Randland Travel Advisor: Stedding Tsofu

 

 

Out for a jaunt through Randland? TarValon.Net’s trusty travel advisor gives you the good, the bad, and the braid-tuggingly awful!

 

 

 

I heard tell of an Ogier stedding in the Cairhien area, Stedding Tsofu. I’ve only seen the odd Ogier out and about—though perhaps it was the same one multiple times—and I must admit, it was like seeing a fairy tale come to life. For this reason, when I came across a tattered sign advertising tours, I decided to take a chance that it was not a joke. The Dark One’s own luck was on my side: it was not a joke!

 

Stedding Tsofu was just over a day’s journey from the city. No guides were provided from Cairhien, but the signs were clear, and it was a pleasant journey. It’s impossible to miss the threshold of the stedding. The feeling of crossing over is just indescribable. I felt the change and was taken aback. Soon, I saw the trees. The tree were not ordinary trees, but Great Trees, with branches a hundred paces and more above the ground and a trunk twenty paces wide!

 

If that was all I saw, I would have been satisfied for a lifetime. But Erith, a good-natured Ogier woman with a voice like a bumblebee, emerged from the forest to lead me through the town. The buildings were taller than normal, and of beautiful craftsmanship. Nothing said about Ogier is an exaggeration. Treesingers were helping out some Aiel visitors, and it was just the purest sound, leaving no room in the mind for anything but the growing earth. By the time Erith escorted me out, the sun was well past the horizon and I camped at the edge of the stedding, if only to hold on to that feeling but a little longer.

 

Truth be told, it is the experience of a lifetime. No words can do the stedding justice, and the Treesingers’ song will forever live within me.

 

(I later learned there were some Aiel heading to visit the Ogier when I was on my way there. They alerted the Ogier to my presence half a day’s ride out. If I had looked like a typical Cairheinin, the Aiel might not have let me enter the stedding at all. Thank the Light I look like an out-of-towner!)

 

(Reference: The Great Hunt, Chapter 35, “Stedding Tsofu”)

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A Day in the Life of an Accepted

This article contains spoilers for New Spring.

 

 

When Egwene and Nynaeve first arrive in Tar Valon, Sheriam tells Nynaeve in no uncertain terms that the first few weeks as an Accepted are harder than anything experienced by novices, a practice intended “To catch the few who might have slipped through novice training when they should not have” (TGH, Ch. 18). Throughout most of the series, Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve spend very little actual time in the White Tower, and are hardly ordinary Accepted once they attain the ring. Even the time spent by Elayne and Nynaeve as Accepted in Salidar is unusual, given the circumstances. It was the release of New Spring, published after ten books in the main timeline, which finally allowed us a closer look at what it is to be Accepted. So what do typical days usually look like for an Accepted of the White Tower?

 

Moiraine practicing for her Aes Sedai test with Elaida. New Spring Graphic Novel, by Robert Jordan, Chuck Dixon, Mike Miller, and Harvey Tolibao.

In many ways, Accepted are not nearly as constrained as novices are, expected to be able to think for themselves and to question things around them. Aside from caring for their own laundry and rooms, Accepted are generally not expected to do chores unless they are being punished. While they are occasionally assigned duties such as helping to sort out petitioners or assisting an Aes Sedai with another task, the majority of their time is given over to teaching novice classes and to their own studies. While Accepted occasionally attend larger lectures, much of their learning takes place through private lessons with Aes Sedai or is self-guided. Topics of study range from laws and customs of the White Tower itself, to various authors and philosophers, to different historical eras. In addition to such studies, which are long and difficult, Accepted must also learn and practice the One Hundred weaves for use in the test for Aes Sedai.

 

Of course, one must not forget that there is a lighter side to being an Accepted as well. In large part due to the stress of near-constant study, Accepted frequently like to play pranks on other Accepted and even on Aes Sedai. As Moiraine puts it, “Some relief was needed, or you would crack like an egg dropped on stone” (NS, Ch. 3). While some Accepted—such as Moiraine, Siuan, Myrelle, Pevara, and Seaine—are particularly known for pulling pranks, it is a practice that most Accepted engage in from time to time.

 

One of the other difficult things about being Accepted appears to be the way it effects relationships. As novice and Accepted training is demanding, close bonds are often formed. However, new Accepted are often expected to cut off ties with friends who are novices, and new Aes Sedai are expected to do the same with friends who are Accepted; thus, an Accepted will see a halt to many friendships over her years of study. Upon her successful completion of the test for the Shawl, Moiraine feels “a touch of sadness at the sudden withdrawal” in the faces of Sheriam and Myrelle, for “A gulf had opened between them” (NS, Ch. 10). It is a far cry from the scenes in which Myrelle helps tend to Moiraine and Siuan in the aftermath of Elaida’s “lessons” on the One Hundred weaves, an abrupt transition from the camaraderie of pranks and shared experiences to a relationship dictated by hierarchy. Sometimes, these friendships are easily resumed; Moiraine and Siuan, for instance, resume their relationship with Sheriam once Sheriam is also raised to the Shawl. Other relationships are more difficult to take up again, hindered by time or by the customs of one’s chosen Ajah. Elaida and Meidani, who were pillowfriends as novices, see an end to their relationship when Elaida attains the ring (CoT, Prologue). Similarly, Pevara and Seaine, close friends during their time as trainees in the Tower, are driven apart by custom once they attain the shawl. Their relationship does not resume for decades because of the Red Ajah’s propensity to avoid friendships outside of the Ajah (ACoS, Ch. 32).

 

If you’d like to know more about Accepted, check out TarValon.Net’s Library article!
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TarValon.Net’s December Wrap-Up

Here’s the collection of December’s events here at TarValon.Net!

 

 

Bondings

 

Hiring

 

Information

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Minor Key: Pevara Tazanovni

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

 

“You’re so certain we will win?” Androl asked.
“Of course we will win. It’s not a question, Androl. We can’t afford to make it one.”

–Androl and Pevara, A Memory of Light, Chapter 4

 

 

Trapped in the Black Tower with enemies on all sides, Pevara staunchly refuses to yield. She insists not only on hope, but on resolve: Taim, his Dreadlords, and the Dark One must not be given the latitude of despair. In many ways, her tenacious pragmatism, here and throughout the series, finds its echo in Rand’s most important realization as the Last Battle approaches its climax—that the Shadow “cannot win unless we give up” (AMoL, Ch. 39). The determination and persistence in Pevara’s words to Androl are frequently indicative of her character.

 

Pevara Tazanovni is one of the few Aes Sedai characters whose past is not entirely shrouded in mystery. Born in Kandor more than one hundred and fifty years before the events of the first book, her early years in the White Tower were marked by terrible tragedy. While Pevara was a novice, her family was betrayed and massacred by friends who turned out to be Darkfriends; in Crossroads of Twilight, Pevara recalls learning the details of how her twelve year old brother had died “With a knife in his hand, standing over their father’s dead body and trying to keep the mob from their mother” (Ch. 23). It was this event that eventually lead Pevara to choose the Red Ajah, for she believed that “a Red hunting men who could channel had the best chance of finding Darkfriends” (ACoS, Ch. 32).

 

It is Pevara’s unrelenting hatred of Darkfriends that brings Seaine Herimon to her door for aid, even despite a long-estranged friendship. Believing that Elaida has set her the task of hunting the Black Ajah, Pevara is the only person Seaine implicitly trusts. Where so many sisters refuse to confess even the potential for Aes Sedai corruptibility, Pevara needs no convincing of the Black Ajah’s existence. She commits herself without hesitation to Seaine’s cause, as if it is a matter of course. For Pevara, it is; her nature is to continually forge ahead with what must be done, no matter the cost—even when frustration makes her want to “bite holes through bricks” (KoD, Prologue).

 

It is particularly indicative of Pevara’s character, however, that she pledges to assist Seaine even before learning why her erstwhile friend has come to her. Pevara insists from the start that “Short of a promise to stand in the Hall without knowing what for, whatever help I can give is yours” (ACoS, Ch. 32). Flouting not only the recent fragmentation of inter-Ajah relationships within the White Tower, but also her own Ajah’s longstanding precedent for discouraging relationships outside the Red, Pevara’s determination to resume her friendship with Seaine is worthy of note.

 

Pevara and Seaine’s relationship has several important juxtapositions within the series. The most obvious, perhaps, lies in the similarity their friendship as novices and Accepted holds to that of Siuan and Moiraine, rife as it was with pranks and exchanged confidences. But their relationship is also an interesting inverse, almost chiasmic in nature, of another famous Red/White pairing in the books: Elaida and Alviarin. Bitter at having been forced to name a White Keeper, and intent on charging Alviarin with treason, Elaida tasks another White with gathering evidence in absolute secrecy. Seaine, having misunderstood Elaida’s command as a mandate to hunt the Black Ajah, in turn approaches another Red for aid—not with fear or suspicion, but in remembered affection and trust.​

 

“Androl and Pevara,” by AdamMasterman on DeviantArt.​

By the final book of the series, Pevara finds herself fighting the Shadow in a different Tower, with a very different cohort. While trust might not be so easy here, it does come. It is a trust born not only of necessity, but also of growing empathy, fondness, and familiarity. Like virtually every other Aes Sedai charged with bonding Asha’man as Warders, Pevara’s initial goal in entering the Black Tower is to contain and control its inhabitants. What is significant about Pevara’s relationship with her Asha’man allies is the way in which it transforms over time: Pevara comes to see them not as tools to be used or as dangerous weapons to be blunted, but as partners to work alongside. With Androl in particular, this is perhaps aided by the nature of the double bond, which ensures that their relationship is not attended by the type of hierarchy that bonds often entail.

 

Ultimately, Pevara’s relationship with Androl is not only of critical use in the short term of the Last Battle; it also presents one of the most viable ways forward for the Red Ajah in the future. Her pointed comment after defeating two of Taim’s Asha’man—“What do you think the Red Ajah does with its time, Androl? Sit around and complain about men? We train to fight other channelers” (AMoL, Ch. 3)—is momentous because it is one of the only characterizations of the Red Ajah we see that is not centered on gentling men who can channel. It also poses the possibility that the Red Ajah might continue to protect the world against rogue channelers—male and female—in the coming Age. The tactical advantages offered by a collaboration between male and female channelers are immeasurable. Although it is perhaps in some ways untraditional and unconventional in terms of the Red Ajah’s former mandate, as Pevara herself says to Tarna: “I’ve been called worse than unconventional” (CoT, Ch. 22).

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Randland Travel Advisor: The Nine Rings

 

 

Out for a jaunt through Randland? TarValon.Net’s trusty travel advisor gives you the good, the bad, and the braid-tuggingly awful!

 

 

 

 

“The Nine Rings” was the name of one of my favorite adventure stories growing up, and I had hoped the inside might be kitschy. The innkeeper, Mistress Madwen, was very intent on making sure I was well-taken care of and had all my needs met, though it did feel as though she thought I was up to no good. Her establishment looked well-cared for, though small. The size is most likely a reflection on Tremonsien being a stopover to Cairhein, rather than the final destination.

 

The room was small yet functional, but what I really wanted was a taste of the food. The smells had wafted out to the street and my mouth was watering. My plate was full of pork and veggies, all wrapped in a thick sauce. The spices and flavors—tender, sweet, and sharp! It filled the belly of this hungry traveler. A young man with some burns on his hand played the flute while I ate, and was still playing when I left.

 

All in all, The Nine Rings was a pleasant experience. Aside from the food and the music, the place was nothing special.

 

(Reference: The Great Hunt, Chapter 21, “The Nine Rings”)

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