Hello, everyone! Welcome back to "WoT If?", Dragonmount's weekly theory blog. Just because the series is finished doesn't mean there's nothing to speculate about. In fact, I think A Memory of Light left us with more questions than answers. So, let's get into the topic for the next two weeks: the bond.
SPOILER WARNING. This will include content from A Memory of Light. Please DO NOT read this if you have not completed the book.
The bond between a Warder and Aes Sedai is something even the Forsaken don't understand. Semirhage thinks about it in Lord of Chaos, Chapter 6, "Threads Woven of Shadow." The bond connects the emotions and a bit of the physical state of the two people who are joined. We know that the bond gives Warders extra strength and energy. The Aes Sedai receive a sense of comfort, knowing they have someone they can trust to aid them when necessary; a sword hand to watch their back.
So the exchange between them is give and take—each receives some benefits, but they also give up a little as well. The Aes Sedai feel the terrible pain if they lose a Warder, and the Warders have a sort of "death rage" when their Aes Sedai dies. To some, it might look like Warders have the worse end of the bargain, but Aes Sedai rarely die under normal circumstances.
But what exactly is the bond? What does it connect and how?
In all the accounts of bonding in the series—from POV characters—we see Elayne bond Birgitte and Rand, and Egwene bond Gawyn and Egeanin. Only Elayne's experiences give us any details of the actual event. Spirit is the only weave used, connecting something in one person to something in another. But what is it that's connected?
Some argue that it's the ability to channel. The most convincing proof for this is the example of Siuan's bond to Alric. After Siuan is Healed, her bond to Alric is still inside her (Lord of Chaos, Chapter 30, "To Heal Again"). Her stilling severed it, but once she reclaimed saidar, the pain came back. This would definitely suggest that the ability to use the Power was what connected their bond.
The counterargument: Min and Rand. If the ability to channel was needed, Min couldn't have been bonded to Rand. Some might say that Rand would be the channeler in that pair, yet Rand's weaves were never used in the ceremony. More on this in a second.
So, the only logical reasoning I see is that the bond connects two people's souls. The evidence for this is abundant in A Memory of Light. Rand, when he completes the body-swap, moves into Moridin's body. However, his three women still feel the bond—now connected to Moridin's body! The only thing that transferred over was Rand's soul. If the connection had been to anything physical—the brain, the heart, his ability to channel—the women would have felt Rand's body die. It has to be a connection to the soul. Going back to the argument of Rand being the channeler in his bond with Min, we see that Rand cannot channel at the end of the story (A Memory of Light, Epilogue). So, if the ability to channel was necessary, his bond with Min wouldn't have survived his body-swap, only Aviendha's and Elayne's.
Taking that piece of evidence, here's my theory for this week: what if Birgitte's new body is bonded to Elayne from birth?
I know, I know. Birgitte was killed, and the bond broken. Elayne says that when she sees Birgitte in Hero form:
A Memory of Light
Chapter 40, "Wolfbrother"
Elayne's insides told her she's still lost her Warder, and the pain of the bond breaking was not a rational thing. It didn't matter that Birgitte stood before her. "Perhaps I should bond you again?"
"It would not work," Birgitte said, waving her hand with a dismissive gesture.
Why wouldn't it work? Probably because Birgitte is in spirit form at the moment. Or perhaps it's because they still have a remnant of the bond intact within both their souls already.
I think the time it took for Birgitte's soul to pass from her Heroes' body to her new body was no more than a few hours. It might be possible that Birgitte's new body would still have the bond connected to her soul. I'm sure there's never been any case of a person who has been bonded being reborn so soon after death. There's no way to say for certain that the soul doesn't still hold the bond.
At the very least, Brigitte's new body would feel the loss of the bond, the pain that's almost unbearable. It's possible for the Warder to be the survivor of the pair, so baby Birgitte could still live, only with that sense of something missing inside her.
Honestly, I think it would be awesome if when baby Birgitte is born, Elayne automatically feels her, and that their bond remains intact. In fact, people in our own time often say that they feel like they are missing a part of them. Since our world is just another Age, perhaps it's the remnants of a past bond.
That's all for this week. Next time we'll continue the discussion on bonds, focusing more on Androl and Pevara. Thanks for reading!