January 30, 2012

Aes Sedai vs Jedi

The worlds of Star Wars and Wheel of Time don't have a lot in common. They're both fictional universes (one's a fantasy series, the other takes place in space) and share some character archetypes, and they both have a central source of power or magic. Star Wars has the Force, Wheel of Time has the One Power. The Force is used by the Jedi, and the One Power is wielded by Aes Sedai and eventually, Asha'man (the male users of the One Power). The One Power and the Force are very much alike. They're both sort of out there to be grabbed and channeled by those possessing the right genes... or midi-chlorians. Both have a Light side and the Dark side. They each have ruling councils and training programs. The path to becoming a Jedi starts with being a Youngling; the Aes Sedai training starts with being a novice. The Jedi have the temple on Coruscant, the Aes Sedai have the White Tower in Tar Valon. A member of the Black Ajah using the One Power is just as terrifying as a Sith using the Force.


Given the similarities, it begs the question: would you rather be an Aes Sedai or a Jedi?

Aes Sedai have much cooler outfits (the Asha'man have a uniform, so we're ignoring them for this argument). They can choose an Ajah depending on their strengths. They do have to like the color of the Ajah though since it's common practice to dress in the color of your chosen division. Attachments aren't forbidden, and it's not uncommon for the Green Ajah to take husbands. They get rings and shawls and have the freedom to travel. The use of saidar (the female side of the One Power) gives them a quality of agelessness. They still age, but their appearance doesn't show it. They can use the One Power to make themselves impervious to feeling heat or cold. Imagine never sweating. It's a beautiful thing.

But Jedi have lightsabers, and that alone counts for a lot. I'd rather have a weapon at my side just in case something goes wrong. The politics within the Jedi order are nowhere near as deep as they are within the halls of the White Tower. The Jedi don't struggle for power the way the Aes Sedai do. I'll admit it could have something to do with the fact that the Aes Sedai are all women. Emphasis on could. The Jedi can influence the weak-minded, and ultimately, I think the Force is more powerful. It's less like magic. The Jedi are more selfless. They serve the ultimate good of the galaxy, or at least they strive to. I never feel like they're trying to rule the galaxy or even manipulate it. The Aes Sedai are masters at twisting truths (Obi-Wan would fit right in).

Which would you choose?
I cheat. I own three lightsabers and a Great Serpent ring.

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18 comments:

  1. I would rather be a Jedi, as I'd rather not be a woman at this stage of life. I am comfortable being a man and I'd like to retain what semblance of sanity I have. :)

    That said, the main reasons are the serenity that the Jedi bring to those around them. They are on a quest for peace not power, and that appeals to me.

    And, they have lightsabers. :)

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  2. Being a massive fan of both series and having roleplayed both in both freeform RP and in various tabletop methods, I would have to say that this is indeed a tough choice.

    For me personally I have the choice of being an Asha'man (as a male) or a Jedi. After the cleansing of Saidin the first option becomes much more attractive than it had been, since using the Force doesn't make you go insane in and of itself.

    Asha'man also train with and carry swords, making them again, more attractive than their female counterparts, for that same "weapon at your side" idea.

    But I think my final answer would be Jedi, because of two things: First, I would either be able to meet Yoda or Vergere (depending on my location in time). Since these are two of the most wise characters in Star Wars, despite their differences in philosophy, I would relish the chance to study with either of them.

    Secondly, I have a passionate hatred for Mazrim Taim just from reading the books. I would very likely hate him more if he were responsible for training me.

    Now, if I were a woman, and Aes Sedai became open, Jedi would win because of lightsabers.

    However, if I were to join the Aes Sedai as a woman, I would be a member of the Blue Ajah, because I would only have interest in one Warder, and the philosophy of "involv[ing] themselves with righteous causes and justice" is very in line with my own personality.

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  3. A Jedi, hands down. I won;t need to choose an Ajah (many of which seem to require a caricature-like personality anyway) and I really don;t want to go near the bizarre Aes Sedai power struggles. Also, The Force is by its very nature more intuitive than the power.

    Also, the Jedi's silly rules are for the most part restricted to a relatively short period since the order's establishment.

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  4. I'd be a Jedi during the Sith wars period. Since back then there were no rules against marriage (ie/ Nomi Sunrider and her husband, who happened to have a daughter with her). Also, lightsabers. That's what it comes down to in the end.

    Here's another question, who would win in a fight? I say Jedi, since even though they don't use the force as readily as Aes Sedai use the One Power, they are still trained warriors (who can, and do, use the force to increase their physical capabilities, such as speed and jumping ability) and most Aes Sedai aren't warriors. They tend to be diplomats, politicians, or scholars. The closest are the Green, but even they tend to be more warrior like by bonding more warders. Aka/ they're warriors because they surround themselves by warriors. Which I guess means Miaka Yūki is a warrior then. (From Fushigi Yuugi).

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  5. Just reading your argument, I came to the conclusion that it would be much better to join the Jedi, but in general I would have to say I am much more of a crazed Wheel of Time fan than a rabid Star Wars fan, so I would probably end up choosing Aes Sedai anyway. Blue Ajah, of course.

    Also, a few nits to pick: the agelessness and resistance to heat/cold aren't direct results of using the One Power as you describe them here, though they are some of the more distinct ways of recognizing an Aes Sedai. And, I don't really know if the Force is "stronger" but I do think that once a Jedi learns to use it, it is a more consistent source of power/strength/heightened senses as opposed to the One Power, which cannot be held indefinitely for fear of burning out. I do think the One Power is the more dangerous of the two though, because it can hurt the person wielding it, as well as others that it might be used upon.

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  6. Oh right! The ageless look comes as a result being bound by the Oath Rod, right?

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  7. In terms of raw strength, the One Power wins hands down. The ability to create and manipulate matter is one that is absent from the Force. You can fly, be invisible, or shatter the entire world by means of the One Power.

    On the other hand, if you're a man, and Rand hasn't rid Saidin of the taint, then you'd likely go mad. Being a guy, I find this rather perturbing, so would immediately pick the Force under those circumstances. On the other hand, assuming a taint free Saidin, sign me up! Even with the risk of burning out factored in, I would still lean that way.

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  8. So funny, I was literally maybe 10 minutes ago thinking about differences between Aes Sedai and Jedi, though specifically I was contemplating the "attachments" issue: If Force sensitivity is largely (but not only) inherited--just think of the Skywalker family--then why is it a good idea for the Jedi Order to ban Jedi from having attachments (and, I would assume, children)? Aren't they promoting their own extinction? Or have I misunderstood something? So I was thinking about Aes Sedai, and though I remembered it was rare for them to have children, I couldn't remember to what extent channeling ability is inherited (I think it's largely just random).

    Anyway, I think the One Power seems more powerful than the Force. It's just more versatile. Jedi can do awesome Force leaps, wield lightsabers (very useful...as long as you're fighting), and sometimes sense "disturbances", but those are the only things I can think of that they do and Aes Sedai don't. Both can do telekinesis and lightning (Aes Sedai can do this without being evil) and influence other minds, but Aes Sedai can do things like Traveling, Balefire, weather control, earthquakes, viewing from afar, or even simple things like make a ball of light... I guess there is a difference between what Jedi can do in the movies and what they do in, say, SWTOR. I was going to say that Aes Sedai can heal, but Jedi can do that in SWTOR. That's a nice ability. Basically, the One Power is an intricate tool that can be used in many different ways--you just have to figure out how to weave it. The Force is also powerful but much more subtle.

    A couple nitpicky things... I think the agelessness is from using the One Power, and channelers actually do live longer than non-channelers. In fact, they can live MUCH longer (maybe 400 years?), but Aes Sedai who are bound by the Oath Rod have their lives cut shorter (but still longer than your average person, maybe 150). And as T. Sedai said, the hot/cold trick isn't reliant on the One Power.

    I think the One Power would be more useful than the Force. It also doesn't have a Dark Side in the same sense; there are evil channelers, but it's not like using certain powers or expressing emotion sucks you down a path to the Dark Side (as long as you aren't trying to wield tainted saidin). But as you point out, there are considerable disadvantages to being an Aes Sedai, as opposed to simply a channeler. The politics are complicated (though if you're content not to be the top of the totem pole, you can probably do fine just doing your job). Plus because of the oath rod, you can't lie and can't use the One Power as a weapon (except under certain conditions), not to mention you have a mysteriously shorter life than you would without the Oath Rod, as I mentioned earlier. On the bright side, you do get respectability and a life of luxury, living almost like a queen. In certain eras, Jedi are given similar respect, but they live more like monks than queens. And it's not fair to blame the politics in the White Tower on it being all women; I think it's clear there were similar politics going on in the previous Age, when Aes Sedai included both genders.

    Anyway, sorry I've rambled on so much, but it's a tough choice. I'm deep into SWTOR, playing two different Jedi, and I love it. I love being addressed as "Master Jedi". But then I wouldn't mind being called "Eleni Sedai", either. All things considered, I think I'd have to go with Aes Sedai.

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    Replies
    1. About the Force sensitive and inheritance.
      The ability to be Force Sensitive is largely inherited, although it can occur randomly. So the answer to your question is yes, by not allowing Jedi to marry they are ultimately harming their own pool of recruits and limiting the number of Jedi in the Galaxy. However they don't do this for poor planing or being unaware of it. The reason they do it is for the very example you pointed out, situations such as the Skywalkers. Allowing a Jedi to marry (especially a powerful Jedi to another powerful Jedi) creates strong Force sensitivity in the line. If this happens to multiple generations then you get incredibly strong "Force dynasties". The Jedi don't want to be rulers, nor do they want Force sensitivities in general to be rulers, they believe that they do not deserve to rule as a result of their power and that any one with this power should protect and serve not rule.
      So by limiting the strength of Force Sensitives and by and by not allowing Force sensitives to be born with any reliable certainty it stops the creation of a class system with Force sensitives ruling everyone as gods.
      For examples look at the Skywalkers, in the EU the actions of that family (a line of powerful force sensitives) determine what happens in the galaxy at large for several centuries. Going back to the Old Republic EU era, the Shan family (started by arguably two of the most powerful Jedi of their time) also had strong force users in it for generations, three centuries after the first generation, we see Satele Shan as still being one of the most powerful Jedi of their time and in fact the Grand Master of the order.

      The TLDR version is, Force sensitivity is inherited and Jedi know this. They don't allow marriage to stop "Force dynasties" being created, and to limit the power of Force sensitives to stop anyone (and the order as a whole) form becoming to powerful.

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  9. @Ryorin - I think Aes Sedai end up sorting themselves by personality naturally, rather than certain Ajah's *requiring* particular personalities.

    Plus, I don't recall Aes Sedai being forbidden to be armed, they just can't use the OP as a weapon unless directly threatened. I think it would be bad ass for an Aes Sedai to become a blademaster on top of (or before) having the OP at her fingertips.

    I am definitely not cut out for the serenity of the Jedi - I'm WAY too high strung. :P

    PS: I dressed as a Green for Halloween when I was 15 (I'm now 32). Aes Sedai 4 lyf, yo.

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  10. I've LOVED reading all your answers and reasoning behind them.

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  11. I'd be an Asha'man, because there seems to be quite a bit more you can do with the One Power compared to the Force. At Dumai's Wells, for example, Asha'man basically turned the Shaido into exploding meat buckets. As badass as Skywalker and Vader might be, they can't make people explode.

    Granted, until Saidin was cleansed, becoming an Asha'man would've been very close to suicidal, but I already have a disease that makes me feel like I've been poisoned and induces psychosis, so I'm already kind of like an Asha'man, but without any of the benefits.

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  12. Well... That is something that neve crossed my mind.
    I like Star Wars, I watched them first time as kid.
    I was much older when I got to know tWoT world.
    However, I never thought of being Jedi, while being an Aes Sedai is something I would choose at any moment, should there be a possibility. Brown Ajah, to be precise.

    The only real downside to being an AS that I could think of (comparing to Jedi) is the fact that while both, Jedi and AS can chose the Dark side, AS as a channeler can be forced to become Black Ajah, through One Power. So, like for Verin, that is not a choice, but misfortune.

    However, even with that, I think Aes Sedai are cooler.

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    Replies
    1. Verin wasn't forced into becoming a Darkfriend, I'm pretty sure at least. She voluntarily did it in order to gather information on them. She was basically responsible for the White Tower being cleansed of the Black Ajah.

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  13. Jedi hands down. They seem more trusted as a general rule than Aes Sedi; that is the parts of the galaxy that believe they actually exist and aren't just myths. Now I'm a fan of both series but I am into the Star Wars EU so my version and understanding of Jedi is different form one based solely on the movies. In the EU Jedi can create fire,blow things up,see into the future/across vast distances, have telepathic abilities, can walk through walls/become invisible. While other Force sensitive traditions not the Jedi developed the art of Flying, manipulating the classical elements, and even teleporting instantaneously anywhere in the galaxy. So in the EU the balance of the Force vs the One Power (in terms of raw power) is much closer.

    With that consideration it then becomes more of which organization I would want to join, the Jedi or the Asha'man. From a pure organizational stand point the Jedi are my preferred order as they have better principles/adhere to them more, and the monastic life style would work well with me.

    And finally, lightsabers. nough said.

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  14. Jedi hands down. They seem more trusted as a general rule than Aes Sedi; that is the parts of the galaxy that believe they actually exist and aren't just myths. Now I'm a fan of both series but I am into the Star Wars EU so my version and understanding of Jedi is different form one based solely on the movies. In the EU Jedi can create fire,blow things up,see into the future/across vast distances, have telepathic abilities, can walk through walls/become invisible. While other Force sensitive traditions not the Jedi developed the art of Flying, manipulating the classical elements, and even teleporting instantaneously anywhere in the galaxy. So in the EU the balance of the Force vs the One Power (in terms of raw power) is much closer.

    With that consideration it then becomes more of which organization I would want to join, the Jedi or the Asha'man. From a pure organizational stand point the Jedi are my preferred order as they have better principles/adhere to them more, and the monastic life style would work well with me.

    And finally, lightsabers. nough said.

    ReplyDelete

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