Friday, March 8, 2002

Saidar Strength Ranking


WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR A MEMORY OF LIGHT



By Linda

This article is on strength in saidar. There is no equivalent article for males because it is difficult to make direct comparisons between males when there is no indication of how strong a male will be until he stops growing stronger, and no way for males to sense the strength of another male except by the amount of saidin he is holding. It is also difficult to make direct comparisons between males and females based on raw strength alone. Firstly, as Dominic reported, Jordan did not have a single ranking of men and women:

Brandon confirmed to me post signing last summer that RJ had nothing to compare male vs. female strength. He kept two separate systems, one for women and one for men.

Secondly, as Jordan explains on his blog:

Men can be much stronger than women in the pure quantity of the Power that they can channel, but on a practical level, women are much more deft in their weaving and that means the strongest possible woman can do just about anything that the strongest possible man could, and to the same degree.

He said that he knows the relative strength of every female channeller in the books imposed on a 21 level scale. Jordan has also stated on his blog:

Regarding the levels of male strength, while the weakest man and the weakest woman would be roughly equivalent, you might say that there are several levels of male strength on top of the female levels. Remember to integrate this with what I've said elsewhere about effectiveness, though.

This would mean that there must be at least three or four levels above Lanfear. It is likely that there are 21 levels for women and 24 or 25 for men and women for a scale of raw strength in the Power, since it would not be possible to reduce the saidar only scale to 17 or 18 levels and still remain consistent with the references.

The scale is not a firm indicator of the outcomes of duels. Jordan used the list mainly for ranking the average to weaker channellers:

I have said that in my notes I have such a scale that I use to keep track of everyone, but its main use is for the lesser characters, in particular Aes Sedai, so that I can check on who should defer to whom, who should only listen a little more attentively to whom, and so forth.

- Robert Jordan on his blog

Absolute strength is not a big issue with Jordan.

This is my version of that scale and it too places large emphasis on the rankings of the Aes Sedai. Furthermore, since the main purpose of Jordan's scale is to show deference among Aes Sedai, such deference and obedience can be used to place Aes Sedai on the scale.

Strength in the Power is the first criterion for ranking among Aes Sedai, as Eadyth told Siuan and Moiraine:

”Now, you must learn to compare your strength to that of every sister you meet. In time, it will become second nature, and you will do it without thought, but you must be very careful until you reach that point. If another sister stands higher than you in the Power, whatever her Ajah, you must defer to her. The higher she stands above you, the greater your deference…t works the other way around as well, of course, but remember that it doesn't apply if your Ajah or the Tower has set someone above you. If you're attached to an embassy, for example, you obey the Tower's emissary as you would me [their Ajah Head], if she was barely allowed to test for Accepted.”

- New Spring, Entering Home

Age or time spent training are only used for ranking when the sisters are so close in strength they can’t be graded by strength alone, ie they are on the same level. Edith made no qualifier that in years to come increased age would make any difference to the ranking between levels. We see this clearly where Vandene and Adeleas defer to Merilille. Their great age does not make them the equal of a woman even one level higher than they.

The channellers are listed in order of ultimate strength potential, not current strength. New channellers such as Sharina thus appear stronger than they are right now.

It should also be noted that the scale is not necessarily linear i.e. that there is not an equal difference in strength between levels. Also, within a level one woman may be stronger than another, but not enough to make a difference, or to be certain.

Scale of Strength in Saidar

Level 21
Lanfear

Level 20
Cyndane, Alivia

Level 19
Graendal, Sharina

Level 18
Nynaeve, Semirhage, Talaan

Level 17
Mesaana, Someryn (minimum)

Level 16
Moghedien, Tamela, Viendre

Level 15
Aviendha, Egwene, Elayne, Metarra

Level 14
Bode, Cadsuane

Level 13
Kerene, Meilyn, Nicola (minimum), Therava (minimum)

Level 12
Elaida, Elle, Garenia/Zarya, Janacy/Jancy, Lelaine, Moiraine (old), Nissa (minimum), Rainyn, Romanda, Siuan (old)

MINIMUM LEVEL TO USE CHOEDAN KAL

Level 11
Amys (minimum), Cetalia, Kirstian, Larelle, Leane (old), Merean, Merise, Naime, Pevara, Reanne, Rysael, Saerin, Sheriam, Theodrin, Yukiri

Level 10
Anaiya, Beonin, Bera, Caire, Carlinya, Coiren, Desandre, Edarra (minimum), Faolain, Felaana, Galina, Joline, Katerine (minimum), Kiruna, Kwamesa, Lemai, Maigan, Melaine, Morvrin, Myrelle, Nesune, Silviana, Talene, Tebreille, Teslyn

Level 9
Delana, Doesine, Faeldrin, Gabrelle, Liandrin, Leyn (minimum), Masuri, Narenwhin, Rafela, Renaile, Seaine, Shalon (minimum), Sumeko, Tarna, Toveine

Level 8
Alanna, Alviarin (minimum), Annoura (minimum), Berisha (minimum), Chanelle, Covarla, Dorile, Duhara, Eldrith, Falion, Ispan, Julanya, Keraille, Kurin, Meidani (minimum), Merana, Mika the damane (minimum), Nimri (minimum), Senine, Seonid, Serinia (minimum), Verin, two of Kema, Nashia and Sarasia (minimum)

MINIMUM LEVEL TO TRAVEL

Level 7
Aeldene, Asne, Chesmal, Demira, Elza, Lusonia (minimum), Marillin, Merilille, Tialin

Level 6
Adeleas, Kairen, Micarra, Sareitha, Temaile, Turanna, Valinde, Vandene, Vasha (minimum), Zerah

Level 5
Aiden, Akarrin, Berenicia, Berowin, Cabriana, Careane, Kumira, Leane (new), Hattori (maximum), Jamilila, Nalasia, Siuan (new), Teramina, Therva, Zemaille

Level 4
Daigian, Monaelle, Nisain, Reiko, Shana

CURRENT MINIMUM LEVEL FOR BECOMING AES SEDAI

Level 3
Sarainya

MINIMUM LEVEL FOR BECOMING ACCEPTED

Level 2
Alise, Asra, Caiden, Jesamyn, Kumiko, Moiraine (new), Sorilea

Level 1
Morgase

There are four main markers on the list:

    1. the minimum strength levels for being Accepted;
    2. the minimum strength levels for being Aes Sedai,
    3. the minimum level for being able to open a gateway (Travel); and
    4. the minimum strength required to use the Choedan Kal.


The levels will be discussed in order of increasing strength. Use the link at the bottom of each section to return to the scale.

Level 1

The weakest channeller is Morgase:

Fifty times trying to sense the True Source to find it once, and when found, twenty times attempting to open herself to saidar in order to catch a dribble once. A Brown sister named Verin had told her that there was hardly any need for the Tower to hold her until she learned how to handle her tiny ability safely.

- Lord of Chaos, Prologue: The First Message

Annoura, Berelain’s advisor, described Morgase’s strength as negligible. Morgase can rarely embrace the Source and can almost never weave anything (Knife of Dreams, In Malden). Yet in an emergency, Morgase was able to use her ability to move a scarf for hours (Knife of Dreams, In Malden).

*Return to the Scale*

Level 2

Sorilea is slightly higher up on the scale of One Power strength. While still being very weak, Sorilea can actually form and demonstrate weaves, whereas it took an heroic effort for Morgase to move a scarf in the air:

Sorilea had less strength in the Power than most novices Egwene had met. In fact, in the Tower, she would certainly have never have gone beyond novice before being sent away.

- Lord of Chaos, A Taste of Solitude

Sorilea was weak enough to make Daigian look at least moderately strong... “There is a thing you may find useful,” she said. “I cannot make it work, but I can weave the flows to show you.” She did just that, laying feeble skeins that fell into place and melted, too poor to do what they were intended for. “It is called Travelling”.

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

Daigian is the weakest of the Aes Sedai (see below). Weak in saidar Sorilea might be, but she is a deft weaver and a quick study, enough to earn Cadsuane’s respect (The Gathering Storm, A Box Opens).

Sorilea could never hope to become Accepted on grounds of insufficient strength. Nor could Moiraine, after the *elfinn folk fed on her saidar strength:

While draining my ability to channel, they were fed twofold - my sorrow at what I was losing and the Power itself. My capacity has been greatly reduced...Without this angreal, I wouldn't be strong enough to be raised Accepted in the White Tower.

- Towers of Midnight, A Rabbit for Supper

She was able to start a fire, but didn’t think she could do much more without an angreal. Perhaps she is a little weaker than Sorilea, or perhaps she is underestimating what she can still do. She wouldn’t have had much chance to channel in the *elfinn world.

All the Tower would do with such weak candidates is teach them how to control their ability before putting them out of the Tower. A few other channellers can also be placed in this category, ones who were in fact put out.

Asra likely would never have been allowed to take the test for Accepted.

- Lord of Chaos, Weaves of the Power

The Tower would not have allowed her [Alise] to stay as long as she did had she been quicker to learn... “Or will they keep us novices all our lives? Some might accept that, but I won’t.”

- The Path of Daggers

Caiden and Kumiko are also not strong enough to be allowed to test for Accepted (Knife of Dreams, Siege). The two of them plus Alise and another very weak Kinswoman linked together were strong enough to make a gateway. This shows the difference between the White Tower and the more inclusive Age of Legends where much was done by linking, so all channellers had a place and there was much less emphasis on strength.

Jesamyn is another kinswoman who could make a gateway when linked with the three other kinswomen, but could not make one when linked with just one of them (A Memory of Light, Prologue).

*Return to the Scale*

Level 3

This level contains channellers strong enough to receive the Great Serpent ring, but not of sufficient strength to earn the shawl. Sarainya has been placed here.

Sarainya was neither strong enough to become Aes Sedai, nor nearly old enough to stand very high among the Kin.

- The Path of Daggers, Crimsonthorn

We have progressed through the first two main sections which contain only three levels between them. All subsequent levels contain women with enough strength to test for Aes Sedai.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 4

Level 4 contains the weakest Aes Sedai, such as Daigian. She spent longer than any other sister as both a novice and Accepted:

Daigian had been longer a novice, and Accepted, than anyone within living memory, barely allowed to remain in the Tower, gaining the ring by a fingernail and the shawl by an eyelash. Daigian was always self-effacing around other sisters

- A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars

Most sisters considered Daigian little better than a wilder, and treated her little better than a servant... Daigian would sit quietly except when addressed.

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

This could mean that she deserves to be on a lower level, but she is quite a bit stronger than Sorilea. A newly raised sister named Elin Warrel, the oldest Accepted Nynaeve knew from her time in the Tower (A Crown of Swords, The Kin), is 47 and spent 29 years in training (see Age of Characters article). Since Elin’s 29 years is not regarded as exceptionally long, being about 50% longer than average, Daigian must have spent a vast amount of time training in the Tower.

There are several other women included on this level. Three Aes Sedai now absent from the Tower have been placed here:

Nalasia Merhan, a Brown; Teramina, a Green; and Jamilila Norsish, a Red. All were very weak in the Power.

- The Gathering Storm, Bathed In Light

Elayne comments on a Wise One named Monaelle:

Monaelle is barely strong enough, had she gone to the Tower, to have earned the shawl.

- Winter’s Heart, Snow

Nisain, Reiko and Shana, who were the weakest of the group of weak, but skilled, Aes Sedai who went to investigate Shadar Logoth are also probably on this level, since they are named as weaker than Siuan. And Siuan Sanche, after being Healed, is on the next level, along with the other Aes Sedai who went to Shadar Logoth.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 5

This level contains a number of more visible Aes Sedai described by other Aes Sedai as weak (rather than very weak). These women are of low rank and act almost as meekly as Daigian does around other sisters. Generally, they are specifically mentioned as being weak in the power or weaker than most sisters. Aiden and Zemaille are Sea Folk sisters and we know that the Sea Folk deliberately choose weak channellers to send to the Tower:

Aiden and Zemaille were weak in the Power.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Mark

This level also includes the Healed strengths of Siuan and Leane:

Leane is not as strong as she was, and neither is Siuan. Most women in Salidar can channel more than either of them, now. Even some of the Accepted can. Not even counting Elayne or Nynaeve. If Siuan and Leane were Healed to half or two thirds of their original strength, most Aes Sedai in Salidar would be as strong, and a good many stronger. Delana is much stronger than Siuan now, whereas before the margin had gone the other way.

- Lord of Chaos, To Heal Again

Siuan spent her days giving way to women who had jumped at her word a year earlier, smiling and curtsying for nearly every sister in the camp.

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

Even Aeldene is [above Siuan] and she’s no more than middling.

- A Crow of Swords, An Oath

Siuan and Leane are now weaker than most sisters and are less than half their original strength. There are still weaker Aes Sedai though. Of the five weak Aes Sedai sent to investigate the Shadar Logoth site, two, Akarrin and Therva, are described as about the same strength as Siuan and the other three (Shana, Nisain and Reiko) as weaker:

Akarrin was not strong in the Power, little more than Siuan, if at all. Only Therva [of the remaining four] stood even as high as that.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Surprises

Kumira is one level higher than Daigian and thus on this level:

In that company, Kumira hardly stood much higher [than Daigian] ... Kumira would let everyone but Daigian speak before her.

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

A few other Aes Sedai are also weak:

Cabriana closed her mouth without a trace of protest at being over ridden…Cabriana was not very strong at all.

- New Spring, Entering Home

Irritatingly, only Berenicia sat as small as Merana, plump hands folded in her lap, head bowed slightly and grave eyes watchful; she did not say a word unless spoken to.

- Lord of Chaos, The Mirror of Mists

Not the youngest [among the Aes Sedai in Ebou Dar], but the lowest in strength, Careane stood and glided to the door.

- A Crown of Swords, The First Cup

Hattori is another whose rank is so low that the other Aes Sedai

rarely care what she does... She’s also not influential, so the others don’t listen to her.

- The Gathering Storm, An Offer and a Departure

These women’s relative weakness is also made apparent in their behaviour and role in the books. They act as servants, making tea or standing or sitting quietly by while stronger Aes Sedai make the decisions or participate in discussion.

Cabriana is prepared to immediately arrange for alternate rooms for Siuan and Moiraine if they don’t like them. Kumira and Daigian were chosen by Cadsuane as spies because they would be disregarded by the other sisters. When Elayne is subjected to a (somewhat rigged) ‘trial’ for directly contacting the Kin, Careane is placed as her defence for the sole reason that the other sisters know that Careane would not speak up against the prosecution. Berenicia is at the bottom of the pecking order in Merana’s embassy. Siuan and Leane have to virtually beg to be allowed to do anything of any importance, and even then act as secretaries or errand runners. Aeldene is of middling strength and far enough above Siuan (two levels) to expect obedience.

Another channeller weaker than nearly all Aes Sedai, and therefore on this level is a Kinswoman called Berowin:

Most Aes Sedai she [Nynaeve] had met stood above Berowin; nearly all... And wonder of wonders, the woman who would have stood very close to the top, had she been Aes Sedai, looked sideways at the woman who would have stood near the bottom [Berowin] and blushed crimson.

- A Crown of Swords, Next Door to a Weaver

Yet for all her weakness, Berowin is still skilled:

Gathering herself, she [Nynaeve] strained to reach the Source, expecting the weaves to shatter. She would at least show these women she would not be... The weaves... stretched ... The shield stretched further and further, bulging like a ball. It would not break. That was impossible. Anyone could block her from the Source if they caught her by surprise, of course, and someone weaker could hold the shield once woven, but not this much weaker.
... “We do not try to reach above our station, but skills are honed with time, and this was always nearly a Talent with me. I could hold one of the Forsaken.”

- A Crown of Swords, Next Door to a Weaver

Nynaeve is many levels higher than Berowin, yet Berowin doesn’t seem to even be under any strain at all. Skill counts as much as strength, sometimes more.

*Return to the Scale*

Levels 6 to 7

Levels 6 to 7 are where the average Aes Sedai fall. These women are also too weak to Travel, whereas those a little stronger are not. Consequently, the marker for Travelling is between levels 7 and 8.

Once Bera and Kiruna had taken over Merana’s embassy, Demira was placed in charge of the four lower ranking Aes Sedai taking the Two Rivers girls to Salidar:

“Demira, someone must shepherd that extraordinary collection of girls from the Two Rivers to Salidar. You, Valinde, Kairen and Berenicia must assist Merana in that.”
“You may find some need for a Gray,” she [Merana] said faintly. “There will certainly be negotiations.”...
“Very well...Demira, you will see the girls to Salidar.”

- Lord of Chaos, The Mist of Mirrors

The rest were more like Valinde, almost placid... Demira had waited for the others [Faeldrin, Rafela, Bera and Kiruna] to finish, of course.

- Lord of Chaos, The Mist of Mirrors

Valinde and Kairen have been put on this level, one level above Berenicia on level 5, and Demira one level higher again on level 7.

In Salidar, Aeldene is described as of middling strength.

In the Ebou Dar embassy, none of the women apart from Nynaeve, Elayne and Aviendha are strong enough to Travel. Their leader, Merilille, is the strongest of these Aes Sedai:

”The Kin are no concern of yours, child,” Merilille broke in sharply... “I propose to pass sentence,” she said in a cold voice.
“I concur, and defer to your decision,” Adeleas said. She gave Elayne a disappointed frown and shook her head.
Vandene waved her hands dismissively. “I concur and defer. But I agree with the Seat of Rebuke [Sareitha].”

- A Crown of Swords, The First Cup

Yet in Andor Merilille was always accompanied by Reanne Corly to make gateways for her. Careane is the weakest Aes Sedai of this embassy as we saw in level 5. Vandene, Adeleas and Sareitha all defer to Merilille – and Vandene and Adeleas are far older than Merilille - and therefore are on level 6 and Merilille is one level higher on level 7.

Micarra, the weakest of the Shaido Wise Ones with Sevanna, is not weak, but certainly not strong either. Galina says she could break through her shield with little effort. Therefore she has been placed on an average level.

In the Tower:

Zerah was weaker [than Seaine] in any case…

- A Path Of Daggers, The Extra Bit

Seaine is the weakest of the independent Tower Sitters, therefore Zerah has been placed on an average level.

Turanna, a White whose shield Verin held even while tired, has been put two levels below Verin (who can Travel). Two weak Wise Ones had to be linked to shield Turanna.

Whereas:

Tialin was not much weaker in the Power than Verin

- The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances

and so has been placed on level 7, one level lower than Verin.

Elza is also weaker than Verin:

Elza was always very conscious of where she stood with respect to other sisters, perhaps too much so. For her to ignore Verin, much less confront Cadsuane, she must have been in a fine swivet.

- Winter’s Heart, Bonds

She has also been placed one level below Verin, because Cadsuane thinks Elza overly respectful to other sisters higher than her. Any lower and she would have to be respectful to Verin anyway.

A sister in Elaida’s Embassy, Vasha:

didn’t have a great deal of rank among the Aes Sedai, but she also wasn’t as low as Hattori

- The Gathering Storm, An Offer and a Departure

and so has been placed on an average level. (The majority of the sisters in Dorlan who may have been shown how to Travel by Katerine in The Gathering Storm, An Offer and a Departure will have to link to actually do so.)

Lusonia, who was second in seniority to Covarla among the returned Embassy, is on either this level, or possibly the next.

The Black sisters captured by Elaine in Andor span at least three levels:

Eldrith stood highest among them [Asne, Temaile, Chesmal, Eldrith]… Chesmal and Asne had known, but who was going to stand in Temaile’s way? Temaile should have hung her head at Eldrith’s lecture, and apologised for going against her wishes.

- Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds

"You heard this, and you never mentioned it?" Temaile said, twisting around to transfer her scowl to Marillin. "You great fool!"
"You forget yourself," Marillin said sharply, and the next instant they were arguing about whether Temaile should defer to her! In truth, Temaile should—Elayne could sense their relative strengths—yet it hardly seemed a topic they would argue over now!

- Knife of Dreams, Nine Out of Ten

Temaile is the weakest, yet has never been mentioned as been particularly weak in the One Power, so she has been placed as simply average at level 6. Chesmal and Asne are stronger than Temaile, yet behave as equals to each other, therefore they are one level higher on 7. Marillin too is one level higher than Temaile. Eldrith is one level higher again on level 8 and therefore strong enough to Travel if she knew how.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 8

Apart from being able to Travel, Aes Sedai who are on level 8 and higher are stronger than average and therefore far more likely to be influential, granted important posts, etc. Weaker Aes Sedai placed in positions of power have trouble exerting or keeping their authority, as we saw with Merana. The stronger the Aes Sedai, the younger, and/or the more likely, the Aes Sedai will be to receive higher positions. As the various comments Aes Sedai make about the Wise Ones and also new novices show, (eg those regarding Edarra and Bode) any channeller with well above average strength is assumed to have a brilliant future and rise high in the Tower. Therefore a sprinkling of Sitters or Ajah Heads occur on level 8 increasing to many by levels 11 and 12.

Eldrith is two levels above Temaile, since Temaile should have obeyed her. She has been placed on level 8 to leave room for Liandrin, who is the strongest of that group of 13 Black sisters, and also because Asne and Chesmal don’t behave very respectfully to Eldrith. Falion and Ispan, two other sisters from Liandrin’s group, are also placed on this level:

“Kirstian held a shield on her with every shred of the Power she could summon. There was no chance the Shadowrunner (Ispan) might escape – even had she not been dosed…”

- The Path of Daggers, To Keep The Bargain

“The white-haired sisters were linked… There was no way to tell which led the small circle and held the shield on the Darkfriend [Ispan].”

- The Path of Daggers, A Quiet Place

It was best, of course to be extremely careful with those who were both irrational and more powerful than you. Ispan was not more powerful [than Falion].

- A Crown of Swords, The Triumph of Logic.

Falion and Ispan are equal in strength, since neither defers to the other. Kirstian on level 11 could hold Ispan’s shield easily even if she were not drugged, so Ispan must be at least two levels lower than Kirstian. Vandene and Adeleas, on level 6, have to be linked to hold Ispan, so Ispan is probably two levels above them. Moreover Ispan and Falion linked were able to shield Nynaeve (who was taken by surprise), hold that shield until Lan crashed into them and be too strong for Nynaeve to overcome alone (A Crown of Swords, Six Stories). Ispan and Falion are both on level 8, the level below Liandrin.

Alviarin, yet another Black sister, is known to be just strong enough to Travel:

“You have little strength child. Not much, but enough.” A weave appeared seemingly from nowhere. “This,” Mesaana chimed, “is called a gateway.”

- A Crown of Swords, Lightnings

Of course, she may be placed a level higher. Level 8 is the minimum level for Annoura, Berisha, Meidani, Mika the damane, Nimri, and Serinia who are strong enough to Travel (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai, Towers of Midnight, Foxheads and A Memory of Light, Eastward The Wind Blew, The Prince’s Tabac and The Last Battle).

In Knife of Dreams, To Keep the Bargain, we find out that the two women of the Kin who can only make small Gateways, i.e. only just Travel, and thus are on level 8, are Julanya Fote and Kereille Surtovni:

"Ellorien, Luan and Abelle began breaking camp early this morning, my Lady," she [Julanya] said. "I only stayed long enough to make sure of their direction - north - before coming to report."
"The same is true with Aemlynn, Arathelle, and Pelivar, my Lady," Keraille added..."

- Knife of Dreams, To Keep the Bargain

It is known from Knife of Dreams, Wet Things that only eight of the Kin that were with Elayne at that time are strong enough to Travel. In order of decreasing strength they are: Garenia, Kirstian, Reanne, Sumeko, Julanya, Keraille and two of the following three Kin: Sarasia, Kema, and Nashia (Towers of Midnight, Boots).

All of the 21 Windfinders who went with Elayne are able to Travel. The ones too weak to join the circle using the Bowl of Winds - Chanelle, Dorile, Kurin and Senine - have been placed on this level.

Merana, who was originally placed in charge of the Two Rivers girls by Bera and Kiruna, is a level stronger than Demira, who is on level 7, and is the same strength as Verin and Alanna:

Alanna and Merana were so close in strength that the only way to tell who had the greater would be an actual contest. No way to tell which of Verin and Merana was stronger.

- Lord of Chaos, The Crown of Roses

All three are strong enough to Travel. Another of Merana’s associates:

Seonid seemed scarcely less eager, sitting on the edge of her chair and often smiling determinedly.

- Lord of Chaos, The Mist of Mirrors

Seonid is placed on this level with Merana because her behaviour in the embassy seems most fitting if she were – not meek, but not high rank, either.

The remnant of Elaida’s embassy was under the leadership of Covarla, as the strongest Aes Sedai remaining (A Crown of Swords, Sealed to the Flame). Covarla has been placed at just above average strength because, while she was the strongest of the 12 who returned from Elaida’s embassy, she was nowhere near the top of the entire embassy. Tarna is one level and Katerine (who is younger than both) and Galina are at least two levels higher than she (see below). Tarna displaced Covarla from the leadership of this group, and took Lusonia Cole’s room.

In New Spring, Moiraine makes the following observation about Duhara:

Without her Keeper’s stole, Duhara would have had to jump when Moiraine snapped her fingers, should she have chosen to.

- New Spring, Changes

Moiraine had to defer to Anaiya (level 10) at that time, but not stand in her presence, so she was one level below Anaiya. Duhara was at least a level below Moiraine in New Spring and therefore on level 8. Any lower and she would be of average strength, and not likely to be a Sitter or Keeper.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 9

The sorry remnant of Elaida’s embassy was temporarily taken over by Tarna:

Tarna had ridden into Dorlan barely a day after the mysterious army arrived, and however Aes Sedai determined these things, she immediately displaced Lusonia Cole from her room upstairs and Covarla Baldene from command of the eleven other sisters already in the village.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Glimmers

Yet Tarna in turn was displaced by Katerine. Narenwhin, sent by Elaida to take command of Covarla’s group, is also weaker than Katerine. Both have been placed on this level, one level below Katerine.

There are a couple of Black sisters on this level:

The Black Sitter, Delana:

Delana is much stronger than Siuan now, whereas before the margin had gone the other way.

- Lord of Chaos, To Heal Again

Siuan used to be on level 12 and is now on 5; Delana is midway on level 9, making a large gap either way.

Another Black sister, Liandrin is also quite strong:

Each of Egwene and Nynaeve are more than a match for Liandrin in sheer strength, and she is the strongest of them [the thirteen Black sisters].

- The Dragon Reborn, The Bite of the Thorns

In The Great Hunt, Summoned, Anaiya (on level 10) quelled Liandrin with a raised eyebrow, something that could only happen if Liandrin were lower. Liandrin spoke up again soon though, hence her placing on level 9, a level lower than Anaiya. Any lower and there wouldn’t be enough levels for the other, weaker Black sisters with Liandrin.

Other Sitters on this level include the weakest of the Tower independents:

Only Doesine among them knew how to operate the Chair, but in this group she stood as low as Seaine.

- Winter’s Heart, Snow

but she herself was weaker than any here save Doesine.

- A Path Of Daggers, The Extra Bit

The independent Sitters encompass three levels and none are strong enough to use the Choedan Kal, so Doesine and Seaine are on level 10.

At the Black Tower, the former Sitter Toveine agreed with Gabrelle that they both should submit to Desandre and Lemai, the strongest of the 51 sisters (Winter’s Heart, Snow). Toveine and Gabrelle behave as equals so both Logain’s Aes Sedai are on this level.

Another pair who would have ranked high at the Tower are two Wise Ones:

Edarra and Leyn could channel and quite strongly; they might have risen high had they gone to the Tower as girls.

- A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars

To rise high in the Tower means they would be on level 9 at the very least. Since Morgase thought that Edarra was the strongest in saidar of the channellers with Perrin (Towers of Midnight, Questioning Intentions) and Masuri is on this level, Edarra has been placed on the next level, level 10.

And with Elayne is the Kinswoman Sumeko, a very skilled Healer who is able to Travel. She has been placed on this level.

Of the full Windfinders with Elayne, we know that Renaile was three levels below the strongest and was too weak to be included in the circle which used the Bowl. The list of women in the circle, in order of decreasing strength is: Nynaeve and Talaan (level 18); Elayne, Aviendha and Metarra (level 15); Garenia/Zarya and Rainyn (level 12); Reanne, Kirstian, Naime and Rysael (level 11); Caire and Tebreille (level 10). Therefore Renaile is on level 9. If she were as strong as Tebreille she would have taken her place, since she has a higher rank among Windfinders.

Another strong Windfinder is Shalon:

Verin and Kumira even made a circle with the Sea Folk wilder [Shalon]. She was actually quite strong…Shalon had been upset that she was not the one to meld the flows, as if a wilder’s strength counted with Aes Sedai.

- Winter’s Heart, With The Choedan Kal

Shalon is stronger than Verin and is at least level 9, perhaps 10.

In the Salidar embassy:

Faeldrin sat quite proudly and spoke when she wished, and so did Masuri and Rafela.

- Lord of Chaos, The Mist of Mirrors

Merana lost authority over Faeldrin, Masuri and the youngish Rafela because they are a level higher than Merana (level 9), but lower than Bera and Kiruna – by only one level though, since they speak up whenever they wish. In New Spring, Entering Home, we see that Rafela is also weaker in the Power than Leane.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 10

Of the Aes Sedai Cadsuane keeps with her:

By their own hierarchy, some in Nesune’s boat were in a position to expect deference from some in Cadsuane’s boat, they did so as though to a superior who had committed a grievous crime known to all. By that hierarchy, Nesune stood higher than any save Cadsuane and Merise, yet she faced Daigian, who stood at the very bottom, as if wilfully defiant over committing that crime.

- Winter’s Heart, To Lose The Sun

Nesune is higher than Verin, but lower than Merise.

Nesune was also one of three who were the first of Elaida’s embassy to visit Rand. The other two were Coiren and Galina, who both commanded the embassy at different times. It makes sense that the three highest ranking would be the first ones to meet the Dragon Reborn. None defer to the others, therefore all three are together on level 10. In A Crown of Swords, Spears, Galina said relatively few Aes Sedai are stronger than her. On the next level, level 11, very few would be stronger.

Katerine is also probably on this level, but doesn’t have the age and therefore the seniority of Coiren, Galina and Nesune. She is also a level higher than Tarna:

Katerine had come only yesterday, in a fury at having her path to Tar Valon blocked, and straight away took command from Tarna and her room from Covarla.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Glimmers

Verin was wary of Katerine’s strength:

Katerine Alruddin is neither a coward nor weak in the Power… A Red of Katerine’s strength was no trifle.

- The Path Of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances

If Galina was dead, Katerine should have taken charge ahead of Coiren; Elaida had made it clear that once al’Thor was taken, the Red Ajah was in charge…

- A Crown of Swords, Sealed To The Flame

Felaana is placed a level below Merean and Larelle (who are just below Moiraine on level 12) since she deferred to them in New Spring but was prepared to argue:

Enough weaker than they to accept being cut off, Felaana still began to rise, plainly meaning to continue the argument.

- New Spring, An Arrival

Felaana also prevented Katerine from slapping Egwene in Knife of Dreams, Embers Falling on Dry Grass, so she is a level higher than Katerine.

Figures of authority on this level include Silviana, Mistress of the Tower Novices and now Keeper:

Silviana was far from weak

- Knife of Dreams, Prologue

Yet though Katerine obeys her, she was somewhat reluctant. Hence Silviana has been placed at level 10, the same as Katerine. In Knife of Dreams, and The Gathering Storm, sisters are behaving badly (especially between Ajahs) and are often not adhering to the customary ranking or respecting Tower hierarchy. Katerine was given authority herself in The Gathering Storm, being promoted to Mistress of the Novices.

The former Tower Sitter Talene is also on this level. Talene is a level higher than Doesine and Seaine, but a level lower than Saerin, Pevara and Yukiri, who in turn must be lower than the few Aes Sedai strong enough to use the Choedan Kal (see below).

The ex-Sitter Toveine Gazal on level 10 submitted to two stronger Aes Sedai at the Black Tower:

Desandre and Lemai stand highest among us [the sisters captive at the Black Tower]… The only chance we have of holding together is if you and I [Toveine and Gabrelle] publicly submit to Desandre’s authority.

- Winter’s Heart, Snow

Desandre and Lemai are placed on this level. Aes Sedai on the next level are not common, so it would be unlikely that there would be two of such strength in a group of 51 Aes Sedai.

A couple of ex-Sitters are also probably on this level:

They [Teslyn and Joline] stood as equals in every real way… Just the way Teslyn spoke was a reminder, a warning not to go against her, equal or not. Merilille, though, stood lower.

- A Crown of Swords, The Triumph of Logic

It might also be noted that both Teslyn and Joline were ex-Sitters. For this reason they have been placed quite highly.

Of the Windfinders who used the Bowl, Caire and Tebreille were the weakest:

Then Renaile paused, only for a heartbeat, yet in that rapid listing it stood out. "Tebreille din Gelyn South Wind, take your station! Caire din Gelyn Running Wave, assume the command!"

- The Path of Daggers, The Breaking Storm

being a level above Renaile on level 8, yet below Reanne on level 11.

Speaking of command, in the Salidar embassy:

Merana had worried about Verin, and then Kiruna and Bera had appeared, neither with any tie to her authority, both at least as strong as Masuri or Faeldrin or Rafela... Merana was not yet sure whether Kiruna or Bera had taken charge.

- Lord of Chaos, The Mist of Mirrors

Considering the rapid way Bera and Kiruna assumed command of this group, they are the strongest. They also behave as equals to each other. From Fires of Heaven, The Practice of Diffidence, we know that Sheriam is strongest among those in Salidar. Kiruna was in Salidar at that time; therefore Bera and Kiruna are one level below Sheriam, who is one level below Moiraine.

Edarra, who is the strongest of the channellers with Perrin and thus stronger than Masuri is also probably on this level:

Morgase's own tiny ability in the One Power was enough to tell her that this woman was strong. Probably the strongest in the room.

Towers of Midnight, Questioning Intentions

Of the rebel Aes Sedai:

Anaiya is nearly as strong as Cetalia.

- New Spring, Entering Home

and Cetalia is just below Moiraine (who is just strong enough to use the Choedan Kal, according to Verin). Therefore Anaiya is on level 10. Moreover many of her cohorts among the rebel leaders are also as strong:

Sheriam was clearly the strongest in the room aside from Egwene herself, and Myrelle next, though it was hard to be certain; the rest (Anaiya, Carlinya, Morvrin and Beonin) all seemed close.

- Lord of Chaos, Journey To Salidar

Maigan stood as high as Myrelle or Morvrin

- Crossroads of Twilight, What The Oath Rod Can Do

Myrelle is so close in strength it was hard to determine if she was stronger than Anaiya, so she has been placed on this level too, as have Carlinya, Morvrin, and Beonin. This is supported by Myrelle and Carlinya having so much influence in Salidar despite their young ages. Maigan is also on this level and Kwamesa is mentioned as being equal to Kiruna in A Crown of Swords, Next Door to a Weaver.

Also among the rebels is Faolain:

In the One Power, Amys and Melaine were no stronger than Theodrin and Faolain – far from weak. Indeed stronger than most Aes Sedai. But far from a Forsaken’s strength.

- A Crown of Swords, Unseen Eyes

Theodrin was clearly the stronger of the two (Theodrin and Faolain) in the One Power

- A Crown of Swords, An Oath

Faolain and Melaine are placed on this level, one below Theodrin. In The Gathering Storm, The Death of Adrin, Melaine reiterates that she is stronger than most Aes Sedai, but adds that Aviendha is far stronger than her.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 11

From The Fires of Heaven, The Practice of Diffidence, we know that Sheriam was strongest among those in Salidar (before Romanda and Lelaine had arrived; Sheriam would not have been an obvious choice for Amyrlin if they were there). She is yet another young Aes Sedai with a lot of influence.

Two Kinswomen are also on a par with Sheriam:

Reanne was not as strong as Elayne, or even Nicola - burn that wretched girl! - but she easily equalled Sheriam, say, or Kwamesa or Kiruna. Not many women possessed so much strength…

- A Crown of Swords, Next Door to a Weaver

Kirstian was as strong in the Power as Reanne, stronger than most Aes Sedai Aviendha had met.

- A Path Of Daggers, Unweaving

Kirstian was almost as strong as Garenia/Zarya – none of the knitting circle were weak.

- A Path Of Daggers, Crimsonthorn

and Garenia is on the next level. Few Aes Sedai are higher than level 11, and most are lower. That is why Egwene says of the Wise Ones Amys and Melaine:

In the One Power, Amys and Melaine were no stronger than Theodrin and Faolain – far from weak. Indeed stronger than most Aes Sedai. But far from a Forsaken’s strength.

- A Crown of Swords, Unseen Eyes

Theodrin was clearly the stronger of the two (Theodrin and Faolain) in the One Power

- A Crown of Swords, An Oath

Amys is problematic in that Egwene also says:

Two thirds of the women [Wise Ones] there could wield saidar, some not much more than Sorilea, others equalling Amys, who was as strong as any Aes Sedai Egwene had yet met.

- Lord of Chaos, Like Lightning And Rain

which contradicts the later quote. Egwene had met Siuan, Moiraine and Elaida by this time, so ‘as strong as any Aes Sedai she had met’ seems to indicate that Amys is on the same level as they, which Theodrin is not. Amys has been place with Theodrin on level 11 as her minimum strength, one above Faolain and Melaine.

Two Windfinders who used the Bowl are on this level:

Naime and Rysael were higher in rank than Rainyn, dignified women with a quiet air of command, but markedly weaker.

- The Path of Daggers, The Breaking Storm

They are a level weaker than Rainyn, who is as strong as Lelaine (and therefore strong enough to use the Choedan Kal, see below).

Merise is the strongest of those with Cadsuane:

By their own hierarchy, some in Nesune’s boat were in a position to expect deference from some in Cadsuane’s boat, they did so as though to a superior who had committed a grievous crime known to all. By that hierarchy, Nesune stood higher than any save Cadsuane and Merise, yet she faced Daigian, who stood at the very bottom, as if wilfully defiant over committing that crime.

- Winter’s Heart, To Lose The Sun

She is one level higher than Nesune. She can’t be any higher because only a handful of Aes Sedai are strong enough to use the Choedan Kal.

There are three sisters from New Spring also on this level:

Larelle and Merean were both stronger in the Power than she [Moiraine], unfortunately, though she would stand above them eventually, but the gap was only wide enough that she had to defer not obey...

- Legends, New Spring; New Spring, An Arrival

Cetalia’s ability was nearly as great as Moiraine’s and Siuan’s would be eventually.

- Legends, New Spring; New Spring, Entering Home

Cetalia equalled Merean in the Power, and it would be another three or four years before Siuan gained enough strength to tell Cetalia she was leaving the job.

- Legends, New Spring; New Spring, A Narrow Passage

Moiraine and Siuan are equal in both strength and in the rate they developed their strength. Larelle, Merean and Cetalia are all equal in the Power, and one level below Siuan and Moiraine’s ultimate strength. As was noted earlier, Cetalia is also a level higher than Anaiya, who is on level 10.

The strongest of the independent Sitters in the Tower are on this level:

Pevara matched Saerin and Yukiri in strength,

- A Path Of Daggers, The Extra Bit

They might all be Sitters, but Saerin had most definitely taken charge. Seaine would be lucky if Saerin asked her opinion, much less her advice, before deciding anything at all.

- Winter’s Heart, Snow

We know they are two levels above Seaine and Doesine. They can’t be any higher, because that level (and higher) is for the few Aes Sedai strong enough to use the Choedan Kal.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 12

Verin gives us the last marker of strength: the ability to successfully channel through the female sa’angreal:

I [Verin] can think of few women strong enough to survive the flows through the sa’angreal in Tremalking. The Amyrlin, of course, Moiraine and Elaida. Perhaps one or two others. And three still in training.

- The Great Hunt, On the Scent

Cadsuane also talked about the uppermost echelons of strength among Aes Sedai:

When Meilyn and I [Cadsuane] are gone, that leaves Kerene the strongest. From Kerene it’s a sharp drop to the next five. Five once this child [Moiraine] and the Sanche girl reach their potential. And one of those is as old as I am and in retirement to boot.

- Legends, New Spring; New Spring, An Arrival

The ‘next five’ are the same five Verin lists: Moiraine, Siuan, Elaida, Romanda and Lelaine. Romanda is the one nearly as old as Cadsuane, and the ‘one or two others’ mentioned by Verin refers to Lelaine plus either Romanda or Cadsuane. Verin isn’t sure whether Romanda or Cadsuane are still living. (The three still in training are Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve).

One of the Windfinders is as strong as Romanda and Lelaine:

Rainyn was easily as strong as Lelaine or Romanda…

- The Path of Daggers, Unweaving

and of the Kin too:

While Berowin was not very strong, Garenia stood above even Reanne; she could match Lelaine or Romanda

- A Crown of Swords, Next Door to a Weaver

The third Kinswoman, Garenia, was a Saldaean… stronger than the other two (Kirstian and Reanne)

- A Path Of Daggers, The Breaking Storm

A couple of Two Rivers girls, Elle and Janacy/Jancy (spelled differently in different editions), are probably on this level:

Five of the Two Rivers girls, including Bode, Elle and Janacy would channel eventually whether anyone taught them or not, and be very strong

- Lord of Chaos, Lessons and Teachers

Bode is definitely almost as strong as Egwene (see below) but Elle and Jancy have been placed here, because this is the lowest level described as ‘very strong’. Any lower is merely ‘strong’.

Nissa, an Accepted, is another very strong channeller.

Nicola, who had just been raised, and Nissa. She'd like them both raised to the shawl before the Last Battle. They were young, but powerful,

- Towers of Midnight, A Call to Stand

Nissa has been placed a level below Nicola as a minimum, but she may be as strong or stronger.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 13

As quoted above, Cadsuane said two Aes Sedai in New Spring are a level stronger than Moiraine and Siuan. They are of equal strength:

No one has come to the Tower in a thousand years who could match me [Cadsuane]. No one to match Meilyn or Kerene in almost six hundred.

- Legends, New Spring; New Spring, An Arrival

A novice who is also a rare find is Nicola:

Nicola has more potential than any novice in centuries... before Elayne and Egwene, and Nynaeve.

- Lord of Chaos, Questions and Answers

Nicola was ferocious in her desire to learn, by all reports, and she had a potential only bettered by Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene herself among living Aes Sedai.

- A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike

Egwene doesn’t know of Cadsuane’s existence at this point. Nicola is on either level 13 or level 14, level 14 being Cadsuane’s strength. Level 13 is the minimum she could be.

The Wise One Therava too is probably on this level:

Therava was somewhat stronger in the Power than she [Galina] , which relatively few women were...

- A Crown of Swords, Spears

Therava and Someryn were stronger than any women in the Tower.

- The Path of Daggers, Questions and an Oath

This would also place Therava on either Cadsuane’s level or Nicola’s level. The word ‘somewhat’ is why she’s been placed on level 13 with Nicola.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 14

Prior to the beginning of the series, this is the highest strength level of any Aes Sedai for many hundreds of years:

Until Elayne Trakand, none had come to the White Tower in her [Cadsuane’s] lifetime who could match that standard, much less surpass it. In more ways than one, her like had not walked among Aes Sedai for a thousand years.

- A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars

No one has come to the Tower in a thousand years who could match me [Cadsuane].

- Legends, New Spring; New Spring, An Arrival

It’s no wonder the Aes Sedai have granted Cadsuane legendary status – although her ter’angreal and her mentality help. Cadsuane is one level below that of Egwene and Elayne. Without Cadsuane, the strengths of the old guard Aes Sedai would encompass only nine levels, with the vast majority of sisters contained within seven.

A novice at this level is Mat’s little sister, Bode Cauthon:

Bode’s future would be brilliant. Her potential almost equalled Egwene’s.

- Crossroads of Twilight, What the Oath Rod Can Do


Level 15

Just below Forsaken strength are three main female characters:

Aviendha will be very strong if trained. As strong as Egwene will be.

- The Shadow Rising, Beyond the Stone

She [Elayne] had grown accustomed to knowing that Nynaeve and the Forsaken were stronger than she. Well, Egwene, but she had been forced, and her own potential, and Aviendha’s, matched Egwene’s.

- The Path of Daggers, Unweaving

Note that, currently, Egwene is stronger than both Aviendha and Elayne but that they will eventually all be of the same strength.

A Windfinder apprentice named Metarra din Junalle is also on this level.

Rainyn was easily as strong as Lelaine or Romanda, and Metarra on a level with Elayne herself.

- The Path of Daggers, Unweaving


*Return to the Scale*

Level 16

Moghedien is one level above Elayne and Egwene and is definitely weaker than Nynaeve, since Nynaeve was her equal in their duel, yet had not reached her full strength:

Moghedien was not going to hurl her full strength at Nynaeve, she already was... She was meeting one of the Forsaken strength for strength!

- The Shadow Rising, Into the Palace

But even if her strength was increasing - her teachers in the Tower had said that it would, and certainly none of them was strong enough to best one of the Forsaken as she had

- The Fires of Heaven, Over the Border

Now we know why Moghedien is so fearful and rarely meets up with other Forsaken. She lurks in the shadows for good reason. She is only bolder in Tel’aran’rhiod, because she is particularly Talented there, outdoing even Lanfear. It is her Talent for Tel’aran’rhiod and for hiding that have kept her alive so far.

Two Wise Ones are also a level, or maybe two, stronger than Elayne:

Tamela and Viendre were stronger in the Power than she, stronger than any sister she had met save Nynaeve.

- Winter’s Heart, Prologue: Snow

We aren’t told if they are roughly the same strength. These Wise Ones also tally with Someryn’s placing (see below). Someryn prides herself in never having met a woman that came close to matching her in the Power. The existence of not one, but two, Wise Ones at this level indicates that she should be placed on a higher level than they.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 17

Since Jordan mainly used this ranking for Aes Sedai, there is little information in the books about relative strengths among Forsaken. And indeed, in a contest of the Power, simple strength is not the sole determinant of the outcome – skill, Talents, experience, intelligence and character also play a major part. So no, strength ranking is not designed (even by the author) to calculate the odds in a duel of the Power.

(In the Age of Legends strength wasn’t a big issue since so much was done with circles. It is the lack of training and the loss of knowledge that the Forsaken deride in the channellers of this Age – hence the adjectives 'ignorant' and 'half-trained' that they use, not 'weak'.)

When Mesaana compares herself with Semirhage she thinks she matches her well, overall:

Mesaana knew her own strengths and weaknesses, with the One Power and elsewhere. She matched well with Semirhage on most points... Each Forsaken is stronger than any of these half-trained children that called themselves Aes Sedai today.

- Lord of Chaos, Prologue: The First Message

but others, such as Graendal, disagree. Jordan said that Forsaken lie to themselves, not wanting to admit they aren’t the best (Jordan at DragonCon 2005), so the reader shouldn’t trust their self-evalulations. In The Gathering Storm Prologue, we saw Mesaana exaggerating to Moridin how well she was doing in the Tower and Graendal said that Mesaana had “made boasts she couldn’t fulfil”. Sanderson said on The Gathering Storm book tour that Nynaeve is stronger than Mesaana:

Brandon was pretty certain that Nynaeve is stronger than Mesaana, who isn’t particularly strong in Forsaken terms.

but very close in strength to Semirhage. So Mesaana has been placed a level below Semirhage and Nynaeve.

The strongest Wise One, Someryn, says:

“The woman [Maisa/Graendal] is strong. Very strong.” From her, that meant something indeed. Sevanna had never been able to understand why strength in the Power did not count among Wise Ones – while being thankful that it did not, for her own sake – but Someryn prided herself that she had never encountered a woman near as strong as she. By her tone, Sevanna suspected this woman was stronger.

- A Crown of Swords, Patterns within Patterns

Therava and Someryn were stronger than any woman in the Tower.

- The Path of Daggers, Questions and an Oath

Therava is placed on level 14. According to Graendal:

One of those women [Someryn] was not negligible.

- A Crown of Swords, Patterns within Patterns

Someryn has been place on level 17, two levels below Graendal. If she were only one level below, Graendal might have been more alarmed.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 18

There are at least two levels between Nynaeve and Elayne. Nynaeve is a good bit stronger than Egwene, Elayne and Aviendha – ‘a bonfire compared to the candle of Egwene and Elayne’ as Moiraine described it, with some poetic license. This also allows for Elayne’s plea to Nynaeve:

But I would rather not disobey you, so don't, please."

- Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds

that shows that Nynaeve must be at least two levels stronger than Elayne since Elayne felt she should obey her.

Nynaeve is as strong as most female Forsaken (Jordan at East of the Sun convention in Stockholm). Sanderson was asked how Nynaeve compares with Semirhage in saidar strength and answered:

I’m pretty sure she’s stronger, but they are very close. RJ has a list of all the channeler’s strengths. On that list, only 6 people are stronger than Nynaeve. It’s such a rare event that pretty much anytime we meet someone stronger than her, it’s explicitly said. There are two OP strength scales – an ‘old’ and a ‘new’. Nynaeve was the top of the female list for the ‘old’ list. Six are stronger on the ‘new’ list.

- The Gathering Storm, book tour

The new list was devised when Jordan introduced new characters (such as Alivia and Sharina) and had the Forsaken interact with other channellers.

Since Nynaeve and Semirhage are very close, they have both been placed on level 18. With two female Forsaken weaker than she and two stronger, Nynaeve is of average Forsaken strength.

The Windfinder apprentice Talaan is also on the same level as Nynaeve:

Talaan so meek in her red linen blouse, with eyes that seemed permanently downcast, came very close to Nynaeve [in strength]. Very close.

- The Path of Daggers, Unweaving

and Talaan matched her as closely as made no difference

- Winter’s Heart, Ideas of Importance

and remember that women can sense ultimate potential, not just current. Every so often Jordan reminds us that Elayne and Nynaeve have had very little formal training. Their uncertainty over whether Talaan’s strength is her current strength or her ultimate strength is one such example. They should have been able to tell the difference. Since they could only sense one strength for Talaan, it was probably her ultimate strength.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 19

There are every few women who qualify for this level (or higher), Graendal being one. As Graendal says:

The girl was stronger in the One Power than she [Graendal] herself! Even in her own Age, that had been uncommon among men, and very rare indeed among women.

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

The fact that Graendal says that women stronger than her are ‘very rare indeed’ makes it less likely that Semirhage is on a par with her. ‘Very rare indeed’ indicates that Graendal didn’t meet many people in her lifetime that could equal her.

The novice Sharina Melloy is also placed at this level:

One, a grandmother named Sharina with a potential above even that of Nynaeve.

- The Path of Daggers, Beginnings

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

- Crossroads Of Twilight, Secrets

The speculation among Aes Sedai that Sharina was as strong as it was possible to be is more a reflection of their ignorance rather than an accurate prediction. It’s over a thousand years since they had anyone as strong as Elayne in the Tower. Also, the more really strong women the Aes Sedai encounter, the weaker the Aes Sedai look, and by their own system, the more outranked they are. Therefore this comment is wishful thinking as much as anything.

Since Sharina isn’t described as considerably stronger than Nynaeve, she has been placed one level above her.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 20

One level higher than Graendal is Cyndane, Lanfear’s reincarnation:

The girl [Cyndane] was stronger in the One Power than she [Graendal] herself! Even in her own Age, that had been uncommon among men, and very rare indeed among women.

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

At first he had been sure that Cyndane was Lanfear reincarnated, until Mesaana told him the girl was weaker than Lanfear

- Winter’s Heart, Wonderful News

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

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

- The Gathering Storm, book tour

She certainly doesn’t wear her jewellery any more. It’s with the *elfinns.

The *elfinn folk told Moiraine that she was not the only channeller whose saidar strength they reduced; they also stole some of Lanfear’s strength:

"I could hear them barking and hissing to one another as they fed on me, both Aelfinn and Eelfinn in turn...While draining my ability to channel, they were fed twofold-my sorrow at what I was losing and the Power itself. My capacity has been greatly reduced...They claimed to have killed Lanfear by draining her too quickly, though I think they may have been trying to make me afraid.”

- Towers of Midnight, A Rabbit for Supper

The *eelfinn did lie to Moiraine; it was Moridin who killed Lanfear:

In order to rescue her, and of course to punish her, Moridin had slain her. That had allowed the Great Lord to recapture her soul and place it in a new body.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Lanfear was terrified and traumatised by Moridin, so the story stacks up. Moreover Lanfear’s strength is not much weakened, whereas Moiraine was greatly reduced, so Moridin’s prompt arrival was opportune. When Lanfear was transmigrated to her new body, she was stuck at her reduced strength:

Being reborn would heal burning out, but transmigration would not. That's why even though Lanfear shifted bodies, she was still reduced.

Brandon Sanderson, A Memory of Light booksigning

Alivia is also placed at this level since she is a good deal more powerful than Nynaeve:

Aside from that, she is... she’s… Alivia is considerably stronger than Nynaeve.

- Winter’s Heart, Sea Folk and Kin

Therefore Alivia been placed two levels above Nynaeve since she is considerably stronger.

Even with an angreal, Alivia came off the worse with her duel with Cyndane. As Jordan said on his blog about the encounter:

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

After all, Alivia had only just been given access to these ter’angreal and angreal. It’s not as though she had time to have any practise. Despite the outcome of the duel, Alivia is on the same level as Cyndane.

*Return to the Scale*

Level 21

The strongest known female channeller is Lanfear:

No one knows the strength of the Forsaken, except that Ishamael and Lanfear were the strongest

- The Dragon Reborn, The Hammer

She [Alivia] was stronger than Cyndane had been before the Aelfinn and Eelfinn had held her! That was impossible; no woman could be stronger. She must have an angreal, too.

- Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal

Cyndane was correct; Alivia did have an angreal as well as the ter’angreal Cyndane deduced Alivia had. She was certain no woman could be stronger than Lanfear because, as was discussed above, Lanfear’s strength was perhaps ‘boosted’ by an item of the power, an angreal, that Lanfear too had (and no longer does as Cyndane).

This explains why Lanfear had a reputation for keeping the true extent of her strength hidden:

Some said she had really been the most powerful of the Forsaken, next to Ishamael, the Betrayer of Hope, but had kept her powers hidden.

- The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

ie she appeared weaker than the amount of the Power she drew. (There is a way to hide your strength using a weave.)

This supports Sanderson’s hint that Lanfear may have obtained an item of the Power from the Eelfinn, such as a very weak angreal, which she always kept by her and used very frequently so it seemed like she was hiding her strength. The difference between the strength women sensed Lanfear had when she wasn’t channelling (Cyndane’s strength) and the amount of saidar they felt Lanfear channel (through her weak angreal) was put down to Lanfear hiding her strength rather than her being so vain as to need to pretend she was even stronger than her already great strength.

The angreal was not so strong that her strength was obviously augmented. It was an amount small enough that her total strength appeared natural and gave her the reputation of keeping the extent of her powers secret.

Interestingly, since women’s greater dexterity makes them equally effective at channelling as men, if Lanfear was using an angreal all the time, she was indeed superior to Rand (or any man) without an angreal as she told him:

“Whatever you can do, Lews Therin, I can do. And better.”

- The Shadow Rising, The Stone Stands

More Strong Channellers Still To Come?

Sanderson said on The Gathering Storm Book tour that he thought there were six channellers stronger than Nynaeve. It is not known if Cyndane is one of them (ie two entries for Lanfear), since Sanderson thought that Cyndane was a lot weaker than Lanfear was when he made this comment, not slightly weaker as the books indicate. The missing channeller/s may be character/s whose strength we don’t know yet.

Apart from Alivia, the strengths of the Seanchan channellers won’t be known until they mix with mainland channellers eg for the Last Battle.

Tuon’s strongest damane is Sera (Winter’s Heart, What A Veil Hides). She is one obvious candidate for the uppermost echelons of this list, since it stands to reason that the ‘best’ damane would be reserved for, or afforded by, the Imperial Family. It is also appropriate that Empress Tuon herself would be one of the strongest channellers when she finally starts channelling (thus making her husband miserable, since he dreads the Power). She is an experienced sul’dam and is presumably almost at the brink of channelling. Her very youthful appearance is suggestive, even though we know that slowing doesn’t occur until the channeller actually starts channelling. It is as though Tuon is also almost on the brink of slowing!

The oldest channeller among the Kin, Aloisia Nemosni is almost 600 years old, so if Tower records are right she is not as strong as Cadsuane, but might be as strong as Meilyn and Kerene. She could also only be as strong as Romanda, since Romanda is almost 295 and has white hair. She is thus quite aged for an Aes Sedai and toward the end of her life. The Oath Rod halves lifespan so unbound Romanda would live about 600 years, maybe slightly over (see Character Ages article). Aloisia is not likely to be even as strong as Elayne.


The Spread of Channelling Strengths

Jordan said on his blog that the population of channellers is only a few percent of the population and follows a bell-curve with regard to strength:

In the Age of Legends, between 2 and 3% of people had some ability, following a bell curve distribution in strength. For over 3000 years, though, Aes Sedai have been removing men who actually learned to channel from the gene pool. They have been very efficient at this. As a result, the "present day" sees about 1% of the population who can learn to channel, with a much, much smaller percentage of that being born with the spark.

Furthermore:

regarding the percentage of women who could test for the shawl, it would be 62.5% of the bell-curve… The question doesn't really apply to men, since the Black Tower accepts anyone who can learn to channel, but if the White Tower limits were applied, it would be roughly 65.4% of the bell-curve. Although, considering the effectiveness question, they should probably set it at the same 62.5%.



------------------------

Written by Linda, February, 2009

Contributor: Moridin_2000


100 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks! i was really looking for somthing like that/ it alweys confusd me beacuse ther semms to be so many levels of strangth among aeas sedai. i was about to try this anormes task myself- but you save me the trouble!.

Rurouni_Kenshin said...

A great ranking, I don't see one person I'd rank differently.

I will say that I think that the increase in power is logarithmic. That is level doesn't have a power of 1, level 2 a power of 2, level 3 a power of 3, etc. It seems to me that the power increase roughly by 25% each level.

So Egwene is twice as powerful as Moraine, and Nynaeve half again as powerful as Egwene (and three times as powerful as Moraine)

Linda said...

Thanks to both of you. I'm glad you are happy with it. :) I reworked and completely rewrote the article for the blog.

I agree that the scale isn't linear; but we haven't got any more information on the scale than I've included.

Anonymous said...

Good Ranking it makes a very confusing subject much clearer.
The only question / minor objection I have is Nynaeve. Robert Jordan said that when she reached her full potential she would rank among the female forsaken in strength (I can't remember hiss exact words). I would have thought that would put her with Semirhage and Mesaana but less than Graendal.

Linda said...

I did discuss this possibility in the section on level 19. Perhaps more information will be forthcoming in the final 3 books.

Anonymous said...

I vaguely recall a scene early on in the series (I think it was when they needed help with the "weather bowl") in which the Aes Sedai protagonists (Elayne and/or Egwene and/or Nynaeve, don't recall exactly who) met with a group of Windfinders. In this scene, Jordan describes one of them as a young girl with significantly more strength than Nynave (but I don't think he gives her name). Do you remember this? Sorry for being so vague.

Linda said...

I think you are mixing two different scenes up. The strongest Windfinder that helped them use the Bowl was Talaan, and she is "very close" in strength to Nynaeve, "so closely as made no difference." (I provide these quotes from the book that I used in my saidar strength article. I used all available quotes on strength for my article.) She is young, as you remember.

It is a former damane, Alivia, who is described as "considerably stronger" than Nynaeve. She is about 400.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply. And you may be right. But what I recall is a scene in which there were a bunch of Windfinders standing around, and there was one very young girl -- even younger than Talaan, and who I think did not help to use the bowl -- who was mentioned, offhandedly, as being substantially stronger than Nynaeve. I suppose I can try to look through the books and track that down. Would you happen to recall the books/chapters in which the Aes Sedai met with large groups of Windfinders (on their ships)?

Dominic said...

There are no 'large meetings' to speak of, beside the first chapters of TPOD (the one with most of the information on strength is chapter 5). The Windfinders who remained in Andor under the leadership of Chanelle were part of the group from the Bowl of Winds and are involved in Elayne's rescue in KOD - but that's from Birgitte and Elayne's POV. Also in KOD, Logain gets to a SF gathering on a ship to meet the MoS who is with the first twelve and their Windfinders. There is an Aes Sedai there but no discussion of strength.

The apprentice Talaan is the strongest Sea Folk woman we have met.

We know of only two SF characters who are 'very young' (both are still apprentices and haven't got their third name, the 'salt name') - Talaan and Metarra. Talaan is the strongest of the two, but Metarra is one of the strongest Windfinders too.


Renaille brought 19 WF with her (we know the names of eleven). She had the most knowledgeable (Caire) lead the circle, and she chose the six with the most ability to be in the link (the rest was Elayne, Nynaeve, Aviendha and the strongest kinswomen on site). Talaan is the strongest with Nynaeve, which is why she was the one loaned the extra angreal.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. When I say 'very young,' my recollection is that his one was just a child -- say, 13, maybe -- and thus too young and untrained to assist with the Bowl of Winds, yet was mentioned as having potential even greater than Nynaeve's. Using the info. you provided, I'll try to see if I can track it down.

Anonymous said...

... and I should add that, more broadly, she was too young to be among those Windfinders chosen to work with the Aes Sedai.

Linda said...

The girls have not met any Sea Folk children. THey met no large group of WIndfinders on the ships when negotiating the Bowl. Nynaeve went to the ships again later, but we heard little beyond her being married there and bringing Windfiners back with her.

The large group of Windfinders was met in the palace, which was Mat's POV and again in the courtyard where Aviendha opened a gateway. There were 18 Windfinders and 2 apprentices. No more.

Dominic said...

The youngest Sea Folk characters we've met are Talaan and Metarra, the two apprentices.

Sea Folk are way to secretive to reveal to foreigners, especially AS, if there are SF women with potential greater than Talaan's.

So that pretty much leaves only SF POV for you to look at, and IRRC we've got only Harine's - in WH and in KOD. That should limit your research a bit.

Anonymous said...

i think cyndane and alivia are equally strong. as for sharina..impossible to say...anywhere from equally as strong as lanfear (doubt it tho) to graendals level.

1. lanfear
2. alivia, cyndane
3. graendal

Anonymous said...

As far as a SF women being stronger than Nynaeve i remember this. Dont have the book with me but believe it was about Talaan. Roughly along the lines of.... She's nearly as strong as Nynaeve at her age, strongly implying that her potential was higher.

I think it was either in Nynaeve's POV where she's teaching the Sea Folk, or Elyane a bit earlier in the book

Dominic said...

"I think it was either in Nynaeve's POV where she's teaching the Sea Folk, or Elyane a bit earlier in the book"

You're right Anonymous. This is in Winter's Heart.

Nynaeve mentions Talaan matches her now, and she had no way of telling her potential, because Nynaeve has no skill at telling potential. It's probable that Talaan is a case of 'minimum level 17'.

There may be a scene elsewhere when someone else (eg: Elayne) assesses her potential, though. Linda will know.

Linda said...

Remember that women can assess the ultimate potential of each other. As quoted in the article, Elayne assessed Talaan’s potential as very close to Nynaeve. So close it made no difference. This is why she is on the same level as Nynaeve in the ranking. The ranking is on ultimate strength (which women can sense) NOT current as I explained in the article.

Talaan looks very young because she has slowed already but she is nineteen and has been channelling for years. She has probably done as much channelling as Nynaeve (who is older, but blocked herself and has barely received proper training), if not more.

Anonymous said...

What if RJ only used the scale for Aes Sedai, and none of the 'others' (Forsaken etc), would this perhaps give us a better understanding of the smaller differences between channelers? It's my understanding that you'd be able to add another 7 levels between 1 and 14. It's still a fantastic piece of work

Anonymous said...

Maybe Cyndane is weaker than Lanfear because Lanfear was originally a level 20, but who in her pride went through the redstone doorway back in the Age of Legends, and asked to be the strongest woman there can ever be? And then when she went into the door the second time with Moiraine they became angry and took her gift back.

Linda said...

That could well be so. And she may have asked for unearthly beauty also. I plan to go into this in the Lanfear essay.

If she did receive augmented power and beauty, the increase was via objects of the Power though. They may well have taken the object/s back, since they don't like anything to do with the Shadow. I think Lanfear was killed and when transmigrated as Cyndane went back to her original strength.

Anonymous said...

Why did Lanfear's increased strength have to come from objects of power? Mat got his memories not from objects, but directly from the Foxes.

JDH1973 said...

I think Meidani must be a least a level 9 since at the same time as weaving a gateway she also lifts a 150(ish)lbs corpse on flows of air.

In addition, she's clearly strong enough that no one thinks it's odd that she can be "friends" with Elaida. We know from Lelaine that she effectively ended her friendship with Siuan because the strength differential made things awkward. Also, Delana and Siuan were friends, but Delana thinks that Siuan was something of a protector and she's a level 9.

I also think you can place Edesina on level 9 given her lack of more than deference to Teslyn and Joline, it's unlikely she's more than 1 level lower. They don't try bossing her around and ask her opinion, even if just to be polite, something we don't often see when there is more than 1 level between women.

Anonymous said...

Ashmanaille and Nesita both travelled (separately) to Kandor, so perhaps they could be entered (like Meidani and Alviarin) at level 8 (minimum)?

Linda said...

I am reluctant to do so because it happened off screen. Either of them may have linked with another woman. There's no guarantee they went alone. I realise that it's very likely Nesita is strong enough to channel because she is a Blac k and wasn't caught, but she might have been out on a money collecting trip.

JDH1973 said...

I still think you can safely put Edesina 1 level below Joline and Teslyn based on her behavior...

KoD
A Cold Medallion

“Let her die,” Teslyn said harshly. “We can keep her shielded until we can be rid of her, then she can die.”
“We can’t do that,” Edesina said, sounding shocked. Though not, apparently, at the thought of Bethamin dying. “Once we let her go, she’ll be a danger to everyone around her.”

She's too forceful to be more than one level lower here

And

KoD
Attending Elaida

Edesina hung back a little the way she did when Teslyn or Joline had the bit in her teeth, but the other two…

obviously weaker, but she's still willing to insert her opinions as seen above

And Joline doesn't order her about

TGS
On a Broken Road

Teslyn looked thoughtful. Joline glanced at her, but the Red didn't give any indication if she'd be willing to leave or not. Edesina, however, hesitated, then nodded to Joline. She was willing.

If Edesina was 2 levels lower she would have just been instructed.

And one more instance of Teslyn asking Edesina for help convincing Joline! Not something she would ask a much weaker Sister to do.

COT
A Fan of Colors

“Go to pieces? Go to pieces? Let them put that collar on you and then speak of going to pieces!” Teslyn’s hand went to her throat as though she felt the a’dam’s collar still. “Help me convince her, Edesina. She will have us collared again, if we do let her!”

Linda said...

Teslyn, Joline and Edesina are an interesting trio. There relationship is complicated by the time Tesyln and Edesina were salves together of the Seanchan which is why I have decided to wait until they meet other Aes Sedai before adding Edesina to the ranking.

Teslyn was broken by the Seanchan, which is why Joline usually leads between them eg such as when they went to confront Tuon. Their time as slaves together is also why Teslyn doesn't pull rank on Edesina. Joline, however, silenced Edesina with a glance right after the sentence you quoted.

When Teslyn and Joline had their argument about Joline harassing Mat by channelling at him, Edesina quickly made herself scarce.

JDH1973 said...

Teslyn has even more reason to pull rank with Edesina than normal ... if not for Teslyn Edesina would still be damane.

I agree that you should wait to place any of the 3 of them, but you've place Joline and Teslyn very highly based only on their being Sitters.

Steph said...

Regarding Cyndane; Has anyone else noted that her appearance matched Cabriana Mercedes?(sp sorry!) Semi had her, after all, and I think The Dark One gave her that body-she may well be a little weaker-maybe that was her punishment! The Elfin and Aelfin punish anything to do with the shadow, they could have killed her and the The Dark One brought her back at a level lower

Steph said...

I have a qustion about Siuan and Leane-if they were re-stilled and then healed by a man, would they be at their OLD strength, or just back at their current? Just a thought

JDH1973 said...

AS to Cabriana's body ... compare these descriptions:

Cabriana from New Spring:

"A pale-eyed sister, light golden hair hanging almost to her waist"

Cyndane from Winter's Heart

"a bosomy little silver-haired pet"

The hair color is not a match.

Anonymous said...

"No one to match Meilyn or Kerene in almost six hundred."

Wouldn't this be Aloisia Nemosni?

Rurouni_Kenshin

Linda said...

Not necessarily. All we know of Aloisia is that she is six hundred years old. We don't know how aged she is.

The Oath Rod halves lifespan, so if Romanda weren't bound she would live to this age - and perhaps a little beyond. She's as old as Cadsuane and more aged. Gitara Moroso who was very old and rumoured to be over 300 was Romanda's strength at most.

So Aloisia may be Romanda's strength.

Anonymous said...

I suppose, however I find it unlikely that 2 random women from 600 years ago would be mentioned rather than mentioning one twice.

Rurouni_Kenshin

Linda said...

Meilyn and Kerene aren't random; they both featured in New Spring. They were Tamra's Searchers and were killed by the Black Ajah.

Aloisia might match them since she's almost 600, or she's Romanda's strength.

Linda said...

Anyway, thanks for your comments R-K, I have changed the article to reflect our discussion on these points.

Anonymous said...

Your welcome, it's good to be appreciated. :)

I didn't mean Meilyn and Kerene when I said 2 random women. I meant the woman who came to the Tower 600 years ago that could match them and Aloisia. It's just simpler I think if we assume they're the same person.

JDH1973 said...

a note on Zerah ... seems to me that any of the moles sent back to the Tower would be above average strength. Otherwise their opinions wouldn't really matter all that much, and we know Meidani is at least an 8. I'd say Zerah is a level 7 or she'd be as written off as the other "middling" or weak sisters so often are and probably would not have been selected from the group in Salidar for such an important mission.

JDH1973 said...

Actually I just went and re-read the section and I'm starting to think Zerah could easily even be a level 8.

My rationale is that Zerah never does more than simply show a Sitter deference. She simply "bows her head in respect". I don't think Seaine is all that much stronger than Zerah, who never curtsies and openly questions a Sitter who is also (as stated) Stronger than her.

TPoD
The Extra Bit

"Sitter," Zerah asked, finally showing doubt, "whatever can we be after down here? I don’t believe anyone has been this deep for years."

Just seems to me that other exchanges we've seen between Sisters with more than 2 levels between them and this is different. Look at how Siuan has to react to Lelaine. Or how Demira reacts to Kiruna/Bera and they aren't even Sitters. Zerah clearly stands closer to Seaine than Demira does to Kiruna/Bera (2 levels between).

Chris Cottingham said...

Nice work, though I think there are some unproven assumptions you're probably correct about when deference/obedience signal 1 or 2 levels difference.

However, I think you're mistaken in putting Kiruna, Bera, and Kwamesa on a different level than Sheriam. Sheriam's "strongest woman in the camp" from TFOH is insufficient, to my mind, to ignore the multiple times where she is ranked equal to this group. To clarify - I think Kiruna, Bera, and Kwamesa should be moved higher on the list to equal Sheriam. She may be marginally stronger, but not so much as to be on a different level.

Evidence: comes from the introduction of the Kin, ACOS and later. (And references to strength begin to come more frequently and consistently at this point, so I also give them more weight than in TFOH, where we didn't know how important it was.) Specifically, Elayne and Nynaeve's encounters with the Kin constantly put Zarya/Garenia on one level - equal to Romanda/Lelaine, and therefore on the level with Moiraine/Elaida/pre-Stilled Siuan - thoughts Elayne echoes in TPOD when she encounters Rainyn, also on this level.

They also constantly rank Kirstian and Reanne one level below, and matching Sheriam or Kwamesa.

Therefore, Sheriam, Kwamesa, Kiruna, Bera, Kirstian, and Reanne are definitively on the second highest tier of strength for "normal" Aes Sedai and all equal to each other, just below the Moiraine/Romanda/Elaida et. al range.

JDH1973 said...

Chris,

I think Elayne is putting a range out there rather than making a firm statement on strength. Merana notes that judging strength is not exact when she is worrying about Verin and Alanna. I'm inclined to say that Elayne is guestimating comparative strengths in ranges (i.e. no weaker than Kiruna but no stronger than Sheriam).

Also, if Kiruna and Bera were both stronger than the Salidar 6 they wouldn't have been sent off after Rand, they would have found their way into power in Salidar. AND Myrelle being weaker and younger than either does not "jive" with her ending up as Ajah Head for the Green.

Chris Cottingham said...

JDH1973 - your note about Merana/Verin/Alanna is not really applicable, I don't think. Merana's thought is that they are equals, no way to tell who's stronger without a duel. Yes, she and others tell us that judging strength isn't exact *when it's that close* - and anyway Jordan puts out, as Linda does, that other factors than strength are involved. But the fact that Verin/Merana/Alanna are so close in strength that one can't tell who's stronger w/o a contest obviously doesn't mean that strength ranking is impossible. The whole AS system is built on it.

For the rest - the quote is from ACOS Ch. 23, Next Door to a Weaver - and Nynaeve is thinking it. "Of course, Reanne could channel - she had expected that; hoped for it, anyway - but she had not expected the strength. Reanne was not as strong as Elayne, or even Nicola - burn that wretched girl! - but she easily equaled Sheriam, say, or Kwamesa or Kiruna. Not many women possessed so much strength, and for all she herself bettered it by a fair margin, she was surprised to find it here."

Reanne easily equalled Sheriam, or Kwamesa or Kiruna. I submit that this puts Sheriam, Kwamesa, and Kiruna on the same level. The phrasing *possibly* allows for Sheriam to be stronger - though if so, the comparison to Kwamesa or Kiruna is non-sensical and unneeded - and even if it does allow for it, it would still indicate that Sheriam, Kwamesa, and Kiruna would be on a single level, with Sheriam first among equals. (I myself am not nearly as convinced as Linda that some deference means you are a level beneath someone else. Here, the example of Merana and Verin *is* instructive - Merana, despite being ambassador, has a very hard time fighting her desire to defer to Verin. This even though she and Verin are equals! This indicates that deference might often be between sisters of equal strength, based simply on who is older [shades of the Kin!], spent less time in training, is not a wilder, etc! There are a lot of places on the chart where I think Linda's rankings are *possible* but not *definite.* Which is an observation, not a criticism.)

Chris Cottingham said...

I had lots to say in response to JDH, and to expand on my earlier comment, so I've split them into two. Don't forget to read the prior one.

So, a couple of other things, re: Sheriam and her strength ranking from TFOH ch. 27, The Practice of Diffidence. I don't believe this passage tells us Sheriam is the strongest woman in Salidar. It just tells us that she's the strongest among the Salidar Six. Note that when the notion of raising a rebel Amyrlin is introduced, Beonin suggests that such an Amyrlin would need to be a skilled negotiator - clearly indicating herself. Carlinya retorts that the new Amyrlin should be a clear thinker, a woman of cool reason and logic - clearly putting herself forward, instead. Morvin cuts this short by suggesting Sheriam. Morvin's snort was loud enough to make everyone jump in their chairs. "Sheriam is the highest among us, and she has kept us together when we'd have been running in ten different directions."

In other words, Morvin says, if we're going to start nominating one of our group, let's choose the one who is highest of us (having the best chance) and who's already shown she can keep us together.

In any case, referring to earlier postings, Sheriam could be the strongest woman in camp, and still not be *so* much stronger than Kiruna or Bera as to warrant being on a higher level.

Again, reading too much into deference - or lack thereof - is dangerous. Sheriam definitely is the strongest of the Salidar Six, but none of the others seem particularly deferential to her. Personality and relationship also plays into it, clearly.

Which is the answer to JDH1973's question about Myrelle taking charge of the Greens in Salidar. Myrelle getting herself named Captain General need not require that she be strongest - after all, nothing says Ajah heads must be, even as nothing says Amyrlin or Keepers must be. (Or Sitters - this is another place where I don't feel sanguine about Linda's idea that one can presume a Sitter is strong simply b/c she is a Sitter. Certainly not beyond a certain threshold, anyway.)

Back to Myrelle - strength isn't necessarily required, maybe Myrelle out-politicked Kiruna/Bera. Maybe Kiruna and Bera didn't want the job, preferring to be adventuring. Maybe the two, who seem to be friends and equals, couldn't decide which of them should have the job, so left it to Myrelle. Perhaps they simply arrived in Salidar after the Salidar Greens had already elected Myrelle. After all, Sheriam and Anaiya's places in the hierarch would hardly be possible if they'd arrived in Salidar *after* Lelaine.

(And I'm burning to know the identity of the Blue Ajah Head - it seems likely to be Lelaine, but I wish someone would come out and say so!)

(And I'm interested to see how the Ajah heads in the Tower handle "rebel" Ajah heads. How will Adelorna relate to Myrelle?)

(And I regret that it took so long to put the Tower back together that probably many of these specific details of reunification will have to be left out - since the storm is coming!)

(And that's quite enough parentheses.)

Chris Cottingham said...

Final thought, re: the Aes Sedai ranking system in general, since I mentioned that one need not be the strongest to be an Ajah head, Amyrlin, or Sitter. Or ambassador.

While I think the AS system needs some work, I don't think it's as bad as people make it out to be, where the AS only care about who's a bigger bully and carries a bigger stick. The AS system of ranking via strength is a custom which is mitigated by the other custom of sisters not interfering with (indeed, not questioning) another sister's actions. The strength-ranking has assumed more importance these days than it normally has, as Merana tells us with her agonizing in LOC - the split in the Tower has weakened the institutional structure and authority, and leaves AS falling back on the strength ranking as a fall-back position.

In some ways, this is actually smart. As the custom of non-interference shows, the AS are not *really* ranked by strength - not in normal circumstances when they are out in the world. Rather, AS are basically equals - each initiate is very strictly trained and kept in her place, but once trained and raised to the shawl, each sister is pretty much autonomous. Each can pursue her own goals without explanation to another sister - by custom, she is not to be interfered with or questioned about her doings.

With such an autonomy built into the AS, with each sister generally trusted to act on her own, in normal times the strength ranking would only come into play when sisters interact with each other. It would not come into play when sisters are about their own business. But when sisters encounter each other - whether in the Tower or out in the world, crossing paths by chance - the strength ranking ensures that each knows where they stand with the other. This prevents AS from arguing publicly or disputing publicly (something Wise Ones are known to do, since the place of each is pretty much what she says it is), as each - mysteriously and unspokenly, to outsiders - knows where she stands with the other.

But while this tells sisters meeting by chance who serves the tea and who holds the door, by custom, neither would interfere with the private work of the other.

Chris Cottingham said...

Though the non-interference custom, in time of war, is insane. :)

Anonymous said...

Not just the non-interference custom, the whole thing is flawed to the bone (and meant to be this way by RJ, I'm sure).

It's a system favoring bullies, and self-serving women over the good of the Tower, and promoting Aes Sedai arrogance. It's responsible in a big part for the decline of the Tower, and for its attitude to non-channellers.

The very strong are assured power, if they choose to grab it. For every Cadsuane or Moiraine, how many Elaida, Sheriam, Galina, Lelaine and company are there? Those women live a life of power plays and scheming, and they are the women who determine WT policies, and they wield the power of the Tower the same way they wield their own: bullying arrogance, increasing the power and influence of the Tower in any way possible - and belittling the importance of everyone else.

If you are above average but not exceptional, you are either ambitious and devote a big part of your career to your personal advancement, as "allies" of the really strong ones, or you give up and become a nobody.

As for the weaker and the weak, they live largely a meaningles life as AS. They are barely noticeable to by the top sisters, looked down by the average ones. They can't be too harsh with novices/accepted, most of them might outrank them the second they get the shawl. All they have left is to look down on all non-channellers...

They have no motivation to perfect themselves or shine in other areas - below a certain strength and ability with the OP, advancement is impossible, and if you show unexpected skills all it will get you is getting used in the schemes of others (even a strong but very young sister like Siuan experienced that a lot in her career, then did the same to the girls). An extremely clever and analytical weak sister like Daigian should have been a White Sitter, or at least in the Tower bringing rationality to the conflict. Her OP skills are next to useless, but her mind isn't. But instead she's been reduced to being Cadsuane's sounding board. She could do worse, Cadsuane respects her at least...

As for the rule of non-interference, it's one of the Tower' biggest flaws. The organization is barely capable of acting as an organization anymore. Most sisters work for their own cause above all else, then they work for their Ajah's cause, then for the Tower when forced to. That leaves very little time for being a real servant of all.... The Amyrlin is more concerned with the Hall than the outside world. Most of her decisions are determined by how the Hall will react and not undermining her political power. The Sitters are obsessed with power plays and rivalries, undermining one another if necessary. A bunch of Sitters from different Ajahs make common cause to accomplish something, and Seaine calls this "a conspiracy" and it's so rare no one would think it possible!!! Nobody question what everyone is doing, except in power plays, where everyone is watching her rivals' moves very closely. Not much ever gets done. The Hall/Amyrlin have very little idea of what's really going on at the lower levels, how many AS are doing useful stuff and how many are twiddling their thumbs...

(...)

Anonymous said...

(...)


The only measures of competence and merit in the Tower are strength and age. It ensures that among the strong sisters, the most ambitious and arrogant will get on top. Age merely factors in so the old ones stay in place and don't fall to the drive/energy of the "young panthers". Romanda is outdated as a leader, but her strength and age made her come back because they ensured her a place in the Hall.

A few decades ago, Elaida's coup, the "young Sitters" conspiracy or the election of Egwene would have been inconceivable. It's the legacy of Seaine's ill-advised idea of throwing a very young sister to the wolves. Siuan's election set a very dangerous precedent. Egwene's strength was a smokescreen to pick her as a puppet. Elaida's strength made her power play against Siuan a viable option. The too-young Amyrlins enabled the AH to use young Sitters as mere pawns in the Hall.

The whole system has reached the point of collapse. Egwene will have to change most of it if she want a renaissance for the Tower, and if she wants her idea of an alliance of all channellers to be viable. Right now, the Windfinders and WO would laugh out loud at a proposal to join such a flawed, outdated, divided and self-serving organization.

Linda said...

JDH - Zerah's questions to Seaine could be a measure of her fear and wariness in such times, and her guilty conscience. All we know for sure is that Zerah is weaker than Seaine.

Steph - quite probably they would be. I think they'd be afraid to be the first to try though.

R-K: It's quite possible. It could also be when a channeller as strong as or stronger than Cadsuane died though.


Actually Chris, when I read The Practise of Diffidence, Sheriam was definitely making the main decisions there. That's why Siuan remarked she'd be a strong Amyrlin - something Siuan didn't want.

I discussed rank among Aes Sedai elsewhere - in Aes Sedai Customs actually but in the light of the comments here have added a paragraph on it. In New Spring Eadyth makes it plain to Siuan and Moiraine - and remember that this was published after Leane's and Siuan's talk to Elayne and Nynaeve in Salidar - that rank is determined by strength.

She said that if a sister is stronger they must defer to her. That's it. There was no qualifier that as they got older their age would make a difference. Age - or training time - is only used if the two are equal strength. We see this clearly in Vandene and Adeleas deferring to Merilille. Their great age - nearly twice her age - does not make them the equal of a woman only a level higher.

The threshold of being a Sitter is about the same as being able to Travel, and is of being above average strength. Below that, the sister doesn't have enough gravitas to be seriously considered for the position, or to have enough clout among Sitters. It's little use for an Ajah to elect a Sitter of average or below average strength since that automatically weakens their influence in the Hall. Stronger Sitters have more clout. We see that with the BA hunters.

Yes, Anon, the Aes Sedai are still in need of Reformation. The lack of recognition - and underuse, such a waste! - of skill and experience drove some of the middle levels or slightly strong levels to the Black Ajah, which are over-represented in that organisation. The weakest had little hope of doing better there and the strongest had little need to desert.

Linda said...

Regarding the Blue Ajah Head: The Politics of the Hall article goes into this.

It was probably Anaiya while she was alive. In TGH Moiraine made a remark about how well Anaiya (who wasn't a Sitter) handled the Hall. Being Ajah Head is the most likely explanation.

After Anaiya was killed, Maigan stepped to the fore and was really tough on Siuan. Siuan also told Lelaine that she was loyal to her as a Sittero of her Ajah. Had Lelaine been Ajah Head as well, Siuan would have not even professed that loyalty or Lelaine ask for it.

Chris Cottingham said...

Linda,

thanks for your thoughtful responses! And I appreciate your thoughts on the Blue Ajah head, and Anaiya/Maigan/Lelaine - sounds convincing to me. It's been a long time since I've read the Politics of the Hall article, but I'll reread it. Again, thanks!

I agree with you that Sheriam was making the main decisions. I don't agree that the others were very deferential. They feel free to express their opinions forcefully and without awaiting any recognition. Contrast this with Cetalia's expectation in New Spring that Siuan must not only defer to her but obey her!

Again, though, my major reason for posting is the ACOS quotation that indicates Reanne, Sheriam, Kwamesa, and Kiruna are on the same level.

Chris Cottingham said...

Sorry - meant to add about ranking that Eadyth indicates strength as the ranking *unless someone is placed above you by your Ajah or the Hall*. This is why I don't like the across the board assumption that a Sitter is necessarily above average strength. I agree that it's _probable_. It surely played a role in Elaida's brief tenure as a Sitter. But having someone placed above you by your Ajah can only refer (as far as we know) the choosing of Ajah heads or Sitters.

Anonymous said...

"This is why I don't like the across the board assumption that a Sitter is necessarily above average strength. "

It's more than a broad assumption, it's reasonned out.

Women below average strength have very little consideration at all. Their opinions barely count, when they dare express them at all. Beyond some point, they can be ordered around by rank-and-file sisters with no official position of authority. The lower they stand, the closer they are threated as little better than glorified Accepted.

Except in exceptional circumstances (the likes of which have happened in the exceptional times depicted in the series) the Ajah wouldn't readily consider weaker than average women for the Hall, and not even those at the bottom end of the average. It's only in theory that Sitters are all equal. In practice, the ingrained strength ranking plays a lot in the Hall as well, as we saw in the rebel one, and so does the character a sister has developped, and the Tower system favorizes heavily the strong sisters's development and the near servitude and meekness of all those below average. The Ajah are fighting one another for power and influence, they'd seek the women with the best chances to hold their own in the Hall, and weaker sisters normally have over 70 years, as well say a lifetime, of ingrained habit of deferring to nearly everyone else in the Tower. That doesn't make them good candidates for sitter or Ajah Head, these women are way too used to fall in line with the stronger players on everything. They have not developped the right thinking or attitude to become Sitter or AH.
Very few women who don't stand at least slightly above average probably become Sitter or AH, normally. One thing that stops the Ajah from sending their most powerful sisters in the Hall is the tradition about the age the Sitters ought to be. It must be fairly rare to get a weak woman with political acumen and a strong personality who hasn't been "broken" by the time she can become Sitter. The way things work, the Ajahs prepare their best sisters early for leadership positions. There must be many older Blues who can occupy the spotlight, but it's rather Siuan the Ajah pushed into responsabilities that made her administrative skills noticed, even after only 10 years as AS. This would never have happened if Siuan was weaker than average, no matter her skills (and the Blue Ajah would not have voted for a weaker Blue as Amyrlin either)

And it's a very good question why the Hall fell in line so readily with someone like Elaida, how much her strength played out in the fact the Sitters let her get away with almost everything. Elaida is one of the strongest AS, and AS are used to fall in line with those, no matter what they do. It's also obvious Egwene would never have gotten very far as prisoner in the Tower if not for her impressive strength. As "a novice" she'd never have gotten away with the least of her actions if not for her OP strength. It's not only her strength of character, it's the fact her OP strength made it inconsciously natural of the sisters to give importance to the opinions of a woman so strong. Had Egwene been average or lower, she'd have been ignored, no matter her strength of will.

JDH1973 said...

Chris,

Thoughtful responses! My point with Merana was that she actually pointed out that even women who are very close in strength cannot be sure who is actually stronger, even when they are in the same room. Nynaeve and Elayne are judging from memory to the approximate level of Reanne (and the other Kin). IMO measuring strength is like estimating how tall someone is ... it's easy enough to tell the difference between someone who is 5' tall and someone who is 5'4" tall, but when you see someone who is 5'2" and they aren't standing next to either of the other people it's hard to be sure where they are in comparison.

As for Myrelle, she's also VERY young to be Ajah Head. Kiruna is certainly at least 10 years older than Myrelle given that Kiruna's brother is an old man and Myrelle can't be much past 40. Perhaps she played the Politics better than Kiruna and Bera, or perhpas she's just stronger in the Power too, IMO that's more likely for a woman who has only worn the Shawl for 15 years.

Sheriam and Carlinya are similar situations to Myrelle. They are both very young to hold such high positions in the camp. Neither of them is much past 40 either since they were both Accepted during the Aeil War. Kiruna (and probably Bera since she and Kiruna act as equals) are both older than these women as well and would only defer to Sheriam if she was in fact Stronger than they are.

On the AH and Sitter situation I think we'll see the Tower Ajah Heads remain in place since they were all "pre-split" ... the Sitters will mesh someone easier since many vanished with the BA evacuation. But the younger ones will likely be shifted aside in favor of more "traditional" fits.

Linda,

As to Zerha I still don't think the Salidar Six would send someone who would be ignored by other Sisters. At level 6 Zerha is going to be ineffective at getting Sisters to listen to her. Look how Siuan and Leanne are treated by even "Middling" Sisters and you have Zerha only 1 level higher. IMO it doesn't really jive with AS world view... weak Sisters are sent to places like Ebou Dar (unless of course Elaida is proving a point). Stronger Sisters end up in places like Andor or dealing with other AS. Her lack of more than token deference only highlights this to me, but to your point that could be caused by other factors too.

JDH1973 said...

Additional comment on the rebel leadership. In the earliest days when they had no real organization or Hall in place, the Sisters in Salidar turned to the Strongest for leadership, just as Merana points out when Kiruna and Bera show up and trash the embassy. Suddenly they revert to being a collection of AS rather than agents of the Tower. This reason alone is why I think Sheriam is stronger than Kiruna and Bera and why Myrelle must be very close to them in strength for things to have panned out the way they did.

Anonymous said...

So two things, 1st does anyone know what level is set for being able to use a portal stone? I know Verin says in the great hunt she could never channel enough to use one. which leads to the does anyone think its odd that traveling was learned from the portal stones, but is apparently the easier and more economic to use like a laptop instead of and old fashion super computer i guess.
my actual second is why do people think Lanfear went through the Redstone door to get wishes. i get how she would want to and all, but there's a fault in the very idea. When moraine jumps her, moraine would have gone through to the fox-people, but Lanfear would have just staggered back to the actual other side of the door and still been in ceirhein ready to blast aviendah and rand to dust since the doors only work once, but that's more for Lanfears character parallel page, but i saw comments for it here

Linda said...

How can we know what strength is required when no woman has used a Portal Stone on-screeen? (Lanfear did off it).

We don't know what happens when two women go through the door simultaneously, one legitimately, one not and both channelling. Jordan told us that the doorway burned in part because they were channelling, so there was another contributing factor to the reason why it burned.

Daniel said...

Would Egwene be an exception to the rule and possibly be as strong as Moghedien because she was powerful in all 5 areas whereas most women are powerful in water, air and spirit?

Linda said...

@Daniel: We know Egwene is strong in Fire, Earth and Spirit. We don't know if she is strong in any more. To be strong in 3 powers is rare. I doubt she is strong in all 5 powers. She is weak at some Talents which require water and air - Healing, for instance.

Nor does this change her strength. Every strong channeller is going to be strong in at least 2 powers. The stronger the channeller the more likely they are to be strong in more powers.

It depends on her dexterity and her Talents whether she can be as effective a channeller as compared to another who is a level stronger - Moghedien say. And on that channellers dexterity and Talents too.

Seth said...

Linda,

I have been a huge fan of you, your writing, and your dedication since 2004 on the WoTmania boards.

I've recently gotten some friends obsessed with the series and have been an encyclopedic source of knowledge for them, keeping them excited and interested in something they perhaps may not have read all on their own.

I've come to pine after a list, in two parts, consisting of a 0-100 point scale for both male and female chanelers based on raw strength. I mean that this doesn't take into account the advantage that women have concerning their superior dexterity with Saidar.

This list was compiled by a wotmania member and posted in the theory section and not the message board. It was referenced constantly and I desperately would like to see it again, to peruse its information.

Now, I recognize a lot of similarities with your much more detailed list. I want to give you due credit for a lot of hard work and for generating an excellent reference. I was hoping you would know of a way that I could once again acquire the post that contained that 1-100 scale cumulative list (it was actually two posts, or one post in two parts). I'm desperate. Please help.

Seth

srn247@med.nyu.edu

Linda said...

Thanks for your comment Seth. As far as I know, the theory post was lost when wotmania closed. However, many former wotmania posters are at the WOt board of readandfindout.com. One of them may have copied it. The original poster might even be there. My recommendation would be to ask there. I hope you are successful!

Daniel said...

@Linda
While Egwene is weak in healing, that doesn't mean she is weak in each areas. Unfortunately, we don't have outside confirmation of Egwene's strength. Egwene admits to herself she is strong in those areas but you can't trust that source
I think it's safe to assume she is strong in Air as it is required for Cuendillar.
The only thing that is unknown is Water. I also feel somewhat safe in having in strong in water because it is traditional that women are strong in water. That said, I'm wouldn't put any money on that statement.
So, 4 out of 5 with a strong possibility of 5 for 5 is pretty dang good and she could probably match up with someone a level higher than she is

JDH1973 said...

@Linda and Daniel

I think this quote helps show that Egwene is Strong in Air and Water...

TSR
Playing with Fire

That almost stood to reason. Of the Five Powers, Fire and Earth had been strongest in men in the Age of Legends, and Air and Water in women; Spirit had been shared equally. Egwene hardly had to think to use Air or Water, once she had learned to do a thing in the first place. But the thought did not further their purpose.

...

While not conclusive, it's clear that she is not WEAK in any of the 5 powers as so many other Channelers seem to be.

IMO she's very strong in at least 3 Powers (Earth, Fire, Spirit) as Linda notes, but is also not weak in Air or Water.

Linda said...

That's right, JDH. She's not weak in Air or Water - probably about average for a woman in using them. However, she isn't skilled in any Talents that require strength in Air or Water, such as Healing or Cloud Dancing (working weather), so she isn't strong in Air or Water.

Daniel said...

Linda,

She is strong in making Cuendillar, which does require Air. Not being skilled in Healing or Cloud Dancing may just mean she hasn't practiced.

Linda said...

Daniel: Strength in earth is the key to making cuendillar. Otherwise, while it does require other powers, it's more tedious than anything else.

Note also that Elayne, who is skilled at weaving the winds and is strong in Air, can't heal more than a bruise, just as Egwene can't. Neither has the Talent.

JDH1973 said...

I'm not so sure Linda, the quote implies more than "average" and her later ability to lift several women several paces high (the Seafolk scene in Cairhien) shows that she's no slouch in Air at least. Granted her raw strength is part of the equation, but we've seen Channelers struggle with relatively simple tasks despite strength.

Nynaeve is obviously skilled in Healing, and is not as strong in Air as Naeff, as we see in ToM. Seems to me that Egwene is exceptional in Earth and Spirit and strong in Air, Water and Fire.

Tazren said...

JDH: Lifting things, I've always considered to be related more to pure strength in the One Power than skill with Air.

"It was impossible. True, the simple act of picking something up was one of the hardest in channeling, but she [Siuan] had been able to lift nearly three times her own weight."

Siuan being weaker in the One Power shouldn't have affected her skill with the flows, should it? I mean, she'd still have the same deftness with Air, for instance, since it's also mentioned that her skill at Healing is unchanged, so it seems Talents aren't affected. That leads me to believe that, if I am correct, she can make the weave of Air as good as before, but she cannot lift Bryne, because she cannot boost the weave with sufficient Power.

Which, in turn, means that Egwene doesn't have to be very strong in Air to lift a lot of people; it's enough that she's really strong in the One Power.

To me it seems that she's very strong in Earth, Fire and Spirit, and might be above average in Air and Water, since it's mentioned that she has an easy time weaving it. She might not be _strong_ in the Air and Water, but I believe she's above average.

JDH1973 said...

Tarzren ... the lifting thing could be based on strength, but we've seen weakness in a flow have a negative affect on Channelers abilities. Jorin (the 1st Wind Finder we encountered) was able to weave massive flows of Air, but could barely weave Fire to any affect. We've seen plenty of examples throughout the series.

Then there is this quote out of Egwene:

TSR
Playing with Fire

That almost stood to reason. Of the Five Powers, Fire and Earth had been strongest in men in the Age of Legends, and Air and Water in women; Spirit had been shared equally. Egwene hardly had to think to use Air or Water, once she had learned to do a thing in the first place. But the thought did not further their purpose.

Clearly she is not weak in Air or Water to "hardly had to think" to make weaves using these flows.

Tazren said...

But we don't know how strong Jorin is. It might be that she's weak, but has a great Talent for Cloud Dancing, and has great skill in Air and Water. That might be enough. I mean, you can be extremely weak in the One Power and Heal really well (Sumeko). So, if she's weak in the One Power, she might have a lot of trouble doing basic fire weaves.

And I don't mean that Egwene is weak in Air or Water. Just that I think that the act of lifting things is more connected to strength in the One Power than to skill in Air. I still think that Egwene is above average in at least Air, and probably Water too.

Anonymous said...

How does Moghedien's comment to Nynaeve factor in this list? If I remember she said something like how she'd love to see the look on Rahvin's face when he meets Nynaeve unblocked.

JDH1973 said...

@Tarzen:

we can infer from the fact that Jorin was not sent to TV that she is at least moderately strong (stronger than the AS Seafolk at least). Then there is the fact that no other Wind Finder we've encountered in a position as high as WF on a Raker has been anything less than strong in the Power.

There is also several rather interesting comments from TSR:

Winds Rising

"weaving Fire is difficult for me beyond lighting a lamp, but it pleased the Light to make it enough"

A Cup of Wine

"She was going to miss the Sea Folk woman. She had learned a great deal, and taught a little, as well. Jorin could certainly weave Fire much better now."

Into the Palace

"Egeanin, arms folded in front of the doors, seemed ready to let it go on, but Elayne wove flows of Air around Amathera's waist. To her surprise she was able to lift her off the already senseless woman and set her on her feet. Perhaps learning how to handle those heavy weavings from Jorin had increased her strength."

What this tells me is that being weak in a Flow simply makes it difficult to control the weaves to an effect, but that through practice and training a greater level of control can be achieved. In addition, if Elayne's strength grew from weaving such heavy flows of air it seems to follow that Jorin can't be particularly weak ... in fact Elayne was surprised that she had grown strong enough to one senseless woman (which is something weak AS probably can not achieve, but something Elayne later in the series Egwene matches 3-fold). If follows that Jorin would be able to achieve the same, much like Naeff was able to match the effects of Nynaeve's wind storm in ToM despite being weaker in the Power.

Chris Cottingham said...

Linda - referring to a much, much earlier post - I've realized that (with respect) one of my earlier comments was misunderstood. I was trying to make a point, based on Merana's interaction with Verin, that it's dangerous to assume strength levels only from examples of deference. I commented that it's not only strength that comes into play, but age, personality, etc.
Your reply was that it's only strength that is used, and that great age doesn't make an Aes Sedai rate higher than their strength level. But that wasn't my argument! I never suggest that age can make a sister "rate" as a higher level (and I completely agree with you that the hierarchy doesn't work that way). My objection is to the *assumption* that because one sister defers to another, *therefore* that sister must be weaker than the one she defers to. Merana is in no way weaker than Verin, they are very closely matched; yet Merana still fights (and mostly loses her fight) with very strong instincts to defer to her.

The point being that deference *in that instance* is not about strength, but about the greater age that Verin has. Therefore, *assuming* strength level based on examples of deference, without a definite reference to strength, is dangerous. Without the benefit of reading Merana's thoughts, her deferential behavior toward Verin would incline us to think she must be a level weaker than Verin.

There are places in the chart where deference is the only reason given for ranking one sister higher than another. I just think we should be careful, since some of those sisters may be on the same level, but with one older than the other.

Linda said...

Chris: What you say is valid and I regret misunderstanding you. The ranking works best when there are more than one indicators for each channeller on it. Which is often the case. Eg Merana's attitude to Alanna and Alanna's and Verin's interactions.

Unfortunately the later books (KOD included) had far fewer examples and these are more vague with little cross-referencing with ranked channellers, so of necessity these later entries are more speculative. EG for ToM only one of the half a dozen entries is precisely ranked.

Anonymous said...

wonderful FAQ! Thank you for your hard work.
I have a comment on the placement of Nissa. The FAQ says she may be as strong as, or stronger, than Nicola. However, I think the following quotes disprove that:


Nicola has more potential than any novice in centuries... before Elayne and Egwene, and Nynaeve.

- Lord of Chaos, Questions and Answers

Nicola was ferocious in her desire to learn, by all reports, and she had a potential only bettered by Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene herself among living Aes Sedai.

- A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike



Therefore, I think Nissa should be at least one level below Nicola. Nissa, as an Accepted, would have been a novice (and perhaps already an Accepted) by the time Nicola became one. Given the small number of Accepted, I'm sure her strength would have been remembered.

Linda said...

I have Nissa a level below Nicola. Both could be a level higher than they are on the ranking.

We don't know when Nissa arrived at the Tower. It was probably before the split, but we don't know for sure.

JDH1973 said...

Odds are Nissa came with the 1000 or so newbies Egewne found. It's stated in TOM that both had been newly raised to Accepted and Nissa was not mentioned as one of the Novices Egwene called out in TGS when she linked with "some of the more powerful" to fight off the Seanchan.

Also the Nicola quote about her potential is vague as this is still prior to Egwene's knowledge of Cadsuane.

Anonymous said...

Was just reading Leigh Butler's re-read of the series, and she quoted Merana as having to remind herself not to defer to Verin as she tried to retain control of the embassy (LOC Ch43), yet you seem to have her on the same level. Does this mean that Verin's time in training, age, time as Aes Sedai, etc. push her over the edge, or should one of them be on a different level? Just thought you ought to know.

Linda said...

Anonymous: Yes, that is exactly what Merana said as I quoted in the article - that they were the same strength, but Verin is older and therefore Merana should defer to her.

Anonymous said...

Great article! There are only a few places that I may not agree with, and one of them is how you ranked Faolain and Theodrin, especially Theodrin. At Level 11, only a handful of AS would outrank Theodrin, yet I don't recall anyone remarking on her potential as being particularly exceptional or even remotely promising.

Also, I think Katerine should be ranked together with Saerin in Level 11 due to the way she tried to usurp Saerin's position during the resistance against the Seanchan, giving in only after she was reminded that Saerin is a Sitter and she not.

Anonymous said...

In my book, the exact text is:

"Two thirds of the women there could wield saidar, some not much more than Sorilea, others equalling Amys, who was as strong as MOST Aes Sedai Egwene had yet met"

indicating that Amys is somewhere in the median strength (probly 7 or 8)

Anonymous said...

I believe there is another Kinswoman who is strong enough to Travel. In COT 14, Elayne sent Julanya Fote and Sabeine Ocalin to scout around.

I don't know if it's an error in the books, since the Kin with Elayne strong enough to travel were identified as Garenia, Kirstian, Reanne, Sumeko, Julanya, Keraille and two of the following three Kin: Sarasia, Kema, and Nashia (list taken from the article). Maybe Sabeine was sent somewhere else?

Anonymous said...

re: Julanya Fote and Sabeine Ocalin

Even if neither of them is strong enough to Travel, if they link together, they could be strong enough to create a gateway.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but from how I understood the chapter, Julanya and Sabeine were sent to scout different camps. It would make sense that both would be strong enough to Travel individually.

I don't have the book with me, so I can't check. But I checked Encyclopedia Wot,

the entry for Sabeine says she is strong enough to Travel.

http://encyclopaedia-wot.org/characters/s/sabeine_ocalin.html

The entry for COT 14 also says the same thing.

http://encyclopaedia-wot.org/books/cot/ch14.html

Maybe someone could check the relevant chapter and verify it?

JDH1973 said...

I don't think Edarra can be any higher than level 10 and may in fact only be level 9 along with Masuri. The Quote from Morgase from TOM (Questioning Intentions)

"Eldest of the Wise Ones, and perhaps foremost among them—it was hard to tell with Wise Ones—Edarra looked strikingly young for her reported age. Morgase's own tiny ability in the One Power was enough to tell her that this woman was strong. Probably the strongest in the room."

This quote makes it clear that Edarra is no less than a 9, but if she was more than 10 Morgase would not have said "Probably" as it would have been a certainty ... heck, even 10 may be too high for "Probably".

Steph said...

So, are we sure beyond a shadow of a doubt about Moiraine;s new much lesser strength? I know she cannot lie but just because she believes something to be true does not mean it is. I have heard of AS being burned out but never before in the books does it say that they can reduce their capacity to channel by constant use? I guess it hardly matters since she also stated that with the braceelet she was stronger than any woman in the tower-since she has met Nyneave, and Cadsuane she would be speaking the turth about those two, at least

Linda said...

Steph: Moiraine said that the Eelfinn ate her ability to channel. They had to do this slowly or else they would have killed her. Yes she is much weaker.

Anonymous said...

I guess it hardly matters since she also stated that with the braceelet she was stronger than any woman in the tower-since she has met Nyneave, and Cadsuane she would be speaking the turth about those two, at least

Moiraine only said the angreal makes her "stronger in the Power than before I was taken," not that she would be stronger than any woman in the Tower.

JDH1973 said...

Given that Moiraine and Siuan were already the strongest in the Tower, and the very real likelihood that Moiraine probably also believes Cadsuane to be dead there is no reason for her to say "stronger than any woman in the Tower" ... to her in that moment they are one and the same thing. She also does not know and Nynaeve or Egwene or Elayne are full AS and thus would not truly consider them "of the Tower".

Gifted Designs said...

Does anyone know where Corele would rank? I can't think that she's weak seeing as she's rather ireeverant. But that could also be her personality.

Anonymous said...

Need to add Suian (new) under level 2

Gifted Designs said...

I find it very interesting that so many are ranked in the 8-11 category when it's supposed to be so rare. Mind you, we've barely truly met even a 5th of the AS population and it would make sense that RJ would focus on stronger characters seeing as they'd be the ones doing interesting things.

I also agree that the tower is in need of reformation. I don't necessarily believe that the whole strength thing needs to be completely shed, but I DO think they need to revisit how useful weaker sisters can be in light of circles. I think it would help enormously in making those who are relatively weak feel far less hopeless and of much more value.

Unknown said...

I am sorry I mis quoted or mis read...Moiraine did say that with the bracelet she was stronger than she was before she was taken. Still, as she was pretty High up at that time that makes her pretty strong with it. If it were me I would super glue the bracelet to my wrist! LOL (Maybe Elayne could make one for Siuan and Leane-that would be a hoot!)

JDH1973 said...

Hey Linda .... What makes you think Gitara was at most the same Strength as Romanda? She is already dead when Cadsuane makes her comments about rankings and given the rumors of her age being beyond 300 she coul easily have been stronger than Romanda yet below Mielyn and Karene since they had not been matched in 600 years. Am I missing a quote?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I certainly think it is possible that both Gitara and Tamra were as strong as Elaida, or maybe even stronger.

Linda:

While I agree that the current placement of Sharina is a good minimum level for her, she may just as well be one or two levels above. Your reasoning that "considerably stronger" was not used to describe her, but was used to describe Alivia doesn't hold much, I think. Reanne was, it seems, talking about current strengths when she compared Nynaeve to Alivia, whereas the AS clearly talk of Sharina's potential. It could well be that at Nynaeve's full potential, Alivia wouldn't be "considerably" stronger than her, just stronger.

I think it is entirely possible the upper echelons are more along the lines of:

Level 21: Lanfear, Alivia (?), Sharina (?)

Level 20: Cyndane, Nynaeve (?)

Level 19: Graendal, Semirhage (?)

Level 18: Mesaana

Alternatively, Graendal, Semirhage and Nynaeve may all be at level 19.

The reason I put it this way is that Graendal's assessment that Semirhage was the strongest in the Demandred-Mesaana-Semirhage alliance wouldn't have come across without some swagger about Semrihage's lack of strength if Semi had been weaker than Graendal. But Semirhage equal to or slightly stronger than Graendal makes sense in the context of both her statements.

Unreasoner said...

Just ran some numbers over at Theoryland, and they seem to say that 4 is too low for the cuttoff for Aes Sedai. Because given a normal distribution where 62.5% of female channelers can test for the shawl (as is canon from RJ), that would mean 37.5% of female channelers are at 19+

Or, more than one in three are stronger than Nynaeve. Which just doesn't play well.

Regards,
U

JDH1973 said...

I'm not certain this is evidence that Sareitha, Adeleas and Vanden are weaker than Merilille

"Yet in Andor Merilille was always accompanied by Reanne Corly to make gateways for her. Careane is the weakest Aes Sedai of this embassy as we saw in level 5. Vandene, Adeleas and Sareitha all defer to Merilille – and Vandene and Adeleas are far older than Merilille - and therefore are on level 6 and Merilille is one level higher on level 7."

Merilille is the Hall appointed Embassay leader so all the Sisters in her group would defer to her even if they were significantly stronger.

What we do know is that Sareitha, Adeleas and Vandene are not strong enough to Travel. They could all easily be on level 7 or level 6, but simply deferring to an appointed leader isn't evidence that they are weaker than Merilille. You'll note that Adeleas and Vandene were not challenged when they took charge of Ispan and we see no deference to Merilille once the group was no longer officially the Ebu Dari embassy.

Anonymous said...

Re the discussion on Sabeine Ocalin above -

I checked COT 14, What Wise Ones Know. page 347 (in my book) has the ff. quote:

Elayne: "I sent MIstress Ocalin and Mistress Fote to visit some of the villages a few miles south of the border." Sabeine Ocalin and Julanya Fote were Kinswomen who could travel.

That should firmly place her at Level 8, at a minimum.

Anonymous said...

I think you have done a great job of ranking strenght. The only problem I have is with Saerin. I do not think she is as powerful as the other Sitters who interrogate Talene and here's why. In Winter's Heart,Prologue(Snow)Seaine muses as she's thinking on hierarchies:
"In truth, Saerin had been both novice and Accepted twice as long as most of them(Seaine, Pevara, Yukiri, and Doesine), but forty years as a Sitter, longer than anyone else in the Hall, counted for a great deal." Also, in Path of Daggers I believe I recall Seaine mentioning that Saerin had to work hard to earn the shawl. Usually only those who are weaker in the power have trouble earning the shawl and usually only earn the shawl because of their own will-power and intelligence.
I believe that Saerin only stands above Seaine and the other Sitters(Seaine, Pevara, Yukiri, and Doesine) because of her time in the Hall, not because of her strenght in the power.

Linda said...

There is a quote that I used in the commentary:

Pevara matched Saerin and Yukiri in strength,

- A Path Of Daggers, The Extra Bit

That says it all.

Saerin is equal in strength to Pevara and Yukiri. She loses some ranking compared to those on the same saidar strength level as her because she trained twice as long as they did. However strength in saidar is the first applied criterion so she would still rank above Talene who is on the next strength level down.

But her 40 years made up for her longer training as far as Sitters are concerned. That is why Saerin is leading them. This is a Hall matter, since they are investigating it as Sitters, and she is the highest ranked Sitter in the Hall. The oldest and the longest serving Sitters are ranked highest. At that time Saerin was both.

Brene said...

Wasn't Saerin having to work much harder and much longer also to do with the fact she was the only novice recruited by the Daughters of Silence to make the shawl? I imagine she was being held back and expected to prove herself even more than a usual novice/accepted.

Brene said...

Also, we have evidence from RJ, I believe, that Kiruna (and by extension, Bera and Kwamesa) are on the same level as Leane, the next level down from Siuan's and Moiraine's original strength.

The evidence is taken from this paragraph, which is found in the collection of RJ answers to questions and comments at signings etc., found here:

http://13depository.blogspot.co.uk/2009/03/plots-characters-and-wheel-of-time.html

On channeller strength he said that he knew the rough strength of every channeller in the books, imposed on a 21-graded scale. Nynaeve he said had Forsaken strength, i.e. as strong as most female Forsaken. Egwene, Elayne and Aviendha were a step lower, and an additional step lower Elaida, Siuan and Moiraine was found. They were the strongest Aes Sedai known before "the new ones". Several Aes Sedai, including Leane and Kiruna, were next in strength. By the old standards they were deemed very strong and capable.

Hopefully this clarifies some of the disagreement above about whether Kiruna, Bera and Kwmesa are equal to Sheriam (who is equal to Leane).