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It Works in Theory: The Gray Tower


hazelkrs1

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

"Epilogue"

 

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

"Prologue"

 

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".

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Okay, if Robert Jordan did indeed plant that whole idea of Taralan / Great Arvalon, I am deeply impressed. I'm also ticked off at how subtle it was. Hnestly, I can't think of another instance where an author put in something as obscure as a clue in a signature line. Clues are usually hidden in off-handed comments or descriptions... I'm now officialy boggled.

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But that would be something RJ would do isn't it?? I mean it is subtle and so acute that you wouldn't have remembered it, if it wasnt for this blog. Me Likey!

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Something that seemed to jump out at me... You mentioned the Gray Tower might get its name from battle or the eruption of Dragonmount... Perhaps Egwene, who we all know is very skilled in Earth weaves, triggers an eruption to cover a retreat through a gateway, while leaving the Seanchan to be roasted by lava (superheated gases mostly, to be specific).

Great article as always.. only found this blog and Dragonmount site a week or two ago, glad to have done so...

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Egwene could trigger an eruption, split the island (hence two cities) and stain what is left of the tower Grey... Perhaps it is done, if as hypothesized on an earlier blog, after the Seanchan and the White Tower stop fighting each other and join forces against a larger and more threatening horde of shadowspawn(muppets with antlers keep coming to mind, not sure why). She triggers the eruption and flees with the survivors via gateway... the two cities are built after the LB, with the Grey Tower as its center (not an imposing name though, maybe Tower of Power, too cheesy)...

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The last battle may change the world's perspective on people who can channel. It is possible that people in the next age will name their new cities to honor the residents of Tar Valon, even if the city itself isn't directly linked to Aes Sedai.

 

It is also possible that there will eventually be several cities associated with Aes Sedai. In the third age there was one center for all Aes Sedai in Randland. It doesn't have to be that way. There could be separate facilities for governance and training. The White Tower probably cannot handle the incoming deluge of channelers. Egwene's opening of the Novice Book has already resulted in a flood of new novices. And that flood has resulted from a pretty narrow amount of geography covered by the rebel's line of march. Realistically a major center dedicated to training is going to be needed. Several training centers may develop. One might focus initially on rehabilitating former Sul'dam and Damane as well as the channelers beyond the Waste. Eventually there may be enough Aes Sedai Windfinders and Wise One Aes Sedai that they may open training centers in the islands and the Waste.

 

It is also possible that some or all of the Ajah will open their own centers. Newly raised Aes Sedai would go to them for their final training, and the centers could also serve as research centers dedicated to the needs of the various Ajah.

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i agree with dudley, theres nothing saying that any of the AoL cities were anywhere even remotely close to where any of them are now...

 

when people settle an area, they often name the city to remind them of another city(new york(usa) and york(england), etc), that doesnt mean theres any physical connection between them...

 

and, from egwenes dream of the candle, after the ravens hit, the flame wobbled and shot off many other flames, so id say that its quite likely the physical tower will crumble, and AS's will scatter...

 

and, if i remember correctly, in aviendha's future-walk... theres no mention to the white tower atall... or black for that matter... even the seanchan dont use damane, but the guns...

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when aveiendha walked through the crystal posts she saw that both the white tower and the black tower had fallen

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thanks asmo

 

so i suppose the question is then, if the white/black towers have fallen within a few generations, and aviendha's children never mention a taint on saidin or saidar... why dont the seanchan use damane? or do we just not see it?

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If I'm not mistaken Brandon Sanderson hinted in a QnA that the damane issue would be resolved in the last book. It certainly seems like an issue that would have to be resolved in order for other plot points to make sense. I brought up how it might end up working out in my blog on the Seanchan, Y'all bow down to the Empress, y'hear?

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I would be so pissed if that happened. I know there can't be a true happy ending, but I still want it. At the end of her testing/trial, Aviendha set out to make sure that future never came true. Remember, the future isn't set in stone. if the Aeil fall and are destroyed, I will probably freak out and do something rash to my stash of WoT books. It can't happen, I WONT ALLOW IT! *sniff*

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Lending some credence to the idea that the cities in Fourth Age Histories are clues planted by RJ long ago:

 

And when the blood was sprinkled on ground where nothing could grow, the Children of the Dragon did spring up, the People of the Dragon, armed to dance with death. And he did call them forth from the wasted land, and they did shake the world with battle.

 

(from The Wheel of Time by Sulamein so Bhagad, Chief Historian at the Court of the Sun, the Fourth Age.)

 

From The Shadow Rising.

 

As we see in Avi's visions, The Court of the Sun is the real in the Fourth Age.

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oh i agree that the cities would likely be named similar, but that doesnt mean theyre located in the same places... much has changed since even part way through this age, artur's kindgom falling scrambled everything...

 

names are remembered... even if the bricks are different, and the locations moved... when people move, they bring bits of where they moved from... carrying traditions, culture, names......

 

i woiuldnt be surprised if the cities of this age are named after cities of ages past, and that cities of ages to come are named after the cities of this age... nor, would i be surprised if RJ had intentionally left clues for the names in both directions...

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The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past...

Both of the opening quotations say fourthage. Coincidence? I think not.

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Ok, but what about Elaida's "palace" in Tar Valon that she wanted to build? Didn't she have the foundation already built somewhat? I would think that if she did, then Egwene would want to eventually put it to some use in the future.

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I always thought that Great Arvalon was just a slight distortion of "Great Tar Valon". "Taralan" seems like it's more likely to be a distortion of Tarabon or some blending of Tear and Illian.

 

I do expect the White Tower to be "replaced" by an organisation containing both Male and Female channellers. But I think the organisation will simply be based in Great Arvalon.

 

Oh, and "Gray Tower" doesn't make sense, as it wouldn't just be males and females blended together, it would have two "parts", hence the teardrop and fang.

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I kinda always assumed that the palace that Elaida was building would eventually become the new black tower. That was my very first thought when I first was reading the books and I've always had that premise in my mind.

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Nice stuff, and I agree, nothing shocking. Though the key component in the integration of the Towers won't be the attacks/battles at the sites (though that may help), but is, of course, the cleansing. And the bondings that have already taken place.

 

Two quick thoughts.

 

The first on the site of the new Tower. Count me as one who thinks it will be Tar Valon, at least initially. Elaida had already begun building a palace that was going to rival the Tower, so the space and raw material for 2 Towers are already there.

 

But this goes on an assumption of women training in one tower, and men in the other. I think the new cooperation will extend beyond that, in time. And a new Tower will be built. Maybe even a new city. Channelers who feel comfortable working together go there, ones who still prefer to work with only saidin/saidar can train at their respective towers in Tar Valon.

 

Second, regarding the Fourth Age. Remember, RJ used to always say that the DO's breaking free tends to unravel reality. What was in the future, may be undone. The future that produced those quotes could still be changed. As the future that produced Aviendha's vision of the Aiel future hopefully will be.

 

Last, Great Arvalon. Go a little further with your bolding.

 

Great Arvalon.

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