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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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Obviously, I must be tight-lipped. Can it be figured out: Yes. Will it make you smack your heads & say "I should have seen it!" Probably not.
(from the Facebook comments on Brandon's first tweet)
Brandon, you are such a tease........ but I will "RAFO". but still it's a tease.
Sorry. Inherited that from RJ. Still, it wasn't totally a RAFO. It was a tad more than that. I do see from Tamyrlin's post that RJ confirmed that you could figure it out.
Sort of. There was room in RJ's comment for the interpretation that we should be able to figure out that Demandred is simply Demandred. You have made it more clear. Not that we are complaining.
Ah, I see. Well, let me add the official clarification onto what I've said: Basically, I'm not merely talking about "Alter Ego" here when I reply to the "Figure out Demandred's Identity" question. I look at that question as a larger "What he's been up to, what he's been influencing, where he's hiding" that sort of thing.
Why make this distinction? Well, it's because of things that (likely) others have figured out already. Demandred hasn't been in-guise in the books at least up to Knife of Dreams. So energies focused on "exactly who is he" would be pointless, to an extent. If he is indeed imitating someone, you haven't seen that someone through most of the series. At least not in person. You may have seen them now, but if so, they haven't been on-screen for long.
So, what I'm saying is basically this: There are clues as to what Demandred is up to. You could figure that out. I think it would be hard, but not so hard that someone won't guess it. (And, knowing WoT fandom, someone probably has.)
Scroll down further for some of my initial guesses:
Could it be we'll learn what really happened with the Bowl of the Winds?
Or what happened after the taint was cleansed?
Although this could be anything, his tone implied that it was significant.
Book 12 will be the end. He will finish the story in one more book even if it takes 1500 pages hardcover.
The full editorial review of Knife of Dreams resulted in the addition of exactly one sentence. Q: Will we be able to tell which one? A: No. I'm good!
After a few pronunciations, RJ described some of the original details about his contract with Tor.
(At this point, let me say that I'm reconstructing RJ's comments to the best of my ability. I did take a few pages of written notes during the session, and the content should be accurate, but I'm forced to paraphrase the information since I don't know shorthand and didn't actually record his exact words.)
RJ had his first contract with Tor in 1984. He expected to write about one book per year, and would need five or six books to complete the story. In fact, it took him four years to write The Eye of the World, and 16 months to write The Great Hunt, and about 15-16 months to write each subsequent book until A Crown of Swords. Up to Lord of Chaos, Tor was trying to publish the books every 12 months. RJ turned in Lord of Chaos in August of 1994 and the book was published in November of that year.
During this period of trying to maintain Tor's once a year publishing schedule, RJ said that Harriet was doing what he called "drive-by editing." That is, RJ would give Harriet chunks of chapters as he finished with them, and she would basically edit them on the fly. Once a book was finished, they would slap it together and send it to Tor for a barebones editing process and publication.
After Lord of Chaos was published, RJ informed Tor that there was no way he would be able to provide them with the next book in time for a November 1995 publication, and Tor told him that he could take two years for the publication if he needed it. About a year after that, his Tor contact (Sorry, I didn't write down that name) came back to RJ and said something to the effect of, "We agreed you'd be done in 16 months, right?" RJ remained adamant about the two years for A Crown of Swords, however.
RJ then talked a little bit about Knife of Dreams, saying that he was done writing at the beginning of April, which apparently means the end of April in author-speak. Which also apparently means in the middle of May in author-speak. That bit was fairly confusing, but I got the impression that he was basically finished in April, but Tor didn't really get the book to begin their editing process until May. Once Tor had the book in hand, they tried to push up the publication date to August, but RJ refused and insisted on the full editorial review and publication in October. RJ then said the result of that fully editorial was to add a single sentence to the book (This was actually quite funny and drew some considerable laughter from us in the audience.)
Wrapping up his initial comments, RJ reiterated that the twelfth book would be the final book. I did write down the following quote: "If I have to make it a 1500 page publication it will be the final book." He then warned us that we might need to wheel this final tome around in a cart.
The convention officially began at 1 PM on Friday. I ran the Opening Ceremonies, which was a recap of the last five years and some introductions. Turn-out was better than I expected, since Robert Jordan had his first signing at the same time. It was followed by our New Spring discussion group.
To: Les Dabel
Sent: Thursday, February 03, 2005 12:09 PM
Subject: Re: Update
Things are going pretty well for me. I'm hard at work on Knife of Dreams, closing in on the finish. It will be good to get regular updates again. It would be good to get together during Dragon-Con, but as yet, I don't know what they will be having me do or when, so I can't make any commitments. Once I find out my schedule, things will shake out.
Take care, guys. All my best, Jim
Before I start a book I always sit down and try to think how much of the story I can put into it. The outline is in my head until I sit down and start doing what I call a ramble, which is figuring how to put in the bits and pieces. In the beginning, I thought The Wheel of Time was six books and I'd be finished in six years. I actually write quite fast. The first Conan novel I did took 24 days. (I wrote seven Conan books—for my sins—but they paid the bills for a number of years.) For my Western, I was under severe time constraints in the contract so it was 98,000 words in 21 days—a killer of a schedule, especially since I was not working on a computer then, just using an IBM Correcting Selectric!
I started The Wheel of Time knowing how it began and how it all ended. I could have written the last scene of the last book 20 years ago—the wording would be different, but what happened would be the same. When I was asked to describe the series in six words, I said, 'Cultures clash, worlds change—cope. I know it's only five, but I hate to be wordy.' What I intended to do was a reverse-engineered mythology to change the characters in the first set of scenes into the characters in the last set of scenes, a bunch of innocent country folk changed into people who are not innocent at all. I wanted these boys to be Candides as much as possible, to be full of 'Golly, gee whiz!' at everything they saw once they got out of their home village. Later they could never go back as the same person to the same place they'd known.
But I'd sit down and figure I could get so much into a story, then begin writing and realize halfway in that I wasn't even halfway through the ramble. I'd have to see how I could rework things and put off some of the story until later. It took me four years to write The Eye of the World, and I still couldn't get as much of the story into it as I wanted; same with The Great Hunt. I finally reached a point where I won't have to do that. For Knife of Dreams I thought, "I've got to get all of that into one book: it's the penultimate volume!" And I did. Well, with one exception, but that's OK. That one exception would probably have added 300 pages to the book but I see how to put it in the last volume in fewer.
Well, after about a month of procrastination, I'm finally getting around to doing the final blog post in my series of "Wheel of Time read through" responses. Thanks to all of those who emailed me reminding me I'd never gotten around to writing a post about Book Eleven. Also, those of you at LJ, it looks like my blog-posting software skipped updating the post I did earlier in the week, so here's a link to it on my own website. You didn't miss much, just a little update explaining that I was done with the grading last week and had moved on to continuing A Memory of Light. (Also, forgive any typos in the following. I wrote it really fast, since I've still got a thousand words or so of A Memory of Light I need to get done tonight.)
I find several things curious about Knife of Dreams. First, the pacing. This is the first book I remember feeling was moving directly toward an ending of the series. We resolve Elayne's plot to a large measure, Mat and Tuon get married, and Perrin rescues his wife. Those three things all complete major, multi-book arcs and set us up for Book Twelve. I've gotten some emails from somewhat snide readers who claim that they don't believe Mr. Jordan was planning to end the series with Book Twelve, but even if I hadn't seen the notes (which DO prove this book was to be the last) I would have believed in good faith that the ending was coming. Though I enjoy the more lethargic pacing of the previous couple books, Book Eleven's more breakneck resolution of concepts was also refreshing, if only as proof that an ending WAS coming.
I'm not sure if Mr. Jordan is responding to comments on Book Ten by doing so much in Book Eleven. My instinct says that he wasn't. None of these plot resolutions felt rushed; they were simply all paced in such a way that book ten ended up being the 'middle' book in a lot of ways. It wasn't introducing new plots and it wasn't resolving them. It was, however, building for what happened in this book.
It was strange reading Knife of Dreams this time as I felt a little like it is directed specifically at me. This book was, in a metaphorical sense, the 'pitch' toward me. It's the lead-in, and it was pitched quit well, directly on line. It's my job to hit that perfect pitch and send it flying.
In the way of more specific responses to the book, I was very curious to discover that my favorite character for this volume was Egwene. I found it very compelling to read about her now that her power base has been completely removed from her. I remember the end of the previous volume, where she gets captured, thinking "Not again!" (Not that she'd been captured before, but after all the times Rand has been through that, I wasn't sure I wanted to read it again.)
However, reading Book Eleven, I reversed my opinion. One sure-fire way to make a strong plot is to put a strong character into a position of weakness. In essence, the only thing she has as an advantage IS her strength, and she uses it to great effectiveness in this book. I believe this is the first place where she convinced me that she really is the Amyrlin.
Mat and Tuon were fun to read, as always. Mat has been a real treat in these last books, and I enjoyed reading through again and looking to see what clues there are about Moiraine. (Though it's less mysterious to me now that I have the materials for Book Twelve.) It was good to finally get some resolution with Perrin, though I feel there is still a lot of emotional conflict there to work out. Beyond that, I guess the only response I'll give is that I think this book has my favorite of the prologues. The fight between Galad and Valda was superb.
I'll try to post some annotations/Warbreaker chapters Saturday.
Okay! Alright! So Wetlander and people.
Yes...Are the impressive displays of power that Rand makes in Towers of Midnight (i.e., stopping the Trolloc army and having no concern over being able to leave the White Tower) a result of his integrated knowledge or his ta'veren nature?
Umm...Both, though, one thing you have to keep in mind, is...Rand, as a result of power level...Robert Jordan was specifically not using him very often because his power had grown so powerful even by the end of Knife of Dreams. I mean, you look at Knife of Dreams—if you go reread the fight in Knife of Dreams he is laying waste to nearly as many Trollocs as he has when he does the battle at the temple—which is not actually called that in the books—that's the one with the Trollocs and things [referencing Rand's big single-handed fight in Towers of Midnight]. And so...yes, some of these things have changed, but he's really powerful now.
Now, the thing about in the White Tower is something different. [Brandon smiles]
It's been an interesting experience. So far as I know, I'm the only person in the world to have ever read through—beginning to end—the Wheel of Time, starting with Book One and continuing through until I reached the final scenes Robert Jordan wrote before he passed away. (Maria might have done it, but I don't think so—she pretty much has the books memorized by now, and seems to spot-read more than she reads straight through.)
This is an experience others will start having in the coming years, and perhaps they'll agree with me that it DOES change the series. First off, you gain a better appreciation for Robert Jordan's ability to foreshadow. Second, the slow parts don't seem so slow any longer, particularly as you see books seven through fourteen as being one large novel.
Melissa Craib, this year's JordanCon master of ceremonies, asked the Team Jordan members which parts of the story they had been surprised about.
Harriet told about an incident she has described before from when she was writing the blurb for the dust jacket of The Dragon Reborn and finally realized that RJ intended Callandor to be an analog of the sword in the stone. She yelled down to RJ, "You son of a ****, you've done it to me again!"
Maria said that she was surprised... well, actually I've forgotten what Maria was surprised about. Maybe somebody else remembers...was it from Knife of Dreams when Semirhage blows Rand's hand off? That's what comes to mind, but I don't remember any details about why that surprised her, really, so maybe that's not it. :s
Alan at first said that he wasn't surprised by anything; he had figured it all out, of course. Then he owned up to being a little surprised about the scene in Crossroads of Twilight in which Perrin chops off the hand of one of the captured Shaido, because it showed the depths to which a person could go when pushed to the brink.
Peter said he was surprised when it was revealed that Demandred was... (yeah, he was messing with us).
Nalesean at Theoryland pointed out that Maria said that she was surprised by the death of Rolan during the battle of Malden.
I'm going to MAFO this one, since I honestly can't remember. I did get an answer from Maria as I was writing the books, though.
I'm going to plead the encyclopedia on this one.
You said that the balescreams in Knife of Dreams were because Demandred was balefiring whole cities...
I did not say that.
You did not say that.
That was reported! (on a private Facebook group)
That was reported; that's not what I said.
What did you say then?
I told them...they said, "What caused these?" And I said, "Ah, that's very interesting. By the way, Demandred was balefiring whole cities.
But you didn't say that's what caused them. Okay.
Good answer, because that gets rid of my next question. Okay.
Mmhmm. They asked about balefire and things like that, and it was...
...and they connected it...
...and I thought they might, but I specifically said, "BY THE WAY..." This is not....
(laughs) ...Well, we're recording now.
So there you go.
This one is from Terez, about WoT. It says "Does Moridin have anything to do with the Knife of Dreams?"
She thinks that his name "Tedronai" translates into Knife of Dreams in WoT.
(slightly surprised) Oh. If that is the case Terez,which it very well may be, I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s mostly because I don’t do anything with the Old Tongue- I let Alan handle it, because he’s so good at it, I pretty much just refer to him. The only thing I tried to name on my own was Perrin’s hammer. And even that, he had to fix a few little things to make it work right.
So I won’t kill that theory, but I can’t confirm it either.