Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Aviendha’s Gateway

by Old Salt

The purpose of this theory is to show that Aviendha’s gateway to the Kin Farm was a very special gateway. By the end of this theory I hope I have convinced you that there is something completely unique to Aviendha’s gateway. I will present three different bodies of evidence, the first circumstantial, the other two more empirical.

The first piece of evidence is quite circumstantial. All of Rand’s young female “acquaintances” are extraordinarily talented. Min sees auras and frequently knows what they portend. Elayne, besides being a very strong channeler, can make ter’angreal, a talent lost since the Age of Legends. Egwene, equally strong in the One Power, is a Dreamwalker, has had some success in interpreting her Dreams, and is also quite talented in manipulating T’A’R. Nynaeve, is not only one of the strongest female channelers ever, but is also an extraordinary healer, having even Healed stilling, a feat not thought possible even in the Age of Legends.

This leaves Aviendha. Robert Jordan has shown over and over that he likes symmetry. Everyone else has a special talent. It is highly unlikely that only Aviendha lacks one.

So far Jordan has revealed no extraordinary talents of hers. Or has he? What about the ability to pick apart a weave? According to Moridin this was unknown in the Age of Legends also.

"He was about to turn away when the outlines of the gateway suddenly began to flex and tremble. Transfixed, he watched until the opening simply - melted.".... "What had the woman done? These barbarous rustics offered too many surprises. A way to Heal being severed, however imperfectly. That was impossible! Except they had done it".... "but whenever he thought he had the measure of them, these primitives revealed some new skill, did something that no one in his own Age had dreamed of. Something the pinnacle of civilization had not known! What had the girl done?".... "Coldly he considered the possibility that he had been within sight of an unraveling web. One that had been unmade successfully. Another impossibility casually offered up by these..."

The Path of Daggers, Unweaving

Picking apart a weave was unknown in the Age of Legends, in the Westlands and amongst the Sea Folk. However, it is quite common amongst the Aiel.

“Is this another thing you Aes Sedai cannot do? The Wise Ones say any woman can learn, if she is taught, some women more some less, but any woman, if she can pick out embroidery.” The Path of Daggers, To Keep the Bargain

Obviously picking apart a weave isn’t terribly unique, at least to the Aiel. So Aviendha’s unique talent is not that. Still, she must have one, what is it?

We know from the Saidar Strength Ranking article that Aviendha is as powerful channeler as either Elayne or Egwene. Yet she is having considerable difficulty in making a gateway.

“The gateway filled her with dissatisfaction. Elayne could make this weave with only a part of her strength, yet for some reason it required all but a fraction of Aviendha’s.” tPoD “To Keep the Bargain”.

Why does it take so much of Aviendha’s power? Some would say that it’s because Aviendha has a block of sorts due to the trauma associated with the first time she made a gateway, to run from Rand. I believe differently. This particular gateway of Aviendha’s not only allowed people to Travel from Ebou Dar to the Kin farm, but also backwards in time.

Obviously, to prove this we have to pay close attention to the time frame in which all this happened. First let us look at what time the gateway was opened. The first clue of the time is when Mat is arguing with the Windfinders about the necessity of leaving Ebou Dar and the gholam behind.

"'We are bloody well getting out of here now,' Mat said, again later, and this time there was argument. There had been argument for the past half-hour near enough. Outside, the sun was past its noon peak."

A Crown of Swords, Promises to Keep

The argument lasts another ½ hour at the most, until all are agreed to Travel to the Kin Farm. It doesn’t take long for everybody to get organized though, as Aviendha, Elayne and Nynaeve go to the palace courtyard the sun is still just past its peak.
“When Aviendha and the others appeared, Renaile din Calon ostentatiously looked to the sun, past its noon peak."

The Path of Daggers, To Keep the Bargain

Aviendha makes the gateway to a spot a few miles north of Ebou Dar. Note that it is only a few miles north of the city. I’ll get back to this point later. The first real evidence we have that something strange has happened is when Elayne notices that the sun seems lower in the sky than it should.

"'We’re safe and in a few hours we will reach the Kin’s farm, we’ll use the Bowl, and the world will be right again.' Well, somewhat. The sun seemed lower than it had in the stable yard, but she knew that was only imagination. For once, they had gained a clear jump on the Shadow."

The Path of Daggers, Unweaving

Italics mine. Note that RJ has left us with a little hint here in his "jump on the Shadow" remark.

Elayne and Co. ride for quite a while, eventually arriving at the Kin farm. It is here that we come across our second clue that time is not quite right.

“Nynaeve made several more brief visits, before finally coming to announce that the Kin’s farm lay just ahead, out of sight around a low rounded hill that appeared ready to fall on its side. Reanne had been pessimistic in her estimate; the sun had not fallen nearly two hours worth.”

The Path of Daggers, A Pleasant Ride

Let’s look at these two clues closely. Could Elayne have been mistaken? Well yes, she could have. But would RJ take the time to point out that Elayne has bad time sense? Not likely. Possibly, it took longer for everybody to file thru the gateway than Elayne expected. However from RJ’s account the exodus seemed well planned and expedited.

“The departure had been carefully planned, and the whole stableyard sprang into motion as soon as the gateway opened fully.”

The Path of Daggers, To Keep the Bargain

If that is not enough proof we have Moridin's PoV

"Something Madic had said caught his ear. 'The weather, Madic?" The shadows of the palace spires had barely lengthened from their bases, but there was not a cloud to shield the baking sun."

The Path of Daggers, Unweaving

The fact that the shadows had hardly lengthened at all clearly proves that the expedition moved quickly through the gateway.

So it is doubtful that the time it took everybody to get thought the gateway was the cause for this lower sun. What about the earth’s curve? Could that have had any effect? No. Note that they are only going a few miles north of the city. Not east or west, and only a few miles at that. They would have had to Travel many miles east or west for there to be any effect in the sun’s angle. We can also rule out altitude for the same reason. You would need to climb quite high for the sun’s angle to change noticeably, and they were only several hundred feet higher than Ebou Dar. There are no mountains high enough near Ebou Dar to cause that kind of change.

But, wait a moment you say. Didn’t Elayne think that the sun was lower? Doesn’t that mean that more time has passed? Not necessarily, it was somewhat past noon. If going through Aviendha’s gateway changed time more than an hour or so the sun would seem to be lower as it would still be before noon.

The second clue is even harder to explain away. The Kin farm has been in existence for a long time. Obviously Reanne has been there many times. It is extremely doubtful that she would have misjudged time so badly. And if she had erred, it most likely would have been to estimate a shorter time. It is a large group and a significant part of it, the Windfinders, have had no experience riding at all. If anything the ride should have taken a much longer time, not shorter.

However to base a theory this earth-shattering on only these two clues, makes for thin proof. All we have so far are the somewhat objective observations of only one character. For the most incontrovertible evidence we have to go back to Crown of Swords and look at what is happening there in conjunction with what has happened at the Kin Farm.

Right after Mat’s “bargain” with the Windfinders, everybody goes off to get ready to leave Ebou Dar. Unfortunately, Olver has gone off to run with the street urchins. Everybody offers to help search, but Mat sends Elayne and Co. off to the Kin farm.

"'The Bowl is too important,' he told them. 'That gholam is still out there, and maybe Moghedien, and the Black Ajah for sure.' The dice thundered in his head. Aviendha would not appreciate being lumped in with Nynaeve and Elayne, but he did not care right then. He addressed Lan and Birgitte. 'Keep them safe until I can reach you. Keep them all safe.'"

A Crown of Swords, Promises to Keep

Note that at this time it is still only slightly after high noon.

The search is quickly organized. As soon as he leaves Elayne and Nynaeve he meets with his Redarms.

“Everybody goes in a different direction. Make loops out from the Mol Hara, and try to be back after about an hour. Wait till everybody is back before you go out again. That way, if somebody finds him, the rest of us won’t still be looking tomorrow.”

A Crown of Swords, Promises to Keep

The search for Olver is on. The rest of the chapter is devoted to Mat’s search for Olver. Until he meets up with the Seanchan invasion that is. It is very significant to note that he never went back to Mol Hara. In other words, the time Mat spent searching for Olver was less than an hour before the Seanchan invasion landed.

In the same time period, Elayne and Co. have Traveled by gateway, had a ride which Reanne said should take about two hours, arrived at the Kin farm, quelled a panic at the farm, organized who would take part in using the Bowl of Winds, sorted through the collection of junk, ter’angreal and angreal, demonstrated linking for the Windfinders, and then used the Bowl of Winds! It wasn’t until after the Bowl of Winds had been used that the Seanchan invaded. They all feel the saidar being weaved by the Seanchan damane, and they see two tor’raken, one of which they kill. Renaile tries to open a gateway to her ship from the hilltop, which fails, and Elayne convinces her the Bargain isn’t yet complete.

“But most of all you aren’t going anywhere except with us, because our bargain isn’t complete; the Bowl of the Winds is not yours until the weather is right.” ...”And because you made a bargain with Matrim Cauthon, my subject. You go voluntarily where I want you to, or you go tied to a packsaddle. Those were the choices you accepted. So, get down this hill now Renaile din Calon Blue Star, before the Seanchan sweep down on us with an army and a few hundred women who can channel and would like nothing better than to see us collared alongside them. Now! Run!”

The Path of Daggers, The Breaking Storm

The one event which is common to both Mat and Elayne’s experiences is the arrival of the Seanchan invasion. For Mat it took place less than an hour after the women left through Aviendha’s gateway; for Elayne and Co. the time span was at least two hours longer! How can that be? The only difference between the two is that Elayne and Co. Traveled through Aviendha’s gateway. As miraculous as that sounds, Aviendha wove a gateway that took Elayne’s group back in time at least two hours or more.

To sum up. Aviendha’s gateway to the farm allowed people to Travel both spatially and through time. We have Elayne’s observations of the sun to prove this. But more importantly if we look at both Mat’s experiences in CoS and Elayne’s in The Path of Daggers, we see that there is a discrepancy of over two hours in time. The only difference is Aviendha’s gateway, therefore Aviendha’s gateway also allows one to travel in time.

Thank you for reading, and all comments are appreciated



Anonymous said...

A cool theory, but I think it's false. Firstly, Aviendha already has a special ability, that to identify ter'angreal.

Secondly the reason for Aviendsas troubles making gateways is that she has already made one escaping from Rand, probably weaving it in a special way. And we get to know in the books that if you have made a weave one way, it's hard to do it another. Mystery solved.

Anonymous said...

If this was a time travelling, why did the gholam note that he felt the power being used below and miles to the north? If the gateway appeared hours earlier to the north, he wouldn't have felt it being made.

Unless the power being used to the north was using the Bowl.

I agree with Theodor, Aviendha's Talent is reading ter'angreal.

Tim said...

I believe there is definately some merit to this theory.

If you go back to TFoH where Avi first made her gateway, I seem to remember there being some issue with the time of day on each side of the gateway. Rand and Avi came back from Seanchan in the early morning, but it was just before dawn when they were speaking with Asmo. Considering Seachan is more or less on the opposite side of the planet, the time difference doesn't seem great enough. It is also telling that it is really Winter in Seanchan when the world being effected by the DO's unnatural heat (though of course they could be in the Southern Hemisphere or near one of the poles).

Also, if it was simply the matter of her learning it one way first, then why make such a big deal out of it. Jordan rarely does anything "just because". Yes, it shows someone struggling to do a weave a different way, but that fact is pointed out in other ways in the series as well. If Avi's original Traveling weave is normal, just a different way to do it, then I doubt RJ would build up her struggling to remember so. It's not like it will be a momentous occation if she can suddenly break a block make a bigger gateway or use less of her strength doing it, unlike Nyn's block breaking.

I definately suspect there is something else to it.

Anonymous said...

To kill this theory once and for all:

If the gateway had been a "travel back in time gateway", shouldn't the weave have been different in some way? Still no one notice anything different, and didn't Aviendha exactly follow Elaynes instructions on how to make the weave?

Having a special talent makes the weave better (like the supershielding talent for example) it doesn't create whole new effects, at least not using exactly the same weave.

And then we have the whole paradox of Aviendha being able to travel to a place in sight, and being witnessed by a person. This would completely screw up reality if you add the time traveling bit.

So sorry but no, i'm positive that Robert Jordan would never add this into the mix. Especially not when we already have a plausible explanation.

Lauren (Kip Mylo) said...

To add my thoughts. I distinctly remember reading that somebody asked RJ this exact question at a book signing, and he responded with a smile and a wink or something.

Too lazy to search for it, but thought I would throw that out there.

Also, as already mentioned, let's not forget that Avi can discern ter'angreal uses. This is an important Talent that shouldn't be overlooked.

BTW, this is too big of a discrepancy to not be important (the time for Mat vs. the time for the super girls).

Lauren (Kip Mylo) said...

Oh. RJ just gave a RAFO, so it could mean anything:

Q: There seem to be some time discrepancies surrounding the incident where Elayne and company Traveled to the Kin Farm. Did the gateway Aviendha opened to the countryside near the Kin Farm at the beginning of The Path of Daggers allow Elayne's party to Travel forward or backward in time?

Link: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcjspjqg_94gnrwmjc2

found under "Elayne" here: http://www.theoryland.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=372

Dominic said...

And the good old times :)

I remember all the good discussions with Salty over his theory.

I was never a fan of the idea.

For me the Ebou Dar scene is definitely to be ruled out as 'time travel' on two accounts (the first mentionned above):

1. The gholam felt the gateway open to the north, so obviously it opened at its destination at the same time it was woven in Ebou Dar.

2. We are talking of a culture where clocks barely begin to be used to tell time. Such people, like in real life, were extremely adept at noticing the position of the sun and telling time from it - and Elayne observes it as she arrives. I seriously doubt she would not have noticed a discrepancy in its passage, and if she did, there's no way the Windfinders wouldn't have. What Elayne noticed is a change in the horizon line, from the sun seen in Ebou Dar over the open sea to what it looked in the hilly area of the Farm. She doesn't say it has moved from east to west, merely it appears lower in the sky, because the horizon line is different. IMO, that's all there ever was to her comment.

The Seanchan episode (Aviendha's first gateway) is based on way too flimsy elements, for my taste, to suggest time travel. I've always believed it was far more likely a liberty RJ took because he wanted the sun to rise (or set, I forget which) over the sea in that scene (it's Rand and the Sun symbolism again. He also receives the sword of the King of the the land of the Rising Sun (Laman of Cairhien) in this book, the one who started the Aiel War by cutting the tree, while Rand started a second one, Couladin's, by entering Rhuidean where he incidentally torched Avendesora...). When RJ wrote this, we were not supposed to know the approximate size of Seanchan and Shara, so we had no reason to ever spot this 'error'/freedom he took with the geography. These maps in the Guide (that came out years later), on which this theory is based, were added at the request of the publishers. RJ himself reputedly wasn't too in favour of that. Without those maps, we would never have known about the discrepancy, and as I mentionned, I believe the Ebou Dar scene can be conclusively proven not to include any 'time travel', between the gholam's comment and the cultural fact.

There's also the aspect that in all RJ's world building, time cannot be escaped nor ever runs backward - the DO cannot reverse time, you will never get anywhere sooner than you departed using the Ways, and it's the same with Tel'aran'rhiod, where time flows differently and perpection of its passage is different (Birgitte had the impression she last saw Gaidal months or even years ago, that's her perception only. In truth, much less time than that had passed, it just appeared longer in TAR, and only for Birgitte as everyone's perception of time in TAR is different/personal... but it always flows forward).

The past is the past in WOT, what's woven is woven. I seriously doubt RJ intended to introduce any time travel.

Salty was very observant to have spotted that the geography on the maps didn't fit the timeline of the Seanchan scene, but I think he's drawn the wrong conclusion from this.

Koen said...

Uhm, wasn't Aviendha's special talent to identify the function or Ter'angreals?

Tim said...

Yeah, Avi can id ter'angreal, but that doesn't mean she can't do something else. Egwene rediscovered Heartstone and Traveling, and is a Dreamwalker to boot.

I agree there's no solid proof to back this theory up (though the time descrepancies do raise some flags), but I think RJ's been too cooy by half reguarding Avi's Traveling weaves (at least the first one). I definately suspect there's something odd with it, even if it isn't this.

luvtheedragon said...

there is the day that is going to come when the sun rises twice ...If we use the symbolism and the theory .....
that wud mean that Rand comes to fight for the first time and again thru Avi's gateway! how abt that people ?

old salt said...

To L. Roundy
I can't believe you found that RAFO! That was a question I asked RJ at the NYC metro signing! Don't remember which one, as I went to two that day, NYC daytime and Long Island that night, the LI one was much more satisfying.
To all who mentioned Avi's ter'angral talent:
This theory was written well before KoD when that came out, and Avi's talent became known. But that still doesn't preclude Avi having another talent. Also it was a very weak point, and I mention that it's only circumstantial.
to luvtheedragon: this is one of the main possible results of this theory. When initially published at Wotmania (well before KOD) this was a major point in the discussion.

Anonymous said...

It´s a fascinating theory! And I note that those who opppose it center around the argument of the gholam. But what if the change of time would probably only affect those who pass through the gateway?
Then it would sense the power in both places at the same time

Ben said...

did the gholam sense a gateway opening, specifically, or did it sense "the power being used" because it seems unlikely that it would be able to sense a gateway from miles away...the amount being used on the bowl, however...

this is an interesting theory, and I kind of agree with it on some levels...the timing doesn't make sense if you play it straight, and RJ was pretty good about timing things properly.

Dominic, you mention that in WoT time cannot be escaped or turned backwards, and yet there is a weave that does exactly that thing! Balefire, while it is erasing a person/thing, will erase all of their potential actions, thus re-writing the script, so to speak. It's destructive, but in a way it is a form of non-corporeal time travel. You can do something right now that changes what has already happened. RJ wasn't afraid to go down that path at all. If you want time to flow in only one direction, you can't invent balefire. I would give this theory a good solid 50% possibility rating, personally. When else do we see Avi making gateways? Perhaps there are more clues?

kaboom said...

There may have been some time traveling in the first gateway that Avi made running away from Rand (although I'm not sure about that either) as Avi has been thinking that gateway was done differently.
But the gateway she's done in Ebou Dar was done exactly like Elayne.
For the time difference of the Seanchan invasion from Mat's point of view and that from the girls, there is really no discrepancy. They were away from the city. The Seanchan would not have thought of invading the farm until the Suldam and the Damane have started to feel the power when they used the bowl. That's why they had the time necessary to complete the use of the bowl.

I have always thought that the twice dawn prophecy will be the result of Dragonmount exploding as a volcano resulting in darkness which when cleared would seem like a second dawn. There are several references in the book suggesting that Dragonmount is a dormant volcano including mention of smoke coming out of Dragonmount and the ground around being warmer, as well as a sulfur smell coming out of it.

Unknown said...

What about the possibility of somehow, while stumbling at weaving a gateway, she acidentally wove a gateway and balefire...the more one power you put into the weave, the further back in time you could travel...we are not talking years here just hours, maybe a day or 2, if one were strong enough or had angreal/sangreal....just a stray thought :)

Taura-Tierno said...

I don't think it was time travel.

Regarding the first time she used a gateway and the discrepancy with time and geography, I think that might just be an error that Jordan made, either because he wanted those specific moments in Seanchan, or because he simply hadn't thought that much about it. I mean, there are things that don't make sense in the books. Such as changing the White Black who was captured by Egwene&Co to another Ajah, because of a mistake ...

I know a linguistic who criticized Jordan's use of the Old Tongue, in that the similarities are enough for the Forsaken to quickly learn the current language, but the people in the books can guess what the Old Tongue means, unless they've had training. If the similarities are enough between the Old Tongue and the modern language for the Forsaken to master the current language, it should work the other way as well, at least to a certain extent. It should not appear to be an entirely different language.

Anyway. My point is just that there are people who say that lots of different things don't really make sense. That doesn't necessarily make the books less good, since an author cannot be an expert in every field and mistakes will most likely be made. So I don't think that the Seanchan-gateway argument works.

That said, I find the theory interesting, even though I don't agree :) I agree with what Dominic wrote.

t ball said...

Very observant, and a very cool theory. To me, the fact that Avi says she followed Elayne's instructions exactly nip this theory in the bud.

I think the reason Avi can't make a gateway as big as Elayne's might just be differing strength in the five different powers, earth, fire, etc.

Funny: As I read this theory, the ad at the bottom of the page? Lastminute.com.

Linda said...


Aviendha's problem with gateways is that the weave Elayne taught her is the second weave for making a gateway that she has done. Her first gateway was to escape from the Seanchan but she cannot remember it. Nevertheless, it imprinted on Aviendha and any subsequent Travelling weave, eg Elayne's weave, does not work as well for her. Cadsuane described this difficulty to us in TPOD.)

JasonD said...

Great read. Some pros and cons:

The common event

...is not necessarily common.

The sun's position gives us a timeline independent of the girls' walk to the farm. TPoD ch 5 ("The Breaking Storm") begins:

The sun stood little more than halfway down toward the horizon by the time they clambered up the well-worn, snaking path to the top of the steep-sided hill above the barns.

That came before they used the Bowl of Winds. So, unless they are viewing the sun-from-the-future, they finish using the Bowl roughly three hours (Ebou Dari time) after they departed through the gateway (Ebou Dari time).

Now, that seems just fine and no time-travel needed, but here is the discrepancy Old Salt observes:

It is very significant to note that he never went back to Mol Hara. In other words, the time Mat spent searching for Olver was less than an hour before the Seanchan invasion landed.

This can be cleared up in either of two more mundane ways.

1) Mat actually did go back to the Mol Hara, and several hours passed. Look at the paragraph that begins "He heard about the riot from her, too, and from half the people he asked...." and ends "...he heard all sorts of nonsense, but not a word about any boy in a red coat." That is enough of a departure from chronological narrative to easily allow several hours searching, with unremarked returns to the Mol Hara.

2) The girls did not witness the initial assault, but a later part of it. Note Mat's viewpoint:

A few streets from the river, he began hearing thunder, great hollow booms.... People looked up curiously at the cloudless sky, scratched their heads, and went on about their business.

No lightning. Later,

On the horizon to the south, lightning flashed, dozens of bolts vivid silver-blue against the afternoon sky. Very near to Ebou Dar.

So the lightning might have come several hours after the initial assualt. In fact, it's hard to imagine that the Seanchan had subdued the city and were ready to send Raken and damane into the surrounding countryside all within half an hour. Hazarding a guess, I think the Seanchan didn't face too much resistance in Ebou Dar itself, but then later had to send forcesback to the harbor, at which point we see the lightning strikes. Various conversations in Winter's Heart suggest the Sea Folk put up a much nastier fight.

Still... nothing really explains why the girls didn't sense the initial assault about an hour before they used the Bowl of Winds, as the "normal" chronology would suggest. Unless we are to believe that only the lightning was high enough to catch their attention, or be in their field of view, or whatever.

The gholam

The One Power had been used below, and miles to the north.

Nothing there about sensing a Gateway-- Gholam could've been sensing the Bowl-stuff. But really, even if he is sensing the Gateway on both ends, that doesn't preclude them traveling into the past. Time travel effects everything from "back then" until "now", thus making the present moment the terminal point, so the One Power's "scent" could easily extend over the full two hours at the far side of the Gateway.


I could not find a reference for when Reanne actually made her two hour estimate. Without that, her "pessimism" is easily explained by the fact that they Traveled and she didn't know where the Gateway was going to land.


"You would need to climb quite high for the sun’s angle to change noticeably..."

You would need to climb millions of miles for altitude to change the angle of the sun. Just thought I'd mention that. :-)

JasonD said...


Theodor wrote:
"Having a special talent makes the weave better (like the supershielding talent for example) it doesn't create whole new effects, at least not using exactly the same weave."

I'm not sure that's a valid example. Berowin herself describes it as "almost a Talent" (ACoS ch23).

Some other Talents:

* Reading residues, seeing Ta'veren, Foretelling
These don't even involve making weaves.

* Delving
We've seen time and again that anyone of skill can repeat a weave after watching it. Nonetheless, this is described as a "Talent", and therefore only those with the Talent are getting significant results.

* Healing
I cannot say if the weaves are different, but certainly the effects vary widely. A closed cut is not the same as broken bone mended nor a poison neutralized.

t ball wrote:
"To me, the fact that Avi says she followed Elayne's instructions exactly nip this theory in the bud."

Regarding Traveling in particular, one of two things must be true:

1) Every weave is different, thus refuting your argument, or
2) Every weave is the same, but clearly produces different results (because each gateway goes to a different location), thus refuting your argument.

More on Talents

Various posters wrote:
"Aviendha's Talent is identifying Ter'angreal."

She's allowed several. Egwene, for example, has the Delving Talent, the Dreaming Talent, and (arguably) the Traveling Talent (which she discovered herself).

In fact, Aviendha has another Talent mentioned in the same section we are discussing: She can read residues as much as two days old.

Paradox & Time in Jordan's World(s)

Dominic wrote:
"The past is the past in WOT, what's woven is woven. I seriously doubt RJ intended to introduce any time travel."

Anybody read the back covers?

What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

In our own universe of linear causality, it is not possible to make specific & accurate predictions about the future (google "chaos theory"). But WoT universe is one of Prophecy. The only way that the sort of prophecies as appear in WoT can be accurate is if the so-called "future" is already made, at least in some structural form.

Why? Well, if you have a prophecy about an individual person (like Rand) for thousands of years in the future, the very smallest of random fluctuations will render it worthless (again, chaos theory).

If you remove the existence of randomness, you still couldn't make those kinds of predictions without calculating the paths of every subatomic particle in the universe over the course of thousands of years. That calculation would necessitate a computing source no smaller than the universe itself. In other words, its easier just to run the universe forward and see what happens.

Which is how the "Wheel" of Time works. Conventional causality is (at least partially) an illusion. The Wheel is the true root cause. It lays down some of the "present", then a bit of the "future", then a gob of the "past", then starts filling in gaps to work with what's already in place.

Make sense?

JasonD said...

(Paradox & Time, continued)

Theodor wrote:
"And then we have the whole paradox of Aviendha being able to travel to a place in sight, and being witnessed by a person. This would completely screw up reality if you add the time traveling bit."

We are safe from paradox. Let's say it's noon; you are planning to weave a Gateway at three o'clock this afternoon. That Gateway can travel three hours into the past if and only if the Wheel weaves it that way. If so, then the Wheel has already done so, and the terminal point will appear now, no doubt messing with your head if it's in visual range.

But wait! What if you then decide not to make the Gateway? Well, I applaud your firm grip on reality, but that's our reality. The reality of the WoT is different. The Wheel knows much of your future, and Destiny constrains you. Min saw that Elayne would bear Rand's babies; could Elayne then decide to not copulate with Rand? Not a chance! Aviendha saw (in Rhuidean) that she would bed Rand; could she have decided not to? No way! The Wheel had already woven every little effing detail. The ladies' so-called "future" decisions had already been made, and thus the Viewing & Seeing were allowed.

Ben wrote:
"Balefire, while it is erasing a person/thing, will erase all of their potential actions, thus re-writing the script, so to speak."

Excellent comparative example.

Gateways, Einstein, and Shadowspawn


When you open a Gateway, you can step through and Travel instantaneously an unlimited distance. This by itself allows a person to travel faster than light, violates General Relativity, and invites paradox.

Is it possible, though, that a Gateway just moves you "really fast" and not instantaneously?

No. No, it isn't. The effect is described explicitly as connecting two places in the Pattern. Actually flying across the intervening distance would be much, much more complicated and introduce a lot of other side effects.

But aren't the distances in the story (i.e., across a continent), so small that it doesn't matter?

No. No, they aren't. An open gateway violates relativity, regardless of whether or not you have equipment on hand to experimentally verify it.

What the hell are you getting at?

If we apply the rules of General Relativity, every Gateway is already a time portal. There is no question of whether or not it's possible; it's only a question of magnitude. And as far as we know, selecting the Gateway's terminal point is largely in your head (you don't draw a map with the weave, you just think about where you want to go); therefore, Traveling into the past is simply a matter putting a different time in your head along with a different place.

The Lord of the Grave said:

I find it curious that the Dark One is thwarted by something being burned back into the past, even if it's only a fraction of a second.

Curious, because the Dark Power that (presumably) animates Shadowspawn is also thwarted by the simple act of Traveling through a Gateway. Coincidence? Maybe. But if Gateways really do mess with time, as I believe they do, it could explain why they kill Trollocs and their ilk. Humans, ogier, and even animals are "living threads" (yes, I just made that up) of the pattern; they are all involved in the normal past/present/future weaving. But Shadowspawn are merely physical constructs, animated by the Dark One; every instant of their existence depends on the previous instant of their existence (normal in our universe, but not in the WoT universe). So popping through a time portal leaves them without a past to stand on.

Just a thought.


Anonymous said...

I think you could be right. When I read the books something stuck me as wrong with the timing but I dismissed it as my idle reading. However, on re-reading a number of times it always sticks out like a sore thumb.

RJ was a meticulous writer and I think that aids your theory:

1. He would not have made inadvertent errors in his timeline; and

2. Time and especially time by reference to the sun is not something he often makes reference to; so he's surely pointing to something.

Thanks for such a detailed explanation.

Misopogon said...

I think JasonD nailed it.

Think about how the Gateway-makers say they do it. Saidar users describe it as pushing the two places together; Saidin users describe it as boring a hole in the pattern between the two spots.

These are two potential explanations for potential interstellar travel by jumping through a different dimension in space-time, which is exactly what I believe Travelers are doing.

We're talking about string theory here, so those without a mind for physics, if you get lost, that is cool because most people can't imagine extra dimensions.

This is the short-short version so you can picture what is actually going on when a person travels:

Imagine you are a microscopic organism, a bacteria let's say, and you live on a sheet of paper. Now, for you, life has two dimensions. You can move up/down or left/right on your universe.

Now, imagine some being takes your sheet-of-paper universe and folds it. Most places, you do not notice this, since you can still move up/down or left/right on the same amount of surface. However, if you were to come to a part of your universe where the piece of paper was stretched a little bit, you would notice a time paradox, as it would take you longer to travel the same distance.

Now imagine your place on the universe touched a different place on your universe, so that you were now touching both places simultaneously.

That's traveling. As noted above, there is a time-bending element to this because you are stretching your universe into an extra dimension in order to touch two separate points together. I imagine Saidar does this by "pinching" your sheet of paper, while Saidin accomplishes the same by creasing, accounting for the varying descriptions.

As such, I don't believe it has anything to do with Aviendha's gateways, but with gateways in general. Any traveling would have a time element because of the relativity. The further you went, the greater, I imagine, was the time distortion you experienced. Also, the greater the gateway (since you are bending more to create a greater touch-space) the greater the time distortion.

Read again when characters in WoT make large gateways: Elayne's rescuers in KoD, Egwene's movement of the Rebels, Rand's movement of armies. Is there a mention of time?

NCLM said...

I'm open to the idea of Aviendha (or potentially anyone else, for that matter) of using Traveling as Time-Traveling, but I wanted to address another matter that has crept up in the comments.

Theoretical ideas of interstellar travel don't invoke an extra dimension of space-time through which you travel. Take a look at the paper example. To microscopic organisms, it appears as though they travel in two dimensions from their own perspective since it appears as though they travel the same distance no matter what direction they travel, but imagine making the paper a little hilly. If it's only a little hilly or if the creature is small enough with respect to the hills, it doesn't even notice them. It would judge each direction to still move it the same amount. The more hilly you make it, the more noticeable it might be.

General relativity says that any mass will warp the space around it. Tiny particles only make minor warpings in the 3D space around them, but larger ones--like the Earth--make giant valleys that affect how we travel on it. Primarily, we notice gravity because of how much it warps our local space.

Black holes tug on space so much that they create holes in space-time. When I tack on the -time postfix, it only serves to mention that time is just an extension of space, and when we refer to particles, energy, planets, and suns warping space, we really mean space and time. Back to the holes issue. There are other constructs that also create holes in space-time, but these constructs connect holes, essentially connecting two points in space. Wormholes are just like gateways, connecting two points of space-time.

Gateways really do travel in the space between two points, but that space is warped. Light can still travel from one point to the other, but think of it as light on a circular race track: if all light is the same speed, then the light on the inner portion of the track will get there faster. That way, there's no paradox with faster-than-light travel.

What this would suggest is that Traveling further would require more power, but that could be explained away by the fact that it requires negligible amounts of power to travel around the world, but that could increase when traveling to other planets or the like is considered. It also brings up an interesting point about traveling through space requiring less power than traveling through time, since movement in time is handled differently in the space-time metric (basically how far apart two points in space-time are) than x, y or z distance.

The reason why I don't offer this as any explanation towards why this might be support for her time-traveling is that Jordan has created a fantasy world that is different from ours, and none of what I just said necessarily has to apply to his. He can write it how he pleases. That being said, Aviendha avoided Traveling to Rhuidean, so if I'm not mistaken, we haven't seen her Travel aside from those few times. She's more than likely going to Travel back after some alone time after what happened there, so maybe we'll get to see something interesting. :)

Anonymous said...

Regarding time hiccups, what about the scene with Rand entering a village that repeated itself several times? Spatial and linear time skipped like an old Jackson 5 LP. Although I can't find the chapter, I remember this as a severe challenge to time being entirely predictable.

So, why not?

I like the idea of both time and location being a factor with Travling. I wonder if using Need could alter time as well. In fact as I write this (with my thumbs on teeny teeny phone buttons) this would be a convenient way to answer Rand's resurrection paradox: the vision of three women around him in mourning are actually linking and bending time to their Need, which the Pattern responds in a way similar to balefire. Of course Need would demand Rand would come back, and that might only be possible through a "balefire re-do erasure"tm where the Pattern simply rewinds ala the repeating town. So time travel should not be discounted for Avi.

Plus I like Awkward Aviendra and the more superpowers she has the better in my book :)

Anonymous said...

Just read through these comments. That sound you heard was my head exploding.
In all seriousness though, I'm currently going through a re-read of the series, and I'm gonna have to see if I catch this on my way through =P

Timewalkerauthor said...

Hmm. Most of what I'm saying here has been mentioned above, so I'm really just compiling, I guess. But consider:

1. One weave--Balefire--already has the power to reverse time, or at least, certain elements of it.

2. Other things exist that are known to affect the passage of time--stasis boxes (probably a form of ter'angreal) stop its passage, and the Ways alter the passage of time for those inside.

3. Aviendha herself, later, has a strange time encounter, though admittedly it's only loosely related: The Rhuidean ter'angreal shows her the future as well as the past. I point this one out because it demonstrates that a function of the power can have an unexpected result, SPECIFICALLY with regard to time.

4. It's true, some people demonstrate more than one "superTalent". Aviendha could very well do the same.

5. There's no clear evidence to say that all her gateways do this, but there's also no reason to think that her very first gateway COULDN'T have done it. We have no clear time references in that passage, other than the season mentioned above...but I do find that intriguing, that winter is happening in Seanchan while the rest of the world is baking.

6. I agree that the usage of power felt by the Gholam was probably because of the Bowl of the Winds. Do we really have any cause to think that the Gholam's sensing of channeling works differently from the way another channeler senses it? Their clear sensation of another's channeling (when they aren't close enough to see it) is proportional to the amount of Power being channeled. If the Gholam does this, which is more likely--that he felt the power in one gateway, however large, or that he felt the massive power used by the Bowl? Reference the massive "beacon" created by Rand's cleansing of the taint.

So I suppose it's obvious that I favor this theory.

With all that said, does anyone know if a chronology has ever been put together that places all the chapters in the series in chronological order? Since the timing of the books doesn't always match up, a tool like that would be really useful.

Mike said...

I'm suppressed no one posted this yet. From what I understand in taking a city or town you establish your power first then start sending others out.

In this case this would gain time for Elayne and Co to use the Bowl. But once they do the Damane and Sul’dam go nuts and they send people up there to find out what is going on.

Anonymous said...

Well spotted but there is a fault with time travel as a whole in fantasy and sci fi series. If Aviendha did make a gateway that took them 2 hours back, then when they go through it, this would mean that they would exist on the spot they went through the portal AND the place they were two hours ago (with Matt probably, don`t remember the exact chapter) and that is a HUGE plothole :)

Anonymous said...

Some things just don't make sense in WoT world. Like other worlds... they all have the Prophecies of the Dragon, but only one world has them all coming true. That means prophecies don't have to come true, they're what has to become true or something I don't know.

Writ in Water said...

Actually, what the gholam sensed could not have been the gateway. It smells whatever is being woven after the gateway has already been unwoven. In POD pg 83-84 (hardcover).

"Abruptly he heard something other than the thundering drumbeat of his own fury. A bubbling sound. He looked at Madic curiously, and stepped back from the spreading puddle on the floor. It seemed that in his anger he had seized at more than the wrought-iron screen with the True Power."

Then later that page:

"The gholam stepped into the room cautiously, nostrils already twitching with the scent of still hot blood... There was nothing beyond the crushed corpse on the floor tiles. And a... feel... of something. Not the One Power, but something that made it... itch, if not quite in the same way. Curiosity had brought it here. Parts of the grill over the window were crushed... Its nostrils flared again, though it was not by scent that it tracked those who could channel. The One Power had been used below, and miles to the north. To follow, or not?"

This all takes place well after Aviendha had made and unwoven the gateway, then Mordin came down, saw what she did, got scared, crushed the grate and the dude, the left. Only after all of that did the gholam come down and investigate, and it is then that he senses the use of the One Power. We know that at 50 paces he can sense a channeler, and farther if they channel, though not how much further. Its improbable that he would feel anything small, and indeed the only channeling we see between the gateway unweaving and the bowl of winds being used is shielding and a standoff where people hold the power but dont weave anything. He smells the northern channeling within one hour of the gateway being unwoven (it had to have been at least 5-10 minutes afterward, but the corpse is still fresh, so within say an hour). This means that the bowl of winds was used within an hour of the gateway being unwoven, which is not possible if it took them time to filter through, 2 hours to ride to the farm, and then enough time to sort out a good 50 ter'angreal before they come together to learn how to use the bowl.

This theory definitely has credence.

Writ in Water said...

Also of note in this exchange is that the Gholam was watching Moridin the whole time, likely he was attracted by the gateway but he did not come down for whatever reason, watched Moridin do all his stuff, then only after he was sure Moridin had left did he come down to investigate. But this all happened within a shorter time than it would have taken the girls to make it to the farm and do all they did.

Bara för att jag kan... said...

About existing in two places at the same time, that is no problem in the Pattern of Ages. Remember to see lives as threads in a tapestry.
When you balefire someone, that thread is just just cut off, but burnt back a bit, causing the other threads around it to adapt and fill out the hole after the burnt thread, as if it wasnt there (burn away person A who just killed person B will make person B come back to life).
When you travel backwards in time, all that happen is that your thread is moved backwards and to another place in the pattern, causing the threads around there to adapt, much in the same way they do after a Balefire.

If you sow or weave you do this all the time, where your thread is moving back and forth and around, all over the place. No trouble there, apart from that the cloth and other threads will have to adapt to the existance of the thread you moved there.

DavidK93 said...

Respond to a nineteen-great-old thread? Sure, why not.

I just wanted to say that I think the passage about Elayne perceiving the sun as lower in the sky was meant to convey that it felt to Elayne like a lot of time had passed, even though she rationally knew that they had actually operated efficiently. Consider "A watched pot never boils." Elayne is watching this pot with great attention and concern for time, so her experience of it is slow and drawn out, irrespective of its actually short duration.

Jonathan Levy said...

Respond to a twenty-one-year-old thread? Sure, why not.

Another problem with this theory is that it relies on the supposition that Mat's search for Olver took less than one hour, based on the fact that he instructed his men to return after about one hour. But nothing is more characteristic of Mat than instructing his men to return after one hour (to keep them safe), but when searching for Olver himself, to search for as long as it takes. Mat is always willing to put himself in more danger to save someone else, and isn't very good at sticking to the plan. Remember how he entered the Stone of Tear? Planted explosives as a distraction, then jumped through the hole he had just made, then cursed himself for being an idiot, for jumping in precisely where he had attracted attention.