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?
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).