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[Erica Sadun, Pam Korda, Leigh Butler]
[Contributors: Sean Hillyard, Mike Lemons, Judy Ghirardelli, Emma Pease, Keith Casner, David Ulaeto, Chris Wilson, Matthew Zimmer]
Throughout the series, Verin Mathwin has demonstrated more than her fair share of suspicious behavior. Clearly, Something is Up with her. Is she Black Ajah? The evidence, especially from TPOD and WH, indicates that she is not, but there are a lot of Verin-related questions we still don't have the answers to.
EXPLANATION: Verin could have been tricked by somebody masquerading as Moiraine. Or, perhaps she managed to find an interpretation of her words that could be taken as the truth. (Moiraine wanted somebody to watch over you guys, but she couldn't be here...) Now, MAYBE Verin is using some sneaky thought process to get around the Oath: '"Moiraine Sedai sent me, Lord Ingtar," Verin announced with a satisfied smile (recalling how satisfying the beer and pizza Moiraine had sent her for had been, and also how satisfying it had been to come up with a literally true statement which would preclude any questions from Rand, et. al.)' [Edward Measure]
In [TPOD: Prologue, Deceptive Appearances, 39-41], we learn that Verin has worked out a subtle form of Compulsion which conveniently leaves the victim forgetful of their "session" with Verin. Perhaps Verin compelled Moiraine to send her. "Moiraine Sedai sent me (because I made her), Lord Ingtar." [Tony Evans]
At a signing in Atlanta, RJ said that this discrepancy is not a mis-step.
EXPLANATION: Four reasons that Verin wouldn't want to show the manuscript to Egwene: 1) Verin is afraid that Egwene would not continue if she knew how dangerous it is. 2) Verin is afraid that Egwene would not continue if she knew who or what must be sacrificed. 3) The very nature of prophecy requires that it be vague or kept secret. 4) Maybe Verin was afraid that Egwene was a Darkfriend. Also, note that she considered giving the notes to Egwene, but decided not to. If she was withholding the notes for a nefarious purpose, she wouldn't have even considered it.
EXPLANATION: a) and b) are typical Aes Sedai behavior. Furthermore, since Alanna had recently lost a Warder, Verin may have been worried that she would try to bond Perrin, as she later did to Rand. As for c)...
EXPLANATION: Verin is Brown Ajah, and thus is likely to know all sorts of obscure things. Perhaps there is a prophecy involving blacksmiths, hammers, and axes; the appearance in COT of a verse referring to Mat in the Karaethon Cycle lends credence to this idea. (Also note that the above statement is somewhat false: Egwene also knows about the hammer/axe choice. She dreamed it.)
EXPLANATION: No, they were just talking about the weather/politics/etc and Verin didn't want some Shienaran servant butting into her conversation; it wouldn't look right and might make Barthanes suspicious.
EXPLANATION: The former is just an exercise in contrasts. Moiraine is saying: "Don't trust ANYBODY. You are rightly suspicious of Alviarin, but you should be equally suspicious of those you think you can trust, like Verin." As for the latter, why should she tell SS?
EXPLANATION: This is totally wimpy speculation, and wouldn't even be here, except that somebody might bring it up again. Liandrin (known BA) could have easily followed Moiraine there, and one of the sisters may be BA (see section 1.4.9).
EXPLANATION: At a post-ACOS signing [Vancouver, 24 August, 1996], RJ told Lara Beaton that "we're going to find out something in the next few books about people without souls and characteristics of them. (he started out saying that we're going to find out something significant about Verin, then stopped)." After Perrin's too-long sojourn in the wolf dream in WH, we learn that Aes Sedai are apparently familiar with these characteristics. Berelain, to Perrin: "'You slept like a man already dead. [Annoura] said you almost felt like someone who had lost his soul, cold no matter how many blankets were piled on you. I felt it, as well, when I touched you'" [WH: 5, Flags, 145]. So evidently, anyone who knows what they're looking for can tell when the soul is gone from a body, and Verin's examination of the Ogier in the stedding didn't have to involve channeling at all.
Verin could also have used a Well, per WH. Though a rather ex post facto solution to the discrepancy (and superfluous, given the above about soulless bodies), we now know that channeling is possible in a stedding. We have no evidence, however, that Verin actually possesses a Well, though if she did it would be interesting to speculate on how that relates to her arrest warrant in Far Madding...
EXPLANATION:Verin has always known that there were ter'angreals that could detect both men and women channeling. She's from Far Madding, after all (as is Cadsuane, who additionally has a portable version of the Far Madding saidin detector). So it's not unreasonable for Verin to suppose that the mysterious Seanchan, who have come up with a way to chain channelers like dogs, could have also come up with a saidin/saidar detector like her native city did. Thus telling Rand that they might be able to sense him channeling was just erring on the side of caution.
Theory: What if, in those notes, Corianin Nedeal describes how she discovered how to break the Three Oaths in T'A'R? That would certainly explain why Verin wouldn't want Eg to have the notes, especially after her speech at the start of TDR about how important the Oaths are. This would also explain how she managed to lie about Moiraine sending her.
Problem: Verin's mental self-justifications in [TPOD: Prologue, Deceptive Appearances, 41] seem to indicate that she is bound by the First Oath (see below). There is also absolutely no indication that Oaths can be removed by any method other the Oath Rod itself or stilling.
Then again, who knows what eldritch knowledge is contained in the notes? Who knows what Verin saw when she tried out the ter'angreal to go to T'A'R? This could explain all sorts of Verinisms.
Problem: In [TDR: 21, A World of Dreams, 191], Verin is thinking on Nedeal's notes, and thinks of Nedeal in the third person. One doesn't usually refer to oneself in the third person. Another problem (which is also present in related Very Old Verin (VOV) theories is that if there was a 400+ year-old Aes Sedai lurking around the Tower, surely somebody would have noticed by now. Furthermore, Verin is probably not older than 300 years (see below), and thus cannot be Corianin.
Problem: There have always been rumors of the BA. Nothing can be kept secret for centuries in a place with so many people in it, and so much scheming as the White Tower. And yet, we've never heard any hint of this secret group.
Problem: Verin would have to be 1000+ years old. We have seen no evidence, even in the AOL, that anybody lives that long, without help from the DO. Plus, wouldn't anybody notice that Verin had outlived dozens of Amyrlin Seats? Furthermore, the upper bound on Verin's age (see below) is ~300. This is not old enough for her to date from a pre-OR time.
For the Very Old Verin folks, lets say both Merana and Verin started late-- 24 (Ny was an exception, they only took her because she was so strong). So if Alanna is about 70 (in [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 276], Cadsuane thinks that Alanna has "worn the shawl almost forty years"), Merana is 24 + 11 years training + 10 years as full AS = 45 years older than Alanna, that is, 115 years old. If Verin is as much older than Merana as Merana is older than Alanna, then Verin is 115 + 45 = 160 years old. So if Merana is right about how much older Verin is than she, Verin should be around 160. There is, of course, quite a bit of leeway in our guess of Alanna and Merana's ages, so Verin could conceivably be nearly 200.
More than once, Cadsuane Melaidhrin is described as "the oldest Aes Sedai." In [ACOS: Glossary, 671], it says she is "thought to have been born around 705 NE," which would make her around 300 years old. She's also the most powerful AS apart from El, Eg, and Ny, which means she will have gotten the maximum life-prolonging benefit from channeling. In spite of this, she is at the end of her life [ACOS: 19, Diamonds and Stars, 347], so it is reasonable to believe that AS who are bound by the Oath Rod don't get much older than Cadsuane. If the glossary is to be believed, that is about 300 years. By implication, this puts an upper bound on Verin's age. (Assuming that the Ageless look is caused by the Oath Rod - Verin is Ageless.)
Furthermore, in [aol.com Chat, 27-6-96], RJ just about said straight out that Verin has held the Oath Rod. Somebody asked if it was true if he'd said that Verin had NOT held it, and if so then did Cadsuane also avoid it. His answer: "No, I did not say that Verin had never held the Oath Rod. Cadsuane has also held the Oath Rod." Cadsuane has ALSO held it, implying that Verin has, as well.
Note that this only means that Verin has taken at least one Oath on the Rod; it's possible she's not bound by all three. Maybe she discovered that the Oath Rod could be used to release oaths taken on one [ACOS: 40, Spears, 631], although TPOD seems to indicate that she is still bound by the First Oath, at least.
Now, any intelligent BA would get into the habit of following the Oath as a matter of course, because being caught lying could lead to the discovery of the BA. However, consider the bit in [TPOD: Prologue, Deceptive Appearances, 41], when Beldeine comes out of the Compulsion-trance. She asks Verin if she fainted. Verin replies, "The heat is very bad. I have felt lightheaded myself once or twice today." Then, in her own mind, she thinks that her own lightheadedness was "from weariness, not heat. Handling that much of saidar took it out of you." If Verin is not bound by the first Oath, she should not have needed to justify that misleading statement to herself. It's not something that anybody could ever have found out about, and is utterly trivial, besides. On the other hand, it might simply be a habit, especially if she turned BA after having been AS for a long time. However, Verin's self-justifications do seem to indicate that she is bound by the First Oath, and is not Black Ajah (just very dark Brown).
In the showdown at the end of WH, Verin has a brief POV in which she watches Graendal move through the trees and thinks to herself that "A captive Forsaken might prove very useful" [WH: 35, With The Choedan Kal, 646]. Forsaken, not Chosen.
Of course, it has been pointed out that this is not conclusive, as several BA have at one point or another used the term "Forsaken". For example: "Rianna shook her head worriedly. 'It makes troubling sense. Our orders from the Tower were clear, yet it is also clear that Carridin has others. I can only postulate dissension among the Forsaken'" [TSR: 38, Hidden Faces, 439]. The term is used by Jeaine, Asne, and Liandrin as well [Kjell Stahl, Johan Gustafsson].
However, consider what Verin actually said. Would a BA want to capture a Forsaken? Especially in that situation, where any captives would undoubtedly have fallen under either Cadsuane's or Rand's control? Wouldn't a BA have at least some worry or fear about having to answer to Ishydin or the DO for doing such a thing? The only emotion Verin displays about the notion is curiosity!
(DO's advocate: there have been instances of BA plotting to take down Forsaken. Liandrin, with Moghedien. Alviarin with Mesaana. Still, Liandrin and Alviarin wanted to kill Moggy and Mesaana, to gain power for themselves, not capture them and hand them over to the good guys.)
Another interesting bit in WH's last chapter is Elza's POV. Elza was one of the AS captured at Dumai's Wells who later swore fealty to Rand. Her POV in [WH: 35, With The Choedan Kal, 652-653], besides revealing that she is BA, makes it clear that she was one of those subjected to Verin's ad hoc Compulsion treatment. And the overriding conviction Verin gave her? That the Dragon Reborn must live till Tarmon Gai'don. Thus, it seems obvious that Rand's survival is Verin's objective as well.
Especially since Verin seriously considers drugging or even poisoning her [WH: 25, Bonds, 495]. The vial that Verin slips away is a sleeping potion given to her by Sorilea, who specifically warned her that more than a few drops of it can kill [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 304]. The fact that she does not is yet another point against Verin being Black. Cadsuane is talking about how to get Rand to Tarmon Gai'don alive (and laughing, and crying). Verin then thinks "It was good to be sure of Cadsuane at last." Since Cads' statements indicate she is not BA, and Verin doesn't drug her, the incident reinforces the notion that Verin has the same goals (i.e. Verin is not Black either).
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