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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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Jordan said he didn't really know, as he is constantly writing and cutting parts. He writes from the beginning of the story to the end, and then cuts and edits large chunks, pulling together threads. He doesn't even think about a working title, but lets the story determine it.
He says there will be at least three more books, maybe four.
Jordan knows the very last part of the final book, but doesn't know how long it will be till he'll put it in.
One humorous story mentions the quote saying he will continue writing until the day the nails are put into his coffin. One elderly lady apparently told him that she was a lot closer to that than he was so he had better hurry up.
On the second answer: RJ indicated in Sweden in 1995 that he does use a 21-graded scale to keep track of channeler strength.
The first answer appears to be an Aes Sedai answer (avoiding the question). The real answer (at least, the answer that is consistent with the rest of the books) is that RJ probably used a bit of hyperbole in the scene where Mat was Healed in The Dragon Reborn (or rather, Nynaeve did, and she even caught herself...but RJ wrote it in such a way that left room for doubt whether she was amazed at her arrogance or at her potential strength).
The woman with the shielding talent, at least as far as we were shown in A Crown of Swords, was in the Kin (Berowin), and not one of those holding Nynaeve when they went after the Bowl (Falion, who got away, and Ispan, whom they captured). They were linked, and they waited until Elayne went upstairs with most of the Kin, then caught Nynaeve off-guard while she wasn't already holding the Power, and they (rightly) believed the remaining Kin wouldn't interfere. (Erica noted when I interrogated her about this report that these were all quick questions which he answered while signing books, so he was probably too distracted to explain properly—all indications are that he truly enjoyed explaining such things when he had the leisure to do so, and that he also would have gladly admitted to the hyperbole so long as he had time to address the rest.)
I think one of RJ's main points in that scene was that Mat, not being able to see the weaves, wouldn't have any idea what was going on, and therefore neither should we, really. RJ even called our attention to this phenomenon in the battle between Moghedien and Nynaeve at the end of The Shadow Rising:
"A man who came in then, or any woman unable to channel, would have seen only two women facing each other across the white silk rope from a distance of less than ten feet. Two women staring at one another in a vast hall full of strange things. They would have seen nothing to say it was a duel. No leaping about and hacking with swords as men would do, nothing smashed or broken. Just two women standing there. But a duel all the same, and maybe to the death."
The scene in A Crown of Swords was a way of exploring that phenomenon. Presumably Nynaeve was strong enough to break the shield, but it was close enough that it came to a fight much like the Moghedien fight. Meanwhile, Nynaeve says aloud that Falion and Ispan are linked, and she chastises the Kin for not helping her. That tells us all we need to know.
Why did Mat think that someone was "holding" the True Source when his medallion grew cold? (That is I thought it only did this when he came in contact with an actual flow. This occurred on page 595 of A Crown of Swords, for reference.)
I'm going to quote the whole response again.
The first book took four years. The next five books took, on average, 14 months. I finished Lord of Chaos in August 1994, handed the manuscript in, and in October, two months later, I was on tour for that book. I came back and said, 'There isn't time. I cannot write a book for you in time for you to publish it next fall.' I convinced them I couldn't do it, and it's lucky I did, because it turned out A Crown of Swords took almost two years, and so did The Path of Daggers.
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.)
I have finished The Path of Daggers, but I still haven't done a blog post on A Crown of Swords, so we'll do that one first.
One of the things I went into this series wondering was if I could pick out why some readers grew frustrated with the series around books seven and eight. I went into this book during this particular read-through expecting it to be one of the weaker ones in the series, and yet, I found it to be one of my favorites.
Those of you who read my initial Dragonmount interview will recall that the scene in this book where Nynaeve overcomes her Block at the bottom of the river, while Lan races to save her, is one of my very favorite in the entire series. I felt that the foreshadowing of the events here worked perfectly, and the character growth for Nynaeve over the last few books has continued to grow her as one of my favorite (if not my very favorite) viewpoints to read.
Rand's character progression is also deftly handled, though he is going the other direction, in many ways. He is becoming harder and harder as he suffers more and more (the beatings in the last book didn't help either.) Part of me wonders if this character progression, which I find marvelously done, is part of what drove readers to complain about these later books. If that is the case, then they are missing one of the great aspects of the series, in my opinion. Rand is particularly heroic in how he faces so many difficult challenges, being beaten up physically and mentally, yet continues on despite it and even retains a large measure of his inner nobility.
I object to complaints about pacing. I thing the pacing across the series has been even, and I certainly didn't find this book to be any slower than previous volumes. However, perhaps that's because I'm able to read these all through without any wait in-between. One thing that is happening is that as the series grows longer, the viewpoints per character grow less and less frequent. There are enough main characters with important plots that we can't spend an entire book focusing on just two or three of them like we did during the early books.
This series, as I've said before, is meant to be read straight through. I think, perhaps, that waiting two years for this book and then only getting a tiny slice of the overall story might be what caused complaints from readers. It's not that the writing quality went down (I think it goes up as the series continues) or that the pacing grew slower. I think that the problem is readers not grasping the entire vision of the story, which is difficult to do when you don't know how many books there will be or how long it will be until they are done.
I point as a counterweight to these complaints that when you CAN read the entire series straight through, the viewpoints work so well together that the books become an even greater masterpiece. The story is so complex and interconnected that you can often get your payoffs chapters and chapters away from the places where they are introduced. But they're all the more sweet for the complexity and delicate touch.
Anyway, that's all I can really say here, as this one and The Path of Daggers are quite well blended together in my head now. (As I think they were meant to be.) I'm on to Book Nine tomorrow. I should begin work on Book Twelve before the end of the month at this rate.
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.
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.
A Reading from A Crown of Swords
Warning: Minor Spoilers for A Crown of Swords
Robert Jordan read part of a chapter from A Crown of Swords. I don't have an exact measure of the length, but I'd estimate it at about 1200 words given the duration and pace of his reading. It sounded like one of those sections in a chapter that covers scenes from different characters' points of view. The scene features Mat with a "here's where he is now" theme, sort of like the scene in Lord of Chaos where Mat dances with a tavern wench. The passage is fairly funny; during the reading, the audience erupted into laughter several times.
In the scene we find Mat at Queen Tylin's palace in Ebou Dar. Mat is turned off by the cloying opulence of his rooms. He's apparently been accorded status as a ranking diplomat from a friendly nation. He's also accorded some personal status with the Queen, we find out... Tylin pays him a visit and jumps all over him. Mat tries to fend her off (he's really scared by the prospect of a woman pursuing him) but to little avail; she paws him like an octopus and manages to relieve him of a few articles of restrictive clothing. Thom and Juilin save the day with a well-timed knock at the door to Mat's chambers.
Thom, Juilin, and Mat discuss how they're going to manage to keep Elayne and Nynaeve protected and out of trouble. They develop a list of demands to give to the two women. When Elayne and Nyaneve arrive, the men present their concerns... and the women agree, completely! Mat, Juilin, and Thom know that trouble's on the way.
It's been an interesting experience. So far as I know, I'm the only person in the world to have ever read through—beginning to end—the Wheel of Time, starting with Book One and continuing through until I reached the final scenes Robert Jordan wrote before he passed away. (Maria might have done it, but I don't think so—she pretty much has the books memorized by now, and seems to spot-read more than she reads straight through.)
This is an experience others will start having in the coming years, and perhaps they'll agree with me that it DOES change the series. First off, you gain a better appreciation for Robert Jordan's ability to foreshadow. Second, the slow parts don't seem so slow any longer, particularly as you see books seven through fourteen as being one large novel.
That was A Crown of Swords right?
It was in the epilogue of Lord of Chaos. They found out about it in A Crown of Swords. And it was the gholam. So it had to be—
Sammael, yeah. That was Sammael.
Do you know the reason?
Because he somehow learned that Fel was helping Rand and didn't want the information...?
A friend of mine has a theory; he believed that Herid Fel was Asmodean in disguise, because he didn't believe Asmodean was dead.
That's a good theory! I like that theory.
I like it too! Because it would explain a lot... (including why a gholam was sent to kill a non-channeler)