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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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Um, Hoid will not make an appearance in A Memory of Light. (laughter) I chose this very consciously. It felt like enormous hubris of me to sneak my recurring character into the Wheel of Time. There was a little bit of temptation there since the Wheel of Time is—we've got this kind of indication that it is the kind of almost Amber-like in that it is the true world, and there are all these Mirror Worlds where people are living—so it's possible to conceive that even our world is a Mirror World happening, and that...or, you know, we don't know if our world is the real world in a different Age, or if our world is a Mirror World, or...what do you call them, Shadow Worlds? There's all sorts of different...yeah—but it's plausible that there could be a connection, but at the end of the day I really just decided, no, this was not something I wanted to do.
I did write in a cameo for myself—Robert Jordan wrote one for himself into the books. In Knife of Dreams there is an appearance by Robert Jordan; the fans know where it is if you ask them. I also have an appearance in a different way—we are both objects actually—and when I visited Charleston, I think it was the second time, they were getting ready to auction and give away Robert Jordan's spear collection. And, Wilson, his cousin and very dear friend, invited me to go in and said, "Pick one, any one, and it's yours." And so, I was like blown away. I went in there and like, it's like a kid in a candy store, there's like swords everywhere and spears and ashanderei, and just everything, and in the middle of them I found a katana with red and gold dragons painted on the hilt, and I had to choose that one. And so I took the katana—they're twirling around the hilt, just kind of like you know I always imagined them on Rand's arms—and I took that one, and I framed it actually in a sword box and put at the bottom, "Let the Dragon ride again on the Winds of Time," and then "Robert Jordan," and his date of birth and date of death underneath and it hangs in my room in kind of our gallery down below, and I wrote that into the books. I haven't officially said that before, but yes, I wrote that into the book. That's my kind of cameo. And so, when you see that sword, you know why that sword is in the books. That's my equivalent of his cameo.
Brandon responded that it’s highly unlikely, due to it being against Harriet McDougal’s wishes and to the fact that annotations would have to be down to the sentence level, as it was often the case that one sentence would have been written by Robert Jordan, then altered by Brandon, then edited for content and style by Harriet, then copy edited by Harriet’s assistant Maria L. Simons.
Brandon did reveal several doozies in regards to what Jordan left behind, however. Each prologue to the final three books contains a scene written by Robert Jordan. One already known is the scene with the farmer in The Gathering Storm, for Towers of Midnight, Jordan wrote the prologue scene involving the soldiers in the Borderlander tower. And for A Memory of Light? We’ll see.
Perhaps the biggest admission, and one that brought a hush over the crowd, was the reveal that Jordan wrote the chapter in The Gathering Storm where Verin reveals she is Black Ajah to Egwene and the sequence in Towers of Midnight where Moiraine is rescued by Mat. Two of the most important elements in these final books came directly from Jordan’s hand.
Additionally, Sanderson pointed out that the Rand and Perrin viewpoints in The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight are more of his work, while Egwene and Mat’s viewpoints in those books are more Robert Jordan’s work.
Brandon also revealed that he makes a cameo in the books, in much the same way that Robert Jordan makes a cameo as an item in Knife of Dreams. (He appears as a ter'angreal of a fat man holding a book in the chapter “A Different Skill.”) A few years ago Sanderson was gifted one of Robert Jordan’s swords, choosing a katana with red and gold dragons twining around the hilt and handle. This gift from Robert Jordan’s family is now present in the series, and represents Brandon’s own cameo, for those who wish to look.
Let me answer that in reverse. The whole fan name thing, where it came from is, I wrote the first book, The Gathering Storm, and I got several notes from Maria that said, "You know, a lot of your names don't feel right. They don't feel like Wheel of Time names." And it was one of the areas that, fans noticed it too when the book came out. I named people like I name people, and so for Towers of Midnight, I felt, "I need to radically change the way I name. I need to use Robert Jordan's methods." So while talking to Maria and Harriet, Harriet told me this wonderful story where...you think he named someone after...(to Harriet)...a washing machine, was it? You remember you said, like there's a little name on one of the washing machines...was it you?
The stove is a Jenn Air, and every time I looked at it, I would think of the Jenn Aiel. [laughter]
And at one point I was taking allergy medicine, and whoever considered Corianin's surname—Seldane?
And there's an Ogier St. in Charleston. And beyond that, Robert Jordan was naming a lot of characters in the books off of mythological figures, with some twists. And so I felt—I actually said, "I'm going to grab a phone book, and I'm just going to go looking for names and try and tweak those names to start naming in the Wheel of Time." And when I did that, I stopped and thought, "Wait a minute. I had a list of names; it's in the list of the names of the fans who were part of this one charity drive we did." So I just started grabbing their names; that's as random as the phone book for me, and that's where the naming [characters] after fans thing came from. It was me forcing myself to try and do something different in the way that I'd been naming.
Now, back to the original question, did I name anything after myself: Actually, there's a cameo by Robert Jordan in the books, of Robert Jordan. Do you guys know what it is? If you know, raise your hands. If you don't know...most of you do know? No, most of you don't know. There is a statue of Robert Jordan in the books. It is discovered among the ter'angreal that were originally in Rhuidean, right? Rhuidean? No, Ebou Dar; that's right, it's the Ebou Dar cache. See, that's why I looked at Maria, and I'm like, "Where did they come from?" And there's a man that has the contents of many stories contained, and that was described to look like Robert Jordan.
I gave myself a similar cameo to that, in that, one of the times when I was visiting Charleston, Wilson—who was Robert Jordan's cousin, and they were very dear friends, like siblings—was taking Robert Jordan's weapons collection, and figuring out what to do with, and he had so many weapons. [laughter] It was really awesome to go walking through his workshop, so to speak—where he'd work—and see all these weapons, and see all of the different versions of the ashandarei that he had, and you can just imagine him swinging them about and deciding how he was going to do this, and describing certain weapons. He had everything, and so he'd use it. And Wilson was doing this, and he said to me, "Brandon, go out there and pick one, anything you want. Go grab one." And so, I couldn't pass up an opportunity like that, stunned though I was, and I went out there and I found at the very back a katana with a scabbard that had a red-and-gold dragon on it, twisting around the scabbard. And I don't know if the idea for Rand's dragons came first, and then he bought the scabbard and the sword because it looked like that, or if that was part of the inspiration. I suspect it was the former, that he saw that and thought, "Wow, that's just like the..."
But either way, I picked that one, and then I wrote that sword into the books, which you will find if you look around; that sword is mentioned. So that's my cameo, is I put my sword in. It now hangs on my wall, inside a case—my wife had it, got a case and a little plaque that says "Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time," underneath. And it hangs on my wall with Robert Jordan's birthdate underneath it.
Will you confirm now that Rand's sword (received in The Gathering Storm, given to Tam in A Memory of Light) is Hawkwing's sword Justice?
"Yes, I can now confirm that. It's also my sword." (But in-world, it's Justice.)
(Possible follow-on question, if anyone is interested: Is there a backstory on it, e.g. the theory that Hawkwing took it from Guaire Amalasan? What about the idea that it came from the War of Power and was Lews Therin's own sword then?)