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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Last ten comments at Theoryland.
by AmaentesIf DO was able to alter reality with power...
by JoramJust wanted to comment on something in reg...
by JoramSorry to necro this thread, but I was just...
by jimbop79I was just thinking that since the Finns l...
by jimbop79This was alluded to early on, but let me s...
by pjrobertsonAlthough the books are over here is what m...
by NaeblisSunshineThis has a lot of spoilers, so please, if ...
by shaihaludWow, found a link to this while purging my...
by MMustafaNow see, Rand isn't the only one who wants...
by WaxerIn the epilogue as rand is carrying Moridins ...
Last ten theories at Theoryland.
Padan Fain, Roommates With the Dark Oneby aNewAge
The Real Slayerby Cabadrin
How the Bore Will Be Sealedby Tremalking
The Bore is in Tel’aran’rhiodby Great Lord of the Dark
Callandor's Purposeby RealAshaman
Rand and the True Powerby Zombie Sammael
Caemlyn's Battleby 1eyedfool
Moghedien Raises the Deadby Truthless
Breaking the Sealsby Kamaul
Let me die forever!by Kamaul
This is not my theory - the idea was first mentioned on the 13th Depository forums after the release of The Gathering Storm - but I thought it would be a good idea to get all of the evidence for the theory together in one place for easy linking, and to introduce the theory to those who follow Theoryland but might not have considered it.
I didn't consider it, even after reading the book (and apparently, neither did Cadsuane), but now that the idea has been brought to my attention, I realize that it's probably true. If it is true, then Sorilea is probably the most powerful of the unrevealed Darkfriends; her influence among the Wise Ones is almost unchallenged.
Sorilea is first introduced in The Fires of Heaven, where she takes charge of the Wise Ones at Rhuidean, more or less. There is only one thing in particular about Sorilea's actions in this book that is of interest:
TITLE - The Fires of Heaven
CHAPTER: 42 - This Place, This Day
The sky began to lighten into gray, and as the log tower came into sight above the trees, he broke the quiet himself. "I didn't expect you to be part of this, Aviendha. I thought you said Wise Ones take no part in battles." He was sure she had. A Wise One could walk through the middle of a battle untouched, or into any hold or stand of a clan that had blood feud with hers, but she took no part in fighting, certainly not with channeling. Until he came to the Waste, even most Aiel had not really known that some Wise Ones could channel, though there were rumors of strange abilities, and sometimes something the Aiel thought might be close to channeling.
"I am not a Wise One yet," she replied pleasantly, shifting her shawl. "If an Aes Sedai like Egwene can do this, so can I. I arranged it this morning, while you still slept, but I have thought of it since you first asked Egwene."
There was enough light now for him to see Egwene flush. When she saw him glancing at her, she tripped over nothing, and he had to catch her arm to keep her from falling. Avoiding his eyes, she jerked free. Maybe he would not have to worry about any needles from her. They started uphill through the sparse woods toward the tower.
"They didn't try to stop you? Amys, I mean, or Bair, or Melaine?" He knew they had not. If they had, she would not be there.
Aviendha shook her head, then frowned thoughtfully. "They talked for a long time with Sorilea, then told me to do as I thought I must. Usually they tell me to do as they think I must." Glancing at him sideways, she added, "I heard Melaine say that you bring change to everything."
It is clear from this passage that Sorilea is the one that thought Aviendha should use the Power in the battle, and that she had to convince all three of the Dreamwalkers to allow it. Even then, they were reluctant to actually condone it, telling Aviendha only to do what she thought she must.
And indeed, Sorilea's next significant action is in Lord of Chaos, when she has a battle of wills with Amys over the issue, when Rand is kidnapped. But first, Sorilea has a short point of view just after Rand is captured, and it is short enough that I can quote the whole thing (this is the only POV we ever get from Sorilea):
TITLE - Lord of Chaos
CHAPTER: 51 - The Taking
Hurrying along the dusk-covered street by the great stone house where the Aes Sedai were, Sorilea could barely sense them still channeling inside. She could only just sense it because she could only just channel at all, but that was not why she ignored it. They had been channeling day and night in there since their arrival; none of the Wise Ones wasted thought on why any longer. Sorilea certainly had more important matters to think of now. Back at the treekiller's palace, the Maidens were beginning to grow itchy over Rand al'Thor, muttering that the Car'a'carn would have some explaining to do when he returned this time. Sorilea had lived a great deal longer than any of those Maidens, longer than any other Wise One, weak in the Power or not, and she was uneasy. Like most men, Rand al'Thor went when he wished, where he wished - men were like cats in that - but this time, at the same time he was flitting off, Min had vanished somewhere between the tents and the palace. Sorilea did not like coincidences, no matter how many surrounded the Car'a'carn. Wrapping her shawl against a sudden feel of chill in her bones, she hurried on toward the tents.
This reveals absolutely nothing about Sorilea's allegiances. A Darkfriend of her stature would certainly be concerned about Rand turning up missing, just as much as a loyal Aiel would be. It is Sorilea that first suggests that they will use the Power to help rescue Rand:
TITLE - Lord of Chaos
CHAPTER: 53 - The Feast of Lights
Sorilea had been studying Perrin. Wise Ones' eyes often made Perrin feel as Aes Sedai's did, that he had been weighed to the ounce and measured to the inch. Sorilea made him feel he had been disassembled like a broken plow, every pin hefted and examined to see whether it should be mended or replaced. "Tell him everything, Rhuarc," she said sharply.
Amys laid a hand on Rhuarc's arm. "He has the right to know, shade of my heart. He is Rand al'Thor's near-brother." Her voice was gentle, her smell quite firm.
Rhuarc gave the Wise Ones a hard look, and Dobraine a contemptuous one. Finally he straightened to his full height. "I can take only Maidens and siswai'aman." By his tone and his smell, he would rather lose an arm than speak those words. "Too many of the others will not dance the spears with Aes Sedai." Dobraine's lip curled in contempt.
"How many Cairhienin will fight Aes Sedai?" Perrin asked quietly. "Six Aes Sedai, and we have nothing but steel." How many of the Maidens and these sis-whatever could Rhuarc gather? No matter; there were always the wolves. How many wolves would die?
The curl went out of Dobraine's lip. "I will, Lord Aybara," he said stiffly. "I and my five hundred, if there were sixty Aes Sedai."
Even Sorilea's cackle was leathery. "Do not fear the Aes Sedai, treekiller." Suddenly, shockingly, a tiny flame danced in the air before her. She could channel!
She let the flame vanish as they began planning, but it remained in Perrin's thoughts. Small, flickering weakly, somehow it had seemed a declaration of war stronger than trumpets, war to the knife.
Even after the allowance for Aviendha in the previous book, the issue of Wise Ones participating in battle was still a sore point for Amys, and it is clear that Sorilea champions those who believe that they should participate, and that Amys fights against it:
TITLE - Lord of Chaos
CHAPTER: 54 - The Sending
Perrin forbore asking what the bleakness was, just as he did not ask how Rhuarc had gotten the Aiel across the Alguenya without ferries when water they could not step across was the only thing in the world that could give an Aiel pause. He would have liked to know, but the answers were unimportant. Six thousand Aiel, five hundred of Dobraine's armsmen, and two hundred Winged Guards. Against six Aes Sedai, their Warders and some five hundred guards apparently, that should be enough. Except. The Aes Sedai held Rand. If they put a knife to his throat, would anyone dare lift a hand?
"There are also ninety-four Wise Ones," Amys said. "They are the strongest in the One Power of those near the city." That came out reluctantly - he had the idea Aiel women did not like to admit they could channel - but her voice picked up. "We would not have brought so many, but all wanted to come." Sorilea cleared her throat, and this time Amys blushed. He was going to have to ask Gaul. Aiel were so unlike anyone else he had ever met; maybe they began blushing when they grew older. "Sorilea leads us," Amys finished, and the older woman gave a snort that sounded extremely satisfied. She certainly smelled satisfied.
The Wise Ones always walked alongside the road in groups that varied in size and seemed to shift members constantly. By the end of the first day Perrin realized that all that shifting really centered around two women, Sorilea and Amys. By the end of the second, he was sure the two were urging very different viewpoints; there were too many glares and frowns. Now and then Perrin heard Aes Sedai mentioned; he caught snatches about "custom" and "battle," but never enough to understand. Amys began backing down more slowly, and blushing considerably less. Sometimes Rhuarc smelled faintly anxious when he looked at his wife, but that was the only sign he saw anything. By the third camp out of the city, Perrin half-expected to see Sulin and Nandera's fight repeated between Wise Ones.
Instead, the two women took a waterskin and went off a little distance, where they sat by themselves on the ground and removed their folded scarves so their long hair hung loose. He watched them into moonlit darkness, keeping far enough back that he would not eavesdrop even by accident, until he went to his own bed, but all they did was drink cups of water and talk. The next morning, the rest of the Wise Ones still shifted from group to group, but before the long column had covered three miles, Perrin realized that all centered on Sorilea now. Now and then she and Amys went off to one side of the road by themselves to talk, but there were no more glares. Had they been wolves, Perrin would have said a challenge to the pack leader had been defeated, but by their scents, Sorilea accepted Amys as almost an equal now, which did not fit wolves at all.
Sorilea's mission to bend custom in this particular fashion is certainly not evidence that she is a Darkfriend, despite the fact that most of the custom-bending from the Aiel comes from the Shaido, which began with Couladin, who was almost certainly a Darkfriend. However, in retrospect, it is interesting to consider what her motives might have been as an agent of the Shadow.
Her next significant action is apparently in full concert with Amys, when they demand the care of Rand's Aes Sedai prisoners. Why was Sorilea so particularly satisfied?
TITLE - A Crown of Swords
CHAPTER: 2 - The Butcher's Yard
"The Wise Ones will take charge of the prisoners," Rand said at last, and Sorilea suddenly smelled so satisfied that Perrin knuckled his nose vigorously. Taim shook his head in exasperation, but Rand rounded on him before he could speak. He had tucked a thumb behind the buckle of his sword belt, a Dragon etched and gilded, and his knuckles were white from gripping it; his other hand worked on the dark boarhide of his sword hilt. "The Asha'man are supposed to train - and recruit - not stand guard. Especially on Aes Sedai." Perrin's hackles stirred as he realized what aroma wafted from Rand when he looked at Taim. Hatred, touched with fear. Light, he had to be sane.
It would seem that if anyone should know that Sorilea was a Darkfriend, it should be Verin, and indeed, Verin has some interesting thoughts on Sorilea in the next book:
TITLE - The Path of Daggers
PROLOGUE - Deceptive Appearances
She suppressed a sigh. For one thing, she could not truly like seeing sisters treated so, whatever the reasons or need, and for another, it was obvious that a fair number of the Wise Ones wanted... What? For her to know that being Aes Sedai counted for nothing here? Ridiculous. That had been made abundantly clear days ago. Perhaps that she could be put into a black robe, too? For the time she thought she was safe from that, at least, but the Wise Ones hid a number of secrets she had yet to puzzle out, the smallest of them how their hierarchy worked. Very much the smallest, yet life and a whole skin lay wrapped inside that one. Women who gave commands sometimes took them from the very women they had been commanding earlier, and then later it was turned about again, all without rhyme or reason that she could see. No one ever ordered Sorilea, though, and in that might lie safety. Of a sort.
She could not help a surge of satisfaction. Early this morning in the Sun Palace, Sorilea had demanded to know what shamed wetlanders most. Kiruna and the other sisters did not understand; they made no real efforts to see what was happening out here, perhaps fearing what they might learn, fearing the strains knowledge might put on their oaths. They still struggled to justify taking the path fate had pushed them down, but Verin already had reasons for the path she followed, and purpose. She also had a list in her pouch, ready to hand to Sorilea when they were alone. No need to let the others know. Some of the captives she had never met, but she thought that for most women, that list summed up the weaknesses Sorilea was seeking. Life was going to grow much more difficult for the women in black. And her own efforts would be aided no end, with luck.
Her thoughts raced, and none touched Turanna. Irgain's stilling made her belly feel full of rancid grease, the Light knew. But what was the woman doing grinding grain? And dressed like the Aiel women! Had she been put to work just there so Verin could see? Foolish question; even with a ta'veren as strong as Rand al'Thor only a few miles away, there was some limit to the number of coincidences she would accept. Had she miscalculated? At worst, it could not be a large error. Only, small mistakes sometimes proved as fatal as large. How long could she hold out if Sorilea decided to break her? A distressingly short time, she suspected. In some ways, Sorilea was as hard as anyone she had ever met. And not a thing she could say that would stop it. A worry for another day. There was no point getting ahead of herself.
Once Aeron departed, Verin allowed herself a sigh of relief. She had been afraid Aeron intended to remain. Gaining permission to be alone with the prisoners had required nearly as much effort as getting Sorilea and Amys to decide they needed to be questioned, and by someone intimate with the White Tower. If they ever learned they had been guided to that decision... It was a worry for another day. She seemed to be piling up a great many of those.
Verin continued to lay down the threads of her weaving, eyes flashing from her work to the doorflaps and back. She felt a little like sweating herself. Sorilea might decide she needed help with the questioning. She might bring out one of the sisters from the Sun Palace. Should any sister learn of this, stilling was a very real possibility. "So you were going to deliver him to Elaida neatly washed and well-behaved," she said in a slightly louder tone. The quiet had gone on too long. She did not want that pair outside reporting that she was whispering with the prisoners.
Very interesting thoughts, but they must all be taken in the context of the last bit. Verin 'guided' Amys and Sorilea to allow her to question the prisoners, and it must be assumed that she used the Power in some way. This means that Verin and Sorilea are not working toward the same goals, exactly. Is this the 'safety of a sort' that Verin refers to, in relation to her protection by Sorilea? What of the satisfaction that Verin felt in relation to the shames of the wetlander women? What of the fact that she intended to deliver her list to Sorilea alone? It is difficult to tell much from this, but it is hard to ignore the fact that Sorilea is as hard a woman as Verin has ever met, in some ways, and that Verin seems to fear her in particular.
By far, the most striking piece of evidence pointing to Sorilea being a Darkfriend begins in this book, interestingly in a chapter that is (by virtue of being split between a Forsaken POV and Cadsuane) under the Forsaken chapter icon:
TITLE - The Path of Daggers
CHAPTER: 12 - New Alliances
"Teaching any of our new apprentices anything has been difficult at best," Sorilea went on. "I do not speak to offend, but you Aes Sedai give oath, it seems, and immediately try to find a way around it. Alanna Mosvani is particularly difficult." Suddenly her clear green eyes were very sharp on Cadsuane's face. "How can we punish her willful failings if it means harming the Car'a'carn?"
Cadsuane folded her hands in her lap. Masking surprise was not easy. So much for the secret of Alanna's crime. But why had the woman let her know that she knew? Perhaps one revelation called for another. "The bond does not work in that fashion," she said. "If you kill her, he will die, then or soon after. Short of that, he will be aware of what happens to her, but he will not really feel it. As far away as he is now, he will only be vaguely aware, at that."
Sorilea nodded slowly. Her fingers touched the golden tray on the table, then came away. Her expression was as hard to read as the face of a statue, but Cadsuane suspected that Alanna would find an unpleasant surprise the next time she let her temper flare, or threw one of her Arafellin sulks. That was unimportant, though. Only the boy was important.
"Most men will take what is offered, if it seems attractive and pleasant," Sorilea said. "Once, we thought of Rand al'Thor so. Unfortunately, it is too late to change the path we walk. Now, he suspects whatever is offered freely. Now, if I wanted him to accept something, I would pretend I did not want him to have it. If I wanted to stay close to him, I would pretend indifference to whether I ever saw him again." Once more, those eyes focused on Cadsuane, green augers. Not trying to see what lay inside her head. The woman knew. Some, at least. Enough, or too much.
Still, Cadsuane felt a rising thrill of possibility. If she had had any doubts that Sorilea wanted to feel her out, they were gone. And you did not feel out someone in this manner unless you hoped for some agreement. "Do you believe a man must be hard?" she asked. She was taking a chance. "Or strong?" By her tone, she left no doubt she saw a difference.
Again Sorilea touched the tray; the smallest of smiles might have quirked her lips for an instant. Or not. "Most men see the two as one and the same, Cadsuane Melaidhrin. Strong endures; hard shatters."
Cadsuane drew breath. A chance she would have scoured anyone else for taking. But she was not anyone else, and sometimes chances had to be taken. "The boy confuses them," she said. "He needs to be strong, and makes himself harder. Too hard, already, and he will not stop until he is stopped. He has forgotten how to laugh except in bitterness; there are no tears left in him. Unless he finds laughter and tears again, the world faces disaster. He must learn that even the Dragon Reborn is flesh. If he goes to Tarmon Gai'don as he is, even his victory may be as dark as his defeat."
Sorilea listened intently, and kept silent even after Cadsuane finished. Those green eyes studied her. "Your Dragon Reborn and your Last Battle are not in our prophecies," Sorilea said at last. "We have tried to make Rand al'Thor know his blood, but I fear he sees us as only another spear. If one spear breaks in your hand, you do not pause to mourn before taking up another. Perhaps you and I aim at targets not too far apart."
"Perhaps we do," Cadsuane said cautiously. Targets even a hand apart might be not at all alike.
Abruptly, the glow of saidar surrounded the leather-faced woman. She was weak enough to make Daigian look at least moderately strong. But then, Sorilea's strength did not lie in the Power. "There is a thing you may find useful," she said. "I cannot make it work, but I can weave the flows to show you." She did just that, laying feeble skeins that fell into place and melted, too poor to do what they were intended for. "It is called Traveling," Sorilea said.
This time, Cadsuane's jaw dropped. Alanna and Kiruna and the rest denied teaching the Wise Ones how to link, or a number of other skills they suddenly seemed to have, and Cadsuane had assumed the Aiel had managed to wring them out of the sisters held in the tents. But this was...
Impossible, she would have said, yet she did not believe Sorilea was lying. She could hardly wait to try the weave herself. Not that it was of much use immediately. Even if she knew exactly where the wretched boy was, she had to make him come to her. Sorilea was right about that. "A very great gift," she said slowly. "I have nothing I can give you to compare."
This time, there was no doubt of the brief smile that flashed across Sorilea's lips. She knew very well that Cadsuane was in her debt. Taking up the heavy golden pitcher with both hands, she carefully filled the small white cups. With plain water. She did not spill a drop.
"I offer you water oath," she said solemnly, picking up one of the cups. "By this, we are bound as one, to teach Rand al'Thor laughter and tears." She sipped, and Cadsuane imitated her.
"We are bound as one." And if their targets turned out not to be the same at all? She did not underestimate Sorilea as ally or opponent, but Cadsuane knew which target had to be struck, at any cost.
Some speculated even before the release of The Gathering Storm about when Sorilea would call in Cadsuane's debt to her, and what for.
In retrospect, it appears as though the only purpose of this meeting, in Sorilea's mind, was to put Cadsuane in her debt. She even felt out the possibility, in the beginning, when she offered a piece of information (that they knew of Alanna's bond with Rand) to see if Cadsuane would be willing to offer another piece of information in return. She was intelligent enough, as Cadsuane observed, to have deduced Cadsuane's intentions with Rand, and her concerns, and the water oath on the subject was also planned as a distraction to cover for her true intent. Sorilea's seeming agreement with Cadsuane seems especially strange in light of this earlier quote:
TITLE - The Fires of Heaven
CHAPTER: 23 - The Fifth, I Give You
The leathery-faced Wise One nodded as though everything had been settled. "You, young Aes Sedai. You know the Car'a'carn well, it is said. Will he do as he has threatened? Hang even a clan chief?"
"I think... maybe... that he will." More quickly, Egwene added, "But I am sure he can be brought to see reason." She was not sure of any such thing, or even that it was reason - what he had said sounded only just - but justice would do him no good if he found the others turning against him as well as the Shaido.
Sorilea glanced at her in surprise, then turned a gaze on the chiefs around Rand's horse that should have knocked the lot of them flat. "You mistake me. He must show that mangy pack of wolves that he is the chief wolf. A chief must be harder than other men, young Aes Sedai, and the Car'a'carn harder than other chiefs. Every day a few more men, and even Maidens, are taken by the bleakness, but they are the soft outer bark of the ironwood: What remains is the hard inner core, and he must be hard to lead them." Egwene noticed that she did not include herself or the other Wise Ones among those who would be led. Muttering to herself about "mangy wolves," Sorilea strode ahead, and soon had all the Wise Ones listening as they walked. Whatever she was saying, it did not carry.
Sorilea's true intent becomes clear enough later on, but there are a few interesting tidbits along the way. First, Min reveals that Sorilea has heavily questioned her about Rand and her viewings:
TITLE: Path of Daggers
CHAPTER: 27 - The Bargain
Or maybe Sorilea wanted to know whether Rand was suitable for Min; it seemed that way, at times. The Wise Ones accepted Min as one of them, or very nearly, but these past weeks, Sorilea had wrung her out like a laundress's mangle. The leather-faced, white-haired Wise One wanted to know every scrap about Min, and every shred about Rand. She wanted the dust from the bottoms of his pockets! Twice Min had tried balking at the incessant interrogation, and twice Sorilea had produced a switch! That terrible old woman simply bundled her over the side of the nearest table, and afterward told her that maybe that would loosen another scrap in her head. None of the other Wise Ones gave the slightest commiseration, either! Light, the things you had to put up with for a man! And she could not have him for herself alone, at that!
Then, she reveals that she had never seen anything useful about Sorilea until this:
TITLE - The Path of Daggers
CHAPTER: 29 - A Cup of Sleep
Turning on his heel, Rand stalked halfway to the Dragon Throne, where his scepter and the crown of Illian rested atop his gold-embroidered red coat. His face was so bleak that Min wanted to rush to him no matter who was watching, but she continued to study the Aes Sedai. And Sorilea. She had never seen anything really useful around that white-haired harridan.
Among all of those images spilling around Rand and the women, suddenly an aura flashed, blue and yellow tinged with green, encompassing them all. And Min knew its meaning. She gasped, half in surprise, half in relief.
"They will serve you, each in her fashion, Rand," she said hurriedly. "I saw it." Sorilea would serve him? Suddenly Min wondered exactly what "in her fashion" meant. The words came with the knowing, but she did not always know what the words themselves meant. But they would serve; that much was plain.
The fury drained from Rand's face as he silently studied the Aes Sedai. Some of them glanced at Min with raised eyebrows, obviously marveling that a few words from her carried so much weight, but for the most part, they watched Rand and hardly seemed to breathe. Even Elza lifted her head to gaze up at him. Sorilea gave Min one quick look, and the faintest nod. Approving, Min thought. So the old woman pretended not to care one way or the other, did she?
With the oath, Rand seemed to lose interest. "Find them clothes and put them with your other 'apprentices,'" he told Sorilea absently. He was frowning, but not at her or the Aes Sedai. "How many do you think you'll end up with?" Min almost jumped at the echo of her own thought.
"However many are necessary," Sorilea said dryly. "I think more will come." She clapped her hands once and gestured, and the five sisters sprang to their feet. Only Nesune looked surprised at the alacrity with which they had obeyed. Sorilea smiled, a very satisfied smile for an Aiel, and Min did not think it was caused by the other women's obedience.
We have known for some time that Elza was a Darkfriend, and for the most part, we probably figured she would serve Rand until her death, just because she believed that he must be kept alive until the Last Battle. However, Elza proved that assumption wrong in The Gathering Storm, when her Compulsion was removed and she helped Semirhage capture Rand. Apparently, Min's viewing did not indicate that they would serve forever.
I believe that Sorilea's approval of Min's viewing and her satisfaction are both due to the fact that Min had a viewing that would lead Rand to believe that she was trustworthy. Between that and her agreement with Cadsuane, things were going very well for Sorilea the Darkfriend at this point. Sorilea is not seen again until Winter's Heart:
TITLE - Winter's Heart
CHAPTER: 13 - Wonderful News
The door to the hall opened to admit Verin and Sorilea. The leathery, white-haired Aiel woman handed something small to Verin that the Brown tucked into her belt pouch. Verin was wearing a flowered brooch on her simple bronze-colored dress, the first jewelry Cadsuane had ever seen on her aside from her Great Serpent ring.
"That will help you sleep," Sorilea said, "but remember, just three drops in water or one in wine. A little more, and you might sleep a day or longer. Much more, and you will not wake. There is no taste to warn you, so you must be careful."
So Verin was having trouble sleeping, too. Cadsuane had not had a good night's rest since the boy fled the Sun Palace. If she did not find one soon, she thought she might bite someone. Nesune and the others were eyeing Sorilea uneasily. The boy had made them apprentice themselves to the Wise Ones, and they had learned that the Aiel women took that very seriously. One snap of Sorilea's bony fingers could end their idle morning.
It is at least moderately interesting that Sorilea is the one that gave Verin the herbs for sleeping (especially considering that Verin is one of the few Aes Sedai that is familiar with the use of herbs), but it proves nothing, especially considering that it would seem strange for them to discuss it in front of Cadsuane if they were plotting to kill her together. However, a few paragraphs later, Verin seems to drop a hint to Cadsuane that Sorilea might not be on their side:
The remaining four sisters in front of the fireplace rose with alacrity at her approach, made deep curtsies, and listened carefully to what she told them in a low voice with much finger shaking. Sorilea might think she had much to teach them, but they had already learned that an Aes Sedai shawl offered no protection to a Wise One's apprentice. Toh seemed a great deal like penance to Cadsuane.
"She is ... formidable," Verin murmured. "I am very glad she is on our side. If she is."
Cadsuane gave her a sharp look. "You have the appearance of a woman with something to say that you don't want to. About Sorilea?" That alliance was very vaguely defined. Friendship or no friendship, she and the Wise One still might turn out to be aiming at different goals.
"Not that," the stout little woman sighed.
Of course, Cadsuane is not one for taking hints; she expects people to say what they mean, and if they do not, she presses, as she did here. But Verin deftly changed the subject, because she is not about to tell Cadsuane what she suspects in a straightforward manner. Later in the chapter, Alanna passes out from the bonding that occurred in the previous chapter:
Corele brushed him aside so she could cup Alanna's face in her hands. The glow of saidar surrounded the Yellow, and the weave of Healing settled on Alanna, but the slim Green did not even twitch. Corele drew back, shaking her head.
"My skill with Healing, it may not equal yours, Corele," Merise said dryly, "but I did try." The accents of Tarabon were still strong in her voice after all these years, but she wore her dark hair drawn back severely from her stern face. Cadsuane trusted her perhaps more than any of the others. "What do we do now, Cadsuane?"
Sorilea stared at the woman stretched out on the bed with no expression beyond a thinning of her lips. Cadsuane wondered whether she was reevaluating their alliance. Verin was staring at Alanna, too, and she looked absolutely terrified. Cadsuane had not thought anything could frighten Verin that far. But she felt a thrill of terror herself. If she lost this connection to the boy now...
"We sit down and wait for her to wake," she said in a calm voice. There was nothing else to do. Nothing.
Cadsuane seems to imply here that Sorilea taught Cadsuane Traveling so that Cadsuane could use Alanna to find Rand. In a way, that makes no sense, as there are Wise Ones strong enough to Travel, and Alanna is one of their 'apprentices'. Interestingly, there is only one significant mention of Sorilea in Crossroads of Twilight, and it's to do with using the Warder bond to find Rand yet again:
TITLE - Crossroads of Twilight
CHAPTER: 24 - A Strengthening Storm
"There was nothing I could do, Cadsuane," Samitsu said bitterly. "Half the people I gave an order had begun checking with Sashalle to see if it was right, and the other half told me to my face she'd already said different. Lord Bashere talked her into turning the Warders loose - I have no idea how he found out about them in the first place - and she talked Sorilea into it, and there wasn't the least thing I could do to stop it. Sorilea was behaving as if I had just abdicated! She doesn't understand, and she made it plain she thinks I'm a fool. There's no point at all in me going back, unless you expect me to carry Sashalle's gloves for her."
Sorilea is not mentioned at all in Knife of Dreams; this is the first book since she was introduced where she is completely absent. We are left to wonder what she was doing during that time, and whether or not it might have had something to do with the way the Aiel have begun to reevaluate their relationship with Rand. But in The Gathering Storm, Sorilea's allegiances finally become clear. Almost the entire chapter is relevant, but I will only quote the particularly relevant bits:
TITLE - The Gathering Storm
CHAPTER: 14 - A Box Opens
"If I were to choose," Sorilea continued, "I think that I would have her throat slit and her corpse laid out on the dust to dry. Keeping her alive is like keeping a snapwood blacklance as a pet."
"Phaw!" Cadsuane said, grimacing. "You're right about the danger, but killing her now would be worse. Al'Thor cannot or will not give me an accurate count of the number of Forsaken he has slain, but he implies that at least half of them still live. They'll be there to fight at the Last Battle, and each weave we learn from Semirhage is one fewer they can use to surprise us."
Sorilea did not seem convinced, but she pressed the issue no further. "And the item?" she asked. "May I see it?"
Cadsuane almost snapped a no. But...Sorilea had taught Cadsuane Traveling, an incredibly powerful tool. That had been an offering, a hand extended. Cadsuane needed to work with these women, Sorilea most of all. Al'Thor was a bigger project than one woman could handle.
The trunk was a decoy; she kept some gold and other relatively worthless items in it. Her most precious possessions she either wore–in the form of her ter'angreal ornaments–or kept locked in a dingy-looking document box that sat on her mirror stand. Of worn oak, the stain uneven, the box had enough dings and dents to look used–but wasn't so shabby as to be out of place with her other things. As Sorilea closed the door behind the three of them, Cadsuane disarmed the box's traps.
It was strange to her how few Aes Sedai learned to innovate with the One Power. They memorized time-tested and traditional weaves, but gave barely a thought for what else they could do. True, experimenting with the One Power could be disastrous, but many simple extrapolations could be made without danger. Her weave for this box was one such. Until recently, she'd used a standard weave of Fire, Spirit and Air to destroy any documents in the box if an intruder opened it. Effective, if a bit unimaginative.
Her new weave was much more versatile. It didn't destroy the items in the box–Cadsuane wasn't certain if they could be destroyed. Instead, the weaves –inverted to be invisible –sprang out in twisting threads of Air and captured anyone in the room when the box was opened. Then another weave set out a large sound, imitating a hundred trumpets playing while lights flashed in the air to give the alarm. The weaves would also go off if anyone opened the box, moved it, or barely touched it with the most delicate thread of the One Power.
"This is unsettling to see," Sorilea said. "If one of the Shadowsouled, or even one of the Seanchan, captured him with this...
"Light protect us all," Bair whispered.
"And the people who have these are the same people with whom al'Thor wishes to make peace?" Sorilea shook her head. "Creation of these abominations alone should warrant a blood feud. I heard that there were others like it. What of those?"
"Stored elsewhere," Cadsuane said, shutting the lid. "Along with the female a'dam we took. Some acquaintances of mine–Aes Sedai who have retired from the world–are testing them trying to discover their weakness." They also had Callandor. Cadsuane was loath to let it out of her sight, but she felt that the sword still held secrets that could be teased out.
It would seem rather strange indeed for Sorilea to call in the debt that Cadsuane owes her for a small curiosity such as this one. Not only does she ask to see the Domination Band, but she asks Cadsuane about where the others are being held. And then, the very next day, the Semirhage is freed and given the collar to capture Rand. That this could be coincidence stretches credulity.
Brandon was asked on the book tour how it was that Elza learned the weaves to disarm Cadsuane's trap:
The Gathering Storm Book Tour, Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego 15 November 2009 - Freelancer reporting
Q. How did Elza defeat the wards on Cadsuane's plain wooden box?
A. Elza had been given knowledge of several rarely known weaves, and in other ways made into a tool of Shaidar Haran. Not all of it was pleasant for her.
Brandon seems to imply here that Shaidar Haran taught her the weaves, but he very specifically does not actually say that (besides the fact that this is at least slightly paraphrased). How would Shaidar Haran know a weave that Cadsuane invented anyway? How could Shaidar Haran teach weaves to someone? He can't channel, or if he can, it's not saidar. What chance, that Rand would be captured the very day after Sorilea observed Cadsuane disarming the trap? Bair cannot channel, so it had to be Sorilea.
I assume that Elza was involved for one of two reasons: either she was chosen because she was more expendable, and less of a risk in terms of exposure, or she was chosen because the disarming was something that Sorilea is not quite strong enough to do, since she is so weak in the Power.
Cadsuane just happened to be visiting the Wise Ones at the time that Rand was captured. Could that be coincidence also? It seems unlikely, to me:
TITLE - The Gathering Storm
CHAPTER: 23 - A Warp in the Air
Cadsuane nodded crossly. Of all the nights to be out visiting the Wise Ones in their tents! Sorilea and a small group of them followed behind Narishma, and Cadsuane didn't dare slow her pace, lest the Aiel women trample her in their haste to see al'Thor.
"Do you recognize that, Cadsuane?" al'Thor said, nodding toward something metallic sitting on the bed, mostly hidden by the sheets.
Hesitantly she walked forward. Sorilea looked over, expression unreadable. Apparently, she didn't wish to be drawn into the conversation when al'Thor was in such a mood. Cadsuane didn't blame her.
Cadsuane pulled back the sheets, revealing a familiar pair of bracelets. There was no collar.
"Impossible," she whispered.
"That is what I assumed," al'Thor said in that terribly calm voice of his. "I told myself that it obviously couldn't be one of the same ter'angreal I relinquished to you. You promised they would be protected and hidden."
"Well, then," Cadsuane said, unnerved. She covered the things back up. "That is settled then."
"It is. I sent people to your room. Tell me, is this box where you were keeping the bracelets? We found it open on the floor of your quarters."
A Maiden brought out a familiar oak box. It was the same one, obviously. Cadsuane turned toward him in anger. "You searched my room!"
"I was unaware that you were visiting the Wise Ones," al'Thor said. He gave a small nod of respect to Sorilea and Amys, which they hesitantly returned. "I sent servants to check on you, as I feared that Semirhage might have tried for revenge on you."
"They shouldn't have touched this," Cadsuane said, taking the box from the Maiden. "It was prepared with very intricate wards."
"Not intricate enough," al'Thor said, turning away from her. He still stood by that darkened window, looking out over the camp.
The room fell silent. Narishma had been asking quietly after Min's health, but he fell silent when al'Thor stopped speaking. Rand obviously felt that Cadsuane was responsible for the male a'dam being stolen, but that was preposterous. She had prepared the best ward she knew, but who knew what knowledge the Forsaken had for getting past wards?
Cadsuane's last thought is probably why Sorilea had little fear that Cadsuane would suspect her. Why should she suspect Sorilea, when no one knows how much the Forsaken can do? Later, Cadsuane approaches Sorilea with her plan:
TITLE - The Gathering Storm
CHAPTER: 31 - A Promise to Lews Therin
Cadsuane made her way to the wing that belonged to the Aiel, and she was not stopped. She enjoyed privileges among the Aiel that none of the other sisters had been given. She found Sorilea and the other Wise Ones in conference in one of the libraries. They were sitting on the floor, of course. Sorilea nodded to Cadsuane as she entered. She was all bone, thin and leathery, yet never could a person think her frail. Not with those eyes, set into a face that, despite being worn by wind and sun, was too young for her age. How was it that the Wise Ones could live so long, yet not obtain the Aes Sedai agelessness? That was a question Cadsuane had not been able to answer.
She lowered her hood and joined the Wise Ones, seating herself on the floor, eschewing cushions. She looked Sorilea in the eyes. "I have failed," she said.
The Wise One nodded, as if she had thought this same thing. Cadsuane forced herself not to show her annoyance.
"There is no shame in failure," Bair said, "when that failure was the fault of another."
Amys nodded. "The Car'a'carn is stubborn beyond all men, Cadsuane Sedai. You have no toh toward us."
"Shame or toh," Cadsuane said, "it will all be irrelevant soon. But I have a plan. Will you help me?"
The Wise Ones shared a look among them.
"What is this plan?" Sorilea asked.
Cadsuane smiled, then began to explain.
Sorilea knows that Cadsuane did fail: she made the mistake of trusting Sorilea.
This is the last we see of Sorilea in the book. In my opinion, the evidence speaks loud and clear: Sorilea is a Darkfriend. However, my main point in writing this was to gather all of the relevant evidence in one place. There is not much of interest that Sorilea does in the entire rest of the series aside from what is quoted here, but there are a couple of things, seemingly insignificant, but perhaps pointing to the dark aspect of Sorilea's character:
TITLE: Lord of Chaos
CHAPTER: 50 - Thorns
The days passed, and every one filled somehow. He had smiling lords and ladies so cordial to one another that he was sure they were scheming against each other beneath the surface. Wise Ones counseled him on how to deal with Aes Sedai, whether from the Tower or Salidar; Amys and Bair made Melaine appear mild; Sorilea made his blood run cold. Young Cairhienin rioted in the streets against Rhuarc's ban on dueling. Rhuarc handled it by giving them a taste of what it was really like to be made gai'shain; sitting naked in the sun all day under guard quenched their ardor somewhat, but Rhuarc was not about to go against custom so far as to put wetlanders in white, and those the Red Shields had caught actually began to swagger over the affair. Rand overheard Selande telling another young woman with a sword and her hair cut short, in a very self-important tone, that the other woman would never truly understand ji'e'toh until she had been captive to Aiel. It was uplifting, whatever that was supposed to mean.
These are small things, but perhaps indicative in the subtle way that RJ favors (read Linda's research on Darkfriends at 13th Depository to see what I mean). And another:
TITLE: Lord of Chaos
CHAPTER: 55 - Dumai's Wells
"Then turn around and ride south," Perrin told her. "I'll not let Elaida have Rand." "Good," Kiruna replied, smiling. "Because I will not either." He wished her smile did not make his skin crawl. Of course, had she seen the malevolent look Sorilea directed at the back of her head, her skin might have crawled too.
'Malevolent' is a very strong word. In an earlier quote, Min refers to Sorilea as a 'harridan', meaning 'a scolding, vicious woman', but Corele takes it a bit further, invoking nightmares:
TITLE: Crown of Swords
CHAPTER: 19 - Diamonds and Stars
"You'll never guess where I found these two," Corele said in her lilting Murandian accent. She tapped the side of her upturned nose, the way she did when about to tell a joke, or what she saw as one. Spots of color appeared in Bera's cheeks, and larger in Kiruna's. "Bera there was sitting meek as a mouse under the eyes of half a dozen of those Aiel wilders, who told me bold as you please that she couldn't come with me until Sorilea –oh, now that woman's a harridan to give you nightmares, she is–I couldn't have Bera until Sorilea was done with her private chat with the other apprentice. Our darling Kiruna, there."
Not only did Verin fear Sorilea, but Sevanna fears her as well:
TITLE: Crown of Swords
CHAPTER: 40 - Spears
Maybe he lied, yet the risk.... Sevanna could imagine all too well being in Sorilea's grip. Not allowing herself to shiver, she sent Rhiale to inform the other Wise Ones. Her voice betrayed nothing!
Sorilea is often associated with torture in the minds of the characters. And finally, there is also foreshadowing of a confrontation between Cadsuane and Sorilea:
TITLE: Crown of Swords
CHAPTER: 36 - Blades
"Be quiet!" Cadsuane roared, slapping her hands together in a thundercrack. "You, girl. He needs his bed. Hop!" Nandera hopped. Rand was stripped and in his bed in a twinkling, with Samitsu and Niande both hovering over him, the Cairhienin chased out and Nandera at the door repeating Cadsuane's instructions that he was not to be disturbed by anyone, all so fast Min felt dizzy. She hoped one day to see the confrontation between Cadsuane and the Wise One Sorilea; it had to come, and it would be memorable.
Eventually, Cadsuane will probably realize that Sorilea betrayed her. It doesn't appear to have occurred to her just yet, but inevitably, it will, and Sorilea will be uncovered. This might even be tied in to what Cadsuane must teach Rand.