The Red Ajah of the Aes Sedai was, for more than two thousand years, dedicated to prevent the wrong and dangerous use of the One Power, in particular the Red sisters dedicated themselves in locating men with the ability to channel saidin (the tainted and very dangerous half of the One Power) and bringing them to the White Tower for gentling.
Red sisters generally do not have friends outside of their Ajah, and upon donning the shawl are often forced to end any friendship with women not also of the Red. Until recent times they bond no Warders, and have been at odds with the Blue Ajah for a millennium. The leader of the Red Ajah is known as the Highest.
For a detailed list of all known members, see List of Red Ajah sisters
During the more than three-thousand year history of the Tower, the Red has always been the largest Ajah. From the founding up until the Trolloc Wars, the overall proportion was much larger than it is now, with between one quarter and one third of all Aes Sedai choosing the Red. During and after the Trolloc Wars, the focus of Aes Sedai as an organisation shifted from curtailing the activity of male channelers to fighting the Shadow at the Blight and the Green Ajah correspondingly began to increase in numbers to almost rival the Red in terms of numbers. Despite this, the Green has never surpassed the Red as the largest Ajah.
In recent decades the Red Ajah accounted for approximately one fifth of all Aes Sedai. Immediately prior to the events of the series, there were around two hundred Red sisters.
This Ajah proportionally had also the greatest concentration of Black sisters with at least forty-eight (around a quarter of the entire Ajah). We only learned the identity of five: Galina Casban, Liandrin Guirale, Duhara Basaheen, Katerine Alruddin and Nesita.
After the purge or escape of so many Black sisters, the Seanchan Raid, and the unfortunate expeditions of the Reds to kidnap the Dragon or to destroy the Black Tower (when many Reds were killed or captured and later turned to the Shadow), the total number of Red sisters has dramatically dropped and immediately prior to the Last Battle only 130-140 likely remained.
The nationality breakdown of non-historical Red sisters mentioned in the series:
- Tarabon: 3,
- Kandor: 2
- Altara, Amadicia, Andor, Arad Doman, Arafel, Cairhien, Ghealdan, Illian, Murandy, Saldaea, Tear: 1
- Shienar, Mayene, Far Madding: 0
- Unknown: 24
There are not many Domani Reds, and most of them are meaner than snakes caught in a fence.
History and Characteristics
The Red Ajah focuses on castigating the wrong and dangerous use of the One Power, which mostly consists in capturing male channelers and bringing them to the Tower for gentling. Also it means, especially in the past, to search and eradicate any group of female channelers who gathered outside the White Tower law.
The Red has, for millennia, been seeking out men who can channel. They do this mostly by detecting the residue of weaves made from saidin. The Ajah eyes-and-ears are specialized to signal all the strange events and other singularities that can be related with an improper use of the One Power.
However, it is unlikely that the Red Ajah's purpose was, particularly when it was originally formed, solely to hunt down male channelers. Rather, the Red Ajah was likely more concerned with misuse of the One Power in general, and Reds travel also in search of wilders or other female channelers (for instance runaways or sent away from the Tower) to check their behaviour. Fulfilling their task obviously the Reds are among the sisters that travel more frequently far away from Tar Valon in little groups and so only a part of the Ajah remain stably in the White Tower.
In doing so probably they find also girls with the spark (or simply the ability to learn to channel) to bring back to the White Tower for training. It should be noted however that Aes Sedai do not specifically search for girls with the ability to channel; rather, they prefer girls come to them asking to be tested, preferably to the Tower itself.
Dueling successfully against some Dreadlords in the Black Tower, Pevara revealed that the Reds are trained specifically to duel against stronger channelers, using any trick to win the fight. Therefore the Reds can often use painful Stunning weaves to overcome stronger channelers.
The Red Ajah and the Blue Ajah have never really been on good terms with each other. This is partly because the only two Amyrlins (until Siuan Sanche) to be officially deposed and stilled were Red, and both were replaced by Blues. The Blue and Red oppose each other very often, as a matter of course; at times, this opposition nearly brings the Hall of the Tower to a standstill.
Also the White Ajah and the Green Ajah do not get along very well with the Reds, perhaps because they usually side with the Blue. On the contrary the Red Ajah usually is in good terms with the Gray Ajah and the Yellow Ajah, and the three of them often form an alliance in the Hall of the Tower. The Brown Ajah instead is usually neutral between this two alliances.
After the death of Gitara Moroso in 978 NE, the Black Ajah became concerned that the Amyrlin Seat, Tamra Ospenya, had discovered their existence. They kidnapped her and tortured her, learning in the process that the Dragon had been reborn, but not when. Hundreds of men who showed any possibility of being able to channel or being ta'veren were killed. Since killing with the One Power was prevented by the Three Oaths, the Sisters would typically gentle the man and then tell his neighbors what he was, anticipating that they would end his life. The Black Ajah manipulated the Red Ajah into participating in this purge of male channelers that eventually became known as the Vileness. Even after the Forsaken Ishamael stopped the Black Ajah, the Red Ajah continued the Vileness for another two years.
The Ajah has historically forbidden its members to bond Gaidin since the time of the Trolloc Wars though certainly the protection and benefits brought by the Warder bond would be a bonus for any Red, as capturing male channelers is a very dangerous occupation. Indeed, as a newly-raised Red sister, Pevara Tazanovni received a penance for saying she wished she had a Warder, and after becoming a Sitter has openly stated that Warders would make the Red Ajah's job easier. Pevara was later chosen as part of the Red delegation to the Black Tower after the Highest decided that Reds would bond warders in a manner similar to the Green Ajah with the requirement that the Red would only bond men who could channel.
A large part of Red sisters claim they do not trust men, and so could not bear the intimacy and closeness brought by the bond. But many people attribute their lack of Gaidin to a supposed hatred for men, and in fact, it is said that many Red sisters hate all men in general, not just those who can channel. This certainly seems a valid reason to explain their lack of Warders, and may also explain the high prevalence of Red sisters who seem to prefer women sexually.
Future for the Red Ajah
Now that saidin has been cleansed and the Black Tower has been formed, the Red Ajah's main purpose is unclear. It has been suggested by the Highest, much to their extreme displeasure, that Red sisters should bond Asha'man, to try to control them. Egwene also told Silviana that the misuse of the One Power is still to be checked and castigated.
The current Highest of the Red Ajah is Tsutama Rath, and as such she wields a huge amount of power within the Ajah. The Highest is considered an equal of the Amyrlin herself among the Reds. The Highest has a council before her, but this is entirely advisory. When a new Highest is chosen, it is by secret ballot, with only members of this advisory council being considered for this position.
Sitters are chosen by secret ballot, with the position being open to all Red Sisters. The ballots are all write-in. A Sister is chosen once she receives two thirds of all votes, and if this is not accomplished in the first vote, then the least popular candidate is dismissed. If the candidates are reduced to two and neither has two thirds after three votes, the decision is thrown to the council.
The former Highest was Galina Casban. Currently, the Sitters in the Hall of the Tower for the Red are Barasine, Raechin Connoral and Viria Connoral. Former Red sitters were Pevara Tazanovni, Teslyn Baradon, Duhara Basaheen, Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan, Javindhra Doraille, Toveine Gazal, Amira Moselle, Lirene Doirellin and the same Tsutama.
Because the Red Ajah has been for three millenia the largest Ajah by far, and so the most powerful, the other Ajah were usually not eager to elect an Amyrlin Seat from the Red, trying in this way to counterbalance its great influence.
The only known Amyrlin Seats raised from the Red since the Breaking are Tetsuan, Bonwhin Meraighdin and Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan. All three women have in some way or another allowed their jealousy, pride or anger to almost destroy the White Tower, and in the cases of Tetsuan and Bonwhin, this led them to being two of only three Amyrlins deposed and stilled since the beginning of the Age.
Due to the distrust caused by Bonwhin, for another millennium after her raising there were no Amyrlins raised from the Red. By comparison, in the same amount of time, the Blue Ajah has had eleven sisters raised to the Amyrlin Seat. Because in the election of an Amyrlin Seat is needed the maximum consensus in the Hall (which means unanimity) it can be supposed that eleven times the Red Sitters voted for Blue sisters (or maybe left the Hall), putting away their animosity to the Blues for the good of the White Tower.
Elaida's greed weakened the Tower so, that one third of the Aes Sedai fled Tar Valon and left the Tower defenseless during the Seanchan attack, causing the Amyrlin's kidnapping.
In spite of this, several sisters of the Red Ajah have been able to serve as Keeper of the Chronicles or Mistress of Novices to Amyrlins who were sympathetic to the Reds, while not being raised of the Red Ajah themselves. Notably, Sierin Vayu of the Gray Ajah chose the Red Duhara Basaheen as her Keeper of the Chronicles, and the Red Amira Moselle as her Mistress of Novices. Egwene al'Vere also chose Silviana Brehon as her Keeper of the Chronicles in order to show that even though she had once been a rebel Amyrlin that none of the Reds supported, she did not disfavor the Red Ajah.
List of Amyrlin Seats from the Red Ajah
Despite being the largest Ajah, the Red only managed to raise three known Amyrlins. These Amyrlins brought the White Tower a bad reputation, which caused the deposition of the first two. The third usurped the Amyrlin Seat and was only acknowledged by one third of the Aes Sedai.
- Tetsuan (Unknown - c. 1200 AB)
- Bonwhin Meraighdin (c. FY 939 - c. FY 992)
- Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan 13(1) (999 NE - 1000 NE)