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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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By and large, each cell of Darkfriends recruits people it thinks are likely candidates, though they need to do so very carefully, studying them, sounding them out slowly. Darkfriends are always on the lookout for new members, since they feel very much like an oppressed minority and want to increase their numbers. Once a move to recruit is made, though, either it succeeds or the failed candidate dies.
For someone seeking actively to become a Darkfriend, generally one begins by trying to attract the attention of those who already are Darkfriends. One fairly safe way is to let comments drop that indicate that you don't think the Light is all it's cracked up to be, that praying to the Creator seems useless etc. If this comes to the wrong ears, you might be in varying degrees of trouble depending on what country you are in and who it is that overhears, but you are unlikely to get worse than a flogging from the authorities and possibly only a stern warning to watch your talk from somebody in a tavern, perhaps accompanied by a clout on the ear. Although someone might decide to slip a knife into you in some rougher areas of some towns. It's only relatively safe. By the by, claiming not to believe in the Creator is a good way to avoid recruitment by the Darkfriends. After all, if there is no Creator, how can the Dark One be imprisoned, and if he isn't, then why hasn't he taken over and rewarded the faithful? One of the fastest ways to attract attention is to show yourself willing to kill to advance yourself or simply for gain. That doesn't mean that every strongarm who's willing to slit a throat to steal a purse is a Darkfriend. Some of those might well be horrified by the suggestion. This method has its drawbacks, of course, since if you attract the attention of the authorities first, you are very likely to end up with a noose around your neck or a trip to the headsman's block.
In the White Tower, Black sisters watch novices and Accepted closely for any indication that they might be leaning toward the Shadow or susceptible to the promises of the Shadow. They also watch other sisters, since people do change. Not every Black sister was recruited on the day she gained the shawl nor soon after. Merean had a fine position for watching novices and Accepted, but many sisters teach. Some do little else, but others take turns at it for various periods, so Merean was not necessarily the primary recruiter during her time as Mistress of Novices, not even among those in her charge.
I introduced myself as an internet user. I told him that some on the net seemed to think that every other person was a Darkfriend. He replied, "I've heard". I told him that my feeling was that the number of Darkfriends in Randland were probably between 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100,000.
I asked if the Aiel attacks were done by the Shaido and their allies.
He responded, "If someone thinks otherwise, they should read the books."
I stated that twenty Darkfriends would be a heavy investment to lose all at once. Jordan replied, "Not at all. It's very easy for me to make some more. It is their trustworthiness that is more of a problem."
Why can't Ogier channel the One Power?
Why can't fish sing? Why can't sparrows do the tango? Why can't I figure my own income tax? I'd really like to know the answer to that last one!
For kcf, again, we have never met anyone who has the Talent of emulating the effects of a ta'veren over a small area.
I give my input on the design of the chapter icons whenever a new one seems needed, but Harriet actually decides where to place them, and I am happy to leave the job to her.
Yes, Ingtar was seen at the Darkfriend Social.
The Wheel creates ta'veren at need, making someone who is already alive one. You aren't born ta'veren. Can you imagine being around a ta'veren who is teething?
It would be possible for a Darkfriend or Forsaken to be made ta'veren, but it seems unlikely. Ta'veren are part of the Wheel's self-correcting mechanism. When the Pattern seems to be drifting too quickly, and especially if it is in the wrong direction, one or more ta'veren are created. I can't really see how making a Darkfriend or Forsaken ta'veren would help with correcting the drift of the Pattern.
Ta'veren can oppose one another, when their conflict is what the Wheel "sees" as the necessary corrective. And, no, ta'veren is not Old Tongue for Deus ex machina. It came out of musings on luck, charismatic leaders, and the theory of the indispensable man.
Katerine escaped with the help of Darkfriends. Galina, who is much more closely watched by Wise Ones than Katerine was, would have little opportunity to use their help for an escape even if she wanted to, and she doesn't, not until she can get her hands on that rod. She'll put up with anything to get that.
Anyone who can channel, however weakly, can see the glow of saidar and feel someone channel. For sul'dam who have been sul'dam for a time, some begin to be able to see what might be called a ghostly image of the flows. Others convince themselves that this is, of course, only imagination and manage to give themselves a block.
Wow, you have a lot of questions. One more, and then I'm off to the next person.
Someone who sees ta'veren sees them as glowing. The more strongly ta'veren, the brighter the glow. This is a Talent, and is something that only someone who can channel can do. While she was stilled, Siuan could not see ta'veren, nor could she have if she had been burned out.
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
Shaidar Haran needs a minion to most of his work for him. Elza was essential to Shaidar Haran in getting things done.
This led to lots of discussion about swearing to the Shadow—basically, it's a very bad idea and you forfeit some very basic protections when you do. Shaidar Haran has special power over those that swear to the Dark One, and the Forsaken in particular.
I asked about Alvairin's special mark, and he said Shaidar Haran has similar power over her. The implication is that there are lots of ramifications for swearing to the Dark One. Brandon mentioned that this makes Verin all the more remarkable.
On Falme, Rand and the Seanchan.
Question: In Falme we saw Rand fighting Ishamael and the Heroes of the Horn and the Seanchan were mirroring the progress of the battle. Does this mean that there is something inherently evil about the Seanchan Empire?
Answer: Nobody in WoT is inherently evil, except for Shadowspawn. At the time, the Seanchan were being led by a Darkfriend.
I almost didn't include this, it's so nitpicky, but you said you liked that. Feel free to ignore. Is this then to imply that the reason the Seanchan were paralleled with Ishamael in the fights was because Suroth was leading them? I always assumed that it was Rand's personal enmity that caused the correlation—he saw both Ishamael and the Seanchan as the bad guys, and therefore, under the effect of the Wheel's push for the Dragon event, combined with the influence of Rand's ta'maral'ailen and the 'loose reality' resulting from the sounding of the Horn, the two got linked in the weaving of the moment? Was it then more involved with the links between Suroth and Ishamael?
Will Verin face punishment from the Dark One for what she did? (Also, wow for that scene. Just plain flat out wow!)
Well, I can’t claim very much credit for that scene.
Will Verin face punishment from the Dark One? It will all depend on whether he can get his mitts on her or not.
Yes, Brandon had flight problems, and he showed up at about 8:30. He wouldn't answer anything that might spoil Towers of Midnight, but while signing my copy, I did ask him if Rand has met with Sorilea since his time on Drangonmount, and he said he thinks that Rand has. Sorry about not having much to give you.
Not satisfied, I press harder, saying this will be revealed in further reading [skeptical].
He said there were a lot of things Jim (RJ) wanted fans to keep guessing and wouldn't answer, and this was one of those things about the cosmology that he wanted.
Then I asked Maria (yes I was sneaky), and her answer made her sound kind of unsure how to answer it, but then she finally said:
Well he is called the Lord of the Grave, so...
So seems like Ingtar and Verin really paid a huge price to help the Light-siders. Again, not sure if this was asked but I thought it interesting....and who knows, they may change it since its not finished yet.
On a slightly related note, the Chosen had protection from the taint, was this something unique to the Chosen (it occurs to me actually, that said protection could only have been given AFTER they were freed from the Bore, as such a precaution would have not been needed before Lewis Therin sealed the Bore), or would all Darkfriends have such protection?
To answer my own question, I'd guess it was unique, else male Darkfriend channelers would have been at a huge advantage after the Breaking.
Brandon made some nice remarks on prophecies. Knowing we wouldn't get anything specific he was asked about some general questions. Someone asked whether the differences between the Seanchan prophecies and The Karaethon Cycle were completely intentional, or just from natural changes in telling a story for a thousand years from generation to generation.
I’m going to RAFO Shaidar Haran for now.
Totally understandable. And predictable. But I asked anyway.
This was asked in reference to the theory that Sorilea is a Darkfriend.
Depends on your definition of rogue.
I do not know of any. We can MAFO it, but I'm pretty sure that there are none doing that. They don't all get along, mind you. But I don't believe any of them are Darkfriends.
There are no rogue Heroes of the Horn.
What you have to understand is Tomas was tired of this world. Without Verin, he didn’t really want to be around...
So Tomas is dead?
Yes. Tomas is dead. She could have released him, yes, but he didn’t want that.
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.
Again, you ask a terrible question...BUT THERE IS MORE ON THIS.
I think he felt a little sad about my Sorilea attempt and his inevitable RAFO, and thus offered the following tidbit:
"At least one of the named characters is an unrevealed Darkfriend."
I know that this is pretty much a given anyway, but the way he said it—the way he presented it (with this gleam in his eyes and an invisible flourish) it suggests it is...not any old named character, but one with some importance. Of course, that is just my opinion and as such is...debatable.
But have we a list of second- and third-tier named characters who could possibly be Darkfriends?
(Blinked.) Can you...I don't know...?
Did this for the Weiramon eyes thing people, to see if we could rule out her letters to Rand. Nope.
This one I basically composed on the spot, so it got the answer it merited.
The darkness surrounding Bashere—can you give us any info on that? Was it caused by his past actions or by his future actions, or is it a result of someone else's actions against him?
What I can tell you is that being surrounded by darkness is rarely a good thing in the WoT world.
Was trying to attack the Bashere = Darkfriend uncertainty, but, uh...This was in direct response to the tidbit he considered tasty mentioned earlier on.
Once a person pledges themselves to the Shadow (either voluntarily or involuntarily), are they always reborn as agents of the Dark?
BWS first qualified that any answer he will give is as always subject to the caveat that it is subject to a subsequent unearthing of RJ's notes on the subject or an answer that RJ previously gave on the subject. BWS then stated that assuming that a soul was not transmigrated (for example the 'gars [I probably botched the spelling of this word]), then no. That person's soul is a blank slate.
Was Luc a Darkfriend when he went to the Blight?
I'm going to have to MAFO this one, because this is one that I can never remember, and I've had to ask Maria like three times—the whole Luc thing—because I had it spelled out for me several times, but since Jim did a lot of the Luc scenes, I didn't need to remember it, if that makes sense. So go ahead and ask Maria. She's...there's a lot of stuff on that in there—and hopefully that'll end up in the encyclopedia—but there's a lot of cool stuff on Luc and Isam in the notes. It's one of the areas that isn't as sparse. But I can't remember. I want to say no, that neither of them were, but I can't remember when it happened, you know...
Well, I mean...Isam was a baby, you know?
Yeah, uh-huh. Yeah, and so....
So...I mean obviously he wasn't a Darkfriend when he went to the Blight...
Right, but he grew up on the streets....
Right, he grew up under that influence, right?
Yeah, it's like he was...always...or was he? And when did they...when they...I want to say that Luc wasn't, but you'll have to ask Maria.
That came up in a panel yesterday.
Did you answer it?
We talked about it. I don't think he was a Darkfriend when he went into the Blight, but I don't know.