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Elder_Haman

Why Egeanin Tamarath needs to be in the show.

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Characters and story lines will be cut from the upcoming Amazon series. We all know this. I've come to terms with the likelihood that the Seafolk and the Kin are done for. In speculating about who will be in and who will be out, Thrasymachus and I have been debating the utility of Egeanin as a character and whether she should be eliminated from the upcoming series.

 

She needs to stay. Egeanin is important to the plot, sure. But her inclusion is required for the symbolic role she plays as a bridge between the Seanchan and, ultimately, the White Tower.

 

Her Role in the Plot:

As we know, Egeanin first appears in tGH when she boards the Spray, seizing Domon's goods - including one of the Seals. After the battle of Falme, she is tasked with locating sul'dam who survived the battle as well as any a'dam bracelets she could recover. In performance of this duty, she locates a collared Bethamin, and thereby discovers that sul'dam are themselves channelers. 

 

Egeanin then befriends Nynaeve and Elayne and takes possession of the sad bracelets, which she is supposed to dump into the sea. Before she can comply, her ship is boarded and the sad bracelets taken.

 

When next we see Egeanin, she turns up in Ebou Dar. She accompanies Mat when he escapes and is dressed down by Tuon, stripped of rank, and given the name Leilwin Shipless. She ends up on the Fields of Merrilor where Nynaeve shames her for the loss of the bands. Leilwin pledges herself to the Tower, saves Egwene's life, and ultimately becomes her Warder.

 

A Bridge between Worlds:

It wouldn't be difficult to write Egeanin out of the plot. Nothing she does is, strictly speaking, necessary for the plot to move. Nonetheless, it's worth considering what Egeanin's presence does outside of moving the plot.

 

Of all the Seanchan, only Egeanin and Tuon spend any significant amount of time with the main characters in the lead up to the Last Battle. And given Tuon's status, Egeanin is the character that represents Seanchan culture in a personal way. She occupies all statuses at one point or another in the story. She begins as a commoner, is elevated to the Blood, is reduced to common again, and then becomes da'covale

 

Egeanin is by far the best vehicle available for presenting a character who represents the Seanchan as a culture. Her arc is excellent, starting from her culturally base dismissal of channelers as non-people to taking the ultimate step of taking a vow of service to the Amyrlin Seat. Her journey is personal, authentic, and also hugely symbolic in the battle between Seanchan culture and the rest of Randland.

 

Meta Symbolism:

But Egeanin's arc also plays to the overall meta of the WoT series. The "ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai" (the Yin and Yang) represents balance. Good and evil wax and wane. Evil is always present in the good (darkfriends) and good in the evil (Verin!). Jordan extends this concept to the balancing of culture, exploring how people don't all react in lockstep and how certain aspects of culture survive the years and adapt into new things. Egeanin of the Seanchan - whose people enslaved and dehumanized women who could channel for hundreds of years - taking her place alongside the Amyrlin Seat is an example of the kind of "cultural re-balancing" (for lack of a better term) that Jordan loved.

 

Sometimes these re-balancings are malignant, like Mordeth. They creep in and infect a culture, perverting it to acts of despicable evil. Others have unique results in the way that the Aiel's use of spears developed from the Way of the Leaf. Developing Egeanin's arc plays to this theme. In her, the Seanchan's martial philosophy gains a hold in the Amyrlin's personal warder. How will that change the way the Tower's military develops moving forward? What changes might she bring to the way Warders behave?

 

The Kind of Show I Want

My hope is that the tv series goes long on character and shorter on spectacle. (Not that I don't want spectacle, obviously) Assuming they get to tell the whole story, I want audiences to be on their seat wondering whether Rand is gong to go full Danerys and have to be put down. I want people genuinely worried that Egwene will pick the wrong side. But I also want people invested in the side characters. (You know, the characters in GoT like Bronn, and the Onion Knight, and Breanne of Tarth)

 

Egeanin is the type of side character who has incredible potential. She's kind of crusty and unlikable at first, but she has a heart of gold. The right actress could do a ton with her. Her unlikely befriending of Elayne and Nynaeve. Hiding Bethamin. Straight man for Mat's comic relief. Target of Tuon's wrath. And speaker for Seanchan culture. There's a lot of potential in that role.

 

So what say you all? Should she stay or should she go?

(Note: you can definitely keep Egeanin while losing Domon. Another character could become romantically linked with Egeanin if the writers decided to go that way.)

 

Edited by Elder_Haman

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Don't get me wrong, I like Egeanin as a character and for the role she plays in the books.  My argument regarding whether she should be cut is summed up by what you say here:

 

2 hours ago, Elder_Haman said:

 Nothing she does is, strictly speaking, necessary for the plot to move. 

 

The show is already going to have a lot of characters' stories to tell.  And Egeanin's story never has much of a payoff.  We don't even know if she survives the Last Battle, and she's never mentioned again after Egwene releases her bond and goes off to die.  That bridge between the Seanchan and the White Tower dies with Egwene, and Egeanin was never any more to it than some discarded lumber.

 

So here's a big reason why she should be cut: she humanizes the Seanchan too soon. 

 

After Falme, the Seanchan are this big, looming threat.  A powerful empire using slavery, both a kind of bonded slavery (where freedom could be bought or gifted, or imposed as punishment) and dehumanizing chattel slavery for channellers.  A strictly hierarchical, militarily focused and ideological organization, with whom the ability to negotiate for peace is uncertain, at best.  There's a substantial worry, especially early on after they return, that the Seanchan could be a bigger problem for Team Light than the Forsaken.  And this threat is reinforced by having not one, but two darkfriends at the highest ranks of leadership, until Tuon shows up.

 

But Egeanin gives us a Seanchan point of view.  She becomes a sympathetic, and then trusted character, long before the threat of the Seanchan is dealt with, either in the battle where Rand goes Callandor-crazy, or Mat kidnaps Tuon.  This deflates that Seanchan threat.  Through her, the Seanchan become ordinary people, though people with a strange point of view and oppressive customs.  And ordinary people can be dealt with.  They can be negotiated with, or intimidated or charmed, or just beaten.

 

Now, at some point, the Seanchan do need to be humanized.  But I reckon that humanization has a much better vehicle in Tuon, via Mat's interactions with her, and mediated through Mistress Anan and Selucia.  For one thing, as ruler of the Seanchan, humanizing her through her character development humanizes the Seanchan both literally and figuratively.  We learn what kind of people the Seanchan are through Mat's interactions and discussions with her, and at the same time, her growth and change bear directly on the potential for the Seanchan culture to grow and change.  Egeanin's personal growth results in her explusion from the Seanchan culture, her window into the nature of the Seanchan is denied by that culture.  

 

And since we're unlikely to get a season per book, the fact remains that major side stories and characters will have to be cut.  Egeanin is a character and story that can be cut or written around that has the least impact on the stories of any of the other main character or other side characters, except for Domon, who can likewise be cut with little impact, or reduced to minor role.  If someone were to give you all 14 books of this series and say to you, "edit this down to seven books, of roughly the length of the last Harry Potter novel, for easy public consumption," she would be first on the chopping block.  Adapting for a TV series that might last seven seasons, if we're lucky, is a similar exercise.

Edited by Thrasymachus

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21 hours ago, Thrasymachus said:

So here's a big reason why she should be cut: she humanizes the Seanchan too soon. 

 

After Falme, the Seanchan are this big, looming threat.  A powerful empire using slavery, both a kind of bonded slavery (where freedom could be bought or gifted, or imposed as punishment) and dehumanizing chattel slavery for channellers.  A strictly hierarchical, militarily focused and ideological organization, with whom the ability to negotiate for peace is uncertain, at best.  There's a substantial worry, especially early on after they return, that the Seanchan could be a bigger problem for Team Light than the Forsaken.  And this threat is reinforced by having not one, but two darkfriends at the highest ranks of leadership, until Tuon shows up.

 

This is, in my mind, a better argument in favor of leaving her in. The Seanchan, while scary and morally repugnant, should be shown early on to not be comprised entirely of baddies. We already have a bunch of disposable baddies in the Trollocs and other darkspawn.

 

The Seanchan should be shown right away to have humanity. Otherwise, the alliance with Tuon is in danger of having a "child's Saturday morning cartoon" vibe where the enemy suddenly realizes they've always been in the wrong and switch sides at just the right time.

 

Unless the audience gets to spend some time with an actual Seanchan, it's going to be hard to develop any sympathy for them.

 

Also, cutting Egeanin doesn't serve to shorten the story much. She appears in scenes with the major characters, but she has a grand total of 3 POV chapters - almost all of which can be cut without cutting her as a character and can be filled in with exposition.

 

But most of the places and events she appears in are still going to happen in the show. So what purpose does removing her serve?

Edited by Elder_Haman
Left out the word "almost"...

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Deleting her PoV scenes removes the whole argument for why she should be included in the first place.  It's her shock at discovering that sul'dam can learn to channel that begins that process of humanization.  Without that, there's no reason for her to be in Tanchico, and her desire to learn about the marath'damane of Randland, and thereby help Elayne and Nynaeve, makes no sense.  And it's her fear of the Seekers, established in her PoV scenes, that motivates her helping Mat kidnap Tuon.  Without that, you've got a Captain of the Green committing high treason for no good reason.  Expository dialog is thin cover for that.

 

And I disagree that you need to begin humanizing the Seanchan as soon as they're introduced in order to prevent them from becoming Saturday-morning cartoon villains.  For one thing, after Falme, the Seanchan as a threat have retreated to be almost wholly absent, until after Rand takes Illian.  The next big scene we see of them is when they take Amadicia, well after they'd established themselves in Tarabon.  The Seanchan are most effective as a surprise twist threat in the midseason of Season 2, who then disappear long enough to be almost wholly forgotten about until they show back up to (unintentionally) free Morgase, so the audience gets a *gasp* moment with the Seanchan being back.  The real humanization of the Seanchan, and the comfort that these are a people who can be dealt with more-or-less amicably, begins with Tuon, as it should.

 

And just so that people don't forget about them too much, Cerandin is a much better vehicle both for reminding the audience that Seanchan exists, and demonstrating what kind of Empire they are and how much they should be feared.  She's a minor enough character that we don't have to worry about exploding story lines, but sympathetic and bad-ass enough to get away with punching Nynaeve and man-handling Elayne.

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I too like Egeanin but if you keep her, the end of her arc needs major changes because the whole Egwene thing seems more of a tacked on because no notes thing. Have Egeanin's story more or less the same until after the sad bracelets are taken from her and then combine her with Tylee. This way you get someone who knows Aes Sedai, knows the Seanchan dark secret and in a general.

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20 hours ago, Thrasymachus said:

Deleting her PoV scenes removes the whole argument for why she should be included in the first place.  It's her shock at discovering that sul'dam can learn to channel that begins that process of humanization.  Without that, there's no reason for her to be in Tanchico, and her desire to learn about the marath'damane of Randland, and thereby help Elayne and Nynaeve, makes no sense.  And it's her fear of the Seekers, established in her PoV scenes, that motivates her helping Mat kidnap Tuon.  Without that, you've got a Captain of the Green committing high treason for no good reason.  Expository dialog is thin cover for that.

 

So I realize, I left the word "almost" out of the sentence about cutting her PoV scenes. Here's how Egeanin's role would play out (in my head):

 

Egeanin is a recognizable face in the Seanchan retinue, appearing on screen often when Seanchan are involved. (She's some sort of military adjunct to Turak). In the aftermath of the battle of Falme, we get a short scene where Egeanin discovers Bethamin. 

 

I change the end point of this discovery. It could go one of two ways: (1) she tells Bethamin to flee, or (2) she kills Bethamin. Either works, but for my purposes I prefer (2). Suroth arrives and she hands over the a'dam. Suroth tasks Egeanin with tracking down sul'dam and also with hunting for new damane.

 

We don't see Egeanin for awhile, so we will use a "previously on..." scene to refresh everyone's memory. (Alternatively, Egwene could flash back to her time in captivity to provide a quick reminder) When Egeanin appears in Tanchico, she's played as another antagonist (Elayne and Nynaeve recognize her and actively work to avoid her). When she chooses to help the girls, it will be a shock and also give viewers reason to question her motives.

 

We have a scene where Egeanin explains what she learned about the sul'dam. (Flashback scene could be added) And then after the drama in Tanchico is resolved, we have a scene of her ship being boarded and the sad bracelets captured.

 

She shows up again in Ebou Dar (we're familiar with her now. She's the most recognizable Seanchan face). Her arc progresses pretty much the same as in the book from there.

 

I would be more explicit about her ultimate fate - and that of the Tower. A sacrifice protecting Egwene during Tarmon Gaidon. Or she rallies the Warders for a charge, dying valiantly. Or she actively agrees to be the commander of the New Warders. 

 

In this way, you've got a fully fleshed out character with a real arc. To illustrate the type of character I see in Egeanin, I'll use an example from "Justified" since I happen to be binge-ing it right now. 

 

I see Egeanin's role in a WoT series as similar to Dewey Crowe. Dewey appears on the show regularly. Usually he's on the periphery, but he occasionally takes a central role in the episode's main plot. The audience develops an emotional bond with him. And his character has a personal arc that comes to an appropriate and emotional ending. 

 

Dewey Crowe wasn't a necessary character. He brings very little to the plot himself, often serving merely as an obstacle or a plot device. But he is also the type of fully developed side character that make for great, watchable television.

 

There's just too much potential in this character to cut her. Especially when you consider that you can only have so many Aiel chiefs, Maidens, Asha'man, Aes Sedai, and Wise Ones. A rank-and-file Seanchan with a compelling story is simply too much of an opportunity to pass up. Especially when she brings so much to the table from a thematic standpoint.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Elder_Haman

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So...completely re-write her character and turn her into someone who will completely abandon her given mission, indeed act in contravention of it in deciding to help Elayne and Nynaeve, seeing as her new mission is to scout new damane

 

Part of what makes Egeanin's fall from grace with the Seanchan so compelling is that it's portrayed as a slippery-slope.  She releases Bethamin as much to protect the Seanchan from knowledge that sul'dam are basically the same as damane as for any humanitarian reason.  It was her shock at a sul'dam being able to be held by an a'dam that kept her from just turning Bethamin over to the Seeker, and the worry that the Seeker might just kill them both to keep the knowledge from getting out.  It was her curiosity about how the a'dam was able to hold a sul'dam that allowed her to approach and make friends with Elayne and Nynaeve.  It was Bethamin's promise to go back to the Seanchan (which she does) that allowed Egeanin to release Bethamin in reasonably good conscience.  It was the threat of that Seeker discovering what she knew that pushed her into conspiring with Mat in his escape plans.  At no point did she really realize that she'd betrayed her people until Tuon stripped her of her name. 

 

That's her tragedy.  At no point does she ever do anything except what is right or prudent, according to the standards of her community and conscience.  And she is progressively stripped of first her peace-of-mind, then her name, Seanchan honor and citizenship, and finally her own personal honor and self-worth, only to then give her life to those who don't want it, who regard her with suspicion and use her without thanks, and is ultimately discarded, dismissed and not even mentioned again.  She's basically Gawyn of the Seanchan without being quite as insufferable.

 

But at any rate, we can extol the virtues or vices of her as a character till the cows come home.  None of that addresses the fundamental argument for why she should be cut.  Cuts have to be made.  She can be cut with arguably the least disruption to main story arcs or other side story arcs.  Given the choice between cuts which are more disruptive to the main story, or which are disruptive to other side stories, and cuts which are less disruptive, the less disruptive cuts should be preferred.  Therefore, Egeanin's side story arc should be cut.

Edited by Thrasymachus

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7 minutes ago, Thrasymachus said:

But at any rate, we can extol the virtues or vices of her as a character till the cows come home.  None of that addresses the fundamental argument for why she should be cut.  Cuts have to be made.  She can be cut with arguably the least disruption to main story arcs or other side story arcs.  Given the choice between cuts which are more disruptive to the main story, or which are disruptive to other side stories, and cuts which are less disruptive, the less disruptive cuts should be preferred.  Therefore, Egeanin's side story arc should be cut.

 

I'm not sure I follow your logic. Are you proposing to cut the sad bracelets? Are you proposing to cut Elayne and Nynaeve's visit to Tanchico? Are you proposing to cut the flight from Ebou Dar?

 

If we are leaving in all of those plot arcs, in which Egeanin is involved, why bother lifting her from the story? 

 

Are you proposing to cut the fact that sul'dam can channel? If so, that seems like a fairly large thematic sacrifice. If not, how do you propose to convey that portion of the story?

 

There are so many characters and plot lines that are easier to cut.

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No, I don't think the Sad Bracelets need to be cut, but they could be, because they take a hell of a long time to pay off.  Something encountered in Season 3 at the latest, that won't show up again until just before Rand's epiphany on Dragonmount?  That's a long time for Checkov to wait to fire his gun.  And of course, the Sad Bracelets can be replaced in their entirety by Callandor.  It has literally the same effect, allowing two linked female channelers to completely control any man channelling through it.  So yeah, you can cut the Sad Bracelets.  And that means you can cut the wonderful adventures of Nynaeve and Elayne from two tedious outings to just one.  Accelerate the Tower Split somewhat so that news of it reaches Tear prior to the Rhuidean arc, and Nynaeve and Elayne can just go straight to Salidar.  And their misadventures can be about trying to find the place.  And you can even keep all the hijinks with Luca and Galad and Uno and Masema on the way.

 

I don't think the flight from Ebu Dar needs to be cut, but Egeanin doesn't need to be part of it.  The role she plays counseling Mat can be taken by Mistress Anan and Selucia instead.  The role she plays in letting them escape the city can be taken over by Mat himself, with some help from Thom and Juilin.

 

And obviously we don't cut the fact that sul'dam can learn to channel.  But we don't learn that from Egeanin anyway.  We learn that from Nynaeve, who uses the a'dam to hold Seta and Renna, and claims that she suspected as much.

 

I'm not arguing that Egeanin doesn't do important things for the plot of the books as written.  I'm arguing that you can replace the stuff she does with already established characters doing that stuff instead, and the one mcguffin she's responsible for unleashing with another mcguffin that does the same exact thing that's already close at hand.

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