Monday, July 30, 2001

The Red Ajah's New Task

By Linda

This theory looks at a possible new role for the Red Ajah.

Since the taint was removed from saidin, the Red Ajah’s task of hunting male channellers so they can be gentled before they go mad and kill people is no longer required.

The cleansing of saidin is becoming more widely known. Egwene accepts it:

Egwene raised an eyebrow, but did not object. "Yes," she said, "I suppose that might be a reasonable possibility. We will need further confirmation, of course. But the taint arrived when all seemed won; why should it not leave when all seems to be approaching pure madness?"

- The Gathering Storm, Clean Shirts

and has devised other plans for the Red:

reports claim that saidin is cleansed."
"There will still be rogue channelers, Mother," Silviana said. "And men are not to be trusted."
Someday, we will have to move beyond that last sentiment, Egwene thought. But for now, it is true enough to let stand. "I didn't say that your purpose would vanish, only that it would change. I see great things for the Red Ajah in the future—an expanding of vision, a renewal of duty.

- The Gathering Storm, To Be Forged Again

What would they be?

The Red is the largest Ajah and needs to be given an important task worthy of its numbers. Egwene sees Reds as vengeful:

as vengeful as a Red, when necessary.

- The Gathering Storm, Sealed to the Flame

and she says the Amyrlin Seat needs to have a Reds’ desire for vengeance too, at times.

Silviana thinks the Reds can hunt rogue channellers. She’s on the right track.

There is a heap of something worse than rogue channellers, though, the ultimate rogue channellers really: the Black Ajah. I think that the Red Ajah’s new role will be policing not only Aes Sedai to identify Darkfriends, but maybe all channellers, male and female. They will need to police themselves too of course. The Red Ajah had a higher proportion than average of Black sisters (see Black Ajah essay).

Their first mission will be to hunt down Black sisters and bring them to trial. This will be in keeping with what Egwene sees as their vengeful nature. Vengeance for treason and apostasy. It’s a vital task and needs large numbers of tough channellers. The Reds qualify on all accounts.


Ewan said...

I always presumed that their task would be to bond as many male channelers as possible.
What better way to increase the security of the tower (by making bigger circles) and dispelling the popular myths that surround both male channelers and the red ajah?

At the time of reading it seemed like that was the kind of thing Egwene would pull.

But this is a good idea too, maybe the reds having control of the oath rod and the responsibility for checking all Aes Sedai not already resworn.

Malchore said...

I think Egwene's label of vengeful for the Red Ajah is wrong, but understandable given she hasn't had time to think on it. The vengeful nature of the Red Ajah is only because it had a Black Ajah as the Ajah Head for a long time. And I think the Ajah heads assert considerable influence on an Ajah. I don't see anything intrinsically vengeful about the Red Ajah, only the members that happen to be Black Ajah.

As for your theory - it sounds a lot like something Robert Jordan would write, and will probably prove to be true.

Linda said...

@ewan I don't think that the Reds' or the rebels' expeditions to the Black Tower are going to meet with much success. Probably quite the reverse.

Jack said...

I've often entertained the notion that the Red Ajah would become what they currently fear. That's a running theme through this series; Jordan loved taking an assumption about someone and turning it 180 degrees. For instance, Mat the lazy coward becoming an action-hero general, without ever really changing.

So my thought was that the Red Ajah are without a doubt the most experienced women in the Tower at handling men who can channel. They know how they think, how they act, and more about Saidin than anyone. It would take a very large shift in emotion, but a very small shift in mindset, to make them the Ajah which officially works in concert with the Asha'man. It will either be them or the Greens. Greens would accept it more willingly, but when was the last time Jordan cared about what his characters would accept willingly?

Anonymous said...

I am skeptical of the Red as a police force. If the Red is to police the AS, who is to police the Red?

In other words, what will made the Red different from the Hand of Truth or the Seeker?

To uphode justice and law, requires a certain organizional change to the Tower(secrecy is certainly the biggest foe to law and justice), plus a mindset that I doubt the membership of the Red currently processes.

The Vileness twenty years ago, was certainly a gross violation of Tower Law, unsurpressed until the EoTW maybe? So the Red has to be the worst base to form a police force.

Egwene may assign the Red any new mission as she wish, but if the current members of the Red are not fit for that mission, it would not be a good purpose for the Red.

I see the Red more on the lines of dealing with Asha'man myself.

Jack said...

Well, the question, "Who polices the police?" is one that every government must answer if they want to avoid corruption. I think Linda sees their future role as more of Internal Affairs officers than normal beat cops.

So who keeps Internal Affairs honest? That's a dilemma. Ensuring total trustworthiness from the leadership is a good start, and the Oath Rod is a tool I'm sure many real-world officials would dream of. Perhaps a monthly public reswearing and denouncement of Darkfriends?

I agree with you that the Reds seem much more in line with Asha'man affairs, but there are many effective tools at their disposal to become an Aes Sedai Internal Affairs. The Aes Sedai haven't policed themselves in so long, it's no wonder they were infested with Darkfriends.

Linda said...

I see their first role as hunting down the Black sister that fled the Tower.

Linda said...

*Black sisters.

The Aes Sedai as a whole have not been good at policing themselves. You've probably said it yourself before, Anon. But that's no excuse forthem not to start now.

Who is going to be sent out to hunt down the Black sisters? Or should the Aes Sedai sit in the Tower and wring hteir hands?

Linda said...

I don't see the bonding of male and femal channellers as necessary or desireable.

I see the two working together as equals as very necessary and desirable.

Joe ST said...

I'm still waiting for the first male Aes Sedai. Its rather inevitable.

valtyn said...

I always had the feeling that Egwene would take the Red in an entirely different path.Use them to hunt down and reform not only women who have been broken by the A'dam, but also the Sul'dam. Who better but the Red to do this. You not only have women who are experienced hunting down "rogue" users of the one power, but you get to reform the Red by making them care for the women.

Malchore said...

I wouldn't worry about the Red Ajah so much. Really it's the Green Ajah that should worry about their "purpose" in the Aes Sedai. Didn't the glossary define the Green Ajah as "holding themselves ready for Tarmon Gaidon?" So after Tarmon Gaidon, what will they do for the next few thousand years? They don't seem to have any definate purpose other than Tarmon Gaidon. They're also known as the Battle Ajah, so maybe they can become solders somewhere or something.

Honostly, I just don't see any difference in the day-to-day encounters and dialog with any of the Aes Sedai so see any purpose for Ajah societies. So many Aes Sedai act similarly, what's the point of having Ajahs anymore?

What Ajah is Egwene again? She went from Accepted strait to Amerlyn; not sure she ever chose any ajah.*

* note: I'm only on book 7 right now (ACoS), and only at the beginning. I havn't read any books beyond LoC. So maybe she did chose an Ajah and I havn't gotten that far yet.

Jack said...

Well, Malchore, remember that Aes Sedai are Aes Sedai. They're all built from the same Novice/Accepted mold, and they get the same dogma all the way through.

The Ajahs serve two main purposes. First, they give the Aes Sedai in them something to focus on in their life's work. You're seeing them responding to huge world-changing events and a Destroyer Messiah, not going about their day-to-day tasks, so they skew towards classic Aes Sedai scheming. However, the Yellows spend a great deal of time learning several forms of Healing, and they become experts at it - whereas the Grays take a lot of time out of the Tower to mediate disputes. Creating a generic mold for both groups would diminish their skills in each, I think, because they would not have a focused collective of minds to develop a specialization. Really, though, the Ajah you choose is more a reflection of your personality than it is something that forms you. Hence the women in a particular Ajah tend to have many traits in common.

The second use for an Ajah is to create political weight within the Tower. In this sense, it's a lot like some European parliamentary systems. In America, two giant parties dominate everything; in other systems, there are several different parties each with a small share of the vote. Things get done through those parties allying with one another, making deals to include their own particular interests. In this way, people can team up on one issue on which they agree, then part ways on an issue that separates and defines them. The constant ebb and flow of such alliances make for somewhat chaotic politics, but at least it isn't stale. = )

We saw this second value used to devastating effect during the White Tower split, when the Green/Blue alliance that had kept them both dominant for so long was broken for a Green/Red alliance. However, had no Ajahs existed, the Aes Sedai would have clustered into individual factions anyway. It's human nature. They would have just called them something else and not had the benefit of specialized knowledge and abilities.

As far as Egwene is concerned, I think she first dreamt of going Green, although I think of her more as a Blue. Probably because she's always been surrounded and influenced by Blues, so they've rubbed off on her. However, since she was raised straight to Amyrlin, she did not have either the burden or the luxury of choosing an Ajah. Since the Amyrlin is of all Ajahs and of none, this actually makes her the most pure Amyrlin ever raised.

I won't give spoilers, but in later books you'll see members of several different Ajahs try to recruit Egwene. She refuses to show favoritism, though.

Malchore said...

Jack, thank you for the reply.

You're right that the ajahs are different enough to justify their existence. I was only thinking about the Red and Green Ajahs. The others are specialized and have unique roles within the Aes Sedai organization.

I still wonder what purpose the Green Ajah will have. Tarmon Gai'don is rapidly approaching. Once that is resolved, what purpose will the Green Ajah have, you think? Actually, let me ask this. What do the Green Ajah do right now, and can that be carried over to the next Age?

I doubt RJ gave the Green Ajah much thought. When the story concludes the Green Ajah will likely continue on as always, doing whatever it is they do.

As to the topic of red ajah and their role...they can continue to "protect" the world from crazy male channelers. But this will only last for about another 20 years or so. Whatever their (male channelers) level of exposer to the taint of saidin before it was cleansed still lingers in their brains. Although they won't get further tainted, whatever exposier they had could slowly cause mental decay over time. Thereby signaling the potential for a friendly visit from a team of Red Gentlers.

And, I would think the idea of having an Ajah dedicated to the role of "Black Ajah hunter" would be EXACTLY where sisters (and soon brothers) of the Black Ajah would gravitate. This situation happened in real life in fact. During the 50's and 60's in the segrated south, members secretly affilated with the KKK joined with the FBI to hunt down and discover other members of the KKK. Surpise Surpise! They didn't find any, because they joined they very group that was didcated to finding them, thus keeping their secret affiliations secret.

I think being on guard for Black Ajah infestation is an organization-wide endevour. ALL sisters (and novices and accepted) should be told about all that is known of the Black Ajah, what to look out for and how to go about reporting if they do encounter it. Kinda like drugs in school. :)

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Red's alone would be sent to arrest the fleeing blacks, but i do see the red's as people who work on dealings with channelers. that is what tehy've always done. they just have to generalize and specialize some now so its not just 'kill all men'

Jack said...

Malchore, I think you're right that the Green Ajah's role hasn't been fleshed out very well. They say that they 'stand ready for Tarmon Gai'don,' but that sounds like an excuse to me.

Personally, I see the Green Ajah as a sort of landing ground for all the free spirits that don't really care about any of the other Ajahs' rules or quests. A group of women who don't want to rule the world, aren't man-haters, can't get the logic thing down, are only passing at healing, and frankly just want to have a good time. They're the party girls. I think that, after the Last Battle, they'll pretty much keep on keeping on, just without the excuse.

Perhaps the Tower's role will change under Egwene. Maybe after the Last Battle, the political scene will be such that a Battle Ajah is needed on the home front. That would very much depend on what happens with the Seanchan, I think.

It would also depend on the changes Egwene makes. Do you think she will hold people to the Three Oaths as currently stated? She's seen the problems with them, but she's also shown great loyalty to the Tower and its traditions at times. So what would you guess will happen with that?

Malchore said...

Jack - I get to (legitimately) claim ignorance on your question. I havn't read all the books yet. I'm only on chapter 3 in ACoS. (I came to this series quite late, and took a long break from the series after I read TDR.) And quite honostly, I don't think anyone - even Linda - could answer that until the series concludes.

The fact I'm reading this blog and other WOT websites should show that I have no problem with spoilers. Even if I don't finish the series before AMoL is released, I'll still read all the websites and spoilers.

Anonymous said...

I think Linda's theory is interesting; very much interesting indeed.

While during the first books, Red Ajah is mainly portrayed as hateful, near-villain bunch, at the (near) end we saw several sympathetic Reds. The demonization of Reds in the beginning is necessary for plot sake, IMHO, since WoT is the story of a male channeler. But at the (near) end, RJ tried to erase this demonization and introduce Pevara for us.

Pevara, the first sympathetic Red, was shown as a non-typical Red. She even suggested at bonding Warder! Why did she chose Red, then? Because she believes that by joining Red, she would find and fight more Darkfriends! That reasoning (Reds = the ultimate Darkfriend's enemy) seems popular in WoT-verse.

I picture that the rank-and-files of Reds are truly believe that they are the vanguard of Light. Even those Reds who involved in many atrocities (killing suspected male channelers, disposing of Siuan, kidnapping of Rand, attacking Black Tower etc) were doing so because they think those were the right things to do. Only the top leaders of Red (which were Blacks) knew the real thing. It didn't mean that the Reds were flawless; on the contrary, they were too vengeful of the Blue, of them being denied Amyrlin Seat for centuries without realizing that some bad things were happened because of their own mistakes. While almost all Aes Sedai were self-righteous, the Reds were number one in this sin. This was what made them easy to manipulate.

Still, the ideal of Red as vanguard of Light exist and entice Accepteds as Pevara (and maybe Silviana) into the ajah. At present, the Reds realized that they were lost to the Rebel (and Egwene). But current Red leadership maybe (just maybe) became more wiser, no longer vengeful. The Reds must aware about their standing in Tower politics. They need something to restore their reputation and credibility. Black Ajah hunting is a solution. It both the embodiment of their ideals and the way to regain credibility for their Ajah.

(by esvath)

alreadymad said...

Bonding male channelers is only a first step. A distasteful but necessary one. Male channelers have yet to gain the trust and respect of the general populace in anything other than a battlefield situation. Despite the rather comprehensive training at the Black Tower very few know anything other than to be weapons. And weapon is only as sharp as the one who wields it.
If the Red is to take up the role of policing all channelers they must have the necessary muscle and firepower to do face rogues of any strength. I fear that for the near future at least, they will have to take male channelers in hand as Warders. As these Warders grow in learning and maturity perhaps some will eventually be released or outlive their Aes Sedai. In any case, over time these Warders can then form a cadre that will teach Asha'man other functions outside of the battlefield. Perhaps even set up their own police force.

Linda said...

Alreadymad: no Bonding has happened yet.

jtodd said...

I believe the Ajahs as we know them now will need to dissolve and go away. Now that male channelers are back in the picture there will eventually need to be some conference where terms will be hashed out for the unification of males and females. The one power is strongest when the two work together. As before in the AoL there were no permanent Ajahs. Only temporary one's with specific goals in mind. As groups of male and female AS come to a conclusion about a specific need to be met they can work together til it's completion and then go about their separate ways.

How fair would it be for the males to just be expected to join what is already established for the females? The most important thing for the AS(male and female) is to remember their most important role is their duty to the populace to help create a better life than what is already being lived. The advancement of their race is the reason they have the gift of channeling.