Tuesday, July 31, 2001
We know from earlier books that cuendillar is rare and expensive, and was so even in the Age of Legends. Also, RJ said in an early interview that cuendillar took Forsaken strength to make.
Now even novices of a few week’s training can do it, provided they are strong in Earth. And it is being made in a rather mundane manner. There is nothing difficult about making it, it’s just boring, so why would it have been rare in earlier times? It seems that it was necessary for the plot that RJ change his mind on this matter.
Curiously, the Yellow Ajah has more Aes Sedai strong in Earth than the others, even though until now Aes Sedai Healing is Spirit, Water and Air. The Yellow Ajah are becoming very discontented with Egwene over ‘wasting their time’ making cuendillar. Will they be the first group to disobey Egwene’s orders? Are they going to lead a group that wants an alternative leader? Surely they wouldn’t put their support behind Lelaine when her rival Romanda is Head of their Ajah. Perhaps the Yellow are the early returnees to the Tower?
Since even weak channellers can make cuendillar, Leane was the second fastest after Egwene and was chosen to attack the harbour chain. Egwene feels responsible that Bode, a novice, is the other candidate and replaces her. She is subsequently captured. So to further his plot, RJ not only had to have the harbour chain turn to cuendillar and Egwene captured, he had to have Leane (a weak channeller) also be captured alongside her.
Leane must perform some essential function in Tar Valon. Her presence there may have all or any of three purposes: as a stilled channeller whom Nynaeve Healed, as evidence that the Oath Rod shortens lives since Leane has been freed from the Oaths and is now young again, and finally as a source of information on important topics such as the Forsaken being lose, what Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne have been doing, Telaranrhiod, etc. She may be put to the question, or she may voluntarily tell this information to save Egwene’s life or to attempt to end the Tower split.
Certainly the Oath Rod’s properties will be revealed: the title of the chapter in Crossroads of Twilight when they were captured was What The Oath Rod Can Do and to me hints that this is one important thing that Leane will tell, as well as show, the Tower.
Finally, with her little factory, Egwene has now cheapened cuendillar. Knowledge of the weave will spread, and the rebels now have a stockpile of it, which they have to sell very carefully if they don’t want the price of cuendillar to crash. So far the factory is making cuendillar items to be sold to finance the rebel army. Soon it might be making cuendillar items directly for the war itself. Hopefully for the war against the Shadow. The oaths forbid Aes Sedai to make weapons (though presumably not if these are to be used on Shadowspawn), but there is always armour. It would of course be hypocritical for the Aes Sedai to permit or encourage novices and Accepted to make cuendillar weapons. Ah, what the oath rod can do.
And it is important to remember that once made, cuendillar is forever, so one has to be very careful what one makes, since it can’t be undone or disposed of.