Hello! Welcome back to "WoT If?", Dragonmount's weekly theory blog. We'll be continuing our look at the Seanchan today. So, let's dive right into it:
SPOILER WARNING. This will include content from A Memory of Light. Please DO NOT read this if you have not completed the book.
While I agree with most comments for last week's blog, I think we need to put our trust in Brandon. Perhaps Hawkwing's advice didn't lead to any solution with the damane. But there are other people close to Tuon who could help with the transition.
The first thing I want to look at is the terms of the agreement between Tuon and Rand. Rand goes in with the intent of freeing all the damane, but is unable to do so.
A Memory of Light
Chapter 17, "Older, More Weathered"
"Our property is our own. You wish a treaty? Then you will get it with this clause: We keep the damane we already have. In exchange, I will allow you to leave in freedom.”
Rand grimaced. “You’re as bad as one of the Sea Folk.”
“I should hope I’m worse,” Tuon said, no emotion in her voice. “The world is your charge, Dragon, not mine. I care for my empire. I will greatly need those damane. Choose now. As I believe you said, your time is short.”
Rand’s expression darkened; then he thrust his hand outward. “Let it be done. Light be merciful, let it be done. I will carry this weight too. You may keep the damane you already have, but you shall not take any from among my allies while we fight the Last Battle. Taking any afterward who are not in your own land will be seen as breaking the treaty and attacking the other nations.”
By the terms of this agreement, the Seanchan get to keep all the damane they currently have. This is basically what Rand told the group at Merrilor, "As for the women [channelers]… what is done is done. Let us worry about the world itself first, then do what we can for those held captive." (A Memory of Light, Chapter 6, "A Knack").
However, Egwene and Tuon try to work out the finer bits of the agreement. By the end, they have agreed that Tremalking does not belong to Seanchan—which would fulfill the prophecy spoken by Harine din Togara Two Winds: "The Jendai Prophecy says you will bring us to glory, and all the seas of the world will be ours" (A Crown of Swords, Chapter 34, "Ta'veren"). So, we can assume the Sea Folk will be safe after the Last Battle is done.
Besides that, though, not much else is "agreed" upon. They discuss the terms of releasing damane and allowing the Seanchan to accept willing channelers, but they don't actually make a bargain. It seems like both Tuon and Egwene accepted the terms of letting the Seanchan "recruit" marath'damane in exchange for letting go the damane who wish to be free:
A Memory of Light
Chapter 26, "Considerations"
[Tuon said,] "We will send emissaries to educate your people on the benefits of damane—our teachers will come peacefully, for we will hold to the treaty. I believe you will be surprised. Some will see what is right.”
“And the damane you now hold?” Egwene said. “You’ll let them go, if they wish to be released?”
“None who are properly trained would wish that.”
“This must be equal on both sides,” Egwene said. “What of a girl whom you discover to be able to channel? If she does not wish to be made damane, will you let her leave your lands and join ours?”
“That would be like letting an enraged grolm free in a city square.”
“You said that people will see the truth,” Egwene said. “If your way of life is strong, your ideals true, then people will see them for what they are. If they don’t, you shouldn’t force them. Let any who wish to be free go free, and I’ll let your people speak in Tar Valon. Light! I’ll give them room and free board, and I’ll see the same done in every city!”
But, there is no shaking of hands, no signed treaty, not even a, "It is agreed." So, is this a binding agreement? There were witnesses on both sides who can vouch for what was said, but without anything written down, how binding can it be?
There's also the fact that Egwene dies. Was Tuon's contract with Egwene herself, or was it with the Amyrlin? Will it still last after Egwene's death? I could see Tuon arguing that it would be void.
If it is still enforced, I think nearly all of the captured Wise Ones will be freed. Tuon's insistence that a properly trained damane will not want to leave can't apply to the Wise Ones who know how to embrace pain. There isn't anything the sul'dam could do to them to make them break.
The Aes Sedai, though, are another matter. We see in Towers of Midnight that Elaida is nearly broken (Chapter 47, "A Teaching Chamber"). How many of the others taken will be unable to hold off the Seanchan's breaking tactics? Aes Sedai are surprisingly stubborn, so maybe some will still wish for freedom.
But if Egwene's and Tuon's agreement doesn't hold after the Last Battle, there are two others who can work on the Empress and make her see reason. First is Mat. He's growing more accustomed to Seanchan ways, but Mat will always be Mat. And like it or not, he has a soft spot for Aes Sedai. When he accidentally captures a marath'damane on the battle field, he thinks of releasing her.
A Memory of Light
Chapter 29, "The Loss of a Hill"
Tuon moved her horse nearer to Mat’s. “I am told,” she said softly, “that in the battle moments ago, you not only claimed a marath’damane for yourself, but also raised one of our officers to the low Blood.”
“I did?” Mat asked, baffled. “I don’t remember that.”
“You dropped your nail at his feet.”
“Oh. That … All right, maybe I did that. Accidentally. And the channeler … bloody ashes, Tuon. I didn’t mean for her to … I guess. Well, you can have her.”
“No,” Tuon said. “It is well for you to have taken one of your own. You cannot train her, of course, but there are many sul’dam who will be eager for the chance. It is very rare that a man captures a damane personally on the battlefield, very rare indeed. Though I know of your particular advantage, others do not. This will greatly increase your reputation.”
Mat shrugged. What else could he do? Maybe, if the damane belonged to him, he could let her free or something.
How many of the damane belong to the Empire? And if Mat is the Prince of the Ravens, couldn't those damane arguably belong to him? And if they belonged to him, couldn't he let them free or something?
And if that's not a far enough stretch, there's always Min. She gets elevated to Tuon's Truthspeaker (A Memory of Light, Chapter 27, "Friendly Fire"). Whatever a Truthspeaker says, Tuon has to acknowledge.
A Memory of Light
Chapter 32, "A Yellow-Flower Spider"
“You are my Truthspeaker,” she said to Min, almost reluctantly. “You may correct me in public. Do you see error in my decisions?”
“Yes, I do,” Min said, not missing a beat. “You do not use my skills as you should.”
“And how should I?” Tuon asked. The soldier who had been given a death sentence continued lying prostrate. She didn’t object—she was not of a rank that could address the Empress. She was lowly enough that speaking to someone else in Tuon’s presence would be a breach of honor.
“What someone may do is not grounds to kill them,” Min said. “I intend no disrespect, but if you are going to kill people because of what I tell you, I will not speak.”
“You can be made to speak.”
“Try it,” Min said softly. Mat started. Bloody ashes, she looked as cold as Tuon had a moment ago. “Let us see how the Pattern treats you, Empress, if you torture the bearer of omens.”
Instead, Tuon smiled. “You take to this well. Explain to me what you desire, bringer of omens.”
“I will tell you my viewings,” Min said, “but from now on, the interpretations—whether my own, or those you read into the images—are to be kept quiet. Between the two of us would be best. You are allowed to watch someone because of what I’ve said, but not to punish them—not unless you catch them doing something. Set this woman free.”
In this discussion, Min gets the upper hand, showing Tuon there are other ways of handling things. In fact, Min's argument about "what someone may do" is not too far off from Tuon's thoughts on sul'dam being able to learn to channel. And from there, the next step is seeing that Aes Sedai should be viewed the same way. Aes Sedai can be manipulative and untrustworthy, but not all of them are. Surely, they all don't deserve the punishment of the a'dam based on the logic Min just used and Tuon agrees with.
And to make it super easy, Min could just say to let them all go. As the bearer of omens, she would have to be obeyed, I think.
With all of these factors working against the Seanchan, the captured Aes Sedai--those who wish freedom--should be released.
That's all for this edition. I'm pleased that things looked good for the collared Aes Sedai. For next week, we'll look at what will happen if/when Rand, Mat, and Perrin lose their ta'veren abilities. Thanks for reading!