August, 2005 Tar Valon Times
Letter from the Editor
I'm pleased to welcome you to the new format of the Tar Valon Times. This is the first issue to be sent out as an email since I've been editor. This is what we have been aiming and hoping for.
In this issue, you will see a letter to the editor written by al'Cary Mandoragan. In the future, all are welcome to write in response to an article or about an issue that concerns you. Simply send your letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org with a clear subject line.
I'm excited and pleased to welcome two new staff members to the Tar Valon Times: Dart Marouvin and Valadilene Aldieb. I look forward to working with these two and I know they will produce articles you will find enjoyable to read. My thanks goes out to Aeryth Astriaden, who wrote a book review for this month's issue.
We will begin featuring a bit of Tower history in each issue. We hope to revive old memories for older members and enlighten newer members.
In future issues, we will also have a letter from the Amyrlin. As Mother is on leave of absence, though, she was unable to write a letter.
Any comments or suggestions can be sent to email@example.com or through pm to either myself or al'Cary Gaidin.
Letter to the Editor: Current Events Forum
The Current Events forum has now been a part of TarValon.net for years, open to all those with an opinion and a will to share it. Almost every major news issue ends up having a thread. But what is this forum's value to us as a site" Do we gain or lose from having this forum"
There are of course many benefits to having this forum. Controversial issues can be kept out of the majority of the site, allowing our members to see each other as people and limiting the opportunity for discrimination on the basis of a member's beliefs or opinions. Those who wish to take an interest, can, and those who don't can avoid most of the discussion by simply not posting there. On the surface, it is an almost perfect system.
However, the nature of Current Events is not always what might be desired. As it is the only forum in which one's opinions can be expressed in full, regular posters will often tend to get passionately defensive or aggressive. Over some issues in the past, we have seen almost personal abuse between various people, arguing over matters of opinion. It has reached the stage that many people of a more moderate stance avoid posting there, because they do not want to get mixed up in such an unfriendly and argumentative atmosphere. This is, of course, not the case with the majority of threads, where posters are polite and opinions are stated and respected, but on the more divisive issues, your average member may well be scared off due to the aggressive nature of the arguments.
Another potential issue with Current Events is its susceptibility to being disrupted by either non-members out to cause havoc, or perhaps those members who may be immature or with offensive opinions. While this is somewhat rare, it has been known to happen, and several meaningful and interesting discussions have been ruined as a result.
These problems will never be fully solved. There will always be those who have a strong opinion on various topics and those who are out to offend or disrupt. However, I believe that such problems could be reduced by making Current Events a private forum. A member would need to have 4 weeks as a citizen before they were allowed into the forum, in order to prevent new members either deliberately or accidentally causing offence. Members who cross the line in controversial topics could also be banned from Current Events for a period of time, and I would expect that the threat of having this done would have the effect of cooling off many of the posts.
I do not pretend that this is the only or best solution to the problem; however, I do believe that we must give some consideration to making Current Events a friendlier and safer environment.
A Tribute to Retiring Admins
Three Aes Sedai, three positions, three retirements.
The Aes Sedai holding the positions of Mistress of Novices, Head of the Brown Ajah, and Mayor have retired and replacements have been found.
Yet the retiring Aes Sedai have left their mark on Tar Valon, and, according to members of the TarValon.net community, they will each be truly missed.
Neisa Alibrylla, Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah, Former Mistress of Novices
Neisa Sedai wanted to be the Mistress of Novices. "...It [involved] something I enjoy doing in real life: teaching," said Neisa Sedai who got her wish and was appointed Mistress of Novices early last November.
Neisa Sedai filled her position well, according to Eleyan al'Landerin Aes Sedai, the Amyrlin Seat of Tar Valon. "Neisa has perfected the ability to balance the two very different parts of her job as Mistress of Novices," said the Amyrlin. "She is a kind and empathetic woman who easily lends an ear and a helping hand. She is also someone who holds people to high standards and easily holds them accountable for their actions."
As Mistress of Novices, Neisa Sedai did many things such as adding people to user groups, handing out punishments and more. But she said that on a larger level her job was to be a good leader for the Novices. Now that she has retired and a new Mistress of Novices has been found, she said that what she will miss most will be working with the novices. Many novices say that they will miss her as well.
Estella Sharina Agadis, a novice, first met Neisa Sedai when the then Mistress of Novices began a thread in the City Hall called "Testing for Novicehood" in the City Hall, a place where every aspiring novice had to answer questions asked by Neisa Sedai. "I started talking to her there," Estella said, "but I didn't actually get to know her until I became a novice."
Estella said that there are many things about Neisa Sedai that she appreciates. "The first thing that comes to mind is that she is always treating everyone with respect," Estella said. "She is also very helpful and dedicated to the site, to fellow members and, of course, to the novices. She's also got a fantastic sense of humor!"
One of Neisa Sedai's favorite memories of being Mistress of Novices was when Jaim al'Bearach, now a Gaidin of Dai M'hael but then a recruit, became a Novice for a week. "I gave [Jaim] some frightening punishments," Neisa Sedai said, "And he rose above my challenge each time."
"I was being punished for being a silly Recruit and getting into too much trouble," Jaim Gaidin explained. "During [my time as a Novice] she showed me what I had done wrong and encouraged me to show that I could do better."
Xaviara al'Nady, a novice, said she will miss Neisa Sedai's creative forms of punishment. "Each time I have been out of order she has gifted me with the most original tasks and I learned so much from...them," Xaviara said, adding that Neisa Sedai is very fair. "Being Mistress of Novices is not an easy job," Xaviara said. "I think she has done this job with style and grace...I only hope I could do as well if I were ever to serve as Mistress of Novices."
"She's...willing to help you in any way she can," Jaim Gaidin said of Neisa Sedai. "She's basically just a really wonderful person!"
Estella agreed. "(Neisa Sedai) has been there for me whenever I needed her, something I am truly grateful for," said Estella. 'there will forever be a place in my heart marked with Neisa Sedai's name."
Arisaema Draconis, Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah, Former Mayor of Tar Valon
Arisaema Sedai was both surprised and honored when she was asked to be Mayor of Tar Valon in early January 2005. "When I was first installed in office I was impressed by the number of Junior and Senior Members ready to volunteer in the City to create a new and vital place for Citizens to engage them," Arisaema Sedai said. "I was also impressed by the eagerness of Citizens to participate."
She said she has enjoyed the opportunity to serve the Tower and making friends with the citizens and helping new members enter the Tower and Garrison. Now she has retired and passed the mayoral baton on to Kyla Sterling, an Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah who is also Arisaema Sedai's near sister.
Kyla Sedai had this to say on Arisaema Sedai's retirement: 'she'll be missed." Many echo that sentiment.
"Arisaema is a powerhouse," said Mother. 'she will give until there is absolutely nothing left, and then she will give you more. She has incredibe energy, great personal strength, and a generous spirit."
"[Arisaema Sedai] helped me by introducing me to a lot of things," said Jeffan Caliarthan a former citizen who is now a recruit. "I got to know her [by asking] questions and then I talked to her a lot about various things."
Arisaema Sedai, or Ari Sedai as she is often called, said she has enjoyed working with the citizens and, as she puts it, interceding on their behalf with other Senior Members. "Ari is one of the true-to-the-word Aes Sedai out there," said Ehlana Taravin, an Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah and near-sister to Ari Sedai. 'serving others, helping out people--this is what she does both here on the site and out of it in real life."
Jeffan said that Arisaema Sedai is serious and funny at the same time. "I didn't expect her to be funny," he said, "More serious than anything. It was nice to know that she's funny." In his forum signature, Jeffan listed himself as a member of the "Ari Sedai Fan Club". "I just think that [Arisaema Sedai] is a great person, and deserves a fan club," Jeffan said.
"[Ari] is the DO-IT-ALL person," said Ehlana Sedai. "Always active, with so many ideas and not just ideas'she has what it takes to make 'em happen. She did a wonderful job in the city."
"It has been a most rewarding experience," Arisaema Sedai said of being Mayor.
"Ari is one of the people who made it crystal clear that I am welcome [at TarValon.net]," said Ehlana Sedai. 'she never gave up on me. You can talk to her about anything, share anything - and still be loved and accepted."
Naomi Sommers, Aes Sedai of the Brown Ajah, Former Head of the Brown Ajah
Naomi Sedai was named Head of the Brown Ajah in late August 2003. Her response" "I wasn't very articulate," recalls the now retired Head of the Brown Ajah, "[my response] was something along the lines of "omg omg omg omg.""
The job required Naomi Sedai to do many things: paperwork, moderating, fielding questions and complaints. And, in true Brown fashion, she did a lot of reading. She also did "half a dozen other things I was doing reflexively and never noticed." Now Naomi Sedai has retired from her position after her years of service.
"Naomi is a calm rock in a stormy sea," said the Amyrlin Seat. 'she's been a member here for a very long time, and I've yet to ever really see something phase her."
Nadine Andara Aes Sedai, the new Head of the Brown Ajah, said that she met Naomi Sedai as a novice and upon becoming an Accepted of the Brown Ajah she and Naomi Sedai began to talk one on one, not only about Tar Valon but also about many other things. "She isn't afraid to be herself," Nadine Sedai said. "I love the confidence she has in being exactly herself."
Naomi Sedai said that she enjoyed that she could make a big difference because of her position as Head of the Brown Ajah. "[I enjoy] being able to have so much influence and make a difference for a place that means so much to me," Naomi Sedai said.
"She is a great woman and she's very sweet," said Allin Sha'Maer, Accepted of the Brown Ajah. 'she answered any and all of the questions that I had about the Brown Ajah both before and after I was Accepted to the Ajah. She was very open about everything, and was a great help with my initiation into the Browns."
Nadine Sedai said that Naomi Sedai has helped her grow as a person "not just at the Tower, but in real life," Nadine Sedai said. "We have had several conversations [about] religion and other things and she has helped me realize a lot of things about myself."
"I think many people would say that Naomi's ability to bring levity to any situation has helped them enjoy their time here as members," Mother said.
Allin said that she is impressed by Naomi Sedai's personality and friendliness. 'the world should know," Allin said, 'that Naomi Sedai really does care about her Ajah and its members."
A Bit of Tower History: Jaim's Time as a Novice
I presume you read the tribute article about the retiring admins, and I assume you are curious about Jaim's punishments given to him by Neisa Sedai during his time as Novice. Wonder no longer. Read the article in the library and be amazed at Neisa Sedai's creativity.
New Spring: The Graphic Novel Finally Released
For those of you who are frustrated by the fact that by stacking all 10 Wheel of Time books on top of each other produces a structure that challenges the Leaning Tower of Pisa in terms of both height and future longevity prospects: be frustrated no more.
With the release of the New Spring comic, published by Red Eagle Entertainment, those of us wanting the epic tale in bite-sized proportions will have our wish fulfilled. For those would-be readers who suffer from a short attention span, the bright colourful pictures are bound to keep you reading long enough to get you hooked. For those who have already read the series, it is sure to provide a new stimulant for the lethargic theory sites, with the millionth discussion of Who Killed Asmodean making way for No, Really, I Am Sure Moiraine Had A Lighter Hair Shade Than That. I can hardly contain myself with the excitement.
Order it now, and visit our news page for information on where it can be purchased.
This is the first of a two-part article about religion, the Wheel of Time, and TarValon.Net. It all started as I was having a conversation with my dad, trying to convince him to read Eye of the World. I was sure that he would love it just as much as I do, if he"d only give it a try. His excuse for not wanting to bother was religion. He claimed that having been raised Catholic; his mind just couldn't accept the idea of "magic" or something that is created without technology. He loves science fiction, he even reads Anne McCaffery and the Pern series, but not the Lord of the Rings or Wheel of Time!
I was shocked and dismayed. I began wondering about how we, here at TarValon.Net, have so many different beliefs, cultures, and backgrounds, and can all still enjoy such a wonder piece of literature. This is where you, the community, have played a part. I asked you about your beliefs, your ideas on the symbolism in the books, and how you saw your beliefs in relation to our community here at the site. A big thank you goes out to all the wonderful members who shared their thoughts with me and were willing to share them with the site. You have shown me some things I had not thought of and have confirmed my belief that TarValon.Net is truly a community that welcomes everyone!
To read the rest of this article, please proceed to this article.
Poll: Where will TarValon.net be in five years"
Five years from now, both our world and Randland will be different from what they are currently. Tarvalon.net will also have gone through changes. A variety of members gave a variety of answers when asked what TarValon.net will be like five years from now. Below are six selected responses.
Oddey Bird - Gaidin
"We will have taken over the world and made Mother the Queen of the World. Seriously, I think it will be much the same as now, only with more people, some modernizing once in a while, and we'll still be a place where we can find new friends all the time, no matter our differences in location, age and such things."
Sayerin Assnobahr - Accepted
"[TarValon.net] will become a wider and better-known community, the best Wheel of Time site ever, and I mean it because I have seen a lot of WoT sites from different countries that are quite temporary."
Dovienya el'Korim - Novice
"[I see] the Tower functioning much like the book, maybe even with City members given access to certain threads with the rank of 'servant". I hope that it will be recognized as a large book discussion, as well as a large, culturally diverse community that can show the world people can get along, and peace is possible if we all respect each other."
Melisande Arneil " Accepted
"I hope in five years that I'm still a member of this wonderful site! As for my vision of it...I see it as a growing and prosperous online community, with an even greater leaning toward serving one's own home community, as well as the Tower at large. Since we are all trying to be 'servants of All", being able to show what volunteer activities you've participated in, both in-Tower and in one's real life community, should be a factor when looking at candidates for raising to Aes Sedai or Warder. I see TarValon.net taking a larger role in any ventures that have to deal with comics, film, etc. Finally, I see TarValon.net as being the first place anyone would want to come to get any information on the Wheel of Time, even though by then the books should be done."
Melana al'Cairera - Aes Sedai and Mistress of Novices
"Honestly, I haven't thought much about it. But I guess that either things will be much like they are now... or they will be completely different. Having seen how this place has changed during my years here, I'm going to guess that we'll see some version of the last alternative, because in my experience, it seems it is the changes that keeps this place alive and stable. Beyond that, I have no idea. We'll see in five years, I guess."
Mara Jade t'Bayana - Accepted
"I hope it will be much the same but I think I will be Aes Sedai by then."
Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the long awaited sixth volume of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, was released on Saturday July 16 at midnight worldwide. Breaking records for its price and for its first printing (the largest of any book in history) the latest installment is well worth the wait.
In the linear, brisk style reminiscent of the first three books of the series, rather than of the latter two, she presents sixteen-year-old Harry in a mature and confident light; his friends too have grown into young adults, their dilemma in this book far more serious than any they have yet faced. Harry and his friends face their usual problem of Lord Voldemort and his followers, but also the new and confusing tribulations of relationships, Apparition, and N.E.W.T.-level homework. Rowling reveals much more of two of her most mysterious characters, Lord Voldemort and Albus Dumbledore, while also leaving tantalizing hints of what is to come in the seventh and final installment of the series.
Though while not as intriguing a mystery as her past books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince remains an enjoyable story with fascinating characters and a well-written plot (and shorter than the last two, at 654 pages in the American edition). Rowling leaves her readers temporarily sated, though with plenty of unanswered questions ripe for speculation.