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The White Tower :: Physical Appearance & Properties


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The White Tower

:ajahwhite_by_drowelfmorwen-dc43fss:

The purpose of this post is to be a reference of what the White Tower looks like--every bit of information available from all printed sources. This way we have an on-board, hopefully easily-organized reference. Enjoy!

Anything with quotes is a direct quote from one of the main books; however, for simplicity I am not including where I got it because I didn't bother to record it when I pulled the quote.

 

 

A Note on Discrepancies & "Fixes": Please read the post below this one on the orange and purple text used here.


 

The Central Tower & Square

  • The central portion of the White Tower has forty levels, and is close to six hundred feet tall.

    • Ceilings range from fifteen feet on the lower levels to twelve feet on the upper.

    • It is about two hundred feet in diameter at the top, and slightly larger at the base; the roof of the central portion is flat with a waist-high railing. It once held a garden but now is only used for observation.

    • There is mention of an outer ring corridor, and sisters walked "along one of the main corridors that spiraled gently through the Tower." There are at lease two main corridors, then, one outer and one inner, that both spiral up the entire main Tower, with criss-crossing corridors connecting those.

  • "The White Tower rose from the center of the city, a thick bone-white shaft climbing almost a hundred spans into the sky and visible for miles. It was the first thing anyone approaching the city saw, long before they could make out the city itself."

  • The front of the Tower faces a great public square, emphasizing the deep broad steps and massive doors of the main entrance. A stone wall, punctuated with columns and rails, encloses the perimeter of the grounds. The square is bordered by public buildings, many of which are Ogier-designed and Ogier-built.

  • The western gate to the White Tower is the Sunset Gate, with gilded suns high in the thick timbers which are strapped with iron.

  • The southern gate to the White Tower grounds is Tarlomen's Gate.
  • A set of tall, bronze-studded gates leading from the Tower grounds is called the Alindrelle Gates.

 

 

Click here for a simple visual map of the White Tower. This picture has been edited from its original source.

 

 

Main Tower: The Lower Levels & Basements

  • Dining Halls: On the lowest [ground] floor of the White Tower. The novice dining hall is next to the main kitchen. The second dining hall a floor above has been closed for centuries and novices have not had to each in shifts since before the Trolloc Wars. Dining halls for Accepted and Aes Sedai are on other sides of the kitchen.

    • Accepted: "The dining hall most often used by Accepted lay on the lowest level of the Tower, a large room with stark white walls and a white-tiled floor, full of long, polished tables, and plain benches that could hold two women, or three at a pinch."

    • Aes Sedai: "...in the sisters’ main dining hall, where Accepted came only by rare invitation and novices only to serve at table. It was a spacious high-ceilinged room, colorful winter tapestries decorating the white walls, broad cornice gleaming under a weight of gold leaf. The square tables, their slender legs elegantly carved, were only large enough for four, and most spaced far apart for privacy of conversation, though today some were placed together to accommodate larger groups." The bright floor tiles are patterned of all the Ajah colors, and the tables have carved chairs instead of benches. Sisters can order what food they want to eat from servants.

  • Basements: A door on the ground level leads to a winding staircase spiraling down into the basements: "...down they climbed and down, past doors letting onto basements and subbasements, until they reached the very lowest level, below even where the Accepted were tested... Plain wooden doors lined the smooth stone walls, many with great lumps of rust for hinges and locks."

    • "Lamps on iron wall brackets lit the passages deep beneath the Tower... The few doors they passed were shut tight, some locked, some so cunningly worked that they remained unseen until [she] was right on top of them."

    • There are storerooms throughout the basements, including the ones that hold angreal and ter'angreal.

  • Aes Sedai Testing Chamber: The chamber of the oval ring and the test for the shawl is in the lowest level of the White Tower: "...down a narrow staircase that spiraled deep into the bedrock beneath the Tower,...The lofty passages Merean led her along, carved through the rock of the island, as wide as any in the Tower, were lit by lamps in iron brackets high on the pale walls, though many crossing corridors lay shrouded in darkness, or with only widely spaced lamps making small lonely pools of light. The smooth stone floor was free of any speck of dust. The way had been prepared for them. The air was cool and dry, and, beyond the faint scuff of their slippers, silent. Except for storerooms on the highest levels, these basements were seldom used, and everything was plain and unadorned. Dark wooden doors lined the corridors, all shut, and, as they went deeper, securely locked...On the very lowest level, Merean stopped before paired doors larger than any they had passed, as tall and wide as fortress gates, but polished to glistening and lacking iron straps. The Aes Sedai channeled, and flows of Air swung the doors open silently on well-oiled hinges... Moiraine followed her into a large, round, domed chamber ringed by stand-lamps. Their light, reflected from the polished white stone walls, dazzled after the comparative dimness of the passages.... her eyes went immediately to the object centered beneath the dome, a great oval ring, narrow at top and bottom, its rounded rim little thicker than her arm. Well above a span in height and perhaps a pace across at its widest, it glittered in the lamplight, now silver, now gold or green or blue or swirls of all, never the same for more than a moment, and—a seeming impossibility—it stood unsupported."
  • Accepted's Testing Chamber: "The hall was plain and undecorated, the pale rock through which it had been hewn smoothed but left otherwise untouched, and there was only one set of dark wooden doors, as tall and wide as fortress gates and as plain, although of smoothly finished and finely fitted planks, at the very end...., into a great, domed chamber... Lamps on tall stands illumined the chamber, and what sat centered under the dome. Three rounded, silver arches, just tall enough to walk under, sitting on a thick silver ring with their ends touching where they joined it."

 

Main Tower: The Upper Levels

  • The Ajah quarters are in the upper half of the Tower: "... to climb the wide corridors that spiraled upward through the Tower... even with a climb halfway to the top... that took her to the Ajah quarters."
  • The Ajah quarters are identical in number of rooms and how they are laid out, but the details differ widely. They contain side corridors.

  • Sisters' Rooms: Each contain "a spacious bedchamber, a large sitting room, a dressing room, and a study, with fireplaces of carved marble ... The polished wall panels were bare, but patterned carpets, some fringed, from half a dozen countries lay on the blue-tiled* floors." (The tiles will match whatever Ajah quarters the room is in.) There are "lamps and mirrors in as many styles as there were lamps and mirrors, but nothing was chipped or cracked and every piece of wood or metal had been polished till it shone softly." Usually, only the Sitters and Ajah heads have windows or balconies. Sitters can demand rooms with not only full windows, but balconies as well. For regular sisters it is uncommon.

  • The Blue Ajah Quarters: "The Blue quarters held none of the flamboyance of the Green’s and Yellow’s, though they were not so plain as the Brown’s or the White’s. The brightly colored winter wall hangings along the main corridor were scenes of spring gardens and fields of wildflowers, brooks running over stones and birds in flight. The stand-lamps against the pale walls were gilded, but quite simple in decoration. Only the floor tiles, in every shade of blue from a pale morning sky to the deep violet of twilight and laid in a wavy pattern, gave any hint of grandeur."

  • The Green Ajah Quarters: "The impression of a full-sized sword was worked into each of the huge white floorstones of the Green Ajah quarters, swords in two dozen different styles, single-edged and double, curved and straight. Every door along the hallways was carved with a sword, point-up, gilded for the rooms of Sitters and silvered or lacquered for many others. The tapestries on the walls, between tall gilded stand-lamps on bases worked in the form of stacked halberds, were of martial scenes, charging horsemen and battles and famous last stands, alternating with ancient battle standards from lands long dead, many torn and stained and all preserved through the centuries by weaves of the One Power." Greens’ Warders often live in the same apartments as the sister, so many men are often seen in the Green Quarters. Kerene’s door bore a sword lacquered in red, gold and black.
  • The Red Ajah Quarters: "...[the] floor tiles, white with the teardrop Flame of Tar Valon in red... looking another way, those scarlet flames might be taken for red Dragon’s Fangs.... The door panels [of the Sitter's door] were carved with the Flame, too, lacquered the color of fresh blood." In tGS, the tiles are listed as red and charcoal colored; this may be possible as Ajah quarters have more than one floor.
  • The White Ajah Quarters: "...plain white floor tiles... The plain white walls, lined with silvered stand-mirrors, held only a few simple tapestries, images of snowcapped mountains, shady forests, stands of bamboo with sunlight slanting through them." It is stated as being on the third floor (tGS) of the Tower. For RP purposes, we'll be using the twenty-third floor.
  • The Brown Ajah Quarters: They are on the 21st and 22nd level of the Tower.
  • The Yellow Ajah Quarters: Flamboyant in decoration, it's located on the sixth floor of the Tower. For RP purposes, we'll be using the twenty-sixth floor.

 

 

Mistress of Novices' Office

  • The study of the Mistress of Novices is near the novices’ quarters and one level below the Amyrlin’s study, on a wide hallway where the floor tiles were red and green and the runner blue.

  • It has a plain door between two bright wall hangings.

  • Unlike the Amyrlin’s study, it is rather small and quite plain, the walls paneled in dark wood, the furniture sturdy and completely unadorned for the most part. It has a tea-table, a writing table with a chair for the Mistress of Novices, a stool, a mirror and a narrow cabinet which held a strap, switch and slipper.

 

 

Amyrlin's Antechamber & Study

  • The study is connected directly to the Amyrlin's personal chambers. It sits only a few levels up in the White Tower. The dark wood doors to the study have the Great Serpent on them, a pace across.
  • Her personal chambers also have their own door, "inlaid with gold in the shape of Avendesora." (ToM,27) It consists of a sitting room, a bedroom, and a smaller room.
  • "The corridors [outside the Amyrlin's rooms] were wide enough for a wagon to pass down easily, and taller than they were wide. Colorful tapestries hung on the walls, tapestries in a dozen styles, of floral designs and forest scenes, of heroic deeds and intricate patterns, some so old they looked as if they might break if handled. Their shoes made loud clicks on diamond-shaped floor tiles that repeated the colors of the seven Ajahs."
  • The antechamber of the Amyrlin Seat’s study is grand enough for any palace, though the chairs scattered about for those who might wait are plain.
  • The floor of the study is diamond-shaped polished redstone from the Mountains of Mist, the tall fireplace of golden Kandori marble and the walls are paneled in pale, oddly striped wood "marvelously hard as iron and carved in fantastic beasts and birds of unbelievable plumage, panels brought from the lands beyond the Aiel Waste by the Sea Folk before Artur Hawkwing was born."
  • Stone like glittering pearls frames "the tall, arched windows that let onto the balcony overlooking the Amyrlin’s private garden, the only stone like it known, salvaged from a nameless city swallowed by the Sea of Storms during the Breaking of the World."
  • The study holds items from when previous Amyrlins held the position. There is a chair, desk, bookshelves and end tables. The large desk holds a pair of bronze lamps  shaped like women holding their hands into the air, a burst of flame appearing in each set of palms.

 

 

The Wings of the Tower - Novice & Accepted Quarters

  • Wings of the building extend to either side of the Tower Proper. These are about 150 feet tall, with lower ceilings and fifteen levels in each, and extend three hundred feet on either side. There is an East Wing and West Wing. These wings also have towers with conical tiled roofs.

  • One of the wings contains the novice quarters, which consists of a well (approximately sixty to seventy-five feet across) surrounding a courtyard, plus a second well in a part of the novice quarters that has come to be unused.

    • Note: A "well" in this case are an area that is outside but in the middle of a tower, and is lined with galleries (balconies). See here for a picture of a famous well.

  • Novice room doors are white, and lead onto the well, so a novice is outside when she leaves her room.

  • Accepted quarters, with a well surrounding a garden instead of a court, are in the other wing, and are a stack of galleries lower than the novices' quarters.

    • Accepted's rooms "had a real bed, not one built into the wall, two ladder-back armchairs instead of a stool, and a wardrobe for her clothes. The furnishings were all plain, suitable for a middling successful farmer’s house, but compared to the novices, the Accepted lived in luxury. There was even a small rug, woven with scrolls of yellow and red on blue." There is also a fireplace.

 

 

Hall of the Tower

  • Tall, paired doors of dark wood each inlaid with a large silver Flame of Tar Valon open to a straight ramp of the same silver-streaked white stone that makes Tar Valon’s walls. The ramp lets into a large, circular room under a domed ceiling at least thirty paces high.
  • A raised platform runs around the outer edge of the room, fronted by steps except where this ramp and two others come out, spaced equally around the circle. Twenty-one chairs are set up on the platform in groupings of three, each triad painted and cushioned in the color of the Ajah that sits there.
  • The Flame of Tar Valon lays centered in the floor, surrounded by widening spirals of color, the colors of the seven Ajahs. At the opposite side of the room from where the ramp entered, the high-backed chair known as the Amyrlin Seat stands, heavy and ornately carved in vines and leaves, painted in the colors of all the Ajahs.

 

 

The Great Library

  • The Great Library, standing apart from the White Tower, is made of pale stone heavily streaked with blue, looking like crashing waves frozen at their climax, and contains as many rooms as a palace. It is generally considered the largest and most complete library in the world. It is only partially open to outsiders. It is second only to the Tower itself in size.
  • The library is divided into twelve publicly acknowledged depositories as well as a thirteenth that is only accessible to the Amyrlin Seat, the Keeper of the Chronicles and the Sitters of the Hall of the Tower.
    • The Ninth Depository. A section of the Tower Library, one of twelve sections publicly known. The Ninth Depository was the smallest, although it was still a large chamber; it was the home of texts on various forms of arithmetic. It is a single, large oval chamber with a flattened dome ceiling and seven-colored floor tiles.
    • The Thirteenth Depository is a set of hidden records in the Great Library of Tar Valon. These contain secret histories open only to the Amyrlin Seat, the Keeper of the Chronicles, and the Sitters of the Hall. Not all Aes Sedai even know it really exists.
  • The White Tower library is the greatest in the world.
  • Many Brown Ajah sisters maintain personal rooms in the upper floors of the Library building.

 

 

The Grounds

  • Practice Field for Warders and students: A large expanse of beaten earth, fifty by a hundred paces. There are wooden stands spaced at intervals around it, which hold quarterstaves and practice swords.
  • Stables: Horses belonging to novices are kept in the South Stable. The stable itself is three sprawling stories of gray stone, larger than the main stables of the Sun Palace, with a wide stone-paved stableyard in front of it.
  • Guardsmen Barracks: A long and low building of gray stone. It is by a wide, flagstone yard with a plain stone fountain in the middle. There are a few trees growing out of rimmed holes in the flagstones close by.

  • Most Warders keep rooms in the Guards’ barracks or even in the city, though Greens’ Warders often live in the same apartments as the sister.

  • Traitor's Court: It is a broad, open well with balconies and windows overlooking it; people even crowd on the rooftops to watch. The Traitor’s Court is used for only three purposes: executions, the stilling of an Aes Sedai, or the gentling of a man who could channel. All three take an order from the Amyrlin Seat: "Every Aes Sedai, except perhaps those she had left in the storeroom, every Accepted, every novice, even all the servants, would be gathered in the Traitor’s Court, according to custom, to watch the will of Tar Valon made fact... And the Warders would be ringing the courtyard against the possibility that someone might try to free the man to be gentled..."

  • Much of the Tower grounds are gardens full of trees; leatherleaf, paperbark and elms, one is called the Spring Garden.

  • There are open courts in the grounds.

  • Most paths are graveled.

 

 

A Bit of History & Facts

  • The construction of the White Tower and Tar Valon began in 98 AB. It was not completed until 202 AB. Ogier stonemasons began building on the island of Tar Valon in 98 AB. The Tower was a collaboration between Aes Sedai designers and Ogier builders, with the One Power being employed to aid construction. The establishment of the Amyrlin Seat also took place at this time. By the time the Tower was completed, a hundred years later, the formal system of Ajahs and Sitters representing those Ajahs in the Hall of the Tower was in place.
  • The White Tower was made to accommodate four hundred novices, two hundred Accepted and three thousand Aes Sedai. During New Spring, "...only four hundred and twenty-three [Aes Sedai] were in residence with twice that number out in the world."
  • The White Tower has its own bank, the first established after the Breaking, where many Aes Sedai deposit their annual stipend, which amounts to 1,000 gold every year on the day they were raised Aes Sedai. Sisters may ask for more, but the Hall will question anyone who asks for too much or ask too often.
  • Time Units: Days are broken into segments; when a certain time is reached, chimes ring. In the White Tower, First Rise is very early morning, before dawn, followed by Second and Third Rise. High is around midmorning, and Midmorning chimes are also rung. Prime and Trine are in the afternoon. After supper comes Full, and Last meant that all novices were supposed to be quiet and in bed. Second Low occurs in the small hours of the morning.
Edited by Jagen Sedai
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WHITE TOWER LAYOUT

 

white_tower_floorplan_dragonmount_by_dro

 

 

Discrepancies and "Fixes":

 

While Jordan stated more than once that Ajah quarters were in the upper half of the Tower, in The Gathering Storm (co-written by BS), two Ajah quarters are listed as being on the third and sixth floors. It seems as if this information slipped through the editing process, as the third floor holds the traditional Amyrlin's study and would not share the floor with one of the Ajahs, and doing so is never mentioned.

 

Orange text will be used to denote contradictory information from the books while purple text will be used to denote where I am choosing to "fix" it; for example, the White Ajah quarters will be on the 23rd floor (where it probably is supposed to go), not the third floor.

 

Spoiler

I will add that the bubble of evil that moves the Tower around is not implied at fault when this information is listed for the White Ajah quarters. In the case of the Yellow; "The second kitchen moved to the sixth level last night, moving an entire section of the Yellow Ajah quarters into the basement." (tGS25)

 

This "fix" of contradictory information for RP purposes and therefore cannot be confirmed be accurate, because I'm making it up, but I have done so with a fairly educated (and logical as I can do) guess.

 

Lastly, the Brown Ajah quarters are listed as being on both the 21st and 22nd floor. We know one floor is not enough to house an entire Ajah. Also, since no other floors are mentioned, nor can 7 Ajahs take 3 floors each without running out of floors, we can safely assume all Ajahs have two floors each. It is also safe to assume that the Brown Ajah have the lowest-placed quarters.

Edited by Jagen Sedai
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