Vandui', my vigorous visitors of Dragonmount! Welcome to yet another weekly installment of "It Works in Theory," the world-famous Wheel of Time focused theory blog that resides on Dragonmount. I only say world-famous, by the way, because some friends of mine recently doubted the popularity of my blog, and I figured that if I start hyping it more, then eventually it might actually become world-famous. So, get out and start spreading the word! But first, go ahead and read my disclaimer (and the rest of my blog, I suppose):
WARNING!!! Spoiler Alert!!! WARNING!!!
This blog is based on theories that will include facts and material from the latest books in the series, so if you have not read through Towers of Midnight, continue reading at your own risk! As always, take whatever I say with a grain of salt. After all, even though some of my ideas might seem completely spot on, other ideas used to be very popular as well and turned out to be completely false. The earth used to be thought of as flat, then it was the center of the universe and brontosauruses had two brains, and then there was intelligent life in the universe (obviously, we know that last one is completely ridiculous). Anything you see written down in black and white can't be taken for complete truth, and the world is all shades of gray anyway. However, if you read something in other colors, you can take that straight to the bank.
Okay, where shall we begin? Well, let me first say that some parts of what I speculate about today will more than likely not be any huge revelations, but some of the stuff that takes me there is somewhat interesting. I'm going to be partially discussing the fates of the two Towers today (no, not those two, Tolkien fans), the Black and the White. I'll be frank at this point: I think it's fairly evident that both Towers will not exist in the same environment or fashion that they did before. The Seanchan will be invading the White Tower soon in force and with the aid of Traveling, and the Black Tower has already been Foretold to be "rent in blood and fire" by Elaida in A Crown of Swords.
So, what does this mean for the fate of Randland as a whole, with the Last Battle looming and in the wake of Tarmon Gai'don? Well, let's first take a look at a couple of quotes:
The Dragon Reborn
And it was written that no hand but his should wield the Sword held in the Stone, but he did draw it out, like fire in his hand, and his glory did burn the world. Thus did it begin. Thus do we sing his Rebirth. Thus do we sing the beginning.
— from Do’in Toldara te, Songs of the Last Age, Quarto Nine: The Legend of the Dragon. Composed by Boanne, Songmistress at Taralan, the Fourth Age
Lord of Chaos
The lions sing and the hills take flight.
The moon by day and the sun by night.
Blind woman, deaf man, jackdaw fool.
Let the Lord of Chaos rule.
—chant from a children's game
heard in Great Arvalon,
the Fourth Age
In this case, you can actually just ignore all the text, and instead pay close attention to the parts I bolded. Those are meant to be the cities in the Fourth Age that the quotes are taken from. Incidentally, you can find a great essay that covers all of the Fourth Age "prophecies" on our WOTFAQ by visiting this link. Does anything about their names look a little peculiar to you? Try breaking them down a bit. Taralan. Great Arvalon. Seems like both cities borrow part of their name from Tar Valon, the city in which the White Tower sits. This could be just a coincidence, but does it really seem like Robert Jordan would have had that much trouble coming up with names that sound a little more different than that? I think this could be a subtle hint as to what might end up happening with the White Tower.
The theme of sociological roles of gender has played a heavy part in the series, showing what might happen in a society where the power has shifted so greatly in favor of women. I'm not trying to make this a sexist grouping of thoughts by any means, by the way, but it's fairly obvious that things were better in the Age of Legends when men and women worked together to create absolute marvels. The Choedan Kal is just one of the incredible items they were able to create, and overall, society seemed to be flourishing during that time. Once the Breaking of the World occurred, however, the power shifted greatly in favor of women because of the general distrust of many towards men who could channel.
Unfortunately, the Aes Sedai over the past few thousand years have only succeeded in making this division and imbalance worse. Not only have they heightened the sexist attitudes throughout their society, but by creating separate Ajahs within themselves, they have prevented themselves from being more efficient in aiding the people of Randland. All this has helped create the perception many have when reading the books that the Aes Sedai are all a group of bickering old politicians, or worse. Personally, I find them to be a charming bunch of little old ladies who just so happen to have a few more tricks up their sleeves than most.
On the other hand, besides the fact that it is being controlled by a maniac in Mazrim Taim, the Black Tower is suffering because of its lack of checks and balances. It could benefit from the stricter bureaucratic nature of the White Tower. Unfortunately, I'm not really sure if it will have the chance to gain more stability since there will most likely be some kind of climactic confrontation in the last book. Knowing how well the Asha'man are trained in destructive weaves, I don't expect to see much of the Tower standing in the aftermath.
In fact, I see kind of a funny comparison that can be made between the White and Black Towers and the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States. The White Tower members are the elephantic Republicans, with their conservative policies and traditions. The Black Tower members are the burro-like Democrats, being a little more idealistic in nature, but lacking the organization to hold themselves together well enough.
So, what does this have to do with Taralan and Great Arvalon? Well, both the Aes Sedai and the Asha'man will need a new home once both of theirs are damaged. Doesn't it make sense for them to learn to coexist once again, build a new tower that they can share together, and work together once again in helping to aid the people of their land? Not a White Tower or a Black Tower, but instead a "Gray" Tower. If you say the name of one of the Fourth Age cities, it even seems to be some subtle foreshadowing of this society. Great Arvalon, Great Arvalon...Gray Tar Valon?
I imagine the new Tower will be built on the site the White Tower sits right now. The two cities I mentioned seem derived from Tar Valon, so it might be that the island of Tar Valon gets split in two in some kind of catastrophe, which would explain why two cities become founded with such a similar name. It could even be that they aren't both cities, but one has sprouted off the other. Perhaps the Gray Tower even gets its name because of the fact that the walls of the White Tower themselves might become stained with said catastrophe, be it an attack from Seanchan or Shadowspawn, or even an eruption of Dragonmount. Either way, the new Gray Tower would hopefully represent more of a university and learning center instead of the political entity that the White Tower represents. It would strive for advancement of society as a whole, instead of seeking to manipulate the nations of Randland to achieve its own ulterior goals. There is already a hint of Asha'man and Aes Sedai working together, which we see when Egwene visits Tel'aran'rhiod to meet with several allies:
Towers of Midnight
Chapter 14, "A Vow"
She folded her arms to wait. Perhaps Nynaeve would still come. If not, this wouldn't be the first time she had disappointed Egwene. A massive rose window dominated the far wall beyond the Amyrlin Seat itself. The Flame at the center sparkled, as if there were sunlight beyond, though Egwene knew those boiling black clouds covered all the sky of the World of Dreams.
She turned from the window, then froze.
There, set into the glass below the Flame of Tar Valon, was a large segment in the shape of the Dragon's Fang. That wasn't part of the original window. Egwene stepped forward, inspecting the glass.
There is a third constant besides the Creator and the Dark One, Verin's meticulous voice said, a memory from another time. There is a world that lies within each of these others, inside all of them at the same time. Or perhaps surrounding them. Writers in the Age of Legends called it Tel'aran'rhiod.
Did this window represent one of those, another world where Dragon and Amyrlin ruled Tar Valon side by side?
The window Egwene is referring to is the one that was constructed to hide the eyesore of a huge hole that was blown into the wall during the Seanchan attack. When it was built, however, it contained only the Flame of Tar Valon and didn't include the Dragon's Fang symbol like it did in her dream. At the Thirteenth Depository, there is a page that examines and discusses all of Egwene's Dreams, and it suggests that this is a symbol for how the world will eventually respect Asha'man on the same level as Aes Sedai. What if this vision should be taken more literally, however? Perhaps the ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai will be brought back once again and restored as the proper symbol that will unite both men and women once again. They will be united again, not just in channeling the One Power, but in wielding power and influence in general so as to help recreate the proper balance that existed in the Age of Legends. Now, if only we can get some true gender equality in our own world, then we'd really be on the right track to utopia!
Like I said, this might have not been some huge eye-opening revelation for some of you. Luckily, however, I decided to play some of my cards close to the chest this week and make this topic a two-parter. I can hear some of you groaning already! Don't worry, I'll make sure to make it worth the wait. Until next week, my fellow fans of fantasy, when we will cover "The Amyrlin's Anger".