Monday, July 30, 2001

The Aiel need to adopt the Way of the Leaf before the Last Battle.

By Linda

My theory is that some Aiel will re-swear the Covenant of the Da’shain and adopt the Way of the Leaf before the Last Battle, and thus go back to what the Aiel originally were in the Age of Legends. Maybe in a mirror of the Breaking, the Aiel warriors protect the Aiel who re-adopt the Way (the new Jenn!) just as we saw in The Shadow Rising.

Just about all of the Aiel prophecies talk about the Aiel either being broken by the Way or by Rand, and of them re-gaining their former greatness, their old places, and what was theirs and was lost:

"When the Trollocs come out of the Blight again, we will leave the Three-fold Land and take back our places of old…”

- The Great Hunt, A New Thread In The Pattern

Their places of old were serving the Aes Sedai and the Dragon in the Age of Legends with their purity borne of following the Way of the Leaf. They failed the Aes Sedai when they abandoned the Way and this led to them losing their Singing ability. In The Gathering Storm, Egwene searched with need for something necessary to preserve the world in the Last Battle and found herself in a Tinker’s camp, again indicating the importance of the Way. (However, I think the Tinkers do not fully follow the Way as the Da’shain did. More on this below.)

"we will be changed, and find again what was ours, and was lost."

- The Dragon Reborn, A Different Dance

The Aiel were changed by the discovery of their true history and by the bleakness, and their customs have been changed also by Rand, by Sevanna, by being out of the Waste and by events. The Aiel might not yet have changed enough though. "What was ours, and was lost" is the reverence and honour the Da’shain Aiel had in the Age of Legends, earned by the purity and sanctity of the Way of the Leaf. The Way gave them special abilities including that of Singing. The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time says the Da’shain could "often enhance channelling" with their singing, which is an interesting hint of why their Singing is important for the Last Battle and that it was more than making crops grow.

"he will come from Rhuidean at dawn, and tie you together with bonds you cannot break. He will take you back and he will destroy you."

- The Shadow Rising, The Road to the Spear

I think the bonds the Aiel cannot break will be those of the Covenant – to follow the Way of the Leaf and to serve. In a smaller way, clans that had blood feud have now sworn water oath, which is a pretty unbreakable bond. Rand has taken the Aiel back to the wetlands, and may also take them back to not just serving the Dragon, but serving him in the way they used to as Da’shain Aiel, following the Way of the Leaf. He is destroying them – the Shaido and Brotherless are renegades, many Aiel are being taken by the bleakness and running, and many of them have died or will die in battle.

"He shall spill out the blood of those who call themselves Aiel as water on sand, and he shall break them as dried twigs, yet the remnant of a remnant shall he save, and they shall live."

- The Shadow Rising, He Who Comes With The Dawn

The Aiel will be killed in great numbers – though so probably will all peoples. If they do re-adopt Da’shain vows and swear to do no violence, they will be very vulnerable and they won’t be able to save themselves. Hence Rand doing so. The Aiel themselves are a remnant – of the Da’shain.

I don't think they have been broken much at all yet. Other nations have done far worse and yet are not prophesied to be destroyed as the Aiel are. Nor have the Aiel regained what they had. The Aiel are a remnant – of the Da’shain.

Those who re-adopt the Way of the Leaf and are dedicated to do no violence will be very vulnerable and won’t be able to able to defend themselves. Hence Rand saving them.

The simplest way for this to occur would be for some of the Aiel to be convinced they need to adopt the Way soon and serve as the Da'shain did. This would really break the Aiel, going against everything they've done in the last 3000 years. Rand would have to save them, protect them as the Aes Sedai protected the Da'shain during the War of Power.

What Aviendha sees in Rhuidean (both within the glass columns and in the city) may be the trigger. There she was going on in Arad Doman about regaining her honour by becoming a Wise One, and she's about to learn that the Aiel have no honour as far as Aes Sedai (and Rand as the reincarnated Dragon) are concerned. Oh dear. No wonder the Aiel prophecies say the Aiel will be broken.

I believe that Singing and the Da’shain’s ability to ‘enhance channelling’ with their singing is required for the final confrontation of the Last Battle. The Aiel would have to adopt the Way soon, since the purity of the Way presumably takes time to have an effect.

I like the irony that the Aiel regain what they never searched for and the Tinkers searched for something they can't gain (without the Aiel).

The Tinkers' Way of the Leaf is a remnant version of what the Da'shain Aiel’s Covenants actually were; otherwise the Tinkers would not have lost the Singing ability. True, they lost all circumstances where they might have used it during the Breaking, but they seemed to lose the skill rapidly as well.

And Lews Therin asked Ishy:

"Have you the Voice, stranger? It will soon be time for the Singing, and here all are welcome to take part.”

- The Eye Of The World, Prologue

which suggests it had a religious or meditative role.

The Way of the Leaf is as much about sharing, warmth and compassion as about peace and non-violence. Even during the Breaking they gave freely to others.

To share was the way. To give freely.

- The Great Hunt, The Dedicated

They gave of themselves freely too to the Aes Sedai and the community. (Rand must do this also at Shayol Ghul.)

The Way gave the Da’shain special abilities including that of Singing. The Aiel may need to regain these before Rand’s confrontation with the Dark One.

If we look at the closest real world equivalent of the Da’shain, the Jain, they take five major vows: to protect all life and abstain from violence (defined as not injuring, abusing, oppressing, enslaving, insulting, tormenting, torturing, or killing any creature or living being), to speak the truth (unless it would cause a greater violence), not to steal, to be chaste, and to limit possessions. They aspire to kindness, compassion and reverence for all forms of life in speech, thought, and action. Other vows

involve avoidance of unnecessary travel, of harmful activities, and of the pursuit of pleasure; fasting and control of diet; offering gifts and service to monks, the poor, and fellow believers; and voluntary death if the observance of the major vows proves impossible.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

Their code of non-violence means caring for and sharing with all living beings and tending, protecting and serving them. It entails universal friendliness, universal forgiveness and universal fearlessness. This seems very close to what the Da’shain represented.

When one considers what the Jain are like (and thus the Da'shain) and what the Aiel are like, one can only wince. For instance the Jain wear veils to prevent themselves from breathing in insects and thus injuring or killing them, while the Aiel veil themselves before they kill.

Those Aiel affected by the Bleakness who believe they should stay gai’shain have something like the right idea, but they're not serving. Neither are the Tinkers. Formal sworn service and following the Way to do absolutely no violence and to share freely of themselves seems to be what is required.

The Aiel can't take them back their places of old until they follow the Covenants and they can't do that until they re-adopt the Way. The Way comes first - and before the Last Battle. Each Aiel will have to decide which is the more important thing to follow: the Way or the call to military battle. While the Aiel warriors are great fighters, channellers fight Shadowspawn better still and so will Mat's cannon.

Long ago, in the Age of Legends, the Tinkers’ and Aiel’s ancestors, the Da’shain, and the Ogier Sang together. Singing itself, and its channelling enhancing properties, and the vows of service to all will be needed again at the very end of this Age, or is it the beginning of the next? Quite possibly without the new Da’shain Singing Rand cannot beat the Dark One or the Fourth Age dawn.

It’s interesting that representatives of all three groups – Ogier, Tinker and Aiel - were with Perrin and contributed to the great victory in the Two Rivers. From the beginning of the series the Two Rivers has been a microcosm of the whole World, so I think that representatives of the Tinkers and Aiel will re-adopt the true Way of the Leaf and make a covenant with the Dragon during the Last Battle, enabling them to Sing with the Ogier as in the Age of Legends.


luvtheedragon said...

some interesting tidbits ...

1. the male aiel don't sing in public, unless it is songs of laments.

2. the food of the world has almost run out. promises that rand made are on the brink of being broken.

3. you are absolutely right that perrin has been in the thick of aiel/tinkers/ogier. It is only now for the first time that he has had a time to think about his responsibilities. things that he did wrong with aram, that lead to his turning cloak, etc. So if the faile episode doesn't start all over again, i think perrin will be in deep shit for the first part of the book, all with white cloaks turning up, the huge group that he is leading being without food, and him being helpless to feed them.

4. singing is spsed to keep crops extremely healthy and get optimum yield, etc but also keep the blight away. So it will be needed equally in the borderlands.

all in all singin will be discovered before this book ends, roughly when the first trumpets of war sound.

Nameless Asha'man said...

Good theory, and I agree that something like this is in the offing. Nonetheless, from a cold and logical standpoint, it's pretty hard to see what argument could be made to the modern Aiel that now, on the brink of the greatest war ever, the most accomplished warriors on the side of the light should put away their spears and take up singing.

It's going to take some very shocking revelation, and even then I don't see more than a handful of the Aiel taking it. They are a very stubborn people, resistant to change and quite full of themselves.

Joe ST said...

Any idea if the Ogier remember any of the Song? Since Loial would be willing to help in that regard even if the other Ogier were keeping it a secret for some reason.

Also, is the OP-enhancing additive (just increases the channellers max by a little bit), multiplicative (doubles, say, the channellers strength), or some other function? It sounds like it might be like a communal Angreal lol.

@Nameless 'a remnant of a remnant' ;)

arob731 said...

I think that possibly the "remnant of a remnant" could be those Aiel who do readopt the Way. As someone else said, it will take something huge to convince them, and it's likely that even then, very few (maybe a small enough amount to call a remnant?) would be convinced. These would be under Rand's protection, but he would not be able to stop the rest from rushing into the Last Battle and being massacred by the Dark One's forces.

TWW said...

They sing in lamentation, and in battle.
'Wash the spears...Who fears to die?
Wash the spears...No one I know!'

Hinkel said...

I'm going to go with the maidens leading the way to the Way - Aviendha comes back figuring out that it needs to be done and she convinces her former spear sisters to all "give up the spear" for a man (Rand) and for the world.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be interesting if large numbers of Shaido were the ones that made the conversion?

First off, we know there are honorable Aiel among the Shaido (Maeric, for instance, who wanted to be clan chief).

Second, they are likely to want to restore some of their clans lost honor. Those who are honorable will see their actions (taking wetlander gai'shain, etc) as dishonorable and thus they are going to have much toh.

Third, I think they will have the largest number of available Aiel who aren't doing anything. They headed back to the Three Fold Land in KoD Ch. 30, and it has been two months. They should be there by now.

So, Avi goes back, makes the discovery, and starts traveling around attracting disaffected Aiel (Shaido, bleakness, Brotherless) to the cause.

Anonymous said...

In tFoH chapter 53, Sulin asks Rand "Will you put us in skirts, and make us marry and tend hearth?"

This might be a foreshadowing of the re-adoption of the way of the leaf.

I also like the idea of Shaido taking up the way as a sort of redemption.


Jack said...

Regarding the One Power-enhancing properties of Singing, I have trouble imagining that it would simply give Aes Sedai a power boost. There are already things that do that very effectively. The Choedan Kal in combination were enough to channel ALL of the One Power in one afternoon, after all, and Rand's alone could split the world in half. I'm not sure that what he needs is simply more power.

Perhaps, instead, the song has an effect on the minds of channelers, calming the torrents of Saidin and allowing men to focus on what they're doing more effectively. We've seen people be taken in by Loial's tree-singing, and it seemed very much a mental effect. I could see this allowing channelers much finer control over their weaves, able to create elegant constructs far superior to the hamfisted Power-slinging that we see most channelers do as a matter of course.

Could it be, then, that the loss of Singing is the reason Aes Sedai lost the ability to create Angreal and Power-wrought materials? Because their control is not nearly fine enough to manipulate things on a molecular scale without the concentration that Singing provides? After all, we've seen no Forsaken create their own Angreal; they're looking for ones that already exist. Maybe they can't, because even they require Singing.

Elayne has a great Talent for ter'angreal, and from what we've seen, her abilities haven't stretched far beyond creating pocket calculators next to desktop PC's. Obviously a lot of that is due to there being no training available, but once again, the Forsaken haven't done it either, and they would know how if anybody does.

Linda said...

Jack: we know no more of the effect than I quoted. Could work in a variety of ways.

Apart from Aginor, the Forsaken don't make things. That requires an entirely different mindset to how they are. Aginor only twisted things in his creating, not made new things. Forsaken, steal, corrupt, destroy. These are not the qualities of a creator or craftsman.

The Shaido: it would be good if they could redeem themselves. OTherwise, as a people who have rejected Rand rather than given him even the simplest of service, they are doomed.

Anonymous said...

The idea of the Shaido adopting the way of the leaf is interesting, also they are a remnant of a remnant. The Shaido were whole when Couladin was leadng them and became a Remnant after they battled Rand/Mat. That remnant lead by Sevanna than battled Perrin and became a remnant of a remnant.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the Jenn Aiel and the Tinkers are one and the same? The Jenn were the only ones who did not abandon the Way, and I was under the impression that it never actually said that they had died, so much as said that they left of something of that sort. But, perhaps I misread(?).

Linda said...

The Tinkers were the first group to abandon the covenants of the Da'shain. They kept the Way of the Leaf but stopped serving the Aes Sedai. The Aiel abandoned the Way first and then stopped serving the Aes Sedai. Neither qualify as Jenn.

The Jenn said:

“Our days dwindle,” Mordaine said. “A day will come when the Jenn are no more, and only you will
remain to remember the Aiel. You must remain, or all is for nothing, and lost.”
The flatness of her voice, the calm sureness, silenced Charendin, but Mandein had one more question.
“Why? If you know your doom, why do this?” He gestured toward the structures rising in the distance.
“It is our purpose,” Dermon replied calmly. “For long years we searched for this place, and now we
prepare it, if not for the purpose we once thought. We do what we must, and keep faith.”

TSR, The Road to the Spear

They died out.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Singing is the key to ending the pestilence that the DO has laid upon the world. Though it seems that to truly make Singing work you'd need a Nym. Or perhaps that through Singing, Aiel and Ogier can bring back the Nym and the Nym can heal the land.

Linda said...

The Nym were constructs so I think the only wayto bring them back would be to re-construct them.

Not sure if Nym are necessary for the Song as such or only see-singing. Maybe they aren't essential for that either.

Anonymous said...


Maybe since the last Nym died in the blight which is obviously were there will be alot of the fighting he will be brought back by the singing. Didnt Loial do something to preserve that wee bit of land where the blight would never touch it?Just a thought


Linda said...

@Dornan: That is an interesting idea! We are also seeing the series come full circle - so events from TEOTW become crucial or relevant to events at the end of the series.

herid said...

Hi Linda,
I agree with your theory that the Aiel need to go back to the way of the leaf. There is even more evidence to support this in ToM in Avi's meeting with Nakomi and her visions in Rhuidean. But I was wondering if you still believe that this has to happen before the Last Battle .

I think this is definitely wrong.

First, there is no time. The Last battle starts tomorrow. Unless the entire Aiel population (or at least a very large part of it) is present at the Field of Merrilor this can not possibly occur before the Last Battle starts.

Secondly, we are told repeatedly in recent books that every last man will be needed to fight in the LB. Every last one. Giving up hundreds of thousands of excellent warriors right before the LB starts is utter lunacy.

Lastly, Avi's conversation with Nakomi is very suggestive. They easily agree that the Aiel can meet their toh as a people by fighting for the Dragon in the LB. There is no confusion or indecision on either side when they discuss it. They don't know what to do after that but that is a separate matter.

Linda said...

Herid: I don't think that hundreds of thousands of Aiel adopt the Way and don't suggest they will. A much smaller number will adopt it before the Last Battle. The lost ability for Singing needs to be regained before then - the Aiel and the Tinkers joining with the Ogier in Song. I think this is essential for defeat ofthe Dark One - and enables Rand to save a remnant of the Aiel (some from the Singers, some from the Warriors). After the Last Battle, some Aiel may adopt the Way, and others enforce the Peace actively.

herid said...

Only a small part of the Aiel adopting the way of the leaf?! Sorry, I don't buy that. None of the evidence you collected so well indicates anything of the sort. It all talks about the Aiel as a whole.

Linda said...

Well groups have a long history of splintering in the Third Age, so it is quite likely that such as vexed issue as pacificism, and toh for breaking a strict covenant will cause splintering.

Remnant of a remnant and all that.

Mattrickster said...

Linda, this may be a strange way of looking at the "Way of the Leaf" but I think that it would be wrong for the Aiel to readopt the "Way" as practised by the Tinkers or the Daishain. As shown it seems a Rule that demands absolute acceptance but without compassion. In TSR - the Road to the Lewin killed a bandit accidently while rescueing his younger sister. He was not much older than 12 or 14 yrs but his mother disowned for it. And Aram was disowned by Raen & Ila for picking up a sword after seeing his mother and family killed by trollocs. In both cases there was no understanding or compassion. If the Aiel do readopt the "Way of the Leaf", it should be a Way of peace and acceptance of everybody and everything.Otherwise they will just be a variation on the Whitecloak mentallity. The Whitecloaks believe that their way is the only way and if you don't follow them you deserve death. Death in life (shunning) or death, there is no difference.

Linda said...

Mattrickster: you make good points.

The Way they need to adopt freely is one which will give them the ability for Singing. Whether they reject people who can't follow that is another matter. We never saw this dogmatic attitude in the Age of Legends scenes, only during the Breaking. It may be a result of the Tinkers splitting off, the high mortality rate and the extreme pressures they were under to survive plus the absence of Aes Sedai to serve and thus give them purpose.

Swordcrowned said...

I think the Aiel's return to "what was ours" is more them being once again a large part of the main world, instead of outcast in the blight. I doubt that large amounts of Aiel will up and decide that they want to follow the way of the leaf. They have had plenty of time to hear and decide their own individual futures. Those who could not handle it, ran. Either to the shaido, or to the tinkers, or to wherever. Those who could stick with the Rand, and will be a deciding factor in the future of the world. Just like they were in the age of legends, just with a different role to play.

As for the damage to the Aiel, and how he would break them, we need to remember something important. You can not compare the damage he has done to the Aiel with what is going on in the rest of the world. They are two different prophecies. The Aiel do not follow the same prophecies that we have followed thru out this book. Just like the Seanchan do not follow the same prophecy, and the darkfriends do not follow.

Swordcrowned said...

I put blight, but meant waste. Did not see any option for editing.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Rand will have some memory from Lews Therin that gives some insight into if not how to actually sing, atleast the setup and effects and how to make it enhance channeling.

Ryvermist said...

I don't think so, 'his blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul' means the Aiel, to my mind, and it would mean a far stretch to have Jenn Aiel heads TOWARD conflict?

Anonymous said...

Where are you getting the idea that following the Way is required to properly sing the Song? I fail to understand your jump in logic here. The AoL Aiel followed the Way. The AoL Aiel Sang. But that does not mean one is the exclusive consequence of the other.

Also, I also don't see where you're getting this "following the Way gave the AoL Aiel a level-up in powers" idea. You refer to other "powers" the Way supposedly gave them. What are you talking about?

Seriously, the Wheel is cyclical but it doesn't run backwards. Just because things were awesome in the AoL and now things are being rediscovered doesn't mean everyone has to reboot and start the whole Age over again, which is what a lot of theories seem to be assuming. Male and female channelers don't need to reunite under one leader and name him the Tamyrlin either. Things are going to be different than they used to be. They can still be good. Forward progress, not just a copy and reboot. That would be stupid from an in-world standpoint, and cheap from a storywriting standpoint. The point of the whole saga isn't just how will Rand defeat the Dark One, it's how will Rand defeat the Dark One AND what will happen after?

inspirationism said...

I can see where people are coming from with the jump in logic, but I do also agree with the fact that there could be many factors in the Singing that we are just simply unaware of.

In any case, the Tinker population's proximity to Seanchan territory, (where the Ogier protecting the Empress/Daughter or Son of the Nine Moons are called Gardeners...perhaps a red herring, perhaps not) whose entire empire is based on absolute servitude in general, makes me believe that the Seanchan-Aiel dichotomy will be integral in the discovery of the Song. That being said, I do not know the means through which this will be achieved, but the glass column scene where Aviendha views the aftermath of the Last Battle where her people stubbornly maintain ways taught to them since returning to the wetlands - and, additionally, Fortuona's rather coincidental mutual confusion on how to lead her people who also face a great challenge to the continuity of their ways (i.e. collaring damane...I am pretty sure this will be slammed down by Egwene who knows how to escape a'dam besides) - makes these two candidates who need to meet up pronto.

And on a complete sidenote, with Setalle Anan's assistance in getting Fortuona prepared for an Aes Sedai world, Nynaeve will be key to getting Fortuona on their side in terms of marath'damane treatment (especially as she defended Mat at the Dark Rand-Tuon meeting in TGS).

Vicki said...

I disagree with your view that Aiel need to re-adopt the Way of the Leaf (as I've commented elsewhere on your blog). An institution of Aiel living according to the Way of the Leaf worked well in a world that 'had forgotten war', but falls apart in wartime as it did the first time (at least, without an armed force to protect them). After all, the Jenn wouldn't have survived even to reach Rhuidean without the Aiel who'd broken the covenant to protect them. The Aiel broke the covenant in the first place to survive, and it can be argued that Aes Sedai failed the Aiel (by abandoning them to their fate) as much as the Aiel failed the Aes Sedai.
I also disagree that the Aiel lost their talent for Singing as a result of breaking the Covenant: they had lost the talent long before breaking the covenant, as Adan's confrontation with the first breakaway group (proto-Tinkers) in TSR suggests: at that time, the Aiel still kept the Covenant (travelling on a mission set by Aes Sedai, and being completely non-violent), but all they remember is that Aiel Singing used to be a 'wondrous thing'. It seems that Singing is a skill and craft as much as a talent, which needs to be learned and practiced, and was lost during Aiels' wanderings as refugees in a mad world.
My theory is that Aiel will serve as elite troops during the Last Battle (I certainly agree with a number of comments here that it's a tremendous waste to refuse the services of such good warriors in a battle, which won't be fought only by channellers). Afterwards, they'll serve as police/ peacekeepers (a role foreshadowed by their serving as Rand's own army and honour guard), being above national politics and ensuring that all nations adhere to the Pact of the Dragon. This will be the new covenant of the Aiel. The major change in the Aiel need to make to their thinking is abandoning the 'us against the world' mentality and placing themselves in the service of the world community at large. Aviendha, the Wise Ones and the rest of the Aiel will just have to work out how to make the nations (Seanchan especially!) keep the Pact after the original signatories are dead.

Adam said...

The Aes Sedai can make power wrought weapons they just forgot how after the 3 oaths came into effect. Perrins new hammer?

Adam said...

Are there not a huge band of Aiel that have already returned to the way of the leaf? Those who have already refused to give up the white? And what's with the Aiel with the red eyes?

Linda said...

Yes, Adam, the gai'shain Aiel have the right idea and this may be a clue to Aviendha. There must be more to the Da'shain Aiel than just being like ga'shain. Much was made of the Covenant, so I think there must be a formal declaration of some kind.

I am not sure the red-veiled Aiel are Aiel, and if they were once Aiel, how they have changed and why. One of the many things that has been left for the last book.

Linda said...

The Aes Sedai do swear to "never use the One Power to make a weapon for one man to use against another." Nor can they use the Power as a weapon.

When making Perrin's hammer, Neald called for the Wise Ones to join him. Perrin is using the hammer against Shadowspawn, anyway, so the Aes Sedai could help make it if they believed that was all he would use it for, because this would not violate their Oath.