5

In the Great Hunt we learn that novices and accepted sometimes are put out of the White Tower, if they fail in some ways. These girls can channel thus presumably, should live quite long. How can it be that the Aes Sedai didn't know that those girls they put out of the tower live far longer than them? Is this explained somewhere in detail?

  • Because the author wanted it. I don't think anything in there makes it plausible for "Aes Sedai" to have such deep denial. It's like not even one during 3 thousand years unbound herself? And then suddenly bum! Only this sul'dam channelling nonsense is worse. – Mithoron Jul 15 '19 at 22:36
  • The historical timelines of Randland are off, but we have quite a lot of examples in human history where the cause-and-effect as we now know it, didn't really matter :) – fbence Jul 18 '19 at 12:00
6

There are two nuances that might explain it:

  1. Channeling, not the ability to channel, without Oath Road = Long Life
  2. Aes Sedai shun failures, and so do not have much experience with them

Girls who fail the tests and are expelled without becoming Aes Sedai are expected to avoid channeling; any who do so are likely to be hunted down and punished. The Aes Sedai are able to exist because of the strictures they put upon themselves - which make their power predictable and controllable to other secular powers - and they maintain this order by ensuring there are no non-Aes Sedai channellers. So for the vast majority of failed novices, they leave the tower to face a normal lifespan. And, as with women who are stilled or burnt out, Aes Sedai don't really want to know all that much about women who leave the tower.

The Kin, a set of channeling women formed over time from failed novices, were permitted to exist to act as a magnet for runaways, and yet not tracked closely enough to reveal the age of the members of the group. Even the Aes Sedai using the Kin didn't want to look closely enough that they might disprove their theory of a small group of channellers who would soon give up and disappear.

So

  • There was a little evidence
  • The Aes Sedai were not inclined to see or consider it
  • It wasn't as obvious as it would be if all capable of channeling enjoyed long life.
  • This is all true. I think the other thing that influenced this is the intent of portraying the White Tower as a metaphorical Ivory Tower, where the members are detached from the world around them and generally avoid thinking about anything outside their own concerns. Further, there is a general lack of information sharing in the Tower, each Aes Sedai using what she knows for her own advantage, so it's easy for information to be lost (even if someone had discovered it / figured it out). – Paul Jun 11 '17 at 21:31
  • There's an additional factor mentioned in the WoT Companion: longevity is directly correlated to strength in the Power. Many of those put out of the Tower are too weak to ever achieve the shawl and thus would have a shorter potential lifespan (before accounting for the effects of the Oath Rod). – Michael Carman Jun 13 '17 at 1:53
  • The WoT Companion states (in the entries for the Oath Rod and strength in the One Power) that longevity is related to strength; the closest it comes to implying that it's the act of channeling is that "the healthful effects of the One Power" is responsible for the apparent age at which a woman's aging slows. That said, it seems reasonable to infer that if a woman doesn't channel enough to reach her full potential strength she won't see the full effects of increased longevity. – Michael Carman Jun 13 '17 at 2:08
  • In TDR chap 11 Sheriam says the following: "Fewer girls now come to the Tower to be trained [...]. Most leave never having learned enough to sense the True Source, much less touch it. A few learn enough not to harm themselves before they go. A bare handful can aspire to be raised to the Accepted [...]". Coupled with the fact it's tied to strength: yeah, not much evidence and I am really inclined to think, that if a few Aes Sedai DID find out, they never told anyone for the good of the Tower (they certainly had to forcefully "forget" when they started doing the Oath Rod anyway). – fbence Jun 13 '17 at 19:05

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