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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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When Fades use their swords, we often see blue flashes when the Fade blade hits another weapon. Is this an interaction between the Fade blade and a specific sort of weapon (such as other Fade blades, or Aes Sedai-forged swords), or an interaction between the Fade blade and any iron, or is it just a special effect with no special basis?
With respect to Aes Sedai-forged weapons, like Lan's sword that never needs sharpening: was the Power just used in the manufacturing process, to change the structure of the steel to make it extra-strong, or was a flow of the Power somehow incorporated into the steel?
(If you'll recall, this was a big argument a few months ago, related to the Fade blade thing.)
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.
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.
Both answers on the chat are RIGHT!!!! He knows exactly how Thom managed to escape with only a limp and how he managed to survive that. But he might use it in the next book and doesn't want to give away anything. So we have to do it with the knowledge that both answers, although seemingly conflicting, are both CORRECT.
First off, I've been getting a lot of email regarding the sword that Wilson gave me out of Robert Jordan's collection. For Christmas, I asked my wife to have it cleaned and mounted, and so I wanted to wait until then to post pictures. That's not all finished yet, but I figured I've waited long enough, so I took a photo for you to show how it stands right now, stylishly presented in the mounting stand my wife purchased. (With our Kick The Cheat in the background . . . )
Some close up shots for you:
Eventually, I want to get the mounting piece inscribed. We're thinking of having the words hand painted on there.
When I saw that one sword in the collection had a gold and red dragon hand-painted on the scabbard . . . yeah, I knew that was the piece I had to take. More pictures eventually.
About Gawyn's duel with Sleete, and the usage of real swords, she said she would have to look into that, since I had believed that normally practice swords are used. She said that perhaps sometimes they have to use real swords to keep their edge, so to speak, but will look into that.
With novice swordsmen, the practice sword is very good because they can swing away with abandon and be swung at and at worse get a bruise. But there comes a time when a person must practice with a real sword, and not just shadow fencing. How does a sword feel when it hits another sword? How quickly can you come back from that? Practice with the weapon you are going to use in real combat is necessary. This is especially true if you are with an army in the field; you’re not playing at keeping in shape, you’re trying to make sure that you are at your absolute top form to keep from being killed when you come up against someone else with a pointy blade. These Warders are very, very good; they trust themselves to fight with real swords without damaging each other.
So, often they practiced with practice swords, but sometimes they practiced with real swords. There is a type of practice with real swords in the books. We see it in New Spring: the Novel, where Bukama “took the other two a little distance away with talk of some game called “sevens.” A strange game it seemed to be, and more than dangerous in the failing daylight. Lan and Ryne sat cross-legged facing one another, their swords sheathed, then without warning drew, each blade flashing toward the other man’s throat, stopping just short of flesh. The older man pointed to Ryne, they sheathed swords, and then did it again. For as long as she watched, that was how it went. Perhaps Ryne had not been so over-confident as he seemed.”
It’s not the same as when Gawyn faced Sleete and Marlesh, but it is experienced swordsmen practicing with real swords.
There was once, well, OK. Since his death we've shared his collection with some of the fans, because the collection of blades was enormous. And as we were considering doing this, my daughter Marisa, who is in her thirties now and whom I didn't know knew anything about blades at all, said, "Certainly you're not getting rid of the claymore!" And I said, "You know what a claymore is?"
So, think back to the movie Braveheart. We had gone down, the whole family was gathering for a fishing trip with the girls. Big deal, we are taking the whole family out, and the weather got in the way. Braveheart had just come out at the store, and we sat at home and watched it, the whole clan of us. She was in her mid-teens at the time, and right after the movie, he takes her out to the armory, which is the anteroom to this writing office, and shows her how to use the claymore, and does the sword-forms with her. And there's this massive, five-and-a-half foot long double handed broadsword in my daughter's hands, and he teaches her how to use it. And when I hear this, I said, "Bubba, you did what with my little girl? You taught her how to use the damn claymore!"
There were times that he would discuss sword-forms—and this is where you asked if I discussed the books with him—and both of us had a military background. He would get the blades and things, so he could touch and feel; it was part of his research. Look at a katana, there is a strong resemblance to some of the swords in the story. The influence is there. Some of the smaller swords have a resemblance to kukris or krises, of which he had numerous. But, as much as he would read about how to use them, he would then practice the forms. He would dance those forms, and there were times that I'd be with him, and he would say, "Do you think it would go this way or this way?" We are talking about a rather hulking guy in a very small confine, waving a blade very near my face. So, I was thinking, "Yeah, Bubba, but back off a little. That looks good, but don't trip. It would be hard to explain to the insurance company."
Did Brandon insert a character in the story based on himself?
No. He did however mention two items, one for Robert Jordan, one for him. In the ter'angreal cache found in Ebou Dar, there is a man with a beard statue. The power of the item is to be like an easily movable library. [MY NOTE: We see this in A Memory of Light.] This was Robert Jordan. Brandon then told the story of how he got his sword, with the dragon scabbard, while in Mr. Jordan's home in South Carolina, and meeting with Wilson. That sword appears in the book, and is the one which Rand gives to Tam in A Memory of Light. So Brandon's sword is in the book, but not Brandon himself.
RJ referred to his appearance in the form of the bearded man ter'angreal as his "Alfred Hitchcock moment". Aviendha first discovered the use of the bearded man ter'angreal in Knife of Dreams 15. Brandon's sword appears in A Memory of Light 15.