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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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The evil power in Padan Fain has neither decreased nor increased, nor has that in the dagger. The corruption in him was partly caused by the taint on Shadar Logoth, but it didn't constitute a real connection to the city. Remember that it was because he was Padan Fain, the Hound of the Shadow, that he was able to leave Shadar Logoth in his new condition after he merged with/absorbed Mordeth. (By the way, any other artifacts that might be lying around from Shadar Logoth would have the same long-term corrupting effect as the dagger. Fortunately, or unfortunately, any such thing would need to be metal or stone. The wood and fabric had decayed. It wouldn't have been pleasant to get a splinter from, say, a chair from Shadar Logoth.)
The destruction of Shadar Logoth has not driven Fain any more insane. I'm not certain he'd be able to function at all if he were any madder than he already is. But being insane doesn't make him any less dangerous, only less predictable. He no longer responds to situations or events in any sort of sane, logical manner. His abiding concerns are hatred of Rand al'Thor (and to a lesser degree Mat and Perrin) because he blames them for what the Dark One did to him in order to turn him into the Shadow's Hound, and hatred for the Dark One because of what the Dark One did to him. He goes after Rand because Rand is the easiest target in his mind, but if he can take a swipe at the Dark One or the Dark One's minions in some way that he felt would cause real harm, he'd leap at it.
None of it has been hard mentally, though getting inside the skins of the Forsaken and folks like Padan Fain required some effort. You have to really like your character unless that character is meant to be self-hating for some reason, which most people are not. Liking Padan Fain just isn't easy.
I've often read things later and thought I could have done better, but I always think I could do better if only I had another few months to do rewrites. Just a few more months, that's all. Deadline? Pub date? Never heard of them, sport. I've never looked at anything I wrote and hated it. Even the first things I wrote aren't too bad, really. I certainly know that I could do them better, now—I'd hope so, after all these years—but they aren't bad.
A Myrddraal wrote the Dark Prophecy on orders, as a threat. I might want to use some of the reasons, so the rest on that is RAFO.
Fain (now amalgamated with Mordeth) was seeking his own power base, something he would try again with Pedron Niall and Toram Riatin. He wanted enough power to be able to kill Rand, Mat and Perrin, though most especially Rand, and to protect himself against agents of the Shadow. Because of Darkfriend reports, the Myrddraal who wrote the prophecy already knew who the strangers on Toman Head were, or claimed to be: Artur Hawkwing's armies returned to reclaim the lands stolen from Hawkwing's heirs. He knew that they collared women who could channel, which appealed to Fain/Mordeth, since one disliked Aes Sedai at best and the other purely hated them. The Myrddraal didn't simply give this up to Fain, you understand. Fain is one of the few people who could successfully torture information out of one of the Eyeless. As for why he went to Cairhien first, he knew the location of the Waygate there (along with several others and how to read the guidings in the Ways, this last from Mordeth) and preferred to use the Ways rather than make the longer cross-country journey from Fal Dara to Toman Head.
Mordeth + person. Mordeth is a human-made evil. The Black Wind gets along with Mordeth because of professional courtesy. Fain is anti-Forsaken as well as anti-Rand. He has a lot of skills and abilities outside of channeling. He can not channel.
Has the Padan Fain/Mordeth character been present in previous Ages, or is he unique to this particular Age?
He is unique to this particular Age. A very unique fellow, indeed. In some ways, you might say he has unwittingly side-stepped the Pattern.
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.)
In some ways. Machin Shin is linked or you might say drawn to that. It's not a matter of linked, but more attracted by. In much the same ways as I spoke about the evils being attracted to one another due to opposite polarities. (Shadar Logoth and the taint)
In the same way there is an attraction because Machin Shin was created in effect by the taint. It grew out. You can see is at a fungus that was constructed with the wrong type of materials. If you think about it as that way you get a more idea about its true nature.
For the ever-popular Anonymous, Fain might be said to be contagious in the sense that he corrupts those he is around long enough, but not in the sense that they then have something communicable. As for his influence over people, remember that Fain is now an amalgam of Fain and Mordeth, and Mordeth was a counselor, quite accustomed to and skilled in gaining the ears of the mighty.
And yes, Amico Nagoyin was Yellow, and Berylla Naron Blue.
For Sander, you know very well that Isabel would be disappointed if I stopped tugging at her pig-tail.
Now as to the fellow who went mad in the cell next to Padan Fain and the other who committed suicide, neither is evidence for Lanfear's presence. Which is just as well. Repeat after me, slowly. Lanfear—did—not—free—Padan—Fain—in—Shienar. Nor anywhere else, for that matter. There were two prisoners in the cells with Fain, both of them Bordermen who had some knowledge of Shadowspawn. And in the heart of the fortress here comes a troop of Trollocs and the Light alone knows what else. Put yourself in their place. Put yourself in a cage. You can't get out. You are in the dark. And here comes your worst nightmares walking in. Only it's worse than nightmares, because you know that these nightmares are real. You know what they do to human beings. You know they sometimes keep people alive a long time so they can have fresh meat. People don't need arms or legs to survive, so they can feed off you for days, maybe weeks. And you can't get out. You can't get away. You just have to shiver in your cage and watch them open up another of the cages. While you wonder whether they're going to open your cage, too. How do you escape? How can you get away? Maybe suicide is an option? At least it's quick. Quicker, anyway. But make up your mind fast, sport. While you're dithering, your mind might decide to make its own escape. That won't stop you from being butchered slowly, but at least you won't know it's happening. Maybe you can see why Lanfear wasn't necessary here?
And now, just for fun:
Who's nastier: Moridin, or Padan Fain?
Ok. You mentioned that Mordeth was a man that had "power". You are reported as saying that his power was that "which he got by seeking out all of the evil things that weren’t related to the Shadow"...
He was seeking things that were related to the Shadow. I think that that might be a misquote. He was looking into the power of the Shadow in order to defeat it, was his goal. He was looking into everything. He was looking into things that were not necessarily related to the Dark One as well. He was looking for everything that he could get...
..previous to him arriving to Aridhol?
...before he went to the King and became the counselor, Mordeth was this guy that went around searching for Power?
Yeah, he wanted to defeat the Dark One and he felt that he could find other ways to do it [...] He originally was good. He did not...he wasn’t this terrible person to begin with but he was looking to defeat the Dark One, to find a way to defeat the Shadow. And he looked into a lot of things he shouldn’t have looked into. There are evils that are not necessarily directly related to the Dark One, though everything evil kind of has...just as there are goods that are not related necessarily to the One Power...we are talking much as Perrin runs with wolves. This is a thing older than...there are other evils things that are old in a similar way...
...is the assumption then that he found one of these?
He found one or multiple?
He found many things of darkness. There is one in specific that is driving him but he knew too much. He found things he should not have gotten into and that is what turned him into...when he got there he was already corrupt. He still thought he was doing a good work. He still thought we are going to raise this Kingdom up and it is going to become this bastion against the Shadow, but he was already by then corrupted.
Is this same corrupting influence what corrupts everyone through the dagger itself?
Yeah. Through him, yes. And even through his presence.
[Hah—Maybe I should have asked if Mordeth was under the influence of the Finns...or at the very least if they were one of the powers he found in his quest... ]
I heard you answer a question last night, which sounded interesting. Someone asked about Padan Fain and Elaida.
A lot of people don’t remember that they met.
So, his influence, how long for example...wasn’t Egwene exposed to Padan Fain? Are there still effects that Egwene has on people because of him?
Remember the idea that people have, generally, a choice. There are ways to turn people to the Shadow against their will, but when that happens the person is no longer the person. What is happening with Padan Fain is, naturally tendencies can be exacerbated or they can be fought off...
...so Elaida’s paranoia fed that? With someone like Egwene she might have fought it off, so it’s not going to be...
...right. exactly, or someone like Rand who continues to fight it off. He has become very paranoid. And the wound in his side, certainly someone could make the connection that that might have an influence. I won’t say for certain but...
...so, the suggestion is not only does he have the taint, which is negatively influencing him, or influencing him in such ways that might bring on paranoia, there is this accentuation of it because of Fain...
...this corruption...I mean that wound and the dagger...
...that is another source...
...Mat managed to fight it off pretty much completely, well not completely, but we don’t see Mat running around paranoid anymore...Elaida gave it something to feed upon and it was very very small and subtle with Elaida but certainly that was an influence.
Ok. Is Mordeth’s power, this evil power, comparable to the One Power and True Power? Is it a power that can be woven?
No, it’s more something along the lines of Perrin’s wolf power, something more natural; you couldn’t weave Mordeth.
Ok, so it’s more of a natural...
...it’s more of a natural, though it is unnatural. It’s an unnatural natural thing...
...because Jordan was really particular about...he tried to have a logic-based system as it pertained to the One Power. Is this power more supernatural in sense than it is based on physics?
Let’s say more instinctual, alright?
(General summarization of the attack on Rand) Moridin is speaking to the Chosen. He’s kind of pissed. He’s saying look somebody, it was either Sammael or someone pretending to be Sammael, but it was definitely one of the Chosen. Is Moridin’s assumption/belief correct, that the only way for that to have occurred was for one of the Chosen to be involved?
Someone very high up would have to have been involved.
(Sorry Terez—made up these questions on the fly, so they weren’t very good, but it’s something to chew on. Next.)
The Dark One would spit him back out because he tastes bad.
In honor of Asmodean, I'll say that there is a mysterious death in The Way of Kings that could use some resources devoted to it. I did not put it in there simply because of Asmodean, but as I thought about it after writing it, I said, "Oh wow, I wonder if people will pick up on that." So there you go.
I've always thought it does, but I haven't actually looked it up.
Yeah, RJ said that Machin Shin does, but he never did comment on Mashadar.
Really? Okay. Well, I believe it does.
The next time we see him he is in Tar Valon, it is true, but that doesn't mean he didn't stop by Caemlyn on the way. He could have gone to Caemlyn before Tar Valon, although the timing would be rather tight, I think. There are other possibilities: he intended to go to Caemlyn, somehow learned Rahvin was there, and decided to skip that for the time being. Or he intended to go to Caemlyn, but his baser instincts prevailed and he decided to get his dagger first. I can't find a solid answer.
When a soul is reborn, at what point does it enter the body?
Hmm… *think, think* I’d have to say as a fetus. When the body becomes capable of sustaining life.
*stupid grin* Ok. In The Eye of the World, Thom said that the dead can take over a living body. If this happened, what would happen to the original soul?
*gave me a “haha, nice try you stupid monkey” grin* “Read and find out.”
YAAAAAAAAAAAARG! DAMN YOU! (ok, not really)
And now, just for fun:
Who's nastier: Moridin, or Padan Fain?
Umm...yes, you don't abandon it that easily, but, the other touch on Fain is far more dominant.
That would be Mordeth?
Is Fain still a Darkfriend?
I don't know if Fain counts as a Darkfriend anymore. I think Fain is his own faction.
How is Fain getting Trollocs and Myrddraal to follow him if he is not a Darkfriend?
He is using...other means...they aren't following him because he is a Darkfriend. Certainly not [he smiles a bit here].
Is Mat still attached in any way to Fain's dagger?
Read and Find out.
That is an awesome theory. No. But I am very glad you came up with it—it fits very neatly with how Sanderson would have done it. But still, no.
Can you tell me the actual cause for the difference?
Haha, no. RAFO.
Can you tell me what the Crossroads of Twilight superpack are hunting?
Ummm. No, I still might... it still might be in the books. So RAFO. But if it’s not in the books then it’s open for you all to ask again after A Memory of Light. But for now, RAFO.
He wanted to include him in The Gathering Storm. He then said he 'may or may not have been' writing about him on the train ride on the way to the signing!
So, pretty much confirmation that Fain will be in book 13! Where do you all think he is? My friend thinks he is posing as an agent from the Dark One and manipulating Taim in the Black Tower.
Padan Fain's power has morphed through time, going one way and then another (Shadar Logoth to the Dark One and back), which is why Moiraine was able to sense him at the end of The Eye of the World, but no Aes Sedai were able to sense him during his time in Tar Valon. He gained much of his power battling the Fade throughout The Great Hunt. Padan Fain is also now a powerhouse in the series.
Sure, this is information we all know, and it's not canon as it's not in the books, but it was cool hearing people in the know say it.
My name is Anthony Gould. I've been reading the series quite a bit. I've read 1-13 ten times. [murmurs, woos] And so...and I actually planned to read A Memory of Light ten times in a row before I read any other book...[laughter]...just so I have something to say instead of saying, "I've read every other book ten times, and I've read this one once." That'd be bad.
But yeah, so my question I think is directed at Harriet, mostly. I was thinking, well, is the character Mat Cauthon—did Robert Jordan base that character on him?
Maria was saying something earlier today that would suggest what you think he did...? (looks at Maria)
Somewhat. I would go for that. He told somebody, I think more than once, that all the female characters were based on me. [laughter] In the same way, I think that perhaps he based all the male characters on him, including Padan Fain and the like. [laughter]
Traits he had in common with Mat: There's one point Mat's talking to Olver about turtle shells, and Mat's thinking about a turtle shell he had. Jim—Robert Jordan—had a shelf of turtle shells in the office, and he did like to play cards and other games. [laughter] Yeah, there were aspects of Jim in Mat.
And to quit a job as a civilian engineer working for the United States Navy in order to write fiction...if that isn't the act of a gambler, I don't know what is. [laughter, applause]
Alright, well thank you then!
Finishing everything that RJ left to be finished in the amount of space required results in some dynamic pacing.
I don't feel rushed is the right term. But I can see how people might feel that way. I could have gone three more books.
It was not right to do so. This was what he wanted, and I did my best to fit everything in. I'm pleased with the result.
In regards to your specific questions, the Demandred kills were supposed to be abrupt to convey emotion of sudden loss.
That's how things are in war. As for Fain, a piece of me does wish there had been time for more with him.
Do you plan on expanding on the Wheel of Time series more or is it done? Why did you have so many abrupt deaths?
No, no more. RJ wouldn't want it. Abrupt deaths happen in war; it is the way this sort of thing plays out, I'm afraid.
Was there anything in A Memory of Light you wished you could have changed?
I might have done more with Fain if I'd had the time and the pages.
The biggest challenge for the book was fitting everyone in, and making sure they had relevant things to do.
Did Robert Jordan have a favorite character?
Yes—the one that he was writing that day. She said that some days after writing he would come into the kitchen slouching and sidling up against the wall, and she would say, "Have you been writing Padan Fain today?" She went on to say that he always wrote from "a position of love" for every character.
Brandon tells about one of the editing notes that he received from Harriet which read "Padan Fain needs more crazy."
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.
Fain says that the thinning of reality around Shayol Ghul would make it easier for him to anchor himself there, and Dom wants to know if the proximity of the Tower of Ghenjei had anything to do with the fate of Aridhol.
I honestly don't know. That would make logical sense...
Yeah, it would...
But...we could look in the notes. That's one I suspect is not in there.
But you can say there's a good chance that's the sort of thing that would make sense...
The name...how do you pronounce it? Is it no-tay, or no-tie?
Oh, it's...you pronounce the K.
Oh, you pronounce the K!
....according to Alan, who is the Old Tongue expert, who corrected me on it even though I named him.
So say it!
k'no-tie. But Alan can correct me, because Alan is the expert.
Does it have any mythological basis that you know of?
No, it does not that I know of, because that one, as most of the names—not all of them, but most of them that I named, because I named him—came from me writing something in English, and saying, "Alan, give me the Old Tongue."
And so, there are times where he'll find something, and I'll be like, "Oh, that sounds like this! Let's use it. Oh, this sounds like this; let's use it." Most of the time, it's...he comes up with the direct translation.
Like, Shaisam, actually...
Yeah, I mean that's easy to figure out for us, right?
Yeah. And there are some where I say, "Let's find something that feels like this..." and then, you know, of course, Perrin's hammer, right?
That's one where you're like, you know, let's find an Old Tongue translation that works for what the mythological symbolism is.
And that works well. It's hard to pronounce though.
Yeah, it is a little hard to pronounce though.
Can you pronounce it?
MAH-HAHL-in-ear? Eh...ask Alan.
Yeah. Because a lot of people thought it was Lanfear, and RJ said it was Fain.
So I guess you don't know the answer to that question. (repeats self) ...and that kind of blew everyone's theories out of the water...
Yeah, because I thought it was Lanfear.
I know this post is 12 hours old but I really hope you get a chance to answer my question. You did a fine job finishing the series, Brandon. This is coming from a 17 year fan.
RJ once mentioned that, during previous iterations of the Wheel, the Dragon turned (or was turned, I can't recall) to the Shadow. Now, it's somewhat apparent that the Dragon, as a stabilising force on the Pattern, is more than a simple mortal who can channel, which makes me wonder what would happen to a Dragon/Creator avatar if its essence became that of the Shadow. I imagine it would be something akin to the Dark One's evil, but still opposite in nature.
So is Mordeth/Ordeith/Fain the roaming essence of a Dragon who never had his Dragonmount Moment?
That's a very interesting theory about Fain. I don't believe that the books specifically rule it out. However, I don't have any special information that can confirm it for you. (Sorry.)
Was anyone else a little disappointed with the way to Ogier showed up for the Last Battle? Kinda just like "Oh yeah, we are here too." Then that was it. The scenes in which we see Ogier fighting are awesome, but I felt their introduction to the Last Battle was a little lacking. Anyone else?
The way they show up is actually the result of a sequence being cut. Originally, Perrin led an expedition into the Ways to try and close the Waygate in Caemlyn from behind. During this, the Ogier arrived, full of song, to drive off the Black Wind. Unfortunately, this sequence had logistical problems with the rest of the book, and had to be deleted entirely. The biggest casualty of this cut was the Ogier introduction, which didn't work nearly as well in the new sequence as it once had.
Thanks so much for adding your insight.
Ever thought about publishing a deleted scenes book? If movies can do it, why not books?
Afraid it isn't my call. You'd have to convince Harriet. That said, we are releasing some deleted scenes in the Unfettered Anthology to help with a friend's medical bills. (They aren't the Perrin ones, though.)
Thank you for being a redditor as well as an awesome author.
Did the same thing happen with Mashadar?
No, no deleted scenes here. I did Mashadar the way I did because of the small amount of information in the notes about it or Fain, and I felt that going with what little I did have was better than exploring widely without knowing where RJ wanted to go. In some other cases, I did extrapolate when we didn't have much from RJ, but here it felt better to go with the "less is more" idea.
There was a big danger in these books in me taking over too much and driving the books far from RJ's original vision. I had to pick and choose carefully which parts I extrapolated, and I did it based more on my own instincts and talents than anything else. For example, I felt very comfortable with Perrin as a character—he'd always been my favorite, and I felt like I knew him very well and could write him strongly. So, in Towers of Midnight where we had very little direction on what to do with Perrin, I felt that the right move was to expand his part and develop a sequence on my own.
However, for Mat in the Tower of Ghenjei, RJ had been planning this sequence for years and years. He wrote or outlined a good portion of it before he died. It was a small sequence, however, only a couple of chapters worth. I realized fans would be expecting more from this sequence, but my instincts said that it would be wrong to develop it into something much larger. That would not only go against RJ's wishes, but would risk messing things up royally. RJ had laid careful foreshadowing and groundwork for the scenes, and had a specific vision for this sequence. Perhaps if he'd lived, he would have expanded it in additional directions, but it would have been the wrong place for me to add.
Fain through my three books feels very similar to me. It wasn't as strict here as it was with the Mat/Ghenjei sequence—I COULD have expanded, and perhaps I would have, given more time. However, at the same time, there is an argument to be had that RJ wanted Fain to have a lesser-than-expected place in the Last Battle, and expanding him would undermine this.
I wish the Ways had been touched on. They were very interesting, as well as the portal stones. Was there any more info, or back story, on the Black Wind that hasn't been shared? Thanks for responding to us, by the way. I loved the last three books, you did an awesome job on them. I am getting ready to start going through some of your own stories.
There is some, but not as much as I think fans hope. In regards to something else mentioned on this thread—I believe that RJ was planning to do the Ogier/Seanchan Ogier relationship exploration in the Outriggers.
What logistical problems were there?
IIRC in some of Brandon's other posts on Reddit, he indicated that the deleted scenes were casualties of keeping the book reasonable in length. Additionally, Harriet or the publisher preferred that the storyline in A Memory of Light should be directly approaching the Last Battle, and this sequence got a little too far away from that.
There were a number. The biggest one was that the sequence wasn't needed. As you can judge from the final book, the Waygate didn't NEED to be closed. The structure of the battle worked just fine without it, as the plan was always to draw the Shadow's armies upward and through the woods. By the time the big fights here played out, it didn't matter terribly much if the Trollocs were being resupplied from behind.
Beyond that, the weight of this heavy Perrin sequence in the early middle of the book was distracting, keeping attention away from Rand and from the push toward the rest of the Last Battle. (this is what simps984 mentioned in his reply, which is correct.) The sequence was awesome on its own, but distracting in conjunction with the rest of the novel.
I would still have liked to have found a way to make it work, but I feel that way about every scene I end up deleting from the book. The truth is that aside from the Ogier arrival, nothing big was lost by cutting this ten thousand words—and a whole lot was gained.
Yeah, the Padan Fain thing is that I have a little bit of regret on that one. That's the one thing-- You see he didn't leave anything about Fain at all. Just completely blank. That was worrisome to me. The only thing he said was "Padan Fain cannot be Gollum" actually, he wrote that in the notes. So I was left with trying to figure out what to do and in the end I feel it just ended up feeling tacked on because there were so many other things I was interested in doing and Padan Fain I had never really enjoyed as a character that much. You are seeing my biases come through on that. Looking back at it I'm like "I really should have done something more with him". That's the big one that I feel I would change, if I could change something.
Cause it's kind of a threat that goes away...
The other one is I would've liked for the viewpoint chapters from Demandred to be in the book instead of separated out and put in that charity anthology, but I didn't have any say in that one.