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2.2.7: Verin - Black, Brown, or Purple?

[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.

  1. VERINISM: In TGH, Verin tells the boys that Moiraine sent her to look after them: [TGH: 14, Wolfbrother, 195] "Moiraine Sedai sent me, Lord Ingtar," Verin announced with a satisfied smile. "She thought you might need me." Moiraine later says that she did NOT send Verin: [TGH: 49, What was Meant To Be, 572] "I did not send Verin." Moiraine frowned. "She did that on her own." It is pretty obvious that Moiraine is not BA, so that implies that Verin lied, and hence must be BA.

    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.

  2. VERINISM: Verin does not give Corianin's notes to Egwene along with the dream ring [TDR: 21, A World of Dreams, 187]. Maybe she wanted Egwene to get killed, or caught by some Forsaken?

    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.

  3. VERINISM: Her suspicious behavior in the Two Rivers: a) Misleads Perrin as to why she and Alanna are there [TSR: 31, Assurances, 345-346]. b) Tells Perrin not to trust Alanna, perhaps laying a false trail? [TSR: 33, A New Weave in the Pattern, 373]. c) She also knows Luc is the missing Lord Luc, Tigraine's brother who disappeared in the Blight. She knows he is mentioned in the Dark Prophecy, yet she does not warn anyone about him, or tell them who he is?

    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)...

  4. VERINISM: Only three characters have referred to Perrin's choice of hammer or axe: Ishamael, Lanfear and Verin. This puts Verin in very suspicious company.

    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.)

  5. VERINISM: She was observed in deep conversation with Barthanes, a known Darkfriend, at the party in [TGH: 33, A Message From the Dark, 397]. When Hurin approached them, Verin waved him away. Perhaps they were discussing "business matters?"

    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.

  6. VERINISM: In [TFOH: 53, Fading Words, 638] Moiraine mentions to Rand in her last letter not to trust Alviarin, who is definitely a Darkfriend, and Verin. Additionally, Siuan mentions that Verin never told her about giving Egwene a ter'angreal.

    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?

  7. VERINISM: Draghkar Attack on Moiraine [TGH: 22, Watchers, 278-279] was executed at least with Aes Sedai help (the warding on them so they couldn't be sensed). Moiraine seemed to think that pretty much everyone in the Tower had forgotten about these old hermit Aes Sedai. However, we do know one individual old enough to remember them who could have ordered the attack --Verin.

    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).

  8. VERINISM: Verin and the art of Stedding Channeling: in [TGH: 29, Among the Elders, 435], she inspects an Ogier who lost his mind to Machin Shin in the Ways. For all intents and purposes, it looks like she's Delving him with the OP. However, she is in a stedding, where touching the OP is impossible. Even more, nobody thinks this is weird!

    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...

  9. VERINISM: When Rand is fighting Lord Turak at the end of TGH, he is afraid to use saidin, because: "If he touched saidin, and if he could not stop himself channeling, [the damane] would know, Verin had told him. Know and wonder" [TGH: 45, Blademaster, 539, emphasis mine]. What's more, earlier on Verin tells Rand, "'The only way I could help you would be if I channeled the Power, and that would be no help at all if I brought those down on you. Even if they were not close enough to see, one might well feel a woman - or a man, for that matter - channeling, if care was not taken to keep the Power channeled small'" [TGH: 44, Five Will Ride Forth, 523]. So did Verin conveniently forget that female channelers - which would include all damane - cannot detect either saidin or men who can channel it?

    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.

Alternative Verin Speculations

Something in those Notes Theory

We know Verin had access to Corianin Nedeal's notes. There is something in those notes that Verin doesn't want anybody to know about, something so potentially dangerous that she'd consider destroying the notes and all the knowledge contained therein.

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.

Verin = Corianin Theory

Theory: Verin is Corianin Nedeal herself, and is thus very, very, old. That is how she got her hands on the ring ter'angreal.

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.

Second Foundation Ajah Theory (aka Purple Ajah Theory)

Theory: Verin is a member of a secret society whose members preserve ancient knowledge for humanity's need at the Last Battle. The existence of the BA shows that it is possible for a secret group to exist in the Tower-- if there is a group dedicated to evil, why not a group dedicated to good?

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.

Very Old Verin Theory

Theory: Verin is very, very old, and pre-dates the lying Oath, and is thus not bound to it. This theory has been proposed as part of various Second Foundation Ajah theories, Corianin Nedeal theories, as well as independently.

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.

How old is Verin?

Many pet theories hinge upon this question. From [LOC: 11, Lessons and Teachers, 207], we know that Verin has been working on some plan for about 70 years. This sets a lower bound on Verin's age. The only other possible clue is [LOC: 43, The Crown of Roses, 549]. Merana Sedai is considering the pecking order among the AS in Caemlyn: "Merana had been Aes Sedai ten years the day the midwife laid Alanna at her mother's breast...Verin was the problem...Five years as novice for each, six as Accepted; that was one thing every Aes Sedai knew about every other if she knew nothing else. The difference was that Verin was older, maybe almost as much older than she as she was older than Alanna." We know that the Tower doesn't take women much older than Ny for Novices, and an average novice starts at about the age Elayne and Egwene did (17-18).

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.)

Is Verin bound by the Oath Rod?

The evidence in ACOS and TPOD tells us that the Ageless Look is caused by being bound by the Oath Rod (see section 2.3.3). Without a doubt, Verin has the Ageless Look [TGH: 7, Blood Calls Blood, 87]. The conclusion is, then, that Verin is bound by the Oath Rod.

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.

Why we think Verin is not Black Ajah

In the Prologue of TPOD, we get a scene which is from Verin's point of view. At several points in that section, Verin uses clever thought processes and tricks of the tongue to avoid telling untruths. This is consistent with what one would expect of an AS bound by the First Oath.

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.

Is there a connection between Cadsuane and Verin?

Both Verin and Cadsuane are from Far Madding. (Verin: [TPOD: Prologue, Deceptive Appearances, 42], Cadsuane: [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 273], and RJ said at a post-TPOD signing [LA: 22 October, 1998, report by Pam Basham] that they were from Far Madding.) This raises immediate suspicions of some sort of Far Madding Secret Society. However, in [TPOD: Prologue, Deceptive Appearances, 30], Verin thinks about Cadsuane: "What was Cadsuane after? ... Cadsuane herself was a legend, and even the believable parts of the legend made her very dangerous indeed. Dangerous and unpredictable." This indicates that Verin doesn't know Cads. very well, and is wary of her. It seems unlikely that Verin and Cadsuane are in cahoots, or have been in the past.

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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