6

In A Memory of Light, the numbers are a bit off for me for the Black Tower. Taim is apparently running his Ashaman to exhaustion, which is the 13 used for the Turning and like 5 extra, as I saw it mentioned. Also Androl and co. number about say 20? We have like say at most 10 named Ashaman flinging around with Rand and Perrin. So how many Ashaman are there, and how many have been Turned and most importantly, where are they all?

We also know of about 50 Black Ajah members maybe? And how many red-veiled Aiel do they have?

So there should be like at least 10 times as many Light-side female channelers and unless everybody was absolutely major blind, a large portion of the Black Tower should also be Light-side, so not counting the Forsaken, the Light-side should have way more channelers (with also the best female angreal and sangreal). Maybe the male channelers are 50-50. Am I right?

5
  • 2
    We know coming into the last battle there was over 1000 men wh could channel in the black tower its not clear how many taim ends up turning and the limiting factor is that he only has a few black ajah women with him. Women turn men faster then men turn men
    – Himarm
    Dec 7 '17 at 21:52
  • I believe he was running his black ajah aes sedia to exhaustion
    – Himarm
    Dec 7 '17 at 21:55
  • the aes sedia had about 600 on the field if i recall, the aiel have at least 4000 channelers, few 100- 1000 sea folk, and the seanchan have to have over 1000. and if we assume that 75% of the black towers 1000 stayon the light, so the sharans plus dreadlords have to be somewhat close in number to whatever the aes sedia, seanchan, and black tower have out on the field. the male aiel channelers would be fighting the aiel wise ones at shayol ghul, and we can assume they have probably as many men that can channel as wise ones.
    – Himarm
    Dec 8 '17 at 15:29
  • edit, the seanchan gained some 400 channelers in maldean alone from the shado wise ones, plus they had gleaned 100s from the cities they controled if not thousands, so id put their numbers closer to 2-3000 channelers
    – Himarm
    Dec 8 '17 at 15:34
  • many of the wise ones couldn't channel more than a trickle though and had to be used for either healing or as part of circles. And from what I could tell the sea folk only partook in dealing with the bowl of winds keeping the storm at bay, not actual battle. Dec 20 '17 at 17:16
5

I've been re-reading the WoT series, and I saw this question a while ago. So now that I've gotten to AMoL, I've been able to take note of some details to help answer this question. That being said feel free to comment if I've missed anything or if you think some of my estimates are wrong.

edit: added notes about Turning, as the OP was asking very specifically about that

Note that this answer contains some spoilers.

Groups of Channelers during the Last Battle:

On the side of the Light:

  • White Tower
  • Wise Ones (but not the Shaido, except for those who were captured as damane)
  • Windfinders
  • damane
  • Black Tower
  • The Dragon Reborn
  • The Kin

On the side of the Dark One:

  • The Forsaken (Demandred, Hessaslam, Cyndane, Moghedien, Moridin, M'Hael)
  • The Ayyad (Sharan channelers)
  • Asha'man (Taim's cronys + Turned Asha'man)
  • Black Ajah + Turned Aes Sedai
  • Samma N'Sei, the male Aiel channelers

Estimates

  • The White Tower contains roughly 1000 Aes Sedai. Some of these are Black Ajah and some are captured during the Seanchan raid.
  • Taim is given a goal of finding 1000 male channelers to balance the White Tower. I don't have a reference, but I imagine he got to his goal.
  • The Shaido Wise Ones contain 400 channelers. If we accept the wiki estimate, there are then around 4400 channeling Wise Ones in the other eleven clans. This estimate seems to me to be quite large, but it is certainly an estimate. It's not unreasonable to expect, provided that the Samma N'Sei were given protection from the taint, that they are an equal number to the Wise Ones, if we assume that male and female channelers are evenly distributed among the Aiel. Even if there are fewer Samma N'Sei, a good number of the Wise Ones are very weak in the power, so the forces at Shayol Ghul are probably close to parity, strength-wise, if not in numbers.
  • The Kin number around 2000 (1783 to be exact). Most of these are likely restricted to healing duty in Mayene, though perhaps some were used for Traveling. IIRC their pact with Elayne also allows them to decline fighting in Andor's wars, so it's unlikely that they take part in the battle apart from Channeling/Healing.
  • The Windfinders seem to only be channeling around Shayol Ghul with the Bowl of the Winds, so I think we can safely exclude them from the battle count.
  • There are ~200 Black Ajah, as recorded in Verin's notes. 50 of these are executed by the White Tower, the rest of whom escape.
  • A quote by Demandred provides some insight while speaking with Taim:

    [...] consider this: You may have a hundred pet Asha'man. I have over four hundred of my Ayyad.

  • Any estimate for number of damane is extremely difficult to pin down. Fortuona is quite excited at the prospect of leashing the Aes Sedai:

    "Fortuona could swoop in and all of those damane would be hers. Hundred upon hundreds. With that force, she could crush the resistance to her rule back in Seanchan." (A Memory of Light, Chapter 24)

    These "hundreds" of channelers represent the remaining Aes Sedai left on the battlefield, not the Sharans (I think. Note that the Seanchan are aware that the Aes Sedai are useless as weapons so perhaps they are referring to the Sharans after all). Several hundred channelers would, in addition to the Imperial damane, be sufficient to destroy all forces in Seanchan, so I would hazard a guess that the Seanchan have roughly 400 damane of their own as part of the Corenne, in addition to any new ones captured, such as the Shaido Wise Ones. Some of them are surely left in Seanchan-held territory, as the Seanchan would want everything to be in order. My best estimate is that they bring in maybe 600 channelers of their own.

Tallying it all up

The Light

500 Aes Sedai
4000 Wise Ones (all at Shayol Ghul)
0 Windfinders (none who actually battle, anyway)
600(?) damane
900 Asha'man

All for around 5100 channelers.

Dark One

200 Turned / Black Ajah Aes Sedai
100 Turned / Darkfriend Asha'man
400 Ayyad
4000 Samma N'Sei, all at Shayol Ghul

for around 4700 channelers.

So it would seem that the numbers are much closer than you think.

Additional Considerations

  • The Forsaken. Having 4 of the most powerful channelers in history (3 if you don't count Cyndane, who seems to be doing her own thing) gives the Dreadlords a sizeable advantage, both in terms of raw strength and knowledge -- using sufficiently powerful balefire might revive Shadowspawn/Sharans that were just killed, and they're using it relentlessly.
  • The Sharans show up once the Aes Sedai / Asha'man are tired out, having expended their strength holding back the Shadowspawn armies. Demandred even shows up with a full circle of seventy-two, holding the Scepter and annihilating quite a large number of the Aes Sedai/Asha'man.
  • The ability of the Sharans to link (which the damane cannot) also gives them some advantage over the Seanchan, even if the damane are in greater numbers than I suggest.
  • Nearly all the full Asha'man, the strongest in the Black Tower, are either Taim's cronies or Turned, so they would in theory each be stronger than the Asha'man on the side of the Light.

A few notes about Turning

added at OP's request as Turning was the main focus of the question

Although Taim had 100 Asha'man on his side, it seems that the Turning process took a long time and a great deal of effort. With 100, he would have been able to Turn 7 at any given time, provided he had enough Myrdraal, which would have sped up the process--Turning 7 twice would have allowed him to Turn 8 at a time, and so on and so forth. There are a few reasons why it might have taken longer, as it seems to me:

  • With that many Myrdraal around, the Aes Sedai outside (and the Asha'man) would have been alerted to the presence of Shadowspawn. This is also a good reason why the Black Ajah didn't just Turn a bunch of Aes Sedai (before they were executed, anyway).
  • It's harder to Turn a male channeler with saidin than saidar, at least according to Androl.
  • The Black Ajah doesn't show up at the Black Tower until later, once Moridin raises Taim to the Chosen. Together, the Black Ajah and the Asha'man join the battle at Tarwin's Gap--Taim leaves his lackeys to turn Toveine immediately before Dreadlords show up there. Taim surely brings his most powerful (or well-rested) channelers, and less powerful and tired channelers would likely slow down the process.
  • Finally, an off-the-wall theory of mine: Maybe male channelers are able to resist Turning better than females, in the same way they were able to resist the Dark One's taint? Just as a matter of practice, not because of any innate qualities.
12
  • I like your reasoning, that basically the Aiel channelers kind of cancel each other out at Shayol Ghul. And yes, the Windfinders are also conveniently done away with. That leaves around a 1100 vs 700 channelers at Melinor. Bringing in the exhaustion, Forsaken, shadowspawn and power level difference argument, yes, you have convinced me it is pretty even :) Thanks for keeping this question in mind! I wouldn't have had the strength to go over it again for the answer :D
    – fbence
    Jan 16 '18 at 21:45
  • 1
    @fbence not a problem! Reading some of the questions and answers here on SFF inspired me to go back and re-read, so I'm happy to provide this kind of insight. I'm still not 100% satisfied with the Aiel numbers, though, so I'll probably come back and edit this if I ever find an answer...or perhaps once the Wheel turns and Ages come and pass....
    – Giuseppe
    Jan 16 '18 at 21:59
  • considering that it took me nearly half a year to do the reread: I think I'll wait a decade again before going through it a third time, but I'll definitely be on the lookout for numbers :D
    – fbence
    Jan 16 '18 at 22:01
  • Btw, do you have an insight on WHY it was so problematic for Taim to do the turnings if he had so many Asha'man though? Or is a 100 not that many when considering turning?
    – fbence
    Jan 16 '18 at 22:03
  • @fbence that's a really good question! Maybe you should post it ;) Off the top of my head: I suppose that 100/13 = 7.(whatever) but that would also require 91 Myrdraal, which might alert the Asha'man as well as the Aes Sedai sent by Egwene, as each can detect Shadowspawn. We do know that Turned channelers can be used (Toveine), but also that using saidar to Turn is more effective on male channelers and vice versa. Or at least, that's the impression we get from Androl's POV. I believe some of the Asha'man (led by Taim) go to Tarwin's Gap while Toveine/Logain are being Turned.
    – Giuseppe
    Jan 16 '18 at 22:17
0

Logains followers were few in the Black Tower which was mentioned to have rivaled the size of the current White Tower (several hundred). This is why Androl and company (i like your estimation of 20 or so towards the end, but possibly up to a 100ish) had to sneak around and were constantly bullied. Taim hadn't had to turn all the ashaman to get them to his side either as most were manipulated into thinking they were following Rand through Taim. Who also had a group taking special classes who put in with him fully without having to be turned. He only started turning Logain and his followers to stifle the opposition that could see he didn't represent the Dragon anymore and maximize his numbers for the Last Battle.

So there are hundreds but likely less than a thousand in the Black Tower, only a portion of which are full Ashaman. Most of which follow Taim without having to be turned beit by deceit or possibly some compulsion? Given the timeline and examples, a dozen or two being turned seems a logical number. All of Taims fighters were spread out over all the battlefronts fighting as dreadlords in small groups among the hordes of non channeling shadowspawn (which numbered in the hundreds of thousands).

The Wheel of Time wiki on the Black Ajah tells us there are about 150 black sisters able to fight at the Last Battle http://wot.wikia.com/wiki/Black_Ajah

Red veiled Aiel were all male Aiel channelers who went to Shayol Guhl to fight the Dark One. Given that male channelers seem to be less common than female and then die more frequently due to the taint we can safely assume it is a fraction of the woman channelers the Aiel can field, which is in the thousands so they likely number in the hundreds.

The Light does have far more channelers until the Sharans show up and throw everything into chaos, but the Aes Sedai could only retaliate and not fight offensively, and were not trained to be weapons. The dreadlords didn't have those limitations. And the sheer amount of trollocs and other shadowspawn is important because most of the Lights channelers had to focus on reducing the hordes number.

I think I got all your questions there but not many actual numbers were ever given so it's a lot of inference work, and as we all know finding anything specific in the 13000+ pages is a tedious nightmare. So if I forgot any important information to infer upon remind us of it!

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.