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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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Tiny spoilers follow.
This should be enough space.
There is more to making the Myrddraal sword than simply quenching it in a living body. Though I am not going to go into details here, it must be a human body. Trollocs, for instance, though much easier to procure, would not work. I wonder what you would get using, say, rabbits? A blade that made your wounds break out in Easter eggs?
The piece in the game could be said to still be human—those pieces that came from humans, anyway; there were other sources too—though they are about the size of moderately large chess-pieces. They retain memories, souls, personalities, but they are part of the game now, permanently slaved to the game and part of it as surely as a cog in a clock is part of the clock. They have no personal volition, though they do have awareness. The only lives they can live are being used in the game. In the Age of Legends, these games were destroyed when found; the choice for the pieces was to remain part of the game or death, since removing them from the board/field meant death in any case. The game is all one, board and playing pieces together. And that is much as I will tell you of it. I don't want to give away what I might use later on, after all.
And for the final one, the requisite "dirty question." Compare the length of this answer to the length of the previous two. I think he LIKES dirty questions. *sniff*
WARNING—NOT FAMILY NEWSFROUP MATERIAL. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.
Where do Trollocs come from? Are there male and female Trollocs that mate? Are there only male Trollocs that mate with animals and/or humans to reproduce? Are Trollocs neuter, grown in a big vat at Shayol Ghul? Inquiring minds want to know!
You know the original source, of course...a blending of human and animal genetic material in an effort to produce the "perfect" soldier, though as envisioned by somebody who had never seen combat. Yes, there are female Trollocs, though you don't want to know more than that...there was a clear statement of this actually—that Trollocs breed—when where Myrddraal come from was explained. Sometimes a Trolloc off-spring is a throwback, but not all the way back to human, and twisted. Thus, eyeless but with keen vision, very strong indeed though not in Trolloc-class, able to vanish into shadows & reappear in other shadows.
There are no female Myrddraal; not even the laddie who made the Trollocs in the first place knew why...Myrddraal must have their "pleasures" with captured human women...there is no possibility of cross-breeding—it was tested, during the War of the Power, in the crudest sort of way; the Myrddraal isn't sterile, but its sperm kills both human and Trolloc ova—and the sex practices and other attributes of Myrddraal are such that a very strong woman might retain her sanity for six months, but very few do.
Also, there's another (non-FAQ-related) note concerning the pre-Bore Age of Legends...
RJ had mentioned (in response to another question) that what the characters believe does not make it so (Moiraine's statements were used as an example), so I asked whether the pre-Bore Age of Legends was the Utopia that the characters believed it to be. His reply is paraphrased below:
Compared to their current world, it certainly would be a utopia. However, that doesn't mean that it wasn't perfect. Of course, outbreaks of diseases were kept to a minimum, but it and other disasters of that ilk still occurred. Evil still existed, as well.
The Forsaken, for example, weren't exactly a stellar bunch to begin with. Semirhage, for example, was a sadist. (I'll skip his description of what a sadist is.) She went into her profession (the equivalent of a surgeon) because it provided an outlet for her sadism. (He then cited some studies that showed that there were more people with sadist tendencies in the medical profession, and surgeons in particular, to support his point.) Aginor (whom he said after some prompting had several elements of the classic mad scientist type) was a biological scientist who never considered the consequences of his actions. Aginor would say, "I wonder what would happen if I took the ebola virus and altered it to be an airborne virus." He'd go ahead and do just that, all without realizing he'd be creating a potentially unstoppable plague. All Aginor would reply to that was, "Hmm. Interesting." (Jordan then mentioned Aginor's creation of the Trollocs, their defects, "It was strong, big, tough to kill, and...... stupid," and that it was the birth of the first Myrddraal that saved the Trollocs from being a complete failure.)
Even back in the Age of Legends, regular, ordinary folks could do some pretty nasty things. He then cited a study about a small town of ordinary Germans in WWII who did some pretty horrific things (I believe he was referring to the book "Hitler's Willing Executioners").
How does the idea of souls apply to constructs such as Nym and Trollocs? Could either of them be reborn?
To whoever put this one forward, this is one of the best questions I've ever gotten! Nym and Trollocs both have souls, and either could be reborn, but since Nym were a pure construct (i.e. each of them was individually made, like hand-crafting) a Nym would not be reborn as a Nym. You might say that a Nym's soul was borrowed temporarily from the supply of souls awaiting rebirth. A Trolloc, however, bears a twisted, or corrupted soul, and would be reborn as a Trolloc. Though frankly, a Trolloc's soul is such a pitiful thing, it hardly seems worth calling a soul.
To: Les Dabel
Sent: Friday. March 26, 2004 11:57 AM
Subject: Re: Final Corrections
Very good! I added a note, for the Trollocs at the end, and corrected a few typos—he where it said eh, changing would to what in one place where it was plain that what was needed and would made no sense, adding or removing the occasional s to a word, such as horses for horse, where appropriate—but that was all minor stuff. Go with it.
As for the ageless look, I have always imagined it as being a difficulty in setting an age to the woman. You glance at her the first time and think she's 40, but the next instant, you think she can't be more than 20, and you just can't settle on where she belongs in age bracket. If you try the idea about combining the two faces, I suggest using 20 and 40, not 50. But do you then end up with a face that simply looks 30? I wish I could give you more guidance or a good suggestion. It's a lot easier when I only have to envisage the image in my head.
Take care, Les. All my best,
To: Les Dabel
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2004 3:03 PM
Subject: Re: Characters
I'll get onto the additional characters ASAP.
Here are my comments on the new images.
The Aiel is very good except for the boots, which still need to look more like Apache moccasins. That is how they are described in the main sequence books, a soft, laced boots. The coat is much better. As a note, remember that the Aiel average about 6'2" for a man, about the same as the Masai. There are plenty of them as tall as Lan and Bukama, and a few taller. An Aiel man who is 5'10" tall would be considered short by himself and by other Aiel.
The eagle-beak Trolloc is very good. It was a small thing, but the devil is in the details, and Trollocs just don't get ornamentation on their weapons. Plain—so to speak, despite all the hooks, etc—functional, and not a lot of effort into making them look good. They aren't exactly crude—crudely made weapons just don't usually function as well as well-made ones—but they are never fancy.
Cadsuane. This is not so good. She looks too old and too thin, almost gaunt. Her dress is way too frilly for Cadsuane, and it shows way too much cleavage. Her garments are silk, but cut simply. When she has lace, it's just a touch, perhaps at the neck and cuffs, but she more likely doesn't have any lace at all. She's a woman who does a lot of traveling, and she wants clothes that are easy to care for and can be tended by a poorly trained maid at some country inn. The cross-lacing is off. Dresses in this world almost always button up the back. And Cadsuane is more likely to have a high neckline than not. She makes no efforts to appear in the highest or latest fashion, nor does she try to impress other women with her clothes or jewelry, or to attract men; she's too busy for such foolishness, as she sees it. She is quite impressive enough being who she is, thank you very much. The hair ornaments also appear to be attached to one another, which they aren't. Each one of the ten ornaments hangs from its own individual hairpin. The bun should be right on top of her head, not toward the back.
As a note on her character. Cadsuane was born in the city-state of Far Madding, which is an out-and-out matriarchy. Far Madding has no hereditary nobility, but its politicians and wealthy merchants are all women. There are men who are craftsmen, but a wealthy man in Far Madding is one whose wife or mother gives him an over-generous allowance. The only men allowed to carry weapons of the usual sort are the Wall Guard, and then only when on duty. The Street Guard is limited to truncheons, sword-breakers and catchpoles. Men visiting from other places must either leave their weapons at checkpoints coming into the city or have them peace-bonded, with severe punishments for being found with the wires of the peace-bond broken. Very few of the city's men seem to be unhappy with the way things are. Far Madding is a prosperous trade center. The usual form of address by a woman to man whose name she doesn't know, or sometimes to one whose name she does, is "boy." None of this has any bearing on NEW SPRING, but it gives some insight into Cadsuane, because the city shaped her early years. Quite aside from being the most powerful Aes Sedai living at the time of NEW SPRING, Cadsuane is a formidable woman.
Gitara Moroso. I like this very much, though the dress would not be off-the-shoulder. That strapless look isn't used in this world. Most Aes Sedai wouldn't show that much bosom, but Gitara would. And I like the face, too. Very good!
Moiraine. The dress is excellent, though the sleeves are a bit too wide, I think—remember, Accepted's dresses are described as "simply cut"—but the face seems to have shifted again. I've attached the faces that I approved for Moiraine and Siuan. Also, she wouldn't have her hair in a bun. It would be worn loose. Her left hand also seems way too big; it's nearly half the width of her waist.
Ryne. This is very good except that his expression here seems on the sour side. That would be okay at the end, when he is unmasked as a Darkfriend, but the continuous view of Ryne until then is that he is charming and personable. He's much more likely to be smiling, especially if there is a pretty woman around. As a note, the dagger he is holding is too elaborate in the blade shape. I know there are a lot of fancy blade shapes out there today—Gil Hibben has much to answer for—but knives and daggers that are, or were historically, used by actual people had practical reasons for their blade shapes, even the yatagan and the falcata.
Tamra. Overall she looks very good. The only things I don't like are the off-the-shoulder dress, too much cleavage showing for her—her dresses would have high necklines, much like what you show on the Accepted's dress on the Moiraine image, or at least a neckline that showed no cleavage—and her hands both look much too large. The left hand is also oddly shaped.
Bukama. Yes. I like this one much better. Whatever Andrea did to the chin works just fine. And I like the armor. I hope this helps.
Take care, Les. All my best, Jim
-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.