Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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We're told throughout the books that the male channelers get goose bumps whenever the females are channeling or embracing the source. However, it is continuously mentioned that the women don't know if the male Asha'man and Rand are embracing or channeling saidin. So how does the Red Ajah and Cadsuane, find male channelers and then gentle them?
There are various ways that the effects of male channeling can be found, weaves that find the resonance of the residues of saidin. Check in Crossroads of Twilight. They do not detect the actual weaves, though, only the residues left after the weave is released. After that, it becomes a matter of detective work. Though perhaps stalking a leopard might be a better metaphor. As for Cadsuane, she has a few more tools at her disposal than other Aes Sedai, the reason for her extremely high success rate. Check Winter's Heart, and a few earlier mentions, for this one.
Why have we not seen any Aiel Asha'man?
The Aiel have a different tradition, as I have mentioned in the books. When a young Aiel man learns that he is beginning to channel, or thinks that he is, that is taken as sign that he has been marked out to try to kill the Dark One, and he sets out for the Blight in an attempt to do so. And given that any Black Tower recruiting party that showed up in the Waste would very likely find itself in a fight to the death fairly soon after arrival, it isn't a spot that anyone would pick for recruiting. Now, it may be that some Aiel may finally join the Asha'man (I'm not saying they will!) but traditions are hard to change, especially when they have religious overtones and have lasted a few thousand years.
For Lucky Day, Asha'man have varying degrees of ability with the sword, just like anyone else. There has to be a certain level of talent for anyone to reach a particular level of skill, and also there is the question of how hard a particular person might try at learning the word. After all, he can channel, right? Sword? I don't need no stinking sword, gringo!
From a mechanical standpoint, RJ explained that the bonds themselves are very different weaves, but that is more because of the differences in the situations. It is very unlikely that a Warder would ever try and kill their Aes Sedai, but that is not the case for an Asha'man and his bonded Aes Sedai. The Asha'man bond requires obedience of the Aes Sedai because the Asha'man would be in danger of her if she did not obey his every command. The Warder bond is different in that the Aes Sedai can bend her Warder to her will, but only with some effort on her part.
RJ quoted from his own book how Logain stated that the Asha'man bond could be easily modified so that the obedience requirement was removed, and here is the important part and I will quote from memory, "but that has not happened, thus far."
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.
I thought you were wearing them correctly, but from my recollection of our military stuff Jim would never put a blade toward the neck. That is because we learned how to handle blades safely. They are a weapon and a tool, but not something to be feared because you have to handle them, but you have to know how to handle them. A blade was never drawn unless you intended to do something with it, either working with it as a tool or to do someone harm. So the symbolism of putting the blade toward the throat, I think, would have been contrary to what he was like.
But it was never really discussed in the books. They were on the collars. I say go with what feels right. If the dragon closer to your heart feels right, then wear it closer to your heart. If the sword feels closer to your heart, then go that way. But, he never said, but I would point the blade away from the neck.
RAFO. ... That one’s mostly a MAFO. I’ll be honest. That’s a question I should have looked at.
Yeah, I figured it was; I was hoping actually to catch Maria on that one. That was from Wetlander from tor.com.
Oh, was it? Hi Wetlander! That’s one I should know. I’m pretty sure it’s in there somewhere. That’s one I should have looked up, but I’ve just never looked it up. So...
A quote from the notes: "For the men, it would have been at least partly a matter of blackmail. They are distrusting of Rand, and also of Taim to various degrees; none thinks it's safe to go back to the Black Tower; they are known in Cairhien as men who can channel, and also elsewhere, making them marked to an extent, at least on their own."
So it wasn't anything really hidden, it was just "let us bond you and we'll help you; otherwise you’re all on your own." And it was Hopwil, not Manfor, who was in the first group bonded.
I took the three names from Taim's list of "deserters" given to Rand by Logain in Crossroads of Twilight, Chapter 24; Cadsuane wasn't too specific: "Blackmail was a tool she disliked using, but she had already used it on the three Asha'man..." That was in Winter's Heart Chapter 13; she told Rand about the three bonded Asha'man in Chapter 25, and indeed Karldin Manfor was not among those three.
Myrelle wasn't inside the grounds. They had been locked out.
This one should have been caught on my filters. Realised it as soon as it came out.
This isn't actually the answer; this is the problem. Why is there a silence when the Rebel embassy can be easily reached by gateway and vice versa? To quote Romanda, "They should have at least sent word. This silence is disturbing." That was the point behind the question—why is there such a big deal made when Nynaeve could reach them without fuss?
This was my first RJ signing, at a Tower Books. While I was getting The Path of Daggers and Winter's Heart signed, I asked RJ how Narishma could have channeled inside Far Madding to set off their alarms (or was he outside but within the range of the detection ter'angreal)?
He corrected me that it was Flinn who channeled (I haven't reread that part of the book yet, and was taking the Seafolk channeler's word on it, as I recalled it), and that he did indeed do so outside the range of the blocking field, but inside the detection range.
So far as I know, yes. And for the same purpose.
Do other groups start using the Rod too?
Do you think the Aes Sedai are likely to let others manhandle one of their ter'angreal?
Did men start to use the Oath Rod too, or did it continue to be only women?
No men. Neither group would like that. The Asha'man are NOT male Aes Sedai. RJ was clear about this in the notes.
Will the White and Black Towers reunite to form one Aes Sedai again?
RJ was clear to me that the Asha'man were not Aes Sedai, and were not going to become them.
That said, a united male/female Aes Sedai will come again someday.
Brandon answered (paraphrasing) that distance would affect the strength of their communication.
Alright, is Cadsuane's lesson to the Asha'man yet to come?
To the Asha'man? It is the same lesson that Rand learned, but they....they started to learn it.....
I would say that they have not completely learned it yet. Not until they have spent years...um...growing...
Well the distinction in Min's viewing is that none of them would like learning it from Cadsuane.
Yeah, so that's where everybody gets a little bit confused.
But yeah, I got you.
Androl—is he yours?
He is mine. From the beginning, I asked Team Jordan if there was an Asha'man that had a blank slate that I could take over, because I wanted to have a viewpoint in the Black Tower, and I wanted to do some of these things with gateways.
Androl and Pevara
In working on the Black Tower plot, one thing I realized early on was that I wanted a new viewpoint character to be involved. One reason was that we didn't have anyone to really show the lives of the everyday members of the Black Tower. It felt like a hole in the viewpoint mosaic for the series. In addition, each Wheel of Time book—almost without exception—has either introduced a new viewpoint character or added a great deal of depth to a character who had only seen minimal use before. As we were drawing near to the end of the series, I didn't want to expand this very far. However, I did want to add at least one character across the three books I was doing.
I went to Team Jordan with the suggestion that I could fulfill both of these purposes by using one of the rank-and-file members of the Black Tower, preferably someone who wasn't a full Asha'man and was something of a blank slate. They suggested Androl. The notes were silent regarding him, and while he had been around, he so far hadn't had the spotlight on him. He seemed the perfect character to dig into.
A few more things got spun into this sequence. One was my desire to expand the usage of gateways in the series. For years, as an aspiring writer, I imagined how I would use gateways if writing a book that included them. I went so far as to include in the Stormlight Archive a magic system built around a similar teleportation mechanic. Being able to work on the Wheel of Time was a thrill for many reasons, but one big one was that it let me play with one of my favorite magic systems and nudge it in a few new directions. I've said that I didn't want to make a large number of new weaves, but instead find ways to use established weaves in new ways. I also liked the idea of expanding on the system for people who have a specific talent in certain areas of the One Power.
Androl became my gateway expert. Another vital key in building him came from Harriet, who mailed me a long article about a leatherworker she found in Mr. Jordan's notes. She said, "He was planning to use this somewhere, but we don't know where."
One final piece for his storyline came during my rereads of the series, where I felt that at times the fandom had been too down on the Red Ajah. True, they had some serious problems with their leadership in the books, but their purpose was noble. I feel that many readers wanted to treat them as the Wheel of Time equivalent of Slytherin—the house of no-goods, with every member a various form of nasty. Robert Jordan himself worked to counteract this, adding a great deal of depth to the Ajah by introducing Pevara. She had long been one of my favorite side characters, and I wanted her to have a strong plot in the last books. Building a relationship between her and Androl felt very natural to me, as it not only allowed me to explore the bonding process, but also let me work a small romance into the last three books—another thing that was present in most Wheel of Time books. The ways I pushed the Androl/Pevara bond was also something of an exploration and experiment. Though this was suggested by the things Robert Jordan wrote, I did have some freedom in how to adapt it. I felt that paralleling the wolf bond made sense, with (of course) its own distinctions.
Finding a place to put the Pevara/Androl sequence into the books, however, proved difficult. Towers of Midnight was the book where we suffered the biggest time crunch. That was the novel where I'd plotted to put most of the Black Tower sequence, but in the end it didn't fit—partially because we just didn't have time for me to write it. So, while I did finish some chapters to put there, the soul of the sequence got pushed off to A Memory of Light, if I managed to find time for it.
I did find time—in part because of cutting the Perrin sequence. Losing those 17,000 words left an imbalance to the pacing of the final book. It needed a plot sequence with more specific tension to balance out the more sweeping sequences early in the book where characters plan, plot, and argue. I was able to expand Androl/Pevara to fit this hole, and to show a lot of things I really wanted to show in the books.
Rand and Logain
I made a few interesting decisions with the Black Tower sequence. The first was to not involve Rand. Though it would have been a nice narrative balance to have Rand come save the Asha'man in contrast to them saving him in book six, I felt that Rand was riding to the rescue too often. The Black Tower was about to lose him permanently, and if its members could not face their problems on their own, then thematically they'd be left at the end of the series hampered and undermined. Beyond this, I believed that Rand's personality (as shown in earlier books) would push him to avoid being pulled into a potential trap at the Black Tower. His argument that he couldn't risk a confrontation is a good one. Androl and company had to face their problems on their own—save for the help of an Aes Sedai, another thing I felt to be thematically important.
Perhaps the most controversial decision (among Team Jordan) that I made with this sequence was to push Logain toward being a darker figure. Following his extended torture, I felt that Logain would emerge as a different person—though he'd always been somewhat dark. Some members of Team Jordan felt he was past that, and I disagreed. Logan was a false Dragon, gentled then healed, head of a group of men going insane who owed loyalty to Rand—but who rarely interacted with him. There is so much going on with this guy that he could have carried an entire series on his own.
I wanted him to wrestle with all of this. Logain's life ever since his capture way back when seemed to have been one of being shoved this way and then that. He needed to decide for himself what kind of Black Tower he was going to rule, if he was going to earn the honor of men as was promised. (And yes, this had not yet happened at the end of the series.) Logain, so far as I know, never once let go of power in the series—it was always ripped from his fingers. In this case, he was allowed to choose.