3

Three questions concerning the Oath Rod.

  1. Why wasn't a fourth oath required, something like "I will never seek to serve the Dark One or willingly work to advance his goals." It seems like that would be a pretty good way to root out trouble of the sort before it even began.

  2. Why weren't newly raised Aes Sedai questioned immediately after taking the Oaths? Aes Sedai know better than anyone that Darkfriends are everywhere, so it seems only prudent to require a new Aes Sedai to answer with a simple yes or no, questions about whether they're darkfriends or support the White Tower.

  3. Could the Oath against lying not be easily circumvented by just making various statements while a novice or Accepted? Then, just preface everything with the words "I said." Seems to me that a person under the Oaths could give a false answer that way. "I said yes." (eighty years ago that one time while I was a novice).

The only answer I can come up with for the first two is that the Black Ajah worked to prevent new rules that might expose them, but I'm not sure I'm satisfied with that explanation. For the third, I don't know. Maybe that's just a little too close to being an actual falsehood?

  • 5
    Any one of these can be easily circumvented by the right timing. The Oath Rod was never a proper guarantee - just the fact that Aes Sedai became as manipulative as they were is proof of that. – Radhil Aug 29 '17 at 19:13
  • 2
    Regarding 1 and 2 - look at how people reacted to even having to deny they were darkfriends. The very suggestion that they might be was offensive in the extreme. Forcing people to make oaths (or answer those questions under oath) would be mortally insulting and degrading. – Andrew Hows Oct 8 '17 at 3:09
2
  1. Why wasn't a fourth Oath required, like "I will never seek to serve the Dark One or willingly work to advance his goals."?

A quick refresher on the Three Oaths (mostly for my benefit since I couldn't remember the second oath):

  • Speak no word that is untrue
  • Make no weapon for one man to kill another
  • not use the one power except against Darkfriends/Shadowspawn or in the defense of her life, that of her warder, or another Aes Sedai.

You're right in saying that a fourth oath might have made sense, but it's important to note that the Three Oaths were put in place immediately following (or perhaps during) the Breaking of the World. The Oaths are intended to get people to trust the Aes Sedai again -- after the male Aes Sedai destroyed most of the world, forced truthfulness guarantees trustworthiness (or was supposed to), and the other two Oaths guarantee that they are "safe" to be around. Re-establishing trust with (and power over) the rest of the world was critically important.

Since the Breaking began with Lews Therin's sealing of the Dark One, such an oath may have been deemed unnecessary, but that is pure conjecture.

Finally, such an Oath could possibly have been added later, but by that point the Tower's culture might have solidified to the point where such an Oath would be considered an insult (see my answer to your second question below) or perhaps was prevented by the Black Ajah's machinations.

  1. Why weren't newly raised Aes Sedai questioned immediately after taking the Oaths?

As others have mentioned, the Aes Sedai suppressed all information about the Black Ajah. Even inside the Tower, mentioning the Black Ajah was unthinkable, in no small part due to the Oaths.

When

Talene

is revealed to be a Darkfriend, she is indignant about the mere suggestion, which seems to be a typical reaction:

[Seaine takes the Rod, swears the Oath, and declares she is not a Darkfriend]
"This is ridiculous," Talene said. "There is no Black Ajah."
[Seaine, Pevara, and Yukiri take the oath and hand the Rod to Doesine]
Talene frowned in disgust. "Stand aside, Doesine. I for one will not put up with this filthy suggestion."
[Doesine offers the Rod to Talene]
The golden-haired woman started back as from a poisonous snake. "Even to ask this is a slander. Worse than slander!" Path of Daggers, chapter 26

Except that the others had already taken the oath, and she was caught.

Some members of the Black Ajah, like Liandrin, sought out the Black Ajah from the start of their time in the Tower (The Fires of Heaven, chapter 18), but even they swore the Oaths and later had them replaced:

"Let the world know her. Let people bend knee as had been promised when she first forswore old oaths for new." The Shadow Rising, Chapter 28. (emphasis added)

Indeed, even Galina swore on the Oath Rod first:

"[Galina] had been broken free of the Three Oaths on joining the Black Ajah, replacing them with a new trinity ..." A Crown of Swords, chapter 40

And she knows that an Oath Rod can unbind as well as bind, else she wouldn't be so desperate to get it from Therava.

So every Black sister seem swears on the Oath Rod first, then swears new Oaths later.

Alas, the most surprising member of the Black Ajah,

Verin,

mentions nothing of this ceremony, only that it is "...distinctive." so some of the oaths are probably not on the Oath Rod, although we know that the Oath Rod can counteract them.

  1. Could the Oath against lying not be easily circumvented by just making various statements while a novice or Accepted? Then, just preface everything with the words "I said." Seems to me that a person under the Oaths could give a false answer that way. "I said yes." (eighty years ago that one time while I was a novice).

Yep, that seems like a pretty easy way to get around it. Additionally, some of the Aes Sedai hypothesize that

Mesaana,

who is in the Tower, could use a simple weave to make it sound as though she was saying the Oaths even though she was saying something else entirely.

0

For question 2, if the newly raised are questioned immediately after using the Rod, sure, this would allow them to learn if that person is a Darkfriend. But like @AndrewHows comments, this kind of questioning is considered rude and insulting. For question 1, it's discovered in the books that

the Oath Rod can be used to unbind people from their oaths. This would essentially make any extra oaths, unless precisely worded, useless. Even if that fourth oath was as you mentioned, it could be circumvented.

As for question 3, sure, that is a way for them to circumvent it. It's said many, many times that the Aes Sedai walk the line of truth and play jump rope with that line(my paraphrasing). I can't think of specific examples off the top of my head, but I remember at least from one of their points of view thinking about how they can say something without giving everything away.

0

The biggest reason I believe, given all of the commentary in the books, is that Aes Sedai simply didn't believe it was possible for an Aes Sedai to be a darkfriend. The Black Ajah simply is not acknowledged as being a thing. Even in the Trolloc Wars, when Dreadlords abounded, there is no mention that any of them were previously Aes Sedai, or where they came from.

0

While the other answers are all good, I think it’s also worth pointing out that Egwene eventually discovered that

Something around 1/3 of all Aes Sedai were Black Ajah

Which would pretty much guarantee that it’d be hard to effect any kind of change or the like.

  • More like 1/5 to 1/4 or at least WoT wiki calculates as much. Still pretty absurd... – Mithoron Jul 5 '19 at 18:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.