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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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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.
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.
Number one, let's talk about the blademaster issue. I'm not at liberty right now to say what's in the notes and what isn't, but I can tell you I'm drawing from the notes when I'm writing. I don't know why certain things weren't mentioned before in the series.
Maintaining the Wheel of Time continuity is an enormous task. There are so many questions like "What was Bryne's rank during the Aiel war?" where I ask Maria and Alan and just trust their instincts. There are other ones where they're not even sure.
Much of the time, when we run into issues like this, it's just me making a mistake. I do apologize for that. I promise you, I have read these books a number of times, but I don't have the type of mind that memorizes facts and repeats them back offhandedly. I have to do a lot of reading each time I write a chapter, and I often make mistakes. A lot of the time, these mistakes come because I HAVE been reading the series for so long. I've got these long-seated impressions of characters and events in my head that go back all the way to my teenage days. And they're not always right. (I didn't learn to pronounce some character names until I was well into my 20s.) Sometimes, I just assume I know something when I've been wrong about it all along. Those are the dangerous ones, since I don't think to look up items like that.
Anyway, with every printing of the books, Maria goes back in and fixes continuity. It happened when Robert Jordan was writing the books (though not nearly as often as it will when I'm writing them, I suspect). So what can I say about that? Well, Harriet is putting together a comprehensive encyclopedia that will become the definitive answer to these sorts of questions. Until then, I'm letting Team Jordan handle it.
(reading) When did Lan (LAHN) first become...oh, Lan (rhymes with pan), sorry. I hear all these names at JordanCon, and half of them pronounce them one way, and half of them the other way, and I end up getting bad habits.
Yeah. I don’t care.
Yeah, but Robert Jordan cared, so I try to care.
So is it Lahn or Lan?
Okay, good, because that’s how I pronounce it.
As far as I know—someone could correct me—it’s Lan, but Lan was one of those ones that—I believe—some major source had wrong. I could be completely wrong on this. I know Tar Valon (Tar va-LAHN), one major source had wrong, meaning an audiobook reader, or an original typo in one of the glossaries, or something, which really itched at Jim as I understand because he really wanted it to be Tar va-LAHN and not Tar VA-lun. So...when did Lan first become a blademaster? Well...between New Spring and The Eye of the World.
Wait, didn't he...he wasn't a blademaster in New Spring, was he? No...
Not that I'm aware of. And Ryne was better than him then at that time, so...
Yeah. So, somewhere in between those two. I suspect that was one of the things that Jim wanted to do in the prequel.
Right. Because there was definitely not a big deal made of it when he killed Toram Riatin.
Okay, the notes say that Lan became a blademaster before he turned 20, which would have been before New Spring. My thoughts on this are that Lan got his sword at an early age, and worked really hard with it, and was judged a blademaster by five blademasters sometime pretty early on. It's not mentioned specifically that I can find in New Spring, but it makes sense to me.
Dalinar and Lan, who wins in a swordfight? Both full Shardbearers.
Both full Shardbearers. Lan probably wins, I would guess. Lan is more pure swordsman than Dalinar. Dalinar spent a lot of time on things like battlefield tactics.