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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
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Rand the Plumber

(Sa')Angreal - why settle for second best?

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Ok, so this has been nagging at me for a while.

 

We have at least one reference (the healing of Mat) to Aes Sedai choosing one angreal from among several.  In this particular case, Siuan selected Vora's Sa'angreal, the most powerful one in the tower.  Her thought process indicates to me that she had at least considered using one of lesser strength.  The question is why?  Surely, for any job requiring augmentation, the logical thing to do is simply pick up the most powerful *angreal available, do the job, then put it back?

 

I have been pondering the reasons, and I've come up with:

1) Angreal are more closely attuned to some channellers than others.  Perhaps in order to get the best performance from an angreal it needs to be used by someone who shares the temperament/Talents of the maker?

2) Angreal are more closely attuned to some powers than other.  An angreal might be very powerful indeed when working with flows of water, but much less effective with fire.  Perhaps again, this relates to the relative strengths of the maker?

3) Custom and tradition require an Aes Sedai to choose precisely the correct tool for the job - one that provides neither too little power, nor too much.  Similar to the way an advocate in court will be judged by his or her peers on the ability to make a clear, compelling and comprehensive argument in as few words as possible.  (Honest!)

4) I'm reading too much into it, and should get a life.

 

I'm wondering which theory has the best in-book support, if any, or whether there is another reason that I haven't considered.

 

What say ye?

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I would think it is a combination of #3 and two others

 

5) Use of an angreal is tightly regulated to avoid abuse.

6) Everybody wants to use angreal for many different things and, with so much demand, if you use angreal that are not suited to your job you may be coming in somebody else's way and making it impossible for them to do their job since they can't get a strong enough angreal.  e.g. If an Aes Sedai is busy using Vora's Sa'angreal to grow some roses in the garden and another Aes Sedai suddenly needs it to kill a few thousand draghkar who just showed up they wouldn't be able to use it since it was already in use for a job it wasn't really needed for.

Edited by TGlems

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I would think it is a combination of #3 and two others

 

5) Use of an angreal is tightly regulated to avoid abuse.

6) Everybody wants to use angreal for many different things and, with so much demand, if you use angreal that are not suited to your job you may be coming in somebody else's way and making it impossible for them to do their job since they can't get a strong enough angreal.  e.g. If an Aes Sedai is busy using Vora's Sa'angreal to grow some roses in the garden and another Aes Sedai suddenly needs it to kill a few thousand draghkar who just showed up they wouldn't be able to use it since it was already in use for a job it wasn't really needed for.

I agree that this is the most likely explanation.  However I am not sure on your suggested point 6.  We only see a handful of occasions where sa/ter/angreal are actually used by the AS.  Most references to them (except for Vora's sa'angreal, the TAR ter'angreal, the testing ter'angreal, and the oath rod) are to do with the effects of ter'angreal being studied.  Apart from the Seanchan attack when Egwene cracks open the store rooms, they seem to be chronically underused so I can't imagine there being much demand.  I don't think many AS take them out of the Tower, and apart from Mat's Healing and the Seanchan attack (both pretty extraordinary events) they don't seem to get any use.

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I think you're both probably right about it being custom and tradition (the reason for the custom and tradition having been established is open to debate).  It's a pity, really, because the concept of attuned angreal fits very nicely within the greater concept of each person wielding the OP in a slightly different way.

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It might also be a fear of getting addicted to an *angreal. The sense of euphoria is magnified, so the temptation to use an angreal, even when you don't need one, is very strong. Look at Rand before the Dragonmount revelation. He was using the access key even when he didn't need to. The Aes Sedai have probably created a taboo against using an angreal except under strict need, and even then to only use what is needed, no more. Otherwise we'd have a bunch of AS running around with angreal, and there would never be enough around when you need them (as pointed out before). So, it is either everyone use them and there is not enough to go around and those that have them are too addicted to them to release them or no one uses them except under dire need and they sit around collecting dust most of the time.

 

Look at how the Forsaken act and talk in regards to angreal. Not only is it more power, but they talk almost as if the NEED them. As if they don't know how to function without them.

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I like this topic- it's one that I thought about quite recently.

 

On addiction: I think this is certainly a factor.

On regulation: We have seen how strict the Tower is- think Moiraine taking pretty much everything in Rhuidean. She's supposed to be one of the laxer ones.

On 'attunement': I like the idea of this, but there sadly isn't really much evidence in writing for it.

On custom: One of the series' themes is how customs have changed or been misunderstood over time. I think that the use of (sa)angreal in the AoL would have been jealously guarded- a parallel to nuclear technology today- and this has seeped into the present, with, as someone said earlier, the tool of precisely the right strength being used.

 

Please carry on! So far I've agreed with everything people have posted here!

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