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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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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.
DomA asks whether I feel sadness at the hatred of Cadsuane. No, nor do I feel sadness over those who dislike Egwene or Elayne or Faile or insert name here. The characters are who I want them to be. Some, people will like, and others people will dislike. In any case, I've noticed that even Faile has her supporters. As for her, I like her a lot. But then, I like all of my characters, even Semirhage. Even Padan Fain. As a character, anyway. As for Faile, she is a tough woman with a lot of gumption. Taken prisoner, enslaved in truth, caught in a cleft stick by the threats of Galina and Therava, she has (1) tried to get her people to freedom as she could and (2) worked toward an escape for the rest. However tough her situation gets, she wastes zero time on moaning about it. She gets on with trying to make it better. And Cadsuane? She's the tough maiden aunt a lot of us have had. Not the one who tries to keep you a child your whole life. She's the one who began expecting at least some adult responses out of you at about age six, the one who was willing to hand you responsibilities that everyone else thought you were too young for. You probably had a more nerve-wracking time, and more excitement and adventure, with her than you did with any three or four other adults in your life.
For Krassos, yes, a channeler could still channel wearing Mat's amulet. Cadsuane has one much like it. And I think that I will complete "Trust" eventually. I think about doing so every now and then.
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
It was a theme for the book. And, giving no spoilers, we have known for a while that Cadsuane and the Wise Ones have been saying that Rand needs to learn to laugh and cry again. That was their big concern. The idea of laughter as a theme was an interesting one to consider.
I mean, there's never one main theme for a book, particularly one this long. And so when you sit down to look at it, you want to have a lot of different threads, kind of like the threads in the Pattern, weaving together to make the tapestry of a story. One of those was the idea of laughter and how different people found enjoyment and amusement. We have the twisted laughter of the Forsaken and we have the genuine laughter of some of the characters, and we have one character, Rand, who can no longer laugh—he is incapable of doing it, even of laughing in wryness. And so I could approach it from those three different directions. We've got the terrible laughter and the full, joyful laughter, and poor Rand's silence in the middle. I thought that highlighting it in other people would only make his excruciating inability to feel all the more obvious, all the more of a smack in the face.
Cadsuane seems more than any other to be a character people either love or hate to great degrees, and I was wondering if I could get your thoughts on her as a character, and her role in the story?
The fact that people are so passionate about her means that Robert Jordan wrote her the right way.
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.
Because of the nature of RJ's notes and writing process, there are a lot of things I can (and was told I should) change. Harriet didn't say specifically "Change this." She told me "Jim (RJ) would not have done it exactly like this. You do what you think is best for the story first—that is your primary charge. Don't feel completely beholden to his notes, but respect his story."
That's kind of how I've done it. If the notes say something that I feel needs to change, I change it, but try to be respectful. An example is Egwene's dinner with Elaida. RJ had this planned as a single event. I split it into two chapters, separated by further discovery by Egwene and growth to earn the second half of the dinner.
There are many things like that. Places where RJ said "I'm going to do this, or maybe I'll do this, or maybe neither." I choose what fits for the story. It's usually one of the two, sometimes neither one works. I can be more specific once the last book is out.
That said, I wasn't particularly hip on writing Cadsuane spanking Semirhage. There was no good reason to change it, though. Jim had outlined the scene, and it was in line with the characters.
Cadsuane Melaidhrin was born in 705 NE in the city-state of Far Madding. At the age of fifteen, she went to the White Tower. There she spent six years as a novice and five years as Accepted. She might have moved faster as novice and Accepted—in fact almost certainly should have—but she was noted for both her stubbornness and her pride (read arrogance). At age 26, she was raised Aes Sedai and chose the Green Ajah.
Cadsuane was very strong in the One Power; for many years she served as the gauge by which every incoming novice was judged. In the last thousand years, no one had matched her and few had come close. Certainly no one in that time had exceeded her. Not even with her full strength yet, she was, on the very day she attained the shawl, at the pinnacle of the Aes Sedai social hierarchy.
She stood about 5'5" tall and was neither slender nor stout. She was not pretty, but she was strikingly handsome with a fair complexion. She had dark eyes, which some people occasionally mistook for black, especially when she was focused on them in an unpleasant fashion. Her hair became iron-gray, and she wore it in a bun on top of her head; the bun was decorated with small dangling golden ornaments, stars and moons and birds and fish. These hair ornaments were considered something of a trademark because she had worn them for as long as anyone could remember. For many sisters, the fact that she had was just one more indication of how set in her ways she was; they thought Cadsuane would never change, could never change. Of course, that was far from true; Cadsuane was remarkably adaptable, as befits someone who survived as long as she.
Cadsuane was considered by many to be a second Caraighan, although unlike Caraighin, she always refused offices. She preferred the field, so to speak; adventures were her bag. It was said that Cadsuane went through more Warders than most sisters have shoes; she didn't have all that many, since she was as vulnerable to the effects of a Warder's death as anyone else. Later in life, she refused to take another Warder because she felt that at her age, bonding a Warder would not be fair to the man.
Cadsuane first refused to be raised a Sitter in 846 NE; she reportedly did so a second time as well, though even one refusal was unheard of. She refused to be raised head of the Green Ajah in 862 NE, another thing that was unheard of. She was said to have vanished from the Tower for ten years (from roughly 890 NE to 900 NE) when she learned that the Hall intended to raise her Amyrlin after Sereille Bagand. She retired to northern Ghealdan about twenty-five years before the Aiel War, but came out of retirement, with her two surviving Warders, for that conflict. Soon after the Aiel War ended, she returned to her rustication. She claimed to have been raising roses when Logain appeared. His appearance drew her out of retirement again, but she was not interested in escorting him to Tar Valon and decided to wander a bit. Then Mazrim Taim rose up, and she headed for Saldaea as fast as she could ride.
When Siuan Sanche and Moiraine Damodred had reason to research Cadsuane because of their encounter with her shortly after reaching the shawl, they found many stories regarding Cadsuane. All of the ones that they were able to trace down turned out to be true, and in some cases the truth was more than the story. They were not able to follow or confirm all of the stories, of course.
One of the most prevalent Cadsuane stories was that she had once physically assaulted an Amyrlin Seat. Since physically assaulting any sister is a serious offense—and an Amyrlin even more so—the fact that Cadsuane apparently escaped any punishment at all, and that the tale is vague about which Amyrlin it was supposed to be, made most everyone think this story was false. It wasn't; it was the method Cadsuane used to turn Myriam Copan from a weak Amyrlin to a strong one in 758 NE. Myriam was thought to have gone on a two-month retreat by herself, but she had, in fact, been all but kidnaped by Cadsuane. Turning Myriam around involved, among other things, turning her upside down at least once. Although Myriam certainly had reason to keep the events of those two months secret (and was able to make a statement which seemed to deny that Cadsuane had assaulted her), it is the basis of the tale that Cadsuane once physically assaulted an Amyrlin.
Another story said that long ago she had removed a sitting king from his palace and taken him to Tar Valon to be gentled. In truth, Cadsuane had "a nose" for men who can channel. She faced more of them than any other sister living; she herself said more than any two Reds, maybe more than any ten. That seems to indicate at least twenty of them by that time, maybe more. She brought more of them to Tar Valon than any other sister. Of these, she never had to kill one, either because she could not capture him or because he was trying to escape. These men have ranged over the years from farmboys to nobles to the king of Tarabon, but one and all, they made much better adjustments to their fate than is considered normal. They eventually died short of a normal span, but they lived considerably longer than usual. And that King of Tarabon: he had to be winkled out of his palace, avoiding his army, which sought to rescue him. She carried him all the way to Tar Valon for gentling by herself, though pursued by his army that refused to believe that he was what he was.
It was also said that she kidnaped a King of Arad Doman and a Queen of Saldaea. After she released them, a war that had seemed inevitable simply faded away. She did actually spank or switch three reigning kings and four queens, though the facts of these are hidden in rumor.
Cadsuane is alleged to have once single-handedly stopped a coup in the White Tower. This did happen, though no one seems to know or agree on when. The true story: Cadsuane and Sereille Bagand did not get on with each other. In fact, they could not stand one another. Each was the sort of woman who dominated a room—or for that matter, a city!—by simply entering, and they struck sparks at every meeting. Despite her dislike for Sereille, though, Cadsuane uncovered a plot to overthrow Sereille and crushed it. The plotters thought she would be eager to join them, but she dragged the weeping ringleaders to Sereille and made them throw themselves on Sereille's rather small mercies. Sereille was not particularly pleased to have been saved—the plot was well laid out and ready to leap off—by one she so disliked.
She had a reputation for standing White Tower custom on its head, twisting it as she chose, and even violating it outright, as in her frank speech about age, her direct questions and refusals to accept oblique answers, and her interference in the actions of other sisters. The same could be said of her regarding Tower law, for that matter. She had a reputation for taking direct action, even to the point of violence, slapping faces, boxing ears, and more (especially when faced with what she considered stupidity), with high as often as low, or rather, more often. She also had a reputation for not caring whether she dented somebody's pride, if she thought it necessary.
There are the usual tales expected of a Green, only more of them. Riots suppressed and wars stopped single-handedly; rulers steadied on their thrones, or pulled from them, sometimes toppled openly and sometimes more subtly (toppling rulers was something Aes Sedai had not really done much of in the last thousand years, but Cadsuane seemed in many ways a throwback). Rescuing people carried into the Blight or kidnaped by dangerous bands of Darkfriends, breaking up murderous rings of Darkfriends plaguing villages and towns, and exposing powerful Darkfriends who tried to kill her to protect themselves. There are dozens, even hundreds, of improbable and sometimes seemingly impossible tales.
Some of these are not so much tales about her as an impression, a belief: Cadsuane will do what she intends to do, and no one can stop her: not a king or a queen, not an Amyrlin—not even the Dark One himself, some claimed. And when Rand al'Thor arose to power as the Dragon Reborn, Cadsuane once again chose to take part in directing the events of the world.
He, um, believes that he can.
Still, even after the The Gathering Storm reintegration?
He has a more zen view on it now, but he still believes that he can have some influence.
So, why didn’t they use it on wardings Rand placed on Callandor, and the other things they’ve wanted that were warded earlier in the series?
*stares at me for a long moment, thoughtfully* They may not have know them then. The thing is... we don’t see a lot of the Shadow innovating with the Power, unlike with the Light, but they have been. As much as the Light. But they know, now. The notes definitely say this.
Luckers is going to roll his eyes at me, but back before I started writing—before writing her POV’s showed me how awesome she is—it was definitely Cadsuane.
I rolled my eyes at him. Heh.
“Aviendha and Tuon are the ones I worked the hardest on, but I expected them to be hard. I wasn’t expecting Mat to be hard. That blindsided me.” Brandon explained that in general the Andoran characters are the easiest for him to write as, “They feel like friends from high school.” So it surprised Brandon when he sat down to write Mat and discovered that he didn’t have an immediate grasp on him. Brandon eventually realized it was because, unlike the other characters, “Mat is an untrustworthy narrator. He doesn’t always believe what he says and he doesn’t even always believe the thoughts in his own head. He’s a character I’ve struggled to write but I think I’ve gotten as close to him as it’s possible for me to get.” (The positive reaction to the Mat chapter he read certainly put weight to this statement.)
He also, tongue-in-cheek, admitted that before he wrote Cadsuane she was his least favorite character. “She was just too mean!”
What about Cadsuane's contingent of Aes Sedai? We know that she gathered sisters to her, and we see several with her throughout the books. What about the others? And what about those at the Silver Swan? Were they hers?
I don't know about the others. There may be something more definitive in the notes about the ones at the Silver Swan, but I'm not sure.
There was some discussion about Brandon's suggestion that RJ wrote the entire epilogue, since we knew from his tweets while he was working on it that he had to modify the epilogue material, and we knew from Peter that Brandon wrote the Cadsuane scene (and possibly others; this has never been clarified). In the comments on this post on Facebook, Isabel asked some questions and got some answers from Peter. The last quote is from Dragonmount, in response to some fan assumptions about how much had been written by RJ.
One question: regarding the Cadsuane scene. It is said that this was added by you. Is that correct? Was Cadsuane's fate in RJ's notes?
Team Jordan said I could say that Brandon himself wrote the words of that little scene. Brandon is still being closedmouthed about what specifically came from the notes, but in general, Robert Jordan left quite a few notes on where people ended up at the end of the book.
Am I right to assume that her implied fate wouldn't have been put in, if the notes say something different? (assuming there were notes on it)
The notes about fates at the end were not contradicted.
What Brandon was given from RJ specifically on the last three books was 200 manuscript pages containing some finished scenes (including the final scene) and some summaries of other scenes, some lines of dialogue here and there, some "I might do this, or I might do this," etc. It's definitely not the last 120 pages of the book.
The real standout question for me was someone who asked if there was anything that Brandon found difficult or uncomfortable to write.
Brandon talked about going into the outline, finding a couple things that made him go "Huh, that's interesting," (making specific mention of a certain conversation involving dresses and the color thereof), but the one that really stood out was "Oh, come on, you're going to make me write a spanking scene?"
So, I got everything at once. There are two things that stand out that are moments when I was looking through the notes and I was like, "Oh!" And then there was one that I'm like, "Oh no." [laughter]
The two that were "Oh!" were, in Gathering Storm where Egwene gets a special visitor, and colors of dresses are mentioned. [laughter] That one was kind of mind-boggling, and that's one of the things that Robert Jordan had complete. Not—I had to write into it and write out of it, but the important parts you're thinking about were done. The second scene was in another section that he had complete, and this is where, at the end of Towers of Midnight, someone you haven't seen for a long time and someone else have a romantic moment together, and that surprised me. I was not one that was expecting that—it's well-foreshadowed, but I just hadn't been expecting it. I actually went to Team Jordan, and I'm like, "This? I—What?" And they're like, "No, it's in there; here, look at this, look at this," and all the foreshadowing, and I had just completely missed it. And so, those two were the surprising moments for me.
The kind of "Oh no" moment was when...he didn't actually write the scene, he just made a sentence that said—oh, someone's plugging their ears because they don't want spoilers; I'm trying to talk around the spoilers, so—in Gathering Storm, there is a scene where a certain member of the Forsaken gets spanked [laughter], and Robert Jordan wrote, "This happens, and she gets spanked." And I'm like, "I'm not going to write a spanking scene; I've never written a spanking scene before!" [laughter] And I was kinda like, "Come on, Jim, do you really have to do this?" But I was like, it was in the notes, and there was no good reason not to [?] that scene, so I went ahead and wrote that scene.
Thank you so much for AMOL. I cried, I laughed many times, I feel a sense of loss at it being over, which is all to say I will reread it many times in the years to come.
Have you addressed anywhere any of the criticisms for plot points that have popped up in reviews and on fan sites? Would you be willing to address any? For example Padan Fain's being something new that had never been in the Pattern before and yet dying before having a final confrontation with Rand or the Dark One? The TOR reviewer agreed with this point and a few others.
I will try to get to some of these questions in a spoiler-filled AMA in a few weeks, once more have read the book.
Thanks for the kind words.
Sort of in line with this. On page 357 of AMoL when Cadsuane says "you have cracks in you..." Was that a reference to how you felt about the final copies of the series?
I think you did a wonderful job, but obviously it was different than it had been originally intended.
Sorry for the late reply.
I didn't write it that way intentionally, but you can never tell what the subconscious is working into a story.
No worries. I was a week after you, so it's NBD. Thanks for the answer, and thanks, so very much, for the books.
Thanks for signing this and addressing my question in Atlanta!
For the readers following along, I printed out my comment and Sanderson's reddit post above and he was awesome and humble enough to sign the print out AND TO ANSWER MY SPOILERED OBJECTION! I will put the few points from your answer paraphrased for our and the communities future reference spoiled below:
Harriet also signed the comment which I feel is very fitting and thank you Harriet so much for being unified with Brandon on his work and your husband's.
I am very much more satisfied now than before you answered me verbally Brandon, thank you again so much. Keep being awesome.
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.
What about Cadsuane being summoned to become Amyrlin?
Cadsuane was going to give up the three Oaths, and go live forever. Cadsuane's fate was not my idea.
Hello, Mr. Sanderson. This may sound like a strange question, but in Russian WoT-fandom we have a lot of heated debates about it. Some people think "Rand trying to kill Tam"—is part of Cadsuane's Plan. So, [was the] meeting with Tam in tGS:47 planned to "soften" Rand or to purposely provoke him (by mention of Cadsuane's name) and cause emotional outburst that had led him to catharsis after all?
Cadsuane did not expect what happened to happen.
Can Cadsuane’s Aes Sedai, Merise, Corele, and Beldeine, use the bond to compel their Asha’man?
Wow. Oh boy. I’m going to have such trouble with her questions. I have trouble with her questions when I’m steeped in the Wheel of Time lore and working on the notes every day, and now that I haven’t even looked at them in like ten months...
Tell her to ask Maria?
But that’s one I should know, is the thing. It’s not a hard question. It’s just one where I’m... I don’t think they can. But, you should really ask Maria. But I don’t think they can. I should know that one, you can tell her I should know that one, but I don’t think they can. I knew it at one point.