Saturday, January 9, 2010

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Aes Sedai Laws and Customs: Administration

By Linda

The essay in the Reference Library on Aes Sedai Laws and Customs: Administration has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm, including the White Tower layout, the Ajahs, and the executive positions of the Aes Sedai. A few inconsistencies with earlier books are detailed below along with a comparison of a ceremony in the two Halls.

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The ritual in Egwene’s raising ceremony in the Tower differed from that described in Salidar, in part because the Hall had already voted to raise her, and in part due to the Seanchan attack the night before, and the impending purging of Darkfriends and reunification with the rebels.

In Salidar, Egwene was draped in the stole by the oldest two Sitters and then the three sponsors kissed the new Amyrlin’s ring before the Sitters did so in order of decreasing Age. In The Gathering Storm only Saerin draped the stole on Egwene, and Egwene’s sponsors were Sitters, and queued in rank with the other Sitters. She wasn’t announced to the Tower either and gave no blessings, but then the night before had been rough. Nor did Egwene announce her Keeper publicly.

While The Gathering Storm is mostly consistent with previous books, I hit a few snags while updating this essay.

The Tower layout was one: the bottom half of the Tower was distinctly described in The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time as reserved for communal functions and the Ajahs as housed in the upper levels in pie-shaped wedges, by which I understood that each storey has all seven Ajahs present – which seems fairer and more in tune with the original spirit of unification when the Tower was designed –and not adjacent whole floors for one Ajah as described in The Gathering Storm. The White are on the 3rd and the Yellow were on the 6th (and therefore also in the bottom half of the Tower, which is supposed to be a communal area) and the Brown on the 21st and 22nd levels in The Gathering Storm. When the Browns on the 21st level are swapped with the novices in the east wing, it is described as half the Browns moving (The Gathering Storm, When Iron Melts) so they are only on the 21st and 22nd floors, and not in one seventh of the Tower vertically.

Also the Tower levels are linked by ramps in previous books far more often than stairs. No ramps were mentioned in The Gathering Storm except within the Hall.

The youngest Sitter opens each formal session by warning the Hall and any onlookers that any intruder will be bound to face the law as shown in The Path of Daggers, The Law and Crossroads of Twilight Surprises; she does not ward the Hall against eavesdropping.

It is the second youngest Sitter who wards the proceedings of closed sessions against eavesdropping thus Sealing the session to the Hall, not the Flame (The Path of Daggers, The Law and Knife of Dreams Call to a Sitting). Sealed to the Flame is reserved in A Crown of Swords, A Morning of Victory and A Crown of Swords, Sealed to the Flame for private written or verbal communications to and from the Amyrlin by and to one or more Aes Sedai. In The Gathering Storm, A Message in Haste, the rebel Hall session to discuss Elaida gaining Travelling which had calls to be Sealed to the Flame did not even have the Amyrlin present, and nor did she know of this meeting until long afterwards.

Another problem is the statement that Elaida disbanded the Blue in order to reach eleven Sitters for the raising of an Amyrlin:

That left eleven Sitters. Not enough to raise an Amyrlin by the old laws of the Tower—but those had been revised with Elaida's disbanding of the Blue. Fewer Sitters meant fewer women needed to raise an Amyrlin, and now only eleven were required.

Elaida was raised with the votes of eleven Sitters; she could hardly have revised this law before she was elected Amyrlin.

The minimum number for the greater consensus of the Hall was stated in the A Crown of Swords glossary as eleven:

The greater consensus requires that every sister who is present must stand, and that a minimum of eleven Sitters be present; the presence of at least one Sitter from each Ajah is also required, except when the matter before the Hall is the removal of an Amyrlin or Keeper, in which case the Ajah from which she was raised will not be informed of the vote until after it is taken.

-A Crown of Swords, Glossary

without any qualification that these were new rules. Elaida disbanded the Blue because (apart from hatred and revenge) she would otherwise not have at least one representative from all Ajahs present necessary for any vote requiring the greater consensus.

The rebels didn’t worry about that. Egwene thought it was more important that the Ajahs all reunite than it was to achieve an official and ‘legal’ greater consensus, and revenge, by disbanding one of the Ajahs.

Thanks to the Tower Hall, Egwene still hasn't been raised Amyrlin with the greater consensus because no Red Sitters took part in the vote. (She was already elected Amyrlin by the Blues). Will this be a loophole in the future?

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