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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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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.
(from the comments)
One other way to think of it is thus: The Wheel will keep on turning, and the Age that we live in (or like unto it) will someday arrive. Legends from what is happening in these books will have survived, and become the Arthur legends during our day. Or, in other cases, stories of other characters have survived in other mythologies. (Look up the Slavic god Perun sometime.)
Perrin is not a god, nor is Gawyn the knight of that story I linked. But perhaps someone who lived long ago, in another Age, gave birth to rumors about a young nobleman who made a mistake, and bore the weight of that sin for the rest of his days. And that gave birth to stories, which in turn inspired a poet to write a tale.
(later) I cannot find anything to clarify the question.
RJ said the soul is immortal. But Hopper says dying in the Wolf Dream is likely permanent. Is Hopper wrong?
RAFO, for now. Ask again after the last book is out.
I really don’t think so, for either, but I cannot find it specifically stated.
RJ gave a little height information that slightly contradicts some previous info supposedly gleaned from a signings encounter. Rand is, of course, about 6'6". Moiraine, however, is actually as tall as 5'3", and Egwene and Nynaeve are both about 5'5". Oh, and he said Moiraine "was" 5'3", if anyone wants to read anything into that. RJ also said that if anyone asked him how much anybody weighed, he'd throw up his hands in exasperation. I definitely got the impression that he cares nothing for the detailed heights and such, but instead goes completely from the mental pictures he's got in his head.
I asked him to confirm that he had said that Rand will physically lose his hand and that Mat will physically lose his eye.
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.)
About Aes Sedai and their oaths:
"Rand is in control, one way or the other—depending on exact oaths, who was Black Ajah, and how willing they are to hold to those oaths."
The Aes Sedai who beat Rand in Lord of Chaos did not necessarily violate the Three Oaths. Jordan explained that the Three Oaths are bound by literal intent and perception. He said that the Aes Sedai could have considered the beatings a just punishment rather than the use of a weapon. He also suggested that not everything that harms you need be considered a weapon. I think he gave the example of a whip used lightly not considered a weapon, versus a whip used to flay skin being considered a weapon. On the subject of the first Oath ("to speak no word that is untrue"), Jordan said that Aes Sedai can say something they believe to be true or something they don't mean literally. As an example of the latter, an Aes Sedai can employ hyperbole and say something like, "I'm going to tie your ears over your head," when she means to do no such thing.
My Comment: I should also point out that at least two of the women who beat Rand are people we know to belong to the Black Ajah. On page 683hb (in Lord of Chaos), it is said that only Galina, Erian, and Katerine beat Rand more than once. We know that Galina and Katerine are Black Ajah, so they aren't bound by the Oaths anyway. Erian is the Aes Sedai whose two Warders Rand killed, so maybe she found some way to justify her punishment of Rand under the Three Oaths. I don't know who else beat Rand (i.e., who beat him only once); the book may say, but I can't find a quote.
Tam "knows" that Rand is the Dragon Reborn. Jordan said that Tam has all the clues he needs to figure out that Rand is the Dragon Reborn. Whether or not Tam will admit it to himself is another matter. Jordan said that Tam merely finding Rand as a baby on the slopes of Dragonmount wasn't enough of a clue—even if Tam were familiar with that prophecy then, few people think about those things or expect them to happen literally to them—but that, plus the fact that Rand has disappeared off with Aes Sedai who say he's important, and the fact that the world is going crazy, should give Tam enough information to make the conclusion.
There are a number of characters reflected, mythological characters, reflected in each of the books. Because of the basic theme, if you will, of the books, that information becomes distorted over distance or time, you cannot know the truth of an event the further you get from it. These people are supposed to be the source of a great many of our legends or myths, but what they actually did bears little resemblance to the myth. That is the conceit, that time has shifted these actions to other people, perhaps compressing two people into one or dividing one into three as far as their actions go.
So Rand has bits of Arthur and bits of Thor and bits of other characters. And so does Mat and so does Nynaeve, and so do others. And yes Mat does have some bits of Odin, but not exclusively. He has bits of Loki and bits of Coyote and of the Monkey King.
Vietnam/Rand's "No Kill Woman" Thing
RJ vividly described an experience he had in Vietnam where he killed a female Viet Cong. He said he simply spotted a figure holding a weapon and fired on it, then "acquired the next target." He then realized that he had killed a woman—the first (and I believe only) time he's done that. This provides an obvious basis for Rand's "Achilles' Heel." (I thought he should have offed both the Tower Aes Sedai in the beginning of A Crown of Swords and Lanfear earlier, but I'm rude like that.)
Mordeth + person. Mordeth is a human-made evil. The Black Wind gets along with Mordeth because of professional courtesy. Fain is anti-Forsaken as well as anti-Rand. He has a lot of skills and abilities outside of channeling. He can not channel.
1. What do Rand's wards on Callandor ward against exactly?
2. Are the black cords on male Forsaken the means to access to the True Power?
3. If so, why don't the female Forsaken have them?
"Read and find out" on all three counts.
Damn. I still don't think the cords have anything to do with True Power usage though.
Regarding the Dragon and the Dragon Reborn (and Graendal's thoughts about Ishamael's musings):
"Is this soul born in any other Age, or only at the advent and (theoretically, of course) the closing of the Third Age, as the Dragon/the Dragon Reborn?"
You don't think it's obvious? Err, let's see. You have... You're using both repulsion and attraction of opposites here. Repulsion of things that are opposite and [attraction] of things that are the same. The Taint upon [saidin] as versus the conduit, which is made of saidar through which the saidin passes. The saidin and saidar, as men and women, are in many ways opposite. It repels one another. It is safe to make this conduit of saidar between saidin and Shadar Logoth, because there can be no mixing. As the eh... as [saidin] passes through, as the taint passes through, the saidar actually repels it, pushes it away from [saidin]..., alright?
Now, you have a taint on... the eh Source, the male half of the Source, you have the taint on Shadar Logoth. They're not the same, yet they are. The taint on Shadar Logoth did not come from the Dark One. The taint was created by humans, who believed that they must do whatever was necessary, anything that was necessary to defeat the Shadow. And because they would accept no limits to what they would do, to what could be done, to what needed to be done, they created their own destruction. Their evil is, or was, as great as that of the Dark One, but diametrically opposite. It is an evil created for the best of intentions, created for good intentions. So it is the opposite. So, this attraction created the conduit begins to pull the taint from [saidin] to siphon it off. Remember, it's always been described it's not as mixed all through [saidin], it is like a thin skin of rancidness, think of a thin skin of rancid oil floating on a pond, and if you get through it, you've got clean water, but you can't get through it without putting your hand in that oil. You're getting it on your hand...
To attract one another because they are opposites, but because even being opposite, they have gone far enough around the circle, they act to destroy one another. You see, it's not opposites along a straight line. We're actually talking opposites along a circle. Continuing the motif of the Wheel of Time, if you will. So you've got two things that are both opposites and the same. [He's been waving his hands in the air for this. Hands far apart for the straight line versus hands together, making a circle and coming together again] That will both attract one another and negate one another.
Do you understand better now?
Um, if you consider King Arthur to be a Jesus figure—the king who must die. [more, indistinct]
[I'm not positive on the exact wording of that question. It's indistinct.]
Why didn't Rand kill Padan Fain when he spotted him at the rebels' camp in A Crown of Swords?
Rand was there to reach out to the rebels, and killing Fain would not have been productive, and Rand is not a fool. (I had to stifle quite a few comments at that answer.)
How do you create the names for the characters?
(He said a really long answer, and I will summarize it. He basically takes names from legends and twists them, mainly King Arthur. The two characters that are based after King Arthur are Artur Hawkwing, obviously, and Rand. For example, the "sword in the stone." He says that the Wheel of Time could kind of be known as the basis of where all of the legends and myths come from. He said he tried to bury King Arthur very deeply, because if people thought that The Eye of the World was just another King Arthur book, nobody would buy it.)
No, but let me give you an example of why. When I first thought I might have what would become the Wheel of Time ready, the character of Rand, who is about 19 years old, and his father Tam, were one character. A man who had run away from home as a boy of thirteen or fourteen, and in that sort of world that you can get if you've grown up on a farm. He began to work with horses among soldiers and then he became a soldier, and having spent twenty years of his life as a soldier, he's tired, and decides he wants to go home.
So a man in his middle thirties returns home to his village, and discovers that the place he returns to is not the place he left, and that he is not the young man who ran away, and on top of that the world and phrophecy were hard on his heels. It would have been a very different story than the one I wound up writing. I decided that I wanted to split them because I wanted the major characters to be Candides. I wanted them to look at fresh eyes...I wanted everything to be new.
—Taimandred is bogus.
—Rand has only one soul, but has two personalities.
—Museam Replicas will be producing the Sword and Dragon pins as well as an approved version of the Great Serpent ring (which apparently goes around the finger twice before biting its own tail).
—Someone has correctly deduced who killed Asmodean, so no one should ever ask him that question again.
"The biggest single political power in their world is the great city of Tar Valon, home to the White Tower, which is the headquarters of the Aes Sedai, women who can tap into the power that drives the universe and turns the Wheel of Time, the One Power."
Men are not able to manipulate the power like women can, the dual nature of the power is often too much for them. "Men can't do that safely. A man who channels the One Power, which has a male half, saidin, and a female half, saidar, will eventually go mad and die," Jordan explained. "Only until he dies, he's a madman who can do horrific things with the Power. The fly in the buttermilk is this. Prophecy says that a boychild will be born who is humanity's only chance to win the Last Battle, when the Dark One breaks free of the prison where he was confined by the Creator at the moment of creation. And that boychild will be able to channel the One Power."
Lan and Rand's swords are loosely based on the katana, and another style of sword I had never heard of before (sooba? something like that anyway. SilverWarder might know) and that others were based on medieval European styles. He said that blademasters don't follow one particular historical style of fighting, but that different blademasters have different styles depending on their culture of origin.
At this point he went off on a little tangent about Miyamoto Musashi, a reknowned Japanese swordsman that developed a two-sword style of fighting that was revolutionary at the time. He related that Musashi developed his fighting style after fighting in the Philippines against fighters (Dutch? Portuguese? I didn't write their nationality down, but somebody here might know) that were using swords and dirks in a two-handed fighting style. In any case, I think his point was to demonstrate how fighting styles, like other knowledge, disseminates from culture to culture, but is changed and adapted into something unique in each locale.
Yes, she has the spark. The question seemed to me to be about the difference between the people born with the spark and those that aren't. Even people who are born with the spark are going to start channeling whether they want to or not. But Nynaeve did it through a conscious effort, really. It wasn't just happenstance that she began channeling at that point, she had a need to channel. Uhm, the same thing that would happen later to Rand, by the way.
Often the thing, that as I believe has been pointed out, often the thing that pulls someone that has the spark into their first channeling is a perceived need, when they channel without knowing they channel, not realizing what they have done, quite often.
The...the people who are not born with the spark, can they channel unconsciously, can they, that is someone who can learn but doesn't have the spark, can they channel unconsciously? No. For them, they must have a teacher to guide them, or make a conscious effort, which is unlikely to succeed, but might.
Um, when I was much younger, before I met Harriet, I had two girlfriends simultaneously, who arranged my dating schedule between them, who was going to date me on which night. They chipped in together to buy me birthday presents and Christmas presents. You know, they just sort of shared me between them, you know. And they had been friends before, and I am not quite sure whether or not they made the decision they were both going to date me or not, on their own, before they first met me, it just came about. But I figured if I could manage two, surely Rand could manage three. Besides there are mythological reasons to have these three women involved with him.
As far as my view on this, with Harriet, I have many more than three women, there are so many facets to her personality she quite often makes me dizzy, I am quite satisfied there. About how she feels about this, I suspect you want her answer, I seem to remember her saying to me, you do remember this is fantasy right? And I think it was an accident she was holding a carving knife to my throat, just coincidence, but I am not sure.
The Forsaken are a group of power hungry people who don't like one another and vie with one another for power as much as they vie with the forces of the Light. Much like the internal politicking in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But look at the situation in the world as it actually stands, from the White Tower divided to crop failures caused by a too-long winter and a too-long summer and people fleeing their farms because the Dragon Reborn has broken all bonds, meaning still less food, and that spoiling at a fearsome rate, from chaos in Arad Doman to a large part of the Borderland armies out of position, from the arrival of the Seanchan focusing too many eyes on them instead of the Shadow to the strongest single nation, Andor, riven by civil war in all but name and Tear split by open warfare, from.... Well, take your pick. There are lots more to chose from. Take a step back and look at what the forces of the Shadow have wrought. The world and the forces of the Light are in bad shape. At this point, boys and girls, the Shadow is winning. There are glimmers of hope, but only glimmers, and they MUST pay off for the Light to win. All the Shadow needs for victory is for matters to keep on as they have been going thus far and one or two of those glimmers to fade or be extinguished. The forces of the Light are on the ropes, and they don't even know everything the Dark One has up his sleeve.
Think of it this way. The bell is about to ring for the fifteenth round, and the Light is so far behind on points the only way to win is a knockout. Our boy is game, but he's wobbly on his legs and bleeding from cuts over his eyes. Now he has three minutes to pull out his best stuff and deliver the punch of his life. The Dark One has taken a few shots, but nothing that has really damaged him. He's still dancing on his toes and talking trash. His head shots can fracture a skull, and his body punches can break ribs. And now he's ready to unveil his surprises. You didn't think all it would take is for Rand to show up at the Last Battle, did you? According to the Prophecies, the Light has no chance without him, but his presence doesn't ensure victory, just that the Light has a chance. Gotta stiffen your legs and blink the blood out of your eyes. Gotta suck it up and find that punch. Three minutes to go, and you gotta find that knockout. That's your only chance.
For Phil Reborn, Lanfear climbed onto the wagon to get the angreal. Rand was occupying her to the extent that she couldn't afford to just use flows of Air to bring it to her. And Lanfear being Lanfear, there was a touch of the dramatic in it. She was always a drama queen.
For Sidious, when Alivia faced Cyndane, Alivia was by far the stronger because of her angreal, and had various tools (ter'angreal) to work with besides, but Cyndane was much, much more knowledgeable about channeling. Alivia, after all, knew relatively little except how to be a weapon. That was very useful in the situation, but in this case, knowledge versus strength made it an even match.
Now as to Rahvin sitting on his throne and being shocked to see Rand. First off, he knew his first trap hadn't worked, but he had others ready. He saw no reason to start jumping about. He thought he was maneuvering Rand into a series of traps, one of which he was sure would work. He did not expect Rand to simply leap into the same room with him. He did not expect Rand to know that he could Travel to somewhere in sight of himself without knowing the ground. So what he had expected to be a chess game where he knew the positions of all the pieces and Rand did not suddenly turned into a close-quarters slugging match. Surprise!
For Matrimoni Cauthon, Rand gets only the same benefits as he got from being bonded to one Aes Sedai. It neither multiplies nor divides. Each of a Green's Warders get the same amount of benefits as the single Warder of another sister.
For ricktheinevitable, I have no plans to send Rand to Shara at present.
Oh, yes. I think of time in this world as fixed circular, but with a drifting variation. There are slight differences in the Pattern each time through so that if you thought of the Pattern as a tapestry and held up two successive weaves, you couldn't see any differences from a distance, only close up, but the more time turnings between tapestries, the more changes are apparent. But the basic Pattern always remains the same.
Thanking him, I decided to exit the bookstore. Due to the size of the bookstore, they would not let people back inside. So instead of waiting another hour for a doubtful few more questions, we decided that his answer was sufficient to know exactly what we wanted.
If you want my opinion, his look convinced me that Taim killed Asmodean. It was that startling.
He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind was gone.
These are words Jim said to me several books ago, in the weary but always thrilling hours of putting the manuscript to bed, ready to carry to New York in the morning—I remember grabbing a piece of discarded script and scrawling those words up the margin, because they were so beautiful. He was talking about Rand. I of course am not.
I know he touched all of you. Thanks for being there.
His notes about Lews Therin, I would say are about middle extensive, comparatively of different things that he has notes on. Less than some, more than others. They were extensive enough that I know enough things you don't know to make me excited, but not so extensive that you know, you are ever going to see a book about Lews Therin or anything like that.
As a followup question, are the notes about Lews Therin the same notes about the voice of Lews Therin's?
You know I think that's enough of a spoiler because there is still confusion or not confusion, wondering from people whether or not Lews Therin is the voice, I mean, of course Semirhage said that it is...Robert Jordan never really made that explicit himself. What I think and what you think may be different and so we'll just leave it. There are things about this in the book.
Robert Jordan dropped a bomb at the end of Knife of Dreams, with what Semirhage was saying about or to Rand, talking about his level of stability. I remember as a reader, going through as a kid—I think Robert Jordan blindsided me with Lews Therin, because I'd been told that "Rand will go mad, Rand will go mad," but I didn't accept that voice as Rand going mad. I accepted that as another person, inside of Rand's head, and not a delusion or anything like that. Across the course of the books, Robert Jordan brought together this thing that he'd promised: "No, look, this guy is just going crazy. Yes, he's seeing part of his past life, but he's going insane. It's the immense pressure that's doing this." In looking through the notes, and seeing what Rand has to go through, it's hard not to sympathize with the poor guy.
Robert Jordan once said in an interview, when someone tried to get him to boil down the series to its core—he first said, you can't boil down this series. I wrote it as long as I did because that's how long I needed to tell the story, and so boiling it down doesn't work. But he finally did say this: At its essence, this series is about what it's like to be told that you need to save the world, and that it's probably going to cost your life. Even all of the other characters, you could say that that is a theme for them, too. Egwene has had to give up the life that she'd assumed that she was going to live, and to adopt this other life in the name of the greater good. And that's happening to everybody. Kings and queens are being cast down, and people who thought that their lives were just going to be normal and stable, and that's all they really wanted, are being forced to take upon themselves these mantles of responsibility. And Rand is at the very heart of that. Rand is the center, the example for all of them of what they're having to go through, and it's the worst for him.
I commented on the Dragonmount forums when I found this interview that it seemed that Brandon had accidentally confirmed construct theory in this interview, and that I suspected someone on Team Jordan had said something to him about it, resulting in the vaguer answers that followed on the book tour. Luckers emailed Brandon and got this response:
Feel free to post this response from me.
"I stand by everything I said in those interviews; I did not make any miss-steps. However, there is one big misinterpretation. Terez says that I was asked by Team Jordan to be more secretive. That's not the case. There was one time when Harriet asked me to be more secretive, but that was in regards to spoilers about Towers of Midnight when I was working on it, and she felt (rightly) that I was hinting about too many things that would come in the book.
I have not settled, and do not intend to settle, this debate except in regard to the things placed specifically in the books. The Geekdad interview response is primarily talking about my own reactions as a reader the first time I read specific scenes, long before I saw what was in the notes. At that point, as a fan, my view of the books shifted.
Those views may have shifted again while looking at the notes. I have not said, and will continue not to say, what was in them on this point. There are clues in the text. That is always the way it has been, and I think that is sufficient for this conversation. However, I can explicitly say there was no "Team Jordan order of silence" on this particular point. In fact, there have been few (or none) of those except in regards to spoiling surprises for the books not yet in print. I prefer to keep it that way, which is why I generally ask interviewers to run my interviews past Team Jordan for clarification, and so that they know what I'm saying and can steer me if I do happen to stray into areas best left quiet."
Of course, the bolded bits (emphasis mine) are still telling, and there must have been some reason why he decided to be less open about his feelings after this point.
I really like it. There's a tendency in [genre] fiction to ignore the boundaries of family. Telling a story, often, especially young-adult stories, want to take everyone away from their families, and to pretend they don't have families, so they can go on this adventure and not be constrained by family ties. It's this idea of escapism. Part of the realism for me in The Wheel of Time is that that doesn't happen to the characters. You follow different characters' parents and siblings, and it stretches across so many different types of lives and different social statuses, different cultures and countries that it feels very real, and it also feels very personal. Rand has a father. Granted, he's an adopted father, but Rand has a father and his relationship with his father is extremely important to him throughout the entire series. Even though we haven't seen Tam for a while, he doesn't just vanish as a character. Robert Jordan is very good about weaving people back in, and Tam goes and hangs out with Perrin and is working with him. There's a sense that they are real people because of their family relationships.
Having a son now myself, it makes me want to tell stories where you deal with family, because that's such a big part of all of our lives. It feels now awkward and strange to me that so many stories ignore this. It's become a cliché: the parents are either killed off at the end or at the beginning, or you go away and we don't bother about them or talk about them because they're boring, and the adventure is cool. That's not life.
It was a theme for the book. And, giving no spoilers, we have known for a while that Cadsuane and the Wise Ones have been saying that Rand needs to learn to laugh and cry again. That was their big concern. The idea of laughter as a theme was an interesting one to consider.
I mean, there's never one main theme for a book, particularly one this long. And so when you sit down to look at it, you want to have a lot of different threads, kind of like the threads in the Pattern, weaving together to make the tapestry of a story. One of those was the idea of laughter and how different people found enjoyment and amusement. We have the twisted laughter of the Forsaken and we have the genuine laughter of some of the characters, and we have one character, Rand, who can no longer laugh—he is incapable of doing it, even of laughing in wryness. And so I could approach it from those three different directions. We've got the terrible laughter and the full, joyful laughter, and poor Rand's silence in the middle. I thought that highlighting it in other people would only make his excruciating inability to feel all the more obvious, all the more of a smack in the face.
From Knife of Dreams Chapter 21, "Within the Stone":
The face of the man from Shadar Logoth floated in his head for a moment. He looked furious. And near to sicking up.
Uh...well...I'll have to check that. MAFO. Good question.
From Winter’s Heart, chapter 12, Rand speaking to Elayne, Aviendha, and Min: “Anyway, Alanna Mosvani got there ahead of you, and she didn’t bother asking . . . I’ve been bonded to her for months now.”
I asked around about this because I believed that Mato had misheard the name, and that the question was actually about whether Egwene knew about the bonding. (Many people pronounce it egg-WEEN instead of the proper egg-WAIN, so it's easy for those people to hear 'Elayne' when 'Egwene' is pronounced correctly.) The question was asked by Roga, a Stormleader, and he clarified:
If this question came from the Dallas signing, then it was from me. I asked about Egwene.
The reason behind the question was, I wanted to know: if Alanna's name had been on Verin's list in The Gathering Storm, would Egwene have passed over it? However, Brandon pointed out that Verin knew about the bond, so unless she had some reason to keep quiet, I'd think she should've made some kind of special warning note if Alanna had been in her list.
Egwene did not know.
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.
I heard you answer a question last night, which sounded interesting. Someone asked about Padan Fain and Elaida.
A lot of people don’t remember that they met.
So, his influence, how long for example...wasn’t Egwene exposed to Padan Fain? Are there still effects that Egwene has on people because of him?
Remember the idea that people have, generally, a choice. There are ways to turn people to the Shadow against their will, but when that happens the person is no longer the person. What is happening with Padan Fain is, naturally tendencies can be exacerbated or they can be fought off...
...so Elaida’s paranoia fed that? With someone like Egwene she might have fought it off, so it’s not going to be...
...right. exactly, or someone like Rand who continues to fight it off. He has become very paranoid. And the wound in his side, certainly someone could make the connection that that might have an influence. I won’t say for certain but...
...so, the suggestion is not only does he have the taint, which is negatively influencing him, or influencing him in such ways that might bring on paranoia, there is this accentuation of it because of Fain...
...this corruption...I mean that wound and the dagger...
...that is another source...
...Mat managed to fight it off pretty much completely, well not completely, but we don’t see Mat running around paranoid anymore...Elaida gave it something to feed upon and it was very very small and subtle with Elaida but certainly that was an influence.
Ok, we’ll move on from there. Were male channelers across Randland able to feel Rand's use of the male Choedan Kal when he destroyed it atop Dragonmount?
I would certainly think they would have been able to, consistent with what has happened before.
But did they know that it was destroyed? Is that what they felt, or was it just the use of?
I do not believe the destruction of a sa’angreal would be the type of event that you would be able to notice. It is not consistent with what we have seen before.
Jordan talked about Pattern Level Events, or in other words "Effects of the Wheel". This question was asked of him at DragonCon '05. We wanted to know how Rand showed up in the sky above Falme with Ishamael. Theories... [the recording cut off here so Brandon’s answer to my question was lost. I will paraphrase it generally. I asked him if Rand’s access to the infinite lives while on Dragonmount at the end of The Gathering Storm, was the Wheel getting involved directly.]
He replied as follows according to my memory that there was a Pattern Level Event there, but it wasn’t specifically the Wheel giving Rand access to memories [of] his previous lives. Brandon asked for some clarification about how Jordan explained his answer at DragonCon. We were rushed and I could not give him that direct quote, so I was unable to ask more specifically if Rand was seeing the soul’s history of lives lived, or if more generically the Wheel displayed to his mind a series of previous generic lives, like it displayed Rand and Ishamael in the sky above Falme. He did speak briefly about the Wheel not physically “touching” Rand and/or Ishamael, which seemed to be suggestive of his initial response that it didn’t “touch” Rand’s mind to give him access to his own memories. Once again, a more detailed discussion of this subject is worthwhile, especially one recorded.
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.
No one may channel the True Power without the Dark One's permission, and Rand doesn't have that.
This answer was challenged by another person who was at the Q&A, though Freelancer said later his question was asked at the signing table. Link broken.
I was at that signing, I was literally right next to Brandon as he answered this question, and that is far from his exact wording.
The response was more accurately something like: So far as we know, no one may channel the True Power without the Dark One's permission. Semirhage certainly seemed to think she was betrayed.
There was never a comment about Rand not having permission.
After this came to light, Matt Hatch asked Brandon about it, and he said that he never said Rand didn't have permission. Later I asked him if one normally has to visit Shayol Ghul to get permission, and he said yes. Freelancer responded thus:
Brandon's later answer has to take precedence. He says that he didn't specify directly whether Rand did or did not have the Dark One's permission. That is what everyone must operate by, as his word is now canon. That does not change what I wrote down as my questions were being answered.
As to Writo's comments, I can only offer this. The comment by Brandon about Semirhage believing she had been betrayed was definitely in response to someone else's question. It did not come up with mine, but I do remember hearing it.
I got a lovely smile from Harriet that told me she was pleased that someone had finally figured that out, and she said that she believes I am exactly right about that. She was a little sketchy on the details, though, and so was Brandon, so Brandon said it was essentially a MAFO. So I talked to Maria after that session, and she was taking a break so I didn't want to ask her about it just then, so I asked her if I could message her about it, and the other MAFO we got today, and she said yes, so I will hopefully be hearing more about that soon. Brandon asked me not to put that one in the interview database until I hear from Maria about it.
Oops. I really have been terribly slow with these. I can’t find anything that says yea or nay on this one.
I think that Brandon got the impression Harriet was leaping on it too quick, and that's quite possible; I might have read too much into it.
Afterwards we went back to the hotel and I got dressed for the ball. I didn't have a costume, but I had my swirly black skirt and burgundy velvet top, and most importantly I had my crystal necklace and earrings, which are my favorite pieces of expensive jewelry—possibly because they're my only expensive jewelry—and which I was thrilled to get a chance to wear.
The ball was a great deal of fun. The music was provided by The Lost Boys, for whom I can't seem to find a website (I keep getting a certain Joel Schumacher film), in all their kilted glory, which was perfect music for the occasion. There was a silent auction in the back, which was selling, among other things, The Hat, and an original manuscript page from The Eye of the World, which Harriet pointed out contained a most significant edit: Where Ba'alzamon says to Rand in the dream sequence, "At last we meet", Jordan had crossed out "at last" and changed it to "Once more we meet". Think about it. All proceeds, of course, going to charity.
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?
(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.)
The last question…Mitchell asks, can we expect an epic Rand/Elayne/Aviendha/Min reunion?
I’m so glad you said reunion.
(Small group of people erupt in laughter)
I thought Rand’s arc in The Gathering Storm was brilliant—starting to get better then—bang! Cuendillar Rand, and finally "Veins of Gold". Was it difficult to write? Can you give us some insight into how you stayed in the mind of a madman?
It was difficult to write. I’ve said before that I view a lot of these characters as my high school friends, people I grew up with. Facilitating Rand going through these extremely painful and sometimes revelatory moments was not easy emotionally, and yet there’s an excitement and a power to writing emotional scenes where things are coming together. So I would say it’s actually more difficult to write a character like Gawyn, who’s frustrated and struggling with not knowing what he’s doing, than someone like Rand who always has a direction—even if that direction is straight down, as it was in places. He’s always moving. So because of that, Rand was in many ways easier to write than other characters were. Yet at the same time it was painful to write. That doesn’t really answer your question, but maybe it does give some insight, as you asked.
Yes, Brandon had flight problems, and he showed up at about 8:30. He wouldn't answer anything that might spoil Towers of Midnight, but while signing my copy, I did ask him if Rand has met with Sorilea since his time on Drangonmount, and he said he thinks that Rand has. Sorry about not having much to give you.
Brandon said there are two things going on—ta'veren and the Fisher King prophecy which says the Dragon is tied directly to the land. He says it seems to Rand that more bad stuff was happening in The Gathering Storm but that this could be either just Rand's perception or what is really going on. We should remember that ta'veren is supposed to be 50/50—an extra equal amount of good and bad going on. He would not tell us at this point whether there was really more bad stuff happening in The Gathering Storm or whether its Rand's perception as there was purposefully very few viewpoints from Rand himself in Towers of Midnight. Like the third book The Dragon Reborn, Towers of Midnight is meant to step away from Rand and view him from the viewpoints of others.
Someone also asked if Rand's ta'veren nature would affect people on the other side of an open gateway. Brandon said that the Pattern considers that Rand is where he is and not on the other side of the gateway, so he would not affect a place just by having a gateway open there and not actually being there.
However, the glossary entry in Towers of Midnight for the Aelfinn states that there are consequences in such circumstances, so either that is wrong or there is a possible contradiction.
Towers of Midnight
Aelfinn: A race of beings, largely human in appearance but with snakelike characteristics, who will give true answers to three questions. Whatever the question, their answers are always correct, if frequently given in forms that are not clear, but questions concerning the Shadow can be extremely dangerous. Their true location is unknown, but they can be visited by passing through a ter'angreal, once a possession of Mayene but in recent years held in the Stone of Tear. They can also be reached by entering the Tower of Ghenjei. They speak the Old Tongue, mention treaties and agreements, and ask if those entering carry iron, instruments of music, or devices that can make fire. See also Eelfinn, Snakes and Foxes.
He said that the scene with the Borderlander farmers in The Gathering Storm prologue and the one with the Borderlander Watch Tower in the Towers of Midnight prologue were written by RJ and that they were some of the last complete scenes RJ wrote (he mentioned this in earlier interviews).
He refused to say who wrote "The Last That Could Be Done" from The Gathering Storm.
He wrote the scenes of Egwene's dinners with Elaida in The Gathering Storm. RJ's notes suggested just one dinner scene but BS decided that it would work better if it was split in two.
I’m out on a limb on this one, so this one is basically Brandon assumptions without as much substantiation...The female one is...you know that male channelers tend to be a bit stronger. My understanding is that the female Choedan Kal...they weren’t built with equal power levels; they were built with power levels of equivalent [or respective power potential], and so the amount of power pulled through was almost enough to destroy the male, but was enough to destroy the female as I understand, but that one’s out on a limb.
It might possibly have something to do with the fact that Nynaeve is not at the top of the female strength level, but Rand is at the top.
Both of them are kind of drops in the bucket compared to what the Choedan Kal can do. I honestly don’t think that was a factor. It is a valid theory, though, because in that case Rand is contributing more, and Nynaeve’s sa’angreal needs to contribute more, if that makes sense. And so...I mean, that could be valid, but the first one was my understanding, but I’m like way out on a limb on that one. I’m not sure on that one at all.
Since Brandon made it clear that my theory was valid, I'll explain my reasoning: Verin believed that only Siuan, Moiraine, Elaida, and the supergirls were strong enough to use the female Choedan Kal, so apparently one's strength does make a difference in whether or not one could handle a super-sa'angreal, whether or not Verin was correct about who could handle it and who could not (she seemed to think Logain could not handle the male one, but she was probably wrong). Of course, she might have been lying, but what was her motive for lying to Perrin about it? Also, RJ fairly consistently places the strongest channelers with the angreal and sa'angreal in group efforts, presumably because strong channelers can get more out of them. (Rand, Nynaeve, Alivia; and with the Bowl of the Winds: Nynaeve, Aviendha, and Talaan; etc.)
Was that yours?
Why is that offensive?
They are a harem.
Noooo! Harem...I don’t know if it really does imply...but a harem implies women who sit around and do nothing...
This is true.
...until the man, um, wishes...
It’s an affectionate name for them.
Yes. But I have seen that um, that phrase before, and...yes. Is the sky clear above Alanna? I’m going to RAFO Alanna. Alanna’s got an interesting thread still, so...
Um...I hope you're not talking about me.
Um...(cracks up) [This made me laugh mostly because I had just noticed that Brandon seems to have shed quite a few pounds, no doubt because his wife occasionally reminds him that he owes it to his fans to stay in shape.]
I hope you're talking about the angreal! Um...I've always had an affection for that little fat man angreal.
(pause) That's a good answer.
I believe Moridin was...okay, in The Gathering Storm, he was in his own dream. He at least believes he was in his own dream, and he is usually right on things like that. And in The Eye of the World, he...I believe it was their dreams that he was controlling. But...
That's difficult to do.
That's very difficult to do....so I could be wrong on that. It's easier to pull someone into your own dreams, but it's easier to influence multiple dreams from the outside. So...does that make sense?
So, since he's doing it to all three of them, that makes me believe he was actually controlling their dreams. I'm pretty sure on that one, Terez. [Cut discussion of the pronunciation of Terez.] I could be wrong...but my understanding of the mechanics is that since they're all dreaming the same thing, that it's external, much as a lot of the Forsaken have been not warding their dreams through the early parts of the books, and causing people to dream lots of weird things, and share dreams. Ishamael was doing that intentionally...doing something similar. Does that make sense?
Right, and it also has to do with his ability to find ta'veren.
In my reread I noticed in A Crown of Swords Chapter 10, "Unseen Eyes", that Egwene says it's possible for a Dreamer to pull someone out of their dreams into a dream of her own making in Tel'aran'rhiod; this is something the Wise Ones won't do, but Ishamael wouldn't have a problem with it; I had forgotten that detail for some reason, and the Moridin dream confused the issue. It can be assumed that Lanfear did the same thing; Moghedien has shown no sign of having the ability (or perhaps the desire) to reach others' dreams, but she can trap Dreamwalkers in their own dreams in Tel'aran'rhiod. Aran'gar can do it weakly, and then only if she is sleeping right next to the person. Brandon has a point about the fact that all three of them dreamed the same dream apparently at once, but in once instance, after Perrin found the wolves, it seemed to Rand and Mat that they fell asleep, had the dream, and immediately woke up, when Moiraine says they were asleep for four hours.
(pause) I'm a little bit out on a limb on this one, but I don't believe he was. We have seen places where Rand manifests in Tel'aran'rhiod when he's in the real world, and this is something that happens with Rand that we haven't seen with other people...
Are you talking about like when...
Well, there's the Perrin sequence, for one...
Right, and when Ishamael visits him in The Great Hunt...
So, I believe Rand has got something a little unique going on there...
Oh, okay. That's interesting.
...but, I'm a little on a limb on that one.
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.
Brandon said remembering thinking it was odd at the time when he read it but asked for an email and find out for that question.
[Julien] also asked if Rand had quit smoking since we hadn't seen him smoking tabac recently.
Brandon says that if he can't get two rivers tabac he would rather not smoke anything and Rand has been a busy guy lately. He compared it to being used to really good French wine and then having only bad American wine available, in which case Rand would rather not consume. Rather funny.
RAFO. (You knew that was coming, eh?)
Though...it should be noted that prophecy says that Aviendha will have Rand's children...so, that's going to be kind of tough if they don't see one another again.
Will we see Rand in the next book? YES. The book will not be a 100% flash-back like Book 10. There will be a little bit of catch-up for Perrin, but Egwene and Rand both have large parts too.
Is Mat in Towers of Midnight?
Yes. Lots of Mat. Promise.
What happened to Elayne? It seemed she fell off the earth in the last book.
It was tough to decide that Elayne would not appear in The Gathering Storm. I knew we didn't have room for everyone. Thing is, Elayne was way ahead of everyone else in her plotline. (Meaning what she needed to get done.) And so, with great regret, I moved her to Towers of Midnight. She will appear, as will her wonderful Warder.
Will we see Galad in Towers of Midnight?
so far, I'm on record as saying this: Almost everyone who did not appear in The Gathering Storm appears in Towers of Midnight. No promises on anyone other than Main Characters, like Mat/Elayne. But expect to see a lot of people return who didn't appear in The Gathering Storm. Also, Galad happens to be one of my personal favorite characters.
Do we get anything about Shocklances?
I'm pretty late to this party, so if I don't get an answer to my question..no worries...But any chance of Egwene ever putting Cadsuane in her place?
Re: Shocklances (sp? I should really know that one) and Egwene/Cadsuane. Double RAFO. Pow!
Brandon then said (quite excitingly IMO) that it actually went further than that, and if perhaps Rand had died whether someone else would have taken over that role.
If that had happened, would that person be called Dragon?
I'll give you this: there was no chance of Demandred ever being Dragon.
Ah, that's a bit similar to the answer you gave before. But if not Demandred, somebody else?
It's really hard to say. There's all sorts of things that come about before you start writing a series. You don't have "an idea" that becomes a short story, or a book. A short story is maybe hundreds of ideas that have come together, a novel is thousands of ideas that have come together. But The Wheel of Time—I was thinking at one point about what it'd really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told "You were born to be the savior of mankind. And oh yes—you're probably going to die in the end and no, you can't resign—it's your job, you're stuck with it".
Then I had been thinking about the source of myths, the source of legends. About whether some of them might not have been personifications of natural events, the way we say some of them are supposed to be. What if some of them were things that people had done, and had simply been told and told until it became a myth and legend?
At the same time, I was thinking about the degradation of information over distance. The further you are from an event in either space or time, the less reliable your knowledge of the event. Information inevitably degrades over distance, whether it's spatial or temporal.
I was thinking about lots of other things too, and it began to coalesce. It was the beginnings of what would become the Wheel of Time. I let it mull over for four or five years, then I thought I was ready to sit down and write. But it took four years to write The Eye of the World because I discovered there were a lot of other things I had to think and sort out.
Rand and Tam al’Thor originally started out as one character.
He is a man in his 30s from Emond’s Field in the present.
(Earlier, when his story ‘starts’) There isn’t much for a kid from a small village out wherever to do that does not involve backbreaking work. At about 15, he runs away to become a soldier (yes, a field that does involve backbreaking labor). After 20 years or so as a soldier, Rand/Tam wants to go home, but when he does, he realizes he’s no longer the boy that left that little village. “And prophecy is on his heels”. Maybe something of the sort will be done in a future series.
This surprised me, there has been a thread around here in which was stated that Dragon, Caro-Kann and the Coramorant (I'm not sure of the last one) are chess openings. If he had answered with a yes then I would have asked why because they're all variants played by black and rather defensive but I needn't.
Seriously, though, any bets on whether the Tinkers will ever find the Song? I bet it's the harvest song from Rand's Aiel memories.
I asked RJ about this when he was in Melbourne last week, and (amazingly) got a straight answer.
The Song the Tinkers are seeking is the song Rand heard in Rhuidean—or, to be exact, the memories of that song and others like it have become merged, over the years, into the concept of one mystical Song.
As to whether the Tinkers will find "the Song", I suspect they will—at least, they will be brought to understand their true history just as the Aiel were. RJ seems to intend showing an upheaval affecting every nation and society in Randland during the course of the series. I doubt the Tinkers will survive unchanged into the next Age. Unless they all get wiped out, I think "the Song" will be found at some point.
For Rand to be Aemon reborn, Rand would have to be the same height as Aemon if Lanfear was correct in The Shadow Rising that Rand is always the same height in each of his lives.
RJ stated that Aemon was 6'1" tall, but when I asked if Lanfear was correct, RJ stated that she was not. Normally this would not say either way if Rand was Aemon.
RJ knew immediately where I was heading (this is one very intelligent man). RJ confirmed that Rand is NOT Aemon. :-(
*sighs*. He stated that it was like an author's prerogative to dangle "bait" in front of people and snatch it away. That's cruel and twisted. :-)
This not just torpedoes my theory out of the water, but just nukes it completely.
Thanks to Adrian for letting me use you as a sounding board for my theory.
If anyone wants his exact words, I can post a transcript later.
Here's what I got...
How tall was the last king of Manetheren?
The last king of Manetheren...?
The last king of... Height?
Ummm...He'd be about 6'1" [six feet one inch].
6'1"? Okay. And was Lanfear correct that Rand is always the same height in each of his lives?
No... okay. Thank you.[At this point I turned to leave.]
Rand uhhh, Rand was not the last King of Manetheren.
I very rarely come out and tell you guys something like that. It's much more intriguing to simply dangle a bit of "bait" in front of you and snatch it away. But, ahh no. That's that's that's definitely a "blue sky" direction.
Aan'allein, there it is nervous statements and all. You should have been there. "you can... hear him. You can... bathe in his presence...words cannot even begin to describe it. You must experience it to know. You must."Oops, got a little carried away there... ;-)
Oh, it can be excruciating. There are some excruciating Rand scenes in this book. Though, you know, the harder scenes to write are the ones where characters, not necessarily terrible things are happening to, but where they're depressed or muddled, or you know. In a lot of ways, the Rand scenes were painful to write, Gawyn's scenes were harder to write, because Gawyn is lost. And he doesn't know. . . he's struggling through things, and at least Rand is pointed in a direction. Maybe it's the wrong direction, but he's pointed in a direction and he's doing things. Gawyn doesn't know what he's doing, and that can be really tough.
On the American websites there is a term used in these cases: RAFO - read and find out.
I personally also asked if anyone has been interested in making a film inspired by his books, he replied that someone was interested in doing a film of The Eye of the World .... but for now there is still nothing concrete.
I need to learn Old Tongue for 'Read And Find Out'. [laughter]
I'm still waiting for 'May the Light illumine you'! [laughs] I was hoping somebody'd pop up with that for the podcast, and that's how I try to close each episode, so that's why I asked Brandon for it. I'm just gonna have to hound him.
Still hard at work on A Memory of Light. Today's scenes involve lots of loud noises.
Just curious, have you read the end scenes that RJ wrote? Or are you waiting till you get there?
I read them as soon as I got them. I needed to use them as a target 'goal' for the book.
Now, on to a scene that finally, at long last, fulfills something Min saw long ago...
I've finished all characters except Rand and Mat. (Note, I'm not writing in order; other characters have already-written scenes after this.)
Now, I have to finish Mat's climax, write a few more Rand scenes, then add in RJ's ending material. Then we're done. Very close now.
What are your thoughts on ending the WoT series that Robert Jordan started so long ago? :)
After a few hours with the family, am back at work on A Memory of Light. It's slightly possible that I'll finish it sometime during the night.
Would that make tonight A Memory of Light Eve?
Ha. Yes, I guess it would.
You can follow along, if you wish. I have twenty small points on my outline left to hit. Maybe 10k words or so. I'll tweet as I pass them.
First scene out of twenty finished. (Note that I'm using 'scene' here liberally to mean a point on the plot outline.)
Can you tell us who has the last chapter?
Afraid that would spoil too much.
Note that as I approach an ending, my writing speed goes up, as I get momentum. 10k tonight is not impossible. (Though most days I do 2-3.)
Two out of twenty scenes done. Eighteen left, and A Memory of Light will be finished.
Three out of Twenty of the remaining scenes in A Memory of Light have been finished. (If you're just now seeing this, check back to my last few posts.)
How long was it after the first two books were finished until they were published?
For the first one, about a year. For the next, about six months. This will probably be closer to the first than the second.
Scene four was slightly shorter than the others. 4 out of 20 finished so far tonight.
Scene #5 finished. 25% through the ending of A Memory of Light. Feeling good about these scenes. All is going very well.
Some of you have asked if I got the Magic cards you sent me off of my Amazon wishlist. I did! I'm waiting to open them until I'm done with A Memory of Light.
A few of these scenes are pretty emotional ones for me. It's been a long, long road. I started reading the WoT twenty-one years ago.
Just finished scene #6 out of the 20 remaining in A Memory of Light.
Scene seven is done. Thirteen more to go. This one...this one was tough to write.
I've apparently inspired a drinking game with this on both Twitter and Facebook. I'd join in, but: 1) Mormon. 2) BUSY WRITING END OF WOT. :)
Scene #8 is a tricky one. I know how it has to go, I just need to do it carefully. Getting close to having it right.
Scene #8 is finished. This is going well. I often build momentum like this during a powerful book ending, and this one is very powerful.
We shall see. We've still got three or four hours before I'd normally turn in for bed. If I start to get sleepy, I'll call it for the night.
No sense in pushing on if the quality starts to flag. Knowing myself, though, I'll be too excited to be tired for a while yet. Onward!
Glad to hear things are ending well! I can't wait to read it. Think I have time for a full re-read before A Memory of Light?
Depends on how quickly you read. :)
Cannot wait, but I agree. Is it really going to take a year to edit and publish?
I've done a dozen drafts each of the previous two books. That kind of thing takes a little bit of time...
I just did something to Mat that I've been gleefully waiting to do for three years.
Don't stress the thing I did to Mat too much. It's a little (and fun) thing I've wanted to see him do for a long time.
I have finished scene #9 out of 20 I need to write before A Memory of Light is done.
Best of luck to @BrandSanderson as I turn in for the night. I'm giddy for A Memory of Light.
Hopefully, you will wake to find the book finished.
It's almost 3:30am here and I SHOULD be in bed, but I feel like I need 2 stay up and cheer you on and also to witness THE END!
Ha. Well, there are still hours left to go, I suspect. I started at...what, 9:00 here? I'm to 1/2 and it's almost 2:00?
For those asking, it's almost 2:00 am here. The night is still young.
Just finished Scene #10. Halfway there!
I don't expect it to go longer than those. After editing, I'm pretty sure we'll settle at 350-360k words. (About 10% longer than Towers of Midnight.)
Brace yourselves. I just finished the last Mat Cauthon scene that, in all likelihood, will ever be written.
General writing question: after The editor edits, is it typical for an author to add/rewrite, or only the editor?
Only the author rewrites or adds. Never the editor. (in most cases.)
The fourteenth scene was Mat's, and now I've finished the fifteenth scene. Five more to go, and A Memory of Light is done.
Just finished scene #16. Four more to go. Guess I'm not stopping tonight, eh?
Scene #17 is finished. I was a tad on the longer side for the ones I'm doing here, as are the last three. 5:00 am here.
I keep flashing back to times I've read the WoT books through my life. Looking back, you could call Rand/Mat/Perrin my oldest friends.
Scene #18 is done. Two more to go.
Scene #19 is done. Deep breath. I'm beginning the last scene I will write in the Wheel of Time, then will add RJ's ending.
I've been listening to Pandora as I do this, but am wondering if I should pick a specific song to listen to as I finish. Suggestions?
My choice for a song to play as I write the last few paragraphs here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-0G_FI61a8
Ladies and gentlemen, A Memory of Light—the final book in The Wheel of Time—has been finished.
Now I'll open a metric gigaton of Magic cards that have been sent to me by fans, sleep for a day, and rest until next week.Then: revisions!
As for when the book will come out, Tor should do an announcement soon. Revisions will take a good six months. So fall, I expect.
Another common question: How many revisions will I do? The last two took about a dozen. (On non-WoT books, I do about seven or eight.)
Also, it's going to be tough to give direct replies to questions right now, what with like 1000 people tweeting/facebooking at me. :)
But lots of people are asking about outriggers/prequels. The answer is still the same. We'd rather not risk exploiting RJ's legacy.
It is a step I don't think we want to take. Better to stop while we're ahead. I'm sorry, but they probably won't ever happen.
And now, yes, I will go to sleep. 7am here. That's 10 hours of solid writing after a full day of solid writing, so I'm beat.
Thank you all for the good wishes. May you find water and shade.
Ah. Good morning, all. (Yes, it's five in the afternoon here.) Checking email, and...INBOX EXPLOSION. I guess I was expecting it. :)
The next question was about the heights and weights of the three amigos. I had seen the heights reported before, but not the weights. This might actually be new info.
Rand is 6' 5" to 6' 6" and 235 lbs.
Perrin is 6' 1½" and 235-245 lbs.
Mat is 6' and 180 lbs.
No, that is correct. Rand caused the bruises, so balefiring Semirhage would not make them go away. Balefire only removes paradoxes caused by the direct actions of the one who is balefired. And the bracelets remained after Rand balefired [Semirhage and Elza] because they weren't really part of Semirhage or Elza.
(comment regarding the thread on Dragonmount where some are arguing that by balefiring Graendal's palace, the Compulsion disappeared since there'd never had been a palace in the first place, and others are arguing that it doesn't work that way, objects don't have threads).
Everything has a thread, not just souls. Even a stone in a wall has a thread in the Pattern.
Okay! Alright! So Wetlander and people.
Yes...Are the impressive displays of power that Rand makes in Towers of Midnight (i.e., stopping the Trolloc army and having no concern over being able to leave the White Tower) a result of his integrated knowledge or his ta'veren nature?
Umm...Both, though, one thing you have to keep in mind, is...Rand, as a result of power level...Robert Jordan was specifically not using him very often because his power had grown so powerful even by the end of Knife of Dreams. I mean, you look at Knife of Dreams—if you go reread the fight in Knife of Dreams he is laying waste to nearly as many Trollocs as he has when he does the battle at the temple—which is not actually called that in the books—that's the one with the Trollocs and things [referencing Rand's big single-handed fight in Towers of Midnight]. And so...yes, some of these things have changed, but he's really powerful now.
Now, the thing about in the White Tower is something different. [Brandon smiles]
He, um, believes that he can.
Still, even after the The Gathering Storm reintegration?
He has a more zen view on it now, but he still believes that he can have some influence.
In The Gathering Storm, Egwene was mostly RJ, Rand mostly Brandon. In Towers of Midnight, Mat mostly RJ, Perrin mostly Brandon.
Brandon tried to get moments for every character in A Memory of Light. Egwene is ready to be bad ass in the Last Battle; her character development is done.
Perth Exclusive for #WoT counted scenes by viewpoint. Rand has the most viewpoints in A Memory of Light, not a huge margin. Others tied.
Caveat, still revising A Memory of Light, so that can change.
It's not much but Brandon S just told me that Lan has the most POVs in A Memory of Light, only just ahead of Rand. But that could change with editing.
I thought he said Rand ahead of the other main characters?
That doesn't even make sense. :s Sure, Lan is vital, but it's hard to see how the story could focus on him that much.
Confirmed it was Rand with the highest number of POV scenes in A Memory of Light (at the moment).
I just ask because, like Nynaeve has been channeling longer, and Egwene was forced. And Rand likely was too, and as a man gains strength more swiftly...
Yeah, Elayne might not... I think she is, but she may not quite be there.
*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’m fairly sure he was lying. As in, I’ve seen something in the notes at one point, and I’m pretty sure it was... but my memory being what it is, I will say you can MAFO that. But I’m pretty sure he was lying.
Sammael was lying in an attempt to manipulate Graendal.
From dinner re: balefire philosophy:
Talked to Brandon at the Stormleader dinner last night. He had a few things to say on this topic:
1. The bruises on Min's neck were not an error. After consulting with Team Jordan, it was determined that indirect effects remain. Rand was the one who strangled Min, not Semirhage directly, so the bruises stayed.
2. Brandon knows of two ways to destroy cuendillar. But he would not confirm if the Domination Band that Rand was wearing was made from cuendillar. He said it was not relevant to what happened.
3. The bracelets did not disappear when Semirhage and Elza were balefired because they were not considered to be intrinsic to their person. It would be the same if someone was holding a book and was balefired, the book would drop to the floor.
No.(Will we know more?) They will be partially revealed.
This one I can't remember too well from the notes taken, so the wording may be a little off. He looked certain and a little cheerful on this one.
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?
I thought I'd manage to dodge a RAFO with this setup, but of course to answer it he would have to confirm Rand's death or otherwise.
(Blinked.) Can you...I don't know...?
Did this for the Weiramon eyes thing people, to see if we could rule out her letters to Rand. Nope.
The scene depicts Min, Aviendha, and Elayne gathered on a battlefield around what is presumably a funeral pyre for Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn. What we recognize as a yin/yang appears in the clouds, possibly signifying a unity that has evaded male and female channelers for over 3000 years.
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.
Mr. Jackson (your name isn't Michael is it? because that would be unfortunate),
Thanks for the reassurances. Do you happen to know if specs were given for the eclipse? We're wondering if we can assume it's accurately portrayed from the perspective of an astronomer (we have one of those at Theoryland, and a hobbyist as well). That's not to say we can figure anything out about it right now, or even that we'll be able to figure it out when the book comes out judging on recent portrayal of chronology. Just curious. No worries if no particular care was taken to portray it accurately; I understand it's complicated, but it could have been made simple if RJ left notes about it. Also curious as to why it didn't show up until the final draft.
We didn't talk about it, but I can ask him. Michael has more than a passing interest in astronomy so it's possible.
And M and R are my initials...
The few pages of manuscript I was given to work from didn't have any mention of an eclipse. The subject didn't come up until I had done several conceptual renderings. After sending some of them to TOR I got an email from Irene telling me that if I showed the sky through the mouth of the cave I might want to work an eclipse into the scene.
For reference I looked at a lot of photos of eclipses and liked the idea (for symbolic reasons) of indicating an imminent annular eclipse, the kind where the moon doesn't entirely cover the sun but leaves a thin ring of light in the sky.
Anyone know why his left hand is hidden? I think it is because his hand grows back and they didn't want to give that part away (The Dragon Reborn is causing all sorts of broken things to go good again).
Nice thought but Michael was just hiding the stump.
WoT update: Today, I added a new Rand scene to the book. One of many I've been working on, but this one came together first.
? Is it a complete NEW scene? If so is it because the editors thought it would fit into the book more, is this the second draft?
New scene. We often add new scenes in the second, third, or even last drafts of a book.
Feel free to add as much as the binding will allow!! Thanks for everything! By the way do you have an updated word count estimate?
No updated count yet. We'll see how much more I add this time around—I'm cutting it too.
Can/Will you tell us anything about it? Please? :)
I'm afraid I can't say much. I try to be extra-careful with WoT scenes out of respect for Harriet.
When is the last book being published? I can't believe it's the end of the series already.
Brandon drew a graph of A Memory of Light's structure and explained in some details how he ended up re structuring it as three books. Not much that isn't already known in there, book 12 will have two main story lines (we know it's Rand and Egwene, but as I said Brandon didn't say so explicitly at the Q&A) and teasers for three more (Mat—and seemingly Perrin and Elayne). By 'teasers', Brandon precised he means 3 or 4 chapters per story line, the rest of the chapters being divided between the two main story lines (by recent books, this could means Egwene/Rand have about 10-12 chapters each, or a few more). Some developments happen in the teasers but it's not huge stuff, more like set ups chapters for what happens in book 13.
Book 13 will have the opposite, with 3-4 chapters each for Egwene and Rand, "toward the end". Brandon kept those for book 13 to avoid spoiling in The Gathering Storm the climax of book 13, which will mark the reunion of all the main story lines at some location, and launch Tarmon Gai'don. So in book 13 we will have the residual Rand/Egwene chapters that specifically build up to the reunion.
Brandon explained the decision to split the books this way came about between Harriet and him, in part to avoid the "Crossroads of Twilight trap". Apparently, RJ went that way in Winter's Heart/Crossroads of Twilight mostly because he had been affected by all the grief he got for keeping Mat out of The Path of Daggers. He decided to try to put all the main characters in the next books, even if it meant all the story lines would advance more slowly if they were all told in parallel like this. He very much regretted this after Crossroads of Twilight, for which he got even more grief than for The Path of Daggers, and decided to return to his more organic/uneven approach for Knife of Dreams and A Memory of Light. The original plan for The Gathering Storm was to develop all the story lines in parallel again, but Brandon and Harriet had qualms about this and Brandon came up with an alternative to focus on two story lines in one and three in the other.
There is one of the 'POV clusters' Brandon had written that it mostly unused for The Gathering Storm and will go in book 13.
Brandon of course wouldn't tell who is the character not in The Gathering Storm at all, though he gave a few clues. Piecing all his bits of answers together, the character isn't Aviendha, Cadsuane or Nynaeve, nor Mat (the only character he confirmed is in the two first books, but we already knew this). He basically destroyed the speculation it could be Perrin by hesitating on the words 'major character' and then adding the bit that the vast majority of fans would actually place this character at the very bottom of the list of characters to be considered 'major'. The way he put Elayne over and over among the five really major ones during the Q&A suggests it's not her either after all. He also said while explaining his graph that there were chunks (his "teasers" for three story lines in The Gathering Storm and the core of the story for two—and his 'five' clusters he explicitly said were Rand, Egwene, Perrin, Mat and Elayne.
So perhaps we've read too much in his 'major POV character' comment (Jason's review may also allude to this, when he commented that one major character is missing but it's pretty much up to each reader to decide who is major and not in WOT). At some point, he said a major POV character in A Memory of Light will be missing in The Gathering Storm, which is not exactly the same as saying a major POV character from the earlier books isn't in The Gathering Storm—which is the way his previous comment was interpreted by many.
Lan isn't a major POV character in the earlier books, but now he's on his own he may very well become one in A Memory of Light.
In any case, I'm more and more thinking it's Lan (or possibly Moiraine), not Elayne or Perrin which I doubt many would place 'at the very bottom' of the list of characters to be considered major. Most people would place Elayne not near the bottom at all but among the top 7 or 8 most important characters. Above Moiraine and Lan, Thom, Loial and probably even Min and Aviendha.
"Yes they end up at the same time. I’ll have to give you a MAFO for an exact date for the second, but basically it is sometime in late June early July." In addition Tuon’s scene with Rand was about 3 or 4 weeks before her last scene in the book.
A relatively long discussion of timelines followed. Basically RJ would have the timeline within a story arc follow chronologically but “Jim was crafty” when it came to the overall timeline. Maria has a huge spreadsheet of a timeline but it is not publishable because it is very rough and unintelligible unless you’ve been working with it for a long time.
The Dragon is one with the land...so the answer is yes.
He went on to say that it says the Dragon, not the Dragon Reborn, making the point that it most definitely applied to Lews Therin. (I riffed off a second related question from Luckers which was: Did he have the same extra abilities?) Instead I asked:
Considering what you mentioned regarding Lews Therin's ability to sense the lack of inhabitants within miles of the spot he was at in the Prologue, is this ability something that comes from being the Dragon, being ta'veren, or a Talent?
(paraphrased) It's not a Talent, but I won't say whether it is a factor of being the Dragon or something about being ta'veren.
Luckers, I asked this question because the way Brandon answered the first it seemed apparent to me that the Dragon is Lews Therin is Rand, as far as 'one with the land' and abilities. My interest then became that specific ability he noted in Lews Therin during the re-read.)
-first- Rumors: he said that rumors are just rumors. About Trolloc attacks, specifically, he said that "Trollocs have been attacking, or invading in various places for months" and that rumors abound in all sorts of forms about them.
With regard to the White Tower attack—I prompted this one a little, and he said that they are simply rumors which have coalesced from multiple rumors together, nothing related specifically to the real attack adding that "in the Wheel of Time rumors sometimes have a tendency to double back on themselves" turning into truth eventually.
As for the horse riding in Caemlyn, I asked him specifically about Rand seeing Mat and Thom on horses in Caemlyn, but Mat in Chapter 8 was not taking his horse into the city, and he responded by saying that Rand didn't see Mat in this specific scene and assured me that all that would work out in the rest of the book.
He did admit that there has been one "hitch" found in The Gathering Storm as per chronology that will be changed in upcoming editions. If I remember correctly he said Mat is roughly two weeks behind where he was meant to be and explained that Mat's position in time at the end of The Gathering Storm was supposed to be two weeks earlier than it was portrayed as being.
Well—this is something I'd like to understand better—and hear it verbatim. I'm not sure I understand what is being said by the reporter.
This means that something currently in The Gathering Storm needed to be retconned to get the timeline to work and will be changed in future editions of The Gathering Storm. Unfortunately, there wasn't time to get it changed in the paperback that's coming out this month. I'm guessing the change will affect only a sentence or two.
Retconning was a last resort that they really didn't want to have to take, but it was unavoidable.
Team Jordan has a very detailed chronology that looks in many respects similar to Steven Cooper's chronology, but Steven's is a bit off in a few areas. Certain beta readers helped verify it was nailed down.
And Terez: It doesn't have to do with Sulin. Actually, they decided Sulin needed to be retconned earlier. You can find out in the paperback of The Gathering Storm how that was worked out.
Sanderson said Rand realized that he did not need the Choedan Kal for the Last Battle. He also said that Rand was not at a point where he needed the Choedan Kal for anything he wanted to do.
He said the sentence in a way that leads me to believe post epiphany Rand is much stronger than pre epiphany Rand though that is my interpretation of his sentence.
On the subject of the Choedan Kal, he said that the True Power was not as strong as someone with the Choedan Kal. Just it felt as tempting and as addictive as the One Power through the Choedan Kal.
Working on a new Rand scene today too. Still a few more I want to add. This is probably the last draft where I will add new scenes, though.
New Rand scene turned out great. Now, to revamp the next five to be just as awesome.
It's funny how time passes when I'm working on writing. It's been four hours since I started on the scene, and I barely noticed.
That I understand. I get in a writing groove and the next thing I know it's tomorrow!
Focus is like an alternate plane of existence.
It's funny. I make a post, like the one a while back, and then think "I'll get back and answer people in a bit." Then, four hours later, I think "Okay, scene is done. Let's see what people are saying." That timestamp glares back at me, and there are like fifty posts I haven't ever replied to.
Do you know the Game of Thrones guy? He could learn something from your work ethic.
Ha. Well, perhaps. But I could learn something from his writing skill, I suspect. We'll see how prolific I am when I'm his age.
We need @BrandSanderson to stay healthy; you're supposed to get up and stretch every 20 minutes!
Don't worry. I have a treadmill desk I work at.
How long is the book going to be at minimum?
350k words, I'd guess. First draft was 360. Next draft trimmed about 30k. I'm slowly increasing it back up.
Oh yes. There will be NO doubt in anyone's mind what Rands fate will be at the end. It will sure to surprise and amaze people. When Jim (RJ) told me how the series ended I just shook my head and said, "Bubba, that is just beautiful. Just beautiful." So yes, you will all kno