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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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For Anonymous-George, long ago I saw one of the first, I believe, novels about a young woman who wasn't allowed to use magic or whatever because she was a woman, and the thought occurred to me as to how it might go if men were the ones who were denied the right to do magic. Or whatever. I hate using the word magic. From that long ago thought grew the One Power divided into saidin and saidar with the male half tainted and the reasons for and results of it being tainted. Now in most of these societies—Far Madding is the obvious exception—I did not and do not view them as matriarchal. I attempted to design societies that were as near gender balanced as to rights, responsibilities and power as I could manage. It doesn't all work perfectly. People have bellybuttons. If you want to see someone who always behaves logically, never tells small lies or conceals the truth in order to put the best face for themselves on events, and never, ever tries to take advantage of any situation whatsoever, then look for somebody without a bellybutton. The real surprise to me was that while I was designing these gender balanced societies, people were seeing matriarchies.
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
(for kcf) On the large scale, the gender relationships in the Wheel grew from the very beginnings of the books, really. I recall seeing a paperback book back in the 70s, a fantasy novel about a young woman who wasn't allowed to become a magician of whatever sort it was because she was a woman. The notion struck me as interesting, since it was the first fantasy novel with that theme that I had ever seen, but what really stuck with me was this. That novel was a simple reflection of the then-current mundane world, but what about if it were men who were not allowed to become whatever it was? Now that would be an interesting twist, and unexpected. Why would that be, and how could it be enforced? As Harriet has often pointed out, many of the world's gender inequalities stem from superior male upper body strength. (To which I usually say, "Oh, dear! Isn't that awful and unfair!" While pulling off my shirt and flexing my biceps, to be sure.) From that genesis grew the division of the One Power into a male and a female half with the male half tainted, giving a reason why men not only would not be allowed to become Aes Sedai, as they were not then called, but must not be allowed even to channel, again as it was not then called. From that, and from the history that I was even then beginning to put together for this world, though I didn't realize it then, came the result of 3000+ plus years when men who can wield the ultimate power, the One Power, are to be feared and hated above all things, when the only safety from such men comes from the one stable center of political, and other, power for those 3000+ years, a female center of power. The view I then had was a world with a sort of gender equality. Not the matriarchy that some envision—Far Madding is the only true matriarchy in the lot—but gender equality as it might work out given various things that seem to be hard-wired into male and female brains. The result is what you see.
Brandon explained that the True Power can only be used by someone that the Dark One has allowed to use it. The True Power is perhaps more powerful than the One Power in the way a drugged up person is more powerful than someone not drugged up. In the moment the drugged up person may be, but in the long run maybe not.
Further explaining the True Power, he said the Guardian in Far Madding cannot stop it.
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.
I think I know who sent Slayer to Far Madding.
I always thought it was Taim...
Because why else would he disguise himself?
Yeah. That one I know.
Two questions. Short question first. I was looking through the leaflet. Why is Romanda wanted in Far Madding?
I haven't a clue.