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Grandis

The hunters for the Black Ajah

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Though the events I'm writing about take place prior to ToM, I'm posting here so people can post spoilers if necessary.

 

The hunt for the BA started in aCoS and ended in tGS. That's half the bloody series! From what I can gather the only thing they achieved during their hunt was to inadvertently cause Verin Mathwin's death(the less said about her decision to commit suicide, the better). For such a long running plot to fizzle out so completely, given that they didn't discover anything that Verin hadn't, makes no sense. Especially in light of the fact that Egwene knew of their existense when Verin handed her her life's work.

 

My question is; has Brandon Sanderson said anything about why this arc was resolved in this manner? After all, Egwene's plan to take out the BA was limited to the rebel camp. Assuming an even distribution of BA between the WT and the rebels, this plans best case scenario results in only half of them being captured. Why even introduce Egwene to the hunters if she isn't going the use them to stage a coordinated attack on the BA? Using the oath rod and the list of known darkfriends she could have easily created two trusted taskforces inside and outside the WT. Verin had spent how many years meticulously discovering the identities of the vast majority of the B?. Egwene couldn't wait a day to come up with an actual, thought-out plan to capture as many as possible? Certainly explains why she wants Rand to talk and plan; she's seen first-hand what happens when you don't.

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I don't know what Brandon has said, but I'm sure it went down the way RJ planned it.

 

I agree that it was quite honestly poorly dealt with, but I think the intent of RJ there might've been to 1. show just how freaking scared the BA hunters were and 2. to once again show just how inept the majority of Aes Sedai who think so highly of themselves really are. Egwene, a 20ish aged girl with hardly any experience came in and helped to fix many of their problems; but she's freaking 20! How much can she possibly do? Also, she's quickly becoming one of those terribly prideful Aes Sedai. This, to me, is an example of showing just how pathetic the Aes Sedai politics have been over the last 2000 years or so.

 

I don't know why, but it seems like RJ likes the idea that women controlling the world is a BAD thing. I'm not saying I agree with it, but I do think he intentionally made the Aes Sedai pathetic as a commentary on feminism. To be honest, this is why Leigh Butler's re-reads always bother me, because she takes this stuff too personally as a semi-feminist blogger at Tor.com.

Edited by jemron

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Butler seems to be trying to write a feminist apology for Jordan's work, which has always struck me as bizarre in the extreme, as I hold the opinion, as jemron seems to, that a lot of Jordan's gender politics is profoundly anti-feminist.

 

I'm not sure why every plot arc needs a point, as such, though? Some failure and ineptitude is to be expected, particularly when that's one of the major themes of the series. And they weren't a total failure; they played a part in Elaida's downfall, and they provided most importantly an opportunity for Pevara to get characterization.

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Butler seems to be trying to write a feminist apology for Jordan's work, which has always struck me as bizarre in the extreme, as I hold the opinion, as jemron seems to, that a lot of Jordan's gender politics is profoundly anti-feminist.

 

I'm not sure why every plot arc needs a point, as such, though? Some failure and ineptitude is to be expected, particularly when that's one of the major themes of the series. And they weren't a total failure; they played a part in Elaida's downfall, and they provided most importantly an opportunity for Pevara to get characterization.

 

The Seanchan played a part in Elaida's downfall. Before her capture Elaida was running roughshod over everone to the very end. The only one to stand up to her was Silviana and she damn sure didn't see anyone else stand with her.

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It might be argued that the BA Hunters plot was set up to:

1) introduce the idea of using the Oath Rod to definitively prove someone is Black Ajah - after all, Verin's notes could have been incorrect / incomplete / a BA plot of their own to sow dissension. Even if the Hunters only got as far as tracking down a handful of BA, Egwene herself credited them with the idea of using the Oath Rod.

and

2) completely distract our attention as to how the BA would get purged, so that it never even occurred to us that Sneaky Sneaky Verin would actually be the prime mover. We all assumed the Hunters - with possible interaction with Egwene - would be the ones to trap the BA.

 

Oh, and

3) show at least some decent, well-meaning Aes Sedai in the tower.

 

Having said all that - I still think it was ended very oddly. Or rather, not really ended at all. We had gotten to a point where Shaidar Haran had set Alviarin the task of finding the Hunters, and she was on the right track in terms of tracking them down; meanwhile, the Hunters were all set to barge in on a meeting of the Council of Thirteen (or whatever it's called.) It was all building to a very definite confrontation - which never materialised.

 

That might have been fine if that had been happening just before Egwene and Verin totally changed the situation, but it wasn't - it was all about to happen imminently, and then it seems as if weeks happened with no progress.

 

Eh..?

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The Seanchan played a part in Elaida's downfall. Before her capture Elaida was running roughshod over everone to the very end.
If you say so.

 

I'm not really sure what you're complaining about, though. Is it that a subplot which doesn't directly drive a main plot simply exists? Because there have been many of those in WOT, and while you say the Black Ajah hunter subplot has encompassed "half the bloody series", that's not precisely true; it's been less than a handful of chapters, and some sections of a few prologues. It gives the series some depth, and flavor. Or is it that characters in the subplot have not lived up to their potential? Because that's also rife in this series. Nobody really knows what to do, their information is either wrong from the beginning or is outdated by events, they're too arrogant, proud, or paranoid to work together, and usually their fumbling attempts make things worse. That's the Wheel of Time, and what Jordan seemed to believe about human nature.

Edited by moratcorlm

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I'm not really sure what you're complaining about, though. Is it that a subplot which doesn't directly drive a main plot simply exists? Because there have been many of those in WOT, and while you say the Black Ajah hunter subplot has encompassed "half the bloody series", that's not precisely true; it's been less than a handful of chapters, and some sections of a few prologues. It gives the series some depth, and flavor. Or is it that characters in the subplot have not lived up to their potential? Because that's also rife in this series. Nobody really knows what to do, their information is either wrong from the beginning or is outdated by events, they're too arrogant, proud, or paranoid to work together, and usually their fumbling attempts make things worse. That's the Wheel of Time, and what Jordan seemed to believe about human nature.

 

I can't speak for Grandis, but my complaint is not that there was a sideplot - it was actually one I was very interested in - or that the Hunters failed, but just that the plot didn't seem to get wrapped up. It just seemed to abandon its existing direction, tread water for a bit, then evaporate. It would be a bit like if after 12 books of Morgase and Tallanvor, Tallanvor suddenly met a tavern wench, married her, we saw no reaction from Morgase, and they were never mentioned again.

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Guest Emu on the Loose

I do have to say that Jordan's sexist views are probably the hardest pill for me to swallow when it comes to WoT. But, in the case of the BA hunters, I think it was just weak writing skills on his part that led the plot to fizzle out, rather than any consequence of his philosophical lack of regard for women as equals. It seems as though he had a hard time weaving plotlines progressively (in the structural sense of the word), which I attribute to his smugly indirect authorial style. (Oh, how many times have I wanted to know what a character was thinking, only to not get the chance--sometimes even despite having character POVs! RJ seemed almost gleeful about doing that to us.)

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Consider Mjollnir. Perrin's axe anxiety begins in EOTW; Verin asks him when he's going to trade it in for a hammer in TSR; we go through books upon books of angst about how the axe destroys and the hammer can build. It's only in TOM, twelve books later, that Perrin finally realizes just how meaningless the distinction was all along and decides that killing with the hammer can be fun too. Or Rand's neuroses about women, his convoluted explanations for the hallucinations he experienced... it took him until the end of TGS to accept that Lews Therin Kinslayer was him and always has been.

 

Now, yes, there's a difference, in that the characterization of two main characters is crucial to the novels, and even though many of us hate reading it I think Perrin's arc was a very personal one to write for Jordan, while this is a sideplot. But I don't think this is quite a shaggy dog story, any more than Cadsuane or Loial's arcs have been, or, say, Jaichim Carridin's or Liandrin's. It had scant success, true, but in the end it didn't so much evaporate as mix into the broader plots of the White Tower and the Black Tower.

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Oh, and

3) show at least some decent, well-meaning Aes Sedai in the tower.

 

I think that's a very good point. Makes me wonder if RJ was listening to complaints about all Aes Sedai being awful and so created the hunters as a way to introduce some more likable Aes Sedai lol.

 

Also I'd just like to add that one of the things I like about this series is that not every single piece of the plot has a point. Makes it more life-like, and gives us good insights into characters.

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I don't know what Brandon has said, but I'm sure it went down the way RJ planned it.

 

I agree that it was quite honestly poorly dealt with, but I think the intent of RJ there might've been to 1. show just how freaking scared the BA hunters were and 2. to once again show just how inept the majority of Aes Sedai who think so highly of themselves really are. Egwene, a 20ish aged girl with hardly any experience came in and helped to fix many of their problems; but she's freaking 20! How much can she possibly do? Also, she's quickly becoming one of those terribly prideful Aes Sedai. This, to me, is an example of showing just how pathetic the Aes Sedai politics have been over the last 2000 years or so.

 

I don't know why, but it seems like RJ likes the idea that women controlling the world is a BAD thing. I'm not saying I agree with it, but I do think he intentionally made the Aes Sedai pathetic as a commentary on feminism. To be honest, this is why Leigh Butler's re-reads always bother me, because she takes this stuff too personally as a semi-feminist blogger at Tor.com.

Egewene's first thought was to eliminate the threat posed by the BA. I think the revelation of the BA sisters coming just prior to the attack on the tower really rushed Egewene into a possibly bad decision. But speaking as to the hunters failure to locate the BA sisters; they have been operating in the tower since the tower was founded. They hadn't been found out in what, 2000 years? It is doubtful that the BA hunters could discover their identities in the short time that they had. The Black Sisters were very well organized to prevent this. I really find this odd since the shadow's forces seem to bumble and stumble everywhere else. But, they did remain hidden and still would be in place if not for Verin. The BIG question is how did the sisters in the tower know they had been outted? Did a sister who escaped from the camp gate in and warn them or is something else at work that we haven't seen as of yet?

As for women running the world, I think RJ is using this as a metaphor for absolute power corrupts. Since the towers inception the Aes Sedai have pretty much exerted absolute power over every kingdom that they have entered and for a long, long time they haven't exactly baan battling the forces of the DO. Its pretty much been politics as usual. None of them are prepared for what is about to happen. A good example is the mighty Green. If they are the battle ajah, then why werent they stationed throughout the Borderlands to lend support to the frequent Trolloc raids. They just sat around the tower doing nothing. Other than Moraine, the Reds were the only sisters we see actually doing anything, and that was just hunting down male channelers. They have become a strictly political machine at this point. They're great as long as nothing big is happening, but not that the final battle is joined, they are completely out classed. This is what troubles me about Egewene marshaling support against Rand. I don't think she has any idea how much influence, and inexperience she has as Amyrlin. Sure, she's seen the things Suian did and possibly read about former Amyrlins but actually sitting in the chair is different from looking at it.

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I'm not really sure what you're complaining about, though. Is it that a subplot which doesn't directly drive a main plot simply exists? Because there have been many of those in WOT, and while you say the Black Ajah hunter subplot has encompassed "half the bloody series", that's not precisely true; it's been less than a handful of chapters, and some sections of a few prologues. It gives the series some depth, and flavor. Or is it that characters in the subplot have not lived up to their potential? Because that's also rife in this series. Nobody really knows what to do, their information is either wrong from the beginning or is outdated by events, they're too arrogant, proud, or paranoid to work together, and usually their fumbling attempts make things worse. That's the Wheel of Time, and what Jordan seemed to believe about human nature.

 

I can't speak for Grandis, but my complaint is not that there was a sideplot - it was actually one I was very interested in - or that the Hunters failed, but just that the plot didn't seem to get wrapped up. It just seemed to abandon its existing direction, tread water for a bit, then evaporate. It would be a bit like if after 12 books of Morgase and Tallanvor, Tallanvor suddenly met a tavern wench, married her, we saw no reaction from Morgase, and they were never mentioned again.

 

I didn't have a problem with the hunt. I thought it was one of the more exciting plots in the series. Hence my dissapointment with how it ultimately played out. A lot of build-up with no climax. I'm left with the feeling that this plot-line was sacrificed to make the book shorter.

 

On the other hand, if the Faile plot-line had been tied up in a similarly out-of-left-field way, I would have been equally baffled, but then shrugged and figured at least it's over with.

Edited by Grandis

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The hunt for the BA started in aCoS and ended in tGS. That's half the bloody series!1 From what I can gather the only thing they achieved during their hunt was to inadvertently cause Verin Mathwin's death(the less said about her decision to commit suicide, the better). For such a long running plot to fizzle out so completely, given that they didn't discover anything that Verin hadn't, makes no sense. Especially in light of the fact that Egwene knew of their existense when Verin handed her her life's work.

 

Why even introduce Egwene to the hunters if she isn't going the use them to stage a coordinated attack on the BA? Using the oath rod and the list of known darkfriends she could have easily created two trusted taskforces inside and outside the WT. Verin had spent how many years meticulously discovering the identities of the vast majority of the B?. Egwene couldn't wait a day to come up with an actual, thought-out plan to capture as many as possible?2

 

1) RJ used the BA hunt as a way to get our main characters, i.e. Eg, Nyn, Elayne out of the monotony of the WT initially, and then as several others mentioned, the BA hunt was a subplot- it's been a way to flesh things out while the things they do drive the main plot(s) such as locating and obtaining the Bowl of the Winds, using it, locating and acquiring the Dominion Band(and then foolishly trusting Domon to dispose of it) etc. The things of importance were the large plot themes such as fixing the DO's touch on the weather and making sure the male equivalent of an a'dam wouldn't fall in the hands of the Shadow, which it does anyway, but nonetheless.

 

2) That said, I whole-heartedly agree with you that rushing into the BA capture by Egwene after getting Verin's info was BEYOND stupid. I would say it was the single stupidest thing done in the series if it weren't for the fact that so many of the characters make stone-blind decisions like that throughout it. As you mentioned, was it really that hard to wait ONE day so they could take out the BA as a whole instead of letting 50, I repeat, FIFTY sisters escape and become potential dreadlors in the LB??

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The hunt for the BA started in aCoS and ended in tGS. That's half the bloody series!1 From what I can gather the only thing they achieved during their hunt was to inadvertently cause Verin Mathwin's death(the less said about her decision to commit suicide, the better). For such a long running plot to fizzle out so completely, given that they didn't discover anything that Verin hadn't, makes no sense. Especially in light of the fact that Egwene knew of their existense when Verin handed her her life's work.

 

Why even introduce Egwene to the hunters if she isn't going the use them to stage a coordinated attack on the BA? Using the oath rod and the list of known darkfriends she could have easily created two trusted taskforces inside and outside the WT. Verin had spent how many years meticulously discovering the identities of the vast majority of the B?. Egwene couldn't wait a day to come up with an actual, thought-out plan to capture as many as possible?2

 

1) RJ used the BA hunt as a way to get our main characters, i.e. Eg, Nyn, Elayne out of the monotony of the WT initially, and then as several others mentioned, the BA hunt was a subplot- it's been a way to flesh things out while the things they do drive the main plot(s) such as locating and obtaining the Bowl of the Winds, using it, locating and acquiring the Dominion Band(and then foolishly trusting Domon to dispose of it) etc. The things of importance were the large plot themes such as fixing the DO's touch on the weather and making sure the male equivalent of an a'dam wouldn't fall in the hands of the Shadow, which it does anyway, but nonetheless.

 

2) That said, I whole-heartedly agree with you that rushing into the BA capture by Egwene after getting Verin's info was BEYOND stupid. I would say it was the single stupidest thing done in the series if it weren't for the fact that so many of the characters make stone-blind decisions like that throughout it. As you mentioned, was it really that hard to wait ONE day so they could take out the BA as a whole instead of letting 50, I repeat, FIFTY sisters escape and become potential dreadlors in the LB??

Those fifty were rebels, IIRC. There's another hundred in the tower that also got away.

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Those fifty were rebels, IIRC. There's another hundred in the tower that also got away.

 

Even more of a problem for the Light then, thanks for the correction Grandis

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Oh, and

3) show at least some decent, well-meaning Aes Sedai in the tower.

 

I think that's a very good point. Makes me wonder if RJ was listening to complaints about all Aes Sedai being awful and so created the hunters as a way to introduce some more likable Aes Sedai lol.

 

Also I'd just like to add that one of the things I like about this series is that not every single piece of the plot has a point. Makes it more life-like, and gives us good insights into characters.

 

I agree. I always saw it as a means of showing that someone other than a main character can also be proactive and 'good'.

And plots can fizzle out. Nothing says every plotline has to have a dramatic resolution, that's very unrealistic.

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Ignoring whatever sexist views RJ might have. I merely had to raise my eyebrow that during the entire series homosexuality was a non-issue, it was only subtly hinted at the boat captain who hated Nynaeve. But then all of a sudden out of nowhere in Book 11 everybody was everyones "pillow friend" and the Shaido camp was aloof with homosexual debauchery. Then all of a sudden as quickly as it appeared in book 11, the entire matter became mute by the next book again.

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Ignoring whatever sexist views RJ might have. I merely had to raise my eyebrow that during the entire series homosexuality was a non-issue, it was only subtly hinted at the boat captain who hated Nynaeve. But then all of a sudden out of nowhere in Book 11 everybody was everyones "pillow friend" and the Shaido camp was aloof with homosexual debauchery. Then all of a sudden as quickly as it appeared in book 11, the entire matter became mute by the next book again.

 

Well, we've seen Bubbles of Evil. Maybe there was a Bubble of Lesbianism? The Wheel weaves in mysterious ways.

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Ignoring whatever sexist views RJ might have. I merely had to raise my eyebrow that during the entire series homosexuality was a non-issue, it was only subtly hinted at the boat captain who hated Nynaeve. But then all of a sudden out of nowhere in Book 11 everybody was everyones "pillow friend" and the Shaido camp was aloof with homosexual debauchery. Then all of a sudden as quickly as it appeared in book 11, the entire matter became mute by the next book again.

 

Well, we've seen Bubbles of Evil. Maybe there was a Bubble of Lesbianism? The Wheel weaves in mysterious ways.

 

 

Whatever it was it seemed very forced.

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Well, we've seen Bubbles of Evil. Maybe there was a Bubble of Lesbianism? The Wheel weaves in mysterious ways.

 

Indeed. Maybe those early 13x13 trials didn't quite give the intended results.

 

Haha mysterious indeed. We need more people like you on here, lighten things up :)

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Consider Mjollnir. Perrin's axe anxiety begins in EOTW; Verin asks him when he's going to trade it in for a hammer in TSR; we go through books upon books of angst about how the axe destroys and the hammer can build. It's only in TOM, twelve books later, that Perrin finally realizes just how meaningless the distinction was all along and decides that killing with the hammer can be fun too. Or Rand's neuroses about women, his convoluted explanations for the hallucinations he experienced... it took him until the end of TGS to accept that Lews Therin Kinslayer was him and always has been.

 

 

In terms of narrative time, that's not a very long period - roughly two years or less. If you have two teenagers/ 20 year olds trying to come to terms with various massive conflicts, both internal and external, and integrate their respective personalities, it's actually a minimum period.

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Butler seems to be trying to write a feminist apology for Jordan's work, which has always struck me as bizarre in the extreme, as I hold the opinion, as jemron seems to, that a lot of Jordan's gender politics is profoundly anti-feminist.

 

I'm not sure why every plot arc needs a point, as such, though? Some failure and ineptitude is to be expected, particularly when that's one of the major themes of the series. And they weren't a total failure; they played a part in Elaida's downfall, and they provided most importantly an opportunity for Pevara to get characterization.

RJ hasn't been writing anti-feminist. He argues in his work against feminine rule (which shows to have many flaws). But the cooperation of men and women in the AoL is praised and used as an absolute ideal situation. I wonder if he re-instated this in his notes for the end of AMoL.

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during the entire series homosexuality was a non-issue, it was only subtly hinted at the boat captain who hated Nynaeve. But then all of a sudden out of nowhere in Book 11 everybody was everyones "pillow friend" and the Shaido camp was aloof with homosexual debauchery.
This is untrue. While there are only a few fleeting references to male homosexuality in WOT, there are a number of lesbians, situationally or otherwise, particularly in the White Tower (though not all by any means; e.g. the relationship between Shalon and Ailil). I'm also unsure what you mean when you say "the Shaido camp was aloof with homosexual debauchery", leaving aside precisely what you intend by 'debauchery' and 'aloof'. Was there more than the one Maiden who slept with Arrela, and Therava?
In terms of narrative time, that's not a very long period - roughly two years or less. If you have two teenagers/ 20 year olds trying to come to terms with various massive conflicts, both internal and external, and integrate their respective personalities, it's actually a minimum period.
Quite so.

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Setting aside the issue of gays in WOT for a moment, and returning to the purge of the Black Ajah, I think it's important to remember the time pressures involved. The Last Battle is coming up rapidly, and the White Tower MUST be whole and free of Dark agents in its midst. There simply isn't time to conduct a long undercover investigation. Better to have some escape than to find yourself still ferreting around for them when the Last Battle comes.

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