Monday, March 18, 2002

The Importance of Setalle Anan

By Linda

Setalle Anan, the former innkeeper of The Wandering Woman near the Tarasin Palace in Ebou Dar, has played a crucial role in the quest for the Bowl of Winds and in the Mat–Tuon thread.

Bowl of Winds

Elayne and Nynaeve and entourage, accompanied by Mat and his men, went to Ebou Dar to search for a ter’angreal, the Bowl of Winds, that could return the seasons to their proper places. They had found the Bowl in Tel’aran’rhiod in a cache of ter’angreal and angreal at the top of a run-down building in the Rahad in Ebou Dar (Lord of Chaos, Under the Dust). The challenge was to find this building in the real world.

Earlier, Bair, Melaine and Amys had dreamt of the finding of the Bowl of Winds and told Aviendha about it:

All three [Dreamwalkers] had this dream, which makes it especially significant. Rain…coming from a bowl. There are snares and pitfalls around the bowl. If the right hands pick it up, they will find a treasure perhaps as great as the bowl. In the wrong hands the world is doomed. The key to finding the bowl is to find the one who is no longer.

- Lord of Chaos, Matters of Toh

Aviendha, in turn, told Rand, but did not remember the dream by the time she joined Elayne’s and Nynaeve’s quest for the Bowl. (For a detailed description of the cache, see The Cache from Ebou Dar article.)

Setalle Anan proved crucial in finding the Bowl if Winds and the cache of ter’angreal and angreal: when Elayne and Nynaeve told her they were Aes Sedai, she didn’t believe them, but took them to the Kin, whom she knew took in runaways and former novices and Accepted from the White Tower (A Crown of Swords, Small Sacrifices). From this simple action, Elayne and Nynaeve were eventually able to convince the Kin to show them where the cache (and the Bowl) was. So Setalle Anan was ‘the key to finding the bowl’.

Could Setalle Anan Be The One Who Is No Longer?

Setalle Anan has confirmed that she was once an Aes Sedai (Knife of Dreams, A Short Path) until her channelling ability was destroyed. Judging by her great interest in Mat’s ter’angreal she is probably Martine Janata of the Brown Ajah, who was burned out more than 25 years ago while studying a ter’angreal. She is indeed ‘one who is no longer’ – no longer able to channel and no longer Aes Sedai.

There have been plenty of hints for us:

  • She 'knew' Nynaeve and Elayne were too young to be Aes Sedai and explained to them about slowing in more detail than they knew themselves:

    “You [Nynaeve], look to be, oh, twenty-one give or take a year, so you might be as much as ten years older if you’ve already reached the slowing. You might even have worn the shawl four or five years. Except for one thing…you [Elayne], child, aren’t old enough to have slowed yet, and no woman has ever worn the shawl as young as you. Never in the history of the Tower…”

    Elayne frowned, not noticing that she was chewing her lower lip. Slowed. Slowing. How did an innkeeper in Ebou Far know those words? Maybe Setalle Anan had gone to the Tower as a girl, though she would not have remained long, since she clearly could not channel. Elayne would have known even if her ability had been as small as her mother’s…

    - A Crown of Swords, Small Sacrifices.

    This detailed knowledge is only learned at the Tower.

  • The Kin treated Setalle with a reverence they reserve only for Aes Sedai:

    From the exchange, she [Nynaeve] had expected someone younger than Setalle Anan, but Reanne had hair more grey than not and a face full of what might have been smile lines, though they were creased in worry now. Why would the older woman humble herself so to the younger, and why would the younger allow it, however half-heartedly?

    - A Crown of Swords, Next Door To A Weaver

    “Remember who she is, Garenia,” Reanne said sharply. “If Setalle had betrayed us, we would be crawling to Tar Valon, begging forgiveness the whole way.”

    - A Crown of Swords, The Kin

    Only an Aes Sedai, or a former one, would be treated so respectfully, especially when her indiscretion put the Kin at risk; or accept such respect.

  • "She recognised Garenia as Zarya Alkaese, a woman who went to the Tower, and laughed ruefully at Garenia’s explanation:

    “Your name is Garenia?” Mistress Anan said slowly, frowning at the woman in question. “You look very much like someone I met once. Zarya Alkaese.”…

    “That is my grandmother’s sister’s name,” she [Garenia] said after a moment. “I’m told I favour her strongly. Was she well when you saw her? She forgot her family completely after she went off to become Aes Sedai.”

    “Your grandmother’s sister.” The innkeeper laughed softly. “Of course. She was well when I saw her, but that was a long time ago.”

    - A Crown of Swords, Next Door To A Weaver

    Garenia/Zarya did not recognise Setalle because when an Aes Sedai is stilled or burned out, she is also removed from the Three Oaths, and thus loses the ageless look and appears younger. She would then age normally, since she can no longer use the True Source.

  • She understood a conversation between red-belted Kin when they were treating her during her first, difficult birth:

    “She has kept the few secrets she knows from gratitude, and I doubt that has faded. She would have died in her first childbirth if the Kin had not helped her. What she knows comes from careless tongues, when it was thought she could not hear, and the owners of those tongues were punished more than twenty years ago.”

    - A Crown of Swords, The Kin

  • She knows what Aes Sedai know about the Kin. She repeats the Aes Sedai belief that there aren’t that many Kin and that the Tower manages to find most runaways:

    ”I know a few women who take in the occasional wilder or runaway or woman who failed her test for Accepted or the shawl. There must be at least fifty of them, altogether, though the number changes…If you’ve run away, you might as well decide to go back. The Tower managed to find most runaways even during the War of the Hundred Years, so you needn’t think this little bother now will stop them.”

    - A Crown of Swords, Small Sacrifices

    Even though she has contact with the Kin, she doesn’t know the true number of Kin, just the ‘few secrets’ she overheard twenty years ago and what Aes Sedai believe.

  • She rejected the Seanchan because of the way they enslave channellers and worried a great deal (more than anybody else did) about the Aes Sedai and the Kin because she knew that both Aes Sedai and Kin were likely to be collared if they remained in Ebou Dar. She couldn’t bear to leave a sister to the Seanchan:

    “Do you [Mat] think I could remain anywhere women are turned into animals because they can channel?” she [Setalle] demanded, stalking across the floor till she stood toe-to-toe with him. “Do you think I’d let my family stay?”…

    Frankly he had never considered the question. Certainly he would like to see the damane freed, but why should it matter this much to her?

    “I began negotiating the sale of The Wandering Woman two days after the Seanchan arrived, when I could see what they are.”

    - Winter’s Heart, Another Plan

    “I heard whispers there was a sister still in the city,” Mistress Anan replied, “and I managed to find her before the Seanchan did. I couldn’t leave a sister to them.”

    - Winter’s Heart, Three Women
    < br />
    The strong empathy that Setalle Anan feels for channelling women is consistent with her having been one once.

  • She called Joline “Green” and Joline found her voice familiar:

    ”I trust him as much as you trust your Warders, Green. More.”

    Frowning suddenly, Joline picked up the lamp by the iron base and moved it to cast light on the innkeeper’s face. “Have we met somewhere before? Sometimes, when I cannot see your face, your voice sounds familiar.”

    - Winter’s Heart, Another Plan.

    Only an Aes Sedai or a former Aes Sedai would identify another Aes Sedai solely by her Ajah.

  • She was unimpressed with Joline and asked:

    “How could you have passed the test for the shawl if you freeze at moments like this?”

    - Knife of Dreams, A Cold Medallion

  • She had heard of ter’angreal that can disrupt flows of the Power and that Cadsuane Melaidhrin was rumoured to have one (Knife of Dreams, A Cold Medallion) and wanted very much to see Mat’s medallion.

Burned Out Or Stilled?

Since Setalle Anan was an Aes Sedai once, was her ability to channel burned out or stilled? There is a difference between the two.

Stilled women can still sense saidar:

Amico had been stilled during her capture. Still able to sense the True Source, she would never again touch it, never again channel. The desire to, the need to, would remain, as sharp as the need to breathe, and her loss would be there for as long as she lived, saidar forever out of reach.

- The Shadow Rising, Questioners.

They can also sense what a damane is feeling when they wear the bracelet, as Siuan and Leane both did in Lord of Chaos, Prologue, when they put on the bracelet of Moghedien’s a’dam. However, stilled women cannot touch saidar through a damane, or make her feel physical sensations.

Burned out women cannot sense saidar at all and therefore would not be able to feel anything through the bracelet of an a’dam:

“And she came out [of the ter’angreal] with her abilities burned to nothing, unable to channel, unable even to sense the True Source.”

- The Great Hunt, The Testing.

Setalle Anan knew that not any woman could wear the bracelet of an a’dam, and yet believed that she would be able to wear it:

“Not every woman can be a sul’dam. You should know that by now. I have hopes that I can, but better we find out before the last hour.”

- Winter’s Heart, Another Plan

This in itself is revealing, because such a sensible woman must have had a particular reason for this belief – such as that she was formerly able to channel. However, she felt nothing when she put on the bracelet while Joline wore the collar of an a’dam. Furthermore, Joline was unable to move more than a few steps without her body going into cramps while Setalle was wearing the bracelet, as damane do if they try to move without a sul’dam wearing the bracelet:

Side by side the two woman took a small step…Then they too a second step.

With a cry, the Aes Sedai fell to the floor, writhing in agony.

- Winter’s Heart, Another Plan

This is the only time we see the bracelet on a woman who can’t channel and then the bracelet being moved while a damane wears the collar. Joline suffered extreme cramps, as Egwene did when she was made to move while carrying her own a’dam bracelet:

If a damane moved her bracelet as much as foot from where it had last been touched by a sul’dam… Renna had made her [Egwene] do that, too – had made her carry her own bracelet across the room. Or try to. She was sure it had only been minutes before the sul’dam snapped the bracelet firmly on her own wrist, but to Egwene the screaming and the cramps that had her writhing on the floor had seemed to go on for hours.

- The Great Hunt, Falme

The bracelet of an a’dam cannot be moved unless a sul’dam is wearing it, otherwise the damane’s body knots in excruciating cramps. There was not even a partial link between Joline and Setalle Anan, as there was between Moghedien and the stilled women Siuan and Leane. Therefore Setalle Anan is not stilled, she is burned out.

Could Setalle Anan Be Martine Janata?

The timing is consistent between Martine Janata leaving the Tower, and Setalle Anan moving to Ebou Dar, marrying and having a child.

Setalle Anan is not native to Ebou Dar:

a woman with a touch of grey in her hair, a strong face and a commanding voice. Despite the marriage knife hanging into her cleavage, she was too fair for an Ebou Dari.

- A Crown of Swords, Small Sacrifices.

Her first birth was more than twenty years ago (A Crown of Swords, The Kin), which is consistent with an Aes Sedai leaving the Tower at least a couple of years before that to establish a new life in a far country, marrying and starting a family.

Martine Janata of the Brown Ajah was burned out more than 25 years ago. She studied ter’angreal for more than 40 years, from soon after she gained the shawl, and was burned out by one (The Path of Daggers, Unweaving). She immediately left the Tower when she had recovered enough to do so. Once burned out, Martine would have been removed from the Oaths and would look young again. She would no longer even sense the source, let alone channel, so she would then age as a normal person. This was more than 25 years ago, making her at least 90–103 now, but looking between 45 and 50 (from the Ages of Characters article) as Setalle Anan does. Furthermore, Setalle has considerable knowledge of, and interest in, ter’angreal.

This is the only Aes Sedai we know of that was burned out at the right time of about 25–30 years ago, so, yes, Setalle Anan is probably Martine Janata.

Mat–Tuon Thread

Setalle Anan is also playing an important role in the Mat–Tuon plot thread:

  • She provided a place where Mat could stash money to finance his escape from Ebou Dar (Winter’s Heart, An Offer).

  • She provided a refuge for Joline, one of the Aes Sedai with Mat’s group who is close to recognizing Setalle (Winter’s Heart, Another Plan), since they may well have been contemporaries (see the Ages of Characters article).

  • Setalle has gained the respect of Tuon and Selucia and is an intermediary between Tuon and the three Aes Sedai. Furthermore, being unable to channel, she is no threat to the Seanchan, because she does not qualify for the a’dam in any way.

  • She has talked with Tuon about the differences in their cultures and the ethics of slavery and damane (Knife of Dreams, As If All the World Were Fog).

So Setalle Anan is ‘the one who is no longer’ Aes Sedai that has played a crucial role in the finding of the Bowl of Winds, and an important one in the Mat–Tuon subplot. It would also be fascinating to see Elayne and Setalle meet up and discuss ter’angreal…


Written by Linda, July 2004


Unknown said...

Setalle would also be a prime candidate, eventually,for the Truthteller/advisor position for Tuon, now that Semi seems unlikely to return to the position.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to heal someone burned out?

Linda said...

We don't know yet, although Nynaeve is convinced it is. She hasn't had a chance to study a burned out channeller yet. If it is possible, it will likely be a different weave to Healing stilling, since in burning out the connection to the One Power has been destroyed, rather than simply cut.

justin said...

It seems unlikely that Nynaeve is right. By the definition here of burning someone out, healing someone who was burned out would be roughly equivalent to giving someone who couldn't channel the ability to channel. Even if it did work, it would by no means be "healing."

Anonymous said...

It is quite easy to heal burning out, although neither Nynaeve nor Flinn know how to do it yet.
To make this understandable I will discribe a little experiment. You need 2 matches and assume they are the connection with the One Power. Furthermore you need a knife and a hot flame. Now cut the first match in two halves. Now heat the blade and cut the second one. The material of the first match didn't change and can be healed. The second match is slightly burned; the coal on the surface is like a scar on a wound. In the AoL the Aes Sedai could heal scars and I think Flinn and Nynaeve will learn it as well.

You cannot create a connection with the Source with Healing.

During her Acceptance Egwene met Beldeine, being stilled by the BA. Couldn't Min's vision about the black knives mean the same.

belugakid said...

There is one thing in the scene when Elayne and Nynaeve meet Setalle Anan for the first time which baffles me a bit:

"Elayne would have known even if her ability had been as small as her mother’s…"

Elayne has not met Morgase after she reached the Tower and started studying. Elayne could not detect the ability in women before she reached Tear...

Does she only know it only empirically that her mother's ability was small? She was explained, like everyone else that her mother was put out of the Tower for lack of ability and given the ring symbolically. Do you think this is how she is so sure?

Linda said...

Of all the characters, Elayne uses hyperbole the most. This thought is typical Elayne hyperbole.

The Tower has open records on strength, training and arrival dates of all initiates because it's a big deal to them for standing and progression. The sisters who remarked on her strength would also be the sisters who remarked to her on her mother's weakness in the Power.

Elayne has never actually sensed her mother's strength but she has sensed the ability in a variety of non-Tower channellers, so she knows her abilities in this area.