Monday, July 5, 2010

Knife of Dreams Read-through #10: No Figurehead

By Linda

When Egwene was captured, the rebels assumed that, as a woman falsely claiming to be Amyrlin, she would be tried and executed. Siuan’s news that Egwene is a prisoner but otherwise OK is greeted with varying reactions.

The Group of Six

Sheriam’s instinct was to rush off and rescue Egwene, since the rebellion and the Tower split depended on Egwene leading the rebels, and perhaps to let Aran’gar know what was happening. She was bitter about Egwene’s determination to reunite the Tower peacefully (because it will annoy Aran’gar?)

Myrelle wanted to follow Sheriam’s lead for a rescue.

Carlinya thought logically about the situation but did not come up with an answer.

Morvrin was correct in what she said. She deduced that Egwene is to be broken.

Beonin convinced herself that Egwene is now no longer Amyrlin and therefore no longer requires her obedience and that the rebels would soon return to the Tower. So she decided to beat them to it and report to Elaida. She was Elaida’s mole.

Although very ambitious, Beonin doesn’t stay in the Tower to play politics, but travels even to rough places to deliver justice to all, including the humblest, and has been in danger from those who would pervert justice. She is one of the few Aes Sedai who realises what the Tower lost through not actively searching for channellers and notices how all the new novices accept the discipline easily enough, contrary to Tower received wisdom. These are really positive aspects, but her excessive ambition is not.

Nisao is not regarded as part of their “group.” Is this because she is Yellow and Yellow was allied to the Red? Or merely because she wasn’t one of the original clique? Nisao continued to follow Egwene’s orders to ask about Anaiya and Kairen because unlike the other five she actually accepted Egwene’s authority.


Lelaine held Faolain and interrogated her. She justified the kidnapping by saying that Faolain is a spy and really only an Accepted. Yet it is illegal to do this to any initiate of the Tower. Lelaine wanted a) to know what the group of six were up to and how much influence they had with Egwene, b) to have a hold on the group, and c) to know what Egwene planned so Lelaine can use it or counter it.

Lelaine is not Ajah Head since Siuan said:

"I'm faithful to you as a Sitter for my Ajah,”

- Knife of Dreams, When Last Sounds

It would be much harder for Siuan to refuse Lelaine if she were Head of the Blue.

Lelaine doesn’t believe Egwene’s report of the Ajahs turning on each other. (Egwene understated it if anything, since she had not seen worst of it yet). She considered that Elaida might make Egwene Accepted again, but dismissed it.

When Siuan asked Lelaine if she would heed Egwene’s call to a Sitting of the Hall in Tel’aran’rhiod Lelaine considered not going, but realised it wasn’t very politic. It was too soon to dump Egwene; it would make her look faithless.

Lelaine’s unscrupulousness and ambition outweighs that of Romanda by far and she is shown as potentially almost as bad as Elaida.


Shortly after she retired, Romanda went ‘back home’ to Far Madding and got into trouble there, since she had to leave in a hurry. She is rather old-fashioned, not unusual in an elderly woman, and unlike Beonin only wants novices of the traditional age. She has the same attitude about Sitters, though she is right about needing experienced ones. However her suggestion of Dagdara would have been disastrous, since Dagdara is/was Black.

The rebel Sitters keen on negotiations – Varilin, Magla, Takima, Faiselle, Saroiya – seem to be agreeing to most of Elaida’s strictures, except the abolition of the Blue Ajah. All former Tower Sitters, they are seriously trying to reunite the Tower. We learn in The Gathering Storm, that they were sent to do this very task. Romanda and Lelaine stop them from being too conciliatory.

Romanda believes what Egwene said about the inter-Ajah hostility and Elaida demanding the rebels do extensive penance before they are readmitted to their Ajahs. The Yellow are no longer staunch allies of the Red, though Elaida’s actions contributed to a lot of this ill feeling. It is quite telling that Romanda would even prefer Lelaine as Amyrlin than Elaida!

Romanda notices that Sharina is youthening, as are a number of older novices, but RJ said that Sharina won’t become young:

As an aside, I saw somewhere that I supposedly said that Sharina Melloy will not grow younger. If I did, then I misspoke. Sharina will not grow young, but she will grow younger in appearance, as will any other older women who begin to channel. For Sharina, by way of example, she will “regress” into apparent middle age, but no younger.

- Robert Jordan on his blog, Dec 2005

ie she won’t undergo a reverse menopause.

When told Sharina is very skilled at the new Healing (and would probably join the Yellow), as is a number of older novices, Romanda reconsiders her intention to get rid of the older novices. Since strength in the Power determines rank, and Sharina is stronger than any other woman associated with the Tower, the status of the Yellow would increase if she joined it. And the Yellow’s numbers (and skill level) would also increase if the older novices were allowed to join. It is quite a dilemma for her, but at least she is thinking about it.

Rand’s Offer

What Moria (and Malind and Escaralde) intended when she suggested the agreement with the Black Tower did take place:

Romanda and the others might have stood in favor of this nonsensical "alliance" with the Black Tower, but from that moment on they had fought like drunken cart drivers over how to implement it, how to word the agreement, how to present it, every single detail torn apart, put back together and torn apart again. The thing was doomed, thank the Light.

- Knife of Dreams, The Dark One’s Touch

which was to cause as much contention within the rebel Hall and the rebels as a whole as possible, knowing that such contention would prevent anything actually being done about contacting the Asha’man, and to make it almost impossible for the Tower to reunite.

Sheriam can’t go into the Hall without the Amyrlin, but she hangs around outside it – eavesdropping? Keeping Egwene’s status as Amyrlin alive and therefore the rebellion going?

Lelaine is quite smug about being the one to bring Merise to tell the Hall of Rand’s proposal. Judging by the body language Romanda observes, Lelaine seems to think the offer for the rebels to Bond 47 Asha’man brings her nearer to being Amyrlin. Lelaine makes an unusual request to prevent onlookers from hearing proceedings, but allow them to see them. She is steering a careful course between letting the rank and file know something of what is going on to enhance her standing among them, but not annoying her fellow Sitters who would vote for her, or giving Romanda an opportunity to override her on matters of Hall security or protocol.

Malind brings Nacelle (a Darkfriend) to try out her weave of detecting male channelling in the Hall. This is against the law of Sealed to the Hall and the law against channelling in the Hall without permission.

Faiselle tried to debate Rand’s offer and she and Saroiya refused to stand for it.

The rebel Sitters finally know saidin is clean but not how that occurred.

Ironically it was the Darkfriend Moria who asked Narishma about a woman channelling saidin. Therefore she never reported to Aran’gar – this is backed up by the way Delana seemed to work the Hall factions by herself. Though admittedly from Sheriam’s comments in The Gathering Storm, In Darkness, Sheriam didn’t know what Aran’gar used on her until she heard about this.

Lelaine obstructed the search for the murderer of Anaiya, Setagana and Kairen ostensibly because it supposedly impinged on Blues’ rights, but actually because it was an example of Egwene’s continued authority. Romanda, on the other hand, solved the crime. This takes some of the shine off Lelaine's promotion of an alternative arrangement with the Asha'man.

Comparisons with the Tower

To their credit, the rebels share the new weaves and knowledge with all. In contrast, Elaida parcels them out only to those she trusts (often untrustworthy!) until Egwene and Leane share most of them. They hold back Travelling.

It was Mesaana’s idea and Alviarin’s organisation, but what they turned the Tower into was a reflection of Elaida – bullying, partial, selfish and megalomaniac. Not that the seeds weren’t already there, but...


TJ said...

An excellent summary, I find myself in agreement with you on virtually every point.
I think the politics of the Aes Sedai are some of the best details in a series where details are king. I think it is interesting how quickly Lelaine and Romanda (Particularly the former) go back to their misconcieved notions about Egwene. Clearly they believe that no one, and certainly not young Egwene, can withstand a concerted effort from the tower. After all what can she do? What could anyone do?
It shows that they still have not realised that though she may not be Ta'veren or even the strongest (Though her strength is not to be doubted) in the Power Egwene is the most complete Aes Sedai of her Age. Even Cadsune, Elyane and Nynaeve are not so complete in every area of what it means to be Aes Sedai. Egwene is a world changer and, though not strictly speaking Ta'veren, certainly she has shaped the Threads of the Pattern around her.
I think it is not until after 'The attack' that the rest of the world realises what Egwene is and the sooner she is beside Rand the better. She is as key a component in his success as his wives or his two counsellers (Mat and Perrin).
No figurehead indeed.
Great summary.

Anonymous said...

Egwene has no need to be ta'veren. Her lifethread is tightly tangled with three ta'veren. Their influence over the Pattern extend through people like her.

The people close to the three guys are all "almost ta'veren" in appearance. Elayne, Nynaeve have also pulled off "near ta'veren" stuff. They're almost in the center of their webs of destiny, that's why - the ta'veren influence of the boys extends through people, and most of all through the people closest to them, and the web is a web, by nature it gets wider and wider, with the center the tighest part. All the near ta'veren events at the WT were caused by Rand's ta'veren nature (a few by Mat too), through people like Egwene, Siuan, Elaida.

Siuan, Moiraine, Verin - they were some of those truly caught in those webs. Elaida's been tangled in Rand's web since EOTW. Elaida was used as a bait for the Shadow.

The WT conflict has by and large followed exactly what Rand needed for the AS. He could have faced at every turn a dangerous and interferring WT, instead Egwene is gonna bring to TG a unified Tower, cleansed of its Shadow elements. All there's left to do for her is ally with Logain and similarly cleanse the Asha'man. It will happen, both Logain and Egwene have long been tangled in Rand's web.


Anonymous said...

Wonder who leads the Blue Ajah then, since it's not Lelaine? I had never registered that scene and thought that obviously the First Selector is Lelaine. Just like Romanda leads the Yellows.

Couldn't have bee Moria, could it? THAT'd be a blow. She was known for her wisdom, after all.

I suppose we just haven't seen her? Unless it's Maigan or Lyrelle.

Linda said...

Anonymous: the Blue Ajah Head is most likely Maigan, who we see speaking very harshly to Siuan and playing a cold war with Myrelle.

Linda said...

Thanks Tristram. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Romanda is shown as less prejudiced more open-minded than Lelaine in KOD, but then that is perhaps because she is less obsessed with her own advancement.