Hi, everyone. Welcome back to "WoT If?". For this week's discussion, I'd like to look a little closer at the sul'dam and their damane. There are a few points about them that get overlooked and plenty of questions to ask about their future.
For most of our female characters in the series, being a damane is a fate worse than death. Egwene has such a fear of being leashed that it makes her particularly vengeful when the Seanchan attack the White Tower in Towers of Midnight. Though the a'dam was mysterious at first, we learn later that it acts as an instrument that forces a link between the damane and the sul'dam, leaving the sul'dam in complete control.
The first thing that I've always wondered is why the damane don't feel the ability to channel in sul'dam. When Rand and Aviendha Travel to Seanchan in The Fires of Heaven, they encounter two sul'dam, two damane, Lady Morsa, and Jalindin, a Seeker for Truth. When Rand asks Aviendha to shield the ones who are leashed, she says:
The Fires of Heaven
Chapter 32, "A Short Spear"
"The women with the bracelets can channel also," she replied just as softly. "It feels very strange, though. Weak. As if they had never practiced it. I cannot see how that can be."
Sul'dam claim they develop an "affinity" (The Great Hunt, Chapter 42, "Falme") for knowing if a damane has channeled. Some experienced sul'dam can even see weaves without the bracelet on. I can't believe that the Empress, or anyone within the Seanchan hierarchy, couldn't put together these pieces and realize that sul'dam can channel too.
Tuon's total lack of surprise at this reveal might show some do know. In Knife of Dreams, she tells Mat:
Knife of Dreams
Chapter 9, "A Short Path"
"Perhaps I could learn, but I chose not to, just as I choose not to steal or commit murder."
She doesn't respond with, "Don't say such vile lies," or something along those lines. She seems to accept it without comment.
It might be argued that Seanchan-raised damane don't know how to sense the source in another woman; it could be one of the skills or Talents that have been lost in Seanchan. I doubt it, but it's possible. However, with the sudden intake of so many Aes Sedai, the secret can't remain hidden for long. If Aviendha can sense the sul'dam's ability, a trained Aes Sedai most certainly will.
Once exposed, all the Seanchan would have to do is order the sul'dam to drink forkroot tea. I'm assuming it would work on sul'dam the same as any other woman who can channel. After all, it worked on Morgase and she is probably more weak and unpracticed than the sul'dam.
The Aiel Wise Ones being taken damane might have a large impact on the Seanchan's future. When Aviendha goes through the glass columns in Rhuidean a second time, she sees the future of her line. The scene, through the eyes of her daughter, Padra, shows the Aiel still fighting with the Seanchan over the collared Wise Ones. However, you'll notice that it doesn't imply that more Wise Ones have been taken, only the initial Shaido who were captured by General Tylee.
The other future scenes show the Aiel constantly at war with the Seanchan. The Raven Empire has taken control of most of the world. They have technology—or is it One Power technology? Malidra thinks:
Towers of Midnight
Chapter 48, "Near Avendesora"
The Lightmakers had magics, the same magics that created their food and their lights. Magics that kept them warm in the bitter cold at night...
...She rounded their massive wagon. There were no horses. Only the wagon, large enough to house a dozen people. It moved magically during the daylight, rolling on wheels nearly as wide as Malidra was tall.
So, the Raven Empire seems to make use of the One Power, and even have a weapon that sounds to me like a shocklance. But it never mentions sul'dam, damane, or getting the "magics" from leashed women. I think this shows that the Seanchan eventually will give up their ways of collaring women.
Another question to ask about the a'dam is whether it's similar at all to the Domination Band (the male version of the a'dam). Moghedien tells Nynaeve in the Panarch's Palace:
Chapter 54, "Into the Palace"
"Put the collar on a man who channels, and a woman wearing the bracelets can make him do whatever she wishes, true, but it will not stop him going mad, and there is a flow the other way, too. Eventually he will begin to be able to control you, too, so you end with a struggle at every hour."
Is it only the male a'dam that has the backwards flow? Obviously, women channelers don't have the madness, but could the damane eventually be able to turn the flow back on the sul'dam? Damane from Seanchan are raised to know they are beneath humans; they are animals, dogs. Their training is so harsh that even Egwene, a very strong-willed woman, was beginning to be brainwashed into believing it was good for her to serve her sul'dam wholeheartedly.
However, a sudden hoard of Shaido Wise Ones was collared at the end of The Gathering Storm. How will the sul'dam control a group of women who do not fear pain? I can't see how the sul'dam could even begin to turn the Wise Ones into obedient damane. And if the Wise Ones cannot be cowed by the a'dam's effects, perhaps the Wise Ones can turn the flows against the sul'dam.
There's more to speculate on the a'dam, but I think I'll leave it there. Join us next week for a look at the Black Tower's possible role in saving Caemlyn.