The One Power and the Eye of the World
By Dr. Saidin
This will deal with the One Power issues regarding the first half of The Eye of the World. Many of the points will be discussed in detail, while others will occupy no more than a single sentence, and are there to merely convey an interesting fact or hypothesis.
Ishamael Travelled strangely in the Prologue of the first book, but I'll devote a separate post to this because the answer is lengthy and a stimulus for some good debate.
Female Healing vs Male Healing
Ishamael says in EoTW (Dragonmount) ‘A pity for you… that one of your Sisters is not here. I was never very skilled with Healing, and I follow a different power. But even one of them could only give you a few lucid minutes, if you did not destroy her first.’
Why did Ishamael refer to a Sister as a Healer? Why not an Aes Sedai?
There are several possible explanations. We already know from Moghedien that men were better at certain forms of Healing than women – a fact which irritates Nynaeve. As with all aspects of the Power, the reverse would almost certainly be true. It could be that women were superior to men in some forms of Healing, specifically those forms centered on the brain and the mind. Semirhage was a specialist of the brain – out of choice, or were women naturally adept in that field? Graendal was the greatest regarding events of the mind, which could be more than coincidence. We also know that when Nynaeve discovered how to Heal stilling, the Yellows mentioned how Fire would be good for diseases of the Heart. This could be a vague pointer to the female powers being better in other areas. It is more than possible that female Aes Sedai were especially proficient in Healing diseases of the nervous system and mind.
Apart from women being superior in this form of Healing, other possibilities could explain the comment. Firstly, Ishamael may have written off the male Aes Sedai as insane and thus considers the term 'Sisters' to fully encapsulate the Aes Sedai organization. Secondly, considering the nature of the War of Power, it is possible that Sisters were concentrated in the larger cities, such as where Lews Therin was in this chapter, and males were more on the battle lines. Considering the gender equality of the Age, this seems less likely. The cause could be even more trivial – perhaps it was against custom for males to Heal one another, or perhaps saidar is always better at Healing males, or some other small reason.
Listening to the Wind – can all women do it?
Moiraine addresses this Talent … EoTW (Listen to the Wind) – ‘Unlike most women who claim to listen to the wind, you actually can, sometimes. Oh, it has nothing to do with the wind, of course. It is of Air and Water.’
Obviously most Wisdoms are frauds in this regard, but there are strong hints that most female channelers can perform this Talent. Even if most women can’t listen to the Wind, it stands to reason that those who can are all Wilders. If it is of Air and Water, it further strengthens the argument that the great majority of women will have the necessary proficiency to Listen.
In EoTW (the Peddlar), Egwene says that Nynaeve told her that she can also learn to Listen to the Wind, whereas most women cannot. It is more than likely that Nynaeve is trying to boost the ego of her apprentice, rather than speaking true fact. Nynaeve doesn’t even know that she herself can channel at that stage of the book, so her estimation of Egwene seems dubious. Still, it is not beyond probability that she could sense some sort of ability or at least, a shared camaraderie with her friend.
Later it seems like Moiraine is reading the wind. From Nynaeve’s PoV – EoTW (Footprints in Air) – ‘Something of it tickled the corners of her mind, as when she listened to the wind, but now she knew that had to do with the One Power… Her [Moiraine’s] gaze was elsewhere too. “It is the Dark One, Nynaeve. The storm has left us… for a time, at least.” She raised one hand as though feeling the air, then scrubbed it on her dress unconsciously, as if she had touched filth.
Moiraine’s initial explanation of the Talent is that she isn’t surprised that Nynaeve can do it, and it seems like Moiraine and possibly, Egwene or any woman can perform it. Like all Talents, it may be a question of degree though. Throughout the series, only Nynaeve displays this level of intimacy with Listening to the Wind. While all women can Heal, those who can only manage bruises do not describe themselves as having the Talent. Nynaeve probably has a particularly high affinity for the female powers, and can Listen properly, whereas most Aes Sedai have weaker abilities, and Ash’aman would show rare aptitude.
The Protection of the Power
EoTW (The Wisdom) – ‘It is the Dark Ones, and the minions of the Dark One. From those things I can protect. Touching the True Source, touching saidar, gives me that protection, as it does to every Aes Sedai… Even those poor men who find themselves wielding the Power for a short time gain that much, though sometimes the taint makes them more vulnerable. But I, or any Aes Sedai, can extend my protection to those close by me. No fade can harm them as long as they are as close to me as they are right now.’
Moiraine makes it clear that saidar and saidin provide protection against the Shadow, and yet we see no evidence of this after this book. It is possible that the Light is at its most powerful at this stage of the series, and that the mere presence of saidar or saidin is enough to repel Shadowspawn. As the seals weakened and the Shadow moved closer to the Pattern, this may have been the first effect that was lost to the Light. The failing of wardings like Keepings which occurs later in the series is symbolic of a profound influence of the Shadow lying over the Pattern, to the point that the One Power is becoming dysfunctional. However, it is interesting to read about the One Power at its full strength, and how its passive effects were probably lost as from book 2.
EoTW (The Caemlyn Road) – ‘This is not even an angreal, merely an aid to concentration.’
Moiraine’s staff has been an interesting. We’ve never seen an Aes Sedai use a similar trinket. Moiraine’s staff is not merely a decoration. Earlier the Whitecloaks take a full swing at her with a sword and Rand is sure the staff will be sliced in two, but it remains unmarked. Indestructibility is usually a sign of a Power-wrought object. The most likely explanation for Moiraine’s staff is that it truly is a mental crutch as she suggests. We know that she doesn’t need it, considering she loses it soon after this. Considering she spends the first part of the book channeling out of the sides of the staff, or using it to create earthquakes, it seems that the staff provides a physical focus for her. Instead of her focusing her weaves into the distance or to an imagined place, she focuses everything into the staff and then swings the staff around physically where it is needed. The closest parallel to this is Rand swinging Callandor and allowing weaves to emanate from it. It is, however, a mostly unique event to the series.
Small Facts or Hypotheses
- Lews Therin says to Ishamael in EoTW (Dragonmount) ‘I will destroy you beyond anything your master can repair.’ This is most probably a reference to balefire, the deadliest of weapons. More interestingly, it implies that Lews Therin is familiar with the rare event of transmigration of the souls of fallen Forsaken, or perhaps the ability of the Dark One to Heal severely injured Forsaken.
- EoTW (Dragonmount) – ‘.. he Travelled. The land around him was flat and empty… but he could sense there were no people within a hundred leagues.’ This is a very unusual event in the series, which still defies explanation. Anything is possible, but theories include a lost Talent, a weave or warding to detect people, weaving his gateway to specifically take him away from people – thus using ‘need’ in the real world.
- In EoTW (A Place of Safety) Moiraine says that she needs the angreal to Heal the damage caused to Tam, due to the fact that the taint has had time to fester. Strength in the Power almost never plays a role in Healing until evil powers are Healed. Most Healers can Heal even the most serious wound. However, we see here that Moiraine needs an angreal to Heal Tam. Siuan needed a sa’angreal and a whole circle to Heal Mat of his taint with the evil of Aridhol. A mixed link was needed to aid Rand’s wound after Fain cut him with the dagger. Healing of these taints is not really Healing – it is more like excavation of the unwanted entity. Thus, the larger the entity, the more raw strength is needed.
- In EoTW (A Place of Safety), Lan says that only the weakest Aes Sedai would fail to be a match for a fade. This statement is generally considered to be rubbish, considering Daigian is more than a match for most enemies. However, earlier in the book we read that Moiraine and Lan failed to kill the Fade at the head of the attack of Emond’s Field even though they both tried. It is clear that the prowess and danger of a Fade was being described as the cruelest of enemies. As the series has progressed we have seen that Fades are absolutely no match for even novice channelers, as seen by the fact that the three girls destroyed three in an instant later in the series despite being novices and Accepted.
- There is an inconsistency regarding the legend of Eldrene. In EoTW (Tellings of the Wheel), Moiraine says that Eldrene used fires to kill the Shadow army, and then died herself from overdrawing on the Power. In the Guide, it says that she used a sa’angreal and balefire, and overdrew before dying. The legend of Eldrene is probably blown out of proportion, or even completely untrue.
- In EoTW (Across the Taren), Moiraine says that not even ten women in Tar Valon could produce such a display of fog unaided. In KoD, Fager Neald creates fog which covers the entire hillside, which provides an interesting parallel on male strength in the Power.
- In EoTW (Across the Taren), Moiraine replies to Egwene, ‘Things do not have the Power, child. Even an angreal is only a tool.’ Moiraine later repeats herself when Egwene comments on the power of her staff. However, Moiraine is not familiar with wells… and even at this stage of the story Cadsuane was in possession of one, though unbeknown to Moiraine.
- In EoTW (Across the Taren), Moiraine says ‘This is just a blue stone. But it can give off light.’ What is interesting is that there are several crystalline materials in the series which react to the One Power. Later in the book we see that the Eye of the world is lined with crystals, all of which glow with varying intensity. Callandor and the globes of the Choedan Kal also seem to interact with the One Power in some way. It is uncertain whether Moiraine’s crystal is a common material known to Aes Sedai, or a rare artifact from the Age of Legends.
- In the same chapter as above, Moiraine elicits several glows from the crystal and asks Egwene to concentrate. A small flicker follows and Moiraine says that Egwene caused the last reaction. This is almost identical to the male test for channeling where the channeler elicits a resonance from the apprentice after causing them to focus on an object e.g. a crystal or a flame.
- EoTW (The Road to Taren Ferry) – ‘… he silently shouted at Bela to run like the wind, silently tried to will strength to her. Run! His skin prickled, and his bones felt as if they were freezing, ready to split open. The Light help her, run! And Bela ran.’ This is the first time Rand channeled, and he develops the fever several days later. Moiraine comments on how Bela needed less restoration than the other horses, and she even considered that Rand had channeled. Ironically Rand’s first weave was a Healing weave, and we discover later in the series that his ability with the Talent is poor. Rand has also never repeated the weave, and never removed fatigue from a friend or ally.
- Rand channels for the second time in EoTW (Dust on the Wind) where he makes the ship lurch and the boom swing over and kill the Trolloc. It seems like an oddly powerful weave for his second attempt at channeling.
- In EoTW (Choices), Moiraine is exasperated at having found two women with the spark in one village, and she mentions that the Old Blood is strong. This is a clear allusion to the genetic component of channeling. However, considering we hear later that channeling twins are rare, it reinforces RJ’s statement that channeling is both genetic and soul-mediated.
- EoTW (The Stag and Lion) - Ishamael produces a rat in Rand’s dream and bends it back until its back breaks. Very curiously, the innkeepers in the next chapter say that they found several dead rats with their backs broken. What is so strange about this is that Ishamael clearly pulled the rats into Tel’aran’rhiod and killed them there. We’ve seen Egwene conjure animals in TAR, so why didn’t Ishamael? He could be using TAR to see through their eyes, or into their dreams to see what they saw in the day. Or perhaps he wanted to double the trauma of his message so that Rand wouldn’t think it was just a dream. Either way, this is a strange piece of text.
- In EoTW (Shadow’s waiting), we see that Moiraine knows how to weave wardings against the evil of the Shadow, and the evil of Aridhol. True, to the rest of the series, she cannot weave both and needs to choose one. This is knowledge that even Asmodean and Lews Therin admit is correct.
- EoTW (Dust on the Wind) – ‘Mashadar is vast, girl, as vast as Shadar Logoth its self. The whole White Tower could not kill it.’ I love this quote because it returns eight books later when Rand destroys Shadar Logoth using ‘more power than the whole of the White Tower combined’.
- EoTW (Listen to the Wind) – ‘… there has not been an Aes Sedai powerful enough to Travel since the Time of Madness… I do not think all the Forsaken together could move a thousand Trollocs.’ This is a heinously ignorant quote by Moiraine, but it displays the poor quality of channeling knowledge in the 3rd Age. Moiraine will hopefully discover that she is more than strong enough to Travel if she returns in AMoL. She is correct that the Forsaken cannot use Travelling to transport Shadowspawn, but she is ignorant of the reason, and names the reason as strength being the limiting factor. In fact, thirteen Sitters in Salidar made a huge gateway when transporting the Salidar army to Tar Valon.
- EoTW (Listen to the Wind) – ‘You used the Power to Heal either Perrin or Egwene at some time. An affinity develops. You can sense the presence of someone you have Healed. In Baerlon you came straight to the Stag and Lion…’ This is one of those things I don’t think the author followed through with, due to practical reasons. However, there is no evidence of this ever occurring again despite the mass Healing which occurs throughout the series. One would expect Nynaeve, Moiraine, Flinn, Cadsuane, Samitsue and even Lanfear to have affinities with Rand for this reason, though no evidence can be found of it.
- The channeling illness is introduced in this book. EoTW (Listen to the Wind) – ‘Each time the reaction comes closer to the actual touching of the Source, until the two happen almost together. After that there are no more reactions that can be seen… Convulsions. Screaming.’ There is no explanation for this fatal reaction, though I would propose one. It seems that a channeler’s physiology changes after they touch the Power – they change from non-channeler to channeler. In this sense they start to slow, they can sense the Power in others and all around them, and they can see things which non-channelers cannot see, such as the nimbus around a woman. It seems that Wilders resist this change, and in this sense the Power starts to destroy them. The Power is after all, incompatible if you are a non-channeler. Thus the reactions move closer and closer as the person’s physiology tries to adapt, but the channeler still resists. Eventually the mind becomes completely resistant to the Power’s effects, but considering he/she has the spark, the channeling continues and causes death. The only way to save this, besides quickly learning to channel, is to create a block which separates the person from the Power completely, and thus saves the channeler’s life.
- EoTW (Wolfbrother) – ‘It was so easy, Perrin. I can do it. I can channel the Power.’ This was after Egwene lit a campfire for them using saidar. It is the first evidence of Egwene’s great natural skill with the Power. One of her first touchings, and she can wield saidar consciously and with ease.
- EoTW (Flight Down the Arinelle) – ‘Ba’alzamon’s eyes began to widen, in surprise or anger or both, then the air shimmered, and his features blurred and faded.’ At this point Rand screams and says that he’s in a dream. It should have alerted Ishamael to the fact that Rand was already displaying abilities with dreamwalking. Either he was freeing himself from Ishamael’s grip in the world of dreams, or he started to push Ishamael out of the dreamworld.
- EoTW (Footprints in Air) – ‘They were in this room, perhaps a day ago, no more than two. Afraid, but they left alive. The trace would not have lasted without that strong emotion.’ The coins that Moiraine gave them have several properties. Firstly, they can trace the targets very accurately, and even if they give their coins away, Moiraine can sense the boy’s presence when she is within half a mile of them. Secondly, she can sense past emotional residues with them, and thirdly, she admits at the end of the book that the coins were intended to make the boy’s biddable to her will, though in Rand’s case it was a failure.
Comments are welcome. Part 2 will follow at some stage.