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What is the point of the Seanchan?


WOT1402
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They are probably the single worst thing about the Wheel of Time for me. But I have to wonder what RJ wanted from this group.

 

On the face of it, they're pretty generic. You have a powerful secondary threat being manipulated by the primary enemy and the heroes goal is to get them on side. The Geth from Mass Effect are a good example of this.

 

So as I was reading and introduced to them I assumed that the books would follow this pattern. We'd purge the corrupting characters, get rid of the evil practices like enslaving channellers and then they get to be awesome and help the heroes.

 

This is not what happens. Instead, RJ has events transpire in which our heroes go cap in hand to this superpower and beg them to join with no conditions or concessions because they can't win. They keep the lands they stole, they keep their slaves and make no admission of all the suffering they inflict on tens of thousands of innocent.

 

This is a faction which is an active antagonist into the last three books. They commit horrible acts of barbarism and cruelty which we are made vividly privy to in the second book. We are left under no illusion that these are anything other than one dimensional villains.

 

Worse there's a whole subplot about the Suldam and Damane both being channellers and Tuon being one. That plot goes nowhere. Not only does it go nowhere but we have her make a justification so dumb that it destroyed that character for me. She says "oh I may be a channeller but I don't use the power so I am a good person". This completely ignores the fact that Suldam are rounded up indiscriminately, regardless of if they have ever channeled, plus her people's mentality assumes that all channellers are subhuman and automatically evil. By that logic she is a subhuman and evil regardless of anything she says. It's a position that is so stupid and contradictory that I assumed that surely RJ is setting her up to change her mind later on and realise how wrong she was. But no, instead Rand has to concede to her pathetic, truly pathetic justification for her societies barbarism.

 

Let's take te Whitecloaks. This is an evil faction who are antagonists. They almost get destroyed during the books and get what's coming to them. But Galad saves the order and sets them on the right path redeeming them. This is not what happens with the Seanchan. They remain as cruel, evil and hypocritical as when they first showed up. Rather than something just where they suffer and die for all of the horrible and monstrous things they've done, instead they are rewarded with a vast empire, a people untouched by war and having Rands blessing to go about their business like its normal.

 

If RJ didn't want the Seanchan to make any concessions, then why in book 2 did he put so much focus on how horrible they were to Egwene or even have the enslaving and torturing channellers? Just make them generic conquerors like the Tsuranani from Magician. It's a validation of everything they do to let them carry on doing it and it feels wrong that this goes unpunished. That nobody pays for the abuses and cruelty of this faction. At least he could have pinned that evil behaviour on the influence of the Darkness instead of making Tuon AS BAD as them. Literally the only difference is that she eventually joins Rand. Also, why bother with the subplot about the Damane being channellers if nothing ever comes of that?

 

If it was me I would have had the Darkspawn massacre everyone on their continent whilst their army was away enslaving innocent people and then Rand tells them to go home after the last battle. Instead of rewarding Imperialism and slavery.

Edited by WOT1402
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One thing I have heard people say is that Rand has to make a tough choice. Yes. But really it should be a tough decision joining a former enemy who WERE slaving imperialist scum. Not joining people who ARE still doing all of those things. It's not necessary for Rand to have this moral dilemma that this point has to be conceded or that Tuon is as unrepentant as she is. I don't know, maybe RJ planned to have the Seanchan change but decided it was more powerful to have Rand make a concession for the greater good.

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A scene I was hoping for but didn't have high hopes was for HotH Hawkwing to speak to Tuon and reveal how they were manipulated/corrupted by Ishy.

It really is strange. All te other manipulations of the Forsaken are undone and righted at the end of the series. But not for Seanchan where te rot is left.

 

I ve read different things about this. Did RJ plan to write a book with Matt and Tuon. I saw a few quotes saying he wasn't going do books with the same characters or even same world.

 

It felt really odd that plot points set up in te second book regarding the Seanchan never amounted to anything since only Tuon learned about the lies and decided to stay the course. Because she's evil.

 

If he did then my assumption is that people would find out that Tuon is a channeled and use that to justify deposing her. Which would compel Tuon, along with Matts influence, into changing her mind.

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It was Hawkwing's son who started them on the path to enslaving channelers..  How did Ishy manipulate the Seanchan?  He added to Hawkwing's strong mistrust of Aes Sedai not his son.  After all Bonwhin tried to manipulate him and may of had his first wife assassinated.  Also she undoubtably played a part in the other nations attacking him.  All Ishy did was play on his dislike of Aes Sedai. 

 

Luthair arrived in Seanchan to find Aes Sedai making open use of their power, formed temporary alliances with one another, where it was basically every woman for herself all scheming and plotting for advancement.  Luthair brought with him, inherited from his father's difficulties, a profund distrust of all things Aes Sedai.  When he discovered the cutthroat nature of the Aes Sedai who ruled Seanchan, that distrust grew into outright hatred.

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It was Hawkwing's son who started them on the path to enslaving channelers..  How did Ishy manipulate the Seanchan?  He added to Hawkwing's strong mistrust of Aes Sedai not his son.  After all Bonwhin tried to manipulate him and may of had his first wife assassinated.  Also she undoubtably played a part in the other nations attacking him.  All Ishy did was play on his dislike of Aes Sedai. 

 

Luthair arrived in Seanchan to find Aes Sedai making open use of their power, formed temporary alliances with one another, where it was basically every woman for herself all scheming and plotting for advancement.  Luthair brought with him, inherited from his father's difficulties, a profund distrust of all things Aes Sedai.  When he discovered the cutthroat nature of the Aes Sedai who ruled Seanchan, that distrust grew into outright hatred.

 

Luthair didn't start out with those intentions. Just to simply to conquer Seanchan. He was having a rough time of it too until the inventor of the a'dam, Deain Sedai offered him an alliance presenting him with one of her sisters collared. They worked together for decades collaring channelers until Luthair turned on Deain and collared her as well.

I'm only working from memory here but It took some 800 years for Seanchan to be fully consolidated/conquered.

 

As far as Ishy's corruption of the Seanchan, it was two-fold.

First off, not only was Ishy the one that counciled Hawkwing to defy the Aes Sedai in the first place. He was also the one that convinced him to send his heirs along with a large portion of his armies across the Aryth Ocean. 

Ishy's wanted to weaken Hawkwing's Empire so that upon his death it would splinter, which it did. His goal of course was that when the Last Battle approached, the Shadow's forces and manipulations would be opposed by individual Nations and not an united front.

 

Secondly, Hawkwing's heirs left with their own copies of the Karaethon Cycle. However, they were corrupted versions compliments of Ishy.

His goal here of course was so that when Hawkwing's armies did return, they would be at odds with and have different beliefs from those in "Randland".

Edited by Finnssss
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@WOT 1402

 

I agree with your frustration and I despise the Seanchen, but the fact that not every situtation works out perfectly is a more realistic end than one where everything is great. Fixing the Seanchen (and the Sharans for that matter) is a task for the people of the fourth age. A framework is in place to get that done, but Rand had too much to do to fix the Seanchen.

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I for one have always though the Seanchan ads a lot of flavour to the Wheal of Time series. All civilizations in the world of WoT must find a way to handle the stress which the power of male and female channelers places on society, and Robert Jordan seems to have taken great pains to show as many variations on this theme as possible. With channelers on positions of power in all other lands the Seanchan serves an a striking exception. I also thing they serve as an important plot tool in the end. If everyone had conformed to the same values and ethics in the end it would make the future seem a bit boring. All to many fantasy authors feel that they must resolve all conflicts permanently in the last book, but since life does not work that way it is a bit illogical to use it even in books unless you actually kill the darkness in the hearts of men.

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@mehr,

 

"the seanchan ads a lot of flavour to the wheal of time series.' SERIOUSLY?

if they add so much flavour to the wheal of time,maybe robert jordan should

have named his series wheat of times.

Edited by jack of shadows
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The Seanchan actually do give a flavour to the series. I also think that the Seanchan will be dealt with in the fourth age. They may be important in dealing with Shara. May be even the key to dealing with them. But without Mat and Tuon's adventures, we may never kbow how this plays out.

Edited by wotfan4472
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I for one have always though the Seanchan ads a lot of flavour to the Wheal of Time series. All civilizations in the world of WoT must find a way to handle the stress which the power of male and female channelers places on society, and Robert Jordan seems to have taken great pains to show as many variations on this theme as possible. With channelers on positions of power in all other lands the Seanchan serves an a striking exception. I also thing they serve as an important plot tool in the end. If everyone had conformed to the same values and ethics in the end it would make the future seem a bit boring. All to many fantasy authors feel that they must resolve all conflicts permanently in the last book, but since life does not work that way it is a bit illogical to use it even in books unless you actually kill the darkness in the hearts of men.

 

Although I would never condone slavery in a civilization, I do like that Robert Jordan chose to bring in the Seanchan culture and history as a way to show an opposite method that a society with many channelers could have developed. I enjoyed comparing and contrasting the Seanchan culture with those in Randland, where the people mostly distrust many of the Aes Sedai along with comparing the Seanchan and the Aes Sedai to the ways in which the Wise Ones of the Aiel and also the Windfinders of the Sea Folk earned their positions of authority AND respect.

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  • 4 years later...

Your anger with the slavery of the Seanchan I think is exactly what RJ intended. He wanted to show how circumstances of the world around you can force you to compromise with things you fund abhorrent. Similar to how the founding fathers knew slavery was at odds with the Declaration and Constitution but still allowed it bc outlawing it would have bankrupted the US economy at the time.

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The book was about stopping the Dark One, not righting all the injustices in the world. Jordan intentionally left this unresolved. Real life, even apart from the "Dark One", is messy and imperfect and has lots of injustice. The world after the Dark One would still have a lot it needs to wrestle with, human conflicts. It's not like everything becomes hunky-dory.

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1 hour ago, WOT19702420 said:

Your anger with the slavery of the Seanchan I think is exactly what RJ intended. He wanted to show how circumstances of the world around you can force you to compromise with things you fund abhorrent. Similar to how the founding fathers knew slavery was at odds with the Declaration and Constitution but still allowed it bc outlawing it would have bankrupted the US economy at the time.

I think the Seanchan are RJs reminder that the Wheel Turns, Ages come and Pass, that the 3rd Age is ending and a new Age is coming and that the status quo that has stood in the Westlands of a Continent dominated by Tar Valon and the Aes Sedai for 3000 years is coming to an end. 

If RJ had lived then maybe we may have got what direction the world is going to go. 

Edited by Harldin
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I can’t even think on how to articulate the depths of the hate I feel towards every single chapter where the Seanchan make an appearance but I will give the quick notes. Also, spoilers for the end of the story. Don’t read this if you are not done with it, just in case.

 

I don’t care if the Seanchan succeed or if they fail, they are a non-entity, I care more for the tiny little insects I step on without thinking every time I walk on a garden.

 

In my head-canon Rand will get to random town #4, catch a bit of sleep in a nice Inn, wake up, have a bite to eat and suddenly remember about Tuon and her people and just will them out of the Pattern.

 

Poof, gone. It´ s not about revenge or about them learning a better way of life, I want them just forgotten forever.

 

I hate them, I don’t think they add anything of worth to the story. Finding other ways of character development would have been better for our heroines. Like honestly, just make them go away.

 

People can like whatever they want and appreciate nuances and all that but just know that silently and deep, deep in my heart if you do like the Seanchan there is at least one person out there judging you a tiny bit. 👩‍⚖️

 

Now with that very emotional and subjective rant out of the way, I will try and express myself objectively if only to contribute something in this thread.

 

In my very personal opinion, in this fantastical story the Seanchan are a reflection of the real world. I don’t mean like the contemporary world (at least not for the most part) but our beginnings, our middle and if we are not ever vigilant and careful our end.

 

The way our ancestors saw evil (compared to their “good” whatever it was at that point in our world´ s history) and had to destroy or subjugate it wherever they went to, that in a nutshell is the Seanchan. Even the way they justify it is practically the same. Do as I say not as a do anyone?

 

So, I guess their purpose in the story (in my opinion) is just to show how nothing would really change for us poor humans even if the existence of a God, any God (and their counterpart) was proven as a fact of life. Good and Evil on a cosmic or godly level so to say is completely different to the good and evil that exist in our hearts, whatever justification we give it to help us sleep at night it´s there in all our hearts and we have to live with it and make the best of it as we go along with our lives.

 

Despite my secret wish to see them willed into oblivion by Rand, most likely as it happened and continues to happen in our world the change in the Seanchan society will come about naturally and gradually as they interact with the new people in Westlands and beyond.

 

Putting it in this way is what eventually helped me accept their existence in the story, at least now as a semi-functional adult, in my late teens to early twenties I was just waiting for the chapter where they were all finally, finally set on fire by Egwene or Rand.

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Interesting.  I hadn't heard a reaction like this to Seachan before.  At least not to this level.  I had found some people found them repulsive but down right hatred, that mew.  Is that the same way you feel about most cultures' histories that included slavery or the current countries that allow slavery?  Or was there something else about the Seachan that added to your hatred of them beyond the slavery?

 

edit: They are absolutely horrible but I see it more as they practice an evil thing and with their introduction to Randland, their people have a chance to get redeemed.  Also, the land they came from was thrown into utter chaos and civil war, hopefully something that leads to freedom and I'm sure will influence the Seachan in Randland to lead to freedom.  I think Tuon also dropped enough hints in the end to imply that change is coming under her rule and we have to remember, RJ's ultimate vision was never brought to completion.  We only have his notes and BS's interpretation of them.  Who knows what RJ had in his head for that people.  Also, I liked that not everything was resolved and that the story ends without a utopia but rather a world that those still alive have to work through.  I thought that was one of the main themes of the whole series, nothing will be nor should be made perfect and Rand quite clearly passes the option of everything being made "perfect".

Edited by thehumantrashcan
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@thehumantrashcan

 

(Spoilers here too! Don’t read any more if you are not done with the books.)

 

I honestly can´ t say there is one reason, I will tell you a few of my thoughts about it in very broad strokes because if I could I would just not stop thinking and talking about it and I would make myself feel horrible.

 

(Before that just really quick I agree with your Edit. For me an Utopia is creepy and only good as a beginning in a story, something like “And then we realized we are in the Matrix and we started fighting the machines.” I rather see the destruction of a society and it picking itself up than their “ascension” to Utopia.)

 

But back on topic.

 

I think we have to give (a bit grudgingly) leeway to those poor people in the past because they also thought that a solar eclipse was the End Times. Honestly if we didn’t have the science know-how that we do nowadays I can't say I wouldn’t fell the same way and even worse we would likely still behave the same way.

 

I can´ t say my real opinion about the countries that allow that sort of thing today. I will just say I hope I am never in a life-or-death situation where I have to go to one of them or die because I might just accept my end gracefully.

 

I think it may be more about the fact that they live in this world where so many questions we have (and will likely continue to have endlessly) have answers. There is a God, like an actual God that created them and there is something Evil that acts as his counterpart.

 

And then! Even more incredibly and useful in a day-to-day basis as not all people would be thinking or care really about their immortal souls when you have to eat and care for your family etc. there is Magic (to give it a more common name) there are people that can literally wave a hand and change reality and you as a society decide to enslave them?

 

What? Why? It´ s infuriating!

 

It makes me despair at what we would do in the real world if we came across something or someone like that, it’s one thing to think about it in an abstract way and another to actually see it realized on paper. I hate it. I just hate it so much, this was the first time (speaking about fantasy) that something, someone, etc. made me feel actual hate.

 

It would be different if the Seanchan killed the Channelers, I wouldn’t like it but yeah ok it´ s a “normal” reaction, right? Kill the Witches and Warlocks, we went through that and so many people died (and the Wizarding World went into hiding.) but fine it´ s just the ignorance and fear our ancestors lived with. We can judge them all we like but ultimately it doesn’t help them, it helps us and future generations only.

 

But no! Let´s take Magic and warp it and make it into such an awful thing that makes me wish the One Power was just not a thing full stop in order to stop the Seanchan from having the means to use it.

 

I think that if Rand had gotten rid of them at the end it would have made the entire story better, I even think that if Rand had gone off in the opposite direction of Shayol Ghul and let the entire world burn just to see the Seanchan go down with it would have been worth it as an ending. There is always a next time for the Dragon Reborn to save the world.

 

(I like the ending as it is just fine, I am just saying that for me personally no more Seanchan, seeing them burn and scream to the Creator "Why oh why?" as they die slowly in the distance while the rest of our heroes point and laugh at them would have elevated it.) 

 

So yeah, lots and lots of bad feelings and bias against the Seanchan. I try to not think about them much to be honest because as you can see, I get a bit invested.

 

Thankfully I can also be reasonable and after the rant is over walk away and go on with life accepting that it is just a story, it doesn’t really matter and more importantly say anything about anyone who likes the Seanchan or not and that is very good for my peace of mind.

 

(I still judge them though.)🤪

Edited by laccy
some spelling. The ´ symbol sometimes acts weird.
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On 9/12/2016 at 9:10 AM, WOT1402 said:

They are probably the single worst thing about the Wheel of Time for me. But I have to wonder what RJ wanted from this group.

 

On the face of it, they're pretty generic. You have a powerful secondary threat being manipulated by the primary enemy and the heroes goal is to get them on side. The Geth from Mass Effect are a good example of this.

 

So as I was reading and introduced to them I assumed that the books would follow this pattern. We'd purge the corrupting characters, get rid of the evil practices like enslaving channellers and then they get to be awesome and help the heroes.

 

This is not what happens. Instead, RJ has events transpire in which our heroes go cap in hand to this superpower and beg them to join with no conditions or concessions because they can't win. They keep the lands they stole, they keep their slaves and make no admission of all the suffering they inflict on tens of thousands of innocent.

 

This is a faction which is an active antagonist into the last three books. They commit horrible acts of barbarism and cruelty which we are made vividly privy to in the second book. We are left under no illusion that these are anything other than one dimensional villains.

 

Worse there's a whole subplot about the Suldam and Damane both being channellers and Tuon being one. That plot goes nowhere. Not only does it go nowhere but we have her make a justification so dumb that it destroyed that character for me. She says "oh I may be a channeller but I don't use the power so I am a good person". This completely ignores the fact that Suldam are rounded up indiscriminately, regardless of if they have ever channeled, plus her people's mentality assumes that all channellers are subhuman and automatically evil. By that logic she is a subhuman and evil regardless of anything she says. It's a position that is so stupid and contradictory that I assumed that surely RJ is setting her up to change her mind later on and realise how wrong she was. But no, instead Rand has to concede to her pathetic, truly pathetic justification for her societies barbarism.

 

Let's take te Whitecloaks. This is an evil faction who are antagonists. They almost get destroyed during the books and get what's coming to them. But Galad saves the order and sets them on the right path redeeming them. This is not what happens with the Seanchan. They remain as cruel, evil and hypocritical as when they first showed up. Rather than something just where they suffer and die for all of the horrible and monstrous things they've done, instead they are rewarded with a vast empire, a people untouched by war and having Rands blessing to go about their business like its normal.

 

If RJ didn't want the Seanchan to make any concessions, then why in book 2 did he put so much focus on how horrible they were to Egwene or even have the enslaving and torturing channellers? Just make them generic conquerors like the Tsuranani from Magician. It's a validation of everything they do to let them carry on doing it and it feels wrong that this goes unpunished. That nobody pays for the abuses and cruelty of this faction. At least he could have pinned that evil behaviour on the influence of the Darkness instead of making Tuon AS BAD as them. Literally the only difference is that she eventually joins Rand. Also, why bother with the subplot about the Damane being channellers if nothing ever comes of that?

 

If it was me I would have had the Darkspawn massacre everyone on their continent whilst their army was away enslaving innocent people and then Rand tells them to go home after the last battle. Instead of rewarding Imperialism and slavery.

The point of the Seanchan is to show there will be continued conflict in the world AFTER the Last Battle.   RJ is saying the world isn't perfect, and even with the Dark One or "Devil" defeated we must still contend with the flaws of men.     

Each age of the Wheel of Time is different, if everything was wrapped up neatly in a bow the second and fourth ages would essentially be the same.    

There is hope for the Seanchan,  Mat is the Prince of the Ravens, his children, the blood of King Aemon, Erids line, will be the next generation of rulers of the most powerful nation/ army in Randland with strong ties to Andor, the Two Rivers and Saldea.

RJ wants us to speculate and consider multiple futures for Randland.   Perhaps Channelling will fade altogether in the next Age and different abilities, like Wolfbrothers, and Mins visions and other things will rise in prominence.   We know that the memory of Channelling has to fade from the world before the First Age cycles around again.    I believe there are 7 ages in Randland,  so Channelling has to stop by the end of the 4th age / beginning of the 5th Age at the latest.   

Without Channelling, the issue of Damane becomes moot.    

I believe great changes will happen in the 4th Age, and the very nature of Randland will be very different by the end of the next age. 

 

 

Edited by Rhettles
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I never really got why Mat was so over the moon for Tuon in the first place.

 

If it hadn't been ordained that he would marry the daughter of the 9 moons, realistically from what we knew of Mat and his attractions, Tuon would have held absolutely no appeal at first glance. 

 

I actually don't mind the Seanchan, it's the Tuon romance that seems so manufactured and contrived.

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I think it's the very fact that Tuon is so different that drew Mat to her.  And despite his constant insistence that he doesn't like getting himself into danger, come on, it's not just ta'veren influence that get's him into danger, he likes it and she was the most dangerous woman there is.  Also... (spoilers for late in the series)

 

Spoiler

He accidently married her and even though he didn't know it was his word until afterwards, he's still a man of his word

 

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Making alliance with evil empires is just part of war and makes it more realistic. Come on Stalinist Russia? The Seanchan add another layer of complexity but are a problem to be solved in a different age. I have no problem with that.

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I don't have the quotes but there used to be an interview database that someone kept where RJ was quoted as saying that he didn't intend to neatly wrap up every conflict because real life is not that easy.

 

I think there was also an interview where RJ said, despite originally not intending more books after the Last Battle and finishing his story (what wound up as AMoL), that he'd had an idea for a post AMoL outrigger book or books centered on Matt and Tuon. This interview was well before the series was completed, obviously. But speculation now is that it would have resolved the slavery issue with the Damane. Nobody knows for certain, I don't remember ever seeing anything indicating RJ had any plot outline notes or not, and if anyone close to RJ knows, I've not seen where they've ever spoken about it. 

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9 hours ago, Yellowbeard said:

I don't have the quotes but there used to be an interview database that someone kept where RJ was quoted as saying that he didn't intend to neatly wrap up every conflict because real life is not that easy.

 

I think there was also an interview where RJ said, despite originally not intending more books after the Last Battle and finishing his story (what wound up as AMoL), that he'd had an idea for a post AMoL outrigger book or books centered on Matt and Tuon. This interview was well before the series was completed, obviously. But speculation now is that it would have resolved the slavery issue with the Damane. Nobody knows for certain, I don't remember ever seeing anything indicating RJ had any plot outline notes or not, and if anyone close to RJ knows, I've not seen where they've ever spoken about it. 

https://www.theoryland.com/wheel-of-time-interview-search.php
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