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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Last ten comments at Theoryland.
by AmaentesIf DO was able to alter reality with power...
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by jimbop79I was just thinking that since the Finns l...
by jimbop79This was alluded to early on, but let me s...
by pjrobertsonAlthough the books are over here is what m...
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Last ten theories at Theoryland.
Padan Fain, Roommates With the Dark Oneby aNewAge
The Real Slayerby Cabadrin
How the Bore Will Be Sealedby Tremalking
The Bore is in Tel’aran’rhiodby Great Lord of the Dark
Callandor's Purposeby RealAshaman
Rand and the True Powerby Zombie Sammael
Caemlyn's Battleby 1eyedfool
Moghedien Raises the Deadby Truthless
Breaking the Sealsby Kamaul
Let me die forever!by Kamaul
In Winter's Heart, Chapter 13: Wonderful News, following a very amusing exchange regarding the pillow-friends Lady Ailil and Windfinder Shalon, Jahar Narishma arrives at Cadusane's room in the Sun Palace with the announcement that Alanna has collapsed. Considering the timing of events, I think it is safe to say the Green's incapacitation is due to Elayne, Min, and Aviendha bonding Rand. In any event, when they all arrive at Alanna's room, and Corele attempts to Heal her without success, a very unusual thing happens:
"Sorilea stared at the woman stretched out on the bed with no expression beyond a thinning of her lips. Cadsuane wondered whether she was reevaluating their alliance. Verin was staring at Alanna, too, and she looked absolutely terrified. Cadsuane had not thought anything could frighten Verin that far." (WH, p. 355)
Now while it is true that Verin knows very little of Cadsuane (hence why she felt a need to test her loyalties) and therefore the reverse is probably also true (Cadsuane had gone into retirement, after all), I think we can trust Cadsuane's assessment here. From what I can recall, we have never seen Verin frightened at any other point in the series--not by Fain, Myrddraal, the Dark Prophecy, her other lives in the Mirror Worlds, the Seanchan, the Asha'man, or even when fighting the Forsaken at the Cleansing.
I find it very interesting that Jordan made it a point to have Cadsuane observe this unusual behavior of Verin's. Also of note is that this plot point is never pursued later in the novel. The next time we see Alanna, she has recovered, and during the POV scenes we have from Cadsuane and Verin in Far Madding and at the Cleansing, we never see either woman think about Alanna's condition or its cause, let alone Verin's odd behavior.
It may well be, as some theorists have surmised, that Verin was simply frightened that Alanna's condition meant something fatal had happened to Rand. And while we know she wishes him to live to the Last Battle, she has been assisting him in numerous ways, and even her tenure as a Black Ajah was partially meant to help her learn the Shadow's plans and strategies against him so as to counter them, her reaction to Alanna's collapse and the assumed danger to Rand is still excessive, particularly compared to what we've seen from everyone's favorite Brown in the past. So why, indeed, did Verin become so frightened?
This will take a bit of backtracking and compiling of various points, but if you'll bear with me I think you can follow the bouncing ball.
The first thing to consider is Verin's involvements with, and reactions to, Alanna in the past. Specifically, her behavior around Alanna and Perrin in the Two Rivers, and her actions and thoughts at Culain's Hound when the bonding first took place. In Shadow Rising, Verin goes out of her way to caution Perrin about not trusting Alanna, and she later thinks to herself in Lord of Chaos how Faile had promised that if she were to bond Perrin, the Green wouldn't leave the Two Rivers alive--suggesting that her warning to Perrin was intended to keep this bonding from happening.
"Watch yourself with Alanna, Perrin."
"What?" The Aes Sedai's quick changes of topic were beginning to confuse him. Especially when she started telling him to do what he had already thought of, and thought to keep secret from her. "Why?" Verin's face did not change, but her dark eyes were suddenly bird bright and sharp. "There are many...designs in the White Tower. Not all are malignant, by far, but sometimes it is difficult to say until it is too late. And even the most benevolent often allow for a few threads snapped in the weaving, a few reeds broken and discarded in making a basket. A ta'veren would make a useful reed in any number, of possible plans." Just as suddenly she was looking a little confused by the bustle around her, more at home in a book or her own thouglits than in the real world.
Shadow Rising, CHAPTER: 33 - A New Weave in the Pattern
Verin knew what caused the blushes; Alanna had let her tongue run away with her. They had had Perrin under their eyes for long weeks while testing young women in the Two Rivers, but Alanna had quickly gone silent on the subject of bonding him. The reason was as simple as a heated promise from Faile— delivered well out of Perrin's hearing—that if Alanna did any such thing, she would not leave the Two Rivers alive. Had Faile known more of the bond between Aes Sedai and Gaidin, that threat would not have worked, yet her ignorance if nothing else had stayed Alanna's hand.
Lord of Chaos, CHAPTER: 11 - Lessons and Teachers
This might seem to only be a natural concern for her to have, considering she knows what happens to Aes Sedai who lose their Warders, and she was presumably present at the battle with the Whitecloaks in which Owein died. But it also makes clear the fact that Verin has already been pondering the issue of Alanna and what to do about her grief and bereavement--while not quite as life-threatening as being stilled or burned out, it does tend to put an Aes Sedai out of commission for a while, something they really couldn't afford. And considering she experienced the same ravaging emotions herself when she lost Balinor, it seems only fair Verin would wish to spare another sister this same pain. Keep that in mind.
Next we have the actual bonding of Rand--which takes place after Verin insists they speak in private, as if she knows something unusual will happen. Where before she had been peering at him intently, she has now put on her usual 'distracted' air of 'deep thought'--always a sure sign she is up to something. Already it seems the Brown is prepared for some sort of funny business.
After Rand breaks free of their control and departs for the Palace, and the Two Rivers girls have been sent to their rooms, Verin quite calmly and unhurriedly proceeds to discuss the rebels and Alanna's eyes-and-ears agent before she finally gets around to asking about the reason for the bonding. And when she does, it is in a very clinical, no-nonsense, matter-of-fact way--hardly as upset or incredulous as you might think she should be. It seems that Verin is not at all surprised by Alanna's foolhardy action--and while this may be simply because she knew Alanna was yearning for another Warder to replace Owein, I think it may be more than that...
Consider the following:
1. Verin knows the Aes Sedai must have some way of controlling or guiding Rand if he is to survive to the Last Battle and not bring about a second Breaking of the World
2. She also knows that Siuan had been deposed and stilled (and believes her dead), that the White Tower is broken, and Moiraine is dead or missing as well. So, with Rand's guardian gone, an Amyrlin in power who will not look kindly or compromisingly on the Dragon Reborn, and the Tower in turmoil, someone else is going to have to take over and see to it Rand is properly guided. But who?
3. We have Alanna, newly wounded at the loss of her Warder, seeking another...a bond which would allow the Aes Sedai to always know where Rand was, and to have a measure of control over him should he get out of hand. (She had no idea, of course, how strong he was or how saidin could allow him to resist the Warder compulsion.)
What does this add up to? Obviously, that Verin might have put Alanna up to the bonding, or at least that she had no objections to it (morally or otherwise) after Alanna came up with the plan herself. Note that when she asks for Alanna's motives, she doesn't say "How could you do such a thing?" but "What were you at?" (LoC, p. 289) Not exactly a condemnation of what most Aes Sedai consider to be a reprehensible act (bonding a man against his will). Once again, she seems more like a scholar exploring for the sake of posterity, more interested in motivation than the act itself.
But why would she be asking Alanna about this, if she had either been the one to suggest bonding Rand in the first place, or had suspected Alanna might do so because of losing Owein? She knew about the possibility in the Two Rivers, hence her warning to Perrin. And because of her own experiences as well as those of many other Aes Sedai, she surely knew the likely reason for Alanna's action. And she did not seem at all surprised. So what, precisely, was she attempting to learn?
I believe the knowledge she was digging for is implied by a typically ironic Jordan comment on page 290: "Well, Verin thought dryly, I have broken a few customs in my time." The most obvious thing this quote could be in reference to, as of The Gathering Storm, is being Black Ajah, but it could also refer to her appropriation of ter'angreal, her withholding of Corianin's notes, whatever she did in Far Madding to get exiled, and of course...her Compulsion weave.
As we learned in the Prologue to Path of Daggers, the weave which Verin has reconstructed from the bits and pieces former wilders have taught her has a number of telltale features which we can look for to detect its presence in someone: a) the target must be emotionally vulnerable and trust is absolutely essential; b) the target must find reasons within themselves to obey; and c) after the weave has been completed and the commands given, the subject has no memory of the session. (PoD, pps. 31 and 32)
Does Alanna fit all of these criteria? Yes--a) she is certainly emotionally vulnerable, either because of Owein's death, her yearning to have another Warder, or learning of the Tower coup and rebellion, and while Verin warns Perrin not to trust Alanna, she in turn seems to trust Verin implicitly; b) fairly obvious--Alanna wants to have another Warder, and bonding Rand in particular so as to tie him to the Tower is something the Aes Sedai greatly want.
As for c), when Verin casually asks Alanna for the reasons behind the bonding, she seems unusually vague in her reply, as if she is not quite sure herself why she did it. She seems surprised Verin asked, and while this might indicate them having discussed the matter before or it being 'intuitively obvious' why she did it, she also hesitates before speaking, and only refers to the political manipulations Aes Sedai are prone to, not the pain and sadness in her heart which we (and Verin) knew were there.
To play Dark One's advocate, Verin could, after all, have pointed out that between his defeat of Luc and the Trollocs, his choice of the hammer, and the power he is gaining in the Two Rivers with Faile's help, Perrin doesn't need any bonding or helping, and similarly Mat is tied to the Horn of Valere. So Rand is the only one left in need of guidance. Or she could turn around and say with some influence over Perrin and Mat, why bother bonding Rand?
However...if, in fact, Verin compelled Alanna to bond him, this would explain both her curious tone when questioning the Green and why she did it in the first place--because she was checking to see if Alanna had properly forgotten their session together, and was genuinely curious as to what reason(s) she had used to justify the commands in her own mind.
What makes this an even more attractive idea is that you don't even have to ascribe sinister (read: manipulative) motives to the Compulsion. Or at least, not only manipulative motives. For if we assume that Verin had been considering the problem of Alanna ever since Owein died in the Two Rivers, and factor in her previous experience in losing a Warder, I could very easily see Verin acting out of compassion...Compelling Alanna while they were alone in that barn the Emond's Fielders gave them, giving her the overwhelming need to find Rand and make him her Warder. This would not only neatly solve the dilemma of how to guide/control the Dragon Reborn, it would prevent Alanna from bonding Perrin and give her a reason to go on living, a means to get over her grief sooner. I like the idea of Verin being able to be practical and warmly mothering at the same time.
Of course, she could also have Compelled Alanna at any point prior to meeting Rand in Caemlyn, but not only would that have required her to get the Green alone away from the girls, but also there wouldn’t be the distraction of battles and Shadowspawn to keep Ihvon occupied. Then again, it's been shown to us before that Warders don't have as clear a connection and insight into brushes their Aes Sedai have with the Power as we might think.
Jordan has said before that if an Aes Sedai becomes Black Ajah, her Warder would 'sense something was wrong' but wouldn't know exactly what--unlike Aes Sedai, who are trained religiously in identifying and detecting weaves, a Warder would have no way to recognize things such as his Aes Sedai being turned Dark with the 13 Fades + 13 BA trick, or the unswearing of the Three Oaths and reswearing of the Dark Trinity...or the Compulsion weave. The most he could feel would be Alanna's concern and confusion, perhaps her lassitude of mind--which is hardly an indication of imminent danger or attack, and which would all fade as soon as the weave settles in and she forgets.
True, Verin started in PoD with the captured Aes Sedai who had no Warders, but this may have been for convenience’s sake, or because she wanted to get them out of the way first to build up her confidence and make sure she’d be ready for the longer, and more delicate, procedure of Compelling an Aes Sedai with a Warder when the Wise Ones could walk in at any moment. And it's probably less risky to do this with one Aes Sedai with a Warder than with a whole flock of them.
Any more evidence? Yes, a very telling quote from Path of Daggers after she Compels Beldeine:
"With the final words, Verin pulled the other two threads of Spirit, and the tangle collapsed...fall[ing] inward on itself... Those faintly glowing threads sank into her, vanished.... Soon only the most careful Delving would tell that anything had been done, and not even that would identify the weave." (p. 31)
Then, taking us back to our starting point, we have the scene where Corele examines Alanna:
"Alanna was lying on the bed, her eyes closed, with her Warder, Ihvon, kneeling beside it chafing her wrists. 'She seems afraid to wake,' the tall, slender man said. 'There's nothing wrong with her that I can tell, but she seems afraid.' Corele brushed him aside so she could cup Alanna's face in her hands. The glow of saidar surrounded the Yellow, and the weave of Healing settled on Alanna, but the slim Green did not even twitch." (WH, p. 355)
Aside from proving that indeed, Warders cannot sense residues or any portions of a weave on their Aes Sedai (since Ihvon felt there was 'nothing wrong' with Alanna), it has been shown on several occasions that before an Aes Sedai Heals someone, especially if they are a Yellow, they often Delve the person to determine the extent of the injury, what precisely is wrong, and how to fix it. A prime example, involving Samitsu this time, takes place in A Crown of Swords when Rand is Healed by Flinn following Fain's attack: "[She] darted past Narishma so quickly he had no chance to intervene. 'What did you do?' she demanded, laying fingers on Rand's forehead. Whatever she found with the Power, her eyebrows climbed halfway to her hair..." (CoS, p. 737)
In this same chapter, Cadsuane says Samitsu is the best at Healing there is in the White Tower. Prior to this, Corele had been identified as the second-best Healer, and Merise has some Talent for it as well--and she speaks of also trying to Heal Alanna, before Corele and Cadsuane arrive. So if two out of the three best Aes Sedai Healers were working on Alanna, and almost certainly Delved her beforehand, there is certainly a very good chance one of them might have noticed the aftereffects of Verin's Compulsion weave.
Verin may have tested it herself, and believes no one to be better at Delving than she is, but she could be wrong or overconfident, or another Healer (especially one as strong as Corele or Merise) could get lucky. And even if they could not initially identify the weave, they may be suspicious enough to do a more careful Delving later, or have Samitsu, the strongest Healer of all and who may have seen something like this before, do so.
Yes, the chance that anyone could learn anything, especially so long after the Compulsion was placed, is slim at best. But Aes Sedai are often paranoid, and if anyone could in fact detect and identify the weave, there would be nasty repercussions. I don’t know if a weave can resonate as having a particular channeler's 'signature', but quite obviously Verin would not want anyone to know what she did--in the Prologue of Path of Daggers she contemplated the penalty for using such a forbidden weave: "Should any sister learn of this, stilling was a very real possibility" (PoD, p. 28).
Not to mention, if sisters were to learn that not only did Alanna bond Rand against his will (several say it is akin to rape), but Alanna herself had also been Compelled to do it, they might very well demand that the bond be dissolved. Considering how key that is in locating Rand and helping to surround him with powerful Aes Sedai, that would be a disaster. Verin's stilling goes without saying as a Bad Thing.
So that is my theory as to why Verin was so frightened--because she had compelled Alanna into bonding Rand, and was afraid of the chance one of the sisters Healing her might discover this through her Delving, leading to her stilling and the unraveling of her plans. Luckily for her, Alanna recovered just fine with no one the wiser, hence why this subject was never approached again.
One further point: even if I'm wrong about Verin compelling Alanna to bond Rand, it is still likely she compelled her to do something:
"For the first time since Alanna had begun to let her emotions over Owein creep to the surface, Verin was glad she had held them in long enough to become so volatile. In her raveled condition, Alanna was bound to be more amenable to guidance, and Verin knew exactly how some of those questions had to be answered. She did not think Alanna would like some of those answers. Best not to let her learn them until it was too late to change them." (LoC, p, 291)
This quote, coming only a page after her thought about breaking customs, seems like foreshadowing to me. Exactly what kind of 'guidance' was she planning to use on Alanna? And the fact she 'knew' how the questions 'had' to be answered, that the answers would not be learned (forgotten?) and would remain unchangeable, is certainly suspicious. So if Verin Compelled her in some other manner, also related to Rand, then this, too, could have been discovered by a Healer's Delving.
And to bring us to the present: it is very likely that the letter Verin gave Alanna in Towers of Midnight either told her about the Shadowspawn attack in Arafel, or perhaps to go to the White Tower and fetch the Horn of Valere--once she knew Alanna could be trusted, and she herself could soon be dead, she might have told her where she and Siuan had hidden it, particularly since Alanna had always shown a strong interest in Mat, is a Green so would very much wish to be at the forefront of the Last Battle, and Rand could follow the bond to her and Mat when the Horn is blown. But for all we know, there could have been some sort of implanted command in Alanna's mind thanks to the Compulsion, one which was triggered by a special keyword or phrase written in the letter. Since it is otherwise odd that Alanna left no note behind explaining why she fled...