Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
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."
Logged In (0):
Newest Members:johnroserking, petermorris, johnadanbvv, AndrewHB, jofwu, Salemcat1, Dhakatimesnews, amazingz, Sasooner, Hasib123,
If you could be from any nation in Randland, which one and why?
Malkier, I think. Though others ask me this question, and I think my answer changes. I just think the Malkieri are awesome.
I can't pick three characters who are my favorites because my favorite is always whoever I am writing at the moment; that is, whoever is the point of view character for any given scene, I like that person and I like that person more than anyone else. I think that's a very basic human emotion. We like ourselves. And the reason that sacrificing yourself for someone else is such a big thing is because we do like ourselves very strongly. Now, if I don't like that character that I'm writing more than I like any of the others, then the character doesn't come out as being real.
There's something tainted in the writing. Something false.
Because I'm trying to get inside that character's skin, inside their head while I'm doing it. My wife will surprise the devil out of me. I'll come into the house with the day's writing, and before I've even said a word, she'll say to me, "Oh, you've been writing Padan Fain today, haven't you?"
And what's really frightening about it is one, I haven't said a word, and two, that even if it wasn't Padan Fain, it was somebody else that you really don't want to be alone with.
What kind of books do you like to read while working?
If something doesn't appeal to me, it goes away. If it doesn't turn out to be as good as I thought it was, it goes away. I don't have time to read books through when they no longer measure up. But everything... mysteries, Westerns, science fiction, nonfiction of all sorts. I've been recommending Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel to everyone, and I'm reading a James Patterson mystery right now, and getting ready to read Patrick O'Brian's The Hundred Days... Hornblower meets Jane Austen.
Sometimes I'll just dig out one of the old Jane Austen or Charles Dickens books and read that, because I love those books. Or John D. MacDonald. My favorite authors are Robert Heinlein, John D. MacDonald, Louis L'Amour, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain. These are the people I can pick up and read any time. And you have to throw Montaigne in there as well, but essays are a different sort of thing.
I don't really think that any of the major characters are very much like me, although there's some bits in Mat that remind me of me when I was younger.
Followed by the regular "I think of myself as Lan; my wife says I'm Loial."
Questions: He again as in the other signing took around 25 minutes for questions after giving a brief expose on the correct pronunciation of various names and places. A note to female fans: He specifically stopped taking questions for a minute to encourage them to participate in the forum. When asked the age-old question about how long until the next book he quipped that it would be released very shortly after he had finished writing it, and that he could not help it if we were greedy. Another question he was about which character he was most like, and he answered that while his wife thinks he is Loial "in toto" he said that Lan is the character who has the traits he aspires for, and Perrin is the most like him, although he at times acted a lot like Mat as a young man. Other questions were much the same as the other signings and did not shed a great deal of light on anything new.
(when he signed my book): Who is you favorite character, if you have one?
Well, my favorite character is whoever I am writing about for the moment, but I will tell you which characters I relate to. When I was growing up, I tried to be like Lan. Physically, and partly behavior, I was like Perrin, and behavior wise, I was like Mat. If he had a Harley, I'm sure he would ride one too (chuckles). My wife thinks that I'm "Loial to the life", but I don't see were she gets that.
(I also heard him talk about speeding in Maine.)
As I read, I also found myself having a very odd reaction. You see, when I first read these books, I was a teenage boy. It's not odd, then, that I would empathize with Rand, Mat, and Perrin. Each previous time I read through the series, my major sympathies focused on them. I remember being frustrated by how much Nynaeve and Moiraine kept them out of the loop, ordering them around and not telling them anything.
Now I'm older. It has been years since I've read through these early books. Strangely—almost traitorously—I find myself looking on Rand, Mat, and Perrin as . . . well, reckless teenagers. I'm still very affectionate toward them and interested in their stories. Yet, every time they do something dumb (like run off in Shadar Logoth without telling anyone) I find myself wanting to scream at them "You wool-headed fools!"
Instead I find that . . . brace yourselves . . . Nynaeve is my favorite character in this book. I always found her annoying in a bossy-older-sister kind of way before. Now, she's the character closest to me in age, and I can see her motivations and feel for her plight. In my opinion, she's one of the most heroic people in this book, as she left the Two Rivers on her own (despite the recent attack) and tracked the others out further than she'd ever been before. Rand and the other boys have no choice but to do as told, buy Nynaeve could have gone home at any time. Instead, she stayed—all because of her determination to help protect those from the Two Rivers. She's trapped between the boys thinking she's bossy, but Moiraine treating her practically like a child. (Well, not really, but you know what I mean.) She's got it rough, but she keeps on going.
I have to say, I'm impressed again with Mr. Jordan. It's hard to write these posts without sounding like a base sycophant. Yet, if you're an aspiring author, might I suggest that what he did here is something to study? He's managed to craft a book which not only appeals to the teenage readers who see themselves in Egwene or one of the boys, he's inserted characters who think and feel in a way that appeals to other audiences as well. I suspect this is part of why the books work so well. Perhaps after aging a little more and raising children of my own, I will find myself thinking more like Moiraine. (Though, to be honest, she's always been one of my favorite characters. Still is.)
So, there you have it. Brandon's favorite character of this book: Nynaeve. And I still think that's really strange. Next week, I'll give my reactions to The Great Hunt.
I've mentioned that it's sometimes hard for me to remember which events happen in which book. Obviously, I knew going into this one that I'd be reading about the fall of the Stone of Tear—the cover gives a handy hint on that. However, some of what I'd THOUGHT happened here—the pages and pages of Egwene being held by the Seanchan, the training of the three in the White Tower—all was covered in the last book. (Man, he packed a lot into The Great Hunt.) And now, it turns out that another big event (Rand using the lightning to clear the Stone of Shadowspawn) is actually in the next book.
So, I went into this one a little bit confused, trying to remember what exactly happened in Book Three. About a hundred pages into it, I suddenly remembered. This is the one where Rand disappears.
As if in foreshadowing of future books in the series, where side characters become main characters, this is the book where we only get brief glimpses of Rand. I remember being annoyed by this when I was younger. Oddly—this is another change between my young self and my older self—I didn't feel that any more. I've grown, over the years, to see the WHEEL OF TIME less as Rand's story, and more of the story of the end of an age. It's the story of the entire world and the people in it, not just the story of one person. And so, I actually enjoyed reading the different viewpoints, which allowed me to get to know the world and setting better. Perhaps that's just the writer in me knowing that in another month or so, I'm going to have to write in this setting, and so anything that shows me more viewpoints, more characters, and more places is going to be well appreciated.
All admit to a slight longing, however. Not for more Rand viewpoints specifically, but a longing to know him better. The man whom we read about at the beginning of this book has changed a lot since the end of the second book. That progress, that change, is trapped between books, lost to us. A friend recently explained to me that Mr. Jordan looked at Rand's changes during this book as a metaphor for the way he himself changed during his years in Vietnam. That same friend suggested that maybe showing those changes explicitly might have been too close to home for Mr. Jordan. I'd never heard that before, but it makes a whole lot of sense.
My only other complaint about this books is Moiraine. She's always been one of my favorites, but she got on my nerves here. It's okay to push around Mat—he deserves it. Rand is fair game too; he can blow up cities. He needs direction. But why does she have to pick on Perrin? He doesn't deserve it.And, speaking of Perrin, my favorite moment in this book came when Perrin entered the blacksmith's shop near the end and worked the forges. Something about the beauty of the writing there, mixed with Perrin's inner turmoil of the surrounding chapters, worked for me. It was one of the most amazing moments in the series so far for me, and reminded me why I like Perrin as a character so much.
I said Perrin last year. This year, I'm not sure I can claim that any more. Not that my affection for Perrin has waned. I've simply spent too much time writing through the characters' eyes.
One of the spectacular things about the Wheel of Time was the depth of characterization. No matter who's eyes you were seeing through, they felt real and lively. To each character, they are the most important person in their own story.
As a writer, you can't play favorites. At least not when you're actually writing. When I sit down to write Egwene, she's my favorite. When I sit down to write Rand, he's my favorite. And when I sit down to write Perrin, he's my favorite.
Through different points in the books, different characters are my 'favorite' to read about. Rand dominates my interest in books one and two, but I find myself leaning toward Perrin and then Aviendha in the next few books. Nynaeve's story in the middle end, with the rescue by Lan, is a personal favorite. Mat takes center stage after that, and Egwene is my favorite to read in Knife of Dreams.
Last year, when I did this, I just listed a few off of the top of my head without turning to any reference websites. (Actually, that's how I did the whole interview—I felt that readers need to see the real me, not the coached and scripted me.) That may have been the wrong choice, since there were those who seemed aghast that I couldn't remember if Lan rescuing Nynaeve happened in book six or book seven. (Reference my general absent mindedness from the previous question.)
Well, you can rest assured that I'm now very aware that it happened in book six, right after the Cleansing of saidar and right before Perrin blew the Horn of Valere. Sorry for getting that wrong.
Anyway, I also mentioned the prologue to book one, some of the Perrin scenes in the later books (before the wife-vanishing incident), and the climax to the third book. (Though I think that last year I might have said Be'lal in a place where I meant Ba'alzamon. Surprisingly, I didn't see any indignation over this slip up. Perhaps I didn't look closely enough at the message boards—or, perhaps they never realized I made a mistake, since Be'lal was there at the end of Book Three. His scene just wasn't the one I was thinking about. In truth, I was just trying to get across that I've always found the entire end of the third book—with the Stone, and Mat, and Rand, and the Aiel—to be a blast. Literally, in Mat's case.)
I think a lot of the most memorable points in the books are the climaxes of the stories. Dumai's Wells, Falme, etc. However as I consider it, probably my favorite sequence of scenes in the entire series is the one with Rand going through the ter'angreal at Rhuidean.
And now, just for fun:
Who's nastier: Moridin, or Padan Fain?
Still Tuon. Faile is fascinating because of her effect on Perrin, and I do enjoy writing about her. (I'm not in the 'hate Faile' camp. Come on, guys. It's not HER fault that she got kidnapped for a couple of books. Besides, she really grows up a lot during her time in captivity.)
But you said coolest, so I have to answer honestly. Tuon.
I'm actually leaning toward contradicting myself from last year on this one. I used to see Nynaeve as a big trouble maker, since I often empathized with the Perrin/Mat/Rand crowd. (I started reading these books as a teenage boy, and saw Nynaeve as a frustrating older sister.) However, on a re-read, I found myself empathizing with her quite often.
I'd still call her a trouble-maker, but not as big a one. Problem is, Mat isn't much of one lately either. He's a whole lot of fun—perhaps the character who is the most purely fun to write. I think he's interesting and well-developed. But what kind of trouble has he been making lately? (Besides kidnapping the Seanchan almost-Empress, of course. I guess that was a little bit of trouble. Particularly if you happen to be a Deathwatch Guard.)
I'm going to call it a draw.
About your characters, Brandon: Which ones are the most like yourself?
The Eternal Question: Mac or PC?
Gattica. The Fifth Element, actually, is up there too. The Prisoner of Azkaban movie. Empire Strikes Back. Sneakers. Jackie Chan's Operation Condor. (I know, I know.) The Emperor's New Groove. Star Trek: First Contact.
To be honest, that's probably not a great list. Those are the movies I watch over and over, but there are a lot of movies I love, but have only seen a few times. I'm not generally a 'watch it over again' type of guy, so it's hard to pick favorites. I come back to the genre films or things like Jackie Chan because they're quirky and rewatchable, but that doesn't actually mean they're my favorite—or that they've influenced me as much as other films. For instance, Lawrence of Arabia blew my mind, and The Sting influenced how I write quite a bit. But I've only ever seen those films once. But I do keep coming back to Gattica as one of the movies I think does what storytelling should do, when done perfectly right.
Other information that we gleaned from dinner included learning that Aviendha is the favorite out of the three in Rand’s “harem.” Hopefully we’ll get to see more of Pevara being awesome, but that could possibly appear in a novella on Brandon’s web page that will fill in some missing holes. But no promises! And one last interesting fact, in order to get the Illianer and Taraboner accents right, he wrote the book then went back and did a search for all the characters of those nations and then worked on their crazy accents.
The published books? Ah. I don't have a specifically favorite scene, but in the recent books that Jim had written, the one that comes to mind for me is when Perrin was at his wit's end trying to find his wife and get information on Faile, and he goes to interrogate the captured Shaido they have staked out on the ground. Against all expectations, he chops off the man's limb, and makes it very clear to him that he is not going to kill him, but makes sure he is crippled for the rest of his life and will have to depend on others for his well being.
What is striking about that is not only the surprise in what happened to Perrin's personality, but the fact that we see the depths of this man who had been operating at an almost emotionless state, or at least with a single, fixed purpose, which was saving his wife. We see him, the peace-loving blacksmith who, just through fate, is thrown into a position of leadership, suddenly do something that is completely out of character, or that we think is out of character, when in fact it is springing from his depths, something that needs to be done. So, in that scene, we see an inkling of Perrin becoming the person that he needs to be to take part in the Last Battle.
Perrin reminds me of Jim, for as you probably know he was a big man, with 54 inch shoulders. Mat reminds me of Jim, because he is such a delightful rascal. Rand reminds me of Jim because he is a world changer.
I love them all. I also love Hurin, because he reminds me of Jim's father; Basel Gill, because he keeps a good inn, Thom Merrilin because he is a wonderful storyteller—well, you get the idea. There are about 2,000 named characters, and I love them all. Even Mordeth.
What is your favorite aspect of the series?
As I’ve read each book at different times in my life, my answer to this has changed significantly. So I guess that as I think about it now, my favorite aspect would be how the books change and grow with you as you age. I’ve said before that many of the other books I started reading as a teenager just didn’t age as well. And that’s okay. They were brilliant for the time when I read them, and they were written for who I was when I read them. The fact that they have a much narrower focus does not mean that they are bad books. But as I grew up and became more proficient at understanding stories, and my tastes in stories changed, the Wheel of Time changed with me. The fact that the Wheel of Time has such a breadth and depth to it, that it can work for so many different people in so many different walks of life, is a great monument to Robert Jordan’s ability to write.
What is your favorite plot-line, and why?
It’s hard to define what a plotline is. I’ve said before that my favorite little chunk in the series is when Rand went into Rhuidean, because I love the nonlinear storytelling, the weaving of past and present, the ability to tell us who current people are by showing their ancestors. I think it’s just a beautiful, wonderful sequence. But I don’t know if that counts as a plotline.
Maybe Perrin’s defense of the Two Rivers would be my favorite plotline in the series, because it has really great underdog story to it. At that point in the series, Rand is moving mountains, so to speak, and changing the world, yet this plotline focuses narrowly on real people—everyday people—and their struggles and how they’re fighting and changing. So I really enjoy that one.
Wow, that's putting me on the spot. There are many different aspects I like about a lot of different maps. I love how the map in The Hobbit is the map the characters carry around. That struck me when I read that book. I really liked how David Eddings' books had a big map and then a zoom-in for every section when the characters would go there. But I wouldn't call either of those my favorite fantasy map.
The main Wheel of Time map is certainly one of the prettiest. But the best I've probably seen is the one from Leviathan. That one kind of blew me away.
At the moment sitting on my shelf next to be read is The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. I also have a manuscript of Variant, a novel by a friend of mine, Robison Wells, which will will be coming out in a year or so from Harper Teen.
Favorite authors, in no particular order: Robert Jordan, Terry Pratchett, Victor Hugo, and Dan Wells. The list really depends on my mood at the time, who I've been reading a lot of recently. There are many authors from whom I'll love one book and not be as blown away by their other novels. Here's a sampling of single books I think are fantastic: A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge, Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, and Sabriel by Garth Nix.
Now: Whoever I'm writing.
Before I started: Perrin, Aviendha, Tuon, Mat, Rand, Tam.
Which is your favorite Pratchett novel and why?
The Truth is my favorite. As a writer, and one who likes to explore the nature of the truth in his works, a novel that deals with someone trying to publish a newspaper in a fantasy world mixed philosophy and laughs in the way only Pratchett can. However, Guards Guards is the book where I suggest people new to Pratchett start. (I suggest avoiding the Colour of Magic as your first experience, even though it's technically the first book in the series. They are all stand alone novels, really, and Guards Guards can be seen as the beginning of the best sub-series within the series.)
Also, who was your favorite character to write? And don't say Bela.
It's really, really hard for me to answer this, since when I'm in a character's head, that character is the most important in the book. They're all my favorite when I'm writing them—that's just the way it has to be as a writer.
It is also hard to answer without giving spoilers that I'm not certain I want to give. For instance, some characters were interesting to write for different reasons. In some places, I was expanding on things Mr. Jordan left behind, in other places I was trying to piece together what I think he would have done based on the momentum of the books. In some places, I was writing based mostly on my instincts as a writer. I was doing a lot of different things with a lot of different characters, getting a balance of action, drama, and fun. Which is my favorite among all of that? It depends on what I'm feeling like that day.
If really pressed on it, I'll probably say that going into this, my favorite thing that I anticipated would be finally (after all of this time) writing Rand's character through the end of the series. Like many, I was initially hooked into this all by his story, and—regardless of other favorites at different points in the series—who he is as a person is vitally important for driving these last books.
How about my top five? I go back and forth on rankings.
1) Dr. McNinja 2) Sam and Fuzzy 3) Schlock Mercenary 4) Order of the stick 5) Uh...Sinfest or SMBC (I guess it's my top six.)
Really digging Kate Beaton lately, but man, she's worse than Order of the Stick at updating. And that's saying something.
Mistborn was good. Elantris was better, I think. I have a pretty low tolerance for sex and gore in novels and neither of these bothered me. Both were very interesting fantasy that actually spent some time thinking about new ways a world could work.
Oh Frank, Mistborn is much better than Elantris, but then I'm prejudiced against zombies. And as an added bonus, Mistborn had the best cover art ever—that unusual angle, so intriguing, and not contra the text as book covers so often are. In fact, after I finished the book I could see, in retrospect, that the cover depicts an important plot point at the end of the book—what a fabulous Easter egg is that!
It's fun that my oldest child is now old enough to pass my books too. We both love Mistborn. No undue influence from the woman who houses and feeds her, I assume. She wrote one of her big literature projects on Mistborn this year.
Fox. They look cooler.
All my gold on the Fox beating the game for only a ta'veren can cheat at the unbeatable. Cough, Mat.
Maybe the answer should have been “Fox or Snake? Neither. Raven.”
What’s your favorite fantasy/scf characters that you haven’t written?
Excluding my books and the wheel of time, Sam Vimes from the Discworld books, I really, really like. I have a strong affection for Harry Dresden. I really am fond of Lesa from Dragon Riders. Dragon Riders was one of the early books that I really really liked. Let’s see, who else. That guy from Dragon Prince. Dragon Prince is one of my favorite all-time books. Who else? Who else is good characters? The Fool from the Assassin books by Robin Hobb that she wrote is really awesome. That’s a good place for you. I would like to say Kvothe, because I love those books, but I don’t think he and I wouldn’t get along. I love the books and think that Kvothe is a jerk, and that’s part of why I love Name of the Wind, because Kvothe is kind of a jerk.
What is your favorite book you've written?
Favorite is hard to pin down. I'm most proud of either The Gathering Storm or The Way of Kings, as they were among the hardest and most satisfying.
Do you read ebooks or are you a purist (Have to have the physical book)?
I prefer to read physical when I am at home, and ebook when I'm on the road. (Like now.)
It's probably a cliché to say so, but my favorite is still that opening scene of The Eye of the World—that's what grabbed me as a fifteen year old boy and said "You NEED to read this book!" Lews Therin standing over the body of his wife while he calls for her, after being driven insane. . . wow.
Though, that one's probably too obvious. There are a lot of others to choose from. The fight between Rand and Be'lal at the end of The Dragon Reborn was just plain cool. Another of my favorites is the scene where Lan rescues Nynaeve after that whole Moghedien-balefire incident. (I can't even remember which book that is right now.) Oh, and pretty much anything with Perrin in the later books. Not to mention the cleansing of saidin.
And now, just for fun:
Who's nastier: Moridin, or Padan Fain?
Before you became an editor, who were your favorite authors, or favorite books?
Well, that would be while I was still in school. I had a favorite book as a child called The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge, who then wrote a number of books for adults. I used to pretend to be sick so I could stay home in bed and read this book over and over and over. It was pretty remarkable, written not long after WWII. A little girl and her desiccated nanny are going to a new place to live, and there's a really wonderful kind of gateway they have to go through, it's like a hole in a cliff and there's a big bluff guy—what it is is a thinly-disguised Brit-loving thing. The man who's head of the household they're going to is obviously John Bull and there's a big dog in the house, but it's a lion, and she sees the little white horse, which has a horn, out of her window, the lion and the unicorn, and then these gypsies, and a stolen pearl necklace, and it's all about reconciling the grown-ups, which tells you another thing about my parents' marriage. (laughter) Anyway, I loved it, and it's full of the porn of food. It was written while rationing still went on, which was well into the 50s, and butter simply drips from every page. (laughter) And I loved it.
That was a big favorite, and I also loved horror comics, until my mother found out where I was buying them, and she told me I was never to go to that drugstore again, and what's more, she went to the drugstore and told them I was not allowed to come in. And to this day, I've been unable to visit that perfectly inoffensive drugstore, which still exists. It's about to close up—not my fault! But I loved them.
What's the name of the drugstore?
Well, I don't know the—they know this, and since they're closing up, and feeling blue...they're perfectly nice people. But I did love horror comics. And I borrowed the first Nancy Drew; mother found it and made me take it back; she only wanted me to read Caldecott and Newbery winners. I read a lot of bad Newbery winners.
So has your taste changed since then?
Not much, not much. That's why I grew up to edit paperbacks.
Today, who do you read when you pick up a book?
Well, at the moment, I'm fond of Jacqueline Winspear mysteries—they're the Maisie Dobbs mysteries—and she's begun to hit the big time. She's an interesting character; she's a working-class Englishwoman, who saw life as a nurse during WWI, and the books are set between WWI and WWII, which is a period of history I know very little about, and they're fun.
Is it the mystery adventure elements that—
It's not particularly—no, it's not adventure; it's figuring out what happened. They're not cosies, exactly, but they're not shoot-em-ups either. Somewhere in between. They're unusual books. I like mysteries, and I've been going through a period of reading oldies. I love Terry Pratchett—I have one with me as a matter of fact.
Everyone keeps telling me I need to read them; I just haven't.
Well he's perfectly wonderful, and at times of sadness and trouble, I just think he's a tonic.
If you could have the abilities of one of your characters what abilities would you want and why?
Any one of my characters? Well I would love to be able to- If I were to pick one superpower it would probably be flying and so I would totally go with, probably steelpushing just because I think it would be so much fun, the idea of the, of the Lashings from Way of Kings would be a nice second but the, the Steelpushing just sounds like fun, so I would totally be a Mistborn, I would get them all.
So, this chapter gets the grand prize for most edited and revised chapter in the book. There are other chapters that have more new material—but only because they were added in completely after the original draft. This chapter, good old chapter two, was the one that underwent the most tweaks, face-lifts, additions, and edits during the ten drafts I did of ELANTRIS.
And, I think poor little Sarene is the cause of it.
You could say that she played havoc with the book in much the same way she did with Hrathen, Iadon, and Raoden in the story.
As I worked on the novel, Sarene as a character took on a much more dominant role in the plot than I had intended. Perhaps it's because she's the intermediary between the other two characters, or maybe it's because I liked her best of the three characters. Either way, in my mind, this book is about Sarene. She's the catalyst, the force of change.
In the end, she's the one that provides the solutions to both Raoden and Hrathen's problems. She gives Raoden the hint he needs to fix ELANTRIS, and she gives Hrathen the moment of courage he needs in order to turn against Dilaf.
However, I've found that Sarene is many people's least-favorite of the three characters. I had a lot of trouble in the original drafts of this book, since many alpha readers didn't like her in this chapter. They thought she came off as too brusque and manipulative. It was always my intention to show a more sensitive side to her later in the novel, but I didn't intend to lead with it quite as quickly as I ended up doing.
The first edit to the chapter came with the addition of the Sarene-and-Ashe-travel-to-the-palace scene. This is the section were Sarene sits in the carriage, thinking about her anger at Raoden and her insecurity. This counteracts a bit of the strength we see from her in the first scene at the docks, rounding her out as a character.
The second big addition came in the form of the funeral tent scene. This was added as a tangent to one of Moshe's suggestions—he wanted us to have an opportunity to see Sarene investigating Raoden's death. In the original drafts of the book, we felt the narrative made it too obvious to outsiders that Raoden must have been thrown into Elantris. Moshe and I felt that it seemed silly that people wouldn't consider the possibility that Raoden wasn't dead. This wasn't what I wanted—I wanted most people to accept the event. Only someone as overly-curious as Sarene would have been suspicious.
So, I revised the story to downplay the suspicion around Raoden's death. Instead of having Iadon rush through the funeral (an element of the original draft) I added the funeral tent and had Sarene (off-stage) attend the funeral itself. These changes made it more reasonable that very few people would have suspicions regarding the prince's death, and therefore made it more plausible that people wouldn't think that he had been thrown into Elantris.
Other small tweaks to this chapter included the removal of a line that almost everyone seemed to hate but me. After Sarene meets Iadon for the first time, she is pulled away by Eshen to leave the throne room. At this time, I had Sarene mutter "Oh dear. THIS will never do." Everyone thought that was too forceful, and made her sound to callous, so I changed it to "Merciful Domi! What have I gotten myself into?" A piece of me, however, still misses Sarene's little quip there.
There's a tie for best line of the chapter, in my opinion. The first one goes to Sarene, and it's in her thoughts. "The problem with being clever," Sarene thought with a sigh, "is that everyone assumes you're always planning something." This was an original line from the first draft, and it's always struck me as a rather true statement. The other line goes to Roial, and it was actually added in one of the last drafts. "Mean young men are trivial, and kindly old men boring."
It's a tie—best cheesy line from this chapter.
He half-smiled, his eyes unconvinced. Then, however, he regarded her with an unreadable expression. "Well, I suppose the time during your Trial wasn't a complete loss. I gained something very important during those weeks."
"The supplies?" Sarene asked.
"When I opened my eyes, I thought that time I had died for certain." (Remember, when this happened, Raoden was laying on his back. He oppened his eyes, and the first thing he would have seen was Sarene's face hovering above him.)
What can we learn from this? That people who are falling in love are utter cheese-heads.
The saddest part about Kaloo, I think, is that he's not a real character. I had a lot of fun writing him, and when I was done, I wished that I had a full character to play with. Even in these few chapters, I got across a complexity for him that I thought was most interesting. (His line about acting the fool on purpose, as well as the one "The revolution rolled over us while we were still discussing what to have for dinner" are some of my personal favorites.)
Unfortunately, all of this characterization is undermined by the fact that Kaloo is really just Raoden playing a part. I often develop characters in my mind based solely on their dialect—and everyone has a dialect, despite what you may think. Galladon's might be the most obvious, but—in my mind, at least—everyone in the book speaks a little differently. Roial is dignified mischievous, Ahan favors flamboyant words, Kaloo favors frivolousness words, and Ashe likes words that make him sound solemn. Karata is curt, Lukel likes to quip, and Raoden firm.
That's probably why I grew so attached to Kaloo—he had a lot of dialogue, and through that I created who he was in my mind. This tendency of mine to characterize through dialogue is why I had so much trouble cutting Galladon's frequent use of 'kolo', which always bothered Moshe. Galladon's dialect is so much a part of who he is that each cut made me cringe.
What is your favorite part of The Alloy of Law?
I would say my favorite part was getting to finally write about interactions between guns and Allomancy.
On Friday 13 I met Brandon to talk to him about his career and his novels. We chatted in the foyer of the Stamford Grand, a hotel in central Melbourne. The foyer has a lounge where we sat in plush chairs at a little side table, surprisingly secluded for a lobby section of a busy international hotel. Brandon was wearing jeans, a tee with a check shirt hanging open over the top and—wait for it—a brown suede folding akubra, or the Australian equivalent of a cowboy hat.
You notice I’m wearing my Akubra, just special for you guys. I don’t know if it looks good or if it makes me look like a total tourist, but I decided I would wear it.
I like it, personally. I think it looks good and they’re so practical.
It’s really practical. I mean, it folds up and stuff—it’s great. I like it.
Be careful about folding it up: my husband used to have one of them and the wire gets bent and it gets really hard to get back into shape.
Oh, okay. Don’t fold it too much is what you’re saying? Okay. I am kind of a hat person: I like hats. I brought my bowler with me to wear around but then I switched to the Akubra.
Yes, I figure I need a local hat. I forced my wife to buy one too.
So she's here too?
She was here in Perth and stayed for the first half of the tour, then she flew home. It gets a little bit wearying. I mean, I’m here for three weeks. She wanted to get home to the family. My mother was babysitting. Again, babysitting the kids for a week is great for Grandma, but after a week it does get a little—you know—so we didn’t want to wear out our welcome.
Babysitting privileges are very important.
Yes, they are, they are indeed.
How many kids do you have?
We have two, a little four-year-old boy and a little two-year-old boy.
So they’re a handful.
They are. They always say you get what is coming to you. I have a little brother who is two years younger than myself, and we were supposedly a handful at that age too. So now I get to know the joys. They’re wonderful, they’re delightful, but two little boys are just balls of energy. I wish you could find some way to plug in to them and harness that energy. You could probably power the whole city. They’re just always going somewhere, you turn around and they’ve climbed up four shelves trying to reach something you’ve put up there.
Yes, oh yes. I remember when my son was that age. It was so scary. What are their names?
Joel and Dallin. Dallin is a local name; you don’t hear it much outside the area but it’s very common in the West there. A lot of people seem confused by it—Dallin, where’d you get that?—but it’s fairly common. I don’t know what the original derivation is, I should look it up, but it’s one of those names that we see that we liked.
Some characters are there for you to hate, do you find that fans want you to change that character?
Reader feedback is an interesting thing. I’ll use the Wheel of Time as a model. When I took the Wheel of Time, I was a fan and reader. There were certain things that the super fan in me wanted to see happen and I had to say, ‘No, wait a minute. That would take the book into the ridiculous.’ If I put in all the cameos and brought back the characters with just the lines all the fans would love, I would risk turning the book into a comedy. With all the callouts and sendups, it turns into Shrek, which is just one huge pop culture extravaganza. That’s not what we want to do, not what we want to write. When fans are often asking for these things, they are not really asking for them.
I think there are certain things, as a fan, that you do want: great moments, huge payoffs that were a long time coming; after waiting so many many years there are things you want to have come together, a climax you want to read—these are important. So walking that line is difficult, and working on the Wheel of Time has taught me how to do it better. Characters the fans love to hate—you get a sense of when you want to make sure they are in the fans’ face plenty, and when you want to back off.
What's your favorite plot thread in WoT?
Tough choice. I'd say that overall, it was either the Perrin Two Rivers sequence or Rand in Rhuidean. I'm not sure if those count as plot threads, or if you want something larger-scale. The plot thread of Mat becoming awesome across many books is very well done, and I might pick that as a larger scale item.
Nice. three great choices from each of the ta'veren. :)
I'll try to sum up a few other things I remember:
We talked about if he laughed when fans were guessing who wrote what and getting it way wrong. He said the story he could tell about that was someone looking at the chapter titles to tGS and saying they could tell that Brandon wrote those when of course Harriet has named all the chapters since the start.
He was disappointed that DKS couldn't finished the last cover even though he really thinks Whelan is the best fantasy artist around. He likened it to the same as it being too bad that he had to finish the series instead of RJ.
He talked some more about how he felt Mat was the hardest character to get write because he's pretty complicated. His thoughts don't always match up with his actions and it was hard to strike the right tone.
He knows that his action sequences don't sound like RJ's. He said he just doesn't have the real world experience that RJ did as a combat soldier so he just writes them as the best action scenes that he can.
He said Perrin was his favorite character so one of his goals was to redeem the character a bit and make him awesome again.
I asked about his Alcatraz books and he said there will be one more but it's not high on the priority list and will be several years. He also said the Scholastic distribution wasn't great and he's working on buying back the rights and bringing the series to TOR for wider distribution and ebook release.
Stuff like that. Nothing that hasn't been covered before.
Hi, I'm Michael Chantry from Podunk [?] Idaho—[claps] someone knows the area. Thank you for the books; they're amazing. Thanks Robert Jordan for the books. I like them so much I actually named my second child Perrin. [applause]
My question is to both Brandon and Harriet. I know you love this new book, A Memory of Light, that you've created for us, and out of it, is there anything that we... What is your favorite part? What did you enjoy most about it? If you can give us a chapter, a section...anything. I know you're going to say "the whole thing." [laughter]
(flips through book) [laughter] There's a 200-page chapter in this book. [hoots, buzz of talking] I felt it very thematically important, and my favorite part is right at the end of that chapter and the beginning of the next chapter, and the next chapter is actually very short, and so really, it's probably Chapter 39, but with the lead-in at the end of chapter 38.
And Harriet, do you have a favorite part?
(talks to Peter) 37 and 38? Okay, 37 and 38. Peter knows these things better than I do. [laughter]
Well, I love the end of Chapter 23—the final sequence—and as you're aware from Brandon's other books, I mean a lot of the chapters will have a piece here, and then there's a two-line space and you jump five hundred miles away, and so on, but the last segment of 23 I think is just super. But there are an awful lot of things that I do love in this book; the scene I read for you is one of my favorites; there's more of it, but I thought, "Oh, I don't know; I think I'm getting on too long," because we hadn't quite timed it out. I think it's a wonderful book. [laughter, applause]
I know that the question wasn't directed up here to me, but I think I definitely need to say that—without being cliché—the ending, the epilogue, was far and away everything I could have hoped it was, and it was my favorite part of the book. It was just...I can't wait for all of you to eventually read it, and hopefully have the same kind of reaction that I did. It's pretty awesome.
I can talk a little bit more about that, because...I told you the Asmodean story, but next under that sheet was this, was the...were the scenes that Robert Jordan had written for the book. And so, that included sections from the prologue, which got split into various pieces of the various prologues of the three novels; sections out of the book; and then this ending, the epilogue, and it's one of the most...one of the scenes where you're able to preserve, a sequence that's the most close to the way Robert Jordan left it. Because a lot of scenes he'd leave, he'd leave like a paragraph, and then it's like I have to expand that into, or I have to work a whole thing and then have that paragraph in.
There's a famous scene, for instance, with Verin in Gathering Storm where he left, you know, the kinda...what you would imagine is the important parts, but it's only the important parts, and then it doesn't have a lead-in or an exit to the scene, and so I had to write up and then lead in to what he'd written, and then lead out of it, and that sort of stuff. And this, it's actually...we've got complete sequences that he wrote before he passed away. And so, when you get to that epilogue, you can know...there's some very non-touched-by-the-rest-of-us stuff that he had in a very good shape to be published before he passed away.
And I should have thought of that, but as he read it in 2007—and so did I, and I had known some bits of it for years before that—but it really is splendid.
Thank you very much. [applause]
My name is Kevin [?] from Orem, Utah. My question is mostly directed at Harriet, but also anybody else on the panel who wants to jump in here.
One of the things I love about the books is that there's so many characters, and there are moments where like, each of the characters has their ups and downs, and there's chapters where like, "Man, Perrin is on fire," or "Mat is the greatest!" But if you could hang out with any character from this universe, you know—even disregarding what we know about Mat's similarities with Robert Jordan now—but if you could hang out with any character, who would it be?
And then also, for Harriet and Maria, if you could be any Ajah in the White Tower, which would you pick?
Well, Maria and I have different fancies about the male characters. [laughter] She fancies herself...she fancies some Mat. Big time. [laughter] And I, on the other hand, have always been stuck by the numerous ways in which Robert Jordan resembles Perrin. Very large, as a former lineman for Clemson University would-be, and hairy, and very gentle, and I just...anyway, I think it'd be Perrin. And I'm torn between the Blue and the Brown. I think mostly Blue.
And I am so Brown. [laughter]
Actually, on one of these last book tours, Brandon looked at this thing I'm wearing around my neck, because this is a nice, non-losable thing to put on some color. [It resembles an Amyrlin's stole, narrow and tied in a knot.] And he said, "Oh..." looking at the stripes, "Orange. My favorite Ajah." [laughter]
I have frequently said that Perrin was my favorite all along. I was a Perrin fan, even when Perrin was in...some...some...a darker place in his life. [laughter] You know, if you're a Cubs fan, you don't abandon the Cubs just because they haven't, you know, won a World Series in a hundred years. [laughter] And if you're a Perrin fan, you don't abandon Perrin just because he's struggling in his life with some important questions. No, it's been Perrin. Even though Mat stole the show in later books, I was still a Perrin guy.
And I guess I'm....I love 'em all. [laughter]
I wish I was ....well, like some of Verin. I didn't really want to be evil, or anything. [laughter] But I like Verin. She was sneaky, sneaky...but she got things done, and she turned out alright.
And she had that owl. [laughter]
Easiest: Perrin. Hardest: Mat. Followed by Aviendha and Tuon.
Now that you're finished, what was your favorite scene to write? Character?
Perrin, and the forging of his hammer. In A Memory of Light it was the sequence with Lan near the end.
What character was most difficult to write for?
Mat was the most difficult for me to get right.
The Rand and Mat dialogue where they try to one up each other was amazing. Thank you for that (and the whole book).
That scene was one of my favorites to work on.
What was the most shocking thing you learned when first reading RJ's notes?
What are your top 5 Dystopian lit recs and why?
These are in no particular order. 1984 has to be on the list; it was the first big dystopian book that I read, and it has shaped this genre, in a way. I would put up there The Giver as well, which most people count as dystopian; it's kind of an interesting blend of dystopian and other sub genres, but I enjoy it. Among more recent fiction, I would say Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, and The Maze Runner by James Dashner, for something very recent. Finally, another good classic—probably my favorite of all time is Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut.
Who are your favorite writers?
My favorite living writer right now is probably Terry Pratchett. There is no one who can balance humor and plot and character like he does, particularly in his books about Vimes. I really like Guy Gavriel Kay a lot, and I try to read a lot of new writers to see what's going on in the field, so recently I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin, and that was a great book. I read a lot of history books and non-fiction as well. If you opened up my eReader you'd find three or four Terry Pratchetts, all the Wheel of Time, all the current Hugo nominees and a bunch of books right now on psychology. When I do research I cast my net very widely and then snatch what feels right out of that. Occasionally I'll read a specific book for a specific book, but usually I'm trying to increase my general understanding.
I first heard about Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles series from one of your blog posts and absolutely love it. Are there other writers or books that you think are flying under the radar that you'd recommend?
Some of my favorite authors are Anne McCaffrey (If you haven't read her books I don't know why you're reading mine. You need to go and read hers immediately!) I like Guy Gavriel Kay's works quite a bit. Tigana is a wonderful work. Melanie Rawn is a great author, I especially like her epic fantasy, I haven't read her urban fantasy but Dragon Prince is one of my favorite books of all time. And Terry Pratchett (start with the books in the middle of his career, not the beginning because his books get better and better as he goes along.)
Who's your favorite character in the series?
When I first started reading, the character that drew me in was Rand. I was a teenage boy, Rand was a teenage boy, and I very much empathized with him on his classical hero's journey. Later, I really empathized with a character named Perrin, who was kind of quiet and sturdy. That's who I am in a lot of ways, particularly during that era in my life. And lately I've found myself liking characters who are a little bit older and more mature. Really, it's not the story of one or two characters, but of all of them together, and what it's like to live in this world during the end of days. It's the world-building—the strength and depth of these many characters—that has pulled people along for 20 years.
Who was his favorite character to write and who does he see himself the most in?
Perrin was his favorite. Even though Perrin went through "a slump" in the series in order to build tension, Brandon always stayed "Team Perrin." Perrin was the most natural. Mat was tough and thus a cooler character to write. Brandon enjoyed writing Mat, especially in A Memory of Light. Mat challenged his skills more than anyone else. The saddest part for him with finishing the series is that he can't write Mat anymore.
Harriet added that there will not be any more WoT books (other than the encyclopedia). She said that Robert Jordan hated the idea of someone taking his material, although he did want the series finished. He stated he would run over his hard drive before allowing others to "sharecrop." Harriet stated that the two sentences about the outriggers that Robert Jordan left behind will be released in April or May. She said that with the encyclopedia there is "the work of at least a year."
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."
What was BWS' favorite miserable situation in A Memory of Light?
It was a tie. The scene at the end of the Last Battle Chapter (the 200 page chapter) and the scene in the garden at night concerning the character BWS likes to put in miserable situations. (BWS phrased the answer in this manner due to a no spoiler rule.)
Who is Harriet's favorite character?
The one I'm reading at the moment. There's one guy who's a peddler in the Waste, and we sort of think he's a good guy, but he's not, he's perfectly awful, and he's thinking at one point about his sister, and how tragic it was when he had to kill her, and I thought about how he's just so beautifully drawn. My husband always made a point. Everybody thinks they're wonderful human beings, including him. Wasn't his fault—he had to do it. I just love that about each and every character, even that son-of-a-gun. I couldn't help loving him a little bit. Very human, but I wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley.
What's your favorite female character in the series?
I've always had a sneaker for Siuan Sanche. And when she's on the lam, in a straw hat, wanted for barn burning, I thought, "Yeah, that's my kind of dame."
What makes you like Aviendha so much?
It's hard to explain. Always as a reader, I thought she was awesome. She didn't take any nonsense, and put Rand in his place when he needed it. I liked reading about her. Her viewpoint was different. When I read the Aiel, I thought they were weird, and then reading Aviendha, I saw they were just different. It was something Robert Jordan did very well.
If you could associate yourself with a particular character, who would it be?
I've always felt the most like Perrin.
Are you good with women?
If you each could live in any land of the Wheel of Time, what would that land be?
I would say for me, oh it's probably just going to be Andor. Because that's simple and normal and fewer people are trying to kill me there.
I think I second the vote.
If you have a favorite book from the series, what would it be and why?
I do have a favorite book, one of the nice things is, I can answer as a fan, because I was a fan for many years before I took this over. As the writer you don't answer these sorts of things very easily. But I was part of a lot of the discussions where we argued about the best books, and which characters annoyed us, which characters we loved. My favorite book is book four, because of two specific events, yeah. I really love Rand's trip through the glass columns, I think it's my favorite sequence in the series. But also, the siege of the Two Rivers is one of my favorites. How about you, Harriet?
I love the trip through the columns too. I was just blown away by it once again. I said, "Honey, you’ve done it again." But I'm very fond of A Memory of Light, too.
If you were to choose (to be) a Feruchemist or an Allomancer, which would you choose?
I would choose Allomancy, because I would want to have Steel Pushing; that's my favorite of the powers.
Is that why you gave Waxillium Steel Pushing?
Two words that I find very evocative are Dreadbane and Balescream. What's yours?
You can usually guess that if it's not Old Tongue, it's probably me.
I mean what's your favorite word? What's the word you find most evocative from the series?
In the series. Let me see. Hmm. I've always liked the term Heartstone. I would think. That one is very evocative to me.
Boy...favorite scene? That's going to be tough, as anything about my books plays into the "which of your children do you like the most" mentality that authors have. It's hard to choose.
I would say either Raoden finally gaining his Elantrian powers at the end of Elantris, since it was the first scene like that I ever managed to pull off in a book, or the final Lan/Demandred sequence at the end of A Memory of Light. I had planned that one for five years, and was pushing toward it all through my work on the Wheel of Time.
Well, it would be tough—I'd have to decide if I wanted the party to be crazy, interesting, or low risk.
For example, inviting Hoid and Kelsier to the same party could result in murdering. Having Sazed around with someone like Jasnah would lead to some great discussions of philosophy.
In the end, I'd probably pick the core WoT cast, just because they've been my friends for so long. Longer than anyone other than Wit and Dalinar, actually. So Perrin, Rand, Mat, Egwene, Nynaeve, and Thom. Fourth book era.
Wait—are you implying Hoid and Kelsier would want to murder each other, or that they would team up to murder other people?
Hoid and Kelsier do not get along. At all.
With the Wheel of Time, who’s your favorite character to read about, and then your favorite one to write about?
My favorite one to read- during the early parts of the series it was Perrin and during the later parts of the series it was Mat. And my favorite one to write was probably Perrin because- historically, like when I was a young guy reading the books, he was my favorite, he was the one I identified with.
Do you read YA speculative fiction? Which books or authors are your favorites in the young readers category?
I've already mentioned a bunch of my favorites, but I could go on! I'm quite fond of Westerfeld's work. I think it's quite marvelous. I've read Terry Pratchett's teen books. If you've only read his adult work, you're really missing out. He is quite good. I've also enjoyed James Dashner's and Eva Ibbotson's books.
I got into a lot of the YA classics in the late 90s, well after everyone else had been into them. Things like The Giver by Lois Lowry and Dragon's Blood by Jane Yolen. Jane Yolen has long been one of my favorite writers. There's just a lot of exciting things happening in YA, and I feel inspired by a lot of the works by those authors I've mentioned.
I met the man yesterday and asked him what he was reading lately...then promptly forgot his recommendation. Help?
First of all, I have no clue why Brandon and Harriet chose to be in Minnesota on release day (after a midnight release in Utah) but OMG THANKS for that, it was a really fun experience. It was the same spot I met George Martin some time ago.
When I met George, I was way too starstruck to say anything, so I knew I had to be prepared for Brandon, a far less intimidating figure. I went with a casual, "Assuming you have any free time, what have you been reading lately?"
He responded with a funny anecdote about something recent he just picked up and was reading on the plane...but he thought it was pretty poor and didn't want to share the name or author, haha.
Then, really quickly at the end, he said that the last thing he read was Fire Upon the Pond by Someone or Other. Yeah, I totally missed the author, but I thought I would be good with the title. I came away with words "Fire" and "Pond" for sure, but google searches reveal nothing...I have tried googling for a list of his favorite books and nothing I found helped.
Reddit, I give to you this quest. Do not fail me!
EDIT: I didn't make this clear, but he mentioned this book was one of his favorites, which is why I was looking for lists of his favorite books, AND why I think someone here might know it (instead of just shooting in the dark).
I think it's A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge based on his twitter.
Yup. That's it.
Other favorites: Dragonsbane, Tigana.
Oh man, hello sir, thank you for this/these. I just wanted the line to keep moving, I swear, otherwise I would've asked again to confirm the name.
Thanks! I could tell you enjoy meeting the fans, I mean you were chatty and friendly even for me, #330 in line! That really meant a lot, and made the whole thing a great experience.
It is my pleasure.
So Song of Ice and Fire has hooked me into fantasy reading—what can you recommend?
What I particularly liked was the grittyness and adult themes, not to mention the epicness of the plot and story. I'm into the action and swordplay but not too much magic. Searching the threads there seems to be a lot to say for WoT and Mazalan but they seem very magic based. Any suggestions and some education to the genre much appreciated!
EDIT: Thanks a bunch everyone—great stuff—Gonna carry on with WoT for time being and lots of great options for after—Name of the Wind probs. Cheers everyone.
If you are looking more for swordplay than magic, then perhaps some historical fiction might be more up your street than out and out fantasy? I'm thinking here of Bernard Cornwell, whose Saxon Chronicles (start with The Last Kingdom) and Warlord Trilogy (about King Arthur; start with The Winter King) might suit nicely. For fantasy written for grown-ups, my favourites are Guy Gavriel Kay (his standalone novels set in an alternate Europe, such as Tigana or Last Light of The Sun, not the trite Summer Tree series) and Louis McMaster Bujold (start with The Curse of Chalion). These, like A Song of Ice and Fire, feature complex, believable characters with human motives, as opposed to the Good Guys vs The Dark Lord style of fantasy. They are as real and believable as ASOIAF, although the worlds they are set in are more overtly magical.
OP, listen to this person. They know exactly what they're talking about. Might I add that you try David Gemmell? (Think of his books as being much like the movie 300 in novel form.) Moorcock is the other I'd suggest.
I'll warn you, though, that Martin tends to be one of the few that does what you're talking about. Generally, in fantasy, epic tends to be equated with high magic. Gritty, real-world tends to be equated with shorter, fast-paced stories. It's not always that way, but it is a rule of thumb.
So, you'll find that epics like WoT, Name of the Wind, and Malazan are going to be high magic, while gritty, swordplay tales like Abercombie and Gemmell are going to be shorter and more self-contained. Guy Gavriel Kay tends to do epics in a single volume with a lot of 'grown up' storytelling, but there's not as much swordplay.
Maybe Codex Alera by Jim Butcher? (Mentioned by djduni.) It's more high magic, but the magic is focused on battle magic, and the pacing is much more of a swordplay story while the tale at length is an epic.
I have to ask: What are your top 5 fantasy novels?
Wow. That'll be a tough one—I'm not one to pick favorites. And, when pushed into it, I have a habit of changing 'favorites' with my mood. But I'll do my best, but I won't put them in any order.
- The Shadow Rising, Robert Jordan. My favorite of the WoT books.
- Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay.
- Dragonsbane, Barbara Hambly (The book that got me into fantasy, so it has a very special place in my heart.)
- The Truth, Terry Pratchett (My favorite Pratchett.)
- Watchmen. (Can I count that?)
- Name of the Wind. (Hasn't been around long enough to see if it stands the test of time.)
As you can see, my 'favorites' slant strongly toward older books, but that's because I've read them more often, and because of the 'first' factor. (The Truth was my first Pratchett, Tigana my first Kay.) I very much enjoy Jim Butcher, among newer writers, among many others.
I think GRRM is a genius, and certainly one of the very best fantasy writers around. (Up there with Kay and Pratchett.) The reason he's not on the list is because he's just too brutal for me. I've said before that I admire him and think he's a great writer, but just can't take the level of grit he includes in his books. By the time I get done with one, I feel sick. Love his short stories, though.
Hey Brandon, I'm a huge fan of your books and a result I've spent a disproportionate amount of time researching your stories and the Cosmere and as a result I doubt there's many questions I have that you can answer without revealing secrets you've been growing for a while so I'll ask who is your favorite James Bond?
Connery. When I was twelve or so, and had insomnia, I'd sneak down (past my mother) to my father's den and watch Connery Bond films with him. Still cherish those memories.
I always though Brosnan would be the greatest Bond ever—and then he was just TOO good. It felt like a parody. He was somehow just way over the top as bond. Craig has been a breath of fresh air story-wise, and I think his might be the best films in the series. But his films itch just slightly at me, as if they are failing to fully be "Bond" films, despite their excellence.
Not sure if this question has already been posted. Which author would you say has influenced your writing the most? From deciding to be an author to making you write like you do. You are my favorite author right now and therefore what made you decide to start and to have the style of writing that I so love.
It's really hard to judge the MOST influential. Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly was the book that got me into fantasy, and the Dragonriders of Pern books kept me there. My favorite classic is Les Miserables. Tad Williams, Robert Jordan, and Melanie Rawn were very influential on me during my early years as a writer.
My style came as a mix of many of the things I was reading, as a reaction against some elements—and toward others. Brent Weeks, I've noticed, has a very similar style to my own, particularly in his Lightbringer books. I believe we're both products of the same era and books.
Did you read any Steven Brust? He's got a recurring character who cameos in every book, and a repeated number with great mystical significance (17, not 16). And, of course, lots of snarky conversations.
I don't read as much Brust as I should, but what I have read has been excellent.
What are some books, or who are some authors, that you enjoy reading?
Terry Pratchett is brilliant, and I buy everything that he writes. If you haven't read him, you really need to do yourself a favor and pick him up. I also have to mention Guy Gavriel Kay. He's one of the great writers of the genre, and he's amazing. His writing is beautiful, interesting, fun, and exciting, but also lyrical.
Bonus question, I ask all of my interviewees: who are your fictional crushes?
Wow. Probably I would have to go back to being a high schooler, which is the last time I would feel that the word "crush" applied to what I felt, and I would say Sioned from Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince. I was totally into that woman. She was awesome.
r/Fantasy Recommend me a book to borrow from work.
So for those of you that don't know my employer Barnes&Noble has a policy where employees can borrow any hardcover book in the store for 2 weeks. I just recently borrowed Farlander and have since finished it*. And I find myself in need of something new to read. We have the Internet at work so I will be able to periodically check reddit throughout my shift this evening.
So here are the requirements:
- Obviously I would prefer fantasy but I will also accept Sci-fi or really any kind of fiction if I were to put my interests into order it would be as follows Fantasy>scifi>historical>everything else.
- It has to be currently available in hard cover.
- It has to be in stock within my store. Now on this last bit I don't expect you guys to go searching through bn.com punching in the zip for my store (01527) to see if it is available I can totally do that while being bored in music/dvd dept.
If you have any questions about my taste feel free to ask. Otherwise I look forward to your input.
*I don't know how I feel about this book The world and characters are all very interesting. However the ending left quite a bit to be desired.
EDIT: thanks for all the suggestions i was fortunate enough to have a copy of The Way of Kings in my store that I was able to borrow
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.
You are a scholar and a gentleman. (Or, perhaps, woman.) However, I did hear from the publisher that B&N is on no-replenish/return on the book now that the holidays are over. B&N tends to cycle hardcovers more than some other bookstores—they order a large stock up front, then keep them on hand for three or four months. There's really only a 1/10 chance that they've got a KINGS in stock.
TheFinn, I've got some ARCs of it, though, and might be able to have one sent to your store for you.
As for books you can borrow...it depends on your preferences. If you like lyrical, literary style books, The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia A. McKillip might still be in stock in hardcover.
If you like gritty heroic, The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie releases in about a week. You may want to hold out for that.
I think that a publisher just did a new Last Unicorn re-release in hardcover, which is a great book. Also, the Gunslinger graphic novels have a new collection coming out, which might be in hardcover. I've heard good things about them, but haven't read them.
Your best bet, though? Wise Man's Fear, Pat Rothfuss, coming in a month or so.
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
First would be Robert Jordan, easily, because I would like to question him about the things he wanted to do with the Wheel of Time that he didn't leave us notes on and get answers to the questions that he didn't leave us answers for. Then I would pick Terry Pratchett because I've seen him at conventions and he seems like a blast. After that, probably Moses. I'd have to get an interpreter, but hanging out with Moses would be pretty awesome, and I would have a lot of questions for him as well.
Great choices (and what an honor for you to be chosen to complete Robert Jordan's work). And kudos for remembering you'd need an interpreter for Moses. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to have Moses over for dinner, but not be able to converse with him? I'm guessing dinner would include matzoh and quail.
Sanderson's Three Laws of Magics:
1) An author's ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic.
2) Limitations > Powers (i.e. "Superman is not his powers. Superman is his weaknesses.")
3) Expand what you already have before you add something new.
In the years leading up to and during his time concluding The Wheel of Time series, Sanderson developed three Laws of Magics for the fantasy genre. He's been quick to point out on his blog that the laws merely serve as "guidelines" for his own writing, but his insight is revolutionizing the traditional approach to fantasy writing.
Literature has a history of ignoring rules when it comes to magic—it is magic, after all. But the 21st century is cultivating a new breed of reader who doesn't take magic for granted. Sanderson's laws appeal to their desire to understand how Dorothy's ruby slippers transport her between worlds and why the Phial of Galadriel shines brighter when used by Sam vs. Frodo. From allomancy to surgebinding, the magic systems in Sanderson's novels are both incredibly original and comprehensively detailed.
Beyond his penchant for establishing unique systems of magic in multiple worlds, Sanderson has a tendency to dream astronomically.
"At some point," Sanderson says, "I was inspired by Michael Moorcock's Multiverse and the way Isaac Asimov eventually connected his Foundation novels and robot novels, to write a 'stealth' series into the background of my novels." Enter the Cosmere.
An entire universe distinct from our own, the Cosmere consists of 10 (and counting) planets with autonomous magic systems, geographic characteristics and storylines. All of Sanderson's novels (excluding his YA and The Wheel of Time titles) exist within the Cosmere, but each planet's book(s) can be read independently of the others. In simpler terms, Sanderson has subtly connected everything—so subtly, in fact, that only one character is granted the ability to travel between worlds.
Hoid, the world jumper and mysterious fan favorite, appears in every Cosmere-set novel. But don't plan on always recognizing him; the intelligent trickster favors disguises. And, to be honest, no one besides Sanderson understands Hoid's significance at this point.
"I have said before that choosing a favorite [character] is a tough question," Sanderson says. "Very tough. I'll have to say Hoid, but I can't say why without giving spoilers."
If you had to pick any one of your characters to be your new best friend (besides your wife) for the rest of your life, who would would it be and what do you imagine would be your weekend "Let's hang out, but I don't want to plan anything, so let's do the 'usual'" ritual?
I think I'd dig hanging out with Sazed. The usual would be, "tell me about a religion you've studied."
Which current fantasy author(s) would you recommend to someone who has read all of the WoT books? (Well, besides for yourself.) :) I plan to read your books%mdash;I've heard great feedback from friends; but other than that, I have a hard time knowing who is 'good enough' to try out.
I very much like the following: Pat Rothfuss, Brent Weeks, N.K.Jemison, Robin Hobb, Steven Erickson, Guy Gavrial Kay, Naomi Novik. (And I don't have any idea which of those I spelled correctly and which I didn't.) But there are a ton of great authors out there. That's just the beginning of the list. One of my current favorites is Terry Pratchett, but his work is VERY different from the WoT.
Out of all the books you've written which do you think is the best?
Well, Emperor's Soul is the one that won a Hugo, which gives it some objective credibility for being the best. AMOL was the hardest by a long shot, and in some ways the most satisfying, but I'm perhaps most proud of The Way of Kings. So one of those three, likely.
Out of all the books you've written so far, which character is your favorite?
I can't answer that, I'm afraid, as it would be like trying to tell you which of my children is my favorite! When asked this question, Robert Jordan would just say, "My favorite is the one I'm working on right now." I like that answer.
What has been your favorite book to write so far?
I've liked them all for different reasons. Some are fun and fast, others are deep and challenging. My favorite would change day by day based on my mood.
That's a hard question, I can't pick a favorite character. Dalinar is what I normally say, just because I've been working on him the longest. Honestly, I don't know. It's whoever I'm working on at the time.
Dalinar is a good character, I like Kaladin a lot too.
Kaladin has really worked out well. It's interesting because Kaladin-- the first time I wrote The Way of Kings, in 2002, did not work and I had to rip him out and try a completely different personality and things for him. So it's cool to see it finally working.
Vin's entrance here is one of my favorite scenes in the book. Short, but very cinematic. It brings together all of the best images in the book—Allomantic pushes, stained glass, swirling mist, and the mistcloaks.
The cloaks are something I really wanted to do. I realize that some readers have trouble imagining them the right way, but I wanted something distinctive for the mistborn to wear. Regular cloaks and capes are nice, but I wanted something that I could make my own, and the multi-layered tassel thing seemed to fit very well with the mist theme.
As I mentioned earlier, I tend to multiply viewpoints near the end of books. Kar's viewpoint here is another one—I knew I wanted to be outside of Vin's head for the entrance here so I could describe it properly. Plus, this let me show how Inquisitors see.
Thanks for jumping on today Mr. Sanderson!
I just wanted to pop in and say you're one of the reasons I even read Wheel of Time. When I heard you were finishing the story up, I decided to take six months to read it. All I can say is thank you for finishing what Robert Jordan set out to do.
I guess since I'm here, I'll ask:
Which Wheel of Time character is your favorite now, and which one do you feel you identify with most?
Thanks again for doing this AMA, can't wait to meet you someday!
It was an honor.
My favorite now, after actually finishing the series, is Mat. But my favorite all time is Perrin, and he is the one I identify with the most.