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aCoS 11-12 (FRR-2012)

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Lord of the Morning

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Location: Shanaine, Manetheren

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:33 am
Post subject: aCoS 11-12 (FRR-2012)
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aCoS Ch 11 "An Oath"

Trying to figure out exactly what a chapter title [means], or even what the chapter is about from the title can be an exercise in futility. I always imagine Harriet having a nice chuckle, or perhaps a cackle when she is deciding chapter titles. She’s the one who’s always done it ever since Jim was writing The Eye of the World, in the 1980s. Sometimes I’ll see a title and go oh **** or see one and think wow that sounds interesting, and other times one sounds innocuous enough, but is life changing or world breaking. As to “An Oath,” some oaths are more important than others. Egwene arises at the butt-crack of dawn to find Romanda’s spy, her maid Meri, staring her in the face. She arises and walks to her study, but instead of Sheriam or Siuan greeting her, Faolain and Theodrin are waiting.

“ ‘The Light illumine you this morning, Mother,” Theodrin said, making a deep curtsy that set the brown fringe of her shawl swaying. She had all the fabled Domani grace, though her high-necked dress was really quite modest. Domani women were not known for modesty. “We did as you commanded, but no one saw anybody near Marigan’s tent last night.”
"Some of the men remembered seeing Halima," Faolain added sourly, with a much briefer bend of her knees, "but aside from that, they hardly recalled whether they went to sleep." Many women disapproved of Delana's secretary, but it was her net remark that made Faolain's round face darker than usual. "We met Tiana while we were roaming about. She told us to go to bed and be quick about it." Unconsciously she stroked the blue fringe on her shawl. New Aes Sedai almost always wore their shawls more often than they needed to, so Siuan said."

The irony is great, they've got the suspect right there, and don't even realize that. Halima has to be the perfect disguise. She isn't Aes Sedai, so obviously not important, no one takes her seriously because all she does is flirt with men and dress like a whore. Even if she *was* taken seriously, no one can sense [saidin] in camp. They could check for residue, but would first need a reason to. I feel sorry for Theodrin, and yes, even Faolain. No one should be treated that way, it's almost worse than being Accepted.

" 'I am very sorry for your difficulties, daughters." Made Aes Sedai by her decree on being raised Amyrlin, they faced the same predicament as she, but lacking the added shield of the Amyrlin's stole, small shield that that had proved. Most sisters behaved as though they were still only Accepted. What went on inside the Ajahs was seldom known outside, but it was rumored that they truly had had to beg admittance, and that guardians had been named to oversee their behavior. No one had ever heard the like, but everyone took it for fact. She had done them no favor. Another thing that had been necessary, though. "I will speak to Tiana." It might do some good. For a day, or an hour."

Poor girls. Pretty funny in an ironic kind of way that Theodrin and Faolain were the accepted in charge of overseeing the wonder girls from book two onward, and Egwene winds up raising them to the shawl by decree. Also fairly humorous that Faolain is a blue when the girls always said she'd pick Red just because she was mean. Might as well get to the meat of things:

" 'It isn't the Oath Rod that makes a woman Aes Sedai, daughter." Whatever some believed. "Speak the truth to me, and I will believe it."
"I don't like you." Faolain's mop of dark curls swayed as she shook her head for emphasis. "You must know that. You probably think I was mean when you were a novice, when you came back to the White Tower after running away, but I still believe you didn't get half the punishment you should have. Maybe my admitting it will help you know I speak the truth. It isn't as though we have no choice even now. Romanda offered to take us under her protection, and so did Lelaine. They said they'd see we were tested and raised properly as soon we return to the Tower."

I like Faolain. I think I'd be grumpy too if these so-called prodigies waltzed in and were made over, pampered and promoted in months which it took me years to accomplish something. Faolain is trying to make Egwene believe what she says, and also, they both are trying to convey that they didn't attach themselves to Egwene because they had to or in gratitude for the shawl--as if that were something to inspire gratitude.

"Faolain jumped in before Theodrin could more than open her mouth. "Because you are the Amyrlin Seat." She still sounded angry. "We can see what happens. Some of the sisters think you're Sheriam's puppet, but most believe Romanda or Lelaine tells you where and when to step. It is not right." Her face was twisted in a scowl. "I left the Tower because what Elaida did wasn't right. They raised you Amyrlin. So I am yours. If you will have me. If you can trust me without the Oat Rod. You must believe me."

I've got the warm fuzzies for Faolain right now. I think she's part of a cardinal rule we should always follow. Namely, never believe something solely because a character believes it. She's not a bad person just because she's mean to yon uppity main character wenches. In fact, Faolain is pretty dang awesome--a must better person than most of these so called Aes Sedai. The real kicker is this:

" 'I am yours, too," Theodrin sighed, "if you'll have me." She spread her hands disparagingly. "We are not much, I know, but it looks as though we are all you have. I must admit I was hesitant, Mother. Faolain is the one who kept insisting we do this. Frankly...” She settled her shawl again unnecessarily, and her voice firmed. “Frankly, I do not see how you can win out over Romanda and Lelaine. But we are trying to behave as Aes Sedai, even though we aren’t really, yet. we will not be that, Mother, whatever you say, until the other sisters see us as Aes Sedai, and that won’t happen until we have been tested and have sworn the Three Oaths.’ “

So, Theodrin didn’t want to do this, she doesn’t think Egwene can cut the mustard, doesn’t think there’s much of a chance, but mean ole Faolain convinced her it is what they had to do. They face the same problem that Elayne and Nynaeve face and in much the same way. They aren’t really Aes Sedai until they force other sisters (and other people) to recognize them as Aes Sedai. You might say Nynaeve isn’t really Aes Sedai until she takes the test and swears the Oaths in Towers of Midnight, but I don’t hold with that--it’s a pile of fishguts! Rancid fishguts surrounded by clouds of flies. Yes, its perception that really matters. That’s the ticket.

“ ‘Under the Light, and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I, Theodrin Dabei, swear fealty to you, Egwene al’vere, to faithfully serve and obey on pain of my life and honor.” She looked at Egwene questioningly.
It was all Egwene could do to nod. This was no part of Aes Sedai ritual; this was how noble swore to ruler. Even some rulers did not receive so strong an oath. Yet no sooner had Theodrin risen with a relieved smile than Faolain took her place.
“Under the Light and by my hope of salvation and rebirth, I , Faolain Orande...’ “

Oaths of fealty. Wasn’t it just last night that Egwene was bleating that Aes Sedai don’t swear to anyone, only the White Tower? She needs them though, very much so. Faolain wants to serve a penance, either one she sets herself or one set by Egwene for how she talked to her. I think penances are one of the stupidest aspects of the White Tower. As if serving a penance is what makes one an Aes Sedai. Look how stiff of a penance I’m serving, look how humble I am, because I’m doing this much. It is really pathetic, is what it is. The ‘pride of humility’ is straight arrogance and penances are trash. Be that as it may, she gives them both instructions and sends them on their way. Siuan staggers in and she’s just been pumped for information. Aeldene Stonebridge is trying to force Siuan to give her the keys to the Amyrlin’s private network of eyes and ears. Each Ajah has one, secret and specific to that Ajah--the Blue is the biggest, the Yellow’s the worst. Aeldene has already snatched control of the Blue’s back from Siuan and now she is trying to force Siuan to give her the Amyrlin’s, since Siuan is Blue. Romanda and Lelaine both want control of it as well, certainly no one wants Egwene to have control over her own network.

Siuan has just about given up. She’s so weak now, and the constant brow beating and bullying by everyone who stands higher on the social hierarchy, because of strength in the Power, has her just wanting to give up and collapse. Egwene sees Myrelle riding past and thinks to use her to help Siuan recover herself, and also because pieced together rumors from Siuan indicate that Myrelle may have a juicy secret of her own.

This opens its own can of worms, however. Gareth Bryne approaches as well, saying he has something that Egwene must see. Before she Siuan and Myrelle can leave though Romanda and Lelaine arrive. Delana has brought a motion before the Hall. She wants Elaida publicly condemned as Black Ajah. Lelaine and Romanda want her shut up but for very different reasons. Lelaine, because the very notion of the Black Ajah is preposterous. Romanda because, she believes in the Black, but doesn’t want them to be driven further into hiding, she wants to unmask them. Her method for this is described as close to ‘being put to the question.’ With or without the Oathrod, ironically, Romanda’s idea is very close to what eventually winds up transpiring during the Great Purge when the Black Ajah is broken.

Egwene manages to escape, for the time being at least, and she, Myrelle, Siuan, and Gareth Bryne ride to see what he has to show her. During that ride Egwene asks him if he expects opposition ahead and exactly how he will take Tar Valon. Egwene is the first to ask him, because of course, the Aes Sedai in Salidar never intended to actually attack the city. At first, Bryne and the army were just a ploy to try to frighten Elaida into conceding. Even now, I believe they only intend to use the army as a bluff to hopefully weaken Elaida’s faction from within and either garner better terms, or a peaceful reunification of the Tower.

The plan is finally revealed--Bryne plans to block the harbor mouths so the city cannot supplied with food. He will lay siege and starve them out, until at some point he will attack the gates. He is loath attack the gates, except as a last result, because as far as he knows, in all of recorded history, no army has ever managed to breach Tar Valon’s walls.

“That was not strictly true, Egwene knew. In the Trolloc Wars, an army of Dreadlord-led Trollocs had actually plundered and burned a part of the White Tower itself. At the end of the War of the Second Dragon, an army trying t rescue Guaire Amalasan before he was gentled had reached the Tower, too. Myrelle could not now, though, much less Bryne. Access to those secret histories, hidden deep in the Tower library, was set out in a law that was itself secret, and revealing the existence of either records or law was treason. Siuan said if you read between the lines, you found hints of things that had not been recorded even there. Aes Sedai were very good at hiding truth when they thought it necessary, even from themselves.”

I guess, suppression of all information that would indicate fallibility is one way to maintain yourself as a world power. Actually, I’m pretty this was why the White Tower, or Bonwhin in particular, set out to destroy Artur Hawkwing. He brought his army onto Tar Valon land, and indeed, into the city itself. He was the one who stopped the army from rescuing Amalasan. So he had been witness to something, that as far as the rest of the world knows, has never occurred: the breaching of Tar Valon by a hostile force. Compound that with people having witnessed Aes Sedai needing help, something they hate and would never admit to, and you’ve got a recipe to orchestrate the downfall and murder of this upstart king.

Bryne hopes to recruit two or three times the number of men he has now in order to be able to lay siege to Tar Valon, allowing him to occupy all the bridge-gate towns and blockade the harbors. He says even if he has only what he has now, he will still do it. Might be bravado on his part, no choice really, either he succeeds, or he and all his men are dead. Egwene herself is sickened, because she never thought of the White Tower split as affecting anyone but Sisters, their servants, and Warders. Her ignorance and naivety are appalling, but more than her personally, I think it a symptom of how isolated the White Tower is from the rest of the world. One can only hope that if nothing else, the Last Battle and the end of the Third Age will make Aes Sedai more a part of the world at large, than they have been since the Breaking. It is much easier to have empathy for people and the world if you have connections to them and a stake in it.

aCoS Ch 12 “A Morning of Victory”

"Before they had gone very far, riders appeared atop a high ridge to the west, perhaps a hundred men in column, the rising sun glinting off breastplates and helmets and lance points. At their head streamed a long white pennant Egwene could not make out, but she knew it bore the Red Hand. She had not expected to see them so close to the Aes Sedai Camp.
"Dragonsworn animals," Myrelle muttered, watching the horsemen parallel their route. Her gloved hands tightened on her reins--with fury, not fear.
"The Band of the Red Hand puts out patrols," Bryne said placidly. With a glance at Egwene, he added, "Lord Talmanes seems concerned about you, Mother, last I spoke to him." He put no more emphasis on that than the other.
"You've [spoken] with him?" Every vestige of Myrelle's serenity vanished. The anger she had to hold in with Egwene, she could safely unleash on him. She all but shook with it. "that is very close to treason, Lord Bryne. It might well [be] treason!" Siuan had been dividing her attention between her horse and the men on the ridge, and she did not look at Myrelle, but she stiffened. No one had tied the Band and treason together before."

Oh no! He SPOKE to him! Somebody needs to backhand Myrelle back to 978 NE, she isn't fit to be let out of her room. I've got so much love for the Band, if it was a person, it'd be a bromance for sure. I like Bryne, he's a good chap. I can't believe the Aes Sedai think the Band are just common brigands and murderers. They must have nothing but sand between their ears. It's obvious how well trained they are, Bryne knows. They might be better trained than Egwene's army.

"They rounded a bend in the hill valley. A farm clung to a hillside, or what had been a farm once. One wall of the small stone house had collapsed, and a few charred timbers stuck up beside the soot-coated chimney like grimy fingers. The roofless barn was a blackened hollow box of stone, and scattered ash marked where sheds might once have stood. All across Altara they had seen as bad and worse, entire villages sometimes, the dead lying in the streets, food for ravens and foxes and feral dogs that fled when people came close. Stories of anarchy and murder in Tarabon and Arad Doman suddenly had flesh and bones. Many men seized any excuse to turn bandit or settle old grudges--Egwene hoped fervently it was so--but the name on every survivor's lips was Dragonsworn, and the sisters blamed Rand as surely as if he had carried the torches himself."

The work of Pedron Nial and Jaichim Carridin--to try to drive the nations into allying with the Children of the Light against Rand--the rabid lion in the streets. Aes Sedai seem pretty selective about their moral outrage. People, towns, and whole nations can be sacrificed for the good of the Tower--but bandits claiming to be Dragonsworn, slaughter peasants that they don't give a hoot about anyway, and all the sudden it's self-righteous fury. Ironically, they are hurting the people just as much as the so-called "Dragonsworn." Sure, Bryne's men aren't looting and pillaging but they are confiscating food, goods, and property. If they pay for it on the spot, or give a promissory note, it doesn't really matter, after all, money is no good if the goods aren't available to be purchased.

“They would use him still if they could, though, control him if they found a way. She was not the only Aes Sedai to believe in doing what she must even when she had to hold her nose.”

I’m not sure if that means, they will manipulate him despite thinking him responsible for rapine and murder, or if they using that as the excuse that he must be leashed.

“ ‘when ten thousand men or more are shadowing my back trail, I want to know what their intentions are. Especially this particular ten thousand or more.”
This was a dangerous topic. However happy Egwene was that they were past questions of Talmanes’ concern over her, she should have been grinding her teeth that he had mentioned her at all, but she was so startled she sat bolt upright in her saddle. “Ten thousand? Are you sure?” The Band had had little more than half that when Mat brought it to Salidar hunting her and Elayne.”

The Band actually had six-thousand men when it arrived in Salidar. I can only assume that Talmanes is recruiting and training men to Mat’s tactics and design. They are divided into “banners,” three-thousand for infantry and fifteen-hundred for horse, with a large percentage of archers and crossbowmen. We’ll delve into that another time though.

“Bryne merely shrugged. “I gather recruits as I go, and so does he. Not as many, but some men have notions about serving Aes Sedai.” More people than not would have been distinctly uneasy, saying that to three sisters, he said it with a wry smile. “Besides, it seems the Band has a certain reputation from the fighting in Cairhien. The tale is, [Shen an Calhar] never loses, whatever the odds.” That was what drove men to join, here as back in Altara, the thought that two armies must mean a battle. Trying to stand aside might end as hard as choosing the wrong side; at best there would be no pickings for neutrals. “I’ve had a few deserters to my ranks from Talmanes’ newlings. Some seem to think the Band’s luck is tied up in Mat Cauthon and can’t be there without him.”

Whatever the odds! I love it. Myrelle is *very* contemptuous of the Band, which just goes to show what a fool she and most Aes Sedai tend to be. With how they seem to feel about the Dragon Reborn, it is a wonder they even sent a delegation to him in the first place. Though it might have been necessity, after all, if he acknowledges Elaida, they are finished.

“The ridgeline where the Band’s soldiers had been showed only sweetcheeks lines of dead conifers now. She had not noticed them going. Mat had a reputation as a [soldier]? Crows swimming did not come close. She had believed he commanded only because of Rand, and that had been hard enough to swallow. [Believing because you think you know is dangerous], she reminded herself, eying Bryne.”

That’s what I’ve been waiting for--for Egwene to realize that Mat’s command has nothing to do with Rand--that his battle skill is legitimate. To be fair though, she handles it well, and accepts and admits (at least to herself) her own mistakes.

What Bryne wanted to show Egwene was a merchant caravan recently arrived from Caemlyn. The news they carry, a rumor, Rand has knelt and sworn fealty to Elaida. Really shows the scope of the damage caused by Dumai’s Wells and the related events. No matter that the good guys “won,” the rumors exist and people will believe, which could cause nearly as much damage as if they were true. Egwene laughs uproariously, and the others look at her like she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. She works out an arrangement with Bryne, for Sheriam’s circle to confirm the information that Rand did not in fact do this, and to announce it to the troops in straight forward language.

“He seemed satisfied by what he saw in her face. “You do very well, it appears, Mother. I wish you continued success. Set your time for this afternoon, and I will come. We should confer regularly. I will come whenever you send for me. We should begin making firm plans how to put you on the Amyrlin Seat once we reach Tar Valon.”
His tone was guarded--very likely he still was not entirely sure what was going on, or how far he could trust Myrelle--and it took her a moment to realize what he had done. It made her breath catch. Maybe she was just becoming too used to the way aes Sedai shaded words, but...Bryne had just said the army was hers. She was sure of it. Not the hall’s, and not Sheriam’s; hers.”

Bryne giving her the army is the best thing that could have happened. Incredibly. Incredibly. Important. I mean, it gives Egwene the power and the leverage, Bryne comes to her, sends her the information, the dispatch packets--cutting Sheriam and the Hall out of the loop completely. As well, Bryne against her...well, I think, that is a game over. Match. Set. Point.

I don’t want to analyze the rest of the chapter too closely. The scene is memorable and has future ramifications, but I don’t want to over think things. Siuan leads the way for a while, and then has Myrelle lead the way, all the way making cryptic comments about coin peppers (very popular in Shienar and Malkier) and other such things. What is found is an encampment with Nisao, their Warders and a furtive, or perhaps not so furtive, Nicola and Areina. Lan is brought out and everyone connects the dots except for Egwene. I really do think she’s being a little bit dense here--Nisao and Myrelle mention Moiraine’s name at least three times.

This is cute:

“ ‘All Areina wants is to be around Lan. I think she believes he’ll teach her things she can use as a Hunter. Or maybe that he’ll go off on the Hunt with her.”
“Nicola wants to be another Caraighan,” Nisao muttered caustically. “Or another Moiraine. I think she had some notion she could make Myrelle give Lan’s bond to her. Well! At least we can deal with that pair as they deserve, now that he’s out in the open. Whatever happens to me, it will be a joy to know they’ll be squealing from here to year’s end.”

Another Moiraine--I wonder how they will feel when the legend shows up living in front of them.

Egwene decides to send Lan to Nynaeve. I am not sure how I feel about Egwene’s moral directives. She thinks that bonding against the will of the man as “rape,” but thinks she’d do it to Gawyn if he tried to “get away” or that Nynaeve would do it, or Elayne would do it, in the same situation. I guess rape is ok, if you decide you love the victim, or if you want it?

Egwene makes a skimming gateway for her and Lan to Ebou Dar and thinks:

“In silence they floated, moving without moving. She had no fear of the Forsaken suddenly appearing here, or anyone else. Skimming had its oddities, some of which made for safety, and privacy. If two sisters wove gateways on the same spot only moments apart, aiming to Skim to the same place, they would not see one another, not unless it was [exactly] the same spot, with the weaves [exactly] identical, and neither precision was as easy to achieve as it might seem.”

I’m reminded, in tSR, when Rand is chasing Asmodean to Rhuidean. He manages to duplicate weaves and he even catches up to Asmodean in Skimming space. The Forsaken (and the Dragon) are incredibly skilled in so many areas, it wasn’t just their strength in the Power--though extreme, it was something equaled or nearly equaled by possibly hundreds, but the fact they could do so many things that almost no one else could. I’m not sure if Egwene is underestimating or just being over confident. Though, Moghedien isn’t the best weather vane for what is possible and what isn’t. She’s holding a lot back and she had extremely specific skill sets.

Egwene drops Lan off, Skims back, has Siuan send Nicola and Areina back to camp, and forces Nisao and Myrelle to swear fealty. Her instructions to them are to not reveal that Siuan is any more than she appears and to obey her as they would Egwene herself. On the way back to camp Egwene reveals the full depth of Nicola and Areinas’ treachery. Siuan obliquely suggests murder, but Egwene refuses. Siuan is right--Egwene is going to regret her stay of mercy. The events are tumultuous because, as far as Siuan can tell, there is no hint, even in the secret histories, of any Aes Sedai ever swearing fealty to an Amyrlin in the entire history of the Tower. Additionally, Myrelle and Nisao obeying Siuan goes against all social convention (strength in the Power determines social standing and chain of command among Aes Sedai).

The chapter ends with Egwene back at her tent with dual correspondence from both Romanda and Lelaine. One, to call every single into closed session to ask if they are Black Ajah--if they refuse, they are to be immediately shielded and bound. Lelaine’s edict will make even mentioning the existence of the Black Ajah an offense under Tower law, “Fomenting Discord,” with appropriate penalties.

About this time “Halima Saranov” sways in bearing Delana’s letter, that she will put before the Hall the motion that Elaida is and should be proclaimed and condemned as Black Ajah. We end with Halima massaging away Egwene’s headaches. It is rather creepy, our male forsaken, massaging away the headaches he is causing, while our bonnie lass of an Amyrlin Seat softens like clay in her hands.

Carai an Caldazar! Carai an Ellisande! Al Ellisande!
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