Monday, June 27, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #28: Chapter 25 - In Darkness

By Linda


Sheriam POV

Rebel Aes Sedai sharing tents inevitably forms or strengthens bonds between sisters and hopefully breaks down selfishness. Sheriam is accommodated by herself and uses a separate tent – Egwene’s - to work in. She has four times the space as the average Aes Sedai, so I guess that makes her four times more selfish and less cooperative.

Chesa, the maid Sheriam chose for Egwene, is very attached to Egwene and worries about her being captive. There was a time she was suspected of being a Darkfriend, but her concern shows she probably isn’t one.

Halima was the one punishing Sheriam. Not a great surprise, although Sheriam never commented that her abuser wasn’t using saidar. Presumably she has previously encountered Forsaken who hid their ability or weaves from her and assumed Halima was doing the same.

So being a member of the Black Ajah is rough, and Sheriam feels sorry for herself. She is not committed to the Shadow’s cause but is in it only for personal gain. She justifies her apostasy and treason by claiming that all Aes Sedai would backstab to get ahead and Black sisters just go that little bit further...It was very amusing that after Sheriam stops moaning she gets to savour peace for a few seconds and then senses a woman of great strength about to enter her tent. Mesaana isn’t hiding her ability this time, even though if Sheriam can sense her outside, so could other Aes Sedai nearby.

Sheriam assumes that someone very strong in the Power will be high in the Shadow’s hierarchy. (Aes Sedai follow a “might is right” policy like the Shadow, the only band of female channellers to do so.) Since she considers that this figure could be an exalted aide, she also knows that there are strong female channellers who aren’t Aes Sedai/Black Ajah. Sheriam is really alarmed by this figure whether Chosen or powerful servant.

Mesaana likes her black ribbons illusion; she wears it again in Towers of Midnight. It is customary to grovel for most Forsaken, but Mesaana is in a hurry this time and tells Sheriam to skip these preliminaries. I guess she is conscious that she shouldn’t waste time in the rebel camp because she hasn’t disguised her ability. She probably didn’t mask her strength in the Power to scare Sheriam into line quickly.

A Chosen ordered Sheriam to raise Egwene, or more properly to take up Siuan’s and Leane’s suggestion. Halima arrived in Salidar a few days before Egwene was summoned by the rebels to be raised, so it was probably she who gave the order. Mesaana wants Egwene deposed. She tells Sheriam to steal all 19 sleepweavers in 3 days to keep Aes Sedai out of Tel’aran’rhiod and then travels back to the White Tower without bothering to hide her destination from Sheriam. It is curious that she threatened to punish failure for her second, offhand command, but not her first command.

Egwene POV

Egwene is determined to be dignified despite her abuse. She is beaten every day, denied clean clothes, and is only out of her unlit cell and seated on a chair because she has visitor. Her jailers are still following Tower law and allowing visitors.

Elaida’s tactic of showing off to the Sitters backfired since a senior member of five Ajahs witnessed her break the law. She tried to forestall a trial but failed. Her argument is that Egwene is a Darkfriend and so she expelled her from the Tower and then beat her. I don’t know how she justified this to herself, since no formal charges have been laid, and apart from being summary justice (illegal), it’s not the appropriate punishment for a Darkfriend anyway. The Tower is worse than a backward village:

"It will not stand," Seaine said, consolingly. "This is not some backward village, where the Dragon's Fang scrawled on someone's door is enough to convict."
Egwene raised an eyebrow. She'd been raised in "some backward village," and they'd had enough sense to look for more than rumors in convicting someone, no matter what the crime.

The Gathering Storm, In Darkness

Elaida’s behaviour is not an offense for which she could be deposed. The maximum punishment is formal censure and a month’s penance. She would retain the shawl – an error: it should be stole. Elaida is losing credibility. Egwene worries that Elaida will hide her away and she will be inaccessible to visitors or unable to influence events.

The Tower is badly affected by the Dark One’s weakening of the Pattern, his spreading ofWrongness, perhaps because a Forsaken and so many Black Ajah are in residence. The blighting is less of a problem in the rebel camp, despite having about the same number of Black sisters, so maybe Mesaana makes the difference. Also, belief and order give strength, as Herid Fel wrote, and the Tower is very disordered and its residents are short on belief in the Tower’s administration and hold on events. The rebels are comparatively better focussed.

Yellow sisters are now in the basement and the second kitchen is on the sixth level. This kitchen will be needed soon, when the Tower reunifies and 1000 novices arrive; so it has risen in prominence, which is appropriate since food and nutrition are very important now. The Yellows have not been doing their bit to help against pestilence and have been dumped in the basement. However Yellow sisters should not have had rooms on the sixth level because the bottom half of the Tower is for communal use, not Ajah living quarters, according to The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time.

The remainder of the novices have been brought up to the 21st and 22nd levels, so they too have risen in prominence and will soon save the Tower from the Seanchan. The Browns are now in the novice wing, symbolising that Aes Sedai are not as well trained or knowledgeable as they think. This is another error. The Tower was described as being divided vertically with the Ajahs each having equal pie-shaped wedges of each floor and not owning whole floors:

Each Ajah occupies one of seven pie-shaped sections in the top half of the huge main Tower containing living quarters for its members as well as meeting rooms and workrooms reserved for that Ajah, though some members of the Brown have rooms in or near the huge library as well. These sections are equal in size, although the Ajahs are not, but even the largest Ajah, the Red, does not come anywhere near filling its allotted space. The main Hall of the Tower and all common rooms are located in the lower half of the building.

The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time

Egwene encourages Seaine and her fellow independent Sitters to remind the Hall and other Aes Sedai that the Last Battle approaches and they should work together, not divide further. She worries that Elaida could have her executed for falsely claiming to be Amyrlin, but decides to stay firmly on her chosen course. Belief has certainly given Egwene strength.


Anonymous said...

ok was anyone suprised when verin and sheriam are shown to be black ajah i thought it was obvious from the second book for verin and third for sheriam but egwene and co are to stupid to notice.
linda do you like egwene? you seem to be trying to make her look good and i am waiting for someone to leave as a stain on the carpet.
from the first book i have hated her every time she opened her mouth and actually dislike many of the main female characters when they are around her. i like nynaeve far more now that they hardly spend any time together and i liked aviendha earlier then she got on my nerves the more time she spent with egwene. ive never liked elayne but i dont no if thats because just another annoying green or because i think shes a brat.
well there is one more book maybe gawyn really will break her neck.

TommyBoy52 said...

Ive never been a fan of Egwene, never thought she was bad, but what she did in the past two books makes her a star.

And not in a Harry-Potter-because-the-author-wants-her-to-be-great way.

She reunited the tower through perserverence, and beat back the seanchan attack all by herself.

imo, yay ra Egwene!

Anonymous said...

donald trump is successful as well i still want to beat him round the head with a sack of his own crap sometimes.
thats part of egwenes problem for me she gets more annoying as she does more as everyone tells her she is as good as she thinks she was before she went to the tower and i cant wait for soomeone to shut her up.

Dressageboy said...

Gosh, I guess I'm just slow. I didn't twig to Verin till quite late or Sheriam either. I rather like Egwene, all things considered. She's the woman with a plan and thanks to her dreaming ability and Siuan among others, she can see forward past the petty Ajah squabbling.

Comparing The Donald and Egwene? Interesting, specious but interesting. Egwene neither sought nor campaigned to be thrust into the seat of power, in fact she tried to refuse. Can you say that of Mr. Trump? Egwene doesn't seek the spotlight, nor does she display the sort of vanity that typifies Mr. Trump. Rather, she seeks to find ways to unite her organization and tries to make her own role in that unification, that of peacemaker, rather than power broker. No, Egwene, (say what you will about her and she certainly has issues) is in no way guilty of behaving like Mr. Trump.

Eliada is MUCH more comparable to The Donald.

She is, going to be told to shut up or more accurately, told to accede to Rand's needs at The Last Battle. The seals need to be broken, period.

Plus 1 to TommyBoy52's comment. She did in fact re-unite the tower through perseverance and she kicked some Seanchan BUTT!

Anonymous said...

Dressageboy i dont mean she is like the donald that way i meant that she annoys 10 times as much as he does. she may not have sought power but she acted as though she ruled the world from before the first book, what was it rand said about her hitting nynaeve in the head with a bowl after being told off for sulking.
she may not have the hair but she has the bitch factor to make up for it.

Anonymous said...

Dressageboy i dont know why but i kind of pity elaida i know she was like that for at least 25 years but she one of those who could have been a better person without the stupid tower ranking system making her think something she cant control makes her better than anyone else. and after she got to the top she might not have gone quite as gaga without the rebels, blacks and ajah heads all pulling in different directions not to mention whatever fain or the forsaken did to make her even crazier. not sure what he did but fain thought he had made it so that she wouldnt trust anyone anymore which cant have helped during a 4 way fight to control the tower and try to hold back the blight, organize resistance to the seanchan at the same time as trying to make sure rand made it to the last battle.
egwene had it easier in my opinion she was on the inside with what was happening with rand, had first hand knowledge of the seanchan and didnt even think about the war against the dark one. she just tried to get control over her own group and worry about the black ajah making stupid people make stupider mistakes and play them off each other until they slipped and she got what she wanted.

Anonymous said...

TommyBoy52 i still disagree that she united the tower though it only happened because the ajah heads decicded that their own power play had been a disaster and from my interpretation of their little chat it looks like they messed up the tower more than elaida or the blacks. they tried to control events and it spiraled out of control because they didnt realise that the blacks or siuan would mess up their little power games.
they picked egwene because they knew that the hall they had hand picked was useless and that most people would either go with it or would be to tired after the seanchan attack to complain to much. they didnt care about what she had done they just knew it what stop the tower from falling to put the head of the rebels in charge and they could save face by not actually having to do anything about elaida or admit fault.

Anonymous said...

Dressageboy by the way nice reply ive never seen the word specious before had to google it.

but you are a bit harsh on the donald he at least built his own empire egwene was put at the top by people that thought to control her

Anonymous said...

Anonymous? Thanks for the compliment. Sorry to be all disagreeable but Donald Trump went to work for his father, Fred Trump, a real estate tycoon and developer in NYC, who, by the time of his death in 1999, the senior Trump was worth over $400 million, at one point, the senior Trump owned over 27,000 rental units in the NYC metropolitan area. Donald was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has filed bankruptcy on 3 separate occasions. not exactly a ringing endorsement for his shrewdness. Just sayin. But we're getting a touch far afield.

Linda? LOVE your thoroughness! Thank you for this splendid blog!!

Linda said...

I don't have favourites; I see good and bad sides to all the Light aligned characters. The malign characters are another matter.

I certainly agree that the Aes Sedai ranking system is based on the wrong criterion. Also, Aes Sedai, especially the Reds have promoted some very flawed leaders. Not necessarily entirely the fault of the Black Ajah, either.

Anonymous said...

Dressageboy no worries happy to be taught, not sure why you know this? i just really know about the media stuff he did as i said he annoys me so i never actually looked into his past but im not sure you had the spoon in the right end.
i was just trying to show how much egwene annoys me and he was the best i could think of short of glenn beck and that would be mean to call even the dark one.

linda i dont blame the blacks for the reds crazy views at all they spend 200+ years having no friends but other reds and mistrusting half the world outside the tower and 90% inside they are bound to be PMS central!
i like most of the reds that have had a lot of time as ive said the only ajah i dont like at all is the green not one yet. cad has the highest rating at annoying but all the others are still at the contempt level so far just above where i put Lan and the warders but below the maidens

sushisushi said...

The other thing about the Browns being relocated to the erstwhile novice quarters is that the Brown is supposed to be the Ajah of knowledge, of consideration, study and the long term view, none of which have been in evidence in the Tower. So, the fact that they get swapped with the lowest level of trainees is kind of fitting...

Linda said...

That's right, sushi. And the kitchen is doing more for people's health than the Yellows, hence the swaps.

Anonymous said...

do they have sushi in the tower havent seen any rice or pasta in the books at all what do these people eat?

Linda said...

No they don't have sushi.

The food varies regionally. Dom and I planned to write an article on the food. I may yet get to it, but right now I have another subject in mind.

Anonymous said...

have to get the table ready first i guess ;)

Anonymous said...

The Big White Book isn't really cannon, I wouldn't consider things being different that were stated only in that to be an error. It could have been a conscious decision to change the internal layout of the Tower by Jordan or Sanderson. Certainly I think this layout goes better with the plot then the previous one.