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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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RJ said the soul is immortal. But Hopper says dying in the Wolf Dream is likely permanent. Is Hopper wrong?
RAFO, for now. Ask again after the last book is out.
Regarding the Dragon and the Dragon Reborn (and Graendal's thoughts about Ishamael's musings):
"Is this soul born in any other Age, or only at the advent and (theoretically, of course) the closing of the Third Age, as the Dragon/the Dragon Reborn?"
Regarding That Whole Thing About the Horn—Hawkwing vs. Moiraine
Question: Hawkwing says they follow the banner and the Dragon. Moiraine says the Heroes will follow whoever winds the Horn. Was Moiraine wrong?
(I started to get confused at this point. Is Moiraine right or is she wrong? What's he trying to tell me?)
Question: Then what happens if the Dragon and the banner are on opposite sides of the conflict from whoever sounds the Horn?
(This elicited a pronounced Startled Moment from Harriet, which I took at the time to express the same reaction as me—"A WHAT?!?"—but which Kevin told me later he interpreted to be more along the lines of "I can't believe you're telling them that!" It could, of course, mean something entirely different.)
At this point, part of my mind was running wild down paths about the Dark One and potential entrances into the Pattern, while the rest of it remained stunned, frozen, in absolute denial: "A WHAT?!?"I remain steadfastly in denial about this one. Oh, sure. He did say it, and if it becomes relevant, he'll work it in, no doubt. But I firmly believe he Made This Up. If the Dark One was aware of this, it seems to me that he'd be working a lot harder on making this happen, since it would seem to represent the equivalent of a serious "crack in the door to the Pattern." It's so much less work than using up all your main players (Chosen) in inefficient, conflicting plots and setting up Rand for "easily escapable situations involving an overly elaborate and exotic Death." 
 I'm not certain if this is the exact word he used. It may have been "schism" or "breach," but it was definitely a word expressing the concept of a forced opening/rupture. Sorry. It was lost in the momentary brain freeze.
 Moridin, of course. He's overly elaborate and exotic even before he puts on his silk coats.
Jordan said "Yes" then maybe a few more words and only then did I remember to actually put the recorder on again. If I remember correctly Avaeus taped those first few words on his digital camera however, so I'll see if I can add those exact words here.
(transcription) ...it would have to be. Err, in the differences between the same Age in different turnings of the Wheel, are that.. as for an analogy: imagine two tapestries hanging on a wall, and you look at them from the back of the room to the front of the store. And to look at them, they look identical to you. But as you get closer, you begin to see differences. And if you get close enough, they don't look anything at all alike. That is the difference between the Ages. Between the Age in one Turning and the Age in another. So it's quite possible that someone other than Rand could be the reborn soul of the Dragon Reborn. [And that's the phrase that ended my jubilation.]
RAFO, but I will tell you something about the Horn. People always ask why the inscription on the Horn is in the Old Tongue, if it's so old. It was added in the Age of Legends.
It should also be noted that, when a panel moderator asked the audience if we wanted to see the Heroes of the Horn come back before the end, Maria raised her hand high.
On Falme, Rand and the Seanchan.
Question: In Falme we saw Rand fighting Ishamael and the Heroes of the Horn and the Seanchan were mirroring the progress of the battle. Does this mean that there is something inherently evil about the Seanchan Empire?
Answer: Nobody in WoT is inherently evil, except for Shadowspawn. At the time, the Seanchan were being led by a Darkfriend.
I almost didn't include this, it's so nitpicky, but you said you liked that. Feel free to ignore. Is this then to imply that the reason the Seanchan were paralleled with Ishamael in the fights was because Suroth was leading them? I always assumed that it was Rand's personal enmity that caused the correlation—he saw both Ishamael and the Seanchan as the bad guys, and therefore, under the effect of the Wheel's push for the Dragon event, combined with the influence of Rand's ta'maral'ailen and the 'loose reality' resulting from the sounding of the Horn, the two got linked in the weaving of the moment? Was it then more involved with the links between Suroth and Ishamael?
Depends on your definition of rogue.
I do not know of any. We can MAFO it, but I'm pretty sure that there are none doing that. They don't all get along, mind you. But I don't believe any of them are Darkfriends.
There are no rogue Heroes of the Horn.
As I understand, if you are 'spun out' you do not respond to the call of the Horn. So no Cain showing up if it is sounded again, as he's been spun out.
As you understand it? Isn't your understanding more or less canon at this point?
No, it's not his world or book series. He can misunderstand something just as well as the next guy.
Not saying he did here, but just 'cuz he's finishing the series doesn't mean, for example, he can retcon or change anything or do "whatever he wants or thinks".
No of course not. But if there are two ways to understand something (that RJ has written) wouldn't it be up to Sanderson to decide which of those he believes to be right?
So if he thinks that when he's spun out he wont respond to the Horn, no one can ever prove him wrong (there are nothing in the books to contradict this), so wouldn't his understanding be the "right" one?
Here's the thing. There are three million+ words of notes, and RJ changed his mind about a lot of things as he wrote, explored, and made decisions. (He talked about this being his process. He saw the Wheel of Time as an organic thing.) So any time I speak on an issue like this, there's the chance that Maria (his assistant) will come to me and say "Actually, Brandon, he changed his mind on that. Look here for the revision." Half the time, it's something he mentioned in passing to her, Harriet, or Alan and isn't even written down.
So...on things I think I know, but haven't confirmed with Team Jordan yet, I usually add some wiggle room. My knowledge is far from absolute. Fortunately, everything in the books I write gets fact-checked a half dozen times. (Even then, some of my mistakes slip through.)
1. How many of the Heroes of the Horn are currently "in the flesh"?
2. How did the Eye of the World's location move about?
Oh, wow. You're going to make me dig into the notes, aren't you?
Why don't I MAFO those? Send me an email and I'll dig through to get your answers, or will have Maria do it.
1. Oh, the passage of time. If I had answered these back when I should have, I would have RAFOed. But now that A Memory of Light is out, at least I will say that there are fewer than there were. I don’t have hard numbers on all the heroes.
2. I don’t know.
Female Dragon..NO when a female hero is needed she is one of the ones bound to the Wheel. Jordan did mention a name but I didn't hear it. But he did say the Dragon is never female.
Let's try and clear some of this up... I can't remember the exact question, but from what I read in this thread, it doesn't matter (I haven't read the Female Dragon thread). RJ said that, no, it is not possible to have a female Dragon. If the wheel needs a female Dragon, then it would weave in *insert female Dragon name here*. Probably because of the blank faces he was getting he then added, you can find her in the scene where Mat blows the Horn...
He also said that a soul ready to be reborn cannot change gender, therefor the Dragon is ALWAYS male.
Birgitte thinks he's been reborn into the world.
That's a nice answer.
Birgitte thinks he's been reborn?
She's mooning over all the ugly boy-children she can get her hands on, thinking "Ohh, maybe this is him!"
But keep in mind the only way she thinks that is because she hadn't seen him for a while in Tel'aran'rhiod before she was yanked out by Moghedien. So we don't even know if that's true, do we? (I just threw that out for what it's worth.)
But she did always say that he was usually born before her, but we don't know how long in real world time, so he could be more than a child, hopefully. Or he could still be lurking in Tel'aran'rhiod.
But there's no way he could be more than a child. Correct me if I'm wrong, Alan, but the entirety of the books we have isn't more than a couple of years, is it?
Yeah, it's been about twenty-four months for the main characters. Alan would know for sure.
Yes, I'm not saying this is true. Well, of course I know, but I can give you various possibilities: he could be born as a child right now; he could still be lurking in Tel'aran'rhiod; he could have been ripped out the same way Birgitte had been, in which case he would be an adult, right?
Unless he was dead. Because wouldn't it require someone to bond him after he gets ripped out? Wasn't that kind of the deal with Birgitte?
Well, maybe he's stronger than she was…maybe he's…
There are a lot of possibilities.
Unless somebody has a really ugly Warder they're not talking about… [laughter]
Not all Warders are beautiful. I mean…
Go check Myrelle's quarters. I know Myrelle has a real penchant for hiding extra Warders around… [laughter]
Yeah, but she likes hers pretty.
She got Lan.
Lan's impressive, but I don't know if anybody would call him pretty any more. [laughter]
(Sorry I cannot put out his precise words, but here is the gist)—Jordan started by having balefire do this, but he later debunked this theory by saying someone killed by balefire can be reborn at some point. We currently know of nothing/no method that will completely remove someone from the Pattern.
I thanked him and turned to walk away at this point, so that he could continue with the signing. But he called me back and commented that:
The wolves in the Wolf Dream. We know that in the Wolf Dream something can be completely removed from the Pattern.
(Again, not his exact words, but this pretty close. Perhaps J.D can back me up here. He was there.)
I just remembered one question I asked RJ. And I thought I didn't include it. I asked if Calian and Shivan are born at the end of every Age.
As far as I remember the answer was yes. ;)
I think I also asked if they are already born, but that must have been a RAFO. :)
Not very interesting, but perhaps another Theorylander was with me at that time. ;) (I thought I didn't include it [in an earlier report], but I am not 100 percent sure. :p )
I also asked him if the Heroes of the Horn are invulnerable when they are called by the Horn.
He was very ready for this question—when I started to explain that Birgitte told Nynaeve something along those lines in The Shadow Rising he said that he knows the quote I mean and then he said this. Firstly, the Heroes when called by the Horn are not completely invulnerable. But he specifically said that he is not saying that one of them will die. Rather, he said that the issue will be addressed in a discussion between two characters in the book.
I found this to be a very interesting answer. I think it puts a serious crimp on the theories that Rand will die and come back to fight the Dark One as a Hero of the Horn.
What do you want to know about the process? I sometimes have to be vague about what I did and what RJ did, as Harriet prefers people to read the books and enjoy them without spending a lot of time trying to pick out the differences between our styles. I can try to answer a few questions if you pitch them at me, though.
I don't have any questions, I just wanted to thank you for all of your hard work and dedication that you have put into finishing this series.
I picked up this series about 10 or 12 years ago, and being in Randland helped me get through some tough times. I was very sad when Jordan died, and when Harriet made the announcement that you were going to finish the series, I must admit that I had my doubts.
So I figured I would take a look at your work, and picked up Mistborn. That book was awesome! So after finishing the trilogy, I was like "Ok, this guy can write, he is the perfect pick to finish WoT."
I wanted to jump in and start reading The Gathering Storm, but by that point it had been a while since I had read Knife of Dreams, so I went back and started at the beginning, and when I got to the books you wrote, I was very impressed.
There were so many good moments in The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight, I don't know where to begin. The one that stands out the most in my mind is Mat's story at the end of Towers of Midnight.
Anyways, I'm really looking forward to the release of A Memory of Light. You rock, Brandon Sanderson!
tl;dr: Just wanted to let Sanderson know how much it means to me that he has done such a stellar job in completing one of the fantasy series that is near and dear to my heart.
It has been an honor.
I've read things before from you saying that you received a lot of written guidance as well as ideas that hadn't been fully fleshed out by Mr. Jordan to help you take the stories towards the conclusion he'd always had in mind.
Once you had worked through the stories that Mr. Jordan wanted to be told in your head and got down to writing, was there anything that you really wanted to include or thought would have a special level of awesomity but felt that you shouldn't because it went against (or would probably be against, under different circumstances) the ideas Jordan had?
For clarification, did you ever feel like a character should experience something that Mr. Jordan hadn't mentioned or had clearly discouraged? Or feel that something should happen that Mr. Jordan hadn't conceived or didn't want?
This is a good question. Yes, there are things I'd have done differently—but out of respect for Mr. Jordan's desires and the integrity of the series, I haven't done them. For example, I like to use magic in ways that Mr. Jordan didn't. You see me playing with this a little bit in my use of gateways. There are many things possible with weaves (particularly since you can tie them off) that I feel exploring would have changed the focus of the stories in ways I don't think Mr. Jordan would have wanted.
One thing that specifically came up once was me wanting to delve more into the Heroes of the Horn. The Wheel has always turned, and time is infinite. If people can occasionally be added to the Horn, that would mean that the number of people tied to the Horn is also infinite unless people get unbound as well as bound. I wanted to explore this idea—in conversation only, this isn't a plot point—but was persuaded by Team Jordan that RJ wanted nobody ever to be unbound, and that exploration in this direction would go against his vision for the world.
Thank you for your answer, I've never had the pleasure of interacting with you directly before, although I am making my through your series of lectures on YouTube (that I've always assumed you consented to?) which are truly very informative.
You mentioned that there are aspects of the world of the WoT that you would like to explore in ways that Mr Jordan wouldn't. Would you be interested in writing spin off books, perhaps with different characters set in the same universe/world? Regardless of your interest in doing something like that, would you ever be allowed to?
On a slightly related note, do you feel that there are any aspects (characters, magic, unexplored possibilities etc.) in the WoT series that have since influenced your other writings?
The main reason I haven't done things like this is because it's not my world, and I feel it should remain closer to RJ's vision. So, even if I were to do spin offs (which I don't think will happen) I would feel the same constraints. My goal has never to be to turn the Wheel of Time into something else; there is plenty of room in my own work to explore magic as I like to explore it. In the Wheel of Time, the magic is RJ's—and should remain true (as much as possible) to his vision.
I would say that RJ's work, and my experience on the WoT, has taught me a number of things. RJ was far more subtle in some of his plotting than I am, and I'd like to think that seeing that has helped me learn to be better in that area. I also like how wonderful his third person limited viewpoint can be, as proven by Mat. (See the other answer I gave.) The way he shaped a narrative to the character giving it is amazing, and has influenced me greatly.
Thanks again for the answer. I'm going to be far more conscious of Mat's narrative from now on with that answer!
My name is Drew McCaffrey; I'm from Fort Collins, Colorado. I've been an absolutely huge fan of the series for eleven years now, and I just recently graduated as a creative writing major, and I'm a writer because of the Wheel of Time. [applause, cheers]
My question is in regards to a debate that I've had with my cousin and a couple of my friends for a while now. Is it possible for a channeler to be tied to the Horn of Valere?
(Brandon passes mic to Maria, laughter) Um, I think I'm gonna have to say, that's a really good question. [laughter] I honestly can't say why not.
(to his friends) HA! [laughter, applause]
But! But I would really love to do some research before giving an absolute definitive answer [laughter] and I can't do that right now.
Would Lews Therin's soul be tied to the Horn?
Lews Therin! He was.
Well yeah. [laughter]
He was recognized.
That's right. Absolutely.
He was recognized, but was he tied to the Horn? Do we have confirmation of that happening? [laughter] Or they just know him? See, he's trying to trick us into saying things.
Maria's saying she'll have to look it up and post it.
Ooh. Agreed. Well, thank you very much, all of you, for being here tonight and...yeah. [laughter, applause]
Let's see if I can answer this one... They're not going to be, I don't think there's a law against... But only the greatest heroes are bound to the Horn. They are not the greatest heroes. So, why are you asking this?
I’m pretty much asking about Verin, and the likelihood of her being bound.
Okay, I don't know that there would be anything forbidding Verin from being bound to the Horn.
Is there any mention of that in A Memory of Light?
That's a RAFO.
Alright, thank you though...
Some would like a definitive answer: Are channelers ever bound to the Horn? (Rand? Egwene?)
"They certainly could be." Brandon and Harriet agreed that, although the notes never specified any channelers who were so bound, there was nothing in the notes to indicate it couldn’t/didn't happen either, and they both believe it’s entirely possible.
(A follow-on question might be asked about whether Egwene might be a Hero, but they didn't give me the impression that they were hedging—which they probably would have, if that were in the notes.)
I have a question about who Gaidal and Birgitte might be reborn as. I was wondering if Gaidal could be the son of an Asha'man and if Birgitte might be reborn as an Aiel?
Gaidal definitely could be, and there's a pretty big hint in Towers of Midnight that many folks online have found. As for Birgitte, it's possible.
Do you know who Birgitte is reborn as?
I think a case could be made for Melaine, as the Wise Ones talk about her time being near.
In the WoT, a soul becomes tied to the body at viability.
(As noted in the group Q&A per Robert Jordan.)
I think that's pretty much confirmation that Gaidal is Grady's son. I can't decide whether the comment on viability is to direct attention towards Elayne, as she is at that stage of pregnancy, confirmed by that crazy scene. I know in the torchat Brandon said the notes don't say who Melaine's children are, so maybe he's just stating everything he knows. I prefer to think that Elayne's children might be Calian and Shivan and would usher in the end of the current age. I look forward to the encyclopedia, that's for sure!
Quick note before I pass out, just wanted to let you guys know that I only ended up having time for a single question; I asked "if there are any humans who have found a way, or been given a way, to inhabit Tel'aran'rhiod beyond a normal lifetime, without being a Hero of the Horn" for Freelancer and Wet @145/146 :P (I figured my Callandor questions could be asked later...).
The answer was (Paraphrased): I don't know. It's possible, but I don't know if anyone has done so.
This is an interesting one for a multitude of reasons. I actually worked under the assumption that whoever blew the Horn would control the Heroes, going so far as to write several sequences in the last book referencing that to heighten tension that if the Horn were indeed captured things would go VERY poorly for the Light.
I was quite surprised, then, when Harriet wrote back to me on the manuscript quite energetically crossing out these lines and explaining that the Heroes could not ever follow the Shadow. I called and asked for confirmation and clarification, pointing out that it seemed otherwise from the text and from fandom interpretation. She explained that this was one of Jim's ruses, that the characters in book were wrong and repeating bad information, and that Jim had been very clear with her that it was not the case. I can only guess that these reports in fandom were cases where people asked Jim a question he could Aes Sedai his way out of, and something got muddled in the communication or the reporting somehow.
(Feel free to follow up with Harriet and Maria on this one, if you want more. Honestly, I was surprised, and it was something we had quite a dialogue on as I worked on the final book. I fought longer than I probably should for the "Shadow can use the Horn" theory.)
I really can't add anything here. I thought I was led to believe (as opposed to coming up with it myself) that the Heroes really wouldn't follow the Horn if it were blown by Team Dark, but I cannot swear to that. I was unaware of the rift answer. Of course, it's possible that the Heroes themselves don't know the correct answer; they're Heroes, after all, and unless there's some Hero orientation meeting where they are filled in on all the details, they may just assume that they're always going to be Heroes, as in champions of goodness and Light.
Yes. Brandon said that he disagreed with RJ's views that a hero once bound could not be unbound. Brandon thought that since the WoT is infinite, eventually everyone would be bound.
I had talked to Brandon about this before, noting that it was possible for heroes of the horn to die a permanent death, if killed after death while in Tel'aran'rhiod, same as the wolves. (See The Fires of Heaven Chapter 14, "Meetings".) I figured he had forgotten, so I emailed him after Res posted his report. This is his response to me:
I had completely forgotten that. So there IS an unbinding method. You just can't live through it.
For what it is worth, I am reasonably certain there is nothing in the notes about Noal being an old hero. [...] But maybe someone can find something in the notes at the [College of Charleston] library to be certain.
Oh yeah, so you’d make sure.
We know there are spirit-like entities tied to the call of a musical instrument. And we also know the mechanism Robert Jordan created—a super AI-like system, if you will, to guide the outcome of the many variations of all worlds. Finally, we know this super AI can upgrade the status of spirit-like entities as it needs. Therefore, has the super AI tied any female spirit-like entities of individuals who died during the fifty years prior to the final military engagement of the final book to the call of this said musical instrument? [Much clapping.]
Arbitrary decision . . . you win!
Matt, you have to send that to me . . . [?]
So, as a subset of paragraph 3, subsection B on the R. A. F. O. Rules of Engagement, this is definitely a Class A Read and Find Out.
Does he get a card?
Yeah, I’ve got a . . . he’s got so many cards. Yeah, I cannot answer that.
[Question about what Matt asked]
As I interpreted it, he asked if any women have been tied to the Horn of Valere in the last fifty years. Any women who were not previously tied to it. And so, I can speak of only one person that has been tied to the Horn of Valere in the last fifty years. Male, yes.
Who is that?
That was Jain Farstrider.
You’re not allowed to talk about it?
I can’t talk about it. You can interpret that as . . . Now I did preface this all by saying, “Here are the things that I won’t talk about.” So, you can kind of assume that if I can’t talk about it it’s because I don’t know, or I’m holding it back because it might be in the encyclopedia, or things like this.