The four Borderland rulers are annoyed with Rand because he has ignored them and the potential peril their lands are in. So what do they do? All four rulers, not just one of them or their emissaries, leave their lands with their counsellors or household heads and a large part of their forces for months to wander around in the south in the very way they found objectionable in Rand. Brilliant.
They are incensed that Rand has supposedly ignored them, but they owe him a great debt. He used the Eye of the World to save them from Trollocs which Agelmar believed would overrun Shienar at the least when the Eye should have been used for Tarmon Gai’don. The monarchs should be even more angry with the White Tower, which has done nothing, but they are quite happy to have thirteen sisters potter along with them in the south for months.
If ever there was evidence that the rulers have been manipulated by the Shadow, this is it...
It will be interesting to see if Rand's chiding of them at the end of The Gathering Storm, will bring them to their senses and make them see their hypocrisy.
The chapter title Deceptive Appearances warns us to look for those whose appearances are deceptive. Verin of course is one, playing both sides of the board, and Moridin and his game of sha’rah is another (more on him in the next post). Normally perceptive, Verin misinterprets her sighting of Irgain, interpreting it as a warning to behave herself, when actually the Wise Ones were reassuring her that the stilled Aes Sedai were being treated honourably and the Aiel were making efforts to keep them alive. Such is the effect of a guilty conscience.
Which brings us back to the Borderlanders. The rulers and their closest counsellors were the ones who decided to go south. Who among them might be a Darkfriend under orders to move them away from their lands? Or even merely a ‘sleeper’? Paitar’s councillor, Kyril Shianri, is a candidate; he has the mandatory dissatisfied look, vanity and arrogance. To make sure all are committed to what amounts to weakening Borderlands, he was very quick to pounce on any doubt and scorn it. He actually butted in on exchange between a King and Queen:
She [Ethenielle] made her own greetings just as short, ending with a direct "I hope you've come this far without detection."So eager is Shianri that he seems to be over-reacting. Neither Easar nor Ethenielle were thinking of turning back.
Easar snorted and leaned on his cantle, eyeing her grimly. A hard man, but eleven years widowed and still mourning. He had written poetry for his wife. There was always more than the surface. "If we've been seen, Ethenielle," he grumbled, "then we might as well turn back now."
"You speak of turning back already?" Between his tone and a flip of his tasseled reins, Shianri managed to combine disdain with barely enough civility to forestall a challenge.
- The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances
(Also watch out for Lomas, the Kandori scout described as sly by Ethenielle).
It’s worth thinking about the Aes Sedai with the Borderlanders even though as far as we know none of them had any part in the rulers’ decision to make a pact and move south to meet Rand. For instance, why didn’t Coladara, Paitar’s Aes Sedai advisor, argue against the move once she was told that it was on? Ethenielle believes Coladara wasn’t involved in their original negotiations and this may or may not be correct. Paitar holds the White Tower in high esteem and would be influenced by what Coladara said. In fact, she and her seven Aes Sedai visitors were keen to join them.
The other three rulers weren’t influenced by Aes Sedai because their advisors had left (Easar and Ethenielle) or because they had none (Tenobia). Aisling left Easar for the White Tower after the coup (probably in answer to Elaida’s summons for all loyal Aes Sedai to return to the Tower) and went on the ill-fated expedition to the Black Tower. She is now bonded to an Asha’man, Arel Malevin.
Nianh, Ethenielle’s advisor, hasn’t resurfaced. She might be one of those Aes Sedai who stood apart from the Aes Sedai split; perhaps she answered Cadsuane’s summons:
She [Cadsuane] had begun gathering sisters she trusted, those here with her and others, the day she first heard of strange events in Shienarand is one of the Aes Sedai gathering information for her.
- Winter’s Heart, Wonderful News
One would think Memara, the Red suggested by Alviarin to pull Tenobia into line is a likely Darkfriend, but that is academic here since she had no influence with Tenobia. (Who knows what Memara has gotten up to, left behind in Saldaea.) We know nothing about the allegiances of Illeisien and the four sisters who met Tenobia ‘by chance’ just before she left Saldaea, or why they were more keen on secrecy than Tenobia was. It might be because they had different allegiances to Memara and wanted to keep their presence from her.
All four rulers agreed on moving south, but they probably have different reasons, despite appearances. Tenobia apparently mostly wants Bashere’s and Taim’s heads and wants to vent her anger at Rand for using her forces without her permission. Ethenielle wants Rand to stop breaking nations – as though it is all his fault – whether he is the Dragon Reborn or not. The motives of Easar and Paitar are unknown.
Ethenielle didn’t want Aes Sedai with them, or even to know of what they were doing. She thought the Tower might even execute them for what they do. Perhaps Ethenielle thought the White Tower was in control of Rand? Presumably the Borderlanders had enough information to know Rand has many thousand Aiel warriors with him. How were 200 thousand Borderlanders supposed to bring Rand, a strong channeller commanding huge Aiel forces to heel without Aes Sedai?
What did Illeisien say to Tenobia that made her accept them when she was so against Memara (and probably the White Tower) at that point? What do Illeisien’s group plan regarding Rand? The group of five Aes Sedai would be too few to take such as strong channeller as even a non-Aes Sedai such as Loial knew:
"Perrin, both Elora and Ledar say that when Aes Sedai find a man of great power, they always gather thirteen to take him. Oh, they recount stories of four or five, and both mention Caraighan—she brought a man nearly two thousand miles to the Tower by herself after he killed both of her Warders— but. . . . Perrin, they wrote of Yurian Stonebow and Guaire Amalasan. Of Raolin Darksbane and Davian, as well, but the others are who worry me." Those were four of the most powerful among the men who had called themselves the Dragon Reborn, all long ago, before Artur Hawkwing. "Six Aes Sedai tried to capture Stonebow, and he killed three and captured the others himself. Six tried to take Amalasan; he killed one and stilled two more. Surely Rand is as strong as Stonebow or Amalasan."A strong channeller can over come six Aes Sedai and they are only five. Were Illeisien’s group actually in cahoots with Coladara and co all along? Together they make exactly thirteen. How...exactly fortuitous.
- Lord of Chaos, The Sending.
Deceptive appearances indeed.