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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Three Arches Ter'angreal


JamesBrown
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I'm intrigued by the Three Arches Ter'angreal that's used to test Novices and Accepted in the White Tower. Sheriam Sedai told Nynaeve, "It will bring you face-to-face with your greatest fears."

 

Naturally, I wondered what are my own greatest fears, and how would I respond to them inside what seems to be equivalent to the Star Trek Enterprise's Holodeck.

 

When it comes to Nynaeve, however, her first scenario was a battle with Aginor. Her second was seeing the Two Rivers fall into disarray without her being there as Wisdom. And her third was a possible future as the wife of Lan and mother of three children.

 

The first I can see as a fear, but is being chased by one of the Forsaken--admittedly one of the weakest of the thirteen--really something that would cause her fear, more than anything else? For example, I might not want to ever be killed by a grizzly bear, but the thought of such is not keeping me up at night. I'm far more likely to be killed in a car accident, but I wouldn't even list that as one of my greatest fears.

 

The other two scenarios, however, don't appear to me to be fears but temptations. The arches detected Nynaeve's current desire (restore the Two Rivers to its state before Moiraine Sedai arrived) and future desire (be the wife of Lan) and tempted her to leave everything else behind. I can see why that would make an acceptable test for a future Aes Sedai, but I can't see how that would be described as "your greatest fears."

 

I would think that more appropriate scenarios would be exactly the opposite. In the second arch, suppose Nynaeve saw the Two Rivers thriving and prospering with her gone. That seems like a more relevant fear--that Nynaeve is not useful to the Two Rivers folk as she believes herself to be. And the third arch might show her marrying Lan, and as a direct result of that causing him to suffer and die. Wouldn't that cause her more fear?

 

But then, if the purpose of the test is to ensure that one is committed to the White Tower, then showing me a future fear would only encourage me to stay. For example, if one of my greatest fears is indeed dying in a car crash, and the arch tells me, "If you don't go to the Grand Canyon next week, you will die in a car crash a year from now," then my response will be "Okay, then I will definitely go to the Grand Canyon next week." I might have been ambivalent about visiting the Grand Canyon, but if I'm told that not going will lead to my fiery death, then I will harden my resolve.

 

Likewise, if Nynaeve is afraid of losing Lan, and the arch showed her a future where she does lose Lan because she didn't finish her tower training, how does that test her commitment to become Aes Sedai? Seems cross-purposes, to me.

 

These are just some things I'm thinking about.

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Yeah, I never got that whole thing. Like did Nynaeve really get that messed up mentally by Aginor specifically that having to fight him was one of her worst fears? that didnt make a whole lot of sense. 

 

I just assumed that the "greatest fears" thing was just inaccurate, or maybe the ter'angreal reacted differently for Nynaeve than it usually did. 

 

Thats because I didnt see how the thing would be any good test to become Accepted if it did work as they described. Like you said, what would it prove just to have to face your fears? especially since the 3 trials end with you leaving. The whole great, meaningful part of the second two doors was that she had to leave to pass/survive, but leaving in both was psychologically hard for her. If you were facing your greatest fears, like, say, being in the Ocean alone surrounded by sharks, and you suddenly saw a door appear, any sane person, shawl worthy or not, would immediately go for it. It almost makes me think like there was some description of it that I missed, because facing your fears and then running from them is just dumb. Not to mention none of Egwenes trips through the arches had anything to do with actual fears. They were all situations like Nynaeves last two. Both great at proving your commitment to the White Tower, but both having nothing to do with "fears".

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I think the fear of the battle with aginor was the fear of failure, failing and letting the forsaken free to harm others (I don't remember that scene well though).

 

The fear of the two rivers going to hell was, I thought, a nod to sam's vision in galadriel's mirror and also the scouring of the shire, but the fear I got from this scene was that by abandoning the two rivers, which she felt responsible for as the wisdom, she would cause harm to come to her loved ones and her home and she would fail in that first and dearest responsibility. She wasn't so egotistical as to fear that her people would do well without her guidance and protection. No matter how much anyone dislikes the character, I don't think RJs feelings and intentions for her can be misread. As opposed to egwene, who immediately wanted to leave home and take on the world, and who didn't think much about what she left behind or what might happen to it, and who accepted her role as one responsible for the greater good of the tower and the world, nynaeve only left the two rivers to watch over egwene and the boys, to protect her own loved ones. She is a mother figure here, and her fear is in failing in that role, failing to protect. Fearing the consequences of abandoning those who rely on her.

 

In the scenario with Lan, her fear is not fear of having a life with him, without other responsibilities. It's a fear of leaving him, of failing in the responsibility of that love, failing the family they could have together. The pain of that vision wasn't being with him, it was having to leave him to return to the tower and fulfill her role as aes sedai, and not indulge her own wants and needs at the expense of the greater responsibility she has to humanity. That's why she leaves sobbing. But she does leave. She makes the hard choices and she does willingly put everything else behind her to become an AS.

 

Imo anyway.

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I think the fear of the battle with aginor was the fear of failure, failing and letting the forsaken free to harm others (I don't remember that scene well though).

 

The fear of the two rivers going to hell was, I thought, a nod to sam's vision in galadriel's mirror and also the scouring of the shire, but the fear I got from this scene was that by abandoning the two rivers, which she felt responsible for as the wisdom, she would cause harm to come to her loved ones and her home and she would fail in that first and dearest responsibility. She wasn't so egotistical as to fear that her people would do well without her guidance and protection. No matter how much anyone dislikes the character, I don't think RJs feelings and intentions for her can be misread. As opposed to egwene, who immediately wanted to leave home and take on the world, and who didn't think much about what she left behind or what might happen to it, and who accepted her role as one responsible for the greater good of the tower and the world, nynaeve only left the two rivers to watch over egwene and the boys, to protect her own loved ones. She is a mother figure here, and her fear is in failing in that role, failing to protect. Fearing the consequences of abandoning those who rely on her.

 

In the scenario with Lan, her fear is not fear of having a life with him, without other responsibilities. It's a fear of leaving him, of failing in the responsibility of that love, failing the family they could have together. The pain of that vision wasn't being with him, it was having to leave him to return to the tower and fulfill her role as aes sedai, and not indulge her own wants and needs at the expense of the greater responsibility she has to humanity. That's why she leaves sobbing. But she does leave. She makes the hard choices and she does willingly put everything else behind her to become an AS.

 

Imo anyway.

 

So much this.  It's more abstract than what you see.

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Yeah, I never got that whole thing. Like did Nynaeve really get that messed up mentally by Aginor specifically that having to fight him was one of her worst fears? that didnt make a whole lot of sense. 

 

I just assumed that the "greatest fears" thing was just inaccurate, or maybe the ter'angreal reacted differently for Nynaeve than it usually did. 

 

Thats because I didnt see how the thing would be any good test to become Accepted if it did work as they described. Like you said, what would it prove just to have to face your fears? especially since the 3 trials end with you leaving. The whole great, meaningful part of the second two doors was that she had to leave to pass/survive, but leaving in both was psychologically hard for her. If you were facing your greatest fears, like, say, being in the Ocean alone surrounded by sharks, and you suddenly saw a door appear, any sane person, shawl worthy or not, would immediately go for it. It almost makes me think like there was some description of it that I missed, because facing your fears and then running from them is just dumb. Not to mention none of Egwenes trips through the arches had anything to do with actual fears. They were all situations like Nynaeves last two. Both great at proving your commitment to the White Tower, but both having nothing to do with "fears".

Her fear that resulted in facing Aginor stemmed from her desire to protect Egwene and the boys and to take them back home safely.  She was still battling with being the wisdom and in trying to become strong and skilled enough to make Moiraine "pay" for her part.  This leads to the second which mirrors LOTR when Frodo looks into the Elven bowl and sees the Shire burning.  She wants to protect her village and this fear shows her failure to do so.  The third vision with Lan builds on the previous two.  How can a wisdom protect her people, her village, and still marry?  She secretly had these desires which later came out as seeing herself as a woman over time.  We see this with the dresses.  All the talk and POV of the dresses and their supposed indecency which she grudgingly accepts as a disguise and later secretly comes to enjoy wearing while thinking of what Lan might like to see her in.  POV's from Elayne (iirc) observes that later on she is merely giving lipservice to her displeasure over silks and the different cuts from Tanchico and Ebou Dar.  These fears allow her to cowboy up eventually when it came to Moggy.  Too bad there was all the sniveling with Birgitte, after what happened.  She just needed the courage to believe in herself that she COULD do these things.

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  • 4 months later...

This doesn't really follow the "original topic" but you mentioned the Star Trek Holodeck.  Does anyone remember the ST:VOY episode "Sacred Ground" where Janeway has to fight for Kes's life? She is taken to a cave with guides who send her through portals on challenging journeys.  Although, I think Kes is Aes Sedai anyway.... but besides that.... 

http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Sacred_Ground_(episode)

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Up until then it he was one of the few forsaken she had met and he handled her pretty easy.  So I could see her having a fear of him suddenly appearing.  There was still the myth surrounding the forsaken then, of OMG the forsaken are godlike beings. Agnor may of been one of the weaker forsaken but that still means he was a powerful channeler who handled them pretty easily in EOTW.  So it would be understandable she would have a fear of him.  It would of seemed odd for it to of been a forsaken she had never met before, had this happened later it probably would of been Moghi.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's always hard to tell because in the book the power assumption is usually from another forsaken POV.  If I remember right a Rhavin POV had him thinking Samm or him could handle either Lanfear or Gren one on one easily.  And Lanfear was suppose to be the most powerful female channeler.  Also after Agnior dies (think it was when the forsaken were discussing rand trying to cleanse the source) one of the forsaken POV was thinking only Aginors skill with making shadowspawn allowed him to be a forsaken.  So they seemed rather dismissive of his abilities.  So a lot of our knowledge of the forsakens abilities are from other forsaken's assumptions.  Which may or may not be accurate.

 

I will never know what RJ was thinking when he came up and then made it even worse power scale.

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