The a’dam is an unusual ter’angreal in that it is apparently designed for saidar users and yet is strongly affected by saidin users. Normally, a ter’angreal designed for saidar is completely unresponsive if touched by a channeller who uses saidin, and vice versa. But not the a’dam.
If a male channeller touches the collar, the damane wearing the collar feels great pain. A sul’dam wearing the bracelet of that a’dam would also feel pain. For example Rand, while holding the Power, tried to remove a damane’s collar. The damane convulsed in agony and the sul’dam gasped with pain. Rand felt saidin rush through him into them, and Aviendha likewise felt ‘the Power’ (she did not specify which) rushing into them ( The Fires of Heaven, A Short Spear).
If a male channeller puts on the bracelet of an a’dam, both he and the damane wearing the collar would die screaming (The Great Hunt, Damane).
This is quite a design fault. Obviously there must be some explanation, some reason why the a’dam, as Egwene says, is one link no man could be brought into (A Crown of Swords, The Figurehead.)
The answer must lie in the way the ter’angreal is made. The programming of the a’dam is that the bracelet wearer is completely dominant and has to have the ability to channel saidar. Since:
a man must control...in mixed circles of fewer than 13,this conflicts with the a’dam’s programming and pain (partial or attempted linking; touching the collar, the subservient part of the link) or death (actual linking by putting on the dominant part of the link) is the result. A similar case of conflict would be over two conflicting instructions given to someone sworn on the Oath Rod (or binder).
- A Crown of Swords, Glossary
So far this plot device has not served much purpose. It has identified Rand as a male channeller in Seanchan in The Fires of Heaven,, but Lady Morsa had recognised him anyway, having been at Falme. That scene could have just as easily been written with the sul’dam exclaiming that it is his channelling and Lady Morsa arousing the Seeker’s suspicions with a gasp of recognition. The touching of the a’dam wasn’t strictly necessary.
It also served to indicate that there is a male channeller among the rebel Aes Sedai, one who released Moghedien, but Egwene has kept that largely to herself. Again, a minor plot twist.
Therefore, there must be an event yet to come which will dramatically involve a male channeller mistakenly being linked to an a’dam. I suggest that Halima will encounter Seanchan and will be tested with the a’dam with just such dramatic consequences as has been foreshadowed. It would be a fitting end for a Forsaken who set up death camps in the War of Power (The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time) – death on the end of an instrument of slavery.