Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Fires of Heaven Read Through #7 Where's Charlie Mesaana?

by Dominic

Where's Charlie Mesaana?

When I've read books so many times over the years as I did WOT's, I often like to have a mental lists of elements I decide to pay special attention to during the next re read. Often it's observing how a specific theme develops over the books and all the little details related to it - how Jordan will use certain colours for symbolism in that theme, how he will create mirrors with other characters that cast some light on the theme developed around a main player, or even sometimes how he used details of the world building to tie with a theme. Another favourite for 'the list' is to pay greater attention than usual to the development of one or a few characters, keeping in mind the hindsight from later books and observing closely the progression. Yet another is to focus on the details pertaining to a secondary story line, or a branch of the main ones.

This year, one of the things I've decided on was to keep an eye out on Elaida's study, so to speak, for all the little things which could point out to Mesaana. This means being very attentive to all scenes around Elaida, with Alviarin, to Forsaken scenes in which Mesaana is present or mentioned, and later in the series, this will involve pretty much all scenes set in the Tower. I will sweep large on this. Like most readers, I have my own ideas already about the person or persons Mesaana use to disguise herself, but I'll still collect all little things and oddities about everyone along the way. Of course, as they'll concern many suspects most (perhaps all!) these notes will turn out to have been wrong post-AMOL, but eh, that's not the point.

In complement, since those scenes coincide pretty much all the time with politics, I also keep an eye on the sisters around Elaida and Alviarin. Though we do not know this at this point, this is a nest of schemers, or at least women with agendas. The 'Too-Young' Sitters have been named at the time in the Tower, put in place by the concerted machinations of five Ajah Heads (all but the Blue, not present, and the Red, Galina, who seems to have been excluded). We also have at least one, possibly more, Sitter in the Hall who is to be exposed as Black Ajah (Alviarin spoke of the Black Sitters, plural, meaning there's a least two, and so far only Talene has been revealed as Black).

I find these scenes very interesting to look at closely, because on first read such scenes were almost Jordan's little secret playground, as he had given us none of the clues to even begin to understand the undercurrents – and play his guessing games. We had to take everything at face value. We had no idea then of Mesaana's plans (nor even that she was in the Tower), nor of the means Alviarin likes to use to manipulate Elaida. Later on, we've learned about them, and can re interpret old scenes in this light.

But to begin, let's establish a few of my boundaries/parameters about the hunt for Mesaana. I'll say right of the bat I don't believe conclusive evidence will show up, even scrutinizing everything. Robert Jordan virtually never did conclusive evidence, not before he was ready to reveal something. Mesaana may or not end up someone I suspect, we'll see. In some of the mysteries, like the murder of Ispan/Adeleas, it turned out after the fact some very subtle clues existed in earlier scenes – Careane showing her Aes Sedai face and spreading a panic among the Kinswomen, for instance. It also turned out the name Careane, with a barely changed spelling, is the name of a demon associated to coldness of heart.


In Tor's "Question of the Week" series, Jim gave us some clue about the motives behind the Forsaken's plans/bases of operations: "For the most part, Ishamael excepted, they set out to create worldly power for themselves using the methods they favored in the Age of Legends. That is, Moghedien worked from the shadows using subversion, Sammael, Be'lal and Rahvin attempted to seize control of national governments and so on."

What does it mean concerning Mesaana? Mesaana was not someone who sat down manipulating a powerful organizations through political machinations, which for a while appeared to be what she was doing at the Tower, what she was solely doing. The methods she favored, the goals she pursued, was rather the indoctrination of very young people (following 'methods' she had devised as teacher) to the Shadow and their use as saboteurs and vandals. She liked to target knowledge and collective memory, destroying academies, museums and so on. She had scholars hunted down, figures of authority captured, tried and killed by her "Children". Mesaana was refused a position of researchers and developed an obsession with the destruction of savants, their knowledge and the concrete results of their research, like technology. One might say she sought to erase all the scientific accomplishment of her Age. The post Breaking Third Age would rejoice her, forcibly – and tempt her to finish the job. Mesaana, Demandred and Semirhage have in common their hatred of Aes Sedai and more specifically Aes Sedai leaders. Mesaana because they deemed her scientific or research skills beneath their norms, Demandred for the fact they chose Lews Therin over him as leader, while Semirhage hated them and sought revenge against Aes Sedai officials for arresting her and threatening to sever or bind her. Through the War of Shadow, she pursued them, to the joy of Demandred every time she succeeded. It is hardly surprising Semirhage stood among Aes Sedai haters (the Seanchan) and their plans to attack the White Tower, already weakened and rendered incapable of concerted action by Mesaana. Demandred's part in this plan, if any, is for the time being unclear. Personally I suspect he is more concerned with keeping Rand and Aes Sedai apart, and with placing traitors among Rand's allies, traitors that will turn their coats during the Last Battle, a little gift to remind Lews Therin of Barid Bel Medar, for old time's sake.

At the beginning, we were many to suppose Mesaana intended to control the White Tower as her powerbase, using the Black Ajah to run things. It became apparent later on that her interest in it is to destroy it, to sabotage it and render it completely incapable of playing the central role it should have played in the years leading to the Last Battle – which is indeed far more in line with Mesaana's War of Shadow tactics and goals, truth be told. Mesaana wants the Aes Sedai to be scattered in small groups hating each other, unable and unwilling to join up for a common cause. All her orders strive to exacerbate divisions and blunders, to alienate Elaida from the Ajahs, the Ajahs from one another, and the Tower from the nations and Rand.

Far from spreading a net of Black sisters everywhere, Mesaana cares very little about them, not even wanting to know who they are, not even if and how many get "wasted" in every mission or which ones are used to carry orders or are being sacrificed – much to Alviarin's chagrin and worry. Alviarin was the one caring to prevent Black sisters from being sent to capture and worse.

But what of Mesaana's "favoured methods", how would they apply in the Third Age if, like Jordan hinted, she could be using them again? Her main targets would likely include all residual elements from her own Age: remnants of technology like ter'angreal, scraps of knowledge, scholars of history and AOL artefacts – and thus locations of interest for her would be Academies, Libraries, Museums. She placed herself at the location which is all of these things – the greatest school, the greatest depository of written knowledge, the greatest holding of objects from the Age of Legends. What does she wants with them? Erase them forever from the surface of the earth was her goal in the Age of Legends. Indeed, as the series progresses, we will see Mesaana is very much aware of where the biggest caches of objects are, and what sort of protection they enjoy, whether the Great Holding in Tear, the wagons left by Moiraine in Cairhien or the Tower vaults. She must be as aware of the locations of all libraries, and aware of Rand's three Academies. These are all possible targets for Mesaana's plans, when the time comes (it's fairly useless to make an attempt against the Tower Library now, Mesaana has to find an opportunity when the Aes Sedai won't be able to save it.. during a battle for instance). In Knife of Dreams, we saw just how much she cares that things develops following her plans, her goals – and how Moridin was forced to interfere and remind her again she must obey. This is a sign that Mesaana's still very much cares for her old obsessions, that she intends to complete her 'great work' against knowledge and civilization. In his within her grasp now to effectively wipe out all that's left of the Age of Legends, or so she thinks.

And what of "Mesaana's Children", what form might they take in this Age? How could Mesaana apply "her favoured methods" of indoctrinating young ones, using them as under cover agents against figures of authority, for sabotage and vandalism? An obvious way to look for this is at the younger people around Tar Valon. There are three groups: the warder students is one of them. Something sparked this group to turn against their teachers. Gawyn is the source of inspiration behind a lot of this and we know his motives are personal grievances against Siuan's administration, but were there agent provocateurs among the students who encouraged Gawyn, who let him understand they'd follow him if he did something about it? It's possible, and turning the young against authority, using them to bring Mesaana's kind of justice to their teachers is definitely typical of Mesaana, according to her bio in "the Guide". The second and third groups are of course the Novices and Accepted. This is extremely fertile ground for Mesaana. The current leadership is most uninterested in them, Jordan spelled it out through Elaida who thought in The Fires of Heaven that "she barely saw novices and accepted unless they intruded on her, and cared less". Using novices and accepted would be… attractive. They can be taught the One Power following AOL methods – the White Tower's are painfully slow. Novices and Accepted taught directly by Mesaana might be more lethal and skilled than most sisters, without anyone suspecting. Taught to invert their weaves, disguise their real potential or to link, they could be devastating, all the more by the effect of surprise and the fact for sisters it is anathema to harm novices and accepted. Before they realise they are facing in fact 'darkfriends', it might be too late. Novices and Accepted are also both everywhere in the Tower but beneath notice: errand girls, attending sisters and even Elaida. They would be perfect for a "terrorist" action against the Vaults or the Library. At this point, they are about the only ones who can enter the various Ajah quarters freely – perfect spies. A network of turned novices and accepted is also practical: Mesaana could gain personal and private access to any Accepted as part of their one-on-one studies. A Brown sister petting a few novices would barely be noticed either. Indoctrinated Accepted could extend the network to novices, as they are often in charge of them. Such a personal and secret network of agents in the Tower might explain why Mesaana cares so little for, underuses and wastes Black Sisters. A problem with Black Sisters is that are not Mesaana's – they are at the beck and call of the first Forsaken calling on them. That makes them unreliable. As we see in Lord of Chaos, this is an issue even with Alviarin, whom Mesaana make swear to obey her and only her, before sending her out of the Tower (and out of the way…) on all sort of errands to give orders to never identified people and act as agent to report on Tremalking and Shadar Logoth etc. – those errands, which Alviarin finds beneath her ended up costing Alviarin her position as Keeper. And Mesaana didn't care.

One last point of suspicion is the fact despite Elaida's and the Tower's disinterest in novices and accepted, their numbers have mysteriously increased since the Tower Coup. There are over a hundred by the time of KOD. There were something like forty before Sheriam took a great many of them with her… To increase the numbers, Egwene's factions went to much efforts – testing expeditions, changing the rules about the maximum age and eventually opening the novice book to anyone with the ability. But, somehow, an astounding number of new novices have fallen on Elaida's lap. Of course, if Mesaana has secretly sent out recruiters…

Time will tell if this intuition is even remotely right, but it's an interesting possibility all the more since Egwene is now involved with the novices a lot, and they are, or appear to be, turning to her side. It may all be real, or this sudden support of Egwene among the novices could be Mesaana's sly answer to the fact Moridin has forbidden her to get involved with Egwene, to use a network of agents no one but her knows about to encourage Egwene to further divide the Tower.

In any case, one of my parameter in the 'hunt for Mesaana' will be to carefully note appearances by novices and accepted, and to pay attention to all mentions of technology, the library and so on that are even remotely tied to Mesaana or Alviarin. I'll take for granted it's even possible Mesaana has invented herself an Accepted/Novice disguise that she uses on occasions – and that mentions like the fact Elaida doesn't know nor care about Accepted and novices means someone like her would never notice a new face among them. This will also include teachers, so all Brown sisters and others mentioned as close to novices/accepted. Sisters showing interest in the Library (and those outside the city) will also go on the list.

2. We have got some clues about Mesaana's appearance. Alviarin saw her wear a dress with a bronze hem, with black scrolls (that dress itself has not resurfaced again, at least not obviously). Mesaana's large, dreamy and quite stunning blue eyes have been mentioned a few times, as well as the fact they are the only noteworthy feature of an otherwise fairly plain woman. These little things are "important", because Jordan loved to use details like this. He got Semirhage keep dressing in black as Anath, and Lanfear stick to white and or silver in all her disguises, from Else (novice dress) to Selene to an invented White sister to Keille Shaogi. A silver belt here, an ivory comb there. A constant so far has also been that the clues to the hidden Forsaken have not been terribly subtle. Jordan rather avoid giving any when he doesn't yet want us to puzzle it out, but when he gave clues, they were all fairly obvious. In Crossroads of Twilight, Alviarin saw Mesaana's face and it was the face of no one she knew. There was something in that woman she found familiar, however, something she could not quite put a finger on. This is a big clue. It's possible Mesaana use a Mask of Mirrors that alter partly her face only – or fake the ageless look. Another possibility is that Mesaana does not alter her 'best feature', that is her stunning large blue eyes.

So that will be another parameter: keep track of big blue eyes on anyone in the Tower and sisters adopting bronze dresses. So far, Jordan has shown bronze on some Brown and Yellow sisters, so I'll put sisters from that Ajah on 'the list'.

3. Suspicious behaviour. I will note down little oddities, like sisters not following tradition, or appearing to be too much what you expect to the point of caricature (a Red who makes an hateful comment about men every two sentences, a Brown who is too dreamy, stained with ink and badly dressed all at the same time etc.). If Mesaana plays a sister, she's likely to make a few slips or errors, as well as going too far in her portrayal, to be a little too much the typical Brown, Red or Grey etc..

4. There are some Ajahs Mesaana is less likely to adopt, at least if she portrays a sister constantly (which personally I doubt – more on this later). Greys' knowledge of Laws and politics is too vast. It would be too easy for Mesaana to make slip among other greys – or to be asked questions she can't answer. Yellows's "basic" healing skills are possibly not beyond Mesaana's (contrary to the advanced stuff Nynaeve or Semirhage can do), but playing a healer seems very unnatural. A Green does not seem very natural either, but it's already a more likely scenario – it's not like Mesaana would be expected to go to a battlefield, yet Greens are very social people with many friends, and most have warders. Those are not easy roles to play – Mesaana can't just become sister X and be expected to know how to handle several friends and warders without raising attention on mistakes. None of the Forsaken has risked anything like this so far. If Mesaana usurped an existing identity, it will be that of a known loner few even care about. The Brown Ajah is also somewhat risky – their knowledge of History and everything from the Third Age would make it difficult for Mesaana to portray one flawlessly – but if that Brown was asocial, concerned mostly with herself and her job as teacher etc., if it's the sort of person whose absences wouldn't be noticed, it's a possible disguise, especially if it's part-time. Mesaana must be at her ease among scholars, she could probably manage to hide what she doesn't know, or deviate the conversations to baffling knowledge – Browns are chatters, constantly jumping from one subject to another. The White Ajah is another possibility. What they do and know is often abstract or theorical, and it would be relatively easy for Mesaana to emulate one. They are also aloof and not really sociable. However, this is a very small Ajah keeping to itself and to the Tower – the two combined suggest the Whites know one another very well, and even more one another's pet theories and modes of thought and logic - and it could be fairly difficult to infiltrate them, to take the place of a known White.

5. The multiple disguises scenario. This is perhaps my favoured theory. I see no reason why Mesaana would have adopted a single disguise, or would chose to live among Aes Sedai at all times. She could have eliminated one or a few sisters, have them drained of the details of their personal lives, and know enough to make brief apparitions as these people, when she needed to be somewhere. Mesaana could have such a disguise to consult the Library, play a temporary role in the Tower Coup, wander the corridors etc. Having many disguises would be useful. The Tower is vast, and nobody has access to everywhere Mesaana might need to go – not that Mesaana needs to go everywhere, really. But inventing a servant would be useful, a servant she could become only at need – there's no way Mesaana would actually do a servant's work. A clerk or secretary would be less useful. It's already more confining, and the second option would require the complicity of a Black Sister, as Halima did with Delana. Arranging to take the place of a novice or accepted only at specific times would be most useful: she could arrange to be attending Elaida, or any sister she wants. For this, Mesaana would only need to get the novices to report all such duties, and she would hide the one she wants to substitute herself for, and perform her duty. This only works if Mesaana has secretly rebuilt her Children network, of course. Having multiples disguises suppose the absences of such people will go unnoticed. Aes Sedai loners fits this pattern, especially Browns who keep a room in the quarters and another above the Library – everyone will assume she's staying at her other room if they can't find her, and if the sister is friendless, few sisters every will wonder. An invented servant nobody knows also fits this pattern, and so do invented novices and even Accepted – for those all Mesaana would have to be cautious about would be to avoid the other novices and Silviana, the Mistress of Novices. No one else in the Tower will think long about a face they have no seen before, they'll assume is a child who recently arrived. And now, imagine all these disguises have one thing in common: all these persons have Mesaana's big blue eyes. Alviarin would have seen them before, but not on Mesaana's face….

6. The matter of her knowledge of what went on in Elaida's study. Early on, Mesaana conditioned Alviarin to report to her even the minute details of what went on in Elaida's study – who said what exactly, even their body language etc. She proved to Alviarin she already knew those details, and punished Alviarin when she had missed something. What is obvious there is that Mesaana went through all this trouble not because she spies constantly on Elaida, but because she didn't want to have to do that, she just made sure Alviarin did her job flawlessly, convinced her she could never know when Mesaana knew and when her report was news to her. This leaves us with the matter of how Mesaana spied on the early meetings, and how occasionally she might do it again. An hidden ter'angreal (Moridin used a call-box that way, to listen on what was transmitted on another) has been suggested. Possible, but a bit too fancy, IMHO. I prefer the possibilities that Mesaana either managed to actually be present at some early meetings, or else that Mesaana managed to get close enough to Elaida's study to use spying weaves. This means I will keep an eye on novices/accepted attending Elaida, and on sisters around Alviarin and Elaida early after the Coup.

7. Strategies. Later in the series, we have gained insight of what Mesaana is trying to accomplish. We cannot always separate what Alviarin wants from what Mesaana ordered – and it's not important for my purpose, so I put Alviarin and Mesaana's goals and methods in the same bag in this exercise.

-First, Alviarin strove to isolate Elaida from the rank-and-file sisters and the Hall. She wanted the sisters to resent (and fear) the Amyrlin and Elaida to become very annoyed with the sisters, especially non-Reds. I will look for signs of this in scenes, as they may point not necessarily to Mesaana but give clues to sisters who are Alviarin's allies, or even Black. This is quite machiavelic, manipulating situations so they would irritate Elaida with Sitters and sisters and make her give in to her vengeful and tyrannical tendencies – which in turn would make the Ajah and sisters target of Elaida's wrath resentful of her – all the while Alviarin herself keeps he cool, appears the reasonable one, the real leader and the one who even listened to advice. It's no wonder a faction ended up listening to her more than Elaida, and it's not necessarily because they are Black sisters .

- Another important goal was to alienate the Tower from the nations. This was in part achieved early on by bringing Elaida to act and meddle… or to do it for her, and to provide her with motives to meddle. At a later stage, it went as far as her edict against nations meddling with Rand, an edict even Elaida saw as a disaster. But many more seeds of this were planted early on, as we'll see.

- Yet another goal was to stir the conflict with the Blue, ensure Elaida got a picture that encourages her not to resolve the conflict, to mistrust the Blue and their allies more and more – a large part of which is already there in Elaida's nature. This needed nudges, at most. In the same vein, mishandling Rand is something else Elaida could be virtually trusted to do on her own. Alviarin and Mesaana seemingly just let her carry on with her plans, just seeded the expedition with Black sisters. And they even got very lucky, Elaida put in charge a high-ranking Red who is also a high ranking Black, Galina Casban.

- A final motif is that Mesaana strives to divide deeply the Ajahs. I will note down all signs of unfairness and unequal treatment which foster such divisions. Again, some of this Elaida herself can be trusted to do naturally as she has a strong pro-Red bias, many prejudices against the other Ajahs and a mean and petty streak. Alviarin and Mesaana will build on this, forcing eventually Elaida to go much further than she would have.

And so, I'm ready now to start gathering relevant notes from The Fires of Heaven. They will center on the scene from The First Sparks Falls, a meeting between Elaida and her 'council'.

Why such a council in the first place? Elaida clearly resents it. It is a mix of Sitters who supported her ascent to the Seat and sisters who helped set up the Coup. It's been clearly set up as a limited, by invitation-only committee, as Elaida points out some Ajahs are very unhappy about the uneven distribution of members. It seems likely to be the result of promises made to these women in exchange for their support, promises Alviarin may have turned into conditions for support and such – claiming this or that woman will help but she wants an advisor position in return, then going to the woman and tell her Elaida intends to ask her to join an advisory council. Elaida became Amyrlin from a position of weakness, and the presence of this unusual council reflects this. It also reflects the deeper motives for removing Siuan Sanche from the Seat, why even natural allies like Greens have turned against her. Siuan painted herself in a corner: one the one hand, she had discovered that she couldn't well trust anyone but Moiraine and so she was forced to work alone. This made her miss the obvious: in the Tower, not an Ajah, not even many individual sister, is willing to fully trust any other to deal with the era of the Last Battle. Moiraine didn't want Verin involved, and Verin didn't fully trust Moiraine, and Cadsuane has very precise views of who should be around Rand and not and Alanna has her opinion etc. In fear of the Black Ajah, with what happened to Tamra's searchers etc., Siuan's plans involved side-tracking all the rest of the Tower. The Red Ajah couldn't help but try to put a stop to this at the first rumour. Part of the Green Ajah couldn't help but be furious – a 'Blue' Amyrlin turning against them and scheming to keep them out of the loop about some of the most important aspects of the Last Battle. Etc. I'm convinced Siuan's scheming, exposed by Elaida and worsened with a few lies, has been the motive that swayed many Sitters to depose her – they didn't accept being sidetracked, and they no longer trusted Siuan to involve them. This is reflected in what happens early in Elaida's rule: everyone seeks to meddle, everyone want their say. Imposing a council on Elaida was a very clever device. It was designed to irritate her and bring her to adopt more and more tyrannical means to regain absolute power and independence, making the Ajahs resent this and fear this. This was exacerbated by the uneven nature of the council itself: Brown, Yellow and Green have a single representative while the White, Grey and Red have more. Alviarin makes very clever use of them in that scene. She encourages them slyly to ignore Elaida, to drive more and more the point home that Elaida is powerless. This has the expected result: Elaida explodes and starts lashing at her allies, handing down unfair punishments, already plotting to get rid of the council, one by one.

Later on in the series, Alviarin will control every news, every report that makes it to Elaida. In this early scene, it's very interesting that the committee members already report the sort of things Alviarin wants Elaida to know, and act on. Elaida is irritated with lack of progress with situations like Taim, Rand and Siuan Sanche's escape. Seeds are planted about situations in Arad Doman and Tarabon, in Altara, Illian and Murandy, in Shienar and Saldaea. This will all lead to forceful moves by Elaida: she will later send infuriating letters rulers will resent, from Tenobia to Mattin Steppaneos to King Easar. Alviarin even manages a clever move: she preempts Elaida by deciding to send an envoy to Tenobia and makes it a Red (and possibly a Black) – and asks the council, not Elaida, for approval. Elaida is furious at Alviarin, furious at the Council and later she'll become furious at Tenobia.

Javindhra, a red Sitter and early ally of Elaida, acts perhaps the most suspiciously, but this is far from conclusive. She paints an almost rosy picture of the situation in Andor, downplays Morgase's growing resentment of Tar Valon – which may be tactic, or the result of misinformation she has got. She has placed a spy in the palace, which would be a good move to make sure no one else feels the need to, or to send an envoy to Morgase. The Black Ajah, will will learn, warned Rahvin who this spy was, which means Javindhra's claims about Andor may be misinformed, or she is covering up.

There are two oddballs on that council, two sisters who hardly belong in that group 9the rest of those named in the scene are all Sitters). The first is Shemerin, who infuriates Elaida just by breathing, basically. Alviarin would want a scapegoat to start the ball rolling with Elaida lashing at her council that she could hardly have chosen a better unsuitable/infuriating woman than Shemerin – which may indeed be exactly what Alviarin has done.

The second oddball is the young Brown Danelle. She is friendless and unassuming. It makes one wonder how on earth she got herself involved with Elaida's coup in the first place, and why she let herself be pushed aside without a fuss a few months into Elaida's rule. Later Alviarin will pass her in a corridor and muse about this. Danelle is certainly a prime suspect to be one of Mesaana's disguise (or the only one). She meets pretty much all the conditions: she is friendless and not a sister for very long, and thus easier to portray – we can assume no one knows Danelle very well, or cares much about her. She has rooms above the library, which would help go absent for long stretches without notice. As a young Brown, she is very likely teaching novices, her remote room making it even easier to have private meetings with some of them. Best of all, she has those large, dreamy blue eyes that coincide with Mesaana's. As for oddities in details, there is one about her in this scene: she's the only sister wearing a dress of an odd colour for her Ajah, and better yet, it's a shadow-ish colour: dark grey. Danelle also appears a bit too much like the cliché Brown, having all the telltale signs at the same time: ink smudge, rumpled dress (in a very formal setting – this is the Amyrlin's study after all), dreamy and lost in thought. The perfect Brown. She brings up the matter of troubles in Shienar. Jordan in one of his blog posts has once hinted that the Borderlands rulers being out of position might have a Shadow connection. Alviarin brushes this off (and Elaida barely cares), but eventually she appeared to change her mind as Elaida will get involved and send an infuriating letter to Easar. This could be the result of Mesaana telling Alviarin to take action on Danelle's news. Having told her beforehand would have been extremely suspicious and raise Alviarin's attention: Danelle isn't Black (at least unlikely to be, the way Alviarin spoke of her) nor an ally chosen by Alviarin.. which makes her role in the coup even more suspicious, really. Jordan liked to create gratuitous thematic associations which were playful, often ironic. In the Shadow Rising, we learn Danelle was in charge of organizing renovations for the Library. Her main contribution to the coup was actually to hire and infiltrate mercenaries as fake Masons. What motivated a sister like Danelle, a young lonely scholar, dreamy and unassuming, to involve herself all of a sudden so personally and actively in high tower politics than to let herself be sidetracked remains a baffling mystery. Being Danelle at that point of course takes care of how Mesaana was aware of everything going on at those meetings. She could have let herself be side-tracked once it was no longer necessary to remain close, when she was sure Alviarin was doing her job properly and was obedient. After seeing first hand it was the case for both accurate reports and obedience, Mesaana could move on and let Alviarin handle everything herself. Danelle also fits the 'simple' pattern RJ has used for the other hidden Forsaken so far. There are a lot of simple clues, and it seems obvious, yet it's never confirmed or fully conclusive evidence, as RJ doesn't yet want us to be certain.

Interestingly though, there is a second suspect showing up in that scene. An unknown Accepted (unknown to us and to Elaida too) barges in to announce Padan Fain. Jordan makes a point of the fact Elaida doesn't know her and doesn't care, that she is beneath her notice. This Accepted is described with large blue eyes. Attending the Amyrlin in her anteroom during meetings like this, and Elaida's comment suggests it may be a more or less regular chore for this Accepted, would be a perfect spot to spy on the meetings using inverted weaves.

There is last the matter of Joline. Joline has an odd position/worldview for a Green. She was always very pro-Elaida, and remains pro-Elaida even after her punishment, while Teslyn the Red is the one to turn against her. However, I think this is not suspicious in the end. Joline is one of those extremely forceful Greens with very authoritarian views doubled with a sense of disciplined and hierarchy. Joline doesn't share Red hatred of men, but she certainly shares Elaida's opinion about the need to control the Dragon – and the other two ta'veren. It's an opinion other Greens share, Alanna notably. There is also suspicions and resentment from Greens against Siuan's decision not to involve their Ajah dedicated to the Last Battle in any of her plans, which made some of the Green leaders turn against her (with likely involvement of Blacks to help foster and channel this resent, however – Talene is one of those). The Ajah has effectively split in two between those still sticking to the old Green-Blue alliance and enmity toward the Red, and those who are furious to have been left out and preferred to take their chance with Elaida's leadership. Joline simply appears to be one of those latter, and nothing more nefarious. Ironically, with her it's Elaida who could not overcome her anti-Green prejudices and found any little thing about Joline, from her smiles to showing too much bosom, irritating.

As for the others present, Evanellein, Andaya, Teslyn and four or fives unammed others (most Red or White), nothing terribly noteworthy happens with them in that scene. Some may have played into Alviarin's hand, but nothing is very conclusive. We'll keep them on the list for the next books, however!


Linda said...

Regarding Demandred, why couldn't he also be using some major hates of Aes Sedai: the Whitecloaks and also Masema?

I also think that Mesaana tampered with Theodrin when she was Accepted, but that this is now wearing off, due to Mesaana recovering from being forcibly pulled into line.

The trouble with teaching powerful weaves or techniques, is that it requires much trust they won't be used against you. I just can't see Mesaana trusting even devoted followers to this extent. Especially teaching them inverted or worse still reversed weaves!

Incidentally, I'm reading "Books on Fire" for ideas on what Mesaana-like people have done in the past.

Dominic said...

This is a perfect reasonning for the Black Ajah, and no doubt the motive why Mesaana has avoided teaching them anything, but Traveling to Alviarin, with a serious warning not to pass it on.

However, would indoctrinated novices be a treat to Mesana? I don't know. To an extent, she must be confident in her methods of indoctrination, so she may err on the side of arrogance this way.

It's probable the novices wouldn't even know what she looks like or where she is. She could perfectly meet them as Danelle or an Accepted, say, leave the room and reappear as The Great Mistress. She can have rules too, forbid them to embrace saidar in her presence or they are immediately punished harshly, and threatened with bigger punishment if they try ever again.

Somewhere, Mesaana would have to draw the line. Either you mount a network of younglings, or you don't. I doubt Mesaana wasn't in contact with far more dangerous 'children' back in the War of Shadow. The risk that some of them develop enough backbone to attack her, and develop motives to attack her, is way smaller than if she was teaching Black Sisters.

Taim is doing the same thing with his faction, incidentally. Either he risks creating soldiers who are a threat to him, or he doesn't and end up with a bunch of useless underlings who don't know much more than the average Asha'man.

We'll see. I sure doubt Mesaana woudl teach anything to the novices she had no purpose to give them. Her teaching may be very uneven, with only a few of the more reliable ones knowing lethal stuff because in her plan it's what she needs them to do, the others confined to spying weaves etc. Those knowing weapons may not know reversing, those taught only spying tricks etc. No doubt she forbids passing on their knowledge to others - they may not even know who else is in the select club as a Child and who isn't, and as she's done with Alviarin, she has her tricks to convince her pawns she's unpredictable and they can never know what she knows and doesn't know about their doings and wherabouts. If she could achieve this with the Head of the BA, I have no trouble imagining what Mesaana could achieve with impressionable young minds. Her 'children' would probably revere her - the last thing on their minds might be to turn against her.

It all depends on the effectiveness of Mesaana's indoctrination methods, and how much she trusts them, and her skills.

Dominic said...

As for Demandred, I do indeed believe he got involved with the Children, and possibly with Masema. I'm less sure about that.

My feeling about Masema is that Lanfear is the one who drove him crazy using his dreams, and her intent was to have him build an army of fanatics for Rand.

OTOH, there's the matter that Masema got involved with Suroth, and the matter that Masema declared war on the WC. Both suggest that, indeed, he has a connection to either Demandred or Semirhage. He may have been recuperated, however. I should also point out I'm convinced Masema isn't a DF. He's a fanatic for the light, a modern form of Mordeth's evil, however Forsaken may or not have manipulated him. Old friend, old enemy, as Aginor pointed out. It's a common trend that such fanatics are good pawns for the Shadow to use, if only to turn them to destroying their fellow lightsiders.

But I do not think Demandred's interest in the WC would have much to do with the Aes Sedai and their anti-AS bias. I think he used Asunawa to wreck the organization enough that the Seanchan would easily take them over. It sounds probable he expected to see the more fanatical join up the Seanchan's crusade, but by now they're a drop in the ocean, really.

His other reason to use the WK, if he did, may have been to limit Sammael's expansion plans.

The way I see Demandred, I believe he spent the least amount of time and efforts as possible on any given action. I think he prefers to remain above the mêlée and keeps his freedom and time to gain the wide view, to have time to observe a bit of everything.

I do think he did set up Taim (I actually believe Semirhage was ordered to turn him, Demandred taught him war and Mesaana taught him indoctrination and how to mount and organize the BT) but I think he moved on rapidly.

My theory is that Demandred busied himself following Rand from afar, finding pawns among the new followers Rand was making. I think Weiramon may be one such, for instance. He probably has a few Aiel DF too. A small clue is how pissed off Demandred was about Rand getting an Aiel following, like LTT presumably had. I see this as a clue Demandred is focussed on infiltrating Rand's followers, turning his followers against him, preparing betrayals.

I'd say between Semirhage and Mesaana, Demandred probably considers the Aes Sedai are taken care of, though he might have given punctual help to either women on occasion. I'M still pretty sure he's the one who made Taim totally paranoid about Rand's safety - in fact I suspect Demandred did that shortly after he knew Rand had been captured. He didn't order Taim to find him, he made him paranoid about anything happening to Rand., knowing it would drive Taim to ensure everythign was fine, and to discover he had vanished... I believe Mesaana suspects this is what happened to the AS who were bringing Rand to the Tower. The trio are allies, but not the sort of allies who trust each other very far. I'm sure they act against each other whenever they are sure they won't get caught - like when Mesaana included Semirhage and Demandred among the people Alviarin must not obey.

Dominic said...

Theodrin now...

As we've discussed before, I think she's too old to interest Mesaana, too set in the Tower's ways too (she was about to be raised).

I also think if Mesaana set up an indoctrination system among the novices and/or accepted, it's far more likely to have begun in the fall after she's dealt with training Alviarin to be the sort of agent she needed etc. I think before Theodrin left is too early.

There's also the fact I don't really see anything dubious about Theodrin, really.

A far more likely candidate to have fallen, or soon to fall, into Mesaana's lap is Nicola. All the themes and motifs surrounding Nicola seems to point that way. I would not be surprised Mesaana gets caught involving herself with Nicola much the same way as everyone else so far as got in trouble for approaching that woman and Areina. Nicola is... very disloyal to people helping her. Always. There's a 'child' even Mesaana may not find any way to control!!

I just can't brush off the impression Nicola will be somehow involved in the Egwene vs. Mesaana story line. One way or another.

I'm also half-convinced we will discover someone has arranged for Nicola to learn Egwene's plans for the harbour, and convince her she could sell that info against entering the Tower, with Areina hired there too. The very fact Areina was hired, when the Tower rather seeks to isolate novices from their old life, is most fishy. Nicola came there with a bargain to offer, I'm pretty sure.

okapian said...

I don't know if you've read the new book, and I'm not going to read all the posts (as I'm a bit of a slow reader and don't have a lot of spare time anyway), but if you've read chapter 2 of Gathering Storm it should be quite obvious who (spoiler in link) Mesaana is.

Also, not really the right post for this, but Sanderson is far less subtle than Jordan....

Dominic said...

You forget that we have had several Elaida POVs to prove that she's... Elaida.

Molly said...

i always suspected Felaana of being Mesaana; she is mentioned wearing a bronze dress, she was guarding Leane after she and Egwene were captured and is decribed as having a rough voice, as though she is ill. This is shortly after Mesaana was punished by Shaidar Haran; probably rough from screaming. Also, an Aes Sedai would have access to Healiong to deal with illness. LAter on, when Moridin summons Graendal, Demandred and Mesaana she is described as looknig pale and ill. Is she on your list too?

Bcopvf said...

Felaana is on screen in New Spring, where she is described as having a raspy voice. Doubt it's her.