TAR?

Mattin's capture by Elaida is foreshadowing of the reappearance of Alsalam.
Tricia Irish
5. Tektonica
Hi Leigh! Once again you made me LOL with your comment about Martin Stepaneos there at the end.

Although Egs was certainly awesome killing flying monkeys (Raken) in TGS, peronally, this is my fave Egs chapter....... True character development combined with major subversion, to achieve the desired result peacefully.
6. AndrewB
Birgit @4 -- How is Mattin's capture by Elaida foreshadowing of the reappearance of Alsalam? After I read this chapter the first time, I did not immediately think that Alsalam had also been kidnapped by Elaida. If I had thought about Alsalam (because honestly I did not give two figs about him), I would have thought Alsalam would have been one of Graendal's pretties.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Jeff Weston
7. JWezy
I find that my perception of Egwene's awsomeness is directly affected by her interaction with the other Emond's Fielders. When she is dealing with anyone else, she is typically pretty awsome (although, as Leigh has pointed out, a bit "ooh! ooh! Mr. Kotter!" at times). When she has to deal with any of Rand, Mat, or (to a somewhat lesser degree) Perrin, she is condecending and pushy, if not downright rude. And Nynaeve seems to bring out a competitive streak in her that causes her to go for the low blow.

She certainly does a great deal of growing in the course of the story, but I can't help but think that she is still very insecure about her origins, and feels the need to distance herself from them.

Thought experiment - does this effect maximize when there are other (non-Emond's Fielders) around? Is it really just that she doesn't want to be seen as coming from this little flyspeck of a village?

Oh, and for the record, I am a fan of Egwene. Just not all the time. Pretty much like most people.

Tricia Irish
8. Tektonica
And....why did Elaida kidnap Martin Stepaneos? What was the purpose of that? IIRC, that was before Rand killed Sammael too. This never did make a lot of sense to me.

Isn't Amalasan one of Grendals' pets? Or dead?
Billy Abbey
9. felix
I always felt that Eg's actions were more in line with civil disobedience. She will now be known as Eghandhi.
Billy Abbey
10. felix
@8 The AS snatched up Amalasan, but they got stuck on the journey back to the Tower.
11. SlappytheClown
I've been re-reading the series in ebook form during the wait for AMoL and I think I've finally found what has been annoying me about Egwene, almost from her introduction. It can be summed up in one word:


Every time she (or any other character, but she seems to be the one speaking when I catch it most) says that word, I want to reach into the book and smack her.

The biggest one came in ToM when Egwene explains to Elayne and Nynaeve that "Surely" he doesn't have to break the seals to defeat the Dark one. It's not as if she has a better solution, or even a more-than-basic understanding of what the prophecies say. It's pure "I know better then him because I'm the leader of all these people now and he's just a trumped up farm-boy." Even writing that line makes me grind my teeth.

I really hope AMoL opens with all those armies supposedly organized by Egwene to oppose Rand revealing that they actually came to support him, ala Perrin. Maybe that would re-open Egwene's eyes re: how much she knows about what is actually happening.
Hugh Arai
12. HArai
Jwezy@7: I don't think she's insecure about her origins so much as she hasn't really outgrown them. She still treats men, especially Rand, Mat and Perrin the way she grew up seeing them treated by her role model Nynaeve - as (more or less well-meaning) inferiors to be manipulated, told what to do and occasionally beaten about with sticks.

This chapter shows she's come a long long way with female channelers since she first met Moiraine. But as BFG@3 says, that just highlights how much she hasn't grown in other ways. Much the same way that everything Rand has accomplished so far only highlights the fact that he still hasn't fully internalized being the Dragon Reborn and it's driving him into the dark.
Kimani Rogers
13. KiManiak
Thanks as always, Leigh.

This is definitely one of my favorite chapters of this book, as well. Which was saying a lot, as it was an Egwene chapter. But, this is where Egwene’s intelligence, self-discipline, unshakable-worldview, and arrogance come across as impressive and laudable, instead of annoying and irritating (although there’s some of that in this chapter, too). Egwene did indeed enter the realm of Awesome, here. Although I disagree about her remaining there (but we can wait til ToM to discuss, if you’d prefer…)

Oh, and Leigh, thanks a lot (said with lots of sarcasm) for the links to all the tropes. I barely escaped those time sucking vortexes :-)

But, you want to kick Beonin “from here to Shara” for following the order of the Amyrlin she served, and not lay any additional blame on Egwene or Leane for making an erroneous assumption (instead of just asking the darn question) or lay blame on “dumbass” Elaida for being such a *@#$ that she’d hog certain weaves only for herself and her posse but then be so weak-willed as to give it up to the Seanchan oh so easily? I think the kicks could be spread around.

BFG@3 – Some good points about Egwene and her dealings with men. That is rarely a strong point with AS anyway, but it is fairly noticeable with Egwene and 2 of the 3 men we see her deal with onscreen in KoD, TGS and ToM (Gawyn and Rand; although she has no problems ordering Gareth Bryne around if I remember correctly).

She better rethink her approach with Mat. He showed her respect in LoC due to his loyalty to 2 Rivers folks, but I don’t think he’ll blindly follow her orders if he doesn’t think they make sense.

JWezy@7 – Interesting assessments re: Egs and her dealing with her fellow 2R folks. To my perspective, it may not be so much insecurity (although that may play a role) as it is a lack of (or displaced) loyalty.

The other 2R folks (Rand, Mat, Perrin and Nynaeve) continuously show a strong sense of loyalty first and foremost to the friends they grew up with, despite their own individual challenges and experiences.

Egs main loyalty is to the Tower (and to any stature, growth and development associated with that) first and foremost. It comes across as Awesome here and in TGS, but it makes her seem lacking (in my opinion) in the other books.
Jeff Weston
14. JWezy
SlappyTheClown@11: "I do have to break the seals. And don't call me Shirley".
Don Barkauskas
15. bad_platypus
My single favorite chapter in all of WoT (although the "Wayback machine" and "Wayforward machine" chapters come close). When KoD came out, I must have re-read this chapter by itself at least a dozen times.

JWezy @14: Roger!
16. Lsana

I'm with you that this chapter is really the first place where we see the real Egwene as opposed to the "ooh, ooh" girl who was trying to be first Nynaeve, then Moiraine, then Amys, then Suian. Egwene is finally in a place where she has to stand completely on her own, and she does very well. She takes the lessons her mentors have taught her, but makes them her own. She starts to become an adult here.


I also believe that Egwene fell out of awesome, though I think she fell out in TGS rather than ToM. We'll talk about it when we get there.
17. BFG
KiManiak @13 - Agree completely with your first paragraph.

When it's just Egwene and the AS she's brilliant. And I think HArai @12 may have the right reasoning behind her dealings with the TR folk. I suppose that Gawyn isn't typical because she loves him and so prob can't see him clearly. But equally well within the tower there aren't any (what I'd call) 'master plotters' - she doesn't have a Cadsuane to deal with (that will be an interesting meeting!)

I may have to revise my earlier opinion and go so far as to say that she exhibits blind stupidity when dealing with TR folk.

And yet, I have to say this is one of my favourite chapters, I love that she relies on brains (and clearly has them) and not brawn while taking forkroot.
18. deBebbler
Metric fuckton, lol.

Almost as fun as reading this chapter itself. Great post, Leigh!
Abhijit Srivastava
19. abhi_sedai
Kidnapping Mattin was Elaida's way of demonstrating her power. In one of the rare Elaida POVs from KOD "Kidnapping the King of Illian had been meant to demonstrate her power,but restoring him to a stolen throne would demonstrate it even further. She would rebuild the full glory of the White Tower at its highest, the days when thrones trembled if the Amyrlin Seat frowned.".

About Egwene and her dealings with her friends, viz. Rand, Mat, Perrin. To various degrees she has been guilty of underestimating them and has been rudely disabused of the same. With Rand when she awas trying to provoke him to do something with the power in TSR and with Perrin in TOM.
Antoni Ivanov
20. tonka
@17. BFG
Oh please stop that. Even Brandon Sanderson told us that Egwene was not going to leave Perrin hanging there but was going to get him to safety after she ties him up. Not that you should need anyone telling you that. It's preposterous to think that Egwene was going to leave him there in the middle of a battle.
Abhijit Srivastava
21. abhi_sedai
Tonka@20: Do you have any link or reference where this was mentioned. I haven't had a chance to look this up yet. Will appreciate it a lot.

Edit: To correct the post#.
Kimani Rogers
22. KiManiak
“A pity, that, Alvistere. You want to become Aes Sedai and give up the ability to lie, yet you want others to lie for you. Do you see any inconsistency in that?”

I always find that comment made by Egwene amusing. Aes Sedai often are deceptive and duplicitous; known to “stand the truth on its head” as I believe at least one character in WoT has observed.

So, do you think Egwene was chastising Alvistere just because she was attempting such an obvious lie, as opposed to a creative use of word play? Kind of a “never go for the obvious response; be more clever in your planned deception” type of rebuke? Because she couldn’t seriously believe that its “un-Aes Sedai” to allow an untruth to be accepted as fact.

Or, maybe she was just mad that she got tripped by a Novice and had to think of the best comeback she could to save face…
John Mann
23. jcmnyu
@20 Tonka

My impression always was that Egwene was carrying around the idiot ball so that Perrin could show his awesomeness. She clearly doesn't have a clue about the wolf dream, so she thinks he is in over his head. There are hundreds of better choices she could have made to get Perrin away and safe. None of them start with tying him up with rope. It was a ridiculous choice to make. Personally I think it was a bad choice by the author as it left many, including me, thinking Egwene was putting Perrin at great risk.

Edited to correct reference number
Jonah Feldman
24. relogical
Leigh, I'm pretty sure there are UN regulations about how many TVTropes links you can use in one place. Enjoy your war crimes trial.
25. Mike in N-ville

This may be the trope you are looking forward - basically the opposite of Stockholm Syndrome.
Kimani Rogers
26. KiManiak
tonka@20 & abhi@21 - I believe the quote Tonka is referring to can be found here (look at item 3 under “Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers): http://www.theoryland.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=124754#poststop

Not that I think we should argue against the word of Team Jordan (okay, it looks like I’m going to kinda do that, anyway), but I don’t understand how tying someone up facilitates travel in T’A’R. You tie someone up when you want to restrain or confine them, not move them.

Whatever the intent, this reads as Egwene acting like she knows best, completely underestimating her friend, pulling a bonehead move (tying Perrin up in the middle of a freaking firefight), and then being properly shown up by Perrin (first with the ropes, second with the balefire), accordingly. It just makes her look bad, IMO.

Edit: Ok, basically what jcmnyu@23 said :-)
Jose Mendoza
27. xolotl
jcmnyu @23

I agree, Eg dealing with TR guys is...crazy! Mat and Perrin have shown that they can more than handle anything thrown at then but Eg seems to think that she needs to be above them and talk down to them. Even Ny has figured out that it isn't 12 books ago, and she isn't the Wisdom in charge of smaking them when they get out of line any more.

With Rand it is even bigger, he has conqured half the land they live in and still she doesn't think that he knows what he is doing.

Also, people compare her to Moraine (FSS @2) but she was able to see the error in her ways re Rand and adjust them.

El was able to see that Mat and Perrin wasn't just some guy who was friend to Rand and work with them to everyones advantage.

Also, this chapter doesn't see to me to be anything that couldn't have been done by any of the Super Girls (or some of the other AS) because the WT was falling apart. I think this chapter shows more that her side was right than she was awesome.
Stefan Mitev
28. Bergmaniac
Seems like I am the only one who never cared for this chapter much. Egwene's sudden mastery of pain seems to come out of nowhere (she was b eaten once by the Aiel and now she's an expert on embracing pain), and I just can't get over how utterly moronic Elaida behaves here. After all, she knows from beonin that Egwene can communicate with the rebels through TAR. So even if she gets close to being broken by the ebating and the menial tasks, all she ahs to do is to contact the rebels and say "Get me oout of here", which would be easily done with gateways given that she's barely guarded.All that is a bit too much for my suspension of disbelief.
Richard Chapling
29. Chappers
Leigh, shouldn't that be a "metric fucktonne"? Although that does look a bit odd now I've typed it...

And for future reference, the inevitable wiki has a list of PoV lengths, which far less than 4 hours of arithmetic will turn into some chapter lengths. Indeed, no other chapter is close to the length of this one.

Because Elaida is a dumbass.

That's basically half of this plotline, isn't it? (The other half being Egwene's MoAs, obviously.)
Abhijit Srivastava
30. abhi_sedai
Thanks for that. Btw coming back to your question on Egwene admonishing the novice. It is an intriguing thought. I believe she was simply trying to impress upon Alvistere the ideal of what a Aes Sedai is supposed to be. Egwene is someone who has had a chance to see the criticism of Aes Sedai by people whom she trusts viz. the Aiel WOs and has learnt more about honour and being truthful. Hence I expect her statement to be exactly what she says it is, that Alvistere needs to be truthful literally and in spirit of the oaths she is to take.

I do believe that the changes we have seen with the Aes Sedai till now, esp. as seen with respect to the Aiel WO and the Windfinders will force them to introspect more (Egwene in her agreement with them in TOM has asked them to send them their best, this does not necessarily mean best in terms of strength. Aiel WO and WF have a different yardstick by which to judge worth. Hopefully this introspection can even allow them to review the flawed method of judging rank by strength in the OP. Nynaeve too makes a reference to it when speaking to Daigian.
Anthony Pero
31. anthonypero
I loved this chapter too... I just wish it wasn't a "chapter", but a plot thread spread through out the whole book. The chapter could have been broken up and put in with other tower chapters.
Anthony Pero
32. anthonypero
Oh, and RE: Egwene.

She's 20 years old.

Let me repeat.

She's 20 years old.

Angry Critic #1: But she's the Amyrlin Seat!

She wasn't chosen to be the Amyrlin Seat because whe was wise, or had earned it. She was chosen as a sacrificial lamb.

Angry Critic #2: But, but, the way she treats Rand and Perrin and Matt after everything they've accomplished!

Most of it she doesn't know about. What she did experience first hand... Rand didn't really know what he was doing. He was acting on instinct most of the time. She feels the Amyrlin's reponsibility is to guide the Dragon so he causes as little damage as possible as he saves the world. And all she knows is 16 years of a woolhead from TR, two years of someone who seemed to be going crazy, and 2 years of a man she may not even know at all.

Is it frustrating? Sure it is. It's frustrating when my kids act like... well, kids. I get frustrated. I get ustrated at Egwene, too, but I don't expect her to act like a 40 year old Aes Sedai who was raised in a palace in the line of succesion, either.
Alan Courchene
33. Majicou
I'm hoping that the disagreement between Egwene and Rand re: breaking the seals is all part of Rand's plan that hasn't paid off yet. I was frustrated when he went to the Hall and declared his intentions with little-to-no explanation--Poor Communication Kills, Rand!--but after he returns, he tells Min "I've poured hot oil into the White Tower," which implies it was all deliberate for reasons yet unspecified. He's become crazy chessmaster (sha'rah master?) man, and the near-total lack of POV from him in ToM was (artfully) frustrating.
34. Lsana
@22, 30,

On Eg's admonition of the novice, I see two possible explanations for this:

1) Egwene is still in her "to be trusted you must be trustworthy" phase, and part of that is the recognition that asking others to lie for you is as bad as lying yourself (or for that matter deliberately misleading).

2) Egwene has hook-line-and-sinker bought into the whole "the Oath rod make us not lie" propaganda and no longer believes that Aes Sedai word play IS lying. Therefore, the whole "an Aes Sedai always tells the truth" thing is true from her point of view.

I want to belive (1). I really want to believe. Unfortunately, I think (2) is more in line with her later behavior. But for right now, I'd prefer to focus on how cool she is in this chapter and not worry about the disappointment that will come later.


However old she is, for whatever reason she was chosen, Egwene is the Amyrlin seat. She will be making choices that are literally life-and-death for thousands of people. She cannot be cut a break because she's young. It may be unfair, but it's also unfair to ask someone to die because the girl Amyrlin screwed up.
Paul Boulos
35. PaulieX
@33 Majicou - great point. I agree with you that Rand has a plan for the White Tower. I think his perspective from his previous lives has made him a formidable strategizer and this was just one more move in his master plan...I hope.
Jay Dauro
36. J.Dauro
abhi_sedai @21

Great reference (by Terez), when you are trying to find what RJ or Brandon has said on a subject.


anthonypero @32

Yes, I like Egwene here. Later, I will get a bit more peeved with her (and I have been in the past.) She has had a lot of training (from Suian) about the pitfalls of being Amyrlin, and mistakes past Amyrlins have made. I expect better from her. (Ok, not really, but I do hope for better from her.)

AndrewB @6

Just because we don't catch it doesn't mean it wasn't foreshadowing.
No I didn't catch that Amsalam might have been kidnapped. We do see Elaida has kidnapped at least one ruler, and attempted to kidnap others (Tenobia.) But heck, if you catch all of the foreshadowing, there won't be any surprises left. I like to be able to slap my forehead and say "Doh!, how did I miss that?"
John Massey
37. subwoofer
I dunno, this chapter was er... interesting. What especially grabbed my attention was the bare bum spankings that were fairly graphically described:P

*runs for bunker*

John Massey
38. subwoofer
@Berg, nopers, you are not alone, I could barely stomach this chapter as well. Mostly because after about a paragraph or two of reading about Elaida I flew into a rage about how blind the rest of the Hall and sisters could be to let such a big pile of blundering doof run about unfettered. Siuan was pulled down for less, geeze!

And then on top of that we have Eggs, using psychological warfare on the "unsuspecting" Aes Sedai. Holy Cow! I could see this coming a mile off, any sister with her head not up her hiney should see that and perhaps call Eggs on it. I'm not saying it was not needed to be done, but it was glaringly obvious. Number one rule in Randland- people are really shitty at communicating with each other- this is a case in point, lucky for Egwene.

The Novices- baaaaaa, sheep, we got sheep.

Egwene- seems like she aged a year with each spanking. At the end of the week we got her pegged at close to 90.

Paul Boulos
39. PaulieX
Woof @ 37 - I don't get it...is there something wrong with using spanking as a form of punishment? I'm thinking it's a perfectly acceptable way to reform the ways of some of the most powerful women in the world. I mean, who could find anything wrong with it? (please note extreme sarcasm)
40. Freelancer

I would say that there is no appropriate TV Trope for Egwene's behavior, because it is unvarnished, undisguised, unambiguous honesty and integrity. Since that is beyond rare in the world of media as a method of getting your way, there is no available frame of reference which the Tropes might have documented. Tell the absolute truth; no equivocation, no prevarication, no concern for the consequences. It's so crazy, it just might work!

KiManiaK @22

Egwene isn't here interested in saving face. By the definition of the term, she has no "face" within the Tower. She is interested in being seen as the Amyrlin, and so her chastisement of Alvistere is based on that girl's direct statement of having others lie for her, something she wouldn't dare say to the Amyrlin, and how any Amyrlin would respond to such a statement.
Tricia Irish
41. Tektonica

Thanks for the quote, as I am not rereading this book for the upteenth time...I'm just enjoying Leigh's reread.

I still think this is a typical dumb-ass move on Elaida's part. Capturing Martin is lame, indeed. Her thinking is so pitifully small and warped. Capturing a KING to show how powerful she is?? How wise! But then, we all know it's All About Her! Such narrow thinking.
William Fettes
42. Wolfmage
Count me down as someone who enjoyed this chapter as a memorable part of Egwene’s journey to ascendency, albeit with the heavy qualification that I certainly don’t accept that Egwene is consistently awesome moving forward.

It’s great that we finally get a chance to see Egwene growing and being effective in a context that isn’t a zero sum exchange with her friends. Having her effectiveness shown convincingly is also a nice change from the previous pattern of other characters giving her uber praise as a pupil in lieu of actual accomplishments for team light. It’s particularly nice to see her using Siuan’s gift of the secret history to good effect here.

Now, her ostentatious shtick about the spirit of Tower and the Aes Sedai can still be a little grating, but hey at least it’s a big improvement on what has gone before, and at least here, it’s not so central to her viewpoint that I find it crowds out the other good stuff.

subwoofer @ 38

Yes, the Hall and associated powerbrokers are guilty of criminal negligence here by allowing Elaida's leadership to continue. And you’re absolutely right to draw attention to Siuan’s “crimes” being an order of magnitude lesser than even one of Elaida's many epic stuff-ups. Perhaps the civil war is giving them pause, but I still think they're complicit.
Roger Powell
43. forkroot
Mostly because after about a paragraph or two of reading about Elaida I flew into a rage about how blind the rest of the Hall and sisters could be to let such a big pile of blundering doof run about unfettered. Siuan was pulled down for less, geeze!
Siuan was pulled down with the active involvement of the Black Ajah. Incompetent Elaida was propped up by the BA for the same reason -- it's all part of Mesaana's plan to weaken the WT prior to TG.
John Massey
44. subwoofer
@Fork- is this what we call tyranny of the minority? BA is supposedly only 20% of the sisters, so 80% of the Aes Sedai are being highly influenced or willfully ignorant of what is going on around them.

And as we see Alviarin is no longer the Keeper, so what else is propping Elaida up? The sister debacle with the Black Tower, the Well's incident, the giant honking Ode to Elaida being built right beside the Tower, the seige... the BA must have mad skills at spin control here cause as Amyrlin's go, Elaida- professional goat blower.

Alice Arneson
45. Wetlandernw
Advance apologies for the wot - I've been trying to finish and post for 7 hours now, but life keeps getting in the way, and then there are more comments to read!

AndrewB @6 (and others) - In ToM, Rand is told (presumably by letter from Verin) that Stepaneos is in the WT; this gives him the notion that Alsalam, like Mattin Stepaneos, may have been kidnapped by the TAS. (Hence the foreshadowing.) He sends Cadsuane to find them where they had been caught by winter. She returns to Rand with Alsalam in ToM Chapter 32, "A Storm of Light." Graendal never had Alsalam at all; we (and, previously, Rand) just thought she did.

JWezy @7, and many who have expressed similar (or stronger) sentiments - Once again, RJ has created a realistic characterization. It's quite common for people to hold on to their original attitudes & relationships with people they've known all their lives, even though they learn to interact differently with others as they mature. In this case, Egwene knows she's changed dramatically from the kid she was just a couple of years ago, but in that time, she hasn't had much interaction with most of the rest of the people she grew up with.

(The exceptions: She spent enough time in contact with Nynaeve that they have some semblance of understanding; other than that, she's had to deal with the girls from Emonds Field, who refused to believe she was really the Amyrlin and tried to treat her like "the old Egwene" until she had to put them down fairly strongly. She had one brief contact with Mat, in which he treated her like "the old Egwene" until he recognized the position she was in, at which point he did the "exaggerated respect" scene. Most of us liked it, and Egwene even appreciated it, but it was more an example of Two-Rivers loyalty than actual respect for her position or personal growth.)

Given the limited nature of the exceptions, it's very humanly understandable that Egwene wouldn't really expect the other Two Rivers kids to have experienced the level of forced maturing she has had. If you don't know you're all in a fantasy, why would you assume that everyone else has faced similarly crazy situations and has grown just as much as you? We know they've all had crazy lives for the last two years, and have changed and grown in many ways, but Egwene a) hasn't seen it and b) has been a little too busy to think hard about it. It's perfectly reasonable that she thinks of them as the way they were last time she saw them and deals with them as such. (anthony already said a lot of this @32.)

The other factor, of course, is that people simply don't change in all ways at the same time. Most people aren't uniform in their maturation; we "grow up" in one area but not another, at any given time. If Egwene were to become perfectly mature in her interactions with all people at the ripe old age of 19, she wouldn't be a believable person - and, in fact, it would make her so unrealistic that her MOAs would be dull expectations instead of exciting surprises.

Speaking only for myself, the thrill of this chapter is in part because she's not perfect, and is still immature in some ways. Under massive stress, she looks to the people she's seen handle the greatest adversity with the greatest dignity - the Aiel. (I'm not saying they're the epitomy for everyone - just that in her experience they stand out.) They, and particularly Aviendha, had given her the concept of embracing pain, but she hadn't really learned it there. In the hardest times of her young life, now, she seeks the only solution she can find to cope with the combined stresses of physical humiliation and crucial responsibility. Someone grumbled that her mastery of pain seemed to come out of nowhere, but if you go back and read the chapter, it actually comes with great difficulty, not to mention a fair number of tears. Before she finally reaches the point where she can really embrace the pain, she has had 8 days of repeated beatings, requiring Healing twice a day in order to carry out her duties. She started out commited to her position and the restoration of the Tower, but it's the shock and sorrow over what she really finds there that enables her first to accept, and then to embrace her beatings as the means by which she will effect the changes that are her responsibility as the true Amyrlin.

To me, this is a goose-bump-inducing Chapter of Awesome, and it is not made less so by the fact that she later demonstrates that she's not perfect yet. If anything, that makes it better; she's still only 19, and of course there are still things she needs to learn, but right here? Here, she's a conqueror.

@several, and quoting KiManiak @13 re: Egwene's characteristics here "...come across as impressive and laudable, instead of annoying and irritating." Isn't that the way people are, though? Their major characteristics are strengths in one situation and apparent weaknesses in another. When we want the kid to stop something, we call him stubborn; when we're proud of a difficult acheivement we call him tenacious - but it's the same basic characteristic. Here, Egwene's self-discipline and unshakable commitment to being the Amyrlin Seat are "impressive and laudable" - but it's that same self-discipline and unshakable commitment that drives her to require Nynaeve to treat her as Amyrlin rather than "old friend and would-have-been apprentice" in the scene which has angered so many readers.

Bermaniac @28 - Seems like I am the only one who never cared for this chapter much. Remind me - what chapters do you care for? I don't recall much evidence of enjoyment in your comments so far.

anthony @32 - I know I repeated a lot of what you said, but in my defense I'd already written it and been distracted from posting by... life. :)

Lsana @34 - I think Egwene is actually in both of your categories, in a way - or in a third. She truly believes that in order to be trusted, you must be trustworthy, but that doesn't mean she won’t do a little creative wordplay in order to get the necessary result. The difference between Egwene and some other AS is that she really doesn't do any of it for personal benefit. However aggravating her "I know best" attitude may be, her purpose is always the defeat of the DO and the preservation of the greatest number of lives. Any given reader may disagree with her perceived priorities in pursuit of that purpose, but she's not after self-aggrandizement (unlike a certain other claimant to the Seat). Some find it frustrating that she assumes the WT is central to that purpose, and criticize her methods and actions (especially in ToM). In all fairness, though, once she is made Amyrlin, I don't recall any serious situation in which she either deceives, misleads or omits information out of a desire to appear mysterious and Aes-Sedai-y. There are occasions on which she does any or all of those, but she does it with the best of intentions.

And yes, good intentions sometimes have bad results, but every one of us has to make the best decisions we can with what we know. When Egwene must make life-and-death decisions, you can bet she'll feel the consequences of them in her soul and would not ask for a break because of her youth. On the other hand, there's no guarantee that someone older would make better decisions; take a look at the current wearer of the stole. Taken all together, I'd rather those decisions were made by a girl who is determined to make the WT effective against the DO, and has surrounded herself with the best advisors she could, than by an older woman who is determined to make everyone in the world bow to her personally. Tektonica @41 makes a case in point...

Freelancer @40 - I would tend to agree with your analysis; telling the unequivocal truth is not generally considered the best way to win friends and influence people. Especially by Hollywood.
William Fettes
46. Wolfmage
Wetlandernw @ 45

"She had one brief contact with Mat, in which he treated her like "the old Egwene" until he recognized the position she was in, at which point he did the "exaggerated respect" scene. Most of us liked it, and Egwene even appreciated it, but it was more an example of Two-Rivers loyalty than actual respect for her position or personal growth.)"

I would be more generous to Mat at both ends of that encounter. Despite his cad-like behaviour, Mat is absolutely right in his diagnosis of the precarious nature of the Rebel camp when he arrives. And, by the time he incredulously finds out that it is Egwene who has been raised as the Rebel Amyrlin, he immediately understands that she has been caught up in a dangerous gambit by Aes Sedai powerbrokers. As their political puppet, Egwene faces non-trivial dangers to her life if the rebellion falters or fails, so his sense of urgency to “save her from the bootmaker” is pretty well founded. Naturally, he chooses to express all this in the most offensive and least constructive manner possible, and he fails to appreciate that Egwene is more than a passive pawn in this process. However, neither is she yet playing the ninth-dimensional chess that she is doing in this chapter. She freely admits to the Wise Ones that most of the sisters still see her as a puppet later on too, so Mat's perception is more right than wrong IMO.

As for Mat’s respect, I agree that it is driven mainly by loyalty. But I wouldn’t call it exaggerated. That adds too much of a connotation of ‘mock respect’ to me. Rather, I would say it was deliberate and demonstrative rather than simply organic and personal. That is, the respect he offers her is genuine; it’s just more about his sense of outrage that her puppet-masters weren’t even going through the proper motions of respect despite the danger they're putting her into, rather than any personal feelings he might have that she is entitled to deep deference from him due to the inherent dignity and authority of her office. Personally, I think it qualifies as a magnanimous reaction. You’ve also got to admit that his actions have added weight and gravitas because they trigger an impressive show of militarily precise deference from the Band presence in Salidar, and everyone takes notice.
Rob Munnelly
47. RobMRobM
Hi all - just checking in after a busy day. I really enjoy this chapter - one of several brilliant ones in the book (along with the Tuon portion of As if the World Were Fog, Mat's Prince of the Ravens, and Perrin's attack chapter, among others). I've always been more of an Egwene fan than most and nice to see her CMOA here. Beautifully played by RJ. Agree with Leigh I don't have much to say substantively.

48. Jigglypuff
Surely the most apt tropes are Might as Well Not be in Prison at all and Talking Your Way Out. This Egwene's best chapter in the series. It's a shame that this plot doesn't end with an uprising against Elaida. It seems like Elaida disappearing is the easy way out.
Leigh Butler
49. leighdb
Jigglypuff @ 48:

See, that second one is exactly what I was looking for! I just couldn't FIND it!

Alice Arneson
50. Wetlandernw
Wolfmage @46 – We aren’t actually in disagreement, we’re just using different words to say it. I had no intention of speaking slightingly of Mat at either end, but I maintain that he did not display any behavior that would demonstrate to Egwene the growth he’d experienced at the time. (The truth is, IMO, he’d matured since she’d last seen him, but would do a whole lot more maturing in the next few months – of which she would have no visibility.) When I said that Mat treated her like “the old Egwene” it was simply, as you said, his recognition that she’d been raised as a puppet and was in a dangerous situation, resulting in his assumption that she needed to be rescued.

When he realized that she not only saw the situation as clearly as he, accepted it, and was determined to do the job anyway – and did NOT want to be rescued – he made use of his position and the Band to point up the failure of the AS to treat her as they should. By “exaggerated” I did not mean (as you perceived) that he was mocking her in any way; by no means! However, in normal circumstances, Mat would not naturally be so formal, almost grandiose, in leave-taking, even toward an Amyrlin Seat. He exaggerated (for him) the words and gestures of respect that would be considered appropriate toward the Amyrlin Seat, making sure that the deference of the Band and their Captain was not lost on the AS who apparently had forgotten she was there. Perhaps it would have read more clearly for you if I’d used the word “dramatized” instead of “exaggerated”?

And with all of that, I maintain that he didn’t really do anything she didn’t already know him perfectly capable of – from arrogance to fierce loyalty and dramatic gestures. While the loyalty was certainly something she appreciated, it wasn’t something that would make her sit up and notice his sudden maturity. The only thing noticeably different from “the old Mat” in their encounter would be the quality of his clothing and a certain level of acquired polish in manners when he chose to use it.

And… I didn’t really intend to write a treatise on one brief encounter; the only purpose in mentioning it in the first place was to point out that Egwene really hasn’t seen the TR boys for quite some time in any situation or context that would give her any valid impression of their having gone through significant maturation.

Come to think of it, why are people complaining about how she treats her friends from Emonds Field? The only one of them she’s seen for six months, at this point, is Nynaeve – and that mostly in TAR – who is struggling with issues of her own as well as having difficulty getting past “the girl who was going to be my apprentice” in their relationship. In upcoming books, she’ll meet very briefly with Rand (who is acting rather strange by anyone’s account, although the readers know that it’s more or less all right now), and Perrin (who unexpectedly turns up in a place that’s extremely dangerous even to those who know it well, and in the middle of a battle). Those short encounters aren’t enough, either in content or situation, to give her any idea of what the developments in their lives have been. If her default behavior under bizarre, high-pressure circumstances is appropriate to what they were last time she saw them rather than what they have (unbeknownst to most of the world) become, how is that such a big character flaw? It seems to me the most natural thing in the world!
pat purdy
51. night owl
I always wonder why all the heros/heroines in fantasy books are so young? They seem to be anywhere from 14-20. One fantasy series was an 8yr. old! Is it because the author can show growth into adulthood, with all the angst that goes on during this growing period??
What's your take on this? Anyone.
52. mike shupp
night owl@51.

1. By long tradition, "fairy stories" are told to young children and have young protagonists. Modern fantasy authors often try to match the tone and structure of those children's tales, even while telling stories aimed at adults. It's a a way of being true to the material, if you will, something like being determined to write sonnets with 14 lines.

2. Modern fantasy and SF have (or at least had, for many years) a core audience of preteen - young teen readers, so matching the characters in the stories to that age range makes sense. (As for why SF&F appeal to youngsters so strongly, I dunno. Something psychological about coming to terms with an unknowable universe, I guess. Interesting to note that mystery readers seem to be a decade or two older, on average. )

3. A whole bunch of writers love the idea that the background to their story can be told as conversation, by having an Older But Wiser friend of the young hero/heroine lecture endlessly on topic A, so that later on the heroine/hero can harange the reader on related topic B. I won't be so rude as to mention any names, of course, but .... rah rah rah.

4. Having youthful chacracters leaves space for sequels, an important consideration in the age of multiple-book chronicles.
53. Wortmauer
night owl@51: Hmmm. Bilbo was 50 at the start of The Hobbit. Frodo was 33 at the start of The Lord of the Rings. Thomas Covenant was, what, around 30? (but he acted middle aged) at the start of Lord Foul's Bane. Roland was a geezer at the start of The Gunslinger. Tyrion was at least in his 20s at the start of A Game of Thrones. (What, he isn't the hero?) ...But I'll give you Simon Mooncalf, Rincewind, and FitzChivalry Farseer. They were pretty young.

I suspect most fantasy protagonists are young because it's easier to effect believable character growth in a young person.
Kimani Rogers
54. KiManiak
Hmm. Rereading my comments, it seemed like I was only paying lip service to Egwene for this chapter. Let’s make it clear: to be captured by your adversary, be subjected to approximately 8 beatings a day, denied access to the vast majority of your supernatural abilities (at least, while awake), submitted to the psychological warfare and tactics of your adversary, and then to not only not give in but convert a number of them to your side? That is all kinds of awesome! Egs gets much dap for that.

Now, if we’re going to compare the relative “reality” of our expectations for Egwene’s behavior with what she displays onscreen, then we should also look at the “reality” of what a 19 or 20 year-old Egwene accomplished as a prisoner in a millennia-old institution ran by an Amyrlin in her 40s/50s and Sitters who mostly have seen a century or so.

Now, if some of the group take issue with the problems that other folks have with Egwene’s onscreen character growth and decision making by arguing that we need to remember that she is acting like a realistic 19 or 20-year-old, that is a valid point.

However, a lot of what Egwene has accomplished is rather unrealistic (excluding the fantastical witch powers, since this is a fantasy story after all) for a 19 or 20 year-old. She has accomplished exceptional things; it’s not unfair for us to point out where the exceptionality is inconsistent, or found incredibly lacking, or isn’t even at average level when compared to her fellow 2R folks.

Rand, Perrin, Avi, Elayne and Mat are all basically the same age (yes, I know Elayne and Avi aren’t from the 2R). Comparing Egwene to her peers, she is bringing up the rear (yes, even to Elayne) when it comes to her view and treatment of those peers’ capabilities and growth. (Maybe they're just better people than she is?)

Given (and accepting as valid) the overall “unrealisticness” of Egwene’s accomplishments then, I think it’s completely fair for the reader to look at Egwene and take her to task for her treatment of those peers, especially if that same reader will acknowledge that she was exceptional in other areas.

In other words, if you’re gonna say how awesome Egs is in some ways, you should be able to point out where she is deficient in others. And the “she’s only 19 or 20” defense doesn’t work so well for me when she already demonstrates that she accomplishes things and demonstrates some intellectual and emotional development beyond your average 20 year-old, either in reality or even in the WoTverse.

She’s not your average 19 or 20 year-old, folks. None of them are. Some appear to just be better friends, and possibly people, than others.
Kimani Rogers
55. KiManiak
abhi@30 – re: Egwene and Alvistere. Maybe she was trying to impress upon a Novice what the “ideal” AS is supposed to be. But she’s being hypocritical as she does it. She hasn’t forsworn using duplicitous methods and wordplay to accomplish what she wants, as she does (if I recall correctly) when dealing with the WO’s and WF’s in ToM. I would argue that also doesn’t fit the ideal of an AS.

AP@32 – Egwene knows as much about Perrin and Rand’s accomplishments as they know about hers. I think an objective assessment of how each party treats the other in ToM would show that both Rand and Perrin demonstrate more respect and benefit of the doubt for Egwene (both her position and her capabilities) then Egwene does for either of them.

Oh, and a 40-year old (or a 140 year-old) AS would probably have treated them the same; I don’t think it’s merely about age when AS are concerned. It’s also about them not “doing unto others” that tends to get a lot of folks riled up.

Lsana@34 – I also would like to believe that your #1 was the likely justification. I don’t even know if #2 is something she fully buys into, or if it is something she just wishes were true and would like the general public to just accept as true.

Free@40 – re: Egwene “saving face” – Hmm. Wouldn’t part of her being seen as Amyrlin require her to save face (for the dignity of the position)? If a Novice is seen tripping the Amyrlin, isn’t it logical for Egwene to use whatever means at her disposal to make sure that the Amyrlin comes out of that exchange on top, respected and feared? What would the other Novices take away from the exchange: that Egwene shamed the Novice that tripped her and is not someone you want to mess with; or that lying is un-Aes Sedai?

Wet@45 – Welcome back! I was hoping you could rejoin us for this chapter, especially as the comments favored the “not-Egwene’s-biggest-fan” camp. Balance is always good. I feel I addressed your points in my previous post, so I’ll just state that (allowing for the “unrealistic” world, setting and achievements that RJ had written for her) no one in this particular thread has accused Egwene of acting “unrealistic” as of yet, that I can see. It seems that folks have a problem with her actions; not whether or not those actions ring true.

Oh, and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear/read that I disagree with your representation of Mat’s interaction with Egwene in Salidar, in LoC. I think Wolfmage@46 argues against it well. And I see that while I was typing this you answered@50, so… yeah. Mat is awesome and loyal and true.

But Egwene choosing to rationalize Mat’s actions towards her as him being the “same-old-Mat” and not recognizing any type of growth in his assessment, refinement or disposition? I argue that was due to her inability and/or lack of desire to see that development, not that the development wasn’t evident. But, our opinions about and perceptions of Egwene tend to differ, so no surprise there that we read that scene differently.

Oh, and as for the complaints about Egwene and her treatment of her fellow 2R folks? Again, my response to AP@32. Is it a character flaw? Only when 1) comparing how those same folks conversely treat her with the same limited information; and 2) when taken alongside the fact that she expects others to see and treat her as someone who has grown while not doing the same to others (or, the “Egwene’s a big fat hypocrite” response).
56. BFG
(what have I started?) @20 Tonka - I believe that it's possible that that may have been Jordan (& Sanderson)s intention, but that's not how I read it in the book. Also since they can't travel out of Tar Valon there are no safe places she can leave him - so I think my comment can stand. To give her the benefit of the doubt, she wasn't expecting to see him there and had no way of knowing that he knew how to handle himself, but even so it was a poor response. And in this chapter she does show awesome. (yup, what @23 jcmnyu said)

@28 Bergmaniac - It's possible that Elaida doesn't know that you don't need the power to enter the dream.

To various - Jordan & (later on) Sanderson have done a very good job keeping Eg from being a Mary Sue and as such I reserve the right to find her annoying and aggravating at times, while at the same time appreciating that she isn't Mary.

@53 Wortmauer - Frodo at 33 was young for a hobbit, only just out of the tweens. Tyrion is offset by all the Starks, Jon and Dany. You can keep the others on your list :)
Stefan Mitev
57. Bergmaniac
@Wetlandernw - I like or even love many, many chapters of WoT, it's just that few of them are in CoT or KoD and I discovered this reread late. When we reach TGS, I will have much more praise to give, I promise. ;)

I can't help it that the idea of the leadership in the most powerful institution in Randland is largely decided by how good one of the contestants is at enduring spankings doesn't appeal to me at all. Neither does the fact that Elaida is so grotesquely incompetent and getting borderline crazy even that it's not much of a contest.

BTW, I also found problematic how quickly Egwene won over the novices. Given that she was the star pupil, who was raised to Accepted way faster than anyone non-wilder ever, even though she (as far as the novices know) ran away for months back in TGH. Then she left the Tower again and months later was raised as an Amyrlin at an age when most Tower trainees are still novices. That's an extraordinary preferential treatment, and most of the novices should've resented her strongly for that and relished the chances to get back at her. A lot of them had been novices for years when Egwene came to the Tower and still are. Yet somehow she won over all of them in nine days. I don't buy it at all.

@BFG - Beonin told Elaida straight out that Egwene can enter TAR and communicate with the rebels without ter'angreal.
Rob Munnelly
58. RobMRobM
Berg "I like or even love many, many chapters of WoT, it's just that few of them are in CoT or KoD and I discovered this reread late..."

Infidel!! While I'll grant you that CoT has all sorts of problems, KoD is a top 5 or 6 WoT book in overall quality and quantity of big plot resolutions. By far the best of the late RJ works.

Roger Powell
59. forkroot
Yes, yes! Not to be morbid about it but I'm so glad that CoT was not RJ's "final work" and that he gave us KoD before he left us. (I say this understanding that much of what we see in the next three books is still "RJ" in terms of ideas and plot line, if not that much actual wordsmithing.)
Gerd K
60. Kah-thurak
I actually think, that the three books by Sanderson will be truer to Jordans concept of the final book, than the books Jordan would have written instead. Sanderson is much more in control over his writing than Jordan was. He sticks to the plan he makes for a book, while Jordan often seemed to loose control of the meandering ways of his plot and tended to include interesting ideas into it that were not really necessary but came to his mind while writing. At least that is my explanation of the digressions of the later WoT books.
john mullen
61. johntheirishmongol
You may have thought it was the most awesome chapter, but I found it was just ok. The whole pain, beating thing had just goten annoying. Just because you can heal someone up doesn't give you license to abuse them. This is the only method they have for training someone??
Anthony Pero
62. anthonypero

I would say being the leader of one of the most respected and feared mercenary armies in Randland should clue Egwene that SOMETHING is going on... unlike her, he wasn't placed in his position as a puppet, and his men show him a great deal of respect and devotion in front of her. I think she even notices it in her POV.

No matter what happens to us, it takes a long time (much longer than the length of this story) to really change who we are at our core. We may have strengths uncovered, grow in our confidence etc... but a real change to the personality (which is sort of like our user interface, to use a software metaphor) takes a long, long time to come around. The changes to Mat's personality (there are some, because of his old memories) are subtle and small. So while the code may have changed underneath, the graphic user interface is relatively unchanged.

It's hard to see anyone as different under those circumstances.
Anthony Pero
63. anthonypero

Rand and Perrin act and treat Egwene exactly like the would have int he Two Rivers. Men are unfailingly polite in their society. Egwene treated them exactly like Nynaeve would have back in the Two Rivers. Perfectly believable.

Also, another way to look at Egwene's "unrealistic" accomplishments is "Wow, she did all that? AMAZING! So, I will forgive her for acting like a normal teenager the rest of the time."

This is EXACTLY how teenagers and college students are in real life, but blown up for proper fantasy proportions. The grow unproportionally, can accomplish amazing things in limited areas, but have unbelievable failings in other areas.

Take myself for example. At 20 years old, I had traveled the world as a musician, recorded an album, been highly successful in a limited capacity... yet I bounced checks constantly, was irresponsible about registering my plates (which got my car impounded and my license suspended) and generally did a lot of stupid things. But I was accomplished in some areas, way more savvy than my friends regarding the outside world and had areas where I outstripped anyone I'd ever personally known. Now, at 32, I know a lot more people, I've become a fairly repsponsible father, pay my bills, register things on time. My perspective is much more accurate now than when I was 20. It doesn't mean I didn't have skills, or the capability to do amazing things at 20... it just meant I was an incomplete person.
Captain Hammer
64. Randalator
Wortmauer @53

Rincewind is probably in his late 20s or early 30s when he first appears, so chalk up another example for a non-teenage protagonist...
Alice Arneson
65. Wetlandernw
Here's a funny thing I've noticed... When I started this series, I was in my 20s, married but no kids. I had a lot of sympathy for the "SuperKids" and a lot of antipathy for the "authority figures" who seemed to always be getting in their way and treating them badly.

Now I'm... older, I've been around the world a bit longer, and I have two children. Somehow, the failings of the SuperKids are both more apparent and more forgivable, while their MOAs are sweeter in overcoming their faults for the sake of (usually) others. Additionally, I understand the authority figures better, and see both their failings and their wisdom a whole lot better than I used to.

I don't know if it's an effect of age, or having kids, or (most likely) an accumulation of experiences, but I find that I've developed a much greater appreciation of RJ's characterizations, and his effort to make each person, however frustrating or annoying, a realistic human. Even the villains aren't "perfect" villains - they have flaws that make them much less effective than they could be, but much more believable as human beings. I'm even more patient with the "grand description" passages; I've finally learned to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. (Or something philosophical like that.)

Just musing. I don't think I'll make any further effort at character defense or explanation, at least this morning; it seems that our life experiences are much more effective at altering our perspective than any amount of argument. Amazing, isn't it?
66. AndrewB
Anthonypero@ 62 said: "I would say being the leader of one of the most respected and feared mercenary armies in Randland should clue Egwene that SOMETHING is going on... unlike her, he wasn't placed in his position as a puppet, and his men show him a great deal of respect and devotion in front of her."

I do not know if Egwene ever realized (when she last met Mat in LoC) how much of an actual military leader Mat is. Although she was with Mat when they left the Waste, I do not know if she ever learned that the Band's success was due to Mat's knowledge. Egwene may have had the same belief as other non-Band members (particularly Aes Sedai): that Mat was given the command of the Band only becuase he was a childhood friend of The Dragon Reborn.

She wanted to use the Band for her advantage. She muses that she thinks Talemens (sp?) could be counted on to follow Mat's orders -- but she wanted Mat seperated from the Band. It was never made clear (at least to me) whether Egwene knew (or even suspected) that Mat was the military mastermind behind the success of the Band.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Hugh Arai
67. HArai
Wetlandernw@50: It may be the most natural thing in the world. It's still a flaw in her character, or as KiManiak so beautifully puts it: the "Egwene's a big fat hypocrite response".

I don't think it's unrealistically portrayed, as others pointed out already, young adults are very uneven. But it's still a flaw and it's what I point out in response to Leigh's "Egwene suddenly became one of the most awesome characters in WOT, and has not stopped or slowed in her pursuit of the title of Most Awesome Character in WOT since."

She's pretty awesome here. Elsewhere, not so much. That's ok. It doesn't make me throw the book across the room. None of the others are consistently awesome either (except maybe Verin :) )
Hugh Arai
68. HArai
AndrewB@66: She could have known if she wanted to and if she let what people told her change what she believed. Whether either of those were the case is less clear.
69. Umbardacil
@64 and @53 - Yes, Rincewind is 32 in the Colour of Magic, so definitely part of the first list. Also, Frodo was nearer 50 when he actually set out from the Shire with the Ring, given that the book started some 12 years before that at Bilbo's 111st birthday.

@ 63 - While I agree with the general trend of your argument, I'll stand with the others in saying that her age does not make her flaws less somehow. In fact, her accomplishments in other areas probably highlight her flaws even more. I know this is the case in real life for many people. The better you are at something, the worse your shortcomings in other things stand out and the worse people criticize you for them.

Whatever the justifications for Egwene's shortsightedness/prejudices/what-have-you (and they are understandable justifications) concerning the TR boys, her condescension of them (however well-meaning at times) still galls. She expects to know better than them and so reacts unfavourably to whatever they say or do. I just hope that her character development continues and she realizes her mistakes in this regard in AMoL and further changes for the better.
Noneo Yourbusiness
70. Longtimefan
I have always liked this chapter and it only suffers from being a single chapter in what could have been a couple of chapters to show that her captivity takes place over a period of time where she gains some influence slowly instead of in a week or two.

I would not have it any other way. The reason for this is twofold.

One, the series (as enjoyable as it is) had become rather unwieldy a couple books before this and I really do appreciate the author trying to get so much interesting detail into a more compact space. Conversely, in doing so the author has made a chapter that some find unbelieveable because it is so compact. Six of one, Half a dozen of the other, in the end the eggs are broken and the omlette is made. Maybe there is a bit more cheese than some lactose intolerant people may prefer but it still has lots of ham and a bit of onion and it is a fluffy and well made omlette. (make of the metaphor what you will)

Two, in the story Egwene is forced. Her character is generally pushed faster and more often than any other character outside of Rand. How she deals with this is where her character shows through. Both as over eager in her persuit of knowledge and her blind spot to the growth of others. (granting that she is also not given a lot of time to know the people she is accused of treating poorly)

Egwene is not just pushed in learning to use the One Power early in her travels with Moiraine. Egwene's versitilty and adaptability give her the fortitude to keep up with the Wise Ones when she is apprenticed to them (in a time when the Wise Ones know the days of the Aiel are growing short and her stay with them may not be much more than the time it takes Rand to break them) I suspect that the Wise Ones know more about the need the world will have for Egwene and Aviendah and are pushing them harder than other apprentices. They have access to the knowledge of the Rings and the premenitions of the Dreamwalkers.

Speaking of which, Egwene has a double plateful under the Wise Ones as she is apprenticed to the Wise Ones who teach as they teach as well as the Dreamwalkers who are teaching her a separate set of instructions. Egwene may push herself in learning things she is interested in but in order to keep up with her the instructors around her push her in other directions to keep her knowledge balance with her power (as best they can which is debatable).

For every one thing Egwene strives to teach herself there are probably three things that her instructors think she should know before she gets to that point. It is a complicated series of leaping, chasing and instructing. I personally love this kind of person as fascinating and exasperating as they may be.

When Egwene is made the puppet Amyriln she is being treated the same way certain complaints have been leveled at her about treating other characters whom have grown but she has not recognized the growth within. She had grown but the Aes Sedai thought she was just a girl who could be set aside when the division was reconciled.

She was in this case as well pushed further than someone in her place would have been had they been less interested or less adaptable. Suian takes it upon herself to teach Egwene 10 years of being Amyriln in a few months.

Egwene has never known a moment in over two years when a challenge could not be overcome by her Two Rivers stubborness or her ability to adapt.

I reailze this late into it that she was also pushed by her captivity with the Seanchan and her strength in Earth. But let us not dwel on that as it was an unpleasant time and has given Egwene a complex about being leashed. It does bring up the point that she has also been through a lot of punishment previous to visiting the Mistress of Novices.

Honestly, what threat does being slippered and then healed have compared to being told that if you run away they will cut off your feet since you do not need feet to channel? (on reflection though we have not seen any damme without feet so maybe it is an empty threat.)

So after that lengthy bit o' blah blah blah the point is this, Egwene's rise to admiration amongst the Novices may seem sudden but her story arc is consistant in her character being pushed further and faster than those around her and it is probably just the "pattern" bringing the tower captivity storyline into alignment with the previous experiences that have woven Egwene's thread into the great lace of the age.

Egwene is awesome, even the Pattern thinks so and who am I to argue with that? :)
Abhijit Srivastava
71. abhi_sedai
#KiManiak:I think you are referring to this instance:

"Oh, I expect nothing of the sort," Egwene said. "It is well that you now have AesSedai teachers. Those who bargained with you achieved something unexpected."

True words, every one. However, the way she said them implied something more—that Egwene had wanted the Aes Sedai to be sent to the Sea Folk ships. Shielyn'sfrown deepened, and she sat back in her chair. Egwene hoped she was consideringwhether her people's grand victory over the Bowl of the Winds had been a setup fromthe start.

Wordplay yes, Duplitious I dont think so, It is a too strong a word to describe what she did. She did not betray the Windfinders. E.g. Joline was being duplitious when she lied by omission when Mat told her about the note she had left on his pillow.

Egwene does have her flaws but being duplitious is not one of them.

IMHO I don't have a problem with wordplay when it is not meant to betray the other. In this instance she was trying to forge an alliance between the three most powerful groups of female channelers , in which all benefit.

Longtimefan@70: Great description of Egwene's growth and also her blind spot wrt other character's growth.
Abhijit Srivastava
72. abhi_sedai
J.Dauro@36: Thanks for the link, the sheer volume of info there is sinful.
John Massey
73. subwoofer
Hang on now... my "Novice as sheep comment" is exactly about how those kids swing on a dime and follow Egwene. Here we have a girl, brought back in disgrace, given daily spankings, stripped of everything etc. etc. and suddenly we have an "I'm Sparticus" moment. What are the girls thinking?- Egwene will lead them in a rebellion against the Sisters? Eggs was right when she mused that thankfully the Red's were not watching her when the Novices all stood up, that had disaster written all over it.

As for "overlooking" Egwene's flaws- well, Golden Rule time folks. Do unto others... or to be blunt, Egwene has all this character growth but figures the rest of her friends are country bumpkins. Not fair at all. Mat is the leader of a legen-wait-for-it-dary band of mercs, Ny is the future Queen of Malkieri, Rand is the DR, and Perrin is the Wolf-King. The thing that bugs me (no offense Insectoid) is that Egwene knows these things. Eggs knows that Rand is the Dragon Reborn- she was there- why can she not believe Rand has been over on the dry side since her last meeting with him? Same for Perrin, she was there when Perrin began to change, get all hairy, have a deeper voice, etc. Time to start thinking on the fly.

Where RJ makes Egwene very believable is in her relationship with Gawyn. Egwene is still a young girl-not the Amyrlin- figuring stuff out with the Princeling- bury yourself in work, that'll solve things. Heh.

I do like the balance of Awesomeness for all TR characters however, I am glad that RJ didn't just make the boys do fancy tricks and leave the girls in the dust. I am kinda wondering where Egwene goes from here tho', Aes Sedai are very long lived, and Egwene is really young. I can't wrap my head around her being Amyrlin for the next couple of hundred years. Either Egwene dies in the next little bit or she steps down at a later point in life.

I also kinda harbor gyped feelings that Siuan gets worked like a rented mule and I am not as accepting of her current status as she is. Maybe Siuan gets some redemption when she goes one on one with Suffa and lays some whoop ass on her. I can hope can't I?

Edited because I can't spell the Princely princeling's name right.

Edit-@Leigh, you may want to hang onto that Trope, it'll be handy coming up in the other series you are covering...

ana liese
74. analiese
“A pity, that, Alvistere. You want to become Aes Sedai and give up the ability to lie, yet you want others to lie for you. Do you see any inconsistency in that?”

One of Egwene's first acts as Amyrlin in LoC was to send Nynaeve and Elayne to feed Romanda and Sheriam a number of lies about Egwene's plans. So Egwene is certainly guilty of doing the same.
Alice Arneson
75. Wetlandernw
And have you never corrected someone for doing something stupid that you've done in the past? The fact that I did something dumb, once upon a time, doesn't make it right or wise for everyone else to follow my example (knowingly or otherwise).

If Egwene called Alvistere down for expecting others to lie for her (merely to cover up her bad manners), then turned around and did the same for no better reason, she could certainly be called hypocritical. As it is, one could just as easily assume that she's learned a few things in the meantime and doesn't wish to see others make the same errors she did.
ana liese
76. analiese
Wetlander @ 76:

And have you never corrected someone for doing something stupid that you've done in the past? The fact that I did something dumb, once upon a time, doesn't make it right or wise for everyone else to follow my example (knowingly or otherwise).

The problem is that Egwene is frequently guilty of doing what she condemns others for, without ever acknowledging it, even in her own thoughts. In ACoS she blackmailed seven Aes Sedai -- Myrelle, Nisao, and Sheriam's group -- into swearing fealty to her. It's possible I missed it, so feel free to correct me here, but I don't remember a single line where Egwene thought of her own sworn sisters when she railed at Rand, Elaida, and the Black Ajah hunters for doing the same:

"An oath of obedience is a terrible idea," Egwene said. "No woman should have this much power over another. What you have done to these others is only one step shy of Compulsion."

Egwene also claimed that Aes Sedai swearing oaths of fealty to Elaida would "undermine the Tower itself" and "transform the Amyrlin from a leader to a despot." This from a woman with nine sworn Aes Sedai, seven of which were blackmailed into doing it.

I think Egwene's storyline could have been much improved if Elaida's behaviour had forced her to re-evaluate her own past actions. Instead all the gray areas in the story were suddenly white-washed so Egwene could be the rightful, righteous Amyrlin in TGS and Elaida practically a cartoon villain.
Alice Arneson
77. Wetlandernw
analiese @76 - There's one huge difference. The oaths sworn to Egwene were simple statements. If she gave an order, the sworn sister could disobey if she felt it necessary, though she'd have to answer for it. The oath the BA hunters used on the ferrets, and the oath Elaida was making noises about adding, were Oaths on the Oath Rod. They were not oaths of loyalty or fealty, but of absolute obedience. That kind can kill - it nearly did kill Zerah Dacan, when Pevara ordered her to say something she believed to be false, and her oath of obedience came into direct conflict with her oath to speak only what is true. Elaida's proposed oath would have given her absolute power, to the point that even the most casual exaggeration could be deadly. She could order any sister thus sworn to do any number of stupid, dangerous things, and the sister would have no choice but to do it - against all logic, sense or self-preservation. If Elaida (or the BA hunters) told an oath-bound sister to walk into the meeting of the BA Supreme Council and start throwing fireballs, the only thing that might save her is if she fainted on the spot. Otherwise, the OATH would make her do exactly that, even knowing what would happen to her.

The Oath Rod makes the difference between molehills and mountains.
John Massey
78. subwoofer
@Wet- yes that is right, the Power of the Rod... although we have also heard that the oaths sworn to Egwene are very strong... shall we say the strongest oath anybody can make not on an Oath Rod. Seems to me that Siuan and Co made a similar oath to Garath Bryne. Though they weaseled out of it on a technicality, let us also not forget that when Stilled, the Three Oaths no longer held sway on Siuan or Leane. The sisters that did the "hope for rebirth, etc. etc." to Egwene were theoretically also bound by the Three Oaths so if they feel the need to weasel, there may be some "pinning by the Oaths" as Egwene has put it in previous sittings. I'm not saying good or bad, but what I am saying is that Rod or no, if they are bound by the Oaths not to lie, and then take an oath of fealty, I'd say they are stuck with it, and whatever hoop jumping ensues as a result.

We could also argue on the er... malleability of an oath depending on the viewpoint of the person swearing, like that double agent we read about... er... whatsherbucket....Beonin. While she did some weaseling of her own, namely selling out the other mammals, she did that with the justification that Egwene was not real and the SAS were not the ones she held allegiance to. By that same token, Beonin felt some "loyalty" to the SAS and Egwene as the weave of Travelling was not divulged, yet, and Egwene does give her whatfor for being a weasel. All in all, not a good day for non-dog types.

William Fettes
79. Wolfmage
If the main concern with Aes Sedai giving Oaths of Fealty to an Amyrlin is about coercion and loss of agency, then I agree that a magically enforced oath, taken on the Oath Rod, is at the absolute worst end of the scale.

But I don’t think it follows from that that lessor oaths are somehow innocuous and completely unproblematic, involving none of the same moral issues. For example, it is said several times that nobody but a Darkfriend would violate the familiar light oath that begins “By the Light and my hope of salvation and Rebirth…” Min tells us that most Randlanders are brought up to believe breaking such an oath would be the equivalent of murder. So, are we really supposed to accept that this isn’t a powerful constraint, even if it isn’t enforced magically? And isn’t that constraint a highly problematic form of coercion if the oath was taken under duress? A possibly rejoinder that this original duress was still a kind of choice, and not itself magically imposed, hardly cures the inherent moral problem of that duress tainting the oath. The threat of the Black Ajah may warrant such extreme measures, but only for limited duration and with some careful deliberation about consequences and necessity. Unfortunately, we’ve never seen Egwene even think about imposing such time limits, or indeed, having any appreciation that her own actions involve many of the same type of moral landmines, albeit in lessor form.

The other point I would make is that Egwene’s umbrage against Elaida seems to go beyond the issue of personal agency towards a broader sense of it violating the proper balance of power between an Amyrlin and rank and file Aes Sedai. But to the extent that her oaths are
effective, they will be similarly corrosive to this institutional balance of power, regardless of whether they were obtained by duress or not. And, as per the above, I think we can assume they are very effective for the most part.
80. TimBuktu
@66, TFOH, News Comes to Cairhien

" 'But very brave,' Moiraine said as if he had not spoken. 'Andoran supply wagons burned, outposts destroyed. And three battles. Three battles, and three victories. With small loss to your own men, though outnumbered... Are you drawn to the thick of battles, or are they drawn to you? To hear the stories, you might have driven the Andorans back across theErinin had you stayed.'

" 'Do you think this is funny?' Mat snarled. 'You can play the cat all you want, but I'm no mouse.' For an instant his eyes flickered toward Egwene and Aviendha, watching with folded arms..."

And there's more of the same, from Rand and Moiraine, about how Mat is the one leading them. If Egwene didn't realize Mat's role, then she's a blithering idiot.
81. Freelancer
Wetlandernw @45

Indeed. Or Washington, as we are seeing daily.

KiManiak @55

Egwene is not in the least interested in coming out on top in a micro-battle with a novice. Means nothing to her at this point, though she gains an appreciation for her influence among them soon enough.

Her only interest at this point is consistency of message, and demonstrating that she doesn't simply think she's the Amyrlin, she truly is the Amyrlin. Would the "real" Amyrlin resort to a petty catfight with a novice? Of course not. Since she cannot punish the novice as a "real" Amyrlin would, she highlights her hypocrisy (not her meanness, note) as a real Amyrlin would.

Besting an underling by embarassing them gains nothing. Demonstrating the only form of leadership at her disposal in her uncomfortable circumstances gains a great deal. When it happens, surely most of the girls in that room wouldn't admit that her actions gained their respect, but very quickly they see that she is unimpacted by ANY treatment of her, and unmoved from her conviction. This they cannot help but admire.

But again I say, the admiration or respect of the novices isn't a direct goal of Egwene's. Being absolutely consistent and unwavering is all that matters to her. That, and making the Sisters see that Elaida's megalomania is ruining them.
Alice Arneson
82. Wetlandernw
Would you people read the text?? An oath of fealty and an oath of absolute obedience are NOT the same thing! Especially not when the oath of obedience is sworn on the Oath Rod. If you've sworn fealty to someone, they have a right to send you into battle or whatever, but they don't have a right to tell you to jump off a cliff for no good reason - and if they do, you don't have to obey. If you've sworn a "magically enforced oath" to obey absolutely, you will jump off that cliff no matter how much you want to live or how much you know it was a stupid, meaningless order - because you have NO choice. None. Zip. Nada. She gives the order and your feet will start walking no matter how much you try to stop.

Yes, it's quite clear from the text that any AS not BA will be unable to swear an oath she does not mean, and that service and obedience are expected when fealty is sworn. And they will obey - but at least they have the chance to argue, request clarification, reason with her, and (if necessary) refuse outright to do something that makes no sense and is likely to cause more harm than good. The same is true for the AS who swore fealty to Rand, and as we've been told many times, sometimes they serve in the ways they think best, rather than what he wants. Egwene experiences the same thing, but somewhat less because of the hold these AS have given her by their actions. (E.g. Myrelle & Nisao, by what they were doing with Lan, would serve severe penances if they were found out by their Ajahs or the Hall. That gave Egwene a hold on them and allowed her to require their fealty. So... if they get too stroppy, they know she can call them down in a hurry.)

I'm thinking a Rod-enforced oath of obedience would be even worse than Compulsion. At least with Compulsion, your mind is (temporarily or permanently) in compliance, so you're doing what you're told and thinking you want to do it. With an Oath, your body will obey the orders, while all the time your mind is screaming in terror. And fealty doesn't require that level of obedience. Ever. Egwene is right to be outraged and horrified by the idea; she has never asked anything like it.
Noneo Yourbusiness
83. Longtimefan
Re: Egwene's alledged hypocrisy. In the words of last decades rap stars, don't hate the player, hate the game.

Why did Egwene feel that she had to have an oath of obedience from certain Salidar Sisters? Short answer, they were operating outside of tower approved behavior. Had they not been doing so then Egwene would not have had anything to blackmail them with.

As Amyriln Egwene is the Tower. Just as Eladia and Suian and all the other Amyriln's before her also belived themselves to be.

How each one chose to be the Tower may have been varied but the power structure of the Aes Sedai places the authority of the Amyriln above all other Sisters. Yes, the Sitters act as a counsel and bring forth the concerns of each Ajah in Tower matters but the general deference due the Amyriln inherent in the term "Mother" and "Daughter" and the almost compulsory curtsying from a sister to the Amyriln much the same as a novice or accepted towards a sister sets a very significant tone of deference to the will of the Amyriln. A sister may not have to like an Amyriln but she is expected to obey in general principal.

Egwene has learned the rules of the White Tower in the White Tower. She has learned command from the Wise Ones in the Three-fold Land.

Egwene is being a Leader. Granted it may look hypocritical, it may even be technically the definition of hypocritical but leaders do not lead in an ethical vacuum. They must deal with the complications of people and the willfuness and manipulations of said people.

No leader is ever ethically perfect. Young or old it is not possible. The benifit of success for a leader is that the histories will whitewash the questionable behavior to soften the unsavory actions. When a leader fails the punishment is a history that magnifies the error of those ways.

I am going to make a technical point that Egwene is not lecturing Alvistere, Egwene is making an observation. Is there something inconsistent in asking other people to lie for you when one is training to become a person who swears an oath to not lie?

Egwene is not telling Alvistere to not lie she is just posing a question on the current behavior.

It is Alvistere who claims that Egwene is lecturing her.

In answering the question "who are you (to lecture me)" Egwene confirms her identity directly and permits the accusation of lecturing passively.

To be pendatic it was an observation more than a lecture. Alvistere had to make the conclusion that maybe she should not behave in the way she was thinking of behaving. Egwene did not forbid her from lying.

Egwene is the Amyriln and as such she is the Tower. The Tower educates Novices and Accepted and it guides Aes Sedai.

Who is Egwene to be any less than any previous Amyriln?

The comment Egwene makes to the other Yellow Sister about Sherimin accepting her demotion is a direct comment on her own station and not accepting Eladia's demotion of Egwene's postion of Amyriln.

She cannot allow any person in the Tower to see her believe that she is less than the Amyriln because then she would not be the Amyriln.

What other action could Egwene have taken with the novice that would have had benifical results? Fight her? Ignore her? The author chose the optimal path. If it makes Egwene look like a hypocrite then it is in the eye of the beholder more than in the actions of the story.

Not that a fictional character needs such defending but it is a slow day and I have not been around much. :)
Noneo Yourbusiness
84. Longtimefan
And I have just noticed that Freelancer said a similar thing in a much better way at 81. Hi Freelancer. Great points.

And Wetlander has made very salient points that fealty is not the same as bound obedience. Then again I never expect anything less from her capable mind.

I will throw my two cents in on the "not respecting Mat" issue even though it is not really relevant to this chapter.

As much as people may like Mat the irrascable rouge he does go out of his way to deny any responsibility and when he does admit that he is going to help he presents it in a taunting or brash way.

This may be amusing to read but if one is the person to whom these taunts and attitudes are directed it can set ones back up like a stepped on cat. (to use a turned phrase)

In the quote @ 80 Moiraine is commenting on Mat's skill and ability in a very Aes Sedai way. Maybe not the best way to approach him but she is Moiraine as much as he is Mat. Mat then responds in a very brusk way. How is Egwene supposed to separate Mat the scoundrel she grew up with for years from Mat the capable military leader when even he seems to resent his ability in the beginning?

As for the binding of Perrin in the dreamworld battle at the White Tower I have nothing other than panic and uncertainty in the confusion of battle and unexpected arrivals. But that is in the future of the books and this is still Knife of Dreams not Towers of Midnight. :)

Egwene and Perrin are my two favorite charaters (even with his unfortunate diversion). I can only hope that they get along better in the future. :)
Hugh Arai
85. HArai
Longtimefan@84: How is Egwene supposed to separate Mat the scoundrel she grew up with for years from Mat the capable military leader when even he seems to resent his ability in the beginning?

If she cared to know, she could have asked Moiraine, Lan, several of the Aiel, Rand, the officers in the Band... that's all that come to mind right off the bat, but I think those are enough. Assuming Mat is in charge of the Band because he's Rand's friend might fit her preconceived notions but it's a disservice to both Rand and Mat to think they would do that. I can follow the argument she might not know what Perrin is capable of, I don't think she has much excuse for Rand or Mat.
Noneo Yourbusiness
86. Longtimefan
@ 85 HArai,

I am not sure but I do not think Egwene has seen Mat since she sent him to follow Elyane and Nynaeve to Ebou Dar while he was trying to get Elayne to Camelyn.

Yes, Egwene underestimated him and he also came into Salidar with his own expectations. The meeting generally did not go well and did not make either of them look that good from an objective point.

Yes Mat did show respect to Egwene and she did thank him for it. Since then i do not know if they have had any other encounters now that Egwene has unified the Tower.

Mat has also changed during his time away but before that he was intentionally resisting Aes Sedai influence and making every action a form of defiance when possible. How is that supposed to show Egwene that Mat has changed from the person she knew for many years in Edmonds Field?

He is a changed person as of Towers of Midnight (in his way) but I do not think Egwene has had a chance to meet him in his new and somewhat more responsible manner.

If the current chapter is an indicator of Egwene maturing and becoming a better person than her previous self how can her past actions be used to judge her current state? Her past state influenced her past actions. Her new state of mind still has to be proven in relation to her actions toward Mat should she meet him after this point in the story.

Blah blah blah. :)

I hope that made sense. It is getting late and I am typing while sleeping, sort of.
William Fettes
87. Wolfmage
The suggestion that the duress experienced by the blackmail victims should not count as proper duress simply because their own actions gave Egwene the leverage in the first place is rather laughable IMO. Similarly, it’s not much of an answer to say it was open to them to wear the consequences of whatever dirt Egwene had found on them rather than swear fealty. How can that be fair when the information available to the blackmail victim is inherently asymmetric? Whilst they have a perfectly clear idea of what might happen to them once Egwene informs on them to the Hall, the consequences following an the Oath of Fealty are unknown and must be undertaken based on trust and fear alone. Accordingly, the transactional analysis fails even if you disregard the moral taint.

Moreover, this sense that there is some kind of bright-line distinction here because Egwene was merely being reactive to the lapses of others is also untenable. Perhaps at first that is true, but once she moves beyond the ‘discovery’ of Myrelle and towards an open and deliberate predation on Sheriam’s group that's clearly a conscious effort to entrap people.

At the end of the day, the blackmail is obviously a form of moral taint on a very weighty promise, undertaken in a way that is specially augmented by the Three Oaths, that imposes significant duties upon the victim that they cannot foresee and assess in a free and voluntary manner.

In response to Longtimefan, I would argue this Oath of Fealty moves the balance of power well beyond the ordinary deference commanded by the Amyrlin Seat over the rank and file of the Tower. In particular, it goes well beyond the power generated through ritual formalities and customary deference, and is much closer to a kind of permanent command authority which is unprecedented. This kind of power grab only seems less remarkable because Elaida's approach is so obviously wrong and her leadership character is so lacking. I don't dispute that Egwene is a much better leader and much less likely to abuse this power, but if you need to resort to the personal qualities of a specific good leader to justify a structural feature of a institution, you've already lost the argument. Institutional design should be informed by the worst case and normal scenarios, not the best case that depends on being lucky enough to have a morally pure, charismatic leader at the helm.

Perhaps, as WetlanderW argues, there is a significant gap between the type of obedience required under an Oath of Fealty versus a direct oath of obedience. That is, if we accept that giving fealty can coexist with meaningful dissent, then it's definitely plausible to argue there is a fundamental category difference between the two. But exactly how far can dissent go? Can a Sitter refuse to vote as directed? Can they refuse a mission or order? Without a fuller elaboration of the limits of what is implied by such an Oath, I would be hesitate to say there were no major agency issues. And certainly, that still leaves open the whole political issue of such a naked increase in executive power.
Birgit F
88. birgit
By that same token, Beonin felt some "loyalty" to the SAS and Egwene as the weave of Travelling was not divulged, yet

That's Elaida's doing, not Beonin's.

The problem with others recognizing Mat's skills is that he often deliberately acts like an isolent idiot. Unlike his soldiers, Eg hasn't been around him enough to see through his act. He isn't happy to notice himself that he has become responsible and tries to hide it. Even Tuon, who doesn't have much to do except observe Mat needs time to see his worth. Eg is busy with other matters even when they are still travelling together in the Waste.
Anthony Pero
89. anthonypero
While comparing Egwene's blackmail to Elida's Oath Rod Obedience, everyone seems to have missed the point of what has Egwene riled up about it. It's Compulsion in her eyes--using the One Power to force someone to do your bidding. The moral implications of violating Tower Law is what has her riled up, not the moral implications of coercsion. While this may not be substantially better in our eyes, it cretainly lessens the "hypocricy" charge.
Hugh Arai
90. HArai
birgit@88: Tuon catches on really fast once she sees him leading the Band. Egwene was in Cairhien when Mat killed Couladin and in "News comes to Cairhien" she was present when Moiraine explained Mat had lead the Band to 3 victories against the Andorans with few casualties.
She had the opportunity to see if she'd wanted to.

What I meant by Egwene doing Rand and Mat a disservice in @85 is that she's assuming Rand is putting an "insolent idiot" in charge of an army and Mat is the idiot agreeing to it. So in essence, she's decided Rand and Mat are happy to get a whole bunch of people killed (that's what happens with idiots leading armies) so that Mat can be in charge. You really think that sounds like Rand and Mat?
Stefan Mitev
91. Bergmaniac
For all Egwene knew, Mat could've easily been put in charge because Rand trusted him to keep the Band loyal to him and to attract recruits due to his fame as the killer of Couladin, while Talmanes did most of the work in leading and coming up with military plans and strategies. This sounds far more likely than Mat suddenly becoming a military genius despite zero training and very little experience. Tuon, unlike Egwene, watched first hand Mat leading the Band, so of course she noticed that he was a really capable commander - and surely Tuon knows way more about military matters than Egwene.
Hugh Arai
92. HArai
Bergmaniac@91: Again, she could have asked Moiraine or Lan. It would have taken 5 min tops. I'm not saying there aren't any number of ways she could maintain her notions of Mat the idiot. I'm saying there are plenty of opportunities where she could apply some of the keen insight she shows among the AS to Mat and discover he's grown just like she has.

As for the arguments that he isn't obedient to AS and therefore how can Egwene be expected to think he's grown: Just because that's a blind spot shared by every AS doesn't mean it's not a blind spot for Egwene. Frankly, discounting people that don't suck up to them is probably the biggest weakness AS have.
93. Wortmauer
It occurs to me that our distaste for Egwene's followers' oaths of fealty is mostly our own cultural bias. We have seen really bad things happen in the 20th century when a leader acquires a "personality cult", as the Soviets called it in Stalin's case, so we don't think either Elaida or Egwene should be trying to gather loyalty to their own persons, as opposed to the office or the institution they represent. And we have come to believe that in the best forms of government, no man is above the law. But Randlanders think very differently about these things. Elaida says "I am Tower law!" which sounds very like "L'état, c'est moi!" Egwene does not say anything so obvious, but, paradoxically, the law puts her above the law too, when she arranges to "prosecute the war by decree." (Oh, and while raising two of her friends to Aes Sedai by fiat is not necessarily against the law, it's at the least a very deep violation of custom, and we're told at various times that Aes Sedai custom can acquire the strength of law.)

It's the same for any other kings in Randland, really. Vassal lords swear fealty to the monarch personally, not to the country or the throne in abstract. "L'état, c'est moi" applies to all of them.

Still and all, I think it would ease our republican sensibilities a little (it would ease mine, anyway) if Egwene were to release Myrelle and the others from the oaths she blackmailed them into, simply because they were obtained under duress. Light knows, she's done enough other post-conflict actions to try to heal and undo some of what the Tower split had caused to happen. But, on the other hand, should Rand and Mat release the Windfinders from the "bargain with a ta'veren" they each extracted from them? Those were under duress too, of a sort. (Well, Mat's bargain is now fulfilled, so that one's moot.) Perrin has actually tried, many times, to release the Two Rivers from their ta'veren-induced fealty to him as a lord, but his continuing ta'veren pull will not allow it.
Well, except Beonin, who already wiggled out from under hers.
Noneo Yourbusiness
94. Longtimefan
@92 HArai,

I will concur that one of the biggest weakness any Aes Sedai may have is not valuing a person who may not show them proper (in their mind) deference.

This has been a point through out the books as Moiraine learned just before she left the Waste and as Cadsuane learned after Rand banished her. Goading someone into doing something because a person may believe they are correct does not always achieve the expected results. :)

Will Egwene learn this as well? One can hope. She was there when Moiraine told her that she changed the way she was dealing with Rand because she remembered how Aes Sedai reach Saidar, they bend with the flow of the power to guide it gently. Not the easiest way to gain someone's trust since bending may mean that the person could send away the Aes Sedai and does not want to talk or listen to counsel when the Aes Sedai feels it is most important.

Deference is a very tricky path to influence but it is possible.

In this Verin has been the most Awesome of Aes Sedai since she does have her moments of direct guiding but in many ways she lets things happen or at least appears to do so. Verin never seems offended that other characters treat her like a person rather than an Aes Sedai.

Even as an unwilling agent of the Black Ajah Verin has many readers admiration over other Aes Sedai and I think part of it might be that she was never too full of herself even though she was guiding when she could.

The only problem with leading by example is that when the example is so quiet people may ignore it. :)

@ Wolfmage 87,

you are ofcourse, completly correct.

"Institutional design should be informed by the worst case and normal scenarios, not the best case that depends on being lucky enough to have a morally pure, charismatic leader at the helm."

I am just going to quote you since it is so well put.

Unfortunately Egwene did not use the best institutional design, nor do I think that she would want another Amyriln to find misbehaving sisters and have them swear to her.

Institutionally Egwene was in a divided Tower and on the outs with both the physical Tower and most of the sisters she was supposed to be leading. It was a power grab. I can only hope that she choses to release the sisters she had swear to her now that the Tower is whole.

I have only read The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight once so I do not know if she ever did or mentions that she may intend to do so. Honestly, now that the Tower is whole again she does not need to keep them by oath since she may have impressed upon them her abilities in the reunification.

I guess it will all be revealed (or not) in the final book next year.
Alice Arneson
95. Wetlandernw
Wolfmage @87 – “…the duress experienced by the blackmail victims should not count as proper duress simply because their own actions gave Egwene the leverage in the first place…” If this paragraph was aimed at me, let me point out (since it obviously wasn’t clear the first time) that I was not defending her use of blackmail to gain oaths of fealty. (I’ve never defended that, though I find it perfectly understandable.) I was simply noting the difference between the AS who swore to Egwene vs. those who swore to Rand. Rand’s AS have no “handle” on them other than the oath, so in many ways they are free to interpret it as they like. Those sworn to Egwene are naturally more reluctant to interpret so freely, since Egwene has a much more painful grip on them. Not only do Myrelle and Nisao have the Lan situation to “pay for,” they and the rest of the group have the responsibility of sending the ferrets without informing the rest of the SAS, plus they want to hid the simple fact of having sworn fealty. (How embarrassing for an AS! Rand’s troop did it all publicly, so there’s not much point in trying to hide it. Therefore, no handle exists on that score.) The fact remains, though, that an oath of fealty is open to a certain level of interpretation, and does not enforce absolute obedience to the point of stupidity. In fact, Beonin interpreted it only as fealty to the Amyrlin, and when Egwene was captured she interpreted that as “she is no longer Amyrlin, so my oath is ended.” The more fool she, of course, but the interpretation was hers. A Rod-sworn oath would not have been so flexible.

Fealty is an oath of loyalty, allegiance and support. It requires the one who swears to refrain from betrayal; it implies that one will also further the cause of the one to whom it is sworn, when applicable. It does not imply absolute and explicit obedience to every word. Remember that an oath of fealty, while not exactly “common” in the world of the WoT, is not exactly uncommon either. It is the kind of oath sworn from nobles to rulers, so it happens every time a new ruler ascends a throne as well as every time a noble dies and is replaced by an heir. It’s a promise not to undermine the ruler, to defend him or her when called upon, and to provide support in various ways. Not many nobles would swear an oath of absolute obedience, and neither would these AS. They swore fealty, and they had to mean it – in part because of the strength of the oath, and in part because of the Oath Rod – but it is orders of magnitude lesser than an oath of obedience to an individual sworn directly on the Rod.

I don’t really like the fact that Egwene blackmailed them into swearing fealty, but I don’t really like the fact that they opened themselves up to blackmail either. Only a guilty conscience and fear of facing the consequences of your actions can give anyone that kind of handle on you. (Faolain and Theodrin, on the other hand, chose to swear fealty completely of their own accord, using an oath of their own choosing as well, so if I were Egwene, I would have much more confidence in their oaths than the others, FWIW. I just hope neither of them turns out to be a DF!)

As for the contention that fealty would require a Sitter to vote as directed or accept a mission or order, I would say that it’s more the hold they have given her than the oath of fealty that would come into play. Fealty would not really be open to direct disobedience, but it would definitely be open to reasoned argument before accepting a pointlessly suicidal mission. As noted above, the SAS who swore fealty to Egwene would be more-than-usually reluctant to argue, but it’s not the fealty that causes it. IMO.

Birgit @88 – Re: Mat – that’s it exactly. Mat tries so hard to maintain “the old Mat” persona, because he doesn’t really want to be a) responsible or b) a general. For someone who grew up with the irrepressible scoundrel, it’s natural to accept it as fact rather than act. Also HArai @90 – having someone tell you that your childhood friend is a super-general, while not seeing any actual evidence that he’s any different than he was two months ago, is not entirely convincing. Particularly when he makes a concerted effort to appear just as irresponsible as ever, or more so, every time you see him. If Egwene's main concern in life was looking for evidence of growth in her old friends, I’m sure she could find it, but she’s got other things on her mind and naturally sees what she expects to see and what he is doing his best to present.

anthonypero@89 – I had to chuckle a bit. Egwene is perfectly used to various forms of coercion, and has been practicing them for about 19 years. I agree, though – it’s the use of the OP to force obedience to an individual, whether through Compulsion or through the Oath Rod, that she finds so offensive.

Bergmaniac @91 – Excellent point: This sounds far more likely than Mat suddenly becoming a military genius despite zero training and very little experience.We’ve seen what happened to Mat, and expect this kind of stuff because we’re reading a fantasy. From the inside perspective, the probability of your childhood friend becoming a military genius so quickly is… minimal at best. Far more likely that he’s the figurehead and Talmanes the brains.

Wortmauer @93 – “It occurs to me that our distaste for Egwene's followers' oaths of fealty is mostly our own cultural bias.” (and following) This is so very true! It offends our cultural sensibilities, and in part rightly so, having seen some of the worse things that can happen as results. We tend to forget about the times when it goes well – but those are mostly cases where the individual is so committed to a higher cause that his followers end up committed to it as well. Then we think in terms of the cause rather than the person – or at least, we tend not to glorify the person who has not glorified himself.

I’m sure we’d all like to see Egwene (on screen) release the SAS who swore fealty; I’m not entirely sure she hasn’t already done it off screen, though. I’ll have to watch for evidence now.

Sorry about the wot again. I keep getting distracted, and then coming back to find more to comment on before I post! I’ll go away now…
Kimani Rogers
96. KiManiak
Out for a day or so and look how the discussion progresses.

Berg@57 – re: Egwene winning over the Novices – Egwene did demonstrate remarkable skill and ability in her Novice classes (before being kicked out), and then (to other Novices’ eyes) began receiving exclusive instruction from AS only. She was able to handle multiple beatings daily with no visible physical or emotional effect. She conducted private instruction (of the Power and of how to conduct oneself). She had Nicola switch from adversary to major supporter.

And… even with all of that, I do agree with you that it is still rather implausible that the Novices would convert in 9 or so days. I think we have to give RJ a little authorial creative license here (and also go along with Sub’s “Novice = sheep” argument, too).

AP@63 – re: Rand/Perrin/Egwene – Actually, I think that in the middle of a battle -or some other dangerous situation- the bit of actual-book-proof that we have (TSR) shows that 2R men tend to be overprotective of their women and will try to shield them first; not just abandon them in a firefight. Clearly Perrin acted different. Oh, and the 2R women also supported and fought next to their men; they never tried to restrain them and remove them. So, clearly Egwene acted differently as well.

As for Egs and Rand’s interaction in ToM, neither were acting like their 2R selves at that time (Rand because he was Zen Rand, Egwene because she had completely sold out to the Tower).

And even with that, like you I find each of their actions believable. However, I find Perrin’s actions laudable, honorable and semi-amusing; Egwene’s actions disloyal, condescending, frustrating and annoying, but not surprising; and Rand’s actions amusing, somewhat frustrating (Rand could’ve given her a little bit more info, even if she was being “imperious, full of herself, Amyrlin-Egwene”), yet intriguing.

Oh, and you sound like you had a very interesting 20s :-)

abhi@71 – That was part of what I was referring to. Also (and this is from memory; I don’t have the book with me):

-Egwene tells the WFs that she does not wish to change the bargain between the WF and AS… before working to change the bargain between the WF and AS, which was most likely her original intent.

-Amys says something like “We will not let you wrap us in chains of steel” and Egwene thinks something like “No; chains of lace” while giving the impression that she was not trying to wrap them up in anything.

-Egwene gives the impression that she wants this to be a partnership and even/equal exchange, yet states to the gathered AS immediately afterwards “We shall lead them” or something like that (and yes, I understand that manipulation and deception are part of any negotiation process. It doesn’t make my original point any less true.).

Oh, and duplicitous just means being deceptive, misleading and/or dishonest, so I don’t think its too strong a word in this case, but I respect that you disagree.

Free@81 – re: Egwene and Alvistere – Obviously you and I disagree about what Egwene may or may not be “interested” in. As Egwene’s POV doesn’t specifically state what she thinks about Alvistere or the motivation behind Egwene’s retort, it looks like one of those times where we’ll each just have to “believe as you like.”

As for how she feels about the position of Amyrlin, I think that Egwene views every encounter where she (and thus the office of Amyrlin that she feels she embodies) aren’t treated with respect as a “micro-battle” that she wants to win. She doesn’t give the impression as willing to overlook some slights while acknowledging others, as evidenced by the way she approaches each lesson, discussion or interaction with the Novices, Accepted and Aes Sedai, up to and including her violent and bloody dinner experience with Elaida.

Egwene tries to come out on top of each encounter (come on; it’s Egwene; she’s competitive); its just that the AS can send her to be punished when they don’t like what she says or does (and several do); a Novice cannot.
Kimani Rogers
97. KiManiak
@Many – re: Egwene and Mat – Put me in the camp that holds its Egwene’s choice to blind herself to the growth, abilities and development of our Superboys.

Again, I don’t find it unbelievable. Egwene has always been rather self-centered and arrogant, so it’s rather plausible that she believes that only she had the ability to come as far as she has intellectually and emotionally, while the Superboys are the same backwater country bumpkins that she always thought they were.

But, she had multiple opportunities to find out about Mat (Hello! He’s leading an entire mercenary force; maybe there’s more to your friend then what there used to be? Maybe if you cared you would ask around?) before leaving for Salidar.

Instead, she was focused on herself, disobeying/ignoring the rules that the Wise Ones set re: T’A’R and deceiving others about being an AS. Basically, acting kind of like the rogue that she sees Mat being (although she did avoid the drinking, gambling and wenching).

I think when folks are critical of Egwene and compare her treatment of others (like the SB) to their treatment of her, it doesn’t have to do with her acting unrealistic. It has to do with how she sees/treats her “friends,” while expecting different treatment from them. She’s not a believer in the “Do unto others”/”Treat others as you’d like to be treated” Golden Rule thing. Which makes her very Aes Sedai, btw. Just not the lofty, ideal Aes Sedai that she (or maybe it’s the reader) thinks AS should aspire to be.

Of course it’s a character flaw. And all of our Superkids have them (and thank God for that; it makes them human and realistic).

It just so happens that one of Egwene’s main character flaws is that she thinks little of, and is often not loyal (or capable of granting the benefit of the doubt) to, her friends and their capabilities (at least, the male ones). That flaw rankles some folks more than others, and that could be part of the reason why Egwene tends to be liked less than some of the others (at least, by me). I guess it somewhat depends on the individual reader and what characteristics/ traits they value (or are willing to overlook or forgive) more in their fictional characters than others.
98. Fredweena
Off topic a bit, but in response to @33 & 35, I assumed that Rand 'poured oil' on Egwene & the Tower in order to get the rest of the kingdom/armies gathered. He needs everyone, yet he couldn't do it all himself, let her gather some (even though she think they will be in oppostion to his plan), so that they are all there & ready to go.
John Massey
99. subwoofer
Hmmmmmm- Wetlander, are you "da trooth" person in red by any chance? I note that you don't like to create paragraphs same as the "trooth" person. Things that make me go "hmmmmmm".

As for the Aes Sedai, I think they are all a bunch of weaselly weasels if they weasel their way out of doing what they should based on their oath of fealty, or as the Aiel would say, they are "Shaido dogs that have no honor". Recall if you will a story about an Aiel that saw a man with a dragon tattoo on his arm. He got offended because only clan chiefs and the Car' ca.... er HeWhoComesWiththeDawn should have such things and anybody else is doing blasphemy. Anyways this Aiel guy goes and offs the offending miscreant, but low and behold, there is also a law against killing? What to do? The guy had a tattoo but the Aiel also broke the law... I seem to recall that he hung himself, which flies in the face of logic because surely self preservation would overcome the need to keep your word and honor...

Ahem... where was I? Oh yeah, Aes Sedai... weaselly weasels that can justify their way outta anything instead of keeping their word. It's kinda like working for a boss who is a schmuck, he tells you to do all sorts of shitty things and you either do it or get fired, only in this case, fired would refer to "bang- dead" as breaking your oath of fealty would be tantamount to treason, should Rand or Egwene be really honked off and choose to take the offending Aes Sedai to task.

Ahhh, yes...

In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more serious acts of betrayal of one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason

In English law, high treason was punishable by being hanged, drawn and quartered (men) or burnt at the stake (women), or beheading (royalty and nobility).

Edit- good old wiki:)

John Massey
100. subwoofer

Ha ha! The One Hunny is mine!!!!!

ERm..... @birgit- what diff does it make if it was Elaida's doing, what counts is the result, not so much the motivation for me... but then again, that's MHO. Edit- never mind, Wetlander explained it to me. I get it now. Too much Rafi these days. Sorry.

"Oh, and duplicitous just means being deceptive, misleading and/or
dishonest, so I don’t think its too strong a word in this case, but I
respect that you disagree."


John Massey
101. subwoofer
@Wet, lemme come at this from another angle- I read a Promise Keeper's Bible and there is an entry on the Feb. 8 day that says-

"Historically, Quakers have resisted swearing in before testifying in court. Their rationale is simple. If they have to promise to be honest for the next few minutes, the implication is that they are dishonest the rest of the time. If such is the case, why should anyone trust their oath?

A person's intergrity should be such that no one would ask whether she or he will speak "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Indeed, it would never occur to anyone to suspect that person would do otherwise. In this way, the Quakers make a point about character and integrity.

Jesus made the same point in Matthew 5:37 when he told his listeners," Just say a simple, "Yes, I will" or "No, I won't." Your word is enough.""

Weaselly Aes Sedai weasels, weaselling their way outta an oath of fealty... "Under the Light and by my hope of salvation"... my eye.

Or maybe it is my military background where an order is an order and is not subject to interpretation because we would be court martialed.

I suppose my biggest issue is not so much that the Aes Sedai weasels would weasel themselves out of an oath of fealty, but that they weasel themselves out of any kind of way of telling the truth. Damn weasels. Everybody knows that to a certain level, Aes Sedai cannot "lie" but what they say is not necessarily black and white. We have that hammered into us by Thom first and anybody that is not Tower connected along the way. Maybe if the Aes Sedai stopped being weasels, they would not have to take the Oaths in the first place, if they could just keep their word. gngngahweaselsgrumblemumblegrrrr.

Kimani Rogers
102. KiManiak
Sub@100 - Nice! I love that Princess Bride bit, even when it's at my expense :-)

I'm using "that word" as "I think it means" mostly this, but also this and this. Let me know how you think I'm wrong...
John Massey
103. subwoofer
@Ki, I won't say you're wrong, maybe just duplicitous;)

btw, you're "mostly this" results in a -file not found- on bing.

Roger Powell
104. forkroot
(Faolain and Theodrin, on the other hand, chose to swear fealty completely of their own accord, using an oath of their own choosing as well, so if I were Egwene, I would have much more confidence in their oaths than the others, FWIW. I just hope neither of them turns out to be a DF!)
Hmmm - I was going to give you very good reasons why they are not Black Ajah - but you didn't say that! It is possible that either or both could be Darkfriends - they likely wouldn't have had time to join the BA because Egwene just raised them by fiat (along with Nyn and El) in Salidar. They are part of the SAS embassy to the Black Tower, so they were not part of the rebel camp oath-rod based cleansing.
Alice Arneson
105. Wetlandernw
Subwoofer @99 – Not guilty, yer honor. I’ve never commented under any handle but my own. I have been tempted, but I’ve never done it. Once in a while my paragraphs get away from me, though.

About Mangin… he didn’t hang himself, but he went cheerfully to be hanged. He figured honor was worth more than self-preservation. (Incidentally, you might not admit it, but the same is true of you. I know you better than you think, dude.)

Same @100 – birgit was referring to the fact that Traveling had not become widely known, leaving some to assume that Beonin hadn’t given it away. In fact, Beonin had offered it up practically the instant she saw Elaida; it was only Elaida’s self-centeredness that kept it from being known throughout the Tower. The power-hungry harpy was having fun knowing something (she thought) no one else in the Tower knew.

Same @101 – And that’s the reason that legal documents often read “I hereby swear or affirm…” Swearing is not actually required, either on paper or in court, at least in the USA.

forkroot @104 - I actually thought of that, after I typed it. :) I'd forgotten that they were with the crew going to the BT, though; this could get interesting!
William Fettes
106. Wolfmage
Good posts peeps; well done everyone. As infuriating as it may be at times for the Egwene lovers amongst us, it seems that her character consistently provokes the kind of strong feelings that give rise to differences of opinion and quality discussion.

Wortmauer @ 93

I think you’re absolutely correct to note that a full understanding of things like the separation of powers, the rule of law, check and balances, and the dangers of a too-strong leadership cult of personality are comparatively modern. I probably wouldn’t call them biases simply because they’re objectively well founded, as measured against basic indicia such as social and political stability, general utility maximisation and the prevention of the accumulation and abuse of power over time. However, they certainly do represent gaps in the viewpoint of Randlanders.

So, there is probably an element of unfairness if we are too harsh in holding Randlanders to account with the most sophisticated version of these standards. But what about what they do know and a more common sense approach? On one hand, Egwene knows the Oath of Fealty is not usual and probably strongly against custom. On the other hand, we can guess Egwene’s study of the secret histories might push her in the opposite direction by emphasising the dangers of weak Amyrlins who become captive to the Hall. Also, her reform of the notification voting law and her general manoeuvring of the Hall, shows she is not exactly unsophisticated in her institutional thinking either. So a balance needs to be struck in how we assess her actions. The Black Ajah situation makes the difference for me, but only if Egwene lifts the Oaths as soon as practicable.
107. s'rEDIT
@57 Bermaniac (and all)

BTW, I also found problematic how quickly Egwene won over the novices. . . . A lot of them had been novices for years when Egwene came to the Tower and still are. Yet somehow she won over all of them in nine days. I don't buy it at all.

While 9 days for Egwene to effect the changes and gain the loyalties she does seems like merely authorial fiat; nevertheless, we must remember the Pattern is weaving as it wills. Not just as a convenient excuse but as an active force preparing the world for Tarmon Gai'don.
John Massey
108. subwoofer
@Wetlander- er... yes, that's why Steve Rogers jumped on that grenade...

Anywho, I get the “I hereby swear or affirm…”- interesting quote marks btw, my pc doesn't do that,- um, yes, point was, nobody takes the Aes Sedai at their word because they are weasels. I think at the heart of things that is what rankles me. Oath of fealty is all but useless because of weaselling. Most oaths are useless because of weaselling. As you pointed out, just about the only way these ladies can be honest and held accountable is by the use of magic. The Oath Rod and the 3 Oaths are about the only thing that makes them not twist things around if they are pinned by it. Dang it, that is not the way for people to be. That is not the way for an istitution like the Tower to be. If Egwene wants to fix things, start there. Get an exterminator and go on a weasel hunt.

Edit- and yes, I finally get what Birgit was getting at as you interpreted for me. I'm going away now before I go on another tirade on the uselessness of Elaida. I do very much hope that Siuan gets put in the ring with Elaida and she(Elaida) gets the beating she deserves. fini.

Edit, edit- and since I have proven time and again that I have a very ... flaky memory- was it Egwene alone or with guidance and coaxing from Siuan that brought about the change in the voting law?

109. alreadymadwithspankings
AndrewB @6
Both were leaders who suspiciously disappeared just as the Dragon Reborn started making waves. Elaida apparently had a bad habit of kidnapping leaders and trapping them within Tar Valon so she could impress them with her power. Rand was almost a victim of this as well. Honestly I didn't see it coming either but with hindsight, it works for me.

Tektonica @8
The idea was with the surviving rulers under her control she could start her plan of being a tyrant saving the world. That didn't work out since Rand got away and Alsalam got lost midway. When that didn't work she tried to pass it off as saving Mattin's life from Rand who was trying to kill him, as well as plotting to return him to the throne of Illian.

Majicou @33
It was. Rand knew what he was doing when he went there, and his intent was to goad the White Tower into action. He's almost ready to fight the Last Battle. Except the land is still divided into several factions. He has quite a few factions in his hand already, but the single largest faction he cannot claim to have any influence over is the White Tower. He knows the White Tower isn't likely to accept anything less than a leadership role without a fight. But he has to get them to show up for the fight first.

Wetlandernw @45
Also like himself you mean. Rand was also captured by Elaida's cohorts. Were it not for the Asha'man, he would most likely have ended up as THE demonstration of Elaida's power to Mattin the spectator. In hindsight this is probably why we never saw it. We never had any first hand experience in Elaida's kidnapping ways. Unlike Rand.

BFG @56
Good point. Aes Sedai think all special abilities have to do with the Power. They even tried to gentle Elyas.

Bergmaniac @57
Err.. If you're at the bottom rung, you will tend to idolize the one who went from the bottom to the top in the shortest time ever. If you're stuck in the middle, then you resent the one who climbed her way to the top faster than you did.

AndrewB @66
Now that I think on it, Egwene may well have thought Talmanes, a Cairhienin noble of no small rank, to have been the secret of Mat's success.
110. Saetana
The main problem with this reread is that we've all read all the books published so far and its hard to separate later knowledge from the current chapter(s) under discussion. So I won't even try ;o)

I've never much liked Egwene, even in the very earliest books she struck me as someone who always thinks she knows best and her arrogance just grows from book to book. She has some secondhand knowledge of events in Randland from the eyes and ears so why does she still treat the SBs like they are children? Rand has conquered several countries and Mat is possibly the best general in Randland, I agree that she was blind when Mat was around, either that or (just as likely) his appointment fits with her opinion of Rand as a child who needs to be led by the hand.

Remember Egwene is one of the youngest of the SGs and SBs, I think only Elayne may be a little younger, to me much of what she does is and how others perceive her - the fast respect from the novices and other AS, just would not happen as no matter how wise her words she still looks like the very young woman she is and I really can't see AS in the tower paying any attention to a novice, even one who was set up as Amyrlin - doesn't make sense, she is a class 1 hypocrite and either sets her mind in stone (the seals) about what she believes or changes at the drop of a hat (3 oaths). Of all the SBs and SGs she is my least favourite unfortunately.

Saying which, I do think KoD is a good read, after CoT which is my least favourite (too much Egwene and Perrin, not enough Mat and Rand) and a long wait for the next book it was a relief to see RJ going back to the quality level of the earlier books, I'm just finding Egwene more and more grating every time I reread the series.
Roger Powell
111. forkroot
birgit was referring to the fact that Traveling had not become widely known, leaving some to assume that Beonin hadn’t given it away. In fact, Beonin had offered it up practically the instant she saw Elaida; it was only Elaida’s self-centeredness that kept it from being known throughout the Tower. The power-hungry harpy was having fun knowing something (she thought) no one else in the Tower knew.
Well she does share it with some of the AS - We know someone from the Tower beat the the SAS to picking up the tribute from Kandor (this is how the rebels found out that the Tower had traveling.)

For that matter - I think we see Katerine use traveling to get back to the town where Gawyn and the Younglings are based.

Perhaps Elaida limited Traveling to her most trusted cronies in the Red Ajah.
112. GMan
The I Surrender Suckers trope does appear to fit with some variation. It's not a total surrender but Egwene does submit as a prisoner, accepting her punishments and doing what she is told, whenever the alternative is use of force. This is in keeping with the themes of surrender that began with Moiraine's success with Rand. In order to deal with others, you have to give in a little.

Many characters learn this and it is this strength she exemplifies in this chapter. It's how she continues to deal with the Hall, by letting them have control of the army so she can deal with Rand. She makes similar concessions with the Wise Ones and the Windfinders, treating them as equals and making allies.

Where she gets into trouble imo is with men. She tried to overcome Perrin by force and failed. She recognizes what Gawyn means when he mentions his difficulty surrendering in the past but it troubled her that he had to override her authority to save her life. Rand overcame his own paranoia about Aes Sedai when he briefly surrendered to the Tower but Egwene's manner of dealing with him was needlessly forceful, with every potential of repeating Elaida's mistakes until he showed that it wouldn't work with him. Now he's using her to gather the rulers that he couldn't get by himself while she thinks she can use them to bully him.
Kimani Rogers
113. KiManiak
Sub@103 - Well played. I tip my hat to you, sir :-)

Oh, and the link is working for me, so I don’t know what happened. I guess you can just go to bing.com and type in “definition duplicity” and then click on the bing dictionary one if you really want to know.
(It’s not really worth all that trouble, it pretty much says what I listed above)

I agree with what Wolf@106 says about the quality of the posts. I'm enjoying reading about oaths, Oaths, fealty, treason Compulsion, coercion and the like.
Roger Powell
114. forkroot
The thing that bugs me (no offense Insectoid)...
Speaking of the "bug", where has insectoid been? Haven't seen a post from him in quite a while.
Sam Mickel
115. Samadai
bzzzzzzzzzzz. bzzzzzzzzzzzz. bzzzzzzzzzzz. that's Insectoid for he has been grounded from the computer
Anthony Pero
116. anthonypero

My comments have not been meant as a defense of Egwene's personality traits. The comments that got me started actually WERE comments that found Egewene's behavior in this chapter is unbelievable and out of character, for her. My comments have always been directed towards that end. Egwene is BOTH an amazingly sharp leader AND a scared child who doesn't really know the best way to deal with people all the time... especially those who threaten her tenuous authority. She doesn't feel threatened by her enemies. She feels threatened by her friends. Which is both sad and entirely believable for someone as young and insecure as she is.

Egwene's weaknesses are what make me root for her, not her strengths. It's also what facsinates me about her storyline. It also generates sympathy from me. For others, this is not the case. I'm not arguing against others opinions on how her character causes them to feel. I'm arguing against the assumption that the writing is uneven.
John Massey
117. subwoofer
@Kimaniak- well, I'll give you duplicitous if you want to give me some clarification on your "Egwene is bringing up the rear" comment... considering every other page in this chapter Egwene get's her er... ass handed to her;)

Egwene- well, I will not say that she is one of my favs but RJ does pay her a huge compliment in this chapter-

"I wish Cadsuane were in the Tower," she(Adelorna) murmered. "I think she'd find you a challenge."

At the end of the day I believe RJ created Caddy for a reason, and he liked her, and to pay it forward for Egwene is a big thing.

I am also still stuck in the same rut that Lirene Dorellin is, doing laps ranting about the stupidity of Edaida-

"That proclamation of hers, on top of trying to kidnap him, could not have been better calculated to keep the al'Thor boy as far from the Tower as he can stay. Oh, she has made mistakes, Elaida has."

This also gets Egwene interested in the events that had Rand in a box...

One other thing occured to me, as I am doing laps in my house getting wound up about Elaida and the Tower of weasels, it seems that Elaida isn't going to budge from the Seat, the Hall would have slapped her on the wrist but that was about it ( well okay, maybe slapped on the bum... with a slipper). Seems like the Seanchan were good for something in that they removed Elaida from the Amyrlin's Seat promptly, something the Hall and sisters dithered on. Yay. Now the Seanchan may be causing more trouble in Randland, but at least we have a united Tower as a net result.

Eric Hughes
118. CireNaes
I don't like posting on my phone, but my current Internet debacle demands it.

So about Egwene. I like her and think she is one of the better personalities among the major players. Allow let me to use a simple comparison to address the situation at hand. By the by this won't be a one to one scenario.

The issue of her supposed hypocrisy is akin to someone going home to visit their parents and hometown friends after being away for a time. Old relationship patterns reign supreme and only the most emotionally savvy will be able to overcome that sort of conditioning. Most people never do.

Anyhoo, picture yourself as a person visiting home and you just became the head of state for one of the most powerful nations in your known world. Pretty crazy stuff. You always had high goals, but current events and your natural talent have enabled your meteoric rise. You're visiting with an old friend who has also achieved quite a bit in his time away. He is a foreign dignitary and the commander of a military organization, but you, you're a head of state. Now this guy represents a very powerful ruler as well, but he is not that man. Not only this, he behaves like his titles mean something and yours don't. On top of this, he insults your intelligence, political acumen, and your capability of handling the current crisis you're facing. His behavior leads you to believe his other accomplishments that you know of are greatly exaggerated. How could such an unprofessional knucklehead who has no respect for your current office have done anything of note when he acts just like he always has? Then he somewhat redeems himself by saying he's got your back in front members of your cutthroat cabinet who came along with you on your trip just to dig up dirt and undermine your authority, but he's still a bit of a cad and you're wary of his credibility.

Now fastforward to a conversation with another close friend who is going to be one of the up and coming representatives of your country and has already achieved what was thought to be impossible. You use an analogy that works rather well of when she used to be the only physician of your hometown and she was co-mayor. It works and a newfound relationship emerges.

Fastforward even further and the other major superpower of the world has risen quickly and is ruled by your old boyfriend. You know that he's developed a huge temper, is heavy-handed with his politics (to put it mildly), and he has a brain tumor that could be compromising his ability to reason soundly. To top it off, he's got the biggest and baddest military on the block and superior weapons technology to boot. This guy could really use some guidance before he burns all his political and relational bridges, which he is well on his way to adding as one of his latest casualites in his quest to save the world. He strolls into your capital building unexpected and states how he is going to go about taking care of your common foe. This foe is so powerful he can only be bested with a superior strategy and a new weapon that is in your friend's sole possession and he is the only one tall enough to use it. He says all this while behaving in a way completely contrary to your past experiences. Almost like he's some 400 year old philosophy major. Now you don't question that the weapon should be used against the enemy and you know this guy. He wouldn't intentionally do the wrong thing and would willingly die to save the free world from destruction, but he wants to rush right in and attack in the next thirty days when you know you've got some time afforded to everyone by the vestiges of the former super weapon. This great energy shield holds back the enemies' strongest tactical advantage and he wants to go to some heavily forested planet and blow it up to get a clear shot off. Naturally he can't do this alone so he's come to you for help because he doesn't want to screw it up again. Something about not being tall enough last time and some really stout co-leader from a past life wouldn't give him a boost up. So as one governing authority to the other you say let's talk about this and you privately think that the tumor has definately gotten worse. After a few more words exchanged you come out with it and say he should have his head examined because everyone knows about the tumor and you're the only one in the room who's not entirely intimidated by his "awesome" presentation, Yodaesque replies, and abs that you could wash laundry with. Then he strolls on out again without a perceived care in the world as to your opinion. Naturally, you're a little ticked off.

Well I've stretched that out as far as I care to go. Happy Sunday everyone.

Edit: For spacing and spelling.
Edit: With a computer for grammar and one two additional jokes.
William Fettes
120. Wolfmage
CireNaes@ 118

At least by my count, the hypocrisy issue has been raised in this thread against Egwene in relation to three separate issues. The first charge was about her response to the Novice, Alvistere. I’m personally a bit ambivalent about this charge because the Novice was really just being a bully here, and whatever reservations I may have about Egwene’s chequered history with shading the truth when it was convenient, her retort isn’t sophistry if you remove all the background baggage surrounding how full Aes Sedai prevaricate the truth in the face of their vaunted Three Oaths. But whatever the rot at the top, I think we can agree she deserved some kind of retort, and it’s not exactly a bad lesson for a Novice to learn regardless of what current Aes Sedai do or do not do. So, I think Egwene gets the benefit of the doubt on this one.

The second charge is about her treatment of the Two Rivers boys, in terms of how Egwene demands recognition for her own growth whilst sticking to her own preconceptions about them. I think there’s some substance to this charge, though I would perhaps pull short of calling it hypocrisy. Egwene’s acute powers of observation do seem to breakdown when it comes to the SBs. Though it must be said she hasn’t always been in possession of the full facts. On that score, I think you completely nailed the more charitable interpretation of how and why Egwene overlooks Mat’s growth in Salidar. It’s certainly true, as you argue, that Mat’s cad-like behaviour seems to confirm and accentuate the existence of his worst traits. This makes it very believable that Egwene would have trouble seeing past that to his growth.

Would I entirely waive Egwene through here? No. There are too many other cases were she apparently believes the worst interpretation without much thought (Rand), or has thoughts which generally frame the boys in a belittling and superior manner for me to look past this entirely. Whilst reciprocity is a solid basis for reappraising someone out of mutual respect, it also shouldn’t be necessary if one party is sophisticated enough and prepared to look at things without preconceptions. This is admittedly very difficult, but Egwene either is an Amyrlin for the Ages or she isn’t. Surely part of the price of such a meteroic rise in stature is that you live up to the billing? We’ve also seen plenty of examples within the series of people, like Siuan, being able to read individual characters and situations with better subtlety regardless of outward appearances, eg. Rand in Fal Dara.

I don't have much to add to your analogy's treatment of Rand at the White Tower except to note that Rand does actually ask Egwene's permission to leave and he is entirely courteous to her the whole time. So I think your analogy stretches the text a bit by ignoring how much Rand acknowledges Egwene as a rightful and good Amyrlin Seat.

The last hypocrisy charge concerns Egwene's apparent lack of thoughtful introspection about the parallels between her well-founded rage against Elaida as well as her poorly-founded umbrage at Rand, and her own initiatives which also encroach on the agency of others, and the shift the balance of power with a similar level of temerity and defiance of custom. You don't address this one in your analogy, but I think this one is the best grounded of the three because Egwene seems so completely oblivious that there are any similar issues whatsoever with her conduct, whilst maintaining a hair-trigger sense of wrongness in regard to Elaida and Rand. This, I think, ties back to her character being one of the least introspective in the series IMO. She is very much an outwardly motivated character who hardly ever pauses to inspect her own actions. It's a definite strength because it allows her to be constantly moving and looking forward as a telegenic path-breaker. But it's also a weakness because she lacks the kind of self-doubt and that essential need for internal consistency that makes people humble and careful in their judgements and actions. Egwene is quick to judge and quick to act. So far she has by sheer luck and good insticts managed to move forward without being tripped up by this lack of introspection.
John Massey
121. subwoofer
@CireNaes- I am in awe that you did that all from your phone- plus edits. Your thumbs must be burnt out:) Well played.

@Wolf- interesting food for thought.

William Fettes
122. Wolfmage
Thanks subwoofer. The observation about Egwene’s lack of self-reflection is one of those conclusions I've come to only after dozens of read-throughs and thousands of hours listening to the audio books.

It has just struck me over time how most of the major characters do express grave misgivings about themselves. They doubt their own competency. They feel guilty about actions they've taken, unkind words they said, and even the contents of their inner-most thoughts. They berate themselves. They accuse themselves of all manner of shortfalls, infractions and inadequacies, including rank hypocrisy, ungratefulness, insensitivity, unworthiness, lechery and cowardice. They also apologise, and think about apologising or taking some kind of penance. Sometimes this is warranted, sometimes not. But it is a frequent pastime.

Even the most stubborn character in WoT, Nynaeva, does this kind of self-reflection relatively frequently. Her outward approach of first resort is obviously dogmatic and frequently overbearing. However, we know she is much less self-assured in her head, and she gives herself a very hard time when she feels like she has lost her moral equilibrium by a misalignment between word and deed.

However, Egwene's moments of introspection are very few and far between. She doesn't really dwell on stuff like the others. She seldom scrutinises and compares her own behaviour with that of others. She is self-aware, but primarily in the more limited sense that she knows what she wants. She then goes around internalising other cultures, taking the best bits, and moving forward without looking back. If she ever feels guilty or uncertain about the path she's taken, it's not really shown.
Eric Hughes
123. CireNaes

So just two points to persuade your perception of her personality then? I'll give it a go, but I'll keep things short because my thumbs are bit worn out (thanks Sub).

I say that in 15 more years Egwene will have ironed out even her old relationship habits. I base this off of her sticking up for Rand in the WT during her captivity (read just like Mat does for her) plus her willingness to learn the best way of doing things. You are seeing a young hybrid of Siuan and Moiraine (that's an interesting character development when you think about it) and she will learn faster than either of them. Plus, her preconceptions of Rand that we get a glimpse into are not entirely unfounded (e.g., Rand's arrogance/strong arming/distrustfulness etc...) For 20ish years of age, she's doing great.

Now viewing Rand as respectful during his visit requires more than being polite and verbally acknowledging her titles. It also requires a detailed sit down conversation and acquiescing to a mental check up (which were not unreasonable things for Egwene to put forward due to his strange statements). Rand was there to play her because he now knows there are time constraints for the LB since his epiphany. The DO is no longer interested in Rand as he is now a real threat rather than a somewhat unpredictable, but highly manipulatable WMD. All the restraint that the DO had his underlings show is off the table and it's all out war now rather than emotional sabotage. All that to say is Rand's solution to this new problem wasn't perfect, nor is the new Rand. It sounded like something LTT would think was a way of killing two birds with one stone and was better than his old way of operating (see steps 1 and 2. Step 1: Make verbal demand while looking dangerous. If individual says no proceed to Step 2: Draw Saidin or True Power to eliminate feelings of paranoia and rage through bale fire weave. Apply liberally with Sa'Angreal as mood and the naysayer's amount of constituants dictates.

Your last point only holds true if her umbrage and actions are unfounded. Rand did
need guidance, advice, and even people willing to risk their safety by reigning him in. I don't think her irritation and opinion of Rand was very far off the mark at all.. In fact, she has the political hutzpah to draw all of Rand's supporters as well as the fence sitters to one location and she's not even a super ta'veren at the top of her proverbial game. I think she reads others quite well and it's our own sympathy for Rand's plight and internal struggles the he refuses to share very much of that colors our perception of Egwene. Why can't she just see what he won't let anyone else see? Or does she see all too well and has little tolerance for his teen angst?

Is she perfect? No. But if she were the Dragon Reborn (yes I know souls don't gender flip in WoT outside of the DO's contamination of the Pattern) then I bet the series would have only been three books long.

Edit: for spelling and grammar.
William Fettes
124. Wolfmage
CireNaes @ 123

I say that in 15 more years Egwene will have ironed out even her old relationship habits. I base this off of her sticking up for Rand in the WT during her captivity (read just like Mat does for her) plus her willingness to learn the best way of doing things. You are seeing a young hybrid of Siuan and Moiraine (that's an interesting character development when you think about it) and she will learn faster than either of them. Plus, her preconceptions of Rand that we get a glimpse into are not entirely unfounded (e.g., Rand's arrogance/strong arming/distrustfulness etc...) For 20ish years of age, she's doing great.”

I hope so. Siuan and Moiraine are two of my favourite characters. :)

“Now viewing Rand as respectful during his visit requires more than being polite and verbally acknowledging her titles. It also requires a detailed sit down conversation and acquiescing to a mental check up (which were not unreasonable things for Egwene to put forward due to his strange statements).”

Yeah, I agree that Rand was not forthcoming enough in terms of disclosing his plans and that does go towards establishing respect between them. But as you acknowledge later on, obviously Rand has a specific gambit in mind here that is being driven by the imminent arrival of the Last Battle. So it’s not like he failed to share information out of antagonism or malice.

But I don’t really agree that the mental check-up is relevant, simply because respect is not the same thing as assurance. If anything, assurance of someone's mental fitness is far more basic -- a precursor for any kind of interpersonal trust. But I think it’s wrong to say Rand needed to pre-emptively volunteer for a sanity test simply to show Egwene respect. That goes too far for me.

Bear in mind, I only brought this up because I felt your analogy failed to credit all the significant gestures of respect Rand offers Egwene during the visit. Let's recount them: he announces his visit and waits until Egwene can see him at her convenience. When he runs into Siuan, he readily accepts her judgement that Egwene is the best Amyrlin EVAH as something he should have expected. He allows himself to be shielded twice in the process. He calls her 'Mother', bows to her, and begs her leave before he goes. That’s a lot of proper deference and respect by any reasonable count.

“Your last point only holds true if her umbrage and actions are unfounded. Rand did need guidance, advice, and even people willing to risk their safety by reigning him in. I don't think her irritation and opinion of Rand was very far off the mark at all..”

Really? I think Egwene’s internal framing concerning Rand has been off kilter in a lot of non-trivial respects in the last several books. I particularly dislike her assumption that he must have compelled the Sisters who swore him fealty absent any alternative explanation, her brazen declarations that Rand must be guided and contained, and her lazy equivalency that her time in a Tower cell could be compared with Rand’s torture.

There's a big difference between a co-equal partner offering constructive advice in the spirit of amity, and the typical Aes Sedai approach of assuming anything that isn't graced with their input will be hopeless and mirred in the inherent stupidity of men. For all Egwene's growth, she seems to be still stuck in that misandrist and overly Aes Sedai-centric viewpoint. I just don't put any stock in that worldview. I am prepared to credit Egwene if she climbs down from that pedestal of nothingness to offer Rand advice as a person. However, at this stage, I don't think we've seen anything that suggests she has good advice to offer regarding the Last Battle; but I live in hope.
125. BFG
CireNaes @118 - no offence but it sounds hypocritical. On the one hand in your first situation your hypothetical leader is treating the military commander based on his behaviour and not his reputation. In the second situation your hypothetical leader is treating another hypothetical leader on his reputation and not his behaviour (applying this to the book Rand was respectful and as deferential as he could be under the circumstances). Either of those can be justified individually, but taken together it's hypocritical.

@120 Wolfmage - Eg calls on Rand to ask permission to leave 'you don't just walk away from the Amyrlin Seat' or some such and then he asks, but I'll second that he's respectful and courteous. And your last paragraph sums up what I want to say about her and Elaida. Considering the stance she says she'll take up re Rand while held prisoner she hardly seems to follow her own advice. Equally well he went to them and didn't give them time to prepare. Equally well the whole 'given time to prepare' thing reeks of manipulation, which I hate ('go Min'). AAhhhhhh, talking in circles - again!

@124 - again you say what I want to say more clearly! Love it :) Everyone talks about 'guiding' Rand, but it's always manipulation and control that they mean.
'typical Aes Sedai approach of assuming anything that isn't graced with their input will be hopeless and mirred in the inherent stupidity of men'
Eric Hughes
126. CireNaes
My sense is that readers over identify with Rand thereby thinking he does not need any guidance, just love and understanding. I disagree. He made a real mess of things with a few bright spots along the way. And guidance is not a dirty word. Especially when applied to Rand's pre-enlightened state. It can take on many forms.
Roger Powell
127. forkroot
Interesting points above - you still doing all this on a phone?

Regarding Rand - I can't agree with "a real mess". Has he made mistakes? Of course! But in so many ways his underlying "Two Rivers" instincts have served him well. If you consider the amount of power he wields, he has shown unbelievable restraint. Do you think Logain would have withheld retribution if he'd been kidnapped, held in a box, beaten, etc.? (Not to mention Taim!)

Rand's character shines through when he gets frustrated with the petty tyrants in Tear and makes changes to help the common folk - not to mention doing things like getting food relief to Illian.

Another thing - how many "Dragons" would think so far ahead to be establishing things like the research institute in Caihien?

As for accomplishments - to condense some RJ quotes, Team Light starts way behind in this match. Rand (and friends) have faced a daunting task from Day 1 and so far have managed to survive and make genuine progress.
Just cleansing saidan represents an enormous gain for Team Light!

Of course it's the "Dark Rand" that builds up and is seen the most in TGS that is farthest from the "Two Rivers Rand" that we identify with (and I readily concede that we readers may indeed "over-identify" with the main character.) Most of what you term "a mess" gets done in the late stages of the Dark Rand phase.

Fortunately the TR values (and possible a TR friend in T'AR) win the day in Veins of Gold. You'll note that afterward the Rand we care about then does the "right thing", doing his best to undo damage in Bandar Eban, with his father, with the Borderlanders, and so forth.

LTT/Rand himself says that this time things will be different precisely because he was raised in the Two Rivers. He has TR values now firmly integrated with 400 years of memories and expertise.

EDIT: By the way, Rand did better than I would have. I would have balefired the living crap out of Tuon and the whole Seanchan hierarchy ;-)
128. Wortmauer
forkroot@127: EDIT: By the way, Rand did better than I would have. I would have balefired the living crap out of Tuon and the whole Seanchan hierarchy ;-)
An interesting approach to enemas.

Just sayin'.
129. BFG
forkroot @127 - remind me never to make you mad :)
Eric Hughes
130. CireNaes

Not this time. Hooray for keyboards, laptops, and screens larger than 3" (These are a few of my favoite things). I'm thinking of getting a bluetooth keyboard for my phone to avoid finger strain. We recently moved out to the country again and it's cell phones or nothing when it comes to the internet. Base stations and tethering plans all have data caps and that makes them a waste of money to me. Unless it's a study day and I'm at a coffee shop (like today), I'm stuck with my phone after the kids are in bed. Not that that's such a bad thing. It's a great phone, just inadequate for interacting well in a forum like this.

I do agree that those are bright spots and worth noting. Rand is a great example of someone who internalizes the wrong stuff and this leads to some crazy externalizations that have compromised his major goal up to ToM (uniting the East with the West, the North with the South). He's got major boundry issues.

He's just been too angry and cold hearted to be successful at the most important feature of the LB. Relationships. These relationships are only possible for a person who doesn't close himself off emotionally (thank you Cads and Sorilea). That's it in a nutshell for me. That also happens to be how I measure people in my life as well. This is why I think Egwene has done a much better job overall. With her friendships, with her politics, with her aquaintances.

Now that Rand has realized that he can try again with his relationships and do a better job this time, he's got a shot to deliver that "knock out punch" from RJ's boxer analogy. I'm back on board with Rand as of ToM and don't look at him as a tragic figure any longer. He has shielded himself from all of that taint in his brain and come to grips with his misguided grief.

I've always wondered if Rand's first exposure to the Choeden Kal at the end of TSR started his journey to AMoL. We get a picture of how much more taint Rand has than the other Asha'man through Nyneave. This is why the D.O. wanted Rand to have the thing over a long term period. You have the obvious factor of giving Rand the ability to destroy the Pattern and the previously not so obvious element of exposing him to vast quantities of the Taint thereby making the Pattern's destruction a viable option in the man's head. Getting Rand to channel the TP helped this process along too since the DO didn't have the option of "touching" Rand through the Taint any longer.

The Dragon Reborn is not necessary to recontaining the DO Team Light could figure that one out without his help. I really do think they could. The Dragon is only necessary to bring about the LB. And it only has the potential to be the LB if he flies completely off the handle or regains his humanity through humility (vs. LTT's pride) and forgiveness (vs. Rand's anger issues stemming from complicated grief compounded by Rand's willingness to add names onto Ilyena). So this is the standard by which I judge his performance as the Dragon.

That's likely why we have a differing opinion on Rand's past.

On a side note: Rand seldom shows restraint with men.

Edit: to add two indefinite articles.
131. Saetana
I have to agree more with Wolfmage and forkroot on the subjects of both Egwene and Rand, frankly I dislike analogies of the type Cirenaes produced, although that was an impressive bit of thinking, not to mention typing on a smartphone, I'm lucky in that I live in a large UK city as I don't know what I'd do without my trusty desktop and cable broadband connection, I have a smartphone but wouldn't fancy typing on it much, I'm a touch typist and anything other than a proper keyboard is frustrating. It would have been better to produce examples from the books as I found myself getting lost with the comparisons which weren't in any event strictly accurate.

A few points regarding the latter part of this discussion:

Rand IS absolutely essential to recontaining the DO, he is the Creator's avatar on "earth" (this is clear from the events at the end of Eye of the World), we already have a fair idea that Callendor is going to be involved somehow and that requires men and women linked to be used safely (I'm guessing at Rand plus Nynaeve and Moiraine at the minimum, he trusts those two above any other AS) and Rand is the strongest channeler in Randland in addition to having all LT's knowledge and training from the Age of Legends. Even discounting the avatar part, there is nobody better qualified to tackle this. He has already said in ToM that he won't be fighting in the Last Battle, he will be going to Shayol Gul together with whoever he decides to take along to help him (I'll be surprised if his 3 "wives" don't tag along).

Even as Rand got darker and angrier as the series progressed, he still stuck to the basics of his Two Rivers values, he did far more good than bad with his progression towards his moment of enlightenment on the top of Dragonmount. He wasn't bad at all until the AS kidnapped him, that unhappy episode left him with a major distrust of AS (not to mention raving claustrophobia) and Egwene shows absolutely NO appreciation of this fact, comparing her situation in KoD to his is laughable, she could escape any time she chose with the help of her rebel AS and travelling, he never had that option and had to descend into madness (actually communicating with the LT half of his personality) to escape. Fact is, Egwene wasn't there for his descent into darkness and insanity and doesn't really know anything about it so using that as a justification for her actions just doesn't wash. The last time she saw him was in Cairhien before she left for Salidar and he wasn't that bad at that stage in the story.

I have no issues at all with what she said to Alvistere, the girl was trying to be a bully and needed a set-down.

I totally agree with Wolfmage that Egwene is the main character who analyses her own actions the least, she may or may not improve over time but that is then (assuming there is a "then") and this is now and it is the "now" we are concerned with. Self-analysis is essential for growth and Egwene is too driven for this, oddly enough Elaida has this exact same trait. Not that Egwene would ever consider her actions in the same light as Elaida's, unfortunately, she needs a little humility inside at least as she is getting more and more obnoxious as the story progresses.

As for Rand not having an indepth discussion with Egwene, I am sure he is well aware that it probably wouldn't help and, moreover, Rand/LT is in essence around 400 years old, Egwene is a child by his standards and I think he treats her very respectfully (towards her position as Amrylin at least) taking this into consideration. He knows what needs to be done and I still find it difficult to believe that Egwene thinks she knows better. Even allowing for the fact that she doesn't know the facts of his "conversion", she is very young and inexperienced, I'd pay more attention to her feelings if they were the result of intensive thought, analysis and research about the DO's prison but, as usual, she has made a snap judgement. Fortunately for her, most of her snap judgements have paid off but it was one of those that didn't which resulted in her being captured, sheer idiocy! She could have been executed, the fact it worked out well is more down to Elaida's arrogance in thinking she could be reduced to a novice again.

Rand agreeing to a "mental checkup" is ridiculous, for a start Egwene doesn't even know about his madness and what on earth could she do in any event? There is only Nynaeve who has managed to do anything about the Asha'man madness, she is so much better in the last couple of books of the series, unlike Egwene she really has demonstrated a lot of personal growth and self-awareness. I never liked her in the early books but she (like Rand, Mat, Perrin and Aviendha) is now growing into the person she needs to be.

I don't agree that Rand has a problem with relationships, he is very close to Min from when she first turns up in Caemelyn and has strong feelings for his other two ladies, what he has a problem with is all the people (AS in particular and in spades) trying to manipulate him, either for personal advantage, their own narrow goals or simply because they THINK they know best (hello Cadsuane?). He still manages to treat his Aiel allies with respect even at his darkest moments, his essential Two Rivers character underlies everything he does and, as I said earlier, we have the AS to thank for his rapid descent into darkness. I don't just blame Elaida for that, there were a lot of others there, some of whom didn't approve of what they were doing and not ONE of them said a freakin' word. AS are like a herd of sheep sometimes and if Egwene does nothing else she needs to move away from the hierarchy of those who have the strongest ability in the power being on top regardless of their other abilities and qualifications.

I wonder how Egwene will react if she finds out that in the Age of Legends the "oath rod" was only used for binding criminals? I still dislike the way she changed her mind on that so quickly, even after discovering that it shortens their lives by about half. Two of the three oaths are pretty much meaningless anyway, its unlikely any AS would make weapons in any event and as AS can play with words to make people think they hear something other than what was actually said, not to mention the little fact that if the AS believes something is true (regardless of whether it actually is) then she doesn't fall foul of the oath on lying. Fact is, people don't really trust AS even with the 3 oaths, as she did think herself originally there is nothing like that to restrain Windfinders or Wise Ones and they don't tend to run amok trying to conquer everyone (the Shaido were a notable exception but that was purely down to the manipulations of Sevanna and they were soon taken down and received the wages of sin so to speak).

I'll leave it at that as this is getting rather long-winded. I'm really looking forward to seeing the in-depth discussion of ToM as I've just finished my own re-read. Wish BS would get a move on with MoL, I'm getting impatient ;o)
John Massey
132. subwoofer
Wow, good discussion folks- I like the thought processes here.

A few things- as I have mentioned, I am not a big Egwene fan, but I think that may be more instinctual than factual. I do like the girl Egwene was when she left the TR, I am not sure about the Amyrlin she is becoming now. Time will tell.

The one moment of introspection Egwene does have is when she takes in the Aiel way of doing things and admits that she has t'oh. But she was still Lyeee McLiar to get to that point. Lies by omission are still lies.

And yes, Rand is not perfect, but are we talking about his current arrogance or post epiphany when he goes about making amends?

Rand vs. Egwene- the meeting- Let us not forget history here folks. The last time LTT/Rand explained things to the Amyrlin fully, things went bad for him, I believe he is upholding the old adage "those that don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it". Same goes for destroying the CK.

As for Egwene vs. Rand, let us not forget the Pattern. It demands balance too. For all its strengths, Saidin has to be balanced with Saidar and as the male half of the source is balanced by the female, the Dragon has to be balanced by the Amyrlin. Somehow I can't see Rand getting around this. It has been drilled into us that the greatest time in the AoL was when men and women worked together. If this is the case, it has to happen here as well, and not just by a rogue sphere named Nynaeve and the ex-damane. In order for things to not desperately go sideways for the guys with white hats, they will have to play nice with the Tower come LB time.

I think Rand is just creating a scenario where Egwene cannot say "no, no sister will do that, we're going home to discuss this". I am just hoping that Egwene can think fast on her feet, because she is not going to have time to dither. Which brings us back to the other part of Egwene's proclaimation about her dealing with heads of state and the Hall dealing with the ongoing army efforts. Things happen for a reason and this is the only way that the balance can be maintained and Egwene can get the Hall to field the army at the same time...

Rand may or may not need guidance, but he does need someone to balance him.

Valentin M
133. ValMar
Great discussion on Egwene guys. I too tend to lean on Wolfmage, forkroot, etc, side.
IMO one thing Egwene hasn't managed to overcome is her view of men. She was aping Nyn's (and others') dealings and talk of men in the TR without actuall understanding. She is stuck on "men are idiots" mode while many women who are older and/or have been around are more nuanced. E.g. Min- younger but outgoing, and Moiraine- AS but spend most of her time outside the WT. Or Setalle!
This view clouds Egwene's judgement when she thinks of the SB's actions and achievements, IMO. Lately she was with AS and before with Wise Ones. The WO's sweat tent talks were filled with a lot of girl "macho talk" and Eg probably didn't realise how much of it was tongue-in-cheek.

Oh, and All Hail to the Paiges! ;) And is brilliant to see the lady from AZ up in DC too!
William Fettes
134. Wolfmage
Forkroot @ 127

Yeah, I agree. Rand may have made some mistakes, but I don’t think he’s made a true mess of anything. His main problem was his conflation between hardness and toughness, and his lack of trust, which lead to him becoming Dark Rand. Everything dubious he did was a symptom of that psychological malady, and it was certainly an epic disaster in the making; however, fortunately he overcame it before any lasting harm was done.

If that was Rand’s nadir, it’s important for us to ask: did Egwene actually have anything useful to say about how Rand became reconciled with his full identity as the Dragon which would justify her prior insistence on needing to guide Rand? Not that I can see. I mean, how could she? He’s a prophesised eternal soul battling it out between his current specific Two Rivers identity, his last 400-year old incarnation and the taint of the Dark One. He's been forced to weather the immense pressures of the actual fate of the universe resting on his shoulders and a crystalline sense of duty to go with it. Not to mention the countless harrowing experiences he's had of torture, pain and loss. Egwene’s shtick of coping with a few spanking sessions is impressive on a personal level, but it hardly measures up to that, and she lacks the academic knowledge and time-tested wisdom of older Aes Sedai who can at least contribute to light-side goals in a theoretical or practical sense. Hell, even wise old Cadsuane’s main contribution in this arena was accidental.

If you go back before Dark Rand, I’m even less sure Egwene would have anything useful to add to Rand’s countless major light-side accomplishments. I mean, Egwene's earliest thoughts about Rand's conduct in Tear were manifestly naive and anti-war, for example. She was still basically a child at that point, whilst he was getting a crash course in being a King from Moiraine and Thom and doing pretty damn good job of it.

Now, I am confident that she has grown up a lot since then and that she will have substantive advice to offer in the future which will be important in the Last Battle. But that hardly justifies her pretension that he needed guidance from the beginning. On that score, I am happy he put most of his faith in other women such as Cadsuane, Min, Moiraine, Alivia and Nynaeva.

Subwoofer @ 132

I think the balance theme is too central to the books for it not to play an important role. I think the fact that Rand’s ta’veren presence silenced everyone but Egwene in the Tower, and the echoes of Latra Posae Decume in their conflict, is suggestive that this might be the way the books go. However, there’s another way at looking at it.

What if the cosmic optimum of balance is more about the counter-balancing unity of the Ashaman with the Aes Sedai during the Last Battle, and its aftermath, as well as the usage of Calandor via a female-led circle in the act of sealing of the Bore. Rand, in this interpretation, might be considered more of a neutral agent of the Creator rather than a gendered agent that must be counter-balanced. So Egwene would be a counter-balance to Logain, rather than Rand.
John Massey
135. subwoofer
Hell, even wise old Cadsuane’s main contribution in this arena was accidental.


As to the rest- it depends on what "greatness" Logain rises to. We'll find out in the shake-up of the Black Tower. It could very well be. I really do want Egwene to break out of the typical Aes Sedai mold. Institutions do have a way of cookie cuttering their personal, the Tower seems to be no different. Egwene needs to buck this trend and break the cycle. Right now it seems that it is Nynaeve that is the outsider Aes Sedai. TR girls need to stick together.

Edit- as for the female-led circle, isn't that what LTT wanted in the first place?

Eric Hughes
136. CireNaes
If I continue posting on the topic to answer some of the points being made then I will only end up repeating myself as I see my prior answers as adequate. Thanks for all the responses and fairly civilized rebuttals. It's time to watch a movie with my wife. Here's hoping "Wordplay" is a decent film.
William Fettes
137. Wolfmage
subwoofer @ 135

True. I guess I am just assuming Logain will be the new M’Hael and survive the Last Battle. But it could just as easily be Narishma, as the one who follows after, who leads the Black Tower.

re: LTT

Nah, Callandor wasn't made until during the Breaking. So LTT didn't have access to it. He wanted to incorporate women into his plan, yes, but I'm talking specifically about the popular theory that Rand, in a circle with two other women and Callandor, will be necessary to seal the Bore.
Chris R
138. up2stuff
Something that occurred to me regarding Egwene's subversion of the novices, is that life in Elaida's White Tower sucked! Maybe that was as much of a contributing factor in their allegience as anything else.

All the girls who enter the tower are expecting hard work, true. But hostility? Fear? The AS are supposed to be serene, powerful, and unified against the Shadow. Not petty, bickering, and infantile. Not to mention the Amyrlin is a rat-bastard bully. How terrifying. Even older novices that have been around five or ten years earlier would begin to think that this is not what they signed on for.

Then Egwene shows up. She carries herself like the AS in the stories, shows more skill than full sisters, and shows herself to be an open and willing teacher. Plus, she's the rebel that everyone admires for standing up to the Jackass High-School Principal, er Amyrlin. One of her previously biggest detractors suddenly starts heaping praise, (Granted, Nicola's influence was kind of a rocket as well since she left the SAS what, a week before Eg's capture?), but still...now she's on the "Egwene Rocks!" wagon.

I'm just saying, maybe it isn't so much looking at Egwene, as it is look at what we have here, and what she represents out there, that sways all of the novices. A young child in those circumstances would change loyalties pretty quickly, and as I said, even the older novices would see that and think, "That's more like it."
Valentin M
139. ValMar
Let's see if I can be the last to comment on this post.

Wolfmage @ 134

Very valid question just what can Egwene offer Rand in terms of guidance. From our perspective- you pretty much summed it up. But she has much less info to work with- she isn't aware how little or much she and Rand know. Plus, as per my last post, she has major cultural prejudices. Egwene may still struggle with the concept that Rand can just about be able to put on his own breeches without a woman's help, preferably an AS.
John Massey
140. subwoofer
@ValMar- nope, it looks like somebody posted after you...

*looks around*

I wonder whom that handsome devil could be?

Kimani Rogers
141. KiManiak
ap@116 – It’s interesting what makes us “root for” well written characters in good works of fiction. Sometimes, their weaknesses can make them very appealing. I think it’s a testament to the author when they craft such polarizing characters (I think good examples are Wot and especially Malazan). RJ clearly did a good job.

sub@117 – Clarification on Egwene and the rear? I’m not going to touch that one… ;-)
**runs for bunker**

CireNaes@118 (and responders) – I enjoyed reading the proposed defense of Egwene (although if you look at my previous comments here and in several other reread posts you’ll know I strongly disagree) and the counterarguments. I think CireNaes made some interesting points, and I see the discussion that came from it was a good one.

Instead of coming back days later and trying to add my 2cents (which, like CN@136 would basically be restating points from previous posts I've made re: Egwene, her hypocrisy and a comparison of her display of “respect” to Rand in ToM vs. Rand’s display to her) to try to “top off” the conversation after the reread has moved on to the next chapters, I look forward to possibly revisiting the Egwene discussion in future posts; our previous behavior has shown that it will probably happen again, soon :-)

Sub@140 – Handsome devil? You flatter me, sir :-)
John Mann
142. jcmnyu
I have a question about the difference between Egwene's oaths of fealty and Elaida's oath of obedience. I was under the impression that an Aes Sedai who is bound by the three oaths is required by the first oath to do what they promise to do. So, if an Aes Sedai says I pledge my fealty to you, they must remain loyal, can't betray you, etc. That is why Egwene thought Beonin was Black Ajah because went back to Elaida and must have betrayed Egwene. However, Beonin had convinced herself that Egwene was no longer Amyrlin and therefore the oath was no longer valid. So the determining factor is the oath taker's interpretation of events. This also applied to the Aes Sedai who swear to Rand. They are bound by their interpretation of the oath and even have a discussion about whether being caught up in a ta'veren's influence changes anything. Since they honestly don't believe that, the oath holds and the 1st oath requires that they remain loyal.

Elaida's oath on the oath rod is more restrictive in that the wording is for obedience, not loyalty.

Am I wrong? Can someone cite examples from the text?
John Massey
143. subwoofer
@142- I think you have the meat of the concept. As we know the Aes Sedai can make the truth stand on it's head by the wording that they use. My wife and always have er... colorful discussions as English is not her first language and sometimes she talks ahead of what she is thinking, like she'll say "my car" when she meant to say "my truck" after I give her a blank look. It all comes down to semantics and if you believe what you say to be the truth. I am looking stuff up right now, but apparently Aes Sedai can lie by ommission, hence the reason that Egwene threatened to pin Romada and Lelaine by the Oaths just to make sure there was no wiggle room. That's all I got RATM.

@Ki- heh:)

Hugh Arai
144. HArai
jcmnyu@142: I would say just check out wetlandernw@77 in this thread. She gave good examples of how obedience sworn on the Oath rod is much more grave than loyalty under the first Oath.
John Mann
145. jcmnyu
@144 HArai

Yeah, I saw that and that was sort of the reason why I asked. I don't see it that way. I think that the description above in #77 is more like what happened when Suian and Leane swore an oath to Bryne. I think there is a middle ground for Aes Sedai in that their interpretation is the key. Similar to how the other oaths work. A new obedience oath allows no interpretation. The examples I used above about Beonin and the Aes Sedai who swore to Rand seems to indicate that the Aes Sedai who swear to do something are bound by the first oath to do it.
Hugh Arai
146. HArai
The examples I used above about Beonin and the Aes Sedai who swore to Rand seems to indicate that the Aes Sedai who swear to do something are bound by the first oath to do it.

They're bound to honestly believe their own specific interpretation of the words of the oath they say is true when they say it, since that's the only way they can say it. I don't know that we have proof the first Oath can enforce anything if the person's mindset honestly changes. Personally I thought the AS who swore to Rand were actually showing some personal integrity instead of being Oath-prodded.
Alice Arneson
147. Wetlandernw
jcmnyu @145 - "...the Aes Sedai who swear to do something are bound by the first oath to do it."

That was part of my point, @77 and elsewhere. They are bound to mean it when they swear fealty, and are held to it - according to their own individual interpretations of fealty. If an AS who swore fealty understood it to require absolute, unquestioning obedience, that's what she'd have to do. The point I've been making, and I think you are too, is that no one (except, apparently, a few readers) expects fealty to mean absolute, immediate, unreasoning obedience.

Therein lies the difference between an oath of fealty (bound only by the First Oath) and an Oath of obedience sworn directly on the Rod. The first is open to a certain amount of interpretation and free agency in carrying out the oath; the second is closed to anything but prompt, involuntary obedience to the letter of the command given.

Incidentally, it just occured to me that the spirit of an Oath is completely irrelevant; Aes Sedai are bound to the letter. In the case of "no word that is not true," the letter leaves a lot of wiggle room and, in fact, allows complete contravention of the spirit. In the case of "obey the Amyrlin" I'm not sure you could pull off the notion of "I'll obey what she meant, not what she said." It's possible, if that's how you thought of it in the first place, or if you could convince yourself that obeying her intent rather than her word was what you meant all along. But if she was at all specific in her wording of a particular command, you'd find yourself obeying with no choice.

What do y'all think? How far could you wiggle on an Oath of obedience?
Hugh Arai
148. HArai
wetlandernw@147: I think you'd simply get what happens in virtually all the tales of binding demons,devils,ifrits, etc. The Amyrlin could order bound people around to great effect but sooner or later her wording would slip and it would be disastrous for her. At least AS are unlikely to tear her apart and eat her.

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