Monday, March 29, 2010

Winter's Heart Read-through Post #7: About Cadsuane

By Linda

Cadsuane is one Aes Sedai who has been instrumental in getting people to serve Rand and keeping them there. Verin is another. The difference is that Cadsuane has been open about it whereas Verin has been sneaky and somewhat more unscrupulous.

Ever since she gained the shawl more than 265 years ago, all Aes Sedai except the official Aes Sedai leadership and her Ajah Head have had to defer to her and nearly all to obey her. Cadsuane has been the highest ranked Aes Sedai, with no equals. Since she had no equals in strength until very recently, all Aes Sedai are effectively on much the same level from her point of view and she rates them on their merits and treats them all with courtesy unless their stupidity or character flaws warrant discipline. Hence her consideration to very low ranked, but skilled and trustworthy Aes Sedai like Daigian and Kumira who normally have miserable lives around other Aes Sedai.

Why is Cadsuane so different? The answer to that is the same as the answer to why she survived the depredations of the Black Ajah after the Aiel Wear, when a great many sisters were killed, particularly the highest ranking and therefore the strongest. (I wonder whether some Black sisters took advantage of the chaos of those times to ‘thin out the ranks’ of those above them.) The answer is her protective ter’angreal jewellery which she did not appropriate, but had to earn:

But fifty years would have meant that Norla died in her little house in the Black Hills before Cadsuane Melaidhrin ever went to the White Tower…She could not recall the last time she had let shock reach her face. It might have been all those years ago, in the Black Hills, when she began earning the ornaments she now wore.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Ornaments

Along with learning a few harsh lessons:

And she [Nynaeve] had not been put through the lessons that what must be endured, could be endured. In truth, Cadsuane sympathized with her. Somewhat. It as a lesson not everyone could learn in the Tower. She herself, full of pride in her new shawl and her own strength, had been taught by a near toothless wilder at a farm in the heart of the Black Hills.

Winter’s Heart, The Humming Bird’s Secret

Since there are three ter’angreal in her paralis-net that have an unknown function, Norla probably died before Cadsuane finished earning them. An article on the function of Cadsuane's Ornaments I wrote for the Wotmania FAQ way back when is now released on the blog.

The ter’angreal’s protection have allowed Cadsuane to take risks other Aes Sedai dare not and to accomplish tasks unachievable by others. Without them she would not be a legend as she freely admits to herself:

That [Not earning her ter’angreal] would have altered a great deal of history. For one thing, it would have been unlikely that she would be in anything approaching her present circumstances.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Ornaments

She wouldn’t be regarded as a legend, followed by possibly as many as nearly a third of Aes Sedai. She probably wouldn’t even be alive.

Knowledgeable Aes Sedai are only aware of a rumour that she has a weave breaking ter’angreal:

I think that means you possess a ter'angreal that can disrupt flows of the Power. I've heard of such things—Cadsuane Melaidhrin supposedly had one, or so rumor said— but I've never seen the like.

- Knife of Dreams, A Cold Medallion

Due to the custom of not interfering with the activities of another sister and the lack of concrete evidence, she has not been questioned or asked to hand it over. With her paralis-net, as Semirhage called it, Cadsuane has been able to stand up to Rand and treat with him boldly, a tactic Moiraine recommended to Egwene and Aviendha.

Rand will need both of you in the days to come. You handle his temper well – though I may say your methods are unusual. He will need people who cannot be driven away or quelled by his rages, who will tell him what he must hear instead of what they think he wants to.”
“You do that, Moiraine,” Egwene told her.

- The Fires of Heaven, News Comes To Cairhien

This is exactly what Cadsuane is doing.

Cadsuane has not been the only Aes Sedai who has used corporal punishment on Rand: so have Moiraine, Elayne and Aviendha, although only Cadsuane has done so manually; the others used the Power.

After quickly testing him to assess his character, and more importantly his sanity and emotional state at their first meeting (quite reasonable in dealing with a male channeller), she realised she would have to use reverse psychology on him – as the Aiel Wise Ones are doing, though not quite so successfully:

"Most men will take what is offered, if it seems attractive and pleasant," Sorilea said. "Once, we thought of Rand al'Thor so. Unfortunately, it is too late to change the path we walk. Now, he suspects whatever is offered freely. Now, if I wanted him to accept something, I would pretend I did not want him to have it. If I wanted to stay close to him, I would pretend indifference to whether I ever saw him again." Once more, those eyes focused on Cadsuane, green augers. Not trying to see what lay inside her head. The woman knew.

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

While toughness, boldness and sternness are not regarded as the feminine ideal, Jordan portrayed these traits in Cadsuane positively. Sanderson is much more partisan.

In Crossroads of Twilight, while musing on her protective ter’angreal, Cadsuane wonders about the male Aes Sedai back in the Age of Legends:

The others [Nynaeve’s ter’angreal] were much like her own decorations, too, ter’angreal and plainly made at the same time, during the Breaking of the World, when an Aes Sedai might find many hands turned against her, most especially those of men who could channel. Strange to think that they had been called Aes Sedai, too. It would be like meeting a man called Cadsuane.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Ornaments

She, or Jordan, makes a good point. If Cadsuane were male, would ‘he’ have anything like her unpopularity with readers?

I looked around to see if any male channeller on the side of the Light behaved like Cadsuane. Logain comes closest. He’s faced down Rand, disbelieved Rand’s accomplishments, told him off for hoarding knowledge, has set up his own faction, has been bold in his bonding of Aes Sedai, was somewhat boorish with the Sea Folk in the midst of their grief for the Amayar… and nobody worries about it. Including me. But then, I don’t worry about Cadsuane either.

Cadsuane is honest about her strengths and weaknesses. She is uninterested in legalities and mundane matters, impatient with politicking and human weakness:

Cadsuane preferred to be direct, when possible. She had tripped up any number of clever people who had not believed she meant exactly what she said.

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

A refusal to accept selection as a Sitter was unheard of, yet it was said she had refused, and at least twice. It was said she had spurned being raised head of the Green Ajah, too. It was said she once vanished from the Tower for ten years because the Hall intended to raise her Amyrlin. Not that she had ever spent a day more in Tar Valon than absolutely necessary.

- A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars

Unlike other Aes Sedai, she believes the spirit of the law is more important than the letter (Winter’s Heart, Wonderful News). This has not gone unnoticed by the Wise Ones who respect that she keeps her word and works for Rand’s benefit. She is good at assessing people and bringing out the best in them as her treatment of many Aes Sedai including Samitsu, and her handling of male channellers shows. Her skills in research have made her knowledgeable and led her to develop new weaves.

Cadsuane is very competent:

But then, over two hundred and seventy years had passed since she last encountered a task she could not perform

- A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars

The unconventional doesn’t put her off at all:

While Merise had become somewhat accustomed to doing the unthinkable—most sisters would faint at the very idea of bonding a man who could channel—she was never comfortable giving them voice. Cadsuane was, yet she kept her voice neutral.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Ornaments

which is ideal in dealing with a dangerous and unique situation.

Cadsuane’s initial assessment of Rand and how to proceed was:

"If you want to see what a man is made of, push him from a direction he doesn't expect. There's good metal in that boy, I think, but he's going to be difficult." Steepling her fingers, she peered across them at the wall, musing to herself. "He has a rage in him fit to burn the world, and he holds it by a hair. Push him too far off balance .... Phaw! Al'Thor's not so hard yet as Logain Ablar or Mazrim
Taim, but a hundred times as difficult, I fear."

- A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars

And as explained above, once she realised the extreme distrust other Aes Sedai had sewn in Rand, reverse psychology was the only option left to her.

The al'Thor boy needed to be kept intrigued enough that he allowed her near him, and off-balance enough that she could nudge him where she wanted without him realizing. One way or another, anything that might interfere with that must be controlled or suppressed. Nothing could be allowed to influence him, or upset him, in the wrong way. Nothing.

- A Crown of Swords, Diamonds and Stars

Interesting that she regarded Logain as well as Taim as hard.

According to Rand Cadsuane’s tactics of discipline alternating with disinterest were working:

The woman made him unsure of himself, uneasy in a way he had not felt since before the Stone of Tear fell.

- A Crown of Swords, A Crown of Swords

which is the effect she planned from the first.

Cadsuane was aware that free advice is rarely valued and so she made Rand work for it and grant concessions:

But I must wait for him to come to me. You see the way he runs roughshod over Alanna and the others. It will be hard enough teaching him, if he does ask. He fights guidance, he thinks he must do everything, learn everything, on his own, and if I do not make him work for it, he won't learn at all."

- Winter’s Heart, Bonds

and made a bargain with him:

"You sound . . . uneasy. I don't like to tell a man he's afraid even when he has reason to be. Uneasy over a sister you haven't turned into a tame lapdog snaring you in some fashion? Let me see. I can make you a few promises; perhaps they will set your mind at rest. I expect you to listen, of course - make me waste my breath, and you'll yelp for it - but I won't make you do what I want. I won't tolerate anyone lying to me, certainly - that's another thing you'll find decidedly uncomfortable - but I don't expect you to tell me the deepest yearnings of your heart, either. Oh, yes. Whatever I do, it will be for your own good; not mine, not the good of the White Tower, yours. Now, does that ease your fears? Pardon me. Your unease."
Wondering whether he was supposed to laugh, Rand stared at her. "Do they teach you how to do that?" he demanded. "Make a promise sound a threat, I mean."
"Oh, I see. You want rules. Most boys do, whatever they say. Very well. Let me see. I cannot abide incivility. So you will be properly civil to me, to my friends, and my guests. That includes not channeling at them, in case you haven't guessed, and holding your temper, which I understand is memorable. It also takes in your . . . companions in those black coats. A pity if I had to spank you for something one of them did. Does that suffice? I can make more, if you need them."

- The Path of Daggers, The Bargain

Rand was going to refuse, but then Cadsuane proved her worth and knowledge to him by warning him about Callandor. Min’s foresight alarmed him as well as convinced him:

Min said he needed the woman, that she would teach him something he needed to learn, but if anything, that only made him more uneasy about her.

- Winter’s Heart, Bonds

Actually Min saw that Cadsuane is going to teach all the Asha’man something that they have to learn but none of them will like learning at all (A Crown Of Swords, A Crown Of Swords).

Since not all Asha’man are emotional cripples, or are arrogant or destructive (Damer Flinn for instance) her lesson may not be of laughter and tears, or humanity, or that they are not only weapons.

It is to be noted that Cadsuane is the only Aes Sedai we know of who was involved in the capture of Taim and Logain. She knows a lot about Logain and is comfortable around him. What she teaches may have something to do with Taim - that he is not who the Asha'man, good or bad, think he is, for instance - and breaks his disguise with her ter'angreal. Cadsuane's role in revealing that Taim is not what people think may alarm the dark Asha'man as well as the good.

What has Cadsuane achieved for Rand’s good and not her own or the White Tower’s?

  • In Winter’s Heart she did get Rand to keep his bargain with Harine after some pressure. He backslid on this in The Gathering Storm making the value of his word questionable to his supporters or would-be allies.

  • When she learned that three of Rand’s Asha’man rightly feared being sentenced as deserters by Taim she suggested to her trusted Aes Sedai that they ask them to be their Warders. This is contributing to the paradigm shift regarding male channellers.

  • She got Rand released in Far Madding when the Counsels had imprisoned him and were going to sell him to the Tower.

  • She organised the defence of Rand and Nynaeve so that Rand could cleanse saidin. He otherwise would have failed.

  • She also effectively discouraged Rand, with drastic measures that showed she is not afraid of him, from using balefire at least gratuitously for quite a while. The Gathering Storm, showed the terrible price paid to use balefire.

  • She also managed to get him to treat people with consideration so he doesn’t drive them away. Since Rand’s task is to unite the world against the Shadow he needs to work cooperatively with them and get them to do the same with each other. By the Wise Ones’ accounts, they are doing this for him among the Aiel. Cadsuane was doing the same among the Aes Sedai and by force of example the nobles who were supporting Rand.

Her diagnosis of where Rand was going wrong and what she intended to do about it was:

"The boy confuses them," she said. "He needs to be strong, and makes himself harder. Too hard, already, and he will not stop until he is stopped. He has forgotten how to laugh except in bitterness; there are no tears left in him. Unless he finds laughter and tears again, the world faces disaster. He must learn that even the Dragon Reborn is flesh. If he goes to Tarmon Gai'don as he is, even his victory may be as dark as his defeat."

- The Path of Daggers, New Alliances

"He is turning into a stone, Verin, and if he doesn't relearn that he's human, winning the Last Battle may not be much better than losing.

- Winter’s Heart, Bonds

The Shadar Logoth effect. All her efforts along these lines came to nothing when Rand became very dark and saw not only Cadsuane, but everyone, in the worst possible light.

Cadsuane’s failures in The Gathering Storm are directly due to Rand’s psychological and moral disintegration from the corruption leaking through his bond to Moridin and from his evil acts in using balefire and the True Power. Lews Therin acted like touching the True Power was a mortal sin:

Oh, Light, Lews Therin suddenly screamed. That's impossible! We can't use it! Cast it away! That is death we hold, death and betrayal.

- The Gathering Storm The Last That Could be Done

There no way Cadsuane could have countered this.

Finally, her embroidery described in The Path of Daggers, New Alliances is of a Seal being held in a man's hand. It is framed by bands of flowers (roses, starblaze, and sunburst alternating with daisies, heartsblush and snowcap) separated by bands of nettles and long-thorned briars. Presumably the flowers are the good guys and the nasty thorny plants the Shadow.

The big deal is the cracks in the Seal and whether the man is holding it together or breaking it. Cadsuane has her own idea on that which she does not share with us, and is waiting on events to indicate whether she is right.


Anonymous said...

Taims followers aren't Asha'man - they're dreadlords. Asha'man - guardians of right/justice can't be evil by definition. Therefore all the Asha'man will not like learning of Taim's treachery (if that is what she will teach)

Anonymous said...

Cadsuane is one of the few things that really bothered me about the Gathering Storm. It is clear that Sanderson doesn't -get- the purpose/point behind Cadsuane (and hey, she's highly obnoxious in a way, I get that) and clearly dislikes the character. Which is a shame. She's strong in a very fascinating way and I very much enjoyed how Jordan wrote her.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a bit of rose tinted glasses with Cadsuane. The fact is is she is rude, obnoxious and full of herself. She just makes up for it somewhat by being more competent than most. The thing that bothers me most about her is that she is a huge hypocrite: She expects others to use manners with her when she is rude and obnoxious to almost everyone. She criticises Aes Sadai for joining the rebellion against a clearly unlawful coup in the white tower yet is perfectly content to sit on the sidelines and let the white tower crumble (Okay, she may have bigger fish to fry with Rand, but still). In short, she's done very little to earn respect except by being a bulldozing harridan.

Dida said...

I'm not sure one can blame all of Rand's psychological, moral disintegration from the corruption leaking through his bond to Moridin and his evil acts in using balefire & the True Power.

There is the additional problem of Rand's "two wounds of evil" not being 100% sealed correctly. For many, many books Rand's felt those two wounds being too warm or hot, that's a sign of inflection. Damer Flinn used a seal of Saidin to push each evil against one other.

I suspect, if Damer Flinn had used both Saidar AND Saidin to seal up Rand's wounds in Cairhien, he'd be a very different character at this point in the story.

Rand shouldn't have the evil of Shadar Logoth on display, if that wound was sealed properly in the 1st place.


What do the all Asha'man need to learn from Cadsuane, according to Min?

I suspect that lesson, has something to do with this Rand's point of view found in aCoS, Chapter 7 'Pitfalls and Tripwires':

All three saluted Rand with fist to chest; then they turned to one another. Jonan said something in a low voice, glancing at the Maidens, and Fedwin and Eben laughed. The first time they saw Maidens they had stumbled between wanting to goggle at these exotic creatures they had only read about and wanting to run before the murderous Aiel of the stories killed them. Nothing much frightened them anymore. They needed to relearn fear.

...(skipped paragraph)

“This is nonsense. Even wetlanders would call it nonsense.”

He tried not to wince. She was strong, and using every ounce of it. “You have run away from us too often, Rand al’Thor. You have no care for yourself.” She considered him a brother of an age with herself, but irresponsible at times. “Far Dareis Mai carries your honor, and you have no care.

Fedwin glowered while his own wrists were tied, though the Maiden binding him hardly put out much effort. Watching, Jonan and Eben frowned deeply. They disliked this plan as much as Sulin did. And understood it as little. The Dragon Reborn did not have to explain himself, and the Car’a’carn seldom did. No one said anything, though. A weapon did not complain.


In essences, Rand has taught almost all the Asha'man to fear him, and not to voice complains or dispute him.

Even Damer Flinn, was forced to back down in tGS, when he expressed a negative view from meeting the Seanchan & Tuon at Falme.

To Rand, the Asha'man are almost all tools in his view, not an independent group of people. It's similar to how Rand has treated the Maidens previously as well.

Sulin was one of the first Aiel characters to understand these changes in Rand...Cadsuane only learned this later.

Do Cadsuane and Sorilea, really see eye to eye, on how to together approach Rand?

Their prior dispute by Aes Sedai versus Wise One/Aes Sedai proxy in Cairhien, suggests no.

Linda said...

She's obnoxious to Rand because it works in pulling him up.

Anonymous - yes that is one way of interpreting what Min says. What the word Asha'man is referring to is important. However, it is plain that laughter and tears isn't what Cadsuane will be teaching them all.

Dida: No I don't think that that Cadsuane and Sorilea have exactly the same aims in mind. There are some Wise Ones (perhaps Sorilea) who definitely have other agendas. Some of these are dark. For all their talk, they let Cadsuane take the fall.

Anonymous said...

Linda - nice essay. I share many of your views, especially as to her mistreatment at the hands of Brandon in TGS. Ah well. While others in the re-read family are in the same camp, many and perhaps a majority are not (leading to the nickname She Who Must Not Be Named.)

My question ties to your last paragraph - what exactly is Cads' aim? The text refers several times to her needing to steer him in a particular direction. What is that direction and how does it differ from the Aiel Wise Women?


Anonymous said...

Thank you Linda for another interesting and insightful article. I greatly enjoy your site.

I just wanted to let you know that the link to the article on Cadsuane's Ornaments does not work.


Linda said...

Thanks for letting me know, Joanne. It's fixed now.

Rob: Cadsuane wants Rand to live to fight the Dark One in some sort of good emotional state. Perhaps she, like me, thinks that willing sacrifice is the key to victory.

Shadar Logoth rightly equals bad in her view and she doesn't want Rand to go down that path at all, win or lose.

Rand knows he needs to unite the nations but is going the wrong way about it because he's paranoid, autocratic and hostile. Or was until the end of TGS. Cadsuane hasn't been that interested in Rand forming a coalition. She has been working on his leadership style and emotional state which will help him achieve it though: she wants Rand to delegate more, to not try to do everything himself, to work with his supporters.

Her embroidery is important in symbolising her intentions I think. Is the hand breaking the Seal or is it protecting it and holding it together? Even if she told us, she might not be right (as she knows).

She said a little more about what she's worked out of the Prophecies in TGS, but she also said that there's things she doesn't know in them.

The Wise Ones are focussed on the Aiel surviving in as large numbers as possible. They are supporting Rand because he will 'save' a remnant of them and give them back their places of old. They're not worried about the rest of the world, just the Aiel. Cadsuane is doing this for the whole world. That's one big difference.

From TGS, it seems the Wise Ones are compromised by Darkfriends among them. I mean, Sorilea vowed that she and Cadsuane would work as one to teach Rand laughter and tears. I wouldn't say that the Wise Ones have tried too hard on their side.

Anonymous said...

Thanks re Cads' mission but it is somewhat unrealistic. Rand is trying to delegate (Darlin, Berelain in Carhien, etc) and has to be concerned both with Darkfriends interfering with his agenda and with locals so caught up with local concerns that they will interfere with the forming of the whole. He needs to be at least somewhat autocratic in order to move forward. Less paranoid would be nice but hard to manage in a world of Darkfriends and Foresaken seeking to bring him down, and pushy AS with their own agendas.

I have to say the idea of Aiel Wise Women Darkfriends is deeply disturbing to me. Can you name names? Do you have any suspects out of those we have met?

Anonymous said...

Great essey Linda, I just found this board and I've been spending the last couple of days reading here and I'm very thankful for all the hard work you (and others) have put down so others can read. :)

That beeing said, I'm hesitant what to make of Cadsuane. I admire her strength, her determination and her competence (I do, however, confess that she annoys me when she spends quality time with Rand^)but at the same time I can't grasp her agenda. Cadsuane's aim is to make Rand the good natured, hale and healthy boy he needs to face the Dark One and win a good victory. But her approach with Rand feels very counter-productive to that agenda (speaking of how she teaches Rand to keep his temper) and in TGS, it was Cadsuane who has the largest blame for what Rand became.

My intention is not to rank down on Cadsuane, I just find her methods counter-productive and that disrupt my image of the competent, strong women.

On a final note, I find it strange that neither Cadsuane nor Nyneave had been struck with the thought that Rand is pretty importent for the Light's side, and a weave breaking ter’angreal would raise his chances of surviving to save the world (especially when they went to the first meeting with Tuon/Semirhage, which both Cadsuane and Nyneave thought was a trap).

RabidWombat said...

Good article. It has a little too much hagiography for my taste, though. I say this as a large Cadsuane fan, as well. Cadsuane is probably my 2nd or 3rd favorite character in the series behind Elayne and Faile. (How screwed up do I have to be to feel that way. ;) )

For me, it is her strengths AND her flaws that make Cadsuane interesting. Cadsuane, Mat, and Nynaeve are all cut out of the same hypocritical cloth for instance. Yet that endears me to all of them since at some level they are all aware of that.

Another flaw that I don't think you cover enough is that she manipulates people. She often does so for good ends such as to try and make the person less manipulate-able. (Much like how parents manipulate children especially young children to try and make them better and stronger.) That does not excuse the act, though.

In my mind the most defining moment for Cadsuane comes when Tam confronts her in tGS. Tam is right, but so is Cadsuane. Cadsuane should not have wrapped up Tam in flows of air but she quickly dropped them as well with Tam's tirade. In other words, she understood at some level that she was wrong. (This was right after lecturing an AS about respecting a non-AS, iirc.) In this scene at least BS understood Cadsuane very well.

The more I think about it the more important of a scene I think that scene is. Tam is Rand's adoptive father and the 'good' parent while Cadsuane is Rand's adoptive mother, in a sense, and the 'bad' parent. If Rand is going to heal and become better both of the parents must respect both Rand and each other and work together.

Dida said...

Linda said: "From TGS, it seems the Wise Ones are compromised by Darkfriends among them. I mean, Sorilea vowed that she and Cadsuane would work as one to teach Rand laughter and tears. I wouldn't say that the Wise Ones have tried too hard on their side."

I do not go that far, I think the Wise Ones and Cadsuane took different actions in tGS book, because of the bias in each's background coming out into the open.

The Wise Ones went the route of attempting to reach Rand al'Thor heart through his first-sister Sulin. While Cadsuane went the route though his adapted father Tam al'Thor.

It's a bias of their societies each of these actions. Cadsuane had lived in Ghealdan in retirement for a long time & so she had a decent idea of what family customs of Two Rivers was. Ghealdan was once part of a nation which included Two Rivers. Both Ghealdan & Two Rivers emphasize the "paternal side" of the family. Sorilea, Amys, Bair, Melainie on the other hand, the emphasized of their society of clans is on the "maternal" side of the family. Aiel reach out to each other mostly through the high status females, or female members of a family.

In Aiel family terms, both Rand & Sulin, agreed that they have a first-brother to first-sister bonding. I have found three direct references to that relationship mentioned by both Rand & Sulin together (See LoC book).

If Amys wanted to attempt to break through to Rand, she as a former Maiden would likely decided to go the person closest to Rand in Aiel terms, Sulin.

In regards to the claim that there are Aiel Wise Ones Darkfriends?

What is your evidence?

Because I what I read in tGS book, shows Cadsuane unwilling to follow Sorilea's suggestion of killing Semirhage. Cadsuane wanted knowledge from Semirhage's mind, while Sorilea voiced that it was not worth the risk. Sorilea & Bair each called the Domination Band "evil". While Cadsuane wants to test it on Rand's Asha'man?!?! Bair did not like that idea one bit, calling it too dangerous.

Cadsuane does not even fully "trust" Sorilea (hardback pg 227 tGS book). The ongoing conflict pre-dating tGS is still there. Remember even Cadsuane said in essence earlier, trust or the lack of trust goes both ways.

In the end, they simply did not agree to "a common plan".

It was a failure of trust & cooperation. Drawn out by the bias of each of their cultural background, and prior conflicts by "proxy" in Cairhien.


If anybody is going to bring Rand laughter & tears before he dies, I think it might be Aviendha, Min, Elayne together. Not Sorilea, no Cadsuane. Those two have an indirect role to changing Rand, they are not the cause of his changing of heart.

Aviendha's point of view (tGS book, Ch.11, hardback pg 189) shows she knew what Rand was doing, in using People as tools:

"He saw them all as one homogenous group, sworn to him, to be used. That was one of Rand's weaknesses. He could not not see that Aiel, like other people, did not like being used as tools. The clans were far less tightly knit than he believed."

Molly said...

I agree with RabidWombat; Cadsuane is one of my favourites and it one of the reasons is that she knows her flawsa nd weaknesses as you said, Linda, and she knows hse tends to wander into moral and ethical gray areas. What is important to me is that she isn't constantly trying to justify it to herself or others, say by bleating on about having no choice or how everyone else is doing it. i also find that Mr. Sanderson doesn't write Cadsuane as well as RJ or with as much understanding.

TrueCrew said...

Great article, Linda.

I've never understood all the irrational Cadsuane hate.

How many times over would Rand be dead without her?

Anonymous said...

"Tam is Rand's adoptive father and the 'good' parent while Cadsuane is Rand's adoptive mother, in a sense, and the 'bad' parent"

If you're talking in terms of archetypes, mythologic and Jungian, Cadsuane is no more a "bad mother" than Tam is a really a bad father.

The archetypal bad mother is not one who tries to make her son grow up however roughly, she's the mother who smothers him and refuses to let him go. The bad mother will do everything in his place. She'll prevent him from having other relationships, will remove the obstacles for him, do his chores and take responsabilities for him etc. She sees her son as a five years old and wants him to remain that way. This archetype is the antithesis of Cadsuane who can't suffer young people who don't wisen up as fast as she'd wish. This is closer to the very early relationship between Egwene and Nynaeve, but Nynaeve grew out of the archetype after a while.


Anonymous said...

Cadsuane's role wasn't to teach Rand "laughters and tears". Her role was to make him remember his humanity and undersrand that without laughters and tears victory would be as bad as a defeat.

She achieved her goal in TGS, not at all in the way she expected. There was nothing satisfying or rewarding for her in it. It's an extremly bitter and humiliating victory for her. She succeeded almost by accident, by making herself the target of Rand's hate (the only emotion he still felt...) and nearly driving him over the edge, where he found "laughters and tears".

He didn't like the lesson one bit, what was more unexpected is that she liked giving it even less.

It will be easier with the Asha'man. None of them are as very far gone and it's more a matter of preventing them from going on the wrong path after TG. What they need to learn is that they are not "human weapons" whose only purpose is to win the LB, the way Rand taught them. Saidin is clean now and they are have more to live for than winning TG amd die there. They are men, normal men who will have to return to non-combattant lives one day, learn to restrain their powers and keep in check the hunger for power and dominion without, it appears, being bound like Aes Sedai. Some like Logain will have to unlearn the arrogance he picked from Rand. They will also have to learn to cope with the suspicion against channellers the Aes Sedai know well and that can make someone feel rejected (like Perrin's Asha'man, who prefer to stay away not have to see pity or mistrust or even despise on every face around them), and learn that the solution to make yourself respected is not to dominate the non-channellers with the Power. It's "laughters and tears lite" Cadsuane has in store for them, the extreme lesson was for Rand alone.


Linda said...

Thanks for the comments all. They are most pertinent.

A couple of things I should explain. In this article I wanted to concentrate on the why or how Cadsuane got where she is and not the "she said this" and "she did that" and "she was mean to him" because quite frankly that's been done to death and back.

And as I tried to show, other characters have exactly the same flaws and actions as Cadsuane (Nynaeve even "thumped" an 80 year old with a stick!) without exciting the same hysteria or reprehension.

It took Egwene and Aviendha united to make Rand back down. Cadsuane is working on her own – she has to be forceful enough for two. And compared to her, all the main characters are children. Should she not guide them into growing up stronger rather than leave them to their own devices in these dangerous times? What if the outcome of the battle depends on them having grown stronger?

I found Sanderson's portrayal of Cadsuane in The Gathering Storm (and this is supported by his comments about her on the book tour) to differ significantly enough from Jordan's character to warrant a separate article. Comparing the differences would have distracted from the point of this article.

Rand tries to delegate, yes, but as little as possible. His leadership style is one of intimidation even of people who have shown to be willing to contribute to what he wants. He yells at people who did exactly as he asked when he doesn't like the outcome ie it's his fault not theirs. He is driving away help. Soon there will be no one left to delegate to.

He needs a coalition of the willing not the dregs of who he can intimidate.

Rand only followed Cadsuane’s advice to honour his bargain with the Sea Folk to begin with because he thought she’d quit being his advisor and Min said he needed Cadsuane. From his words in With the Choedan Kal, Rand intended to use Cadsuane and drive her away after.

Cadsuane has tried talking with Rand rather than pushing him: there was a scene in KOD which showed she had been encouraging him to be like the willow and not the oak or steel but he already has his own ideas. The pushing is more effective.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article. All of your articles are really great, very thoroughly researched and developed and I always feel less guilty avoiding my organic chem homework on here than on facebook! I like your assessment of Cadsuane and liked your Sanderson comments. It's a pity because he was so wonderful in almost every other area. He should be given patience I think, but it actually really bothers me, and I would be interested to see an article highlighting the differenced between Jordan's Cadsuane and Sanderson's. Perhaps someone could even email it to him?


Linda said...

:D Thanks for the compliment!

LOL I did organic chem. Such a long time ago...

As far as the differences in Cadsuane article I'm not promising anything! I've got a few things I'm working on right now and I'm off to JOrdanCon in 3 weeks.

tool said...

Cadsuane may believe she is right, and is having some effect, but she would do better by emulating Moiraine.

Her ornaments do not enable her to stand up to Rand; when did Rand channel at her? Egwene and Aviendha are listened to because he is confident of their motives. Cadsuane isn't interested in earning any trust, she just wants to be listened to. To influence Rand.

Oh, and we get the old "reverse the gender" argument wiht Logain. Why doesn't this work?
Logain is less central to the narrative and hasn't done much.
He doesn't have the arrogant confidence in his own rightness.
He is supporting the Dragon Reborn, not trying to be another who sees Rand as one who must be controlled by him/ her, because only he/ she knows best.

I don't hate Cadsuane- but the character is not written to be liked, and I don't.

LordJuss said...


Great article as usual. I do think the differences between the RJ Cadsuane and the BS one may be smaller than they appear.

tGS is the first time we really see Cadsuane fail and her reaction is consistent with her character. The problem with a change of author is that it's possible to see changes of style in things that would have been there anyway. My suspicion is that RJ would have written the events of tGS similarly to how they played out.

Personally I didn't notice much difference but I'm happy to be educated.


Anonymous said...

BS. Cadsuane is an obnoxious, hyporcritical, violent bully. Comparing her to Logain is absolutely laughable, so is the pulling of the feminist card "Oooh, but if she were a man no one would complain about her." Yes, we would, trust me.
I can't wait until someone rips her head off.

Anonymous said...

One more thing, regarding the "If Cadsuane were a guy" train of thought. If Cadsuane were a guy, then Rand would have to be a girl. Now, imagine Cadsuane as a male, treating a female Rand this way, including striking HER in public in full view of her subordinates. I am sure it's a mental image you will not like. So why is the other way around, i.e. Cadsuane having a vagina, rather than a penis, and still behaving like that acceptable for you? Why is that kind of behaviour suddenly a mark of a strong female character?

Misopogon said...

I didn't realize until I read some of the comments on here that a lot of Jordan fans don't like Cadsuane. I liked her from the start, and when she grated on me later, I felt it was more an effect of late-RJ's tendency to revert characters to stock. Sanderson gets her better (more on this in a moment).

Cadsuane is, simply, the epitome of Aes Sedai. She is powerful, and manipulative, and secretive about her own agenda, and arrogant, and ultimately good. It is telling that Aes Sedai hold her as a living legend while she elicits such bile from readers like "Anonymous" above me here. If you think about it: how do most people in Rand's world react to Aes Sedai?

Cadsuane is a fantastic character because here we finally have a truly competent person in a position of leadership. Most important leaders we have encountered are young (the ta'veren, Egwene, Elayne, Siuan, Tuon) or evil (Suroth, Taim, Alviarin), or incompetent (Elaida, Romanda, Southern nobility, dead/deposed monarchs). Like Bashere for Rand's armies, Cadsuane is the one channeler in Al'Thor's camp with the years of experience and wisdom and knowledge to go along with her unquestioningly good intent.

And here's why Sanderson gets her so well: all of that competence, and the ability to use it, requires arrogance. Yet with arrogance always comes a fall, comes a time when they are proven wrong. The Tam scene is a crucible moment for her: a man, just a shepherd from a place so remote they didn't even know what country they belong to, knows more about common sense psychology than she does.

Her mistakes are very Aes Sedai, because she IS Aes Sedai. Yet we wouldn't want to discount their helpfulness to the world, even after we've exposed nigh 100 within their ranks who were serving the Dark One, even after their haughtiness (anymore than we would get rid of the Church and all of the good it does the world, for all of its arrogance).

Cadsuane is a profound example of the greatness and failings of good leaders.

And ultimately, though Cadsuane seems to learn something from Tam and his whole "you have been trying to manipulate him" spiel, Rand's state is his fault more than hers. Cadsuane doesn't know of the connection to Moridin, nor the extent of Lews Therin's voice, nor Rand's consciousness -- to the point of mantra -- of his own hardness. Rand has been eating himself alive, needlessly refusing the company of friends and advice of well-meaning allies, and taking far too much responsibility for events that he well knows are dictated by fate.

Anonymous said...

You've given a very sympathetic reading of Cadsuane, and I think you were too sympathetic to her early actions. What she did during her first meeting was rather bizarre, and it would have stopped me from trusting her as well. Rand reacts pretty well to kindness and trust in him, at least better then Cadsuanes techniques. To put it very simply, if Min hadn't told Rand he needed Cadsuane (which Cadsuane couldn't have known beforehand) he'd never have spoken to her again. Though I have to admit that she did try to make the best of it after her initial antagonization of Rand, and did give him good advice.

As to her later actions, I don't blame her for the failing wards, but hiding the Sad Bracelets in her bedroom was just plain stupid, and even considering using them on Ashaman seriously nasty. If she really couldn't destroy them, they should have been under a rock in the Termool or a cave in the mountains, anywhere but the very first place anyone would look. For that blunder alone she deserved to be banished.

Linda said...

Before she went to Rand, Cadsuane had questioned some of the Aes Sedai around him. So she knew what he was like. That's why she chose to do what she did at their first meeting.