Monday, February 21, 2011

Analysis of Minor Characters #10: Leane

By Linda

Leane is

as tall as most men, willowy and graceful, still beautiful, with coppery skin and short, dark hair.

The Great Hunt, Summoned

She is one of the more interesting Aes Sedai because she chose the wrong Ajah. Brought up to use feminine seductive skills to succeed in life, she was self-conscious about her height and abandoned her efforts once she found out she could channel. It’s an excellent example of how many people feel about their characteristics which deviate from an “ideal norm” and what influence this can have on their lives.

Taken to the Tower between 15 and 18 years old to a society which is the antithesis of Domani cultural ways, she had the wrong “finishing off”. Leane fooled herself as well as others. She had suppressed any interest in or attraction for men so the Green Ajah did not see her as a potential candidate. The Blues would always encourage any strong channellers to join them. They have the reputation of being ambitious and ruthless.

Leane explains how it came to be:

"Domani women don't deserve the whole reputation they have-stiff-necked prigs going by hearsay built most of it-but we have earned some. My mother and my aunts taught me along with my sisters and cousins, of course."
Looking down at herself, she shook her head, then returned to her ministrations with a sigh. "But I fear I was as tall as I am today on my fourteenth naming day. All knees and elbows, like a colt that grew too fast. And not long after I could walk across a room without tripping twice, I learned-" She drew a deep breath. "-learned my life would take me another way than being a merchant.”

The Fires of Heaven Fanning the Sparks

It is revealing that soon after Leane is introduced she shows quite a bit of interest in Perrin and Rand, two tall young men:

Leane looked Rand over with a slight smile. Despite the smile, her voice had a snap to it. "What have you brought the Amyrlin Seat today, Lan Gaidin? A young lion? Better you don't let any Greens see this one, or one of them will bond him before he can take a breath. Greens like to bond them young."

The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn

[Perrin] was still standing there beside Mat's bed when the door opened and Leane came in. She stopped, put her fists on her hips, and looked him slowly up and down. She was nearly as tall as he was.
"Now you," she said, in tones quiet yet brisk, "are almost a pretty enough boy to make me wish I was a Green. Almost. But if you've disturbed my patient...well, I dealt with brothers almost as big as you before I went to the Tower, so you needn't think those shoulders will help you any."...
He tried to slide around her to the door, but suddenly her hands shot out and grabbed his face, tilting it down so she could peer into his eyes. Something seemed to pass through him, a warm ripple that started at the top of his head and went to his feet, then came back again. He pulled his head out of her hands.
"You're as healthy as a young wild animal," she said, pursing her lips. "But if you were born with those eyes, I am a Whitecloak."
"They're the only eyes I ever had," he growled. He felt a little abashed, speaking to an Aes Sedai in that tone, but he was as surprised as she when he took her gently by the arms and lifted her to one side, setting her down again out of his way. As they stared at each other, he wondered if his eyes were as wide with shock as hers. "Excuse me," he said again, and all but ran.

The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

And it’s even more revealing that both of them made her think of the Green Ajah. Perrin, at least, seems to show some return attraction. Once Leane learned who Rand is, she was repelled if anything:

The Keeper shuddered openly at the mention of Rand’s name.

The Shadow Rising, Deceptions

And this was before she paid a high price for being involved in schemes surrounding him.

Leane worked admirably with Siuan for years. We see them in partnership in the Tower, then manipulating Logain and Min and then the rebel Aes Sedai , then finally being reined in by Egwene to become her supporters. Siuan’s only complaint was that Leane revered the office of Amyrlin Seat enough to embrace the ceremony surrounding it:

though Siuan had known her since they were novices together, sometimes Leane’s insistence on upholding the dignity of the Amyrlin Seat was enough to make Siuan want to scream.

The Dragon Reborn, The Amyrlin Seat

And with the ceremony of the Amyrlin Seat, also that of her own position. Perhaps this shows her low self-esteem.

She rarely showed disagreement with Siuan’s commands; one notable example being Egwene’s and Elayne’s raising to Accepted, when she let her body language express her objections.

Even Siuan’s command that the sisters who were to re-capture Taim should still him on the spot rather than bring him to the Tower for trial – which was a command to break Tower law - was accepted by Leane:

"And Leane . . . Mazrim Taim is to be gentled as soon as he is taken again.”
Leane’s eyes opened wide with shock. “The law.”
“I know the law as well as you, but I will not risk having him freed again ungentled. I’ll not risk another Guaire Amalasan, not on top of everything else.”
“Yes, Mother,” Leane said faintly.

The Shadow Rising, Deceptions

This probably says more about Siuan’s commanding nature – and the dangerous times – than as it does about Leane’s docility.

Siuan said a couple of times that if Leane knew that she and Moiraine were letting the Dragon Reborn run free she would turn them in for trial:

"Moiraine, if anyone, even Leane, discovers what we plan, we will both be stilled."

The Great Hunt, Summoned

Yet when Leane became collateral damage in Elaida’s unravelling of Siuan’s and Moiraine’s scheme, and was stilled for it, she did not whine or rage at Siuan. She sacrificed so much when she didn’t really know what was going on until reports arrived at the Tower that Rand held Callandor and was therefore the Dragon Reborn, and accepted her fate with grace. Sheriam, in contrast, had far less to complain about and was far more spiteful. It shows the goodness of Leane’s character. She is like Birgitte who also received unjust treatment in a positive manner, and doesn’t hold grudges.

"Revenge falls short, for me. I know your cause is necessary, and perhaps even, right, but the Light help me, that is not enough either; I can't make myself be as involved as you. Maybe I came too late to it. I will stay with you, but it isn't enough."

The Fires of Heaven, Fanning the Sparks

Siuan showed defiance at being stilled before she was rescued, and focussed on her mission to promote and influence the Dragon Reborn and revenge herself on Elaida, whereas Leane needed urging for all these things. However, few characters would be as tough as Siuan (The Shadow Rising, The Truth of a Viewing). Min observes:

In a small way, a peculiar way surely, Leane had begun making a life for herself apart from concerns of power and the Power and Rand. Not that she had abandoned them entirely, but Min did not think there was anything else for Siuan.

The Fires of Heaven, Sallie Daera

Unlike Siuan who only had humiliation of not being recognised by the rebels, Leane was badly beaten in the Tower when they did not recognise her there either. It emphasises that Leane changed so much.

Leane seized the opportunity to change:

Leane, on the other hand, in true Aes Sedai fashion embraced what had changed. A young woman again— Egwene had overheard a Yellow exclaiming in wonder that both were prime childbearing age, by everything she could find—she might never have been Keeper, never have had any other face. The very image of practicality and efficiency became the ideal of an indolent and alluring Domani woman.

A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike

and not just in her appearance and personal style; although these became very important to her too. She stopped taking things so seriously:

Leane's laughter was quiet and breathy. Situations that grated Siuan's teeth usually amused her. She was cosseted by most of the other sisters for how well she had adjusted.

A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike

thus becoming increasingly un-Blue-like. Myrelle picked up very quickly that Leane would fit the Green Ajah:

"Myrelle was kind enough to find me and let me know," Leane said into the momentary silence. "I think I am going to choose Green."

Lord of Chaos, To Heal Again

This also emphasised to all that Siuan and Leane were not Aes Sedai for a while and what they are now has nothing (or as little as possible) to do with who they were before.

Ironically, it was Siuan who suggested that Leane’s charm techniques could also be adapted to use on women (The Fires of Heaven, The Practice of Diffidence), which they were to great effect, and may account for some of Leane’s popularity among Aes Sedai. Siuan and Leane were playing bad cop and god cop respectively among the rebels, roles that fitted their characters and thus were believable. Egwene describes them as being able to lie like wool merchants; Leane was trained to be a merchant by her family. This training was very precise and detailed in the arts of flirting:

How could you be intimidated by a woman who had told you in dead seriousness that there were one hundred and seven different kisses, and ninety-three ways to touch a man's face with your hand? Leane actually seemed to believe these things.

The Fires of Heaven, Sallie Daera

Egwene’s assessment of Leane is that Leane’s flirtation is done:

Not promiscuously, of course; she possessed discrimination and discretion in ample supply.

A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike

and she might be right, or just assuming that Leane is following her own social mores. It is telling that Leane’s first attempt at flirtation brought her more excitement than anything else in the series.

Leane showed interest in one of Bryne’s men as a possible Warder (A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike) but judging by her lack of thoughts about a Warder while she is captive during The Gathering Storm, she doesn’t have one yet.

Leane did some clever and original things:

Very few sisters were aware that Leane had eyes-and-ears inside Tar Valon itself. She might have been the only sister who did. It was a human failing to watch keenly what was happening down the street while ignoring what lay right at your feet, and the Light knew Aes Sedai had as many human failings as anyone else.

Crossroads of Twilight, A Chat With Siuan

“Clever Leane,” Egwene murmured. For an instant, she squeezed her eyes shut. Leane had prepared everything in advance, before coming in sight of the harbor, all inverted and her ability masked. If she herself had been as clever, she likely would have escaped cleanly.

Knife of Dreams, Prologue

In some interesting symbolism, the iron bars of Leane’s cell melted; Leane was being freed not just from Elaida, but also from the prison she created for herself.

"I know flirting isn't something to fill up the emptiness, but it is enough to fill an idle moment. Maybe being who I was born to be will suffice. I just do not know. This isn't a new idea; I always wanted to be like my mother and my aunts, daydreamed of it sometimes after I was grown."
Leane's face became pensive, and the last things went into the box more gently. "I think perhaps I've always felt I was masquerading as someone else, building up a mask until it became second nature. There was serious work to be done, more serious than merchanting, and by the time I realized there was another way I could have gone even so, I had the mask on too firmly to take off. Well, that is done with, now, and the mask is coming off.”

The Fires of Heaven, Fanning the Sparks

So like Siuan, Leane, who thought she was weaker after bring stilled, found that she was strong after all, strong enough to fight the Black Ajah in Tel’aran’rhiod, and strong enough to turn an entire harbour chain into cuendillar (if she had had a little more time). Being who you were born to be usually does suffice. Self-development is an important part of Freemasonry and Jordan was a Freemason (see Freemasonry article).


Frank said...

Though I've always liked Leane, I had forgotten a lot of that stuff from Fires of Heaven. She really has come a long way, hasn't she?

One thing I've always wondered about Leane, and all the other Blues, really, is just what their "cause" was. We really only know Moiraine and Siuan's (find and guide the Dragon Reborn), but none of the other ones really so much as hint at what their purpose is (though maybe Lelaine's is just straight-up "become Amyrlin").

Marcia said...

Hah! I just love Leane! Thanks so much Linda for taking the time to give her some due. One of my favorite of many little telling moments in the series is when Leane tells Siuan how she wishes Siuan had confided in her about what was going on (Dragon Reborn and all) much sooner than before it became essentially too late. Siuan could trust so few, and yet the one she could have trusted above anyone other than Moiraine was right there with her the whole time. And yet Siuan still doubted her loyalty; was it to her or to the Amyrlin or...? Sigh.

Thanks again Linda for all your hard work these past few months with articles like these and all that intensive updating for ToM. Now take a break! ;)

Linda said...

Frank: Yes she has!

I'm sure that there have been various causes championed by the Blues. One was that Lord in Murandy they thought could unify that nation and Siuan made Gareth Bryne and Morgase leave him be - and then he was killed anyway. (Gareth Bryne told that story.)

Marcia: I love Leane's good nature and grace.

Thanks Marcia. I'm glad you appreciated them. I've changed roles at work recently (more work, of course!) which meant a slowdown on the last few, and they were big updates anyway. Soon I'll be going over there for JordanCon and I'll also be in Reno, Nevada for WOrldCon in August(!). I'll book my plane tickets this week. I guess Reno isn't that near you guys in Oregon.

Linda said...

So that will be a nice holiday for Frank and me in April in the east and just me in August in the west.

I'm working up some old notes on The Gathering Storm to resume the read-through soon(ish). However, the next blog post is provided by someone else, which doesn't happen very often these days.

Marcia said...

I remember now you mentioning after last year's JordanCon that you hoped both you and Frank could make it this year. Glad it's happening for you! And yep, Reno Nevada is quite a ways away from where I am in Oregon, but you're getting closer ;)

And glad you've found a worthy blogger for the next post, looking forward to it!

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda - thanks for all your hard work. I'm not in the least jealous of your trips this year, either... :)

Speaking of posts being provided by others - where's Dom these days? He was so prolific and had fantastic insights as well as the awesome map making - now he's just..gone?


Linda said...

Sorry Anders, I thought I had replied, and then realised I had not.

Dom posts occasionally on, but is not as involved with WOT as he once was.