It took two to three hours of precise and intricate weaving with a very powerful circle to restore the seasons with the Bowl of Winds. Bearing this in mind, the criticism Romanda made that the Aes Sedai could have done better is ludicrous:
"Easier to instruct Merilille than to see she obeys, Lelaine. I expect she knows she faces sharp questions. This Bowl of the Winds should have been brought to us for study first. None of the sisters in Ebou Dar had much ability in Cloud Dancing, I believe, and you can see the result, all this hurly-burly and suddenness. I have a thought to call a question before the Hall concerning everyone involved." Abruptly the gray-haired woman's voice became smooth as butter. "As I recall, you supported the choice of Merilille."Moridin is prepared to admit that the Windfinders know more about working the weather than Aes Sedai did in the Age of Legends when they actually used these ter’angreal regularly.
With a jerk, Lelaine drew herself up. Her eyes flashed. "I supported who the Gray put forward, Romanda, and no more," she said indignantly. "How could I have imagined she would decide to use the Bowl there? And to include Sea Folk wilders in the circle! How could she believe they know as much of working weather as Aes Sedai?"
- The Path of Daggers, Unexpected Absences
The rebel Aes Sedai think Merilille should have brought the Bowl to them to use. If they had, Halima would have ensured it was not used. (Not that the rebels would have had a clue how to use it anyway.)
Halima’s ploy of inducing headaches which only she could ease to get close to Egwene always struck me as clumsy but no character saw through it. She needed to sleep in the same tent as Egwene to find Egwene’s dreams. As a result of Halima’s manipulations, Egwene was not remembering all her dreams clearly:
In the dim, cold dark of deep night, Egwene woke groggily from restless sleep and troubling dreams, the more troubling because she could not remember them. Her dreams were always open to her, as clear as printed words on a page, yet these had been murky and fearful. She had had too many of those, lately.Egwene’s restless troubled dreams leaving her wanting to run are similar to Morgase’s restless dreams of running from someone when under Rahvin’s Compulsion:
They left her wanting to run, to escape, never able to recall what from, but always queasy and uncertain, even trembling.
- The Path of Daggers, Stronger than Written Law
Her [Morgase’s] eyes closed, and she fell immediately into sleep, a sleep troubled by restless dreams of running from something she could not see.Egwene’s talent and will is strong enough that she can recall a portion of her dreams even under these circumstances.
- The Fires of Heaven, Fanning the Sparks
At least part of Egwene erroneously positive and unsuspicious attitude to Halima comes from associating Halima with the removal of pain.
Halima was clumsy in the way she publicly instructed Delana and made her try to join every faction and submit extremist suggestions to the Hall. This ensured Delana wouldn’t be taken seriously.
Balthamel/Aran’gar, Halima’s alter ago, is skilled in violence but is pathetic at politics. She killed two of Egwene’s three maids – leaving alive the one Sheriam (Black) supplied and that Egwene trusts the most. Chesa seems entirely trustworthy, but…
Or would all three disappearing have been a bit overdone?
In the Age of Legends Balthamel ran concentration camps where people were kept as fodder for Trollocs and also an intelligence network. Until her cover was blown, the transmigrated Halima was a spy and agent provocateur. Parallels for both figures are described in the Balthamel parallels essay. My favourite is the twice-born Greek god, Dionysus and his hangers-on.
Egwene thought Halima a wide-eyed innocent country girl, whereas it is Egwene who was the naive one. It was not innocence that made Halima oblivious to the Aes Sedai pecking order, it was arrogance. Her handwriting is unformed because transcribers were used in the Age of Legends (The Path of Daggers, New Alliances).
Egwene completely misinterpreted what she saw of Halima and Delana:
Only Delana never joined one of those brief conversations. She stayed close beside Halima, who at last admitted that she was cold. Face tight, the country woman held her cloak close around her, but she still tried to comfort Delana, whispering to her almost constantly. Delana seemed to need comforting; her brows were drawn down, putting a crease in her forehead that actually made her seem aged.On the way back from the meeting with the Andorans and Murandians Halima was worried about what Egwene was plotting. From Egwene’s instructions to her sworn Aes Sedai to remind all rebel Sitters of Elaida’s misdeeds, she knew Egwene was up to something and had beaten Sheriam in an effort to find out what, to no avail. Sheriam had not been told. Halima wasn’t comforting Delana, she was giving her instructions for various possible outcomes, some of which made Delana miserable or fear exposure. Yet Halima didn’t destroy Egwene’s role or plans as she easily could have by making Delana reveal the Egwene-Siuan alliance, therefore she still hoped to manipulate or use Egwene. Perhaps the Shadow saw Egwene as promoting division.
- The Path of Daggers, The Law
Both Egwene and Siuan were prepared to look foolish in the rebel Sitters’ eyes to manipulate them into declaring martial law.
A figure of some amusement and occasional pity, Siuan Sanche, reduced to attaching herself to the woman who held the title once hers, and that woman no more than a puppet once the Hall finished fighting over who would pull her cords. Siuan was human enough to harbor sparks of resentment, but so far they had managed to keep secret that her advice was far from grudging. So she endured pity and snickers as best she could, and everyone believed her as changed by her experiences as her face. That belief had to be maintained, or Romanda and Lelaine and very likely the rest of the Hall, too, would find ways to separate her - and her advice - from Egwene.This probably lulled Halima too.
- The Path of Daggers, Stronger than Written Law
Egwene had been wondering how to ensure that the Sitters hurried back to the camp in time for Egwene to call the Hall to sit. Her impulse to publicly announce at the parley with the Andorans and Murandians that the novice book was open to all had the Sitters eager to leave and discuss how to counter this, and too blind with annoyance at Egwene to see her ambush coming.
Since Sheriam tried to pump Egwene for her plans regarding this sitting of the Hall, Halima didn’t penetrate Egwene’s ward protecting her discussions with Siuan against eavesdropping. Sheriam was bitter because she knew she would be in trouble with Halima for not finding out what Egwene and Siuan were planning.
Delana was nervous and late to the sitting due to probably getting last minute instructions – a measure of Halima’s uncertainty. The Grey Sitter did not want to divide the Tower further and was one of the last to stand for the war vote after looking outside rhe pavilion – to Halima probably, even though the Hall session was warded against eavesdropping. To obtain the lesser consensus, Moria (Black) harangued the seated Sitters until two other Sitters of her Ajah rose, so she had orders – possibly from a different Forsaken since Moria never worked with Delana politically (see Politics of the Halls article) – to sow disunity between the Aes Sedai and prolong the rebellion.
Egwene’s green-blue-white attire that she wore to the parley and the momentous sitting refers to the Green (Battle) Ajah and its allies. She wore pearls, too, which are lunar symbols of wisdom and feminine power, but also tears; as did Siuan, the former Amyrlin and her teacher. They had worked out a plan for Egwene to gain control of the rebels and truly become Amyrlin, but feared it could all end in tears. I loved the moment when Romanda supplied Egwene with an ermine cloak (a symbol of royalty and since it is white, saidar). Romanda had probably been saving it for the glorious day when she would be raised Amyrlin at last. Instead, she ‘ennobled’ Egwene with it.