WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT
Darlin’s letter to Egwene makes good points. He reminds her that the Prophecies warned that Rand would be dark, dangerous and difficult, and then shows an understanding of what has caused Rand’s deterioration; something other characters would do well to think about.
His comments on the power of those in charge of nations are particularly relevant to the Dragon role:
Indeed, the more absolute a man's power becomes, the more necessary questioning becomes. Towers of Midnight, A Call To StandAfter all, in the Second Age, Lews Therin effectively had absolute Power, according to Jordan:
I have a question about the Nine Rods of Dominion. We have a couple of references to this, and Ishamael says that Lews Therin summoned the Nine Rods of Dominion. And theories have been floating around, are the Oath Rods not the Nine Rods of Dominion?And did not handle that power well. Nor has Rand at times. Any questioning has to be handled considerately on both sides, otherwise it only causes alienation.
Robert Jordan They were not the Oath Rods.
Question Well are they positions of power, were they people, or were they actual rods?
Robert Jordan They were actual people, and they were, but you might call them regional governors of the earth, regional governors of the planet. So if I say, summon them, then we've got a guy who has been given in effect ultimate power.
Robert Jordan at DragonCon 2005
Darlin is grateful to Rand on Tear’s behalf, not just for keeping the self-serving High Lords from taking over, but maybe also for the new laws Rand introduced. These laws limited the absolute power of the Tairen nobility.
Egwene wants Darlin to bring all, or most, of his forces to the Field of Merrilor, and to rely on Illian to keep the Seanchan out of Tear, while encouraging Illian to also bring most of its forces to Merrilor. And this, even while remembering how the Seanchan struck at the Tower, at a time when they did not have Travelling. With both sides able to make gateways, they are not the advantage they once were. Not a good judgement, it is more about serving her purposes of intimidating Rand and showing their fighting strength, and less about considering Tear’s own security risk. Sure it’s the Last Battle but amassing quantities of forces to underline a protest is a crude strategy and only works up to a point. The rest of the forces are better off left to protect the nation coughBorderlanderscough.
It is not surprising that Egwene does not understand Rand’s trauma, since she has little insight into her own, lesser, trauma, at the hands of the Seanchan:
She loathed them with a hatred that sometimes worried her.Her untreated trauma prevents her reactions to them being reasonable or controlled. It is very likely that she is not going to get on with Tuon.
Towers of Midnight, A Call To Stand
Egwene knows she is using Rand’s proclamation to garner support for her view that Rand should not break the Seals, but can’t see that he might expect, or even want, this. As I suggested in an earlier read-through post, I believe that Rand is relying on Egwene to unite opposition, so that he only has to deal with it once.
While Egwene works on opposing Rand, two thirds of her Hall is going for a power play against Egwene, even as the Borderlands are invaded by huge forces of Shadowspawn. Lelaine, at least, knows the Borderlands are being overrun, but it doesn’t stop her playing politics. Takima has the grace to be ashamed of herself.
Sitters have difficulty referring directly to the schism. They gloss over it, and use euphemisms. While they do that, they are not taking responsibility for their actions, or learning from mistakes.
The majority of the Sitters fear that the Amyrlin will declare martial law or trick the Hall into giving her absolute power, or at least more power, again. They have no evidence she is at work on this, just the belief that because she did this when opposing Elaida she will do so again because the opportunity is there. In fact she is far too busy with international politics and applying pressure to Rand.
The Hall’s plans to take over the prosecution of the war against the Shadow needs Egwene’s assent. They suggest she deal with the monarchs in exchange. The vote was taken precipitately before they realise Egwene did trick them – or let them trick themselves. The Aes Sedai are dumbed down in this scene. Amongst such experienced politicians (at least 3 have over 40 years’ experience in the Hall), Saerin was the only Sitter who saw the full implications of Egwene’s tactics immediately. It seems Egwene’s unexpected arrival put them off discussing the situation fully and instead they impulsively seized on a perceived weakness even while some of them had misgivings.
The vote Egwene really wanted, on no secret meetings of the Hall, and no meeting to be convened unless every Sitter or her proxy is present or has sent direct word that she cannot attend, and the Amyrlin too, is a very worthy one, and the greater consensus votes for it. Silviana admires Egwene’s political skill, but it’s not a very convincing victory when the Sitters are portrayed as foolish. I would prefer that the featured character, in this case Egwene, could look good without having to cheapen the secondary characters.
Directly after this, Egwene then puts Accepted at risk - partially trained women, and one of them even with known flaws – to try and lure the Black Ajah close in Tel’aran’rhiod so they can be caught. She sends Accepted to Elayne to get dream ter’angreal in such a way that they will gossip, in the hope the Shadow will hear of it and the Black Ajah sent to spy.
Egwene was forced in her development by the Seanchan, but also by Siuan, for which Siuan felt very guilty. And rightly so, because Egwene shows flaws in Towers of Midnight, easy victories notwithstanding, although these flaws would have been far worse had the Wise Ones not trained her. Unfortunately they had not finished before she was called elsewhere; their last efforts at discipline being to make her acknowledge she had broken her word (only to find it hid an even larger lie that she was not the rank she claimed to be). Siuan never felt guilty about Liandrin tricking the three girls, though; she thought they should have seen through that. Like Siuan, Egwene is conscious that she should not put trainees at risk in this way unless there is no other choice. But it’s the only strategy she can think of: making herself and the Aes Sedai look dumb so that the Black Ajah will be over-confident enough to take risks.
The chapter is a commentary on the exercise of power by leaders.