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It Works in Theory: Y'all Bow Down to the Empress, Y'hear?

Posted by Despothera on Sep 19 2011 03:00 PM under in Theory Blog
Ni Hao, die-hard devotees of Dragonmount! Welcome to another weekly installment of "It Works in Theory," Dragonmount's theory blog, in which I get to unload all my various rambling! As you've probably noticed, Dragonmount's front page has been very busy lately, and we're also celebrating our birthday, so check in often just to make sure you don't miss out on any updates or announcements. To help alleviate the extra traffic, please visit our store and buy stuff so we can continue giving you such a great place to revel in your Wheel of Time fandom! And now for our disclaimer:

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! Side effects of reading "It Works in Theory" may include abnormal dreams, anxiety, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, flu-like symptoms, flop sweat, night chills, loss of appetite, the "itis," increased appetite, loss of limbs, and severe abdominal distensions. Should any of these side effects not occur, please consult a physician immediately as your eyesight probably needs to be checked.

I'm particularly excited about today's entry. We shall be discussing the Seanchan and their role in the Last Battle. I was always fascinated by the Seanchan, but became even more transfixed with them once I found out their accents were supposed to be somewhat Texan sounding. Here's the link to the old WOTFAQ concerning nations and their real life counterparts. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a list of some of the accents Robert Jordan imagined each nation to have. I'm from Texas myself (even though I don't have much of an accent), so I was very happy to see the quote by Johan Gustafsson and decided to use it for the title of this week's blog.

Okay, so where to begin? We know the Seanchan have attacked the White Tower once and are planning a second, larger attack. We know Tuon resisted Rand's ta'veren pull when he tried to intimidate her into submission. This means the Seanchan must be dealt with in some way before the forces of Light face the forces of Shadow, unless they want a two-pronged war that would most likely help the chances of the forces of Shadow winning. We have a good idea that the Seanchan practice of leashing damane may soon be changing, in light of the recent revelations concerning their handlers, the sul'dam, and their potential in being able to learn to channel themselves. This last little tidbit has potentially dire consequences which will threaten the stability of the entire Seanchan empire: the Empress herself has the innate ability to learn to channel, and I find it unlikely she'll submit to being leashed herself.

First of all, let's examine something that looks to be impossible in a way, or at the very least, confusing. Here's a snippet from one of Egwene's first dreams:

The Dragon Reborn
Chapter 25, "Questions"

She had dreamed of Seanchan, too, of women in dresses with lightning bolts woven on their breasts, collaring a long line of women who wore Great Serpent rings, forcing them to call lightning against the White Tower. That had started her awake in a cold sweat, but that had to be just a nightmare.

There's a slight problem here: Aes Sedai who have been collared are still unable to use the One Power as a weapon, except against Shadowspawn and Darkfriends, due to the Three Oaths. So, how are they being forced to call lightning against the White Tower? One explanation might be that the ones channeling against the Tower are Accepted who have not sworn on the Oath Rod yet. I find this somewhat unlikely, however, because Egwene's dream indicates there will be a large number of women wearing Great Serpent rings. Plus, the Seanchan may think the Aes Sedai who are unable to use the One Power as a weapon are doing so out of spite and will bring them to watch their Tower crumble and hopefully break their spirit even more. There is also the possibility this wasn't a true Dream and was just a nightmare like Egwene hoped, yet I once again find this unlikely.

While we're discussing Egwene's dreams, there are a couple more that are relevant to this issue:

The Dragon Reborn
Chapter 48, "Following the Craft"

Rand confronting a horde of Seanchan. Rand confronting her, and the women with her, and one of them was a Seanchan.

A Crown of Swords
Chapter 10, "Unseen Eyes"

A golden hawk stretched out its wing and touched her, and she and the hawk were tied together somehow; all she knew was that the hawk was female.

Crossroads of Twilight
Chapter 20, "In the Night"

She was struggling up a narrow, rocky path along the face of a towering cliff. Clouds surrounded her, hiding the ground below and the crest above, yet she knew that both were very far away.
Abruptly, the ledge dropped away from under her with the crack of crumbling stone, and she caught frantically at the cliff, fingers scrabbling to find a hold.
Suddenly a woman appeared, clambering down the sheer side of the cliff out of the clouds, making her way as deftly as if she were walking down stairs. There was a sword strapped to her back. Her face wavered, never settling clearly, but the sword seemed as solid as the stone. The woman reached Egwene's level and held out one hand. "We can reach the top together," she said in a familiar drawling accent.

It's apparent that Egwene will end up forming an alliance with a Seanchan woman and will, in fact, be saved by one. There's some debate about a couple of these quotes; some think the golden hawk in the second quote refers to Berelain since the golden hawk is featured on Mayenne's standard. It seems more likely that it signifies the golden hawk of Artur Hawkwing's empire, which the Seanchan use for the royal line. The last quote is even more obscure in its own way, as it's not clear if the woman who helps Egwene is one woman in particular (Leilwin Shipless or Tuon) or instead representative of a multitude of women since the faces are constantly changing. All things considered, I feel it makes the most sense for the woman who ends up being so connected with Egwene to turn out to be Tuon.

It would make sense that when Rand confronts Egwene, if she had Tuon with her, it would be a huge bargaining chip in trying to convince Rand not to break the seals. Rand will break the seals regardless, but he might see the only way he can do this once he sees Tuon is to get Tuon to come to his side by kneeling to her, satisfying Tuon's interpretation of her land's Dragon Prophecies.

So, if the Seanchan attack Tar Valon again, why in the world would Egwene turn around and ally with the woman who ordered the attack?! Okay, I think this is as good a time as any to reveal what I think might happen: Yes, the Seanchan will march on the White Tower, but after Traveling there they will find the Tower occupied with another invading force: a mini-horde of Shadowspawn and Dreadlords sent to destroy Tar Valon while it is at its weakest. The sudden revelation that the tales of Trollocs and Myrddraal have not been mere myth and superstition will force Tuon to drastically alter her plans, and she will end up giving aid to the Aes Sedai by helping to eradicate this surprise attack force of Shadowspawn. Her collared Aes Sedai will be able to channel lightning against the forces of the Shadow, fulfilling that part of Egwene's dream.

There's some other huge plot points that can happen in this potential confrontation. What if Suffa, the "loyal" damane (you might remember her as Elaida, the previous Amyrlin Seat), is part of the Seanchan force, and her sul'dam is conveniently killed during the fight? Freed from her enslavement by Shadowspawn, perhaps even by a Dreadlord or even a Forsaken, who's to say that she might finally switch allegiances after everything she's been through? Another confrontation between Egwene and Elaida, who has recently turned to the Shadow, would most likely be pretty epic.

Here's another thing I could see happening with this idea that I love: Mat still has to go back to Tar Valon to retrieve the Horn of Valere. It would truly be kismet if he were to arrive at the Tower at the same time the attack is happening, and while trying to rescue the Horn, is mortally injured. Who happens upon him but none other than Tuon, who in an emotionally charged scene embraces the side of her that has the spark and Heals Mat (and later Bonds him as her Warder). This event leads her to confront the "ancient wrong" her people have been committing and decree that all damane shall be freed and all a'dam destroyed.

Alright, I think I might be enjoying this whole wild predictions thang a little too much. Till next week, folks! Y'all come back now, y'hear? I'm fixin' to show y'all a thing or two about some dang 'ol Forsaken!
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Posted by Despothera on Sep 19 2011 03:00 PM under in Theory Blog


Despo - Have you considered the alliance with Egwene to be formed by Tylee Khirgan? Since the dream seems to strongly indicate a soldier and neither Tuon nor Leilwin are sword-strapping. Further, Tylee has proven herself adaptable, wise, and prone to make alliances with our leading characters. She was recently raised to the blood, has gained huge honor within the empire, and has represented herself well to the empress.

I could be wrong, but I think Tylee is going to be involved with the attack on the White Tower - I think something is going to go wrong with the Seanchan plan, perhaps the Seanchan come up against a trolloc horde (or perhaps the white tower is bisieged by trollocs as you surmised), and Tylee helps forment an alliance with Egwene to drive off the trollocs. Or something similarly dire requiring an alliance.
Well done again Des!

I must say, I too get rather excited about the Seanchan. I think they are an incredibly interesting group of characters.

The Mat/Tuon reunion at the White Tower was also something I'd thought of, it makes sense to me, I doubt that Rand wuld send anyone else to retrieve the HoV.
However, I hadn't thought of an injured Mat being the catalyst that brings Tuon to channel.... I like it!

I like the Tylee theory TreeJoe but my problem with that is the Dream of Egwene confronting Rand with a Seanchan woman. To Rand, Tylee is a random Seanchan with nothing to elevate her above the rest and wih no apparent import. From Egwene's perspective it would make more sense to take someone of Tuon's stature to a face-off with the Dragon Reborn. I do agree that she fits the woman with the sword dream well, though Tuon was trained extensively in weapons.
Good points mostly, but I don't see Elaida coming back. With one last book, there's going to be too much going on for something like that (getting freed from the seanchan, turning to the shadow, and having the three oaths broken).
Leilwin does in fact wear a sword, which is touched upon at least when she leaves with Joline's party for the White Tower.

Good theories, and with the exception of Tuon bonding Mat (would seem out of character for both of them, tbh), I would be pretty satisfied if this came to pass.
I had also considered Tylee TreeJoe, but she just doesn't quite seem significant enough to be the one Egwene keeps dreaming of. Leilwin could fit because she is a pretty good swordsman, but here's more reasons why I think Tuon fits:
1. The changing faces could refer both to the fact that Tuon was veiled at first
2. It could also signify many different faces of the Seanchan Empire, or possibly the Seanchan channelers since they're all female, either way Tuon would be a good representative of them
3. It would be poetic in a sense because the two women (Egwene and Tuon) are the most powerful political leaders in Randland now, so them joining would be huge

Tylee will more than likely be involved, but more in a background kind of way I foresee.

@ Paul: Yeah, it was a side point, and it doesn't necessarily have to pass, but I can still see there being time for it. She gets freed during the attack, and during either her PoV or the PoV of the one who frees her we see it hinted at that she's crossing over to the shadow. A few chapters later, or however many we see her pop up to confront Egwene. The Three Oaths are superceded by her oaths to the Dark One, which would happen offscreen most likely.

@ Goldstar: I didn't bring it up as much in this entry, but it's almost a given that Mat is going to be bonded. It has been foreshadowed throughout the series, especially at the end of Towers of Midnight when he was thinking about how Tuon can learn to channel. It would also make sense for them since they're already married. You're right in that being bonded would be somewhat out of Mat's character, but then again so was getting married in the first place lol. As for Tuon, the idea of channeling at all would be a huge hurdle to overcome, but once she's crossed that line I don't think she'd have a problem with bonding her hubby Prince of Ravens.
Very nice work Despothera, and good comments from the posters above too. I'm going to have to start reading this feature regularly!

I think there are more points for Egeanin/Leilwin being the woman with the sword. First off, in the dream, the sword is the only constant about the Seanchan woman's identity. This describes Egeanin almost perfectly: her personal honor and code of conduct, which for her are tied to soldiering, survive a lot of upheaval in her life. Her name and face do change, being raised to the blood changes her appearance, and then she gets renamed by Tuon. What's remarkable about her is how stoically she takes it all, name and self-image are normally two of the most ingrained components of a sense of self, but not for Egeanin. She accepts these things as external and transient, that they can be reassigned, but her sense of duty is non-negotiable.

It's true that Tylee has made nice with Perrin, but Egeanin became friends with Nynaeve and Elayne. Egwene is the only primary-character Aes Sedai with whom she *hasn't* had a cup of tea. Also, after traveling with Mat out of Ebou Dar, she's spent more time with uncollared Aes Sedai than any other Seanchan (if we consider Tuon's ban on interacting with Teslyn, Joline, and Edesina.)

Lastly, IIRC the image of a sword stowed over-the-shoulder is not common for Seanchan, it's a Borderlander thing. Egeanin, however, wears her sword sailor-style, across her chest. Although I think it's said Seanchan sailors wear them this way to enable climbing up rigging, there might be some reason to rotate around to the back, out of the body's way. It's a stretch, but it's an identifying characteristic of Egeanin that seems to match up with the prophecy.
The Sword doesn't have to be a sword. I think it more likely represents the strength of the Seanchan, well trained army + damane, and that is why it never wavers.
I like that idea Ry'lin.

I'm going to maintain my stance and disagree. Tylee has been introduced twice as a major force and has had her POV shown. And she has been introduced as someone who wants to make alliances - a bold thinker and willing to offer suggestions in opposition to the empress's expressed desire, while maintaining allegiance.

The Seanchan empress is going to be nowhere near the White Tower - she will not be involved in the attack. She will remain in Ebou Dar or, maybe, attend the Field of Merrilor at some point if directly invited or drawn there. That is my guess. Fortuona has stressed repeatedly that she must be seen as the ultimate power and a source of order and stability for the lands, and Ebou Dar encompasses that....though we'll see how she begins to use traveling too.

The dream shows someone distinct helping Egwene - a woman. The face is unclear, and I could see that fitting Leilwin or Tuon better (Leilwin's look has changed many times, Tuon had the veil). Nonetheless, the dream indicates someone "on the ground".

Lastly, let's not forget the power Tylee has. At one point, she captured ~400 damane. She has access to dozens, and thousands of soldiers. And that was before her promotion. She may now become a serious leader within the Seanchan in terms of on-the-ground deployment of forces.

Lastly, she aligned with Perrin, arguably one of the lands greatest leaders, before she was blood. If she can align with Perrin, I see no problem with her now elevated stature bringing her to a level that would align with Egwene.


I'm 10% less certain about Tylee than I was, but I think she deserves far more consideration.

If the changing face reflects multiple Seanchan helping her, then perhaps Leilwin and Tylee get involved.

But thus far, those are the only 2 seanchan who have shown an ability to align and integrate with major Randland characters while being female and carrying swords.
Don't forget about finding the one who is no longer....Mistress Anan....this was dreamed as well by Egwene as vital....this ties int he whole Tuon, Mat, Mistress Anan, and Egwene thing.
I thought finding the one who is no longer was specifically integral to finding the Bowl (which turned out to be accurate) - and was not necessarily integral to any other aspect.
What if the sword IS a sword? Rand finds he has to kneel to the Empress to get her to ally with him. As a token, he surrenders Hawkwing's sword Justice. Fortuana carries that sword and joins forces with Egwene.

I thought it would be Leilwin at first, with Egwene being the Amyriln Seat, it seems way more likely that a woman with the power of an empire and the ability to channel is the most likely to be able to save Egwene.
in support of the theory that it is indeed Tuon as the woman whop helps Eqwene. CoT ch4 "tale of a Doll" it sayes "war had always been a second calling for the Deathwatch Guard. Oh, the Guards were always there whenever a major battle was fought, the SWORDHAND of the Empress..."

Anyways in my opinion, this could very well represent the "solid" sword as the Deathwatch will forever live and die for the Empress.
Women wearing serpent rings "calling lightening upon the tower" could be more symbolic in nature. For instance Elaida gave the Seanchan the means of Traveling. So anything that capture Aes Sedai teaches other Seanchan channelers... if any of those things are in turn used against other Aes Sedai then it would fit Egwene's dream.

Also, the oaths don't wok that way. For instance an Aes Sedai CAN lie as long as they don't realize that they are lying. This suggests that if Aes Sedai beliefs that a person is Shadow Spawn or a dark friend then they can use the one power against person even if that person is just a normal innocent. So if The Seanchan used compulsion on all their capture Aes Sedai and made them believe that anyone they were ordered to attack was a dark friend, then the three oats would not stop them from making the attack.

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