The Aiel in The Wheel of Time fulfill a particular role in the series that is usually reserved for orcs of other fantasy series; that of the barbarian warrior that raids the more civilized lands with virtual impunity. It is a role taken from the real-life warriors of the Eurasian Steppe. I recently purchased and read the book Warriors of the Steppe which details the life and warfare of these terrible barbarians. And in reading that book, I realized that much of what made them so successful is exactly what makes the Aiel so intimidating in The Wheel of Time. And it should not be. And worse, in order to make the Aiel so great, Robert Jordan had to make them super-human. They can run as fast as a horse, they fight at speeds that look like a blur, they even have such great stealth capabilities that a whole division of them can hide and not be found. This is much like the steppe nomads of the real-world, but without the horses, or anything else that made the steppe nomads so terrible.
Now, I do understand why Robert Jordan did this. It is obvious to many that the world of The Wheel of Time is quite similar to Frank Herbert's Dune universe. While there are quite a few differences, that are also some clear similarities: the Aes Sedai and the Bene Gesserit, the
Dragon Reborn and the Kwisatz Haderach, and the Aiel and the Fremen. Indeed, both the Aiel and the Fremen possess superior figthing skills that are above average in their respective
worlds. But the Fremen are many things, but they were not superhuman. Indeed, they were great warriors, and superior soldiers, managing to conquer the entire universe once Paul Atredies unleashed them on the galaxy at large. But their mobility was dependent on flyers and spaceships, not their own superhuman powers, and just like all the other soldiers in the Imperium.
So, in order to give his Aiel the terror of the steppe nomad and the iconic feel of the Fremen, Robert Jordan made people that possessed skill that was greater than human. And that is not cool. Yes, this is a fantasy world where magic exists and can do great things, but the Aiel are not magic users. They should be as good as any human, that is as good as a civilized soldier, and no more.