If you are familiar with both TWOT and TSOT you might be wondering if there’s any difference between the Aes Sedai and the Confessors. True, they look very similar, but are they just exactly the same religious organization with a different name? let’s find out.
Before we begin, and just so we can have some context. The first book in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, The Eye of the World, was published in 1990 while Terry Goodkind’s debut was 4 years later, with Wizard’s First Rule.
Similarities and differences between Aes Sedai and Confessors
Let’s see how different, or similar, these two are:
An all women’s religious organization with magical power
This might be the most obvious similarity. Both orders of women happen to have such a great influence in both society and politics that they are even able to change the fate of the world. There’s no denying that both organizations are similar, however, the way they were created is not exactly.
While there are no many differences between the Aes Sedai and the Confessors as an organization, it might be worth mentioning that we have seen this kind of all-women heavily influential organization before. This is something science fiction fans have seen way earlier, for example, the Dune series by Frank Herbert (the first novel, Dune, was written in 1965, 25 years before Jordan’s debut) tells us about the Bene Gesserit, a sisterhood with magical (or physical abilities) with great influence in politics.
Similarly, Robert Jordan said he was inspired by an Irish myth, the Aos Sidhi, to create the Aes Sedai.
In the case of the Confessors, they were created by a man who happens to be the one who also created some of the most powerful magics in his world (wizard Merrit). It was Magda Searus who volunteered to be experimented so as to gain this magical ability. This means they are a result of an experiment.
Aes Sedai has been able to channel since the very beginning.
Before we keep going, don’t miss this list of books like Mistborn!
The source of their power
Aes Sedai can channel the One Power, and for this, they need to learn speel weaving, which is complex, and dangerous
When it comes to the Confessors, the source of their abilities comes from love itself. This is why, by inspiring even the smallest spark of love in someone, they will be able to control them with a mere touch.
Becoming one of them
The way you become an Aes Sedai and a Confessor is different. Aside from being a woman, which both organizations agree it’s a must, there are some differences:
In order to become an Aes Sedai you must be recruited. That is, women of appropriate age who are both able to channel and willing to learn will be able to start their training.
For becoming a confessor, you must be born from a confessor.
The reason why there are no males among them
There’s actually little difference between the Aes Sedai and the Confessors in terms of why there are no men among them:
Male confessors exist or, rather, can exist. As said before, children born from a confessor woman are also born with the same power, and this applies either to boys and girls. In fact, males need no recovery time once using their magical abilities.
The reason why there are no male Confessors is that they are killed at birth. This is said to be because in past times some male confessors abused their power, seemingly they caused chaos throughout the New World, so this drastic measure is done to avoid risking this happening again.
Aes Sedai has a similar belief, during the Age of Legends (the Second Age) there were both male and women Aes Sedai, however, male channelers usually became mad (particularly in what is known as the Breaking of the World).
Because of this, during the Third Age, no man is able to join the Aes Sedai, and the Red Ajah is in charge of gentling men. No, this is not what it seems to be. Gentling is another term for severing when used on men, a technique with which the Aes Sedai are able to prevent these channeler men to resort to the powers of the One Power.
The way their magic works is different
Weaving is not only hard but dangerous. Some of the gestures required to channel the One Power in the most advanced and powerful ways are extremely complicated, this is why Aes Sedai are usually conservative, not being much into innovation due to its many risks.
While casting spells is not so complex for Confessors, the main problem for them resides in restraining their power. They must learn to hold their powers from a very young age because unleashing it could result in fatal consequences.
Their dressing code
Confessors are quite straightforward in their dress code, you must wear a black dress with a square neckline. Period. Unless you happen to be the Mother Confessor, who wears white instead.
Aes Sedai have a different taste, and they prefer colors. Each of the seven Ajahs is represented by a different color (blue, yellow, gray, brown, white, green, or red). While not mandatory, the sisters from each division usually wear clothes in the color of their Ajah. This is why Moraine, of the Blue Ajah, is often depicted with blue clothes.
The drawbacks of their magic
One of the differences between the Confessors and the Aes Sedai is the drawbacks of their magical system. Confessors must pay a price for using their magic, once they have called upon their magical abilities they feel extremely weak, so they need some time to get recovered.
When it comes to weaving, it seems that using weaving spells has no consequence to the Aes Sedai’s stamina.
Are the differences between the Aes Sedai and the Confessors enough for you?
You can tell that there are many similar things between both organizations. But, being far, they are not exactly the same. Terry Goodkind’s work (by the way don’t miss this post with The Sword of Truth books in order) and Jordan’s have many similarities: a reluctant hero, nameless evil gods… but, aren’t these present in most of the fantasy books?
Let’s not forget what Terry Goodkind had to say when he was asked about the similarities between his work and Robert Jordan’s in this USA Today interview:
Haddonfield, NJ: Second Question – I’ve noticed similarities between your Sword of Truth series and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series…(Black Sisterhood vs. Black Ajah; The Order vs. The Seanchan; Richard vs. Rand both discovering their powers, both have Nameless evil Gods…etc.) I’ve often voiced my suspicion that these two series might be occurring on the same world…how crazy am I?
Terry Goodkind: If you notice a similarity, then you probably aren’t old enough to read my books.
Quite a peculiar answer to say the least, don’t you think?
So, do you think that these two organizations are too much alike? do you know any other similarities or differences between the Aes Sedai and the Confessors? we are willing to know! so leave a comment and tell us!