WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT
Egwene wears the colour of blood, anger and violence as she moves through the camp toward Tar Valon. It is also the opposite of the colour she would have chosen both on the colour wheel and the political wheel: green. The symbolism here is more overt – Egwene says of her red dress “this is symbolic” - than Jordan would typically write. Six Ajahs are represented among the rebels, and Egwene is the only one dressed in the Reds’ colour. She is of all Ajahs and none, working hard at unifying them.
Egwene thinks Bryne’s army would decide the war, but they didn’t; Egwene and the Tower Sitters did. There is no big force of Tower Guards on display at the bridge because the Aes Sedai are going to raise Egwene Amyrlin and also because they want to appease the rebels rather than appear a threat to them. And there is useful work for the soldiers to do in the city. In the recorded histories, open and secret, there has never been an open attack by Aes Sedai on Aes Sedai, so Egwene is reluctant to attack. She is mindful of her legacy, just as she lectured the Reds on how their legacy is that of Elaida’s. However, she will make the gateway to Tar Valon and take responsibility personally for the attack.
In the last hour of her life, as she faced execution, Sheriam confessed to crimes after saying she would never do what Verin did: poison herself to tell all as she died. Verin joined up so she wouldn’t die and then killed herself to betray the Shadow; Sheriam joined up happily and betrayed the Shadow at the last in the hope she wouldn’t die. Sheriam was perhaps horrified at the repercussions of her betrayal of the Dark One at the last moment. This scene:
They'd placed her head on the block and taken it off, just like the others. That scene would always be vivid in Egwene's mind—her former Keeper, lying with her head pressed against the stump, blue dress and fiery red hair suddenly bathed in warm golden light as a thinner section of clouds moved in front of the sun. Then the silvery axe, falling to claim her head.fulfills Min’s viewing of Sheriam:
- The Gathering Storm, The Tower stands
Sheriam’s tilted green eyes fixed immediately on Min’s face. Rays of silver and blue flashed about her fiery hair, and a soft golden light; Min could not say what it meant.All three colours are there: Sheriam in blue and the silver axe, bathed in golden light. They are positive colours because her death was a positive event, removing a leader of the Black Ajah.
- The Fires of Heaven, Sallie Daera
Fifty executions make Egwene realise that there are worse things than corporal punishment. Egwene refuses to keep Black sisters alive for interrogation due to the risk they could be rescued. She is the first to realise the danger of greed for information. This theme is discussed in Dom’s excellent Price and Prize of Knowledge essay (though it has not been updated for The Gathering Storm or Towers of Midnight).
The executions followed due legal process and Verin’s sacrifice is probably only acknowledged privately at this stage. She identified more than 95% of the Blacks among the rebel Aes Sedai. There were no false positives apparently. It is good that Verin was so careful as well as thorough.
A lot (almost twenty) of the Blacks got away. We don’t know how they were alerted; perhaps by Darkfriend soldiers among Bryne’s guard or Darkfriend servants. These people are consistently disregarded by Aes Sedai.
Lelaine’s and Romanda’s competition for Egwene’s favour is both phoney and pathetic – and futile.
It has been many days since the rebels sent their delegation to the Black Tower and no one has apparently enquired about the lack of contact from them until Egwene did, despite Aes Sedai thinking Asha’man are dangerous. I found this an unrealistic blind spot.
Four of those sworn to Egwene are in the delegation. Only one of the four would be a “proper” candidate for bonding a Warder, although Myrelle already has five Warders. Nisao has a Warder and Faolain and Theodrin are not fully regarded as Aes Sedai. Someone is trying to reduce Egwene’s faction: one was captured, one murdered, and also one beheaded, so now only three remain with her: Morvrin, Siuan and Carlinya, and Carlinya was killed in Towers of Midnight – but by then the entire Tower owes fealty to Egwene as Amyrlin.
The original dream ter’angreal which Sheriam stole is actually supposed to be with Elayne, not the rebels as stated in this chapter. This is a long running error. Nynaeve and Elayne took the ter’angreal with them to Ebou Dar and used it to meet with Egwene in Tel'aran'rhiod (Lord or Chaos, Weaves of the Power). However, it has not worked for Elayne since she became pregnant (an error, it doesn’t require channelling), and so Elayne lent it to Aviendha to take with her to Arad Doman (Knife of Dreams, A Different Skill).
Another error is that Siuan is described as diminutive, whereas in earlier books she was of average height. Her emotional reaction to the appearance of Tower Aes Sedai almost triggers the attack. Yet in an earlier chapter she lectured Egwene on controlling her body language and looking out for others testing her strength as Amyrlin.
Egwene’s assumption that Mesaana would flee the Tower was wrong. Yet Egwene didn’t assume the Tower wouldn’t attack her:
But expectations like that one—assuming that she was safe—were what had gotten Egwene captured in the first place. She was Amyrlin. She couldn't risk herself. It was frustrating, but she knew that an end had come to her days of solitary action, striking out as she saw fit.Egwene distrusts Elaida more than Mesaana in this scene. She is more mindful of the potential threat Elaida poses, anyway, at this stage. Plus she realises some possible repercussions of her actions.
She could have been killed, rather than captured, all those weeks ago. The Salidar rebellion would have floundered, and Elaida would have continued as Amyrlin.
The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands
The White Tower’s “blackened holes, like spots of corruption on an otherwise healthy apple” remind us of the lingering corruption there: the Black Ajah, Mesaana, and also the Bloodknives. As Egwene acknowledges:
It stood defiant of those who would break it, within and without.As the chapter title indicates, the Tower is still standing despite its holes and next it will stand for Egwene.
The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands