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ShenAnCalhar

Test for Accepted/Aes Sedai

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In one of my more recent re-reads, I started thinking about the tests for Accepted and Aes Sedai, and got to wondering how effective they are. I don't have books on hand so I apologize for imprecise references.

 

First point: one of the main tenets of the test for Accepted is that you have to want to be Aes Sedai more than anything else - more than any of the 3 possibilities you see in the ter'angreal. However, as evidenced by Nynaeve and Egwene's trips, they don't even have any memory of what they're doing in the test. Essentially it seems like they're abandoning people based on some vague voice telling them to be steadfast.

 

Second point: I forget the exact figure, but weren't there something like 200 known black sisters in the tower (per Verin)? And how many other power-hungry bullies like Elaida attained the shawl? Wouldn't the Aes Sedai observing the tests note some of these behaviors, especially since the candidates entering the test have no memory and would be less likely to hide their evil or unbecoming tendencies? Maybe some black sisters never actually took the final test, and through compulsion/other means were able to gain acceptance as Aes Sedai?

 

I think the technical proficiency is certainly covered in the test for the Shawl, but the emotional/behavioral elements seem lacking. Am I off base here?

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you're right. the testing is flawed. then again, the AOL testing didn't stop the aes sedai from turing into forsaken either

Did they have any actual testing during AOL?

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Wouldn't the Aes Sedai observing the tests note some of these behaviors, especially since the candidates entering the test have no memory and would be less likely to hide their evil or unbecoming tendencies?

 

(almost) All of them turned to the Dark One after they gained the shawl.

 

you're right. the testing is flawed. then again, the AOL testing didn't stop the aes sedai from turing into forsaken either

Did they have any actual testing during AOL?

 

No. In the AoL, everyone who could channel, became an AS. I have no quote (I don't know if it exists), but it is by far the most logical, even more if you know that the Aes Sedai were the only channeling organization.

Edited by Leyrann

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Galina during one of her POVS said she was a darkfriend before she was even a novice and katherine and Liandrin ( not sure about liandrin) that being said arrogance seems to be encouraged in aes sedai so i can see some evil tendencys being overlooked during the tests as behaviors they want to see displayed.

Edited by BKVMC

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you're right. the testing is flawed. then again, the AOL testing didn't stop the aes sedai from turing into forsaken either

Did they have any actual testing during AOL?

 

No. In the AoL, everyone who could channel, became an AS. I have no quote (I don't know if it exists), but it is by far the most logical, even more if you know that the Aes Sedai were the only channeling organization.

 

Not entirely true. I think it is in the Big White Book, or if it was mentioned somewhere in the 4th age podcast, that Channelers in the AoL did not all become Aes Sedai. It was a "job" that people admired, but it was definitly not easy.

There was mentioned that not all channelers chose to train to be Aes Sedai. They recieved enough training to not hurt themselves or those around them, maybe even some basic things to help those around them, but not like a proper Aes Sedai, a servant of all.

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I've always looked at the title Aes Sedai in the AoL being more like a graduate or post-graduate degree. Not being so much about what kind of person you were.

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Well in theory The oaths should be enough protection.

 

But really how will you do it. Replace the oaths on a monthly basis? Lining the Trainees up and questioning them under oath and executing any who might have dark leanings?

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Not entirely true. I think it is in the Big White Book, or if it was mentioned somewhere in the 4th age podcast, that Channelers in the AoL did not all become Aes Sedai. It was a "job" that people admired, but it was definitly not easy.

There was mentioned that not all channelers chose to train to be Aes Sedai. They recieved enough training to not hurt themselves or those around them, maybe even some basic things to help those around them, but not like a proper Aes Sedai, a servant of all.

 

Actually, it wasn't a job, I think it's fair to say that very few had it as a full time profession. The government of the Aes Sedai, like Lews Therin, and the Healers.

 

The vast majority where every day people with regular nine-to-five jobs. Laywers, teachers, scientific and historical researchers etc. And everyone who could channel was Aes Sedai. In the Age of Legends circles were the common-place. Your strength in the Power really meant very little. It was also very decentralised. The local town's channellers got together at weekends, had tea and biscuits, and discussed where to apply the Power for the benefit of their town etc. The ajah was a very loose thing in those days and was in no way permanent.

 

Aes Sedai, whilst bringing much prestige, was the side-job that most of them had.

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The best I can say is that Rand mentioned being "properly raised", implying that being AS wasn't automatic. Of course that could just mean that some rituals were involved, but it sounds to me like there were standards.

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I know it's been said by a few characters that the weaves used in the AS test are pretty pointless. Whilst I understand its to show that the candidate can wield saidar skillfully enough to be raised, it would seem to make more sense to include more weaves that are actually used for practical purposes- some battle weaves, some healing weaves, etc. I assume negative personality traits are supposed to be spotted by the AS during their training, and either discouraged during their studies, before they take the test, or, if they show no signs of changing, not to be chosen to take the test for the shawl. It does allow Darkfriends to slip through, of course, but the tower has been denying the existence of Black Ajah up until recently.

 

As for the Accepted test, I agree that the idea behind the test is flawed- if you are supposed to leave the 3 scenarios because you want to be AS more than you want any of them, but you can't remember that's why you're in the ter'angreal, its confusing. Still, I suppose it wouldn't have the same impact if you walked in knowing it was all just a vision and you just had to wander off back into the WT to be out of it. It has to seem real for it to be a hard choice to make.

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I know it's been said by a few characters that the weaves used in the AS test are pretty pointless. Whilst I understand its to show that the candidate can wield saidar skillfully enough to be raised, it would seem to make more sense to include more weaves that are actually used for practical purposes- some battle weaves, some healing weaves, etc. I assume negative personality traits are supposed to be spotted by the AS during their training, and either discouraged during their studies, before they take the test, or, if they show no signs of changing, not to be chosen to take the test for the shawl. It does allow Darkfriends to slip through, of course, but the tower has been denying the existence of Black Ajah up until recently.

 

As for the Accepted test, I agree that the idea behind the test is flawed- if you are supposed to leave the 3 scenarios because you want to be AS more than you want any of them, but you can't remember that's why you're in the ter'angreal, its confusing. Still, I suppose it wouldn't have the same impact if you walked in knowing it was all just a vision and you just had to wander off back into the WT to be out of it. It has to seem real for it to be a hard choice to make.

 

I got the feeling that the ter'angreal (or possibly the way the Aes Sedai channel into it), take your memories, but not your "motivations" so to speak. Because they seem to not remember anything, but pretty quickly accept their 'fake' rolls (because of the motivations to have that life). So when the arch reappears they are motivated to go to it, the reason is irrelevant because that's the point of the test, to measure how much you want to be Aes Sedai.

 

As for the Aes Sedai test, I think the actual one is probably pretty silly to just be calm through some stuff and do the weaves. But really, if they put more women through what Nyn went through, where you have to do that while channeling battle weaves and practical things, you could test much more: AS calm, multi-tasking/weave-splitting, quick thinking, OP fighting, OP problem solving, weaving pointless but complex things to show skill. Nyn was tested quite thoroughly IMO, tower would probably be a better place if all the women had to pass that.

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The Tower would be much more empty if all the women had to pass the Nynaeve test, even her with all of her superhuman strength and skill at weaving barely made it through.

 

I personally think putting the lives of the persons tested at risk is both cruel and dumb. Channellers are really rare and can be useful in so many ways, risking their lives just to pass a test is really short-sighted. And what kind of an organisation risk the lives of those who enrol in it, so unnecessary?

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The Tower would be much more empty if all the women had to pass the Nynaeve test, even her with all of her superhuman strength and skill at weaving barely made it through.

 

I personally think putting the lives of the persons tested at risk is both cruel and dumb. Channellers are really rare and can be useful in so many ways, risking their lives just to pass a test is really short-sighted. And what kind of an organisation risk the lives of those who enrol in it, so unnecessary?

 

Well, I meant relatively as hard. So someone who simply isn't as strong would still have a chance. Also, you could help mitigate chances of dying, and just keep them accepted till they pass. Maybe give Accepted a little more independence, or add another rank for those simply honing skills for the test. It would give full Aes Sedai a little more weight. Generally you'd know they are extremely capable, much fewer wishy-washy ones.

Edited by Kael Pyralis

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Nyn was tested quite thoroughly IMO, tower would probably be a better place if all the women had to pass that.

Nynaeve's test was brutal and might have killed most sisters in the tower. the last stage, if you recall, involved endless hordes of darkhounds... some darkhounds cannot be killed by anything short of balefire(!)

The test is supposed to be designed for young Accepted, not hardened OP-wielding warriors with 10 years experience of fighting in the Blight.

 

That said, those flawed tests are just one more issue in a LONG line of problems with the White Tower Aes-Sedai. on every re-read of the books I find myself thinking less and less of the AS as an organization.

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BTW, one of the absurd things about the test for Aes Sedai is how little it has to do with their actual work when they get the shawl. Most of them never have to channel under extreme pressure - they are mostly politicians, scholars and mediators, depending on the Ajah. They don't get involved in wars directly. So what's the point of the test for them?

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The ironic thing is, a Darkfriend or evil person would have a much easier time when confronted with a scenario where they were required to leave people behind to die. And the Aes Sedai conducting the test would interpret that as the candidate being impressively dedicated to the Tower and "greater good."

 

What's particularly astounding is that the Aes Sedai, who have strict laws about almost everything else, don't seem to place any sort of restrictions on the people conducting the test or take care to select people they know wouldn't abuse that power. Furthermore, if nobody is allowed to speak of what happened during an Aes Sedai test, the candidate or other Aes Sedai won't be able to report people who abused their power over the candidate.

 

They had to have known someone like Elaida would be likely to do just that, but they still allowed her to participate in Moiraine's test for the shawl, probably because of Elaida's strength in the Power. It was also mentioned in NS that an Accepted named Ellid, whom everybody envied for being stunningly beautiful and good at everything, hadn't survived the test. It did make me wonder if the Aes Sedai who tested Ellid had given her a harsher than normal test out of jealousy.

Edited by sleepinghour

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I got the feeling that the ter'angreal (or possibly the way the Aes Sedai channel into it), take your memories, but not your "motivations" so to speak. Because they seem to not remember anything, but pretty quickly accept their 'fake' rolls (because of the motivations to have that life). So when the arch reappears they are motivated to go to it, the reason is irrelevant because that's the point of the test, to measure how much you want to be Aes Sedai.

 

An interesting interpretation I hadn't considered - it would mean that the Aes Sedai of the Tower are at least testing what they think they are testing. Whether or not it's a good test to begin with is another question...

 

 

That said, those flawed tests are just one more issue in a LONG line of problems with the White Tower Aes-Sedai. on every re-read of the books I find myself thinking less and less of the AS as an organization.

 

Agreed - any organization that holds so much power for so long turns out this way, as history has repeatedly taught us. I always thought calling ownership on all objects of the power was pretty ridiculous.

 

 

The ironic thing is, a Darkfriend or evil person would have a much easier time when confronted with a scenario where they were required to leave people behind to die. And the Aes Sedai conducting the test would interpret that as the candidate being impressively dedicated to the Tower and "greater good."

 

That was my thought when starting the thread. Does anyone have a count of "clean" vs. "black" (before the purge) Aes Sedai? I think the Verin list was around 200, but I don't remember the light-side figures.

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Roughly 1000 I think was the number, I recall RJ said the Tower split into rough 3rds, and there were 200-300 at least in the Tower or Salidar during the split. Also, the Kin had 1800 (1786) members, and Elayne comments that it is nearly twice the tower...

 

So DFs were about 1 in 5!

 

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely!

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I don't think those ter'angreal are flawed. I think they are used in the wrong way. Aes Sedai know hardly anything about ter'angreal and what they know they discovered by chance. Sometimes there knowledge about a ter'angreal they use isn't complete. An example of this is the Oath Rod:

They know it binds to an oath, but they don't know it causes their ageless faces; they don't know that it shortens their lives; they don't know it was used in the AoL to bind criminal channelers. I suppose people in the AoL knew this and didn't trust a person with an ageless face. (Not much difference with this time: who trusts an Aes Sedai)

 

I also don't believe the 100 weaves ter'angreal was used in the same way as it is now.

1. Even weak channelers could become Aes Sedai. Would Morgase, Alise or Sorilea survive that test?

2. Elaida manipulated the test when Moraine was raised, because she wanted Moraine would fail.(Jealousy?)

And isn't it quite obvious why some of the sitters wanted Nynaeve to fail the test. If she had, Egwene's authority had been greatly undermined. It had nothing to do with a test, it was attempted murder.

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Agreed - any organization that holds so much power for so long turns out this way, as history has repeatedly taught us. I always thought calling ownership on all objects of the power was pretty ridiculous.

Claiming ownership over power objects is the very least of AS faults.

The first is, I think, they completely abandoned their original role... Aes-Sedai means "servant of all" but they consider event the youngest sister as higher than any king.

The second, and no less important. By being forced to convey only truth, AS lost the value of truth. They never hesitate to twist their words to utmost possible limit because they feel that whatever they say is truth by definition. And by the old saying "The best lie contains a grain of truth" that makes them the worst (or best) deceivers of all.

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I got the feeling that the ter'angreal (or possibly the way the Aes Sedai channel into it), take your memories, but not your "motivations" so to speak. Because they seem to not remember anything, but pretty quickly accept their 'fake' rolls (because of the motivations to have that life). So when the arch reappears they are motivated to go to it, the reason is irrelevant because that's the point of the test, to measure how much you want to be Aes Sedai.

 

As for the Aes Sedai test, I think the actual one is probably pretty silly to just be calm through some stuff and do the weaves. But really, if they put more women through what Nyn went through, where you have to do that while channeling battle weaves and practical things, you could test much more: AS calm, multi-tasking/weave-splitting, quick thinking, OP fighting, OP problem solving, weaving pointless but complex things to show skill. Nyn was tested quite thoroughly IMO, tower would probably be a better place if all the women had to pass that.

 

Your idea about the Accepted test makes a lot of sense.

 

@WantAnswers: I think you might be right about trying to undermine Egwene to a certain extent, but I also think that a lot of the brutality of Nynaeve's testing had to do with Nynaeve herself- after all, this is a woman who did what all the Yellow Ajah said couldn't be done whilst still Accepted. Despite a lot of them not recognising her as AS, for a while she was the sole AS advisor to the Dragon Reborn. Whilst her achievements outside of healing (including the taint under healing) have been less remarkable (as far as I know, the wider tower doesn't know about her defeat of Moghedien, I assume?) I suspect jealousy played a large part. And the fact that they realised this hot tempered woman with very little patience for the WT, at times, if she passed the test, would be placed far above all of them by their own ranking system.

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I see this topic drifting to places I'd prefer it didn't. There are a number of threads on the board about what's wrong with the Tower and AS in general, and that wasn't the topic of this thread.

We're discussing the tests for Accepted and the Shawl, as they relate to the infiltration of the Tower by Darkfriends.

 

As to Nynaeve's testing, I agree that it had more to do with her than undermining Egwene. Or rather, it wasn't directly related to Egwene. The thing is, we've seen that most AS didn't think too highly of Nynaeve's status as AS before she passed the test and took the Oaths. They were making a point, that her control of the OP isn't what's being a sister's all about. I don't think they meant to kill her, but rather drive her to loss of composure (which should've meant failure, the way the test was usually judged). And I agree that DF's would have an easier time passing some tests, which is very unfortunate indeed.

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I see this topic drifting to places I'd prefer it didn't. There are a number of threads on the board about what's wrong with the Tower and AS in general, and that wasn't the topic of this thread.

We're discussing the tests for Accepted and the Shawl, as they relate to the infiltration of the Tower by Darkfriends.

 

As to Nynaeve's testing, I agree that it had more to do with her than undermining Egwene. Or rather, it wasn't directly related to Egwene. The thing is, we've seen that most AS didn't think too highly of Nynaeve's status as AS before she passed the test and took the Oaths. They were making a point, that her control of the OP isn't what's being a sister's all about. I don't think they meant to kill her, but rather drive her to loss of composure (which should've meant failure, the way the test was usually judged). And I agree that DF's would have an easier time passing some tests, which is very unfortunate indeed.

 

A part of what bothers me about the test - not to go down the AS route again - the books make it seem that the stronger the potential sister, the higher the chance that those conducting the test will put in extra effort to have her fail. However, based on what we read about Siuan's test in New Spring, and Nynaeve's test in ToM, the only thing it truly tests is whether you can physically keep your composure under stressful circumstances. Shouldn't a true test for the shawl involve testing the potential sister's wisdom, logic and ability to consider situations clearly and make rational decisions?

Edited by Ashlyn

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Well, let's not forget that applying for the test isn't automatic as well. You have to convince the MoN that you're ready to take the test and become an AS. If you don't show the necessary traits, you'd eventually be put out of the Tower.

 

In that sense, the test is there to make sure you won't bring shame to the name of AS in difficult times, not that you're ready to bear the responsibility of AS.

 

Oh, and it's Moiraine you meant, I think.

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