When I read Mesaana's description in the Guide, I instantly liked her. A scientist at heart, sensible, practical, her territories run in a practical, organized manner too. She would be a strong foe, someone who was a true challenge and would not be defeated by her own stupidity. Unfortunately, that was the Guide, and I was greatly disappointed by the way she was written in the actual series. Where was her good sense? Where were her carefully made plans? She was as rash, careless, anger-driven as the other Forsaken, perhaps more so. She allows the Tower to fall into chaos where the Black Ajah is hunted, she can only save herself in the Black Ajah purge and all the rest have to flee -even those who would easily be strong enough to learn one of the methods Seaine comes up with to defeat the Oath Rod. She had already pretty much lost control of Elaida. She pushes Alviarin to her breaking point and beyond. She tries to capture Egwene in Tel'aranrhiod using an a'dam, even though she is not one of the strongest within the World of Dreams by far and Mesaana *should* at some point have learned Egwene is a natural Dreamwalker and trained by the Aiel. No, just no. That level of incompetence does *not* fit her.
Perhaps my version of Mesaana does not fit what most people think of the Forsaken either, selfish and arrogant and 100% evil, but I think her background as it is written in the Guide can not be all correct. The line 'Mesaana turned to the Dark Lord because she was not the best in her profession' is, excuse my language, total bullshit. That's what Demandred did, he was second in command to Lews Therin, second only, and it was not enough. Same for Sammael, who held high command and still was jealous, although his belief the Shadow would win played a part as well. For Mesaana, she was not allowed a position as a researcher at the Collam Daan *at all*. The Collam Daan, the biggest university in an advanced, prosperous, world-wide society. There must have been *hundreds* of scientists working there, if not a few thousand, counting all different departments. Dozens at least in whichever was Mesaana's chosen field. She was not the first assistant of a famous professor, she was not one of a team of researchers who was upset her name was listed second in the publications. None of that all. She was just a teacher, and apart from that first line *which is incorrect*, there is no indication she would have turned to the Dark Lord if she had been allowed a position in research as had been her life-long goal.
As for whether Mesaana truly was unfit for research, I can't help but think that is a bit strange and illogical too. She was allowed to work toward that goal for so long, she certainly did not do so alone. In a society where education is so well organized, where each and every person is encouraged to develop their talents to the max of their abilities, how could she work towards being a researcher for so long, only to be told when she actually applied to the Collam Daan that she was totally unfit for research, not just for a top position but not allowed in *at all*, at *any* level? Where were the teachers in her earlier schools, what about those she took lessons from as an older student? The only possibility is that she was told her dreams were not realistic at an early age, and she pushed on anyhow. She is described as 'hardheaded' but that does not fit the description of 'practical' and 'intelligent' that RJ himself also gave her. I believe she was wrongly denied a position, that would fit her character much better, would explain her extreme anger as well. And while it too depends on a flaw in the perfection of the Age of Legends, it makes more sense for Mesaana to run into a small flaw on the Collam Daan university board than to assume there was a constant stream of people who saw but did or said nothing, all through her different levels of education.
So this is my story of Mesaana and how she turned to the Dark Lord. She's not a nice person -what she does to those who wronged her is enough proof of that. But she is not wasteful, rash and careless as the rest. This story runs up to The Gathering Storm chapter 42. At that point, I think a few other things do not make sense in the actual series. The Black Ajah purge has more than a few plot holes in it, and I'm not just saying that because Sheriam is my favorite character. So from that point on, I've written an alternate universe story, where the Lord of the Grave does not fail to notice the arrival of a certain treacherous little snake, and Sheriam is not caught off-guard by something as simple as a few rapidly fired questions, just to name two (there's more, but I'll get to that in the author's notes there, and of course the story itself). I've worked the full story out for a length of more than a hundred pages, but I'm not quite done yet. For now, meet Mesaana as she could have been.
(Disclaimer: These characters and the entire Wheel of Time universe aren't mine. I just play here.)