From Tar Valon Library
Aes Sedai are women who can channel and have been trained in the White Tower of Tar Valon. They have passed the tests for earning both the ring and the shawl and are bound by the Three Oaths. Each Aes Sedai belongs to one of the seven Ajahs (more information below), with the exception of the Amyrlin Seat.
Because of the effects of channeling the One Power, Aes Sedai can live up to three hundred years and not seem to age past their middle years. Generally standing in high regard, they are often mistrusted and/or feared. They have great influence on many nations and provide advisors to kings and queens.
The term Aes Sedai means "Servant of all" in the Old Tongue, which is what they were and still are, even though the majority of today's population would not agree. This is because Aes Sedai seek to bring all political matters in the Westlands under control of the White Tower, as they believe that only the Tower can guide the world safely through the Last Battle.
- Main article: Aes Sedai (History)
The history of the Aes Sedai goes back to the Age of Legends, when both male and female channelers held honorable positions in society and helped the betterment of the world.
During the Breaking of the World, however, the male Aes Sedai destroyed both the old order and themselves in their madness. After the earth quieted down, the remaining (female) Aes Sedai decided to build a new city as the center of their power, Tar Valon.
- Main article: Aes Sedai (Hierarchy)
Aes Sedai determine their rankings among themselves by strength. This means that a weaker Aes Sedai has to obey a stronger one. If equal in strength, the length of time an Aes Sedai has worn the shawl matters. This can only be sidestepped if an Aes Sedai holds the position of either Amyrlin, Keeper, Sitter or Mistress of Novices.
- Main article: The Amyrlin Seat
The leader of the Aes Sedai, she is part of all Ajahs and none. She is elected for life and works closely with the Keeper of the Chronicles, whom she herself chooses. Although her word is absolute, she has to bring up important decisions before the Hall of the Tower for discussion, lest they take away her power.
- Main article: Keeper of the Chronicles
The Keeper of the Chronicles is the second most influential Aes Sedai. She is usually chosen from the same Ajah as the Amyrlin Seat, but unlike the latter, she still belongs to her Ajah even after taking on her new position. She works closely with the Amyrlin Seat and acts as her secretary. The position is taken on for life, unless the Amyrlin dies before her or is deposed.
- Main article: The Hall of the Tower
The Hall is a decision-making council, consisting of three representatives of each Ajah, called Sitters. They discuss Tower issues with the Amyrlin Seat and cast votes before agreeing or disagreeing with upcoming decisions. A regular Aes Sedai has to defer to a Sitter, even if she is weaker in the One Power.
Mistress of Novices
- Main article: Mistress of Novices
The Mistress of Novices is – as the name suggests – in charge of the novices and occasionally Accepted and their discipline. She is appointed by the Amyrlin Seat, but does not necessarily have to come from the same Ajah.
- Main article: Accepted
Accepted is the second stage a woman has to go through in order to become a full Aes Sedai. She has passed the test for the ring and is now allowed to more or less study at her own pace (which does not mean she has the chance to slack off, however) and/or teach novice classes. She wears the Great Serpent ring on the third finger of her left hand and a white dress with bands of colors representing the seven Ajahs at the hem and the sleeves.
- Main article: Accepted Test
The Accepted Test requires a candidate for Accepted to enter a ter'angreal made of three arches. The journey through each arch forces the girl to face her greatest fears: once for what was, once for what is, and once for what will be. There is always something within each arch that will tempt the girl to stay, so she must want to be Aes Sedai more than anything in order to leave at the appointed time.
- Main article: Novices
Novices are girls and women with the ability to channel who are on their first step to becoming Aes Sedai. They wear plain white dresses, have to carry out a multitude of chores and attend classes to be taught the proper use of the One Power. Not all novices are strong enough to be raised to Accepted, much less Aes Sedai, however, and are only kept long enough to make sure they have enough control over the Power so as not to hurt themselves or anyone else with it.
The Aes Sedai
The Aes Sedai Test
- Main article: Aes Sedai Test
The Aes Sedai test is a difficult ordeal that requires an Accepted to be able to remain calm and channel even in the direst of circumstances. It requires the candidate to enter a ter'angreal that will place them in situations where they often must channel in order to save their lives. The test is comprised of one hundred weaves.
- Main article: The Oath Rod
The Three Oaths are sworn on the Oath Rod, making them a part of the Aes Sedai's flesh and bones. They are taking after the passing of the test for the shawl and a night of contemplation and before choosing one's Ajah. The Oaths are as follows:
- To speak no word that is not true.
- To make no weapon with which one man may kill another.
- Never to use the One Power as a weapon except against Shadowspawn, or in the last extreme defence of her own life or that of her Warder or another Aes Sedai.
There are many loopholes enabling the Aes Sedai to side-step the Oaths without breaking them. It all depends on the interpretation.
- Main article: Ajah
In the Age of Legends, an ajah was "an informal and temporary group of people gathered together for a common purpose or goal, or by a common set of beliefs" (TWoRJTWoT).
Today, the Ajahs are permanent groupings among the Aes Sedai, each with its own goals and philosophies on how the One Power is to be used. There are seven in number, designated by colors. Every Aes Sedai belongs to one Ajah with the exception of the Amyrlin Seat, who is of all Ajahs while also being part of none.
Upon passing the test for the shawl, the Aes Sedai gets to choose one of the seven Ajahs after the swearing of the Three Oaths. They are all run by a Head of Ajah, who is only known to select members of the Ajah.
Although denied and all but forbidden to be mentioned by the White Tower, an additional, secret Ajah dedicated to serving the Dark One existed, the Black Ajah (TEotW, Ch. 43, TEotW Glossary; TGH, Ch. 5).
Aes Sedai have numerous customs and traditions, more than actual laws. Although they have never been written down, some of them are very old and carry as much weight as Tower Law and rule the Aes Sedai in the same fashion. They will not break a custom simply because it has not been done before.
- Main article: Warders
Warders are men bonded to the Aes Sedai by the One Power and sworn to defend them with their lives. Every Aes Sedai is allowed to have one Warder at a time, excepting the Red Ajah, who will bond none, and the Green Ajah, who may be bonded to several men at once.
Internal and Foreign Affairs (Politics)
- Main article: Tower Law
Tower law touches almost every aspect of the lives of Aes Sedai and rules them completely. Breaking a law means dire consequences in most cases.
Influences and Relationships
Aes Sedai meddle in affairs throughout the world, mostly pulling the strings as advisor to a king or a queen and seldom out in the open. They have had a positive relationship with Andor for over a thousand years.
Despite their influence, or maybe because of it, the White Tower faces a lot of enemies, the oldest and foremost being the Children of the Light.
Views and Attitudes
Most people are fearful of Aes Sedai and/or mistrust them. Some still blame them for the Breaking of the World and claim that they will cause it again.
- Main article: Eyes-and-Ears
Each Ajah, except the White, has its own network of informants, also called "eyes-and-ears." The Blue Ajah has the most extensive, and even individual Aes Sedai are known to have their spies, e.g. the Amyrlin and the Keeper.
The Thirteenth Depository
- Main article: The Thirteenth Depository
The Thirteenth Depository is a closed part of the Tower Library, containing secret documents that only a few select Aes Sedai have access to. The Tower has neither affirmed nor denied its existence. Rumor has it that there is even a law concerning this repository, stating that revealing the existence of this section or its contents come close to treason and will be punished severely. However, even this law itself is supposed to part of the Thirteenth Depository.
The Tower Guard
- Main article: Tower Guard
The Tower Guard is the force that protects the city of Tar Valon. It is currently let by Jimar Chubain.
In the Year 999 NE, the Amyrlin Siuan Sanche was deposed by a group of Sitters led by Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan. This act caused the Tower to be divided, with all of the Blue Ajah and many sisters of every other Ajah except the Red fleeing Tar Valon and congregating in the village of Salidar, Altara. Eventually, the Aes Sedai in Salidar raised an Accepted, Egwene al'Vere, to the position of Amyrlin Seat among the rebels. Both Egwene and Elaida, who is the Amyrlin within the White Tower, claim the right to the Amyrlin Seat. The rebels are currently camped outside of Tar Valon and are laying siege to the city. Following the split, each of the Heads of Ajah sent a Sitter to join with the rebels with the intent that they would steer them back home. They claimed to have sent the youngest Sitters, though the Green, Yellow and Gray sent the only Sitter not to have voted to depose Siuan. This plan failed and the Sitters sent began to side more with the rebels. The replacements also turned out to be unsuitable, not letting themselves be guided as the Heads had expected. (TGS, Ch. 42).
- Main article: The Aes Sedai Reconciliation
During the raid on the Tower by the Seanchan, Elaida was captured. There was no feeling amongst the Aes Sedai to attempt a rescue, so it was decided to name a new Amyrlin. At first no candidate could gain sufficient support, with most Sitters refusing to even consider someone not of their own Ajah. The Ajah heads, excluding Tsutama, met to agree on a candidate and decided that Egwene al'Vere was one of the few people that the Hall might agree on, and that this would help to reunite the Tower (TGS, Ch. 43). The two sides re-united and a Hall was chosen, mostly consisting of the pre-split Sitters, apart from those exposed as Black Ajah.