Monday, May 9, 2011
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT
Cadsuane is surprised that her equal among the Wise Ones is one who can barely channel. Sorilea is strong and capable in Cadsuane’s opinion. She arrived recently with a group of Aiel reporting to Rand on Bandar Eban. This would be at the time of Chapter 7 or later, ie within the last 5 days. It’s Sorilea’s first (and only?) visit to see Semirhage. Despite being a weak channeller, Sorilea copies a weave she has seen only once. This impresses Cadsuane.
Bair thinks pain will break Semirhage. Cadsuane doesn’t. Cadsuane saw that Semirhage reacted to Sorilea dismissing her as disappointingly human and felt somewhat outdone by Sorilea.
Semirhage is very knowledgeable about the Aiel and their descent from the Da’shain and reverence for blacksmiths. While this makes the Forsaken seem more powerful and omniscient in the eyes of her captors, a little thought would reveal to them that the Shadow has good intelligence gathering through Darkfriends, including Aiel Darkfriends. After all, until the last few books no mainlander knew much about the Aiel and their customs, let along their origins –and few do so now.
While Sorilea suggests Semirhage be killed out of hand and not kept for her secrets, she already knows that Cadsuane doesn’t agree because she would otherwise have done so long since. Sorilea also knows that Rand might not permit it anyway, since the three women discuss his reluctance to harm women in this scene. Cadsuane is keeping Semirhage alive because she wants information on Age of Legends weaves. It’s a reasonable strategy for battle preparation and one dear to Cadsuane’s heart since she researches weaves and thus thirsts for such knowledge.
Cadsuane’s obligation to Sorilea showing her the travelling weave leads her to accede to Sorilea’s request to be shown where she keeps a male a’dam. She also needs their help in handling Rand, because she knows Rand is not ready - or more correctly, is too dark - for the Last Battle. So both Sorilea and Bair learn its location. Note that it was only after Sorilea (and Bair) saw a) its location and b) the weaves protecting it, that the a’dam was raided. But more of this in subsequent chapters of the read-through.
Cadsuane is not interested in gold or glamorous surroundings beyond reasonable comfort and security. The trunk is a decoy for where the real valuables are stored: in a battered documents box. She disarms the box’s traps while Sorilea closes the door.
Cadsuane innovates with the Power in a relatively safe way. Most Aes Sedai don’t at all. During their training, just about all desire for experimentation is squelched out of them in the name of safety. This is a laudable motive but is it taken too far? Few Aes Sedai take up weave research and experimentation when they are raised. Cadsuane recently developed the weave over the box which restrains an intruder and sounds an alarm. The traditional weave would have destroyed the box’s contents of male a’dam and access key, but Cadsuane doubts that it would work on the a’dam. It wouldn’t, since it’s cuendillar and she should have known that. The weaves are inverted so no one can see them.
The women largely ignore the access key (as does whoever raids the box) and concentrate on the a’dam. It implies that the thief perhaps did not know its function – as a Wise One would not, because Rand had not used it after the cleansing of saidin, and the mechanics, indeed the cleansing generally, has not been widely discussed among characters. If the thief believed that no male should use it, then they likely would have taken it. Shaidar Haran would know what the access key was and taken it as the highest possible inducement or sign of favour for a male Forsaken, or to prevent an ambitious Forsaken from trying to supplant the Dark One. Therefore I don’t think Shaidar Haran raided the box. This would be discussed further in Chapters 22 and 23 of the read-through.
Cadsuane has studied the bracelet of the male a’dam with her group and she wants to test the collar on a man, so she kept one. However Rand won’t allow her to because of his own trauma from captivity. Egwene would agree with him, as we see in her reaction to Elaida’s enslavement. Bair thinks testing it is too dangerous, however Sorilea agrees with Cadsuane. Cadsuane tested a female a’dam earlier but was unable to escape the collar and had to be released by the bracelet holder. This was quite brave and dedicated of her; it could easily have resulted in her losing face among the Aes Sedai or in her leashholder revealing herself to be a Darkfriend.
Sorilea and Cadsuane are agreed that the male a’dam is evil. Nynaeve told Cadsuane there was only one and it was supposed to be thrown into the deeps. She did not explain how she knew. Sorilea and Bair fear Rand being enslaved with it. Sorilea says the Seanchan can’t be trusted and implies Rand shouldn’t treat with them. This is attitude is increasingly prevalent in The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight and Aviendha witnesses in the glass columns where it will lead to.
Cadsuane told Sorilea and Bair that the other a’dam are stored elsewhere and are being studied by retired Aes Sedai. She did not say they also have Callandor. Cadsuane believes Callandor has secrets that need to be researched and she tells more of this towards the end of The Gathering Storm: that it probably has other flaws besides magnifying the taint and lacking a buffer to prevent overdrawing the Power ( see Callandor section of the Sa'angreal article). Moreover it appears to feature extensively in the prophecies, which is what has spurred Cadsuane to research it (see Prophecies of the Dragon).
Sorilea suggests that they need to work out a plan to manage Rand for the good of all and Cadsuane agrees. They meet in the Wise Ones’ tents in the next day and the a’dam is burgled while Cadsuane is out. But, as I said above, this is for Chapters 22 and 23.