Linking is the act of two or more channelers joining together to share their powers between them. One of the channelers leads, while the others are simply used as conduits to allow the lead channeler to draw a much larger amount of the One Power than he or she could alone. Although the strength of a linked group is not quite as high as the combined individual strengths of its members, the link allows more precise and effective weaves than could be produced by an individual. Without a link, different channelers cannot combine their flows. Linking between men and women had not occurred from the Breaking of the World until near the end of the Third Age, but circles of as close to equal numbers of women and men as possible are the strongest.
Rules and effectsEdit
Men cannot link without a woman, and a circle of women cannot exceed thirteen without the presence of a man. For circles with more than two men, there must be at least one more woman than there are men. The largest possible circle is seventy-two channelers. Adding one man to a circle of thirteen women allows the inclusion of thirteen more women, while the addition of a second allows seventeen more women. Six men are necessary to bring a circle to seventy-two, but it is unknown what effect the third, fourth, and fifth men have.
In general, any member of the circle may lead it, but in some cases, the leader must be a man. According to the glossaries for Lord of Chaos and A Crown of Swords, a man must lead a circle of seventy-two or a mixed circle of fewer than thirteen. This is contradicted by an earlier book and two later ones. In Chapter 34 of The Fires of Heaven, Nynaeve eavesdrops on a meeting of Forsaken in Tel'aran'rhiod, where Graendal says a man would need to control the circle if it were more than thirteen and that a woman must control the circle of two women and one man that she and Lanfear were to form with Rahvin. In addition, Cadsuane tells Rand al'Thor in Chapter 27 of The Path of Daggers that for the sa'angreal Callandor to be used safely, a man must be linked to two women, and one of the women must lead the circle. Finally, during the Battle near Shadar Logoth in Chapter 35 of Winter's Heart, Daigian leads a circle including the Asha'man Eben Hopwil and two other Aes Sedai. Other rules on who must lead can be found:
- If a man and a woman link, the man leads.
- If a man and more than one woman link, any can lead.
- A woman must lead if there is a minimum number of men in the circle.
If the person leading the circle releases the Source, breaking the circle, rather than releasing members from the circle first, the effect is harshly disorienting.