Author: Atarah al'Norahn
Within the White Tower library, there are twelve acknowledged depositories of information, each devoted to a specific type of learning (CoT, Ch. 21). However, there is also a thirteenth, secret depository, hidden deep within the Tower library. These are the secret histories, containing information that, by law, only the Amyrlin Seat, the Keeper of the Chronicles, the Sitters in the Hall and the librarians who keep the records have access to. Not only is the information in the Thirteenth Depository restricted by law, but this law itself is also hidden; to reveal it is akin to treason (ACoS, Ch. 11; KoD, Ch. 24). Those who attempt to see the records unauthorized are punished. Despite all of this, however, as far as can be determined, the White Tower has never issued a direct denial of the existence of the records or the existence of the law that keeps them secret; this is credited to the “devious nature of Aes Sedai” (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 24).
Despite the fact that these secret records are hidden and restricted, there are some subjects that even they tread lightly on (TPoD, Ch. 15). According to Siuan, if one reads between the lines, hints can be found of things that were never recorded (ACoS, Ch. 11), indicating that there is information that is too dangerous for even the few who are allowed to see.
The information secreted within the Thirteenth Depository contains the following.
- Information on the faults and virtues of Amyrlin Seats are recorded in the histories; Egwene thinks to herself that “whatever the secret histories would say of her faults and virtues, the Light only knew, but they would be hers, not copies of some other woman’s” (TPoD, Ch. 19).
- Throughout Tower history, six mutinies have occurred in which both the Amyrlin Seat and the Hall of the Tower have been replaced, either by deposition or retirement (ACoS, Ch. 12; KoD, Ch. 24). One of these mutinies occurred against Shein Chunla, who tried at first to control the Hall of the Tower but instead ended up being controlled by the Hall herself. The Hall, in turn, mishandled a great many things, and eventually the Sisters rose up and removed both Shein and her Hall. Today, it is thought by the main body of Aes Sedai that it was Shein herself who mishandled issues, when instead she had no say in the matters at all. It is also widely thought that she died while holding the Amyrlin Seat, when in truth she was exiled; many plots to restore her were concocted, and after the fourth was discovered, she was smothered in her sleep (TPoD, Ch. 15; KoD, Ch. 24).
- Information about the Year of the Four Amyrlins is contained within the Thirteenth Depository. This occurred about one hundred and fifty years after the founding of Tar Valon. For part of the year, there were two Halls, much like there is now with the split. It ended badly for almost everyone (TPoD, Ch. 16).
- One thing that the secret histories do not include is information on how strong Amyrlins, such as Myriam Copan, managed to gain their strength. Egwene thinks to herself that if anyone ever thought to write it down, the pages have long since been lost (TPoD, Ch. 15).
- There is not even a hint within the secret histories of fealty ever having been sworn to an Amyrlin Seat (ACoS, Ch. 12). It is rare, even in these histories, even for sisters to be sworn to obey the Amyrlin (TPoD, Ch. 16).
- According to the histories, whenever the Tower has been divided against itself, disaster has struck the world (CoT, Ch. 21).
- Although it is widely believed that that no army has ever entered the city of Tar Valon, the secret histories say otherwise. The city has, indeed, been breached at least twice. During the Trolloc Wars, Dreadlords led Trollocs not only into the city, but in plundering and burning a part of the White Tower itself. Later, during the War of the Second Dragon, Sawyn Maculhene and Elinde Motheneos attempted to rescue a captured Guaire Amalasan and managed to reach the White Tower (ACoS, Ch. 11; TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 11).
- The Thirteenth Depository appears to contain some information on the Karaethon Cycle, including Doniella Alievin's own notated copy of the prophecies.
- Egwene thinks that Siuan "must have spent a good part of her years in the Tower burying herself in [the] secret histories," because she "seemed to have every detail at her fingertips" (TPoD, Ch. 16).
- Aiden, Nyein and Zemaille have access to the Thirteenth Depository as librarians (CoT, Ch. 21). It is possible that Bennae Nalsad is eventually given access by her Ajah leadership as well after she learns of it from Egwene (TGS, Ch. 12).
- Even though she technically shouldn’t have, Egwene tells Bennae Nalsad about the histories and the information that they contain concerning Shein Chunla’s deposal in an attempt to hint at a possible way to remove Elaida from the Amyrlin Seat (KoD, Ch. 24).
- Heads of Ajah know about the Thirteenth Depository's existence; however, they are not allowed to actually go there unless they also serve as Sitters for their Ajah (TGS, Ch. 43).