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[Weekly Topic] Suroth Sabelle Meldarath


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27 members have voted

  1. 1. Are Suroths actions more beneficial to the Seanchan Empire or the Dark One

    • the Empire
      9
    • the Dark One
      18
  2. 2. Is the Empires structure beneficial to the DO or not?

    • Beneficial
      18
    • Not Beneficial
      9


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We're introduced to Suroth early, she's one of the first Seanchan we meet and one of the first confirmed darkfriends.  I certainly found that on my first read through because of this, and the traumatic circumstances of that meeting it took me a long time to disassociate the Seanchan from all being darkfriends (What can I say, I was young).

A couple of interesting tid-bits can be gleaned from our introduction to Suroth.
 

   "I could still return to Falme with two new damane," Suroth said. "It grieves me to allow an ... Aes Sedai" – she twisted the words like a curse – "to walk free."
   Liandrin's face did not change, but Egwene saw a nimbus abruptly glow around her.
   "Beware, High Lady," Renna called. "She stands ready!"
   There was a stir among the soldiers, a reaching for swords and lances, but Suroth only steepled her hands, smiling at Liandrin over her long nails. "You will make no move against me, Liandrin. Our master would disapprove, as I am surely needed here more than you, and you fear him more than you fear being made damane."
   Liandrin smiled, though white spots marked her cheeks with anger. "And you, Suroth, fear him more than you fear me burning you to a cinder where you stand."
   "Just so. We both fear him. Yet even our master's needs will change with time. All marath'damane will be leashed eventually. Perhaps I will be the one who places the collar around your lovely throat."
   "As you say, Suroth. Our master's needs will change. I will remind you of it on the day when you kneel to me."


Despite the entire set-up being to benefit the DO, her reaction is very much in line with being a Seanchan.  

But although at this stage we don't have any information on Renna being a DF or not she's willing to overlook allowing a marath damane to go free because she's ordered to (although right now, we don't know how big a deal that is)
 

   Suroth sniffed. "I will not remain here to find this Nynaeve. My usefulness to our master will be at an end if Turak hands me over to the Seekers for Truth." Liandrin opened her mouth angrily, but Suroth refused to allow her a word. "The woman will not remain free for long. Neither of them will. When we sail again, we will take with us every woman on this miserable spit of land who can channel even slightly, leashed and collared. If you wish to remain and search for her, do so. Patrols will be here soon, thinking to engage the rabble that still hides in the countryside. Some patrols take damane with them, and they will not care what master you serve. Should you survive the encounter, the leash and collar will teach you a new life, and I do not believe our master will trouble to deliver one foolish enough to let herself be taken."


again, her reaction is that of a Seanchan, more so than a DF.  

Finally

   "Liandrin" – Egwene would not give her the honorific, not ever again – "and the High Lady spoke of a master they both serve." The thought came into her head of a man with almost healed burns marring his face, and eyes and mouth that sometimes turned to fire, but even if he was only a figure in her dreams that seemed too horrible to contemplate. "Who is he? What does he want with me and – and Min?" She knew it was silly to avoid naming Nynaeve – she did not think any of these people would forget her just because her name was not mentioned, especially the blue-eyed sul'dam stroking her empty leash – but it was the only way she could think of fighting back at the moment.
   "The affairs of the Blood," Renna said, "are not for me to take notice of, and certainly not for you. The High Lady will tell me what she wishes me to know, and I will tell you what I wish you to know. Anything else that you hear or see must be to you as if it never was said, as if it never happened. This way lies safety, most especially for a damane. Damane are too valuable to be killed out of hand, but you might find yourself not only soundly punished, but absent a tongue to speak or hands to write. Damane can do what they must without these things."


On reflection this is almost as bad as the collaring - it's indicative of an entire nation consisting of people who don't question their superiors.  At this stage it's not necessary for them all to be DF, just the leader, and at least one of them is.  This sets the culture up as being perfect for the DO, and indeed many of their actions work in his favor.  

They bring chaos to the land, go into direct conflict with the DR, antagonise and weaken the WT (although it's also possible to argue that their attack made Egs ascension possible)...  All of these things help the DO, but they also help the ultimate conquest of the Empire.

 

At this stage it's possible that she's unaware of the release of the Forsaken, I think we witness her first meeting with Semirhage later.


Following the defeat of the Seanchan at Falme, she becomes the commander of the Hailene, although some of her actions here are taken in fear of the Empress's reaction if she goes back to apologise.

She's involved in the defeat of the Children and meets Morgase.

But for me the next really interesting thing is her reaction to the death of the royal family In Seanchan.
 

   Even should she escape suspicion of murdering Tuon, if the woman was dead, then she herself would be required to apologize to the Empress, might she live forever. For the death of the acknowledged heir to the Crystal Throne, her apology would be protracted, and as painful as it was humiliating; it might end with her execution, or much worse, with being sent to the block as property. Not that it would actually come to that, though in her nightmares it often did. Her hand slid beneath the pillows to touch the unsheathed dagger there. The blade was little longer than her hand, yet more than sharp enough to open her veins, preferably in a warm bath. If time came for an apology, she would not live to reach Seandar. The dishonor to her name might even be lessened a little if enough people believed the act was itself an apology. She would leave a letter explaining it so. That might help.
   Still, there was a chance Tuon remained alive, and Suroth clung to it.


   “Better,” Semirhage murmured. “Now. How would you like to rule in these lands? A handful of deaths-Galgan and a few others-and you could manage to name yourself Empress, with my help. It’s hardly important, but circumstances provide the opportunity, and you would certainly be more amenable than the current Empress has been so far.”
   Suroth’s stomach clenched. She feared she might vomit. “Great Mistress,” she said dully, “the penalty for that is to be taken before the true Empress, may she live forever, and have your entire skin removed, great care being taken to keep you alive. After that-”
   “Inventive, if primitive,” Semirhage broke in wryly. “But of no account.
   The Empress Radhanan is dead. Remarkable how much blood there is in a human body. Enough to cover the whole Crystal Throne. Take the offer, Suroth. I will not make it again. You will make certain matters slightly more convenient, but not enough for me to put myself out a second time.”
   Suroth had to make herself breathe. “Then Tuon is the Empress, may she live…” Tuon would take a new name, rarely to be spoken outside the Imperial family. The Empress was the Empress, might she live forever.
   Wrapping her arms around herself, Suroth began to sob, shaking beyond her ability to stop. Almandaragal lifted his head and whined at her interrogatively.

...  

 The forms would be carried out. She would have to return to Seandar and apologize for Tuon’s death, for the death of an Empress, now, to the very woman who had arranged it. Who would, of course, not take the throne until Tuon’s death was announced. She could not bring herself to admit that she would kill herself first; it was too shaming to say aloud. Words died as howling sobs racked her. She did not want to die. She had been promised she would live forever!
   This time, Semirhage’s laughter was so shocking that it shut off Suroth’s tears. That head of fire was thrown back, emitting great peals of mirth. At last she regained control, wiping away tears of flame with fiery fingers. “I see I didn’t make myself clear. Radhanan is dead, and her daughters, and her sons, and half the Imperial Court, as well. There is no Imperial family except for Tuon. There is no Empire.

...

   Suroth gaped at the other woman in spite of herself. The Empire…destroyed? Semirhage had killed the…? Assassination was not unknown among the Blood, High or low, nor within the Imperial family, yet for anyone else to reach inside the Imperial family in that way was horrifying, unthinkable. Even one of the Da’concion, the Chosen Ones.
   But to become Empress herself, even here. She felt dizzy, with a hysterical desire to laugh. She could complete the cycle, conquering these lands, and then send armies to reclaim Seanchan. With an effort, she managed to regain possession of herself.
   “Great Mistress, if Tuon really is alive, then…then killing her will be difficult.” She had to force those words out. To kill the Empress… Even thinking it was difficult. To become Empress. Her head felt as if it might float off her shoulders. “She will have her sul’dam and damane with her, and some of her Deathwatch Guards.” Difficult? Killing her would be impossible in those circumstances.

...

   “I will not, Great Mistress. I intend to become Empress, and for that I must kill the Empress.” This time, saying it was not very hard at all.


She practically has to be forced to even thinking about becoming Empress.  This despite the primary motivation for becoming a DF is for power, influence (and eternal life).  She needs a Forsaken pushing her to contemplate betraying the Empire.

 

Her reaction to Semirhage is interesting, on the one hand she's a channeler.  On the other as far as Suroth is concerned she's practically gained immortality, which appears one of her ultimate goals.  So on the one hand we have a set-up where it seems fairly easy for a DF to gain a lot of Power, that allows normal people to follow them without question.  On the other hand the same person seems very reluctant to take any steps that actually betray the Empire.

 

Compare this to the WT, where despite the BA still identifying with their former Ajahs they are willing to not only murder warders and fellow sisters, but actually break the Tower itself.  Is this difference caused by Ishy spending more time at the WT or simply because the Empire is harder to betray?

 

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Very interesting. 

 

Suroth as a Darkfriend is in itself very interesting, it would be very difficult to be a darkfriend in Seanchan, so far away from anything Shadow related and IIRC, she is one of the only - if not the only - darkfriend Seanchan named. 

 

I think that Suroth is one of the Darkfriends like Sheriam, who didn't take their oaths seriously - they just wanted power. Ishamael likely approached her close to the start of the books or a few years behind and promised power. 

 

I think that she does what she does for the Empire, how she wants it to be, and didn't truly think of the ramifications of the Shadow. She is so removed from the Blight and Shayol Ghul, I doubt she has any real notion of what the Shadow is. So she really only thought in terms of her own and the Empire's power, while obeying orders because she would get killed if she didn't. 

 

As to the Imperial Order benefiting the Shadow, I went with yes, considering what happened, but it can go both ways. The Empire's strength lies almost solely in its Empress or Emperor. It is united under the Imperial family, but otherwise viciously unstable - as we see with the constant cut-throat politics. 

 

So, on the one hand, the almost reverential faith in the Empress can hinder the Shadow's goals, however, it only takes Semirhage wiping out the Imperial Family to break the Empire and send an entire continent into rebellion and chaos, which removes a huge chunk of possible enemies. 

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So, on the one hand, the almost reverential faith in the Empress can hinder the Shadow's goals, however, it only takes Semirhage wiping out the Imperial Family to break the Empire and send an entire continent into rebellion and chaos, which removes a huge chunk of possible enemies. 

 

That is actually very hard to do though, and even after that it was probably not that much worse than most of Randland, which was in utter chaos, and where a single gleeman could throw a major nation like Carheien into civil war. The division of the Westlands would also seem to be responsible for the widespread depopulation.

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The empire has an order to its stability and instability. The imperial family and the Blood take extensive precautions to protect the throne and the empress (not necessarily the current empress). The Emperor or Empress has many children, and only the best survive to ascent the throne; the surviving siblings and relatives would only plot to take the throne if they could rationalize it for the good of the empire. It's as well that the Crystal Throne is a terangreal leaving the viewers in awe of the person who sits on it; that also makes it difficult for others to plot against it.

Remember, it took a Forsaken - one of the thirteen most powerful channelers ever, with knowledge that most people couldn't even dream of, who even before she was Chosen took special pride in torture - to throw the continent in chaos. 

 

 

So, on the one hand, the almost reverential faith in the Empress can hinder the Shadow's goals, however, it only takes Semirhage wiping out the Imperial Family to break the Empire and send an entire continent into rebellion and chaos, which removes a huge chunk of possible enemies. 

 

That is actually very hard to do though, and even after that it was probably not that much worse than most of Randland, which was in utter chaos, and where a single gleeman could throw a major nation like Carheien into civil war. The division of the Westlands would also seem to be responsible for the widespread depopulation.

 

Thoms actions in Carhain were only made possible by the major instability already there. If he didn't do it, someone else would

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The Seanchan destablization only happened after Semi killed the Entire Imperial family. I think any culture would be similarily having problems if every single leader was wiped out. Think of Randland if every royal family and all the heirs were wiped out?

 

Think of any modern day nation and if the entire government was wiped out...

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The Seanchan destablization only happened after Semi killed the Entire Imperial family.

 

People also need to keep in mind that pre-Semi concept of "stability" although fairly true, owed a great deal to propoganda as well. Karede speaks of putting down "numerous" rebellions during his time with the DW guards and we also get reports of "sedition" in various districts. Scratch the surface and that "stability" did not go nearly as deep as the Seanchan claimed.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The Empire was very unstable, due to the geographical and logistical problems of a far flung empire at that time. This is where the propaganda comes in, its a white wash to help encourage integration of others. Which is why the Seanchan reacted so hard to Ituraldes insurrection.

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  • 1 month later...

I think every city-state that existed at the time of the 3rd age in Randland gave benefits to the dark one. It wasn't' so much that it gave him ability but that he/his pawns (dark friends/forsaken(chosen)) were able to exploit weakness. Even the use of compulsion on the major captains in the last battle shows the exploitation of a weakness in (the relying of one major general per battle). This similar way of exploitation is shown across randland. Even in the waste as the custom of aiel's malel channelers get exploied

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