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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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The Horn of Valere was known in the Age of Legends, though it was an artifact of an earlier age, but it was never used in the Age of Legends. In part, this was because there wasn't any need in an Age that knew universal peace, but also it was because what it could do was considered a sort of myth by most people in that Age. No one who is serious spends time trying to test out whether a myth might be real. (Seen anybody sacrificing a white bull to Jupiter lately?) And once the Dark One touched the world, before the War of the Shadow actually began, the Horn was among the items lost, and thought destroyed, in the first rush of mob violence, terrorism etc. So it wasn't available for use then even had someone wanted to try. It was later recovered and sealed up with the Dragon Banner because along with the Foretellings that made up the Prophecies of the Dragon was one saying that it must be.
In any case, the story of the Horn was carried on through the Age of Legends in the same way that myths are today, and magnified thereafter though the twisting that occurs in the telling and retelling of a story. And believe me, stories about the Dragon Reborn and the Prophecies and everything concerned with them were rife during the Breaking. When everything is going to hell around them, people cling to anything and everything that might offer hope. That is how the Breaking could end with tales of the Dragon Reborn and the Prophecies already on many peoples' lips.
The Dark One doesn't care about his minions sufficiently to invest much time in their punishment except as it serves to correct their behavior or as object lesson to others, nor is there much in the way of gradation. Simple failure and outright betrayal might be punished equally, or one might result in death and the other in becoming an object lesson or in something else. (The mindtrap, by the way, could be called an object lesson only to the one so trapped; remember, none of the Forsaken know who is mindtrapped except Moridin and those who are trapped.) The decision, death or object lesson or something else, normally would be simply a matter of whether or not he believed there was any point to an object lesson and/or whether or not he felt there was really any further use in the individual. Or, for that matter, made for reasons unknowable to a human mind. Remember, the Dark One is NOT human and thinking of him in human terms just doesn't work.
But he also operates under a constraint that did not exist in the Age of Legends. At that time, about 3% of the population could learn to channel to some extent, though not all chose to—the training program took time, and being able to channel carried with it certain obligations that not everyone wanted to undertake—but that still meant there were, at a minimum, hundreds of thousands of people in the world who could channel, and more likely millions. A large pool of possible recruits. Break a tool or decide it isn't working right and throw it out, because there is an endless supply of similar tools waiting on the shelf. That might be said to have been his attitude. In the here-and-now of the books, that figure is about 1%, and of that 1%, very, very few have any idea that they could learn to channel, much less have any training at all. Here-and-now, the pool of possible recruits is tiny.
Also, while the Forsaken themselves have realized that these primitives have discovered how to do things with the Power that they themselves cannot, or perhaps can once they learn how but never dreamed of doing until they found that the weaves existed here-and-now, they still think of people in the here-and-now as primitives, and their attitudes filter through to the Dark One, who believes that his people from the age of Legends are in all practical ways better—for which read better trained, more capable, and thus better able to serve him efficiently and effectively—than the people of the present time. And he is right. In a way. They are certainly better trained, with a much wider knowledge, at least in some areas. Some of their skills are absolutely useless in the society they are forced to live in. Aginor was a genius in biology and genetics, but in this world, he had no way to make the tools to make the tools to make the tools.... Well, you get the idea. Pity the poor chip designer dropped into the seventeenth century.
In any event, the Dark One tries to conserve his resources, using and reusing those he might have killed himself, or ordered killed, in a time where there were thousands to equal them.
They still do speak the Old Tongue among themselves, but the first two who were freed, Aginor and Balthamel, had been held very near to the edge of the sealing, the reason they were so visibly affected and twisted while the rest came out whole and healthy, and they were very much aware of what had gone on in the world outside. You might say they had floated in limbo while watching three thousand plus years roll by, with the ability to zoom in. That is probably the only reason they didn't emerge entirely mad. In truth, those two have a much better understanding of the current world than any of the others because they watched it forming. They don't have a complete knowledge, because they couldn't see and hear everything at once, but they have an overview that is unavailable to any of the others, excepting Ishamael to a lesser extent. But then, he's a special case.
For the rest (aside from Ishamael), who spend those thousands of years in a dreamless sleep, the language spoken "here and now" was derived from the Old Tongue. I've heard the analogy used of a well-educated, highly intelligent citizen of ancient Rome needing to learn modern Italian. It would hardly be a slam-dunk, but he or she would have the roots of the language already. In the case of the Forsaken, the task is actually easier than that of the ancient Roman, since modern Italian is a more complex language than Latin, while the Old Tongue, as I have said time and again, is more complex and nuanced than the language of "today."
Almost nothing is known about the organization of Aes Sedai during the Age of Legends, but it is generally accepted that ajah played an important part, though apparently they were nothing like the present-day Ajah. In the surviving twenty-three consecutive pages of a dictionary from circa 50 AB, ajah, in the Old Tongue, is defined as “an informal and temporary group of people gathered together for a common purpose or goal, or by a common set of beliefs.” In thirty-one pages all in the same hand, located in the Royal Library in Cairhien, which appear to be random survivors of a larger manuscript reliably dated from the same period, the organization of Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends, or perhaps their manner of functioning, is described as “a vast sea of ajah (note: word deliberately left untranslated), all constantly shrinking, growing, dividing, combining, melting away only to be reborn in some new guise and begin the process once more.” In the first centuries after the Breaking, the nature of ajah or Ajah changed. We cannot be sure exactly when the change occurred, but another dictionary (circa 200 AB; 219 surviving random pages) defines Ajah as “a sisterhood of Aes Sedai,” and no lowercase form is listed.
(later) I don't know.
Verin: Considerably older than anyone expects. (I presume he was talking about the characters, not the fans, considering that our guesses range up to 3000 years old.) He also said that Age of Legends lifespans are not known in modern Randland. (Thus, I presume that Verin is NOT 300 years old.) He said something about "the effects of the Oath Rod," I don't know whether this was with reference to aging, or effects on something totally unrelated.
Well, that's that.
Also, there's another (non-FAQ-related) note concerning the pre-Bore Age of Legends...
RJ had mentioned (in response to another question) that what the characters believe does not make it so (Moiraine's statements were used as an example), so I asked whether the pre-Bore Age of Legends was the Utopia that the characters believed it to be. His reply is paraphrased below:
Compared to their current world, it certainly would be a utopia. However, that doesn't mean that it wasn't perfect. Of course, outbreaks of diseases were kept to a minimum, but it and other disasters of that ilk still occurred. Evil still existed, as well.
The Forsaken, for example, weren't exactly a stellar bunch to begin with. Semirhage, for example, was a sadist. (I'll skip his description of what a sadist is.) She went into her profession (the equivalent of a surgeon) because it provided an outlet for her sadism. (He then cited some studies that showed that there were more people with sadist tendencies in the medical profession, and surgeons in particular, to support his point.) Aginor (whom he said after some prompting had several elements of the classic mad scientist type) was a biological scientist who never considered the consequences of his actions. Aginor would say, "I wonder what would happen if I took the ebola virus and altered it to be an airborne virus." He'd go ahead and do just that, all without realizing he'd be creating a potentially unstoppable plague. All Aginor would reply to that was, "Hmm. Interesting." (Jordan then mentioned Aginor's creation of the Trollocs, their defects, "It was strong, big, tough to kill, and...... stupid," and that it was the birth of the first Myrddraal that saved the Trollocs from being a complete failure.)
Even back in the Age of Legends, regular, ordinary folks could do some pretty nasty things. He then cited a study about a small town of ordinary Germans in WWII who did some pretty horrific things (I believe he was referring to the book "Hitler's Willing Executioners").
No...now you have to be careful with this, because this is a kind of spoiler for people that haven’t read far enough, but the Oath Rod is what was in the Age of Legends called a binder. It was used on criminals. If you committed a violent act, or some sort of criminal act, with a binder, someone who could channel could be constrained from ever doing that again, and the result of having three of the Oaths, is the ageless appearance. One would not produce agelessness, but even one would shorten life, and three of them put a cap on Aes Sedai’s lives, on how long they could live.
Does this mean that the Black Ajah has also at least three oaths sworn on the Oath Rod?
Yeah, they do. Just not the same ones. [laughter]
Of course. Does this imply that the Oath Rod is definitely not one of the Nine Rods of Dominion?
Oh yes, definitely. No. I don't think it was. No, the Oath Rods are not the Nine Rods of Dominion, no. There were a fair number of binders available around the world.
Were they numbered?
Yes, they were numbered.
Because we've seen two so far and they had numbers on them . . .
Yeah, they were numbered.
Read and find out. Again, this is something I don't know whether I'm going to put it in or not.
But you see there are things that I might want to put in, I might want to use, and giving you the answer lets it out and means I might as well not use it because . . .
It's more interesting.
Does Telamon mean "dragon" or does it mean "Kinslayer" or is it something else?
What? In Lews Therin Telamon? No, no. It means something else. That's his name. Lews Therin is the name he was born with. Telamon, a name he was given later.
It does not mean dragon?
It does not mean dragon, no.
And are dragons definitely not the same as raken and to'raken?
Definitely not. Definitely not.
Oh that's an interesting question.
But, I mean the name [sounds?] the same. . .
But no, they're definitely not. They're definitely not.
They're flying creatures.
They're like a dragon image.
Yeah, I know they are somewhat of a dragon image. But no, they're definitely not.
Oh, cool. That's a wonderful thing to have noticed. That's great.
Although who can say what may be said in the next Age? Remember, things get repeated, things get distorted. And what the next Age believes is true history of a previous Age may not be in any way close to what actually happened. So who knows?
So was . . . In the Age of Legends, a dragon was a completely symbolic thing? It did not refer to an actual creature?
Not to an actual creature. But beyond that, read and find out.
Did they have dragons like . . . ?
No, it was symbolic at that time. There were no dragons flying around in the Age of Legends, no.
And did they have [inaudible...]
They named this man the dragon as a symbol. And his banner was a dragon as a symbol.
No, that . . . I think you better read and find out. Again, I don't know if I'm going to use it, but I don't want to put out too much.
So if you don't use it, after you finish the series, we come back to this question.
For Papazen, while I have spoken of souls being born with the ability to channel in response to questions, I think of it as being genetic also. In the Age of Legends, between 2 and 3% of people had some ability, following a bell curve distribution in strength. For over 3000 years, though, Aes Sedai have been removing men who actually learned to channel from the gene pool. They have been very efficient at this. As a result, the "present day" sees about 1% of the population who can learn to channel, with a much, much smaller percentage of that being born with the spark.
For Rory, I really don't think that I'll do any novels, short or otherwise, about the War of the Shadow. The outcome is already known, and it ain't good for our side.
As for coming to Australia, you'll have to get onto the Australian publisher and bombard them with requests for me. I've been to Oz twice since the books began, both times at the behest of the publisher, though we added some vacation to the business. As an aside, I almost was born in Australia. My father liked Australia so much that my parents planned to emigrate after WWII, but my mother became pregnant with me, and she was concerned about emigrating under those circumstances—I believe wartime rationing was still in effect in Oz—so one way and another the move never happened. But almost.
RAFO, but I will tell you something about the Horn. People always ask why the inscription on the Horn is in the Old Tongue, if it's so old. It was added in the Age of Legends.
It should also be noted that, when a panel moderator asked the audience if we wanted to see the Heroes of the Horn come back before the end, Maria raised her hand high.
Is Lanfear the only surviving person that is aware of how the Bore was created?
(for WSB): The next question is from a Theorylander. Did Ishamael’s healing of Lews Therin back in the prologue of The Eye of the World create the same doctor-patient bond as when Nynaeve healed Egwene?
No, not that I know. I think that I would know, but no.
Sadly, he answered a very clear "No, nothing is left of that anymore."
This means that the ruins underneath the Panarch's palace in Tanchico are not the ruins of Lews Therin's palace.
Well, we don't really know no one did. If they did, they didn't share it, sure. You know, not all channelers are Aes Sedai, and even Aes Sedai don't always share things.
Yeah, they keep a lot back.
The Blue Ajah, you know, has all its little secret weaves, and I'm sure all the other Ajahs do as well. And two, there's always the whole thing that, 'the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills', and sometimes the Wheel weaves out what it needs, and with the Last Battle coming, it needs all the help it can get…so the really talented people, the really ta'veren people, they come out again. That's for most of them. For Healing, maybe there's a different answer. Aes Sedai…they know how to Heal people, and that's the way they do it, and they don't need to know anything better! I mean, it's just Aes Sedai being Aes Sedai. They think they know what they're doing, so they don't look for a better way to do it.
And if they have discovered a better way to do it, they're probably not sharing it with other people, because every Aes Sedai is looking for an advantage over the others.
Oh, okay. So then that sort of partially answers the next half of my question, which is: How did some of these weaves get lost in the first place?
Oh, my favorite rant. All the Aes Sedai woke up one morning with amnesia. How did I Travel? I can't remember.
Well, part of it…I mean, I was reading, of all things, the Big White Book, and you know, the Breaking lasted a really long time, and things were really breaking. I mean, you might know how to Travel, but you didn't know if where you were trying to go was still there. You know, it might be in the middle of the ocean now, or on top of a mountain, so people probably weren't Traveling as much...and Aes Sedai were being killed right and left. There were all these crazy men, channelers wiping out entire cities, and the Aes Sedai women were trying to stop them, and sometimes they succeeded, and sometimes not…so, things really went to hell in a handbasket. Fast. And, you know, if a woman knew how to channel and she couldn't find anyone else who had the strength to channel, she couldn't really teach anybody to channel.
To Travel, is what I meant to say.
Yeah, there was a time of course when the White Tower wasn't there. You know, the White Tower was a recent innovation in the grand scheme of things, and so the Aes Sedai after the Breaking were everywhere, so there wasn't that institutional memory in all things at that point, and things were lost.
So the Hall of the Servants, then, basically was a much looser organization than the somewhat hierarchical White Tower…
…than we have now.
So we have a sort of central storing place for knowledge, or anything like that.
Yeah, think of what would happen to us if there was a horrible disaster that wiped out the internet. We would lose all of our knowledge except for, you know, the stuff that we still have in books. But you know, a good portion of our knowledge and communication that is electronic now would be gone.
But this podcast would remain in people's hearts. [laughter]
Well, you got me on that one, Maria, because if my computer was suddenly taken away and there were no others to replace it, I think I would probably have the equivalent of amnesia. It's my plastic brain, and I really need it. [laughter]
I've always thought that the lost talents were related to strength, because the modern Aes Sedai are weaker than the Age of Legends Aes Sedai, and a lot of these rediscovered weaves require a certain level of strength that just doesn't exist in those Aes Sedai.
Right, and also talent, because to do this Healing, you have to have a certain Talent for Healing. To make cuendillar...Janya couldn't make cuendillar worth a darn, and…she didn't have that Talent, so if somebody knew it, but there was nobody they could teach it to, it's gone!
Well, the thing is though…leading up to that comment: remember in—I believe it was Crossroads, but it might have been Knife of Dreams—when Sorilea (soar-ih-LAY-uh)—I have no idea if this is how it's pronounced...
She taught Cadsuane how to Travel, even though she couldn't make the weave work herself. So just because you don't have the strength to make the weave finish doesn't mean you can't form the weave anyway.
That's true, but...okay. We've got our nameless Aes Sedai after the Breaking, and she's found a little crew of people, and none of them are strong enough to Travel. Well, she's going to show them how to do it anyway and hopefully one day they'll find somebody strong enough but, you know, they never do. So we've got the same thing, and you know, sooner or later it's going to…if you can't actually use it for anything, you're going to put it aside and not pay any attention to it, and it will get lost.
Or, by the time that bunch of people finds someone who is [strong enough], it might have gone through several iterations and they might have the weave just a little bit wrong, so that it doesn't work either.
And—correct me if I'm wrong on this—but I don't think it's possible to write down how to do a weave. I think it's something that you have to learn through demonstration. You can't just write it down, and be like, 'Well, I'll put this on the shelf, and some day a hundred years from now someone will come along and pick it up and figure out how to weave...whatever from this. I feel like you have to be shown how to do a weave.
That is...I mean, that's how they do it. You know, the novices don't run around with heavy books; they run around being taught by actual people. It's my belief that writing might could give clues or something, but you have to be able to show it or work it out on your own.
Of course, I was going to say they could just check on YouTube and find out how, but then, would the One Power weaves even show up on video? [laughter] If they even had that...
Oh, that's a good question!
I actually was just wondering about that; I wonder if any these things—I'm sure that the effects would—but I presume that if most non-channelers can't see weaves that probably there's nothing there for a video to pick up, either...but it's an interesting question.
How to detect channeling: Whip out your camcorder! [laughter]
With a wi-fi finder.
Yeah, okay. I'm going to be good now. That would be too funny. It's a shame Jessi couldn't be with us. She really wanted to be, but she had to work, and couldn't get off. One of her favorite premises is, you know, how drastically the Wheel of Time story would all be changed if they had access to cell phones and texting and the internet and everything.
Oh yeah. There would be no story.
They do though! Elayne has the communication ter'angreal. They have cell phones...ish. They just don't use them! [laughter]
Give 'em time.
I sort of [?] a couple of the guys before one time when we were podcasting and I had to get up in the office; I was working and I had to turn a phone off, and I came back and I said "I just had to disable that callbox ter'angreal." And they said, "Oh, you are such a geek." [laughter]
A 'dork' is what actually they said.
No, you are a geek, because dorks have no social status whereas geeks are more knowledgeable in one or two given fields, and since we are all major WoT nerds—we qualify as nerds, not dorks.
Yeah, we got some cred there anyway.
Ask him if the manner of the Aiel service to the Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends was just Singing, or if it was also domestic.
As a follow-up you could ask him if female Voices were also used in non-Earthy scenarios, i.e. to enhance saidar in particular?
And ask him if non-Aiel could really have the Voice (assuming the type that enhances channeling) or if Lews Therin was just confused.
Lews Therin was confused about time and place, but what he was saying was possible.
There was more than just singing, but Brandon wasn't willing to go into it. Unsure if that was RAFO or irrelevance.
Brandon said he wasn't willing to talk much about the Voice things. I got the sense it was a subtle RAFO.
When asked if any of the Forsaken ever had any children he said MAFO.
"There were many good years. Good decades, good centuries. We believed we were living in paradise. Perhaps that was our downfall. We wanted our lives to be perfect, so we ignored imperfections. Problems were magnified through inattention, and war might have become inevitable if the Bore hadn't ever been made." (p. 147)
Okay, excellent question; I'll repeat it just for those who might not have been able to hear it. We know that the Aes Sedai are using certain ter'angreal for things other than their original intended purpose, such as the Oath Rod and the ones they use in the raising ceremonies. (to Maria) What were their intended purposes? [laughter]
I don't know. [laughter, applause]
Sorry. Robert Jordan could answer that. Sometimes we can't.
My name is Adam Simmons, and I'm from Atlanta, Georgia. [hoots] I really hope that I'm not misremembering something. I was trying to look it up on my Kindle, and I couldn't find it, so please God, let me not be wrong. [laughter]
In one of the Forsaken viewpoints in—I think it was Knife of Dreams or something?—one of the Forsaken was thinking about how, had circumstances been different, Demandred could have been named the Dragon. And what I'm wondering is, is "the Dragon" an actual title, or was Lews Therin born to be the Dragon, or was that a mantle he picked up along the way?
(looks at Maria and Harriet) [laughter]
I can say some things on this, but it's going to be more...it may not be the exact answers you want. I can say things that have been said. For instance, you can look at things like Logain, and how false Dragons were being brought up out of the Pattern, until Rand, and at that moment, everything collapsed. Until...and it was really when Rand channeled for the first time—am I correct?—that everything sort of collapsed. (to Maria) There's some parallels in there. When he what? No, it was when he took Callandor. Yeah, you're right.
It was the visions in the sky!
In the sky? Okay. Until Rand took up the mantle—yeah, that's it—and so it's when Rand...and so, you could look at that and make the argument, "Wait a minute; until that moment, until Rand stepped up and was willing to be the Dragon, the Pattern was searching for one." And you can interpret that a lot of different ways, and you could probably make an argument—Theoryland could make an argument for both sides on that. [laughter] And if Rand had not stepped up, was that just the end of the world? Would the world have then been doomed, if Rand as a baby had been killed? That's something that you can theorize on, and you can look at the clues in the books, and Jim did not leave us an answer, so far as I know.
Okay, thank you.
Rand didn't think he deserved the third name.
But Elan Morin were his two names, like Lews Therin. Tedronai was his third name.
Speaking as Rand does was an intentional insult, as per my understanding via the notes.
I saw it as a familiarity, since he calls Ilyena by her first name only. Well, so does everyone...(she has three).
I view it this way, but it might be colored by my own personal experience. In Korea, using a very familial tone...
...is either endearing or incredibly offensive, depending on your relationship to the person. That's how I see it here.
At times, honestly, I don't know if Rand is intending insult or familiarity—perhaps both.
What happened with them?
He killed them.
Okay, okay. He killed them.
He killed his wife. He killed his children. He killed everyone who bore a single drop of his blood. He was Lews Therin Kinslayer, remember.