—Old Far Madding saying
Far Madding is an independent city-state in the southeastern part of the Westlands on the Plains of Maredo. It is situated on an island in the midst of a lake, and is connected to the mainland by three bridges. At a junction of major overland trade routes, Far Madding is an important commercial center. It is the only known significant human settlement where channellers are unable to access or even sense the presence of the True Source.
Far Madding lies at the northern end of the Plains of Maredo. From Far Madding, highways run to Caemlyn, Illian, and Tear, and indeed Far Madding sits on the principal land routes between Caemlyn and the other two cities. The city is entered through three gates. The northern Caemlyn Gate offers access to the Ajalon Bridge; the Illian gate, to the Ikane Bridge; and the Tear Gate, to the Goim Bridge. At the mainland ends of the bridges are the satellite towns of Glancor, Daigan, and South Bridge.
Far Madding was once known as Aren Mador and was the capital of Essenia, a part of the Ten Nations, after the Breaking of the World. As part of the reconstruction after the Breaking, Ogier built a Waygate to Aren Mador.
Society and customs
While trade flourishes in Far Madding, foreigners may trade at only three of the town's markets. These three are collectively called the Strangers' markets, and are named the Nethvin, Amhara, and Avharin Markets, after three important women in Far Madding's history.
While it is legal to carry weapons in Far Madding, any weapon brought into the town must be "peace bonded," in a process by which a sword or knife is wrapped in wire mesh while in its sheath, so that the weapon cannot be drawn. Peace bonding costs a small fee, and a peace bonded weapon must be presented for inspection by the town guard on departure, where any signs of tampering attract a fine. Name lists of visitors and their weapons are distributed to all three gates so that a visitor and his peace bonded weapon may be tracked. Many travellers instead opt to leave their weapons at the guardhouse. To reclaim their weapons, they must then leave by the same gate through which they originally entered the city.
Society and government
—Rand al'Thor's thoughts on gender in Far Madding
Far Madding is relatively unusual among the societies of the Westlands, in that it is an openly matriarchal society. Women run the city's businesses and occupy most government positions. Even when a man is given authority, he is overseen by a woman with more authority; and he is only ever given authority over other men. From infancy, men are taught to obey their mothers or older female relatives, and once married are expected to obey their wives.
The city is governed by a committee of thirteen women, the Counsels, presided over by the First Counsel, who is "first among equals." The Counsels meet in the Hall of the Counsels, an imposing building in the Counsels' Plaza, near the geographic center of the town. During the events of Winter's Heart, the First Counsel is Aleis Barsalla.
Characteristic women's fashion in Far Madding is a high-necked dress, heavy with embroidery of flowers and birds on the bodice, shoulders, and right up to the chin.
Men are cut off about a mile around the city and women at the city limits. The existence of the Guardian is kept secret except to a few; this proved effective, as over the years no less than 31 False Dragons suffered setbacks due to the Guardian.
The nature of the device (cutting off channeling) meant it was unlikely it could be studied and duplicated by channelers.
The third disc creates an even larger area that allows channelers to be tracked. Each of the disks has within it a crystal wedge which ordinarily points to the center of the Guardian's chamber. When a channeler channels, the wedges all swing to point to him or her. When the Guardian detects saidar, the wedges turn red, and when it detects saidin they turn black. The stones around the three rings are marked with highly detailed points of the compass, allowing the channeler's position relative to the ter'angreal to be plotted on a map.
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