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Lord of Chaos, Chapters 34-36

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Basel Gill

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Chapter 34 (Journey to Salidar): Everything about this chapter can be summed up by the sentence at the end of it. Egwene goes into dreamland in the flesh. (Some of you may have noticed that I always call it the dream world or dreamland. My mind just shies away from trying to spell "Tel'aran'rhiod" on a regular basis, and when I used it just now I had to copy and paste it from somewhere.) She conjures up a dream version of Bela in the flesh and rides superfast all the way to Salidar. She has to dream away the welts from the whipping she took because she just can't sit a saddle otherwise. Everything in between is just a blur to her. She is like Superman riding a horse. When she gets there, she comes back into the real world and the welts return, after which she seems to mentally smack herself for forgetting that. Egwene's mind is blown when she learns that Nyn can heal stilling/gentling. Siuan is easily weaker than any of the other Aes Sedai. It's at this point that Sheriam tells Egwene why the Cabal has summoned her. They want her to be the next Amyrlin. :blink::wacko: This really threw me for a loop! Egwene is only an Accepted, she hasn't been raised to full Aes Sedai yet. She hasn't taken the Three Oaths yet, nor can she do so until Tar Valon is retaken or another Oath Rod is found. She's only eighteen, is she old enough to have the experience and wisdom that comes with being Amyrlin? Well, Sheriam and the others wanted a "biddable child", someone they could manipulate easily. I think they may be in for a shock. Egwene may not be aware at first how little authority she is really meant to have, but she will figure it out soon enough. When that day comes, she's going to start showing some backbone.

 

Chapter 35 (In the Hall of the Sitters): I kind of wondered if this would be okay under Tower law, but the Cabal has thought of everything. Apparently, being raised to Amyrlin is enough to make Egwene Aes Sedai. There is nothing in Tower law that the Amyrlin has to be fully raised to Aes Sedai already. Legally, it is sound, although it is indicated that the Sisters who wrote the Tower law expected that Amyrlins would come from within the ranks of fully raised Sisters. They just assumed that it would be so, and never specified it in the text. A fitting real world parallel here would be papal conclaves in the Catholic Church. While the new pope is chosen by the College of Cardinals, and generally tends to be a cardinal, it isn't required to be a cardinal, and on very rare occasions non-cardinals have been chosen. Now, while the choice of Egwene is legal, it doesn't necessarily make sense. Egwene is very young, as noted, and doesn't have the ageless look of a raised Aes Sedai. The Amyrlin is expected to meet with leaders and possibly other prominent citizens of important nations. Will these people be able to tell her youth from normal Aes Sedai agelessness? Will they take her seriously if they do so? Or will they just deal directly with Sheriam and the Cabal and realize that Egwene is meant as a puppet? Would Sheriam want it known that the Amyrlin is a puppet?

 

So Egwene goes to face the Sitters, who must vote on her candidacy for Amyrlin. The voting ceremony first requires that it be established that there are no men present. So all the women must lower their dresses to put their full toplessness on display and then proclaim that they are women. Is it me, or would HBO or Showtime just love to film this scene? I can't see this part being adapted as written by anyone other than a pay cable network. And that's including potential cinematic adaptations. A good deal of formal ceremony goes by before the vote, which must be unanimous. Several Sitters vote against her, so we proceed to a second round of voting. After Egwene ceremoniously washes their feet and begs to be allowed to serve. Huh? If one of them is opposed to Egwene's being Amyrlin, how is washing her feet supposed to change her mind? Do her feet being cleaner make Egwene any more fit to lead the Salidar Aes Sedai than a few minutes ago? How about doing something to make a case for herself logically, or appealing to their emotions with a speech, or something, I don't know... persuasive? We already know the Aes Sedai have a tendency to stand on formal ceremony for their official functions, but this takes the cake. No discussion ever seems to take place to get the dissenters to change their votes, just a little foot-washing. And yet, when the second vote comes, everyone votes in favor of Egwene. (Romanda and Lelaine take a little longer, as if making a point.) After the vote, Egwene asks Sheriam and the Cabal what would have happened if those dissenting didn't change their vote. Those who stand for Amyrlin and fail are normally exiled. Sheriam and the others most likely would have been exiled, although Egwene herself may have been allowed to go back to being Accepted. And Romada would likely have been named Amyrlin a few days later. I think that all would be unpleasant.

 

Chapter 36 (The Amyrlin is Raised): Egwene will certainly have her work cut out for her. Besides Sheriam's bunch, there are two more factions in Salidar looking to influence how things are done. Romanda and Lelaine are both giving her advice, among which is to be wary of the other... and of Sheriam, too. Egwene gives a little inauguration speech on her first official day as Amyrlin. One thing I noticed right off was that Egwene's stole as Amyrlin has seven stripes, as opposed to Elaida's having only six, with no blue stripe. Apparently the Salidar Aes Sedai are more willing to welcome the Reds if they change their minds, or maybe it's just that they consider themselves the rightful government of the Aes Sedai, while Elaida's bunch sees the Blues as traitors who must be expelled. Egwene raises Theodrin, Faolain, Nynaeve, and Elayne to full Aes Sedai, not the new rank in between. Sheriam and the others aren't happy with that, but Egwene lays out some sound reasoning which they grudgingly accept. It's not like they can undo this decree, not without publicly undermining their own choice for the position. Later on, Egwene, Nyn, and Elayne all have a reunion. Egwene gets shown Nyn's new Healing technique and Elayne's ter'angreal technique, but is hopelessly confused by both. They fill her in on everything that has happened in Salidar, and Elayne is told that Rand wants to put her in charge in Andor and Cairhien. Elayne takes this totally the wrong way from Rand's intentions. Rand feels the thrones are rightfully Elayne's, while Elayne is angry because Rand seems to think the thrones are his to give to her, or anyone else he chooses. I don't see that in any of the parts from Rand's point of view at all. Rand never thinks of the thrones as his; he is holding them for Elayne because they are properly hers. Nyn and Elayne try to get Egwene to send them to Ebou Dar, but Egwene makes it clear that she may be Amyrlin but doesn't have the authority to take that step yet. It would seem that Egwene has figured out she isn't meant to have much real power on her first day. (Smart cookie, isn't she?) She does have plans to assert herself, but can't do too much at once. And I think she used up a good deal of leverage in raising the four of them to full Sisters. Now Faolain will be even more full of herself.

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Some other reasons, in addition to hoping she'll be a "biddable child", is that she has close ties to the Dragon Reborn, which the rebels hope will bring his favor and the favor of other nations. In addition, this isn't ever directly stated, and I'm going to put this in spoiler tags just in case though they're not really spoilers,

but the rebels are very disorganized. At this point they're likely hoping to negotiate their way back into the Tower, to reach some compromise with the White Tower. Picking an Amyrlin tells the Tower that they're serious, but raising an Accepted is pretty much a sign that they're willing to negotiate. They likely believe that once things are settled Egwene can step down, and as she's only an Accepted everyone can get off with some penances (if that) and she won't face exile or execution.

As for the written law, "the Amyrlin Seat is Aes Sedai" of course doesn't mean what the rebels construe it to mean. At best (in their favor) is the idea that the Amyrlin Seat is supposed to be the embodiment of Aes Sedai. More likely, their entire legal code was likely written and then translated out of the Old Tongue. It's my belief that what the legal code was really saying was that "the Amyrlin Seat is the servant of all", but the words aes sedai were left untranslated, whether due to a misunderstanding then or what I don't know.

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