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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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(from the comments)
One other way to think of it is thus: The Wheel will keep on turning, and the Age that we live in (or like unto it) will someday arrive. Legends from what is happening in these books will have survived, and become the Arthur legends during our day. Or, in other cases, stories of other characters have survived in other mythologies. (Look up the Slavic god Perun sometime.)
Perrin is not a god, nor is Gawyn the knight of that story I linked. But perhaps someone who lived long ago, in another Age, gave birth to rumors about a young nobleman who made a mistake, and bore the weight of that sin for the rest of his days. And that gave birth to stories, which in turn inspired a poet to write a tale.
I realized the wording wasn't very clear on @e_wot. Here's the full quote:
In the way of dreams she floated above a long, straight road across a grassy plain, looking down upon a man riding a black stallion. Gawyn. Then she was standing in the road in front of him, and he reined in. Not because he saw her, this time, but the road that had been straight now forked right where she stood, running over tall hills so no one could see what lay beyond. She knew, though. Down one fork was his violent death, down the other, a long life and a death in bed. On one path, he would marry her, on the other, not. She knew what lay ahead, but not which way led to which. Suddenly he did see her, or seemed to, and smiled, and turned his horse along one of the forks... And she was in another dream.
For someone—Marigan, I think, but my notes are a little wonky right about here—the Crystal Throne is not the High seat of the Tamyrlin, none of the Forsaken were among the Nine Rods of Dominion, and the "Rods" were symbols of office.
Mil Tesen was really just a peddler who happened to be in the right place to pass on news of Morgase's supposed death to Gawyn. Not everyone is somebody other than who they seem, you know.
And finally, Da'concion means "the Chosen Ones" in the Old Tongue, which is used with more frequency among the Seanchan than among inhabitants of the eastern side of the Aryth Ocean.
About Gawyn's duel with Sleete, and the usage of real swords, she said she would have to look into that, since I had believed that normally practice swords are used. She said that perhaps sometimes they have to use real swords to keep their edge, so to speak, but will look into that.
With novice swordsmen, the practice sword is very good because they can swing away with abandon and be swung at and at worse get a bruise. But there comes a time when a person must practice with a real sword, and not just shadow fencing. How does a sword feel when it hits another sword? How quickly can you come back from that? Practice with the weapon you are going to use in real combat is necessary. This is especially true if you are with an army in the field; you’re not playing at keeping in shape, you’re trying to make sure that you are at your absolute top form to keep from being killed when you come up against someone else with a pointy blade. These Warders are very, very good; they trust themselves to fight with real swords without damaging each other.
So, often they practiced with practice swords, but sometimes they practiced with real swords. There is a type of practice with real swords in the books. We see it in New Spring: the Novel, where Bukama “took the other two a little distance away with talk of some game called “sevens.” A strange game it seemed to be, and more than dangerous in the failing daylight. Lan and Ryne sat cross-legged facing one another, their swords sheathed, then without warning drew, each blade flashing toward the other man’s throat, stopping just short of flesh. The older man pointed to Ryne, they sheathed swords, and then did it again. For as long as she watched, that was how it went. Perhaps Ryne had not been so over-confident as he seemed.”
It’s not the same as when Gawyn faced Sleete and Marlesh, but it is experienced swordsmen practicing with real swords.
I thought Rand’s arc in The Gathering Storm was brilliant—starting to get better then—bang! Cuendillar Rand, and finally "Veins of Gold". Was it difficult to write? Can you give us some insight into how you stayed in the mind of a madman?
It was difficult to write. I’ve said before that I view a lot of these characters as my high school friends, people I grew up with. Facilitating Rand going through these extremely painful and sometimes revelatory moments was not easy emotionally, and yet there’s an excitement and a power to writing emotional scenes where things are coming together. So I would say it’s actually more difficult to write a character like Gawyn, who’s frustrated and struggling with not knowing what he’s doing, than someone like Rand who always has a direction—even if that direction is straight down, as it was in places. He’s always moving. So because of that, Rand was in many ways easier to write than other characters were. Yet at the same time it was painful to write. That doesn’t really answer your question, but maybe it does give some insight, as you asked.
Which one are they asking about?
This is my question.
Because it was a Min vision, about holding her life...
No, no...I know the difference. I’m thinking mostly of the fork in the road that Gawyn comes to in Egwene’s dream, and down one road they marry, and down the other they don’t...
Okay, yes. That has been fulfilled. That fork in the road was the same decision that Min saw. Those were parallel [prophecies]. And that prophecy did get fulfilled...and the meaning of that is...there is no hidden meaning, no 'Surprise, that wasn’t really it!' You saw it: if Gawyn had not returned when he did, Egwene would have died.
Brandon didn't let me finish telling him the dream, so I asked him about it again later. The dream actually refers to Gawyn's death rather than Egwene's, and was not fulfilled until A Memory of Light when they married (which set Gawyn down the chosen path).
Does Gawyn have any fans???
He's a whiner; even his girlfriend think he's a loser.
I like Gawyn. Very honorable!
I agree with Rword. He has the same shortcomings as others; he's a little thickheaded, but he'll hopefully get over it.
I mean, he stops the rescue of Siuan...
He has the honor of his brother without being a big snot.
Oh, it can be excruciating. There are some excruciating Rand scenes in this book. Though, you know, the harder scenes to write are the ones where characters, not necessarily terrible things are happening to, but where they're depressed or muddled, or you know. In a lot of ways, the Rand scenes were painful to write, Gawyn's scenes were harder to write, because Gawyn is lost. And he doesn't know. . . he's struggling through things, and at least Rand is pointed in a direction. Maybe it's the wrong direction, but he's pointed in a direction and he's doing things. Gawyn doesn't know what he's doing, and that can be really tough.
Okay. Well…I guess we'll just go into the pronunciations.
Well, our next little bit needs a little bit of a lead-in for our listeners who don't have access to our huge list of questions like we do. As part of our interview questions, we have a list of words, and we asked, "How do you pronounce each of these words?" And there are about 43 of them. There are probably some on here that don't need to be on here, and I know that there aren't some on here that should be, but these are the 43 that we came up with.
Yeah, Spencer got mad at me because I went and annotated the list, like…I gotta be exact, and he's like "No…"
I didn't get mad at you! I just took 'em off; I'm like, "Oh yeah, you're right; take that one off." Anyway. And so Maria, Alan…would you please go through the list and tell us how to pronounce these names and places?
Okay, here we go. And I may, you know, be wrong on some. But others, I'm pretty sure of.
And feel free to add some in if something occurs to you as you're going.
O-kay. We have add-uh-LAY-us. (Adeleas) el-FINN. (Aelfinn) eyes-DEYE-shar. (Aesdaishar) (RJ used EYE to rhyme with the word 'eye') ahm-uh-DEE-see-uh. (Amadicia) [glossary: ah-mah-DEE-see-ah] (ah=ahhh sound, uh=schwa) ERR-id doe-MAHN. (Arad Doman) [glossary: AH-rad do-MAHN] arr-uh-FELL. (Arafel) [glossary: AH-rah-fehl] brr-GEE-tuh. (Birgitte) (hard G) [glossary: ber-GEET-teh] Brenn. (Bryne) [glossary: BRIHN, GAH-rehth] KEYE-ree-enn. (Cairhien) [glossary: KEYE-ree-EHN] CHA fah-EEL. (Cha Faile) (mid ch) drag-car. (Draghkar) [glossary: DRAGH-kahr] EEL-finn. (Eelfinn) guh-LAHD. (Galad) [glossary: gah-LAHD] GAH-win. (Gawyn) [glossary: GAH-wihn] GALE-donn. (Ghealdan) [glossary: GHEL-dahn] I'm not sure if it's huh-REEN or huh-REEN-uh. (Harine) din toe-GAHR-uh Two Winds. ILL-ee-in. (Illian) [glossary: IHL-lee-ahn] ill-ee-AY-nuh. (? - AY is long A) CAN-door. (Kandor) (door like the word) lee-AH-nuh. (Leane) [glossary: lee-AHN-eh shah-REEF] mall-KEER. (Malkier) [glossary: mahl-KEER] my-EEN. (Mayene) [glossary: may-EHN] myur-an-DEE. (Murandy) [glossary: MEW-ran-dee] MEER-drahl. (Myrddraal) [glossary: MUHRD-draal] NEIGH-bliss. Sorry. NAY-bliss. [laughter] (Nae'blis) NEFF. (Naeff?) nee-AHM Passes (Niamh Passes) nigh-NEEV. (Nynaeve) [glossary: NIGH-neev al-MEER-ah] Plains of mah-REE-doh. (Plains of Maredo) ree-AH-nuh. (Reanne) seye-DAR. (saidar). [glossary: sah-ih-DAHR] seye-DEEN. (saidin) [glossary: sah-ih-DEEN] sall-DAY-uh. (Saldaea) [glossary: sahl-DAY-ee-ya] see-AEN. (Seaine?) Alan…
SHE-nar. (Shienar) [glossary: shy-NAHR] Swan. (Siuan) [glossary: SWAHN SAHN-chay] sor-uh-LEE-uh. (Sorilea) [glossary: soh-rih-LEE-ah] terra-BONN. (Tarabon) [glossary: TAH-rah-BON] TAR-win's Gap. (Tarwin's Gap) tell-uh-RON-ree-odd. (Tel'aran'rhiod) [glossary: tel-AYE-rahn-rhee-ODD] Tower of genn-JEYE. (Ghenjei) (hard G) truh-MALL-king. (Tremalking) [glossary: treh-MAL-king] too-AH-thuh-AHN. (Tuatha'an) [glossary: too-AH-thah-AHN]
Do you want to go over the saidar/saidin thing we talked about?
In the glossaries of the books, Jim has it sah-ih-DEEN and sah-ih-DAHR, but I swear, I don't think he pronounced it that way; I mean you kind of give a little hint of the i but not much: sah-ee-DEEN, sah-ee-DAHR.
Yeah, he always seemed to be saying seye-DEEN and seye-DAHR.
I'm surprised at how many of those I thought I knew, but I didn't.
Yeah. That's like, "Waait a second, that's not…but oh, I guess it is."
How do you pronounce the Traveling people again?
There's something else with the double A there…
ah-tha-AHN mee-AIR. (Atha'an Miere)
Okay, great. Any others you can think of that are commonly mangled, that would have driven Jim crazy?
I think I've mentioned tah-EEM before, and egg-ee-AH-nin…
dee-MAN-dred? dee-MAHN-dred? DEE-man-dred?
Ehh...dee-MAHN-dred, I think…but I wouldn't swear dee-MAHN-dred. [glossary: DEE-man-drehd]
How about all of the Forsaken? A lot of them often get mangled, or a few. GRIN-doll?
Grindle, is how I say it. [glossary: GREHN-dahl] And it's interesting, just looking at a thing, and I pronounce CADD-in-soar (cadin'sor) wrong. [glossary: KAH-dihn-sohr]
Yeah, because it's supposed to be cah-DIN-soar. [It's not, according to the glossary.]
Okay, because I say it the way you say it.
Yeah, I think… [inaudible] so that makes sense.
Oh! ish-AH-may-el, and SAM-may-el. [glossary: ih-SHAH-may-EHL, SAHM-may-EHL] [When RJ said it, the 'may' part was more like the German 'Mai'.]
Yes. Those are really common mistakes; I hear that a lot.
Ben [?] was right; we had that famous tagline from the original podcast, and we had this thing…I think, "Sammael was pretty buff!" [laughter] We used that a lot, and it sort of went away when he did, I guess.
Another one that I have lots of problems with—and I can't believe I didn't get it on the list—but is the GOLL-um (gholam), or the…I can't even pronounce it right now.
Yeah, the GO-lem, that's chasing Mat.
Oh, it's Gollum! [crosstalk]
I am not absolutely sure, but that's how I say it, so…
What about some of the other Seanchan beasts that made me think of, the grolm, then there were two of the others that…
ROCK-in (raken), and TOE-rock-in. (to'raken)
Yeah, and then there was another one, the um…
Torm…the book is right in front of me…
Oh, maybe it was the name of that…oh, Suroth's pet!
Oh yes, that thing. I can't remember… [crosstalk]
The LOW-par (lopar)?
Yeah, the lopar. Almandaragal was his name, or something like that?
Something like that. I would have to look it up.
It was a LOW-par (lopar), wasn't it?
Yeah, lopar. I think there was another one that I couldn't…maybe I'm just hallucinating. [laughs]
I'm sure there's a zillion others I'll think of after you're off the air here with us…
Oh, s'RED-dit (s'redit) is another one. Remember the elephant-like creature?
Corlm, C-O-R-L-M (I like that word). Torm…that's all I can find.
What about Tuon's new name as Empress?
Fortuona, okay. I'm not sure how else you could pronounce that, but I've been wrong before, so...
That, I'm assuming is right; I'm pretty sure I heard Jim pronounce it that way, because that was his choice of name.
There must be something else; there seems like a million things, and that I didn't add enough to the list.
Oh! What about—speaking of historical figures—LAH-tra…poe-SAI? Or poe-SAY? deh-KYU-meh? (Latra Posae Decume)
Oh yeah, LA-tra (LA rhymes with laugh)…
I got the Latra, but I'm not sure about the second and third names.
It's P-O-S-A-E, and then D-E-C-U-M-E.
deh-COO-may, okay. [crosstalk]
That's totally off the top of my head. I see it (?) and think it, anyway. po-SAY-uh deh-COO-may, yeah.
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.
When Gawyn and Galad were defeated so handily by Demandred, I was thinking it was a throwaway of two characters. Then Lan rolls in and it put everything in perspective to show how good he was. Was that the purpose?
That was part of the purpose. It was a war, and someone needed to take out Demandred. Gawyn's arc is tragic, and the end of the arc is what we all know he shouldn't do, by going out by himself.