Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
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."
Logged In (0):
Newest Members:johnroserking, petermorris, johnadanbvv, AndrewHB, jofwu, Salemcat1, Dhakatimesnews, amazingz, Sasooner, Hasib123,
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.
Does evil need to be effective to be evil? And how do you define effectiveness? Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge managed to murder about 25-30% of Cambodia's population, destroy the country's agricultural and industrial base, fairly well wipe out the educated class inside the country (defined as anyone with an education beyond the ability to read; a good many of those went too, of course), and in general became so rabid that only China was willing to maintain any sort of contact with them, and that at arm's length. Their rabidity was the prime reason that they ended up losing the country. (though they are still around and still causing trouble.) In other words, they were extremely ineffective in attaining their goal, which was to seize Cambodia, remake it in the way Pol Pot wished (and still wishes), and export their brand of revolution abroad. Looking at the death toll, the cities emptied out (hospital patients were told they had one hour to leave or die; post-op patients, those still in the operating room, everybody), the murders of entire families down to infants because one member of the family was suspected of "counter-revolutionary" crimes, the mass executions (one method was for hundreds of people to be bound hand and foot, then bulldozed into graves alive; the bulldozers drove back and forth over these mass graves until attempts to dig out stopped)—given all of that, can you say that Khmer Rough's ineffectiveness made them less evil? Irrationality is more fearful than rationality (if we can use that term in this regard) because if you have brown hair and know that the serial killer out there is only killing blondes, you are safe, but if he is one of those following no easily discernible pattern, if every murder seems truly random, then it could be you who will be next. But "rationality" can have its terrors. What if that killer is only after brunettes named Carolyn? Stalin had the very rational goal (according to Communist dogma) of forcibly collectivizing all farmland in the Soviet Union. He was effective—all the land was collectivized—and to do it he murdered some thirty million small farmers who did not want to go along.
But are the Forsaken ineffective or irrational? Are they any more divided than any other group plotting to take over a country, a world, IBM? True, they plot to secure power for themselves. But I give you Stalin v. Trotsky and the entire history of the Soviet Union. I give you Thomas Jefferson v. Alexander Hamilton v. John Adams, and we will ignore such things as Jefferson's hounding of Aaron Burr (he tore up the Constitution to do it; double jeopardy, habeas corpus, the whole nine yards), or Horatio Gates' attempted military coup against Washington, with the support of a fair amount of the Continental Congress. We can also ignore Secretary of War Stanton's attempts to undermine Lincoln throughout the Civil War, the New England states' attempt to make a separate peace with England during the Revolution and their continued trading with the enemy (the British again) during the War of 1812, and... The list could go on forever, frankly, and take in every country. Human nature is to seize personal advantage, and when the situation is the one the Forsaken face (namely that one of them will be given the rule of the entire earth while the others are forever subordinate), they are going to maneuver and backstab like crazy. You yourself say "If ever there was the possibility that some alien force was going to invade this planet, half the countries would refuse to admit the problem, the other half would be fighting each other to figure out who will lead the countries into battle, etc." Even events like Rahvin or Sammael or Be'lal seizing a nation have a basis. What better way to hand over large chunks of land and people to the Dark One than to be ruler of those lands and people? The thing is that they are human. But aside from that, are you sure that you know what they are up to? All of them? Are you sure you know what the Dark One's own plans are? Now let's see about Rand and his dangers and his allies. Have you been skimming, my dear? What makes you think the Tairens, Cairhienin and Andorans are solidly behind him? They're plotting and scheming as hard as the Forsaken. Rand is the Dragon Reborn, but this is my country, and we don't need anybody, and so on. And then there are those who don't think he is the Dragon Reborn at all, just a puppet of Tar Valon. Most of the Aiel may be behind him, but the Shaido are still around, and the bleakness is still taking its toll, since not all Aiel can face up to what Rand has told them about themselves. What makes you think the Seanchan will fall in behind Rand? Have you seen any Seanchan volunteers showing up? Carolyn, half of these people are denying there is a problem, and half are trying to be big honcho themselves. Read again, Carolyn. The world Rand lives in is getting more frenzied and turbulent. Damned few are saying, "Lead, because you know best." A good many who are following are saying "Lead, because I'd rather follow you than have you call down lightning and burn me to a crisp!"
As for lack of challenge, I refer you again to the question about whether you really think you know what all the Forsaken are planning. Or what Padan Fain is up to. There is a flaw inherent in fiction, one that is overcome by suspension of disbelief. We do always know, somewhere in the back of our heads, that the hero is going to make it through as far as he needs to. After all, if Frodo buys the farm, the story is over, kids. The excitement comes in trying to figure out how he can possibly wiggle out, how he can possibly triumph.
In Rand's case, let's see what he still has stacked against him. The Cairhienin and Tairens are for the most part reluctant allies, and in many cases not even that. At the end of Fires, he has Caemlyn, but I don't see any Andoran nobles crowding around to hail him. Illian still belongs to Sammael. Pedron Niall is working to convince people Rand is a false Dragon, and the Prophet is alienating ten people for every one he convinces. Tarabon and Arad Doman are unholy messes; even if Rand manages to get in touch with all of the Dragonsworn—who are not organized beyond individual bands—he has two humongous civil wars to deal with. True, he can use the Aiel to suppress those, but he has to avoid men killing men too much; there are Trollocs waiting to spill out of the Blight eventually. We must always remember the Trollocs, Myrddraal etc; the last time they came out in force, it took over 300 years to beat them back, and the Last Battle doesn't give Rand anywhere near that. Altara and Murandy are so divided in any case that simply getting the king or queen on his side isn't going to work; remember that most people in those two countries give loyalty to a city or a local lord and only toss in their country as an afterthought. Davram Bashere thinks Tenobia will bring Saldaea to Rand, and that is possible since the Borderlands would be one place where everyone is aware of the Last Battle and the Prophecies, but even Bashere isn't willing to make any promises, not even for Saldaea much less the other Borderlands, and I haven't seen any Borderland rulers showing up to hand Rand the keys to the kingdom. Padan Fain is out there, able to feel Rand, and hating him because of what was done to him, Fain, to make him able to find Rand. The surviving Forsaken are out there and except for Sammael, nobody knows what they are up to or where they can be found. For that matter, who knows everything that Sammael is up to? Elaida, in the White Tower, thinks Rand has to be tightly controlled. The Salidar Aes Sedai are not simply ready to fall in and kiss his boots, either. Aes Sedai have been manipulating the world for more than three thousand years, guiding it, making sure it remembers the Dark One and Tarmon Gai'don as real threats, doing their best, as they see it, to prepare the world for the Dark One breaking free. Are they likely to simply step aside and hand over control to a farmboy, even if he is the Dragon Reborn? Even after Moiraine decided he had to be given his head, Siuan was reluctant, and Siuan was in Moiraine's little conspiracy from the beginning. And the Seanchan...The last we saw of their forces, they were commanded by a Darkfriend. As for the Sea Folk, do you know what their prophecy says about the Coramoor? Do you think working with them it will be any simpler than dealing with the Aiel, say?
Now, what and who does Rand have solidly in his camp? Perrin knows what is needed, but he's hardly happy about it. What he really wants is to settle down with Faile and be a blacksmith; everything else is a reluctant duty. Mat blew the Horn of Valere, but it's hidden in the Tower, and frankly, if he could figure some way to go away and spend the rest of his life carousing and chasing women, he would. He'll do what he has to do, but Light he doesn't want to. The Aiel are for Rand (less the Shaido, still a formidable force), but the Dragon Reborn and the Last Battle are no part of the Prophecy of Rhuidean. That is all wetlander stuff. Besides which, they are still suffering losses from bleakness, people throwing down their spears and leaving, people defecting to the Shaido or drifting back to the Waste because what Rand told them of their origins can't possibly be true and if it isn't then he can't be the Car'a'carn. Rand has declared an amnesty for men who can channel and is trying to gather them in; they, at least, should give their loyalty to him. But how many can he find? How much can he teach them in the time he has? How many will go mad before the Last Battle? There is still the taint on saidin, remember. For that matter, can Rand hang onto his own sanity? What effect will having a madman inside his head have? Can he stop Lews Therin from taking him over?
I know that was supposed to be a listing of what Rand has in his favor, but the fact is that he is walking the razor's edge, barely hanging onto his sanity and growing more paranoid all the time, barely hanging onto putative allies, most of whom would just as soon see him go away in the hope that then everything would be the way it was before he showed up, confronted by enemies on every side. In short he has challenges enough for ten men. I've had people write to say they can't see how Rand is going to untangle all of this and get humanity ready to face the Last Battle. What I say is, what you believe to be true is not always true. What you think is going to happen is not always going to happen. That has been demonstrated time and again in The Wheel of Time. You could call those two statements one of the themes of the books.
Ye means "I." He is "sin," she is "sar," you is "asa," and it is "aso."
One of the difficulties is context and flexibility: for example, al can mean "the" or "of the." The word cuebiyar can mean simply "heart," or "my heart," or when capitalized, "the heart" as in the heart of a people or nation. The word moridin means "grave" or "tomb," but when capitalized it means "the grave," standing for "death." It is intended to be a language of subtlety, where the meanings of words can change to a great extent according to context. Remember Moiraine's comments on the difficulty of translation.
The Fourth Age titles are not Old Tongue, though influenced by it. Some common names are from the Old Tongue, and some aren't. Sorry I can't go into more detail, but we're talking a treatise.
Well. I am going to have to cut this off, now. Thanks for writing. Keep me posted on your deductions. One of these days, maybe I'll have time to give congratulations on the hits and point out the misses. One clue to some: sometimes when words are combined and the end of the first word is the same as the beginning of the second, they overlap.
With best wishes, I am,
Regarding That Whole Thing About the Horn—Hawkwing vs. Moiraine
Question: Hawkwing says they follow the banner and the Dragon. Moiraine says the Heroes will follow whoever winds the Horn. Was Moiraine wrong?
(I started to get confused at this point. Is Moiraine right or is she wrong? What's he trying to tell me?)
Question: Then what happens if the Dragon and the banner are on opposite sides of the conflict from whoever sounds the Horn?
(This elicited a pronounced Startled Moment from Harriet, which I took at the time to express the same reaction as me—"A WHAT?!?"—but which Kevin told me later he interpreted to be more along the lines of "I can't believe you're telling them that!" It could, of course, mean something entirely different.)
At this point, part of my mind was running wild down paths about the Dark One and potential entrances into the Pattern, while the rest of it remained stunned, frozen, in absolute denial: "A WHAT?!?"I remain steadfastly in denial about this one. Oh, sure. He did say it, and if it becomes relevant, he'll work it in, no doubt. But I firmly believe he Made This Up. If the Dark One was aware of this, it seems to me that he'd be working a lot harder on making this happen, since it would seem to represent the equivalent of a serious "crack in the door to the Pattern." It's so much less work than using up all your main players (Chosen) in inefficient, conflicting plots and setting up Rand for "easily escapable situations involving an overly elaborate and exotic Death." 
 I'm not certain if this is the exact word he used. It may have been "schism" or "breach," but it was definitely a word expressing the concept of a forced opening/rupture. Sorry. It was lost in the momentary brain freeze.
 Moridin, of course. He's overly elaborate and exotic even before he puts on his silk coats.
No, the story is NOT a dream. Jeez Marie!
A very strong male channeler bonded to a very weak Aes Sedai could not use the bond to control her. Whoever holds the bond is in charge, though she might have a hard time controlling him.
Everybody fears death because the being that is reborn, while possessing the same soul, will not be the same person. The fear is simple. I will cease to exist. Someone else will exist, bearing my soul. But I will cease. I have met many believers in reincarnation, and most of them seem to fear death just as much as anyone else.
Yes, Elayne, Nynaeve and Egwene could pass the test for Aes Sedai with their current abilities, though Nynaeve might be a little hard pressed. Too much specialization.
And finally, as I have said, I would not change anything in the books except the way that I structured Crossroads of Twilight.
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.
On Falme, Rand and the Seanchan.
Question: In Falme we saw Rand fighting Ishamael and the Heroes of the Horn and the Seanchan were mirroring the progress of the battle. Does this mean that there is something inherently evil about the Seanchan Empire?
Answer: Nobody in WoT is inherently evil, except for Shadowspawn. At the time, the Seanchan were being led by a Darkfriend.
I almost didn't include this, it's so nitpicky, but you said you liked that. Feel free to ignore. Is this then to imply that the reason the Seanchan were paralleled with Ishamael in the fights was because Suroth was leading them? I always assumed that it was Rand's personal enmity that caused the correlation—he saw both Ishamael and the Seanchan as the bad guys, and therefore, under the effect of the Wheel's push for the Dragon event, combined with the influence of Rand's ta'maral'ailen and the 'loose reality' resulting from the sounding of the Horn, the two got linked in the weaving of the moment? Was it then more involved with the links between Suroth and Ishamael?
As I understand, if you are 'spun out' you do not respond to the call of the Horn. So no Cain showing up if it is sounded again, as he's been spun out.
As you understand it? Isn't your understanding more or less canon at this point?
No, it's not his world or book series. He can misunderstand something just as well as the next guy.
Not saying he did here, but just 'cuz he's finishing the series doesn't mean, for example, he can retcon or change anything or do "whatever he wants or thinks".
No of course not. But if there are two ways to understand something (that RJ has written) wouldn't it be up to Sanderson to decide which of those he believes to be right?
So if he thinks that when he's spun out he wont respond to the Horn, no one can ever prove him wrong (there are nothing in the books to contradict this), so wouldn't his understanding be the "right" one?
Here's the thing. There are three million+ words of notes, and RJ changed his mind about a lot of things as he wrote, explored, and made decisions. (He talked about this being his process. He saw the Wheel of Time as an organic thing.) So any time I speak on an issue like this, there's the chance that Maria (his assistant) will come to me and say "Actually, Brandon, he changed his mind on that. Look here for the revision." Half the time, it's something he mentioned in passing to her, Harriet, or Alan and isn't even written down.
So...on things I think I know, but haven't confirmed with Team Jordan yet, I usually add some wiggle room. My knowledge is far from absolute. Fortunately, everything in the books I write gets fact-checked a half dozen times. (Even then, some of my mistakes slip through.)
Okay...we don't really know. No one really knows. It's an ancient artifact, probably not a ter'angreal.
Excuse me, Maria, I have to interrupt for just a moment. I actually found some notes on this, in the bottom of Jim's desk.
I don't know if anyone's interested.
Just a little?
The Horn of Valere, as Maria said, it was created by mortals—we know that; Jim has said as much publicly—and the Horn was created in the Age before the Age of Legends, or at least one Age before; it was not known how far back. But I've discovered that the Horn actually was the original Horn played by Dizzy Gillespie. [laughter] It was manufactured by King—it was the silver flare model. And something happened after this Age...there was so much Bebop imbued in this instrument that it took on its own magical qualities, and when it was found during the Age of Legends, the bent bell was refashioned into a curve, and they put in the Old Tongue inscription inside the bell. [laughter]
That is awesome.
Wow. I never would have guessed that.
Well, it's really obscure. The power of Bebop is unlimited, and it just transformed through the last couple of Ages, to get into Rand's world, with its current...now, originally, when he blew it, musicians would appear.
AH. Backup band.
But because of the needs of the time, you know, it suddenly became, Heroes would emerge when it was played. So, that's all we can really say about it. Do you have anything else to add, Maria?
I can't wait until the Theorylanders get ahold of that.
Oh yeah. So now we know that the Wheel even weaves inanimate objects into the Pattern, and makes use of them as it wishes.
Now, that story I expect to see in the next Great White Book, version two. [laughter]
In Lord of Chaos, Nynaeve and Elayne searched for something that would tie the Salidar Aes Sedai to Rand via Need in Tel'aran'rhiod.
Need led them to three things. First it led them to the White Tower, (where Elayne glimpsed Egwene briefly), then Need shifted Nynaeve and Elayne to a locked storeroom within the White Tower (they thought that was useless). After that, Need led them to the Bowl of the Winds. My questions are regarding the first two things Need brought them to.
On the first thing, was Need bringing them to Egwene?
I believe it was Egwene.
On the second thing, what was the item Need brought them to in that storeroom?
Was that something besides the Horn of Valere?
It could be.
[I felt that this question was grasping at straws here a bit from the impression I got from him, i.e. it's not that important regarding what the item is, but that it will come into play. And it's not the Horn of Valere in this case. I could be wrong, that's just the vibe I got.]
*we talked about this for a while, and I didn’t take any notes on that part of the conversation (so it was nothing big) we dropped back into interesting stuff a bit later and I resumed note taking*
I will say that, in the course of writing A Memory of Light, I learned some very interesting things that went against some strong preconceptions I had about the Horn. Some of the ideas I had, about how it worked, turned out to be incorrect.
I also asked him if the Heroes of the Horn are invulnerable when they are called by the Horn.
He was very ready for this question—when I started to explain that Birgitte told Nynaeve something along those lines in The Shadow Rising he said that he knows the quote I mean and then he said this. Firstly, the Heroes when called by the Horn are not completely invulnerable. But he specifically said that he is not saying that one of them will die. Rather, he said that the issue will be addressed in a discussion between two characters in the book.
I found this to be a very interesting answer. I think it puts a serious crimp on the theories that Rand will die and come back to fight the Dark One as a Hero of the Horn.
My name is Drew McCaffrey; I'm from Fort Collins, Colorado. I've been an absolutely huge fan of the series for eleven years now, and I just recently graduated as a creative writing major, and I'm a writer because of the Wheel of Time. [applause, cheers]
My question is in regards to a debate that I've had with my cousin and a couple of my friends for a while now. Is it possible for a channeler to be tied to the Horn of Valere?
(Brandon passes mic to Maria, laughter) Um, I think I'm gonna have to say, that's a really good question. [laughter] I honestly can't say why not.
(to his friends) HA! [laughter, applause]
But! But I would really love to do some research before giving an absolute definitive answer [laughter] and I can't do that right now.
Would Lews Therin's soul be tied to the Horn?
Lews Therin! He was.
Well yeah. [laughter]
He was recognized.
That's right. Absolutely.
He was recognized, but was he tied to the Horn? Do we have confirmation of that happening? [laughter] Or they just know him? See, he's trying to trick us into saying things.
Maria's saying she'll have to look it up and post it.
Ooh. Agreed. Well, thank you very much, all of you, for being here tonight and...yeah. [laughter, applause]
You're assuming because it wasn't shown on screen, it didn't happen...
What happened in the conversation between Tuon and Arthur Hawkwing?!?!
It was interesting, I'll tell you that much.
Did Hawkwing talk with Tuon?
How do you think Fortuona reacted to speaking with Hawking?
With great consternation.
Let's see if I can answer this one... They're not going to be, I don't think there's a law against... But only the greatest heroes are bound to the Horn. They are not the greatest heroes. So, why are you asking this?
I’m pretty much asking about Verin, and the likelihood of her being bound.
Okay, I don't know that there would be anything forbidding Verin from being bound to the Horn.
Is there any mention of that in A Memory of Light?
That's a RAFO.
Alright, thank you though...
Some would like a definitive answer: Are channelers ever bound to the Horn? (Rand? Egwene?)
"They certainly could be." Brandon and Harriet agreed that, although the notes never specified any channelers who were so bound, there was nothing in the notes to indicate it couldn’t/didn't happen either, and they both believe it’s entirely possible.
(A follow-on question might be asked about whether Egwene might be a Hero, but they didn't give me the impression that they were hedging—which they probably would have, if that were in the notes.)
This is an interesting one for a multitude of reasons. I actually worked under the assumption that whoever blew the Horn would control the Heroes, going so far as to write several sequences in the last book referencing that to heighten tension that if the Horn were indeed captured things would go VERY poorly for the Light.
I was quite surprised, then, when Harriet wrote back to me on the manuscript quite energetically crossing out these lines and explaining that the Heroes could not ever follow the Shadow. I called and asked for confirmation and clarification, pointing out that it seemed otherwise from the text and from fandom interpretation. She explained that this was one of Jim's ruses, that the characters in book were wrong and repeating bad information, and that Jim had been very clear with her that it was not the case. I can only guess that these reports in fandom were cases where people asked Jim a question he could Aes Sedai his way out of, and something got muddled in the communication or the reporting somehow.
(Feel free to follow up with Harriet and Maria on this one, if you want more. Honestly, I was surprised, and it was something we had quite a dialogue on as I worked on the final book. I fought longer than I probably should for the "Shadow can use the Horn" theory.)
I really can't add anything here. I thought I was led to believe (as opposed to coming up with it myself) that the Heroes really wouldn't follow the Horn if it were blown by Team Dark, but I cannot swear to that. I was unaware of the rift answer. Of course, it's possible that the Heroes themselves don't know the correct answer; they're Heroes, after all, and unless there's some Hero orientation meeting where they are filled in on all the details, they may just assume that they're always going to be Heroes, as in champions of goodness and Light.
I don't know that one either. Because I answered that for somebody; I think it was one of Luckers' questions way back...it was a different version of the question, you know, was the banner really required?
So why is the Horn of Valere linked to Illian?
That's another good question that I don't have the answer to.
Oh yeah, so you’d make sure.
We know there are spirit-like entities tied to the call of a musical instrument. And we also know the mechanism Robert Jordan created—a super AI-like system, if you will, to guide the outcome of the many variations of all worlds. Finally, we know this super AI can upgrade the status of spirit-like entities as it needs. Therefore, has the super AI tied any female spirit-like entities of individuals who died during the fifty years prior to the final military engagement of the final book to the call of this said musical instrument? [Much clapping.]
Arbitrary decision . . . you win!
Matt, you have to send that to me . . . [?]
So, as a subset of paragraph 3, subsection B on the R. A. F. O. Rules of Engagement, this is definitely a Class A Read and Find Out.
Does he get a card?
Yeah, I’ve got a . . . he’s got so many cards. Yeah, I cannot answer that.
[Question about what Matt asked]
As I interpreted it, he asked if any women have been tied to the Horn of Valere in the last fifty years. Any women who were not previously tied to it. And so, I can speak of only one person that has been tied to the Horn of Valere in the last fifty years. Male, yes.
Who is that?
That was Jain Farstrider.
You’re not allowed to talk about it?
I can’t talk about it. You can interpret that as . . . Now I did preface this all by saying, “Here are the things that I won’t talk about.” So, you can kind of assume that if I can’t talk about it it’s because I don’t know, or I’m holding it back because it might be in the encyclopedia, or things like this.