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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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There are definitely time constraints on the Dark One's power to transmigrate a soul. The soul doesn't have to be secured immediately—that is, the Dark One doesn't have to be ready to snatch the soul at the instant of death—but the longer that passes after the death, the less chance that the Dark One will be able to secure the soul. Someone who has been killed with balefire in actuality died before the apparent time of his or her death, and thus the window of opportunity for the Dark One to secure that soul for transmigration is gone before the Dark One can know that the soul must be secured unless the amount of balefire used is very small. Remember that the more balefire is used, the further back the target's thread is burned out of the Pattern.
After the soul is secured, then a suitable body must be acquired and stripped of the (former) owner's memory and soul to make way for the favored one. By the way, what constitutes a suitable body from the Dark One's perspective is not that of the recipient. Certainly Aginor would never have chosen to be reincarnated in his, shall we say, less than imposing body, nor would the womanizing Balthamel have chosen to be reincarnated as a beautiful woman. It was only chance that Moridin ended up in a body that is young, fairly good looking and physically imposing. Those things simply don't matter to the Dark One. But the body has to be basically healthy and sound, and neither too young nor too old. After all, the Dark One wants his servants to be effective, and a body that meets those basic requirements is more desirable than one that doesn't. Since there is no stockpile of such bodies, the only way for someone to die and immediately be reincarnated would be a matter of pure chance. That is, the death occurred when a suitable body was on hand for some other reason.
There are a few other limits and constraints, but I won't go into them here, since I may want to use them in the books, and I would rather they come as a surprise if I do.
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.
Here's a quote for you:
The Feast of Fools
Celebrated in Tammaz (in Arad Doman and the Borderlands) or Saven (everywhere else), the exact day varying according to locality. A day in which all order is deliberately inverted; the high perform lowly tasks (running errands, serving at table, etc.) while the low do no work and give orders to their usual superiors. In many villages and towns the most foolish person is given a title such as the Lord/Lady of Unreason/Misrule/Chaos or the King/Queen of Fools. Not an honor sought, but for that one day everyone has to obey whatever orders, however foolish, are given by the chosen one. (Called the Festival of Unreason in Saldaea; the Festival of Fools in Kandor; Foolday in Baerlon and the Two Rivers.)
The Strike at Shayol Ghul
Many people have asked about a short piece of writing called "The Strike at Shayol Ghul". Most people want to know: "Is it actually real, and if so, what does it say?"
First, it is real. Robert Jordan wrote it and it was included in the BaltiCon printed program. It's about four pages long in printed form, and is now available on the Web courtesy of Tor Books. Copies of the convention program, which includes the story, may still be available. See Colette Schleifer's announcement for information.
The free availability of The Strike at Shayol Ghul on the eeb makes this summary rather superfluous (I wrote it when Strike was only available in printed form, in very limited quantity) but I'm keeping it here for completeness. Now on with my summary.
In "The Strike at Shayol Ghul", Jordan describes the events leading up to the Sealing of the Bore from the perspective of a Third Age historian (at about the time of the story) who discovered some fragmented manuscripts that were written shortly after the Breaking. The single biggest fact revealed is that the during the War of the Shadow, the Aes Sedai were considering two alternate plans for defeating the Dark One.
Lews Therin proposed that the Dark One be resealed in his prison by plugging the Bore. The plug would be inserted by thirteen linked male and female channelers and would be held in place by the seven seals, which were focus points of the weaving. 20,000 soldiers would accompany them to Shayol Ghul, where the Bore could most be sensed. Lews Therin's plan had supporters and opponents. Opponents argued that the Seals required precise positioning, and that any slight error would tear the Bore open wider.
The alternate plan, which also had its share of supporters and detractors, was to build two large sa'angreal (one for saidin, one for saidar) and use them to build a new prison around the old one for the Dark One. The sa'angreal were so powerful that special "key" ter'angreal had to be constructed for channelers to use them safely. Opponents of this plan expressed concern that the sa'angreal could fall into the control of channelers following the Shadow or be misused accidentally by channelers serving the Light. Either way, the sa'angreal were expected to be powerful enough to destroy the world and beyond. Opponents also worried that while the sa'angreal might enable the building of a wall strong enough to contain the Dark One's strength right then, the Dark One was gradually chipping away at the Bore and gaining more power in the world. At some point, he might become powerful enough to tear down the new wall.
Supporters of each plan began preparation, even though the Aes Sedai as a whole failed to reach a consensus.
Latra Posae, an outspoken female Aes Sedai, considered Lews Therin's plan so dangerous that she organized support amongst the female Aes Sedai against it. In fact, she obtained the unanimous agreement of every female AS of significant power—in other words, every female Aes Sedai who could possibly be asked to assist in the force that would place the seven seals into the Bore to seal it shut. They believed this effectively halted Lews Therin's plan, as the men who supported him could not link without any cooperating women. (It was believed that correct placement of the seals required a linked group of the most powerful male and female channelers.)
While the Aes Sedai were fighting over which plan should be used, the Shadow advanced rapidly. Lews Therin decided that something had to be done right away, so he covertly organized 113 male channelers who supported his plan (they were later called the Hundred Companions, a slight miscount) and over 10,000 soldiers who were also loyal to him. The force stormed Shayol Ghul, when all thirteen Forsaken were there, and put the Seals into place.
At the moment of the resealing, the Dark One drove all of the surviving Hundred Companions (about 68, at that point) instantly insane. The Dark One also tainted saidin, although this wasn't discovered until after hundreds of other male channelers had been driven mad from it.
Reads the introduction of the manuscript: "Whoever reads this, if any remain to read it, weep for us who have no more tears. Pray for us who are damned alive."
After that, my friend got to ask his question, which was the one about Machin Shin and the Ways.
Is Machin Shin a result of the Dark One's taint on saidin being used in the creation of the Ways, or a result of some portion of the corruption of Shadar Logoth creeping into the Ways via the Waygate there? Or is it something completely orthogonal to both these powers, merely being a parasite that showed up once the place began to grow dim?
Is there a reason the Dark One could not or would not re-taint saidin?
The conditions would have to be exactly right. Those conditions were set up while the seals were being placed on the Bore. The chances that exactly those conditions would occur again are fairly small. And that is saying that it was a volitional act rather than a side-effect of trying to stop the seals from being placed. After all, if the Dark One could taint saidin at will, why could he not taint saidar as well, and why would he not have done so?
I have always thought that the small whimper of a theory as it dies is a beautiful sound.
(General laughter all around.)
For foxhead, I think you'll find this covered elsewhere, but here goes. The evil of Shadar Logoth and the evil of the Shadow might be considered positive and negative poles. They attract, as do the positive and negative poles of two magnets, but if they make contact, the result is more like making contact between the positive and negative poles of your car battery. Big sparks. Really big sparks.
Brandon explained that the True Power can only be used by someone that the Dark One has allowed to use it. The True Power is perhaps more powerful than the One Power in the way a drugged up person is more powerful than someone not drugged up. In the moment the drugged up person may be, but in the long run maybe not.
Further explaining the True Power, he said the Guardian in Far Madding cannot stop it.
Ok, so, what is then the nature of the Dark One’s relationship with the True Power? In other words, is the Power...is he the Power or it is separate like the One Power?
When people bored into his prison they were searching for a new source of power, they found him. Alright? Now, that leaves a strong implication that the True Power is the essence of the Dark One. The True Power when it is used rips apart the Pattern to rebuild it as it desires. The True Power is very destructive to the Pattern. It leaves scars on the Pattern. Robert Jordan said in an interview or maybe it was actually in the books, when you make a gateway with the True Power you are actually ripping a whole in the Pattern and going somewhere else. When you are using the True Power that is what you are doing, it is contrary to the Pattern. That is not a direct answer to your question but I think there are enough implications in there that certain things can be discussed.
[I realize now, after listening to Brandon’s answer that I was making an assumption about the One Power too, that it is separate from the Creator because of what we have been given in the books and the BWB, but I should have asked if instead the One Power is the essence of the Creator...]
Is the True Power used by any other creatures or beings within Parallel or Perpendicular worlds or other dimensions?
Ok, see answering that actually gets us begging the question because let’s step back, the question that people should be asking is does the Dark One exist in all of these Parallels...
...ok, so yeah this is the question I’ll ask, you make a good point. Are there worlds and dimensions that exist outside of the Pattern?
Ok, see that’s the question you should be asking. I mean, you should be asking it, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to answer it. [laughter] But that’s at the core of the question. I’m going to discuss it without giving you the answer. I like to do this because I think it frames the question without giving you too much information that I have that I don’t think is appropriate to share right now. Extrapolations of this question get us to: is there one Dragon for all different Parallels or are they all different Dragons? Traveling through the Portal Stone seems to indicate that there are many different lives Rand could have led. The same thing happens with several of the ter’angreal that people go through. The question then is, are those all separate Universes? Do we have a multi-verse sort of concept? Or are they possibilities and do these worlds all exist or could exist, what is the difference. In some of those Rand failed. So, is Rand the Dragon in all of them or is Rand not the Dragon in some of them? What happens in the ones where Rand failed? Are they real worlds? Are those different worlds where there is a different Dark One who then takes over and destroys that world or maybe not, maybe he makes it has he wishes. Or are those just possibilities, reflections of this world that don’t really exist except when we touch them? Those are all very good questions. Robert Jordan said that Tel'aran'rhiod is a reflection of all different worlds, which implies other worlds continue to exist. The World of the Finns is something different...
...he called it a Parallel World...
Yes, the Parallel World, that one and also the one Rand and Lanfear visited are persistent regardless of someone from this world visiting. Yet, many of those seem almost shadowy and reflections of the real world, some of them seem as real just strange when visiting them. What happens in these different world, that sort of thing, those were never questions that Robert Jordan answered...
...the answers exist?
The answers exist, but are there many parallel Patterns or is there one Pattern?
Yeah, that’s...are there many Wheels or just one Wheel?
That’s not a question, I’m afraid, that I can answer because I don’t think it’s within the scope of the books and I don’t think that the characters...that there are people that could know. You will find Browns arguing all of these different things among themselves, and it’s not my place to step in and end the discussion.
You saw where we were going…
...yes, I see where you are going...
...I had to do the build up to it because it all comes down to that one question for a couple of things.
This one question you are going to ask next?
I’m not going to ask it...
...oh, the one you asked…
...yeah, I guess I asked a piece of it last night...
...when it comes to this certain character that you are talking about, there is a whole thing where Maria and I exchanged a bunch of emails about this. She had managed to pull some things out of the notes that I had not seen, which is interesting, because I was going off of something else. I did not think that Cyndane should be nearly as powerful as she was put in the books as being, so I had been under the belief that the Dark One was pulling shenanigans...
...like a little, in essence, let’s say what the Forsaken Lanfear did to Asmodean, you thought maybe the Dark One was doing some similar...shielding...
...or the other way around…here is a little extra power you can draw upon while I am pleased with you, I can take this away...
...that is a question...let’s jump to that question, there have been some theories that talk about Lanfear...
...let’s back up and say I was wrong. I was interpreting the notes a certain way. Maria was able to pull something out that I had not seen that made it clear that I had misinterpreted and that that is not the case, Cyndane is not under any shenanigans. What you see is what you get.
Cyndane and her alter ego have never been under any shenanigans?
I’m not going to say never been under any shenanigans, but when you see her creating a gateway she is legitimately powerful enough to do it, which I did not believe that she was. Does that make sense? This is all digging into my read of the notes versus and Maria’s read of the notes and Maria was right. She was able to provide information to me that I had not seen which is nice because it was stuff that was very pertinent for what I am working on right now. It would have come out eventually when I would have sent her the scenes I’m working on, but it came out earlier, which is nice. Once I found out what was going on it all made perfect sense.
So, we will understand then in the next book or so why there is a decrease in power but not a significant decrease?
Ok, so that being said there are some theories out there that in the Age of Legends, at one point, Lanfear might have...
...let’s just say I have not said that Lanfear and Cyndane are the same person...
...Oh, absolutely, I’m jumping to this other Forsaken that we are talking about...
...this other completely different person...Uh huh...
...so Lanfear, the theory goes, that maybe she was accentuated from a beauty and/or power perspective by going to the Finnland previously...
...would the Finns have the ability to accentuate someone’s beauty and/or quantity or access to the One Power through their own capabilities and talents?
Yes, but it might involve third party ter’angreal, angreal, this sort of thing...
...so, they don’t have power to affect the soul’s capability of increasing its total channeling?
Certainly not permanently, as far I understand, that is outside the realm of their ability…
...from a beauty perspective can they affect the outer body of some individual?
I would say that, yes they can, but they may have to be using some type of ter’angreal or...
...some item of power?
Some item of power, something like that...of which they have great stores...[what???]
...Really...heh, so the obvious question, where did the Finns get great stores of ter’angreal, angreal, and is that part of the Pact they made.?
RAFO...but if you just think about it, we don’t even have to go to the notes for this if you think about it logically, we know of them providing certain items of power to certain individuals that they were able to match very nicely with certain requests very easily. If you run the statistics on that its either a huge coincidence or they have very many to choose from.
There was some confusion about Rand and the Dark One’s permission, so for clarification’s sake, did Rand have the Dark One’s permission to use the True Power?
I have not answered that. If anyone says that I have, I have not. What I have said specifically is, this is recording: generally one must have the Dark One’s permission to use the True Power. Semirhage believed that the Dark One had betrayed her by letting Rand use it. [...] It is good that you have asked this so I can make sure on the record that is the answer I have given.
Lastly I want to mention that in general conversation at the end, Brandon was very careful to state that we cannot assume that Rand drew the True Power through the link with Moridin; nor may we assume the opposite. (In other words, we're not supposed to have enough evidence yet to draw a conclusion.)
Furthermore, it seemed that he wanted to make it clear that we cannot discount the idea that the Dark One did indeed "set up" Semirhage (pretty much per Isilel's scenario). I'm not saying he's telling us that that is what happened, but he was almost insistent that we did not close the door on that line of speculation. Take it for what you will.
It's very difficult (but not impossible) to channel the True Power without the Dark One's direct permission.
This led to lots of discussion about the whole Semirhage death scene. Basically, she felt betrayed by the Dark One, and Brandon says she's a very astute person. Brandon also said that Moridin and the Dark One are on the same page with most things, and that Moridin is the most trustworthy Forsaken for the Dark One.
Shaidar Haran needs a minion to most of his work for him. Elza was essential to Shaidar Haran in getting things done.
This led to lots of discussion about swearing to the Shadow—basically, it's a very bad idea and you forfeit some very basic protections when you do. Shaidar Haran has special power over those that swear to the Dark One, and the Forsaken in particular.
I asked about Alvairin's special mark, and he said Shaidar Haran has similar power over her. The implication is that there are lots of ramifications for swearing to the Dark One. Brandon mentioned that this makes Verin all the more remarkable.
One thing that strikes me is people's perception of the Wheel of Time. The Wheel of Time is just a structural device: it has seven spokes which represent the seven Ages. The Wheel turns; people forget about the previous Age and a new Age is entered. It goes around seven times and it starts again from square one. Very similar patterns of events occur in each Age, but they are changed, just as two people can have very similar personalities but still be very different people in many other respects. The same way with the different Ages.
So the Wheel does not have a specific purpose. It does not have a motivation. It is not a conscious being. The Wheel is just there, operating as an organizing principle of the world. Jim played down the religious aspects of all this. There is a creator, but there is not even a notion that the creator is God. The creator, of course, is God, but it is the creator. And the creator is not given much of a personality in these books. The creator is a stand-back kind of entity, less so than the Dark One, which opposes the creator and everything the creator has created, which is mankind.
And so, that's all I'm saying: don't read too much into the Wheel of Time. I think the Wheel of Time is also drawn in part from the Buddhist concept of the Wheel of Life. The Wheel of Life is something that we are on. In creation, we are created in who knows what form, evolve through many, many lifetimes, until we no longer have to be on the wheel. We have reached our goal, which in Eastern Thought is being one with God, part of the infinite ocean. In Jim's world, it is not so cut and dried. As far as we know, individuals stay on the Wheel of Time forever.
(General summarization of the attack on Rand) Moridin is speaking to the Chosen. He’s kind of pissed. He’s saying look somebody, it was either Sammael or someone pretending to be Sammael, but it was definitely one of the Chosen. Is Moridin’s assumption/belief correct, that the only way for that to have occurred was for one of the Chosen to be involved?
Someone very high up would have to have been involved.
(Sorry Terez—made up these questions on the fly, so they weren’t very good, but it’s something to chew on. Next.)
Will Verin face punishment from the Dark One for what she did? (Also, wow for that scene. Just plain flat out wow!)
Well, I can’t claim very much credit for that scene.
Will Verin face punishment from the Dark One? It will all depend on whether he can get his mitts on her or not.
Not satisfied, I press harder, saying this will be revealed in further reading [skeptical].
He said there were a lot of things Jim (RJ) wanted fans to keep guessing and wouldn't answer, and this was one of those things about the cosmology that he wanted.
Then I asked Maria (yes I was sneaky), and her answer made her sound kind of unsure how to answer it, but then she finally said:
Well he is called the Lord of the Grave, so...
So seems like Ingtar and Verin really paid a huge price to help the Light-siders. Again, not sure if this was asked but I thought it interesting....and who knows, they may change it since its not finished yet.
On a slightly related note, the Chosen had protection from the taint, was this something unique to the Chosen (it occurs to me actually, that said protection could only have been given AFTER they were freed from the Bore, as such a precaution would have not been needed before Lewis Therin sealed the Bore), or would all Darkfriends have such protection?
To answer my own question, I'd guess it was unique, else male Darkfriend channelers would have been at a huge advantage after the Breaking.
The Dark One would spit him back out because he tastes bad.
In honor of Asmodean, I'll say that there is a mysterious death in The Way of Kings that could use some resources devoted to it. I did not put it in there simply because of Asmodean, but as I thought about it after writing it, I said, "Oh wow, I wonder if people will pick up on that." So there you go.
Um...(pause) Yes. I see what you're fishing for there.
Well, I mean...obviously. I didn't think I would slip that one past you.
I was mainly following up on Freelancer's question. Despite the confusion, most fans believe that Rand accessed the True Power through his link with Moridin (and most also believe the Dark One is okay with this, despite not having granted explicit permission). Brandon's answer to Freelancer seemed to confirm that, but then Brandon denied he had actually said that.
I know what that was about. Will it be in the next book? Er...RAFO. Sorry.
Will we know by the end of the series though?
I really can't say yes or no. This is one of the things Harriet has asked me to be very quiet about.
Umm...yes, you don't abandon it that easily, but, the other touch on Fain is far more dominant.
That would be Mordeth?
Is Fain still a Darkfriend?
I don't know if Fain counts as a Darkfriend anymore. I think Fain is his own faction.
How is Fain getting Trollocs and Myrddraal to follow him if he is not a Darkfriend?
He is using...other means...they aren't following him because he is a Darkfriend. Certainly not [he smiles a bit here].
Is Mat still attached in any way to Fain's dagger?
Read and Find out.
First I want to applaud the OP for a well thought out theory supported by evidence. I have enjoyed the debate on this topic.
Now the bad news: I attended the Robert Jordan book signing here in Charlotte, NC tonight (11/4/05). While he was signing my books, I asked him if he could credit or discredit the theory that the Dark One charged Demandred with the task of wielding Balefire in an attempt to weaken the Pattern, so that the Dark One may be have a better chance of victory at Tarmon Gai'don.
He didn't quite understand my point and asked me to explain it again. When I did, alluding to the consequences of Balefire, and quoting the Dark One's asking Demandred about his willingness to use balefire for the Dark One, he quickly shook his head and gave an unequivocal no.
I'm afraid this theory is disproved by the word of Robert Jordan himself.
He said the Forsaken are using balefire to help unravel the Pattern. That was all he'd say on it, told me the books provide enough evidence for it.
At any rate I'm not sure whether or not this helps anyone's arguments as I haven't read all of them; y'all write too much.
So—one Jordan booksigning against the theory, and one for. Sounds like we can't put this theory in the "Debunked" pile yet...
I suppose it's possible that Mr. Jordan may not have fully understood my question and therefore his answer isn't exactly for or against this theory. LOL The question I asked was this: Have the Forsaken, Demandred specifically, used balefire to destabilize the Pattern at all?
He said that they've used balefire and the consequences were destabilizing the Pattern and that in the books you could see evidence of that.
I should've been more specific in my question to him and my post here; that was first time I've ever commented on a message board, etc. I'm usually just a reader/browser to forums and such. I personally think the other fella's question was more specific therefore the answer probably more accurate as pertaining to the topic at hand. The answer he gave me upon further reflection could mean any number of things. It's hard to say. Guess we'll all find out when A Memory of Light is published.
Well... (This is not quite verbatim.) You have to be human of course, and all the other things as with the One Power. I don't believe so, but I am not sure. (Don't take this last sentence as gospel as I may not recall it correctly.)
I think we need to clarify what sort of conditions so he can say yes or no to them. Maybe MAFO?
We are very excited to reveal the cover to A Memory of Light, the final volume of Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. The artwork for this final edition is by, arguably, one of today’s most beloved illustrators, Michael Whelan.
The task of jumping into a 14 volume series on its last installment must have been a daunting one but Michael rose to the occasion. Harriet McDougal, Jordan’s editor and widow remarked, "that is the Rand I have waited to see for twenty years” when she saw the image. And while the artwork clearly has all the earmarks of a Whelan painting, its theme and coloration make it a fitting heir to Darrell K. Sweet’s series of Wheel of Time covers.
In keeping with the series’ covers, the scene gathers elements from a key scene in the book. Here, Rand stands with Callandor on the rocks of Shayol Ghul, heading down into its depths to confront the Dark One even as the sun itself vanishes from the world. Two Aes Sedai follow the Dragon Reborn into the mouth of darkness, two women who have been with Rand since the very beginning.
Not sure why there's still confusion. It's Nynaeve and Moiraine on the back cover. The yellow and blue dresses should make that apparent. Nynaeve's hair is obviously shorter than it used to be.
I spoke to Michael about the cover as he was finishing it. Since he didn't have the opportunity to read all fourteen books for the assignment, I was one of the people he leaned on to fact check his work.
Michael mentioned there are details the readers (like me) wouldn't be privy to yet. For example, Nynaeve takes the bulk of her jewelry off before this scene.
Callandor is a sword that isn't a sword, right? He's not holding it for defense. It's a source of power as well as his source of light (there's a clue about that in the lighting on his face). He's shielding his eyes as he stares in to the pit. Apparently, the deeper he goes into Shayol Ghul, the brighter it shines.
A little background that some might not know... Michael has studied martial arts, including Filipino Kali and Arnis. The forearm slash position actually has some utility in fights with bladed weapons.
Compositionally, the line of the sword is another element that draws you into the intensity of Rand's stare. Further, the opening of the cave is the shape of an eye; the eclipse suggests an iris. It's as if the gaze of the Dark One is falling on Rand. We see his strength and determination in response. How many illustrators can convey that kind of depth in a scene?
Say what you will, but I think Michael brought a lot to the plate on what was a very difficult cover assignment. He put his stamp on Rand while producing a cover that fits well with the first thirteen that DKS painted.
Thanks for confirming that. However, Nynaeve's hair is still the wrong color and, while it's shorter after the Aes Sedai testing in Towers of Midnight, it should still be in a shoulder-length braid. She never gave up her signature braid. That's why many people don't think it looks like Nynaeve—the braid is the main thing that would identify her as Nynaeve to the readers.
The loose light hair makes the woman on the cover look more like Alivia, who many fans believe is the woman in yellow. So I'm still of the opinion that Whelan did not do a good job with Nynaeve if longtime fans don't even recognize her. I think it's a beautiful cover, but as a reader, the main thing I care about is seeing the characters—who we have been reading about for twenty years—done right, not so much whether the cave looks realistic or happens to symbolize the Dark One spying on Rand. So it's disappointing that Nynaeve ended up virtually unrecognizable. She doesn't even wear yellow dresses in the books, despite being Yellow Ajah (she makes a point of wearing green or blue since that's what Lan likes), so that's not something that makes the woman's identity apparent either.
If you don't mind me asking (not trying to be rude here, it just strikes me as a bit strange), why did Whelan rely on fans to check his work instead of Team Jordan? I'm assuming you work for Tor, but you refer to yourself as a reader who hasn't read the book. To what extent were Brandon Sanderson and Team Jordan involved with the creative process behind this cover?
I was just one of the people helping with the details. Obviously Michael had Irene Gallo's art direction and was in contact with editors including Harriet.
Michael's wife Audrey usually serves as his sounding board, but she hadn't read the books. (For the record, I'm not affiliated with TOR. I've worked with Michael since the mid 90s, primarily on his website.) I'm a WoT fan and that's the kind of feedback Michael was looking for... someone he knew who had read the previous thirteen books.
Michael and I did discuss Nynaeve's dress color. I mentioned that she catered to Lan's color preference of green and blue. The yellow of her Ajah usually came in slashes of color, accents if I recall correctly.
Like I said, I haven't read the manuscript for A Memory of Light and Michael couldn't talk about it. But I distinctly recall Nynaeve taking pride in being a true Aes Sedai finally. Going into the Last Battle, I don't think it's a stretch that she would choose yellow. I suppose we'll have to RAFO on that.
In the background information I provided, I described Nynaeve's hair color as darker brown and referenced previous covers (among them the Melanie Delon's cover for A Crown of Swords that drew criticism for being too red).
I'd have to ask him why he chose lighter highlights. Just my speculation here, but Callandor is a light source. There's also illumination from the eclipse filtering in from the mouth of the cave to consider.
Michael got the length of Nynaeve's hair right, and this isn't simply opinion. Hopefully Brandon or Harriet will confirm at some point that her shoulder length hair was too short to braid.
Interestingly, Michael and I spoke about the challenge of pulling character descriptions from the text. If you're familiar with his illustration, he's known as a stickler for details. But it isn't always easy to translate text literally, especially when Jordan and Sanderson contradict in their description.
In correspondence, Michael wrote,
"Major characters are described as diminutive in size, yet 'commanding' in presence. Faces are youthful, yet ageless. Or young but having eyes full of wisdom of the ages. Rand is tall and manly, yet has an almost "feminine" beauty in his eyes or mouth. It's a bit confusing how one is supposed to render such conflicting elements."
Honestly, I don't mind the nitpicking. Criticism comes with the territory. My point in responding is to state that Michael was mindful of details here. There's evidence of it in the painting. I can tell you that he had Moiraine's kesiera and Nynaeve's ki'sain accounted for before I even spoke to him.
On a personal note, I had the privilege of meeting Robert Jordan before a signing on the Knife of Dreams tour. One of the things we talked about was the cover art for the series. I think Mr. Jordan would be pleased with this one. Obviously Harriet was when she said, "that is the Rand I have waited to see for twenty years."
Firstly, thank you very much for the thorough answer. It answered many of my questions, and it was also interesting to hear more about the creative process behind the cover.
[Nynaeve's hair] got singed off "a handspan below her shoulders" (Towers of Midnight ch 20), and she wore a shoulder-length braid in every scene she was in after the Aes Sedai testing. That's why it seemed odd for her signature braid to be missing on the cover. I don't really care about the dress or even much about the hair color, but Nynaeve isn't Nynaeve without her braid—it's part of who she is. It's like Mat showing up without his hat and ashandarei. And the ki'sain is too small to be visible, so it doesn't do anything to make the woman on the cover look more like Nynaeve.
I also wish Nynaeve and Moiraine hadn't been delegated to the background/back cover—since they're going to be linked with him, they deserve to stand at his side. But that's not an error, just something I wish were different.
However, while the cover isn't what I hoped for, I understand and deeply appreciate that you and Whelan both worked incredibly hard on it, and Whelan remains one of my favorite illustrators. I think he did a wonderful job with Rand.
I appreciate the sentiment but Michael did the actual work. He pushed his calendar aside this spring to make the cover happen. I was just support. But I will admit it took a lot of restraint on my part not to inundate him with questions that I knew he couldn't answer, so there is that.
As readers, we all have so much invested in this series that I completely understand what you're saying. I love Brandon's work, but I felt Towers of Midnight was a bit of a letdown, especially the resolution with Moiraine.
Moiraine has always been a favorite of mine. I would have liked to see her on the front cover as well. Thankfully Dan Dos Santos gave us that in his brilliant cover for The Fires of Heaven.
I think MRJackson & Mr. Whelan made a very good point, in that we have not yet read this book. By the time this scene happens, we may see several other events that make sense of the seeming discrepancies. Specifically, there are only two scenes after Nynaeve's testing which mention her braid, and in both cases it is specifically noted that it is too short and she finds it quite annoying. Quite possibly she'll meet up with Lan and find out that he likes it loose, or she'll simply decide that it's too irritating to fuss with a too-short braid, and we'll see her with loose hair in several scenes before this.
Someone was bothered earlier by the missing jewelry—but now we know that she specifically and deliberately removed the jewelry before this scene, probably so that someone else could use them. (That's what happened during the Cleansing; why not here as well?) Seems to me that we should make the assumption that the same kind of thing might happen with The Braid, instead of insisting that she should look like she did in the previous book, and claiming any discrepancies as mistakes. Such claims are not only rude, they are unfounded. Once the book is out and we've read the whole thing, we might have grounds for nitpicking; until then, not so much.
MRJackson—Thank you for your contributions, both to this thread and to Mr. Whelan.
Glad to be of help. Maybe someday we'll find closure in the great braid debate...
Seriously though, Michael painted Nynaeve's hair at that length (without a braid) for a reason. I wasn't trying to sidestep debate. I was expressing certainty. Michael was aware that the braid was an identifying feature of her character. The painting turned out the way it did through a long process that involved editorial input. I'll leave it at that.
I look at it this way (and this is my opinion)... Nynaeve has grown enormously through the books. She was always uniquely powerful, but it took time for her to grow into that power. More so, it took a dozen books to accept herself and decide who she wanted to be.
Nynaeve worked through enormous difficulty to channel reliably. Remember how she used to tug on that braid? It really was a symbol of who she used to be. Kind of fitting that the symbol is gone.
Old habits die hard, of course, but she isn't that girl tugging on her braid any more. She's a woman who fought to gain acceptance as an Aes Sedai, and she's going to stand at Rand side to face the Dark One. It's impressive how far she's come as a character.
The Fires of Heaven ebook cover was definitely one of the best, though there were a few things the artist got wrong (Moiraine does not have blue eyes). The New Spring cover was great too, especially Lan. It's mostly Nynaeve who has suffered bad luck with the ebook covers. There's A Crown of Swords where she got red hair and Lan looked like an underwater zombie, Winter's Heart where she didn't appear at all despite being linked with Rand for the Cleansing, The Path of Daggers where she got a Saldaean nose and Elayne looked suspiciously like Jean Grey...
I think much of my disappointment with the A Memory of Light cover stems from the fact that there's already an earlier cover (Winter's Heart) where Rand claimed the stage and his female linking partner was left out. "Hero poses manfully brandishing some kind of phallic object" is a pretty tired concept, especially on WoT covers. Rand does the same on Sweet's The Dragon Reborn and The Path of Daggers, the ebook covers for The Dragon Reborn, Winter's Heart, Knife of Dreams... Winter's Heart is probably the worst offender, if you look at the placement of the Choedan Kal. ;)
Sweet's A Memory of Light cover was a welcome break from that—I'm not usually a fan of Sweet's covers, but I liked that he gave Elayne, Min, and Aviendha a prominent role and added some emotion to the cover. So I really would have liked to see something different on the final cover, like Rand having the two women from the Callandor circle at his side. Here, Nynaeve and Moiraine are present, but only in the background, and not at all on the ebook cover.
The only female lead who held the cover spotlight on par with the men was Moiraine, and that is a shame.
There was definitely opportunity to feature Nynaeve linked with Rand on Winter's Heart. Despite the hair, I liked Nynaeve on the cover of A Crown of Swords. Lan not so much. The Path of Daggers was another miss, mostly because the colors were a distraction. I thought I was looking at an X-Men cover. Even if that was intentional, it didn't work for me.
I can only assume Rand was intended to stand at center stage alone on the last cover, but I think what you suggest would have been great too. Moiraine and Nynaeve definitely earned their place at Rand's side on the front.
That was a beautiful description of why Nynaeve is one of the most compelling characters in the series. She and Moiraine kept me invested during some dark years of almost giving up on WOT. I always hoped they would be the other Callandor channelers, as I could not imagine Rand putting himself in such a vulnerable position with anyone else. Aviendha, Min and Elayne included, though I do love Aviendha! So thank you for shedding light on why some things are portrayed as they are on this excellent new cover. Just don't think that it will put a dent in the debate. ;)
Thanks. I feel much the same way about those characters, and I'm sure the debate will keep going on well after the publication of A Memory of Light.
Yes, I know.
Why is he dead?
Robert Jordan once said that res...transmigrating a soul had not just to do with the way that they were killed but the time and...not necessarily just a weave, but why and how. [Technically, where and how.] I am not going to delve too much into transmigration. Robert Jordan did speak on these sorts of things. And so, the Dark One also might not think that the person was an asset worth bringing back.
Dashiva kinda sucks.
I'm not gonna say, but those are all factors in this.
I asked him if there is a time limit on how long the Dark One can hold the souls he grabs.
He said that he is not sure and might have to consult the notes but he thinks that there is a time limit.
I think that should put an end to the theories that the Dark One has been holding any souls for hundreds or even thousands of years.
Did the Dark One make the True Power available to Rand, or did he find it himself?
After staring at me for several seconds (long story) and taking a sip of water, he pulled out a RAFO card.
The Dark One seems to be conscious and aware of the events in the world. Is the Creator also conscious of world events?
Brandon said that's left up to the reader. He then said that many people think the voice in all caps in The Eye of the World is the Creator, which might indicate the Creator was, but stated it really wasn't known even in-world.
Was it up to you to decide what the Dark One actually was? The revelation that the Dark One was a concept or idea rather than a person reminded me very much of Ruin from the The Hero of Ages. How did you make that decision?
I was left a lot of freedom on how to do that specific thing, and earlier in the first draft he wasn't so much like that. We felt the conflict wasn't working—it felt more like the Last Conversation than the Last Battle. Harriet sent back direction for something stronger. The revision included the dueling of possibilities. That is where the Dark One became more involved and so it evolved into that, but we weren't following anything specific Jim had said.
Did the Creator ever manifest in the books? And I don't mean the VOICES IN CAPS.
Did the Creator speak in ALL CAPS at least once or twice?
The same voice spoke in all caps in the series.
Jordan made the decision of the True Nature of the Dark One. He said that straight out. He and Harriet rewrote and developed the battle the way it turned out, with the possible futures, etc. But the true key of the Dark ONe being needed for the world and Rand having to discover that and just restore the prison were Jordan's directive.
So, at the end of The Eye of the World, the all caps voice? Will we ever find out who it was, or what they were looking for?
The all caps voice at the end of Eye of the World makes an appearance in A Memory of Light.
What about what wasn't there?
What about what wasn't there?
What do you mean, what wasn't there?
Maybe it'll be in the encyclopedia. I can still RAFO things, Harriet is working on an encyclopedia of The Wheel of Time, which is coming out maybe in two years or so.
We had some discussion about whether or not the scene in AMOL in which Rand thinks Roedran is Demandred was intended as a bit of a dig at all the fan theories assuming that to be true. Or was Rand really just supposed to be convinced of that same theory? (And how did Shara never occur to anyone in the books?)
Balefire question: If balefire isn't tearing someone's soul out of the pattern, why is it so destructive? Why, in AMOL is it literally tearing the world apart when Darkfriends are using it?
Thanks! I will try and remember to ask more questions on 15 April!
1. The item you discuss was not intended as a dig against fans. You could read it, potentially, as an acknowledgement of fans—though really, all it comes from is the fact that you have a fan writing these books. I'm aware of many of the theories, and even spent years thinking about them and talking of them. In constructing this scene, it was my impression that if we'd spent all of this time working on these theories, how much more effort would those in world have expended?
And so, my impression was that this would be genuinely what the character thought. I thought it would be very strange if he HADN'T considered it. Therefore, I put a note of it in the text—to indicate that the characters had been working through these same issues, and come to some of the same conclusions. It wasn't meant to break the fourth wall, though I can see how it stands out to some readers.
2. I was under the impression that to be killed by balefire meant dying forever. However, Maria and the notes showed me I was wrong about this fact. Balefire does weaken the Pattern, but it can't destroy souls, which are (you might say) the substance of the Pattern. Just like you can take a hammer to a cup and shatter it, but the pieces of glass will still be there. The Pattern can (theoretically) be unraveled, the world end, but the souls still exist.
It should be note that Moridin believed strongly that the soul CAN be ended by other means, and the implication of wolves (at least) being killed with no rebirth means it can happen.
So, in final answer to your question, it is so destructive because it leaves the Pattern in a mess, strained, and more easily subjected to the Dark One's will. His goal is to shatter the cup, so to speak, and then rebuilt it into a cup more to his liking.
Oh man, I am so happy (a) that you answered my questions and (b) that you answered them well. Thank you for all you've done with the series, Brandon!
(I pointed out the Demandred scene because it is fun on all of those levels. I've thought about the "fourth wall" comment and it doesn't make sense; there's no moment where Rand looks at us. Just at Roedran, in a way that actually is entirely sensical.)
And so, my impression was that this would be genuinely what the character thought.
This was a bit jarring for me, because most of the reasons for the Demandred=Roedran theory came from hints given by Robert Jordan, that Rand wouldn't have access to.
Ah, but Rand would have a whole LOT of information in-world that we don't have. Spy reports, rumors, his knowledge of how the Forsaken like to work. If you remove the places where one of the Forsaken had already set up shop, remove the monarchs that Rand has already met and interacted with, and look for a place that has been suspiciously quiet, you end up with very few options.
One of which just happens to be as we now know Shara.
It's funny, it was an RJ quote that pushed people away from that particular theory. It turned out to be an extremely Aes Sedai answer.
I would love to read that quote.
And of course RJ would give Aes Sedai answers. That makes a lot of sense.
I'll try to find it, but he basically said that we'd never see Shara "on-screen".
Oh right! Yeah. That's a very Aes Sedai answer. Heh. 'You'll never see their country, but they'll see ours!'
Just finished the chapter "Older, More Weathered". Funniest chapter so far IMO, what are your most humorous scenes?
New Spring—Moiraine gets thrown into a pond.
Eye of the World—Min takes Rand aside when he re-enters the inn to tell him about Nynaeve, Thom immediately assumes they're gonna make out, Min says "Go juggle something."
The Great Hunt—Egwene smuggling Rand into the women's quarters to hide from the Amyrlin.
The Dragon Reborn—Moiraine catches some fish.
The Shadow Rising—Elayne gets drunk; Aviendha describes Elayne to Rand in detail.
The Fires of Heaven—The Aes Sedai in Salidar make Siuan and Leane go over every prank they played in the White Tower as novices and Accepted to prove they're really them; "It happened on the other side of the world and the Maidens still knew!"
Lord of Chaos—Aiel humor; Mat before he realizes Egwene really is the Amyrlin.
A Crown of Swords—Mat and Birgitte get drunk, Elayne gets bond-drunk; Min likes it rough.
The Path of Daggers—Aviendha describes some of her night with Rand to Elayne; Elayne and that mysterious red rod ter'angreal; the Maidens collect some toh from Rand.
Winter's Heart—Aviendha, Min, and Birgitte all feeling it in their heads.
Crossroads of Twilight—"She would bond him as her Warder one day, somehow, and she would marry him, and make love to him until he cried for mercy!" Whoa there Egwene.
Knife of Dreams—Tuon allows Mat to kiss her. "Do I remind you of your sister? Or perhaps your mother?"
The Gathering Storm—"Women are like goats..."
Towers of Midnight—"Your royal bloody pain in my back..."
A Memory of Light—Aviendha suggests that the most honorable way to win would be to take the Dark One gai'shain.
A note for those curious, but a spoiler for the ending. Regarding the AMOL one, have you noticed yet that Rand, to an extent, did this very thing?
Is it just how he imprisoned the Dark One without killing him? Or did I miss something?
The usual way to take a person gai'shain is to touch them while they are holding a weapon. Rand seized and held the Dark One in his hand, then chose not to kill him, instead taking him prisoner.
Knowing what you know about Shai'tan, would it have been possible or at all interesting to have had a part from his POV?
Anything is possible, but I don't think it would be right for the book. Even in 'What if' land. Putting in a recreation of him was even a stretch—anything you read in the books is how mankind's minds choose to visualize him. He doesn't really have a personality. He, like the Pattern, simply IS.
In the Wheel of Time books, did the Creator have a power, similar to the True Power that the Dark One had?
I'm afraid I don't have the answer for this, not for certain. I think that readers of the text could argue both ways. For example, a certain event in the epilogue of AMOL could be interpreted this way—though everyone in Team Jordan seems to have a different opinion on what is going on, and RJ didn't leave an explanation.