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Limits of the A'dam


Vassili
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This is just a question I've been mulling over considering the extent of the abilities of the a'dam itself. How much control does it confer?

 

In TGH we are given a lot of information about the a'dam from Egwene. For instance, from her PoV we see the sul'dam asking her to destroy a tree, and then punishing her for lying about trying. The key word here is "ask".

 

Another important thing we learn from Egwene, and later Alivia, is that a damane's knowledge of the Power limits how she can be used. In fact, damane with special talents in weaving things other than destruction are given special duties (sky lights for example, or the ability to make a'dam themselves). Its not Sul'dam who know how to use the damane to make more a'dam, but rather its the dame themselves who do the channeling.

 

So far, this paints a picture of an a'dam that is used to "break" the will of damane, and convince them to obey absolutely. However, if a recalcitrant damane refused to cooperate at a crucial point in battle, they could conceivably refuse to channel. This never happens in practice, becaused only processed damane are used in battle. Still, some measure of free-will is still left to the damane.

 

BUT...

 

Another conflicting account of the a'dam's power is given by Toun in KoD. When she captures Teslyn and Joline, she clearly can control their ability to embrace Saidar, and she wraps them in flows of air. While in Salidar, Egwene and co similarly use an a'dam to control Moggy's ability to channel, but I had previously discounted this becuase the a'dam on Moghedien was of Elayne's creation, not a Seanchan device.

 

==minor spoiler==

 

I also considered that the shift in the a'dam's abilities from TGH to KoD might be a retcon, but in "book 12" a certain forsaken describes the a'dam in her PoV, and she clearly thinks it does not infer complete control, but rather compells obediance through pain. Compare this to the domination band.

 

==end spoiler==

 

So which is it? Do a'dam allow sul'dam to directly weave saidar with damane only acting as a source? How did Toun even see what she was weaving? (sul'dam deny seeing weaves) Did i read it wrong?

 

Or might Toun's pseudo ability to weave Saidar be a calculated plotline?

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Sul'dam dont' deny seeing weaves.  The sul'dam that were collared denied it specifically.  It's said elsewhere (and I believe prior to the afforementioned denial) that experienced sul'dam can see weaves as a side-effect of longterm use of the a'dam. 

 

As for Tuon's use of the a'dam; I'll have to reread that and pay closer attention.  I believe it's said that the a'dam forces a link between two women that can channel (or two women theoretically capable of embracing the True Source that is).  Perhaps Tuon actually put her foot over the line and actually linked with her captives right then and there.  I'm sure her status as a 'learner', and the reality of what sul'dam are will play a role in things to come though.

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I did wonder about the change of control too. I think it can be explained as follows:

 

We know that the adam creats a special kind of link between two women who can channel. However Suldam aren't aware that they can learn to channel (or obviously keep quiet and try to deny it if they suspect). That's why they ask Suldam to do the weaving rather than controling the weaves directly through the damane. Sure, if they controlled them directly, the weaves are still coming from the damane but it would feel like they were doing it themselves... To put it another way, from the Suldam's point of view, they can't channel*, so how would they know how to weave the flows? (And if they did know how... they'd rather not. If that makes sense.)

 

With Nynaeve, and Moghedien it was different. Nynaeve was already an active channeler, so she just controlled Moghedien directly.

 

Who is Toun? Did you mean Tuon (daughter of the 9 moons)? I'm currently rereading through the books and I have forgotten that bit, although it rings a bell. I seem to remember that she came to suspect the Suldam's capability to channel so she was able to use the Aes Sedai's power directly rather than commanding them. As for knowing the weaves, maybe in her history of training back on Seanchan (Seandar?) she saw them when her damane used them. Or almost did. Or maybe it was just an intuitive thing which often happens with channellers.

 

*And for most that's actually true. They have to learn.

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Perhaps it boils down to a certain maturity of the Sul'dam's development. If they have the one power inside of them (and they have reached the point where a collar will hold them) perhaps that is when they have direct control over another's powers.

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Since I wrote the above post, I have reread the scene where Tuon hijacks the three Aes Sedai with the adams! I certainly see what you mean, she uses it much more directly than has been shown with suldam in the past. She even sees the weave melt away from Mat! Despite not really being a Suldam by vocation, it's mentioned she is very good at training them though, and no doubt he experience counts for a lot of this.

 

I think the explanations here still pretty much stand though. I certainly think maybe RJ had slightly different ideas of how the adam and link works, although the two don't really contradict each other. I remember in the second book there's a statement that Suldam who have trained a long time 'almost see the weaves' while in this book they clearly do after a while I guess the former could be put down to denial on the suldams' part.

 

Slightly off topic, but related, I am curious at the order in which channelling and seeing the weaves occurs. In the past books it seemed that individuals starting rudimentary channelling before they could see the weaves. At least that was the case with Rand. In fact in the first incidents he didn't even seem to be aware of saidin. And Egwene's earlier lessons seemed to suggest that while she became aware of saidar earlier and use it to light fires, etc, seeing the weaves came a bit later. Nynaeve with her block couldn't even see the weaves, although other channellers don't appear to have that problem regardless of whether or not they're holding the power.

 

With suldam it appears to be the other way around, they see the weaves first before channelling. I imagine it all depends on how one is exposed to the power though. Joline seems to think Bethamin only needs training once she starts channelling though, but if the other suldam can see the flows too, has she already touched saidar, albeit not channelled?

 

Don't mind me, I find all this channelling stuff fascinating.

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Slightly off topic, but related, I am curious at the order in which channelling and seeing the weaves occurs. In the past books it seemed that individuals starting rudimentary channelling before they could see the weaves. At least that was the case with Rand. In fact in the first incidents he didn't even seem to be aware of saidin. And Egwene's earlier lessons seemed to suggest that while she became aware of saidar earlier and use it to light fires, etc, seeing the weaves came a bit later. Nynaeve with her block couldn't even see the weaves, although other channellers don't appear to have that problem regardless of whether or not they're holding the power.

 

With suldam it appears to be the other way around, they see the weaves first before channelling. I imagine it all depends on how one is exposed to the power though. Joline seems to think Bethamin only needs training once she starts channelling though, but if the other suldam can see the flows too, has she already touched saidar, albeit not channelled?

 

Don't mind me, I find all this channelling stuff fascinating.

 

I agree that novices start channeling before they can see the weaves. I remember when Egwene and Elayne met for the first time (or somewhere in the beginning anyway) in the White Tower. They each saw the glow of saidar around the other, and both commented on how that was their first time. During the lesson Egwene and Nyn had with Siuan on the ship, Egwene thought that she could almost see a faint glow around the woman.

 

So it would seem to me that the most rudimentary weaves are taught to them without them even knowing. Like they're just going on feeling; focusing on lighting a candle, and it'll happen. Focusing on making the air stir, and it'll happen. If they're good enough ...

 

I think it's possible that the Sul'dam are definitely ready to start channeling by the same they start seeing weaves - they just don't, partly because they don't know they can, and partly because they wouldn't ever even if they knew. I believe someone in the books said that they were just "a small step" away from actually channeling themselves.

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One interesting limit of the a'dam is that damane can't join a circle. Egwene thinks over this in TGS, and notes that it is the a'dam itself that prevents one from joining/making a circle. I was wondering if possibly a linked suldam-damane pair could join a circle if both were invited in, not just the damane. Of course, the suldam in this instance would have to know how to channel. But as I considered this possibility, I believe it wouldn't work because it would be like a link within a link. As far as I know, you can't have one circle be a sub-circle within another circle. However, even circles of 13 can combine if a man joins the circle; therefore, I wonder if a male channeler joining a circle could allow a suldam/damane pair in? Likely not, but what do you all think?

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I don't think that the an Damane and Sul'dam could be invited into the circle, because they are not simply "linked" with the A'dam. It is a special circle-like link that is controled strictly by the Ter'angreal.  Probably something of a closed circle. Especially if Eqwene is confident they can not link, she would have reasoned out a possibility if there was one.

 

As far as a Sul'dam controlling the flows, I have a feeling that some of the above posts hinting at the "mindset" of the Suldam being the difference is the answer.  Tuon already told mat that, she doesn't "choose" to channel, so she isn't a Damane..hence she is aware she has the ability and othe Sul'dam do.  She has worked long enough to know she can control the flows.  Other's might not even think that they can, so they won't unless they are shown.

 

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