Monday, July 12, 2010

Knife of Dreams Read-through #13: Black Ajah Activities in Knife of Dreams

By Linda

In Knife of Dreams the Black Ajah is gradually revealed to more characters, but is not publicly known until the end of the book.

This post will look at those Black sisters mentioned in Knife of Dreams.

With the Rebels:

Sheriam’s performance as Mistress of Novices was considered mediocre by Silviana:

“I’ve browsed her punishments book. She let the girls get away with too much, and was far too lenient with her favorites. As a result, she was forced to deal out correction much more often than she should have had to.”

- Knife of Dreams Prologue

Who were Sheriam’s favourites? And why? Were they prospective Darkfriends? Sheriam didn’t like the job (The Path of Daggers, Out on the Ice) and obviously it shows. (And Sheriam’s true commitment in time and effort was to the Black Ajah).

When Sheriam heard that Egwene was not to be tried and executed, she pushed for rescuing her since Aran’gar was of the opinion that the Tower split depended on Egwene leading the rebels. Sheriam blabbed the news to Lelaine:

"Siuan says Egwene is alive," Sheriam said as though relating the price of delta perch on the dockhead. "And Leane. Egwene spoke to Siuan's dreams. She refuses any attempt at a rescue." Myrelle gave her a sidelong glance, unreadable, but Siuan could have boxed her ears! Likely Lelaine would have been the next she sought out, but to tell her in her own way, not spilled out on the wharf like this. Of late, Sheriam had become as flighty as a novice!

- Knife of Dreams, When Last Sounds

It’s unlikely that Sheriam believed Lelaine would want to rescue Egwene, so it looks like she was ordered by Aran’gar to support Lelaine now that Egwene was not available. Presumably someone else was told to support Romanda to maintain the stalemate. Alternatively Sheriam was trying to limit Siuan’s influence, something both Sheriam and Aran’gar would like.

When the rebel Hall met, Sheriam hung around outside it, embarrassing everyone, including herself, probably with the intent of keeping Egwene’s claims alive:

Sheriam's green eyes were tight, as usual, and she fidgeted in an unbecoming manner, like a novice who knew she was due another visit to the Mistress of Novices.

- Knife of Dreams, Call to a Sitting

It sounds like she didn’t want to do this but was told to by Aran’gar.

Delana was openly instructed by Aran’gar on what to say and do in the Hall:

Indeed, the woman was gesturing emphatically while Delana merely nodded in the meekest manner imaginable. Meek!

- Knife of Dreams, Call to a Sitting

This was politically stupid of Aran’gar since it would only erode Delana’s credibility further.

When Narishma mentioned the Forsaken who channelled saidin to the Hall, Delana didn’t wait to hear any more but rushed out to tell Aran’gar, especially since the rebels now know a weave to detect saidin being channelled. They fled the rebel camp. Delana’s judgement was correct: Romanda soon worked out who the Forsaken was.

As Romanda observed, Moria seemed anxious when Lelaine called for a Sitting:

Moria, in blue wool embroidered with silver, was striding up and down in front of the blue-covered platforms. Was her frown because she knew why Lelaine had called the Hall and disapproved, or because she was worried over not knowing?

- Knife of Dreams, Call to a Sitting

Moria knew something of what Merise and Narishma would say since she was asked by Lelaine to fetch them from the Blue Ajah tents, so I think she didn’t want this offer made, but couldn’t stop it without exposing herself.

When she (and Malind and Escaralde) suggested the rebels make an agreement with the Black Tower it was never meant to succeed:

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 corn apart, put back together and torn apart again. The thing was doomed, thank the Light.

- Knife of Dreams, The Dark One’s Touch

but merely 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.

Ironically Moria accelerated the exposure of Aran’gar in an attempt to erode Narishma’s credibility when she asked him 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.

Nacelle invented a weave for detecting a man’s channelling and tried it out on Narishma in the rebel Hall. At the least this would have limited Aran’gar’s channelling (even if s/he reversed the weaves her channelling might still be detected with the weave), so it was an added reason for Aran’gar had to flee.

With Rand

While Rand’s group was assembling to meet “the Daughter of the Nine Moons”, Elza

was frowning at Rand, too, one hand on the shoulder of her tall, lean Warder Fearil as if she were gripping a guard dog's collar and thinking of loosing him. Not against Rand, certainly, but he worried for anyone she thought might be threatening him.

- Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box

Likely Elza felt the Seanchan might ambush Rand at the meeting. She would lose access to him then and wouldn’t be able to ensure he live to be killed by the Dark One.

In Caemlyn

According to Pevara, Duhara left Tar Valon by ship, but no one knew where to. There is no proof either way as to whether Duhara was taught Travelling by Alviarin (she is strong enough to Travel). Duhara might have been ordered to do a few errands for Mesaana or Alviarin when she went ashore, before Travelling to just outside Caemlyn a feasible time later. She could not be seen to arrive in Caemlyn too soon. Or she spent the whole time on her arduous journey as she emphasises:

"A poor welcome, Elayne, when I came to the palace as soon as I arrived. And after a journey that would be as torturous to describe as it was to endure.

- Knife of Dreams, House on Full Moon Street

(I think she protested too much, myself.)

Elaida sent Duhara to be Elayne’s advisor. Duhara knew a lot about what is going on in Caemlyn before she arrived; she was well-briefed. She said that the political opposition to Elayne’s claim is due to Elayne not having Tower backing and when Elayne refused to even have her in the Palace threatened to make trouble:

"You won't fend me off so easily, child. No one fends off the White Tower easily. Think, and you'll see I'm your only hope." Silk whisked against silk as she left the room, and the door clicked shut behind her. It seemed very possible Duhara would cause trouble trying to make herself needed, but one problem at a time.

- Knife of Dreams, The House on Full Moon Street

On the other hand, what would Duhara do to try forcing her acceptance as an advisor? Duhara would try to meddle somehow, but she could not see how. Burn her, she did not need any more difficulties between her and the throne.

- Knife of Dreams, The House on Full Moon Street

Duhara might try to rescue the Black Ajah prisoners unless forbidden to by a Forsaken. She might encourage Jarid Sarand to make trouble. (Her opportunity to do this openly is dwindling: soon her allegiance will be known by Elayne, at least.)

It was to arrest Falion and Marillin as Darkfriends that Elyane raided Shiaine’s house. She didn’t know four other Black sisters were there.

Marillin had heard Elayne had a woman Warder but disbelieved it and didn’t pass on the information. She revealed that Careane was Black and Vandene killed Careane in revenge for Adeleas.

Asne showed a fondness for weapons. She stunned Elayne and co with an Age of Legends ‘gun’ and used the balefire rod to carve through Elayne’s rescue forces. The Windfinders killed her with lightning.

Chesmal killed Vandene and Sareitha and their Warders with the Power.

Temaile took pleasure in binding, blindfolding and gagging Elayne cruelly.

Erith deduced that Elayne’s group had disguised their weaves and the glow of the Power and wanted to learn this.

These Black sisters were captured by Birgitte and the Windfinders and are now held prisoner. Duhara may rescue them unless forbidden to. The only Black sister in Caemlyn who knew how to do the Travelling weave, Careane, is dead unless Alviarin taught Duhara. Other Black sisters could yet stop by though to tell Duhara to leave Caemlyn, or to help her free the prisoners.

In the Tower

The rest of the White Ajah consider Alviarin to have brought shame upon the Ajah with her demotion. She is beaten every morning by Silviana at Elaida’s orders.

Alviarin told Katerine to spread news of Dumai’s Wells (Knife of Dreams Prologue) and ordered that news of the Black Tower debacle be spread in a similar way.

Alviarin collected three Black Ajah reports. One was about Talene leaving the Greens’ quarters with luggage, and the other two were that Yukiri and Doesine slept behind wards against intruders. She wrote orders that Talene is to be found and brought back and that Doesine and Yukiri are to be closely watched. Whenever she encountered Egwene she tried to lure Egwene into her clutches by saying that she must want to escape.

Katerine told the Red Ajah that Galina died at Dumai’s Wells. Sashalle’s letter indicated otherwise but was disbelieved.

Katerine obeyed Alviarin’s orders to inform other sisters of what happened at Dumai’s Wells to discredit Elaida which meant she disobeyed the Highest’s orders to do the opposite.

She helped capture Egwene and was one of the Reds who watched over Egwene regularly.

After Alviarin saw how Talene looked to Doesine and Yukiri for guidance during a meeting with Elaida, Talene was ordered to appear before the Supreme Council. She knew this boded ill and begged to be hidden way. She was taken to the Tower basement. Black sisters were ordered to search for her. In The Gathering Storm A Visit From Verin Sedai, we learn that Talene fled the Tower during Knife of Dreams.

Atuan was broken with the Chair of Remorse and named the other members of her heart, Karale and Marris, who were treated in the same way. The extra sisters they know are out of the Tower. All three are passing on whatever they hear.

Consistent with Alviarin’s orders to undermine Elaida by talking of the failure of Toveine’s expedition, Evanellein called for Elaida to be deposed due to the debacle at the Black Tower but was overruled by the other Grey leaders on the grounds that the Tower must be mended and the Seanchan and Asha’man dealt with.

Miyasi argued logic with two other Whites about reality changing while they guarded Leane.

Nesita was one of Egwene’s guards. The one time Egwene refused to drink forkroot Nesita forced it down her gullet.

Zanica was one of those who caught Leane and insisted on rushing back to the Tower with her.

With the Shaido

Therava makes Galina abase herself for a chance to touch saidar.

Neald and Gaul captured Galina and took her to Perrin, whom she tried to manipulate into not attacking the Shaido. When this failed she tried to delay him. She asked Perrin to hit her in the face to provide evidence for her excuses to Therava but he refused. Berelain did it.

Therava beat Galina severely anyway – the injustice just added spice - and singed off all the hair on her body and made her wear nothing but the gold belt and collar until the bruises on Galina’s face healed. When Galina was finally clothed again, Therava added a big red bow to the short regrowth of hair on her head.

Galina planned to revenge herself on Elaida and others once she was free. When Faile and co told her they had the Oath Rod, she lured them to the deserted part of Malden and trapped them under rubble. She tried to flee the Shaido but was caught by Therava and is now accompanying her to the Waste as her slave. She is forbidden to ride, or touch the Oath Rod, or to try to escape.

With the Seanchan

Liandrin killed Alwhin with poison in a mistaken attempt to gain favour with Suroth. She was beaten for not being a proper dacovale.

Suroth said she would have Liandrin collared and paired with a Darkfried sul’dam but probably didn’t get to do so. Collared or not, Liandrin is now the property of Tuon.

There are plenty of other Black sisters, including Verin, but they aren’t onscreen in Knife of Dreams.


Anonymous said...

Nice, very nice.

The activities of the black ajah have become more interesting, and perhaps more important as well, as TLB approaches.

I have a good laugh when I think about the many black sisters that have to flee the WT. Consider the dark sisters with Rand, the ones bonding Ashamen, and how they may respond or strike back now that they have no great constraints other than the GL & foresaken...

I hope the next prologue will include a groveling Mesaana explaining her failure to Moridin.

Thank you for sharing this post.

LOVE & Peace

Mister_Random said...

A brief comment on Duhara, given that Elaida was taught travelling it's also possible that Elaida arranged for Duhara to be taught at some point.

Given that Elaida due to her misinterpretation of prophecy views The ruling house of Andor (Elayne) as vital to the last battle she obviously has a great deal of trust in Duhara. This makes it likely Elaida would teach her travelling and it would not take that much effort for Elaida to arrange for Duhara to be taught.

Given that Elaida has a track record in kidnapping, a Travelling empowered Duhara could appeal to her since if Duhara could somehow dose Elayne with Forkroot she could then capture her and take her back to the Tower.

RabidWombat said...

What I want to know is how the four extra BA track Elayne and snuck in. From previous books we know that those four were intent on kidnapping Elayne and had nothing to do with the other two. (Moridin would be very displeased by their actions I think.)

I have a hard time believing they happened to be awake and shadowing either the castle or the other BA. Did Careane inform them or another spy in the castle? If they did, then did the extra-time that Elayne took to arrange for her escort give the four BA time to follow? Or did the escort prevent them from attacking earlier and killing Birgitte as well?

Speaking of Birgitte, her plan of attack against the BA was really poor. People blame Elayne for the loss of those men, but an equal portion of the blame must go to Birgitte. Birgitte could easily have placed 50 archers or so hidden in the bushes. Problem solved.

RabidWombat said...

I forgot some comments. I was shocked to find both Moria and Nacelle on the list of BA. Both seemed to do things that hurt Halima. Remember that both Delana and Sheriam were horrified about Moria's plan. Further as was stated in this article both Moria and Nacelle helped to out Halima in KoD. I suspected Kawesama because she delayed in reporting that Saidin had touched her wards in KoD, but she proved true.

The AS are dwindling fast. After the purge of over 200 BA and those killed by the Seanchen, how many are still left to serve Egwene?

Linda said...

Thanks for your replies.

Mr R: Duhara left before the KOD Prologue, whereas Beonin arrived at the Tower and taught Elaida Travelling in Ch 2. So that timeline doesn't work, unfortunately.

RW: It's never explained. Shiaine asks why are they there, but is merely slapped.

Birgitte's no general. She did warn Elayne.

I think that Moria appeared to work for Mesaana or some other Forsaken than Halima. Delana's distaste for the deal was that of many AS for working with male channellers. But she was forced to support the deal by her controller.

Nacelle was somewhat of a surprse, indeed, but it's not as if we've never seen the Shadow's different plots at cross-purposes before.

I have a Dead, Captured and Missing Aes Sedai article courtesy of Bob. At least 105 AS are dead, 30 odd captives and 14 or so missing who can't serve Egwene,and about 160 live BA who presumably won't serve.

Anonymous said...

" Delana's distaste for the deal was that of many AS for working with male channellers. But she was forced to support the deal by her controller."

I don't understand your reasonning.

You say Moria didn't serve Aran'gar (most likely wasn't known as BA by her) and I agree.

You also point out that Delana seemed her only pawn in the Hall from evidence of Delana's pattern of behaviour, and I also agree.

But what makes you believe Aran'gar knew before the sitting what Moria would propose, to instruct Delana to support that motion, when the motion surprised everybody else?

That day, Aran'gar kept Sheriam too long (and upset her), then kept Delana even longer. The picture it paints is that Aran'gar, Delana and Sheriam had no idea why Moria called an urgent meeting right after the envoys to SL returned, but it worried or interested a lot Aran'gar, and she had much to speculate about with Delana, looking at possibilities. She delayed the sitting using Sheriam to go through all the possibilities with Delana, which speaks of some confusion/puzzlement about Moria's intents.

Delana didn't vote in favor of the motion because Aran'gar told he to. She didn't stand for it and looked sick. She only did once Moria got the lesser consensus. Delana simply judged that she was better not to remain among the opponents.

In KOD, Delana was among Lelaine's bunch not because Aran'gar ordered her to support Narishma's offer, but more likely because Aran'gar had ordered Delana to keep a close eye on the negotiations, and meddle and sow dissension about them.

Narishma and Merise probably didn't tell Lelaine explicitely about the substance of their message. Narishma probably just told her he was carrying an offer from the Dragon Reborn for Egwene, and upon hearing she wasn't there, he agreed to present it to the full Hall. Merise most likely refused (made Narishma refuse) to present the proposal to Lelaine. As Merise would know, this would have given Lelaine way too much power in the Hall, had she been the one presenting the proposal. Lelaine had to settle to introduce the DR's envoy to the Hall.

Again, Delana had most likely no prior knowledge of what Narishma really came for, but obviously was well aware of the threat a man from Rand presented for Aran'gar.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned Galina might have escaped if she had freed herself from the Rod the instant she was by herself, but that wouldn't have been possible as her oath prevented her from channeling without permission from the wise ones. I've wondered if she might have been able to get Morgase to do the channeling for her as it only takes a small flow of spirit to activate the rod, but Galina probably wouldn't be willing to show that much weakness to the others. Without someone to do that channeling though, she was stuck.

Linda said...

That's true. I'll fix the article.

Galina couldn't be sure the trap she set would hold while Morgase tried to weave the thread of Spirit.

I guess she was going to rely on one of the BA to channel for her. Or perhaps once she was far away she could convince herself that she didn't have to obey Therava and Sevanna since she had escaped them.

Linda said...

Why do I believe that Delana voted the way Aran'gar wanted in COT? She could have stayed seated. Only 12 stood for it out of the 18, so she would not have been conspicuous. She was the only one who stood in the interest of the greater consensus. In a way that made her more conspicuous.

I think she was told to vote for anything that increased contention among the rebels and made the union of the Tower more difficult. That was what her aim was in her conversation with Egwene in COT. That vote certainly qualified as something that would increase division. As an experienced Grey she would know that the resolution would be mired in disagreement and achieve nothing beyond more division. As Beonin told us it did.

Anonymous said...


I see what you mean. I don't think I agree on the motivations you ascribe to Delana (in that particular scene, as in general principle I think you're quite right).

Moria's proposal presented a potential threat to Aran'gar, and any threat to Aran'gar was also a threat to Delana given their too close association. That's why Delana looked sick as Moria spoke. This wasn't what she was expecting at all, and what Aran'gar and her had just discussed until the last minute (apparently retaining Sheriam to delay the sitting's start). Delana looked like a woman who really hoped the proposal would be rejected. And it should have been. Neither Romanda nor Lelaine looked enthusiastic, and it appears Romanda's decision hanged a lot on the fact she had caught the Blue Ajah uncharacteristically divided (ie: she calculated Lelaine/Lyrelle would vote no) and seing that, she drove the wedge in by supporting Moria in a vote that would still fail. But it's Lyrelle and Lelaine Moria and those who voted in favour would blame for the failure, while Romanda sided with them. If incidents (Forsaken etc.) happened, Romanda could blame Lelaine and the division in the Blue for the disaster. She would also have managed to crack the front of unity of the Blue in the Hall, which wasn't unsignificant as a political victory, and might be the beginning of something.

Lelaine saw all this, and she had to make a choice between a proposal she didn't appear to support, or open division among the Blue Sitters over a proposal originating from the Blue. By changing the outcome of the vote, she saved face and made it appear the Blue tricked Romanda into voting yes.

As for Delana... much to her grief no doubt, the vote passed. Aran'gar would be angry, but Delana had cast her vote against the proposal when it counted and there was nothing else she could do, as Aran'gar would know. She might pass her anger on Delana, but it would die down.

Her decision to stand for the greater consensus (once more appearing to be an opportunistic woman of fickle convictions) was opportunistic and calculated. It didn't create division or wasn't meant to. Delana didn't want to be thrown with the women who had spoken against the proposal. She wanted to appear to join the consensus now that the voted had passed. It's not then that she would look conspicuous to vote either way. It's later, when Aran'gar forced her to involve herself a lot with the negotiations, and to stall them and spread division. Moria and her allies would work hard to flatten out divisions and make this work. The women they'd be the most careful about were the ones who refused to join the consensus and could be expecte to keep working to derail a decision they still opposed openly. It was a really bad position for Delana to hold, all the more since Aran'gar could (would, by her past orders) also ask her to play both sides and appear to support Moria's efforts, while as she voted no in truth, she could still pretend to the opponents she was on their side.

So, I think Delana's motivations were her own political calculation and her understanding of what Aran'gar would expect of her when she learned about the proposal. I don't think even Aran'gar's general instructions concerning the Hall covered the eventuality of such a proposal.

Mister_Random said...


To clarify what I meant about Elaida arranging for Duhara to be taught.

I did not mean to suggest Duhara was taught before she left the tower, I meant to suggest she was taught after she left the tower by one of the sisters Elaida taught or even by Elaida herself.

All Elaida would need to do would be to send Duhara instructions for a meeting via a red agent and Duhara's teacher would probably not be missed as travelling and skimming would mean that the teacher could get to Andor and back in a few hours or less.

Linda said...

Mr Random: It is possible, but much less likely in KOD. Katerine was doing this in TGS, as we saw when she visited the remnants of Elaida's embassy. Duhara might have been included in her rounds.