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Chapter 8: A Place of Safety
I never thought of the Aes Sedai as Bene Gesserit, but now that you mention it... Again, you'll probably keep noticing similarities to LOTR or other stories throughout the first book, but that's about it, after that things seemed pretty original to me. Of course, it's also been a while since I read the early novels.
Myrdraal aren't cross breeds between human and trolloc. They're the offspring of trolloc that happen to end up with more human than the normal trollocs human/animal mix.
I don't remember how much of the heron-mark blade thing was mentioned so far and what will be mentioned later, but it's not so important that I can't tell you now. I'll leave a gap before that though, just in case you'd rather wait until it's explained in more detail later. . . It is the mark of a swordsman who has attained the rank of 'blademaster'. This rank is most often achieved by beating another blademaster in single combat, although there are other ways. When Lan calls it a warder's sword, he is - I believe - referring to how it was long ago made with the One Power, and as such will never dull, as well as being particularly effective against shadowspawn (eg. Trollocs & Myrddraal). These Power-wraught heron-mark blades, in their rarity, are a mark of skill among swordsmen, and are generally only possessed by the most skilled even among blademasters. That said, Aes Sedai of their time cannot make such weapons any more, as one of their Three Oaths makes them physically incapable of doing so. If you haven't yet learned of these "Three Oaths" yet, you will soon.
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