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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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[Evidently they stayed with the army, which stayed outside the city.]
[Side note: I think I know the reference Jordan was talking about, but I'm not sure I believe it. Remember when Logain was talking to those Altaran nobles, mentioning all the Reds that had secretly supported him, apparently under Elaida's direction. Mentioning this at Siuan's instigation, we all thought. What if Logain was actually telling the truth? Siuan Sanche will be the most surprised woman in the world. I sort of hope I'm wrong on this one. Can anyone else come up with another reference in LoC that might explain this? One mentioning Reds in Caemlyn around the time of Logain's capture?] [Note 2: If Jordan was planning this all the way back in The Eye of the World—I am in awe. Pure stricken awe at the plotting consistency.]
RJ gave a little height information that slightly contradicts some previous info supposedly gleaned from a signings encounter. Rand is, of course, about 6'6". Moiraine, however, is actually as tall as 5'3", and Egwene and Nynaeve are both about 5'5". Oh, and he said Moiraine "was" 5'3", if anyone wants to read anything into that. RJ also said that if anyone asked him how much anybody weighed, he'd throw up his hands in exasperation. I definitely got the impression that he cares nothing for the detailed heights and such, but instead goes completely from the mental pictures he's got in his head.
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.
In The Dragon Reborn, how did the other sisters find Moraine in the Mountains of Mist?
She’d been putting out feelers. All she had to do in this case was make the first contact herself with an agent of her Ajah, and word would begin to spread. Things are already winding down, so she became a focal point. You might say that the communication networks realigned themselves.
If I can remember correctly, I asked, "When a Warder's bond is passed is the original bond still intact or is it broken?"
Not the best choice of words, I admit, but I was nervous. A problem that would repeat itself, unfortunately, the following day.
For John Lynch and a number of posters at Dragonmount, what Moiraine made the woman drink in New Spring was not poison. The woman intended to drug Moiraine in order to rob her, including of her clothes. And, of course, leave her to the nonexistent mercies of the patrons. Instead, Moiraine made her drink the drugged drink herself. And left her to the nonexistent mercies of her own patrons.
For Lord of Salvation, I'm sorry to hear that you had to become a refugee. I hope you plan on returning to help rebuild. My brother teaches at West Jefferson High School.
Also, Moiraine did enter the Rhuidean doorframe ter'angreal. That's the one that caught fire and melted after she and Lanfear passed through together. Berelain certainly knows of the Tear doorframe, but she has never entered it.
To: Les Dabel
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2004 3:03 PM
Subject: Re: Characters
I'll get onto the additional characters ASAP.
Here are my comments on the new images.
The Aiel is very good except for the boots, which still need to look more like Apache moccasins. That is how they are described in the main sequence books, a soft, laced boots. The coat is much better. As a note, remember that the Aiel average about 6'2" for a man, about the same as the Masai. There are plenty of them as tall as Lan and Bukama, and a few taller. An Aiel man who is 5'10" tall would be considered short by himself and by other Aiel.
The eagle-beak Trolloc is very good. It was a small thing, but the devil is in the details, and Trollocs just don't get ornamentation on their weapons. Plain—so to speak, despite all the hooks, etc—functional, and not a lot of effort into making them look good. They aren't exactly crude—crudely made weapons just don't usually function as well as well-made ones—but they are never fancy.
Cadsuane. This is not so good. She looks too old and too thin, almost gaunt. Her dress is way too frilly for Cadsuane, and it shows way too much cleavage. Her garments are silk, but cut simply. When she has lace, it's just a touch, perhaps at the neck and cuffs, but she more likely doesn't have any lace at all. She's a woman who does a lot of traveling, and she wants clothes that are easy to care for and can be tended by a poorly trained maid at some country inn. The cross-lacing is off. Dresses in this world almost always button up the back. And Cadsuane is more likely to have a high neckline than not. She makes no efforts to appear in the highest or latest fashion, nor does she try to impress other women with her clothes or jewelry, or to attract men; she's too busy for such foolishness, as she sees it. She is quite impressive enough being who she is, thank you very much. The hair ornaments also appear to be attached to one another, which they aren't. Each one of the ten ornaments hangs from its own individual hairpin. The bun should be right on top of her head, not toward the back.
As a note on her character. Cadsuane was born in the city-state of Far Madding, which is an out-and-out matriarchy. Far Madding has no hereditary nobility, but its politicians and wealthy merchants are all women. There are men who are craftsmen, but a wealthy man in Far Madding is one whose wife or mother gives him an over-generous allowance. The only men allowed to carry weapons of the usual sort are the Wall Guard, and then only when on duty. The Street Guard is limited to truncheons, sword-breakers and catchpoles. Men visiting from other places must either leave their weapons at checkpoints coming into the city or have them peace-bonded, with severe punishments for being found with the wires of the peace-bond broken. Very few of the city's men seem to be unhappy with the way things are. Far Madding is a prosperous trade center. The usual form of address by a woman to man whose name she doesn't know, or sometimes to one whose name she does, is "boy." None of this has any bearing on NEW SPRING, but it gives some insight into Cadsuane, because the city shaped her early years. Quite aside from being the most powerful Aes Sedai living at the time of NEW SPRING, Cadsuane is a formidable woman.
Gitara Moroso. I like this very much, though the dress would not be off-the-shoulder. That strapless look isn't used in this world. Most Aes Sedai wouldn't show that much bosom, but Gitara would. And I like the face, too. Very good!
Moiraine. The dress is excellent, though the sleeves are a bit too wide, I think—remember, Accepted's dresses are described as "simply cut"—but the face seems to have shifted again. I've attached the faces that I approved for Moiraine and Siuan. Also, she wouldn't have her hair in a bun. It would be worn loose. Her left hand also seems way too big; it's nearly half the width of her waist.
Ryne. This is very good except that his expression here seems on the sour side. That would be okay at the end, when he is unmasked as a Darkfriend, but the continuous view of Ryne until then is that he is charming and personable. He's much more likely to be smiling, especially if there is a pretty woman around. As a note, the dagger he is holding is too elaborate in the blade shape. I know there are a lot of fancy blade shapes out there today—Gil Hibben has much to answer for—but knives and daggers that are, or were historically, used by actual people had practical reasons for their blade shapes, even the yatagan and the falcata.
Tamra. Overall she looks very good. The only things I don't like are the off-the-shoulder dress, too much cleavage showing for her—her dresses would have high necklines, much like what you show on the Accepted's dress on the Moiraine image, or at least a neckline that showed no cleavage—and her hands both look much too large. The left hand is also oddly shaped.
Bukama. Yes. I like this one much better. Whatever Andrea did to the chin works just fine. And I like the armor. I hope this helps.
Take care, Les. All my best, Jim
To: Les Dabel, Ernst Dabel
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2004 9:53 AM
Subject: SCRIPT #2
Dear Les and Ernst,
Here is Script #2 with my comments added in. There aren't many, this time, and they all have to do with dialogue. Some of that is too stilted, now, especially for Siuan. Moiraine speaks without any contractions, but Siuan is much more casual in her speech. And there is at least one place where someone says something that isn't needed, and in Bannerman Steler's case, is actually wrong.
Sorry to have been so long with this.
Mike Miller has shown me his artwork for the spread showing all of Tar Valon, and I must say that it is beautiful. I'm talking to him about getting my hands on it after you guys are done with it.
Take care, guys. All my best, Jim
To: Ernst Dabel
Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2005 5:35 PM
Subject: Re: layouts H -18
I agree with most of the Consultants' suggestions. I know these are layouts and thus rough, but in the finals, the women really need to be wearing dresses. Even in the first image, they wouldn't be wandering about in just their shifts, especially since they have come all the way from their rooms in the Blue Ajah quarter down to the Accepted's Quarters. Both would be wearing something fairly plain, in wool most likely, though Moiraine may have silk. Each has a white ribbon of mourning tied to her hair on either side of her face like forelocks, while Moiraine also has long, lace-edged kerchiefs tied around her upper arms so that the ends dangle to her wrists.
Page 15, panel 2 and panel 4. Here Tamra is shown in a coffin. She would be wrapped in a shroud and laid atop a bier of wood. No coffin. A correction for the script. The panel 3 caption should read: "According to Tamra's wishes, her body was to be consumed by fire and her ashes scattered across the grounds of the Tower by the sisters." Fire should not be capped here.
Regarding Sierin Vayu on pages 16 and 17, please heed to the Consultants' comments. She is as they describe, not as drawn.
Page 18, panel 4. You can shift Moiraine's ring to another finger, but in fact, an Aes Sedai can wear her ring on any finger she chooses or not at all.
Take care, Ernst.
All my best, Jim
To: Ernst Dabel
Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2005 12:38 PM
Subject: Re: Thematic Consultants—pg H 15,16,17 & 18
Okay, Ernst, here are my comments on 15, 17 & 18, plus some additional comments on 14 & 16.
Pg 14, panel five: we should be able to see the vines and leaves on Siuan and Moiraine's shawls.
Pg 15, panels 2 & 3: the sisters should all have white ribbons in their hair as a sign of mourning. These are long ribbons fastened to the temples so that they dangle on either side of the face. Moiraine also should have a long white lace scarf tied around each upper arm, dangling so that if her arms were at her sides, the ends of the scarves would reach her wrists.
Pg 15, panel 3. Moiraine's dress is wrong here. For one thing, it shows folds where it should fit quite snugly. For another, it displays cleavage where it should have a high neck. The titillation factor for this dress comes entirely from the embroidery, which is done so as to emphasize the body's curves.
Pg 16, panel 1. Sierin needs a seven-striped stole, and also a Great Serpent ring on her right hand.
Pg 16, panel 3. Sierin needs the Amyrlin's stole here, too.
Pg 16, panel 4. The woman doing the birching should have her hair in "long, beaded braids" that flail about as she works the birch. This woman's hair is gathered atop her head.
Pg 17, panels 2 & 3. Sierin needs a Great Serpent ring (right hand) and the Amyrlin's stole. Remember that Sieren's stole is only half as wide as Duhara's. (Duhara being the woman seated behind her. Her stole, remember, is red.)
Pg 17, panel 4. Moiraine’s shawl needs the vines and leaves. Part of Sieren's stole would be visible here, too.
Pg 18, panel 3. Moiraine is galloping as though being pursued here, but in fact she is supposed to be riding away very quietly so as to attract no attention.
Pg 18, panel 5. The banker looks too tall, as is she would be taller than Moiraine if she stood. Remember, she is markedly shorter than Moiraine.
All my best, Jim
I am still deeply interested in ascertaining the solution to the quandry regarding the character of Asmodean, most specifically the mystery surrounding the circumstances of his demise. ;)
I also mentioned Moiraine's fate last year as being a big question I had. She's always been a favorite of mine, and each time I read through the series, I'm left wondering about her. (Well, not any more, since I've read the notes. But you know what I mean.)
I've been surprised to discover that a lot of readers take her survival for granted, but I've never done so. The letter gives some good clues that she might still be around, but it could also be some kind of trap by the Aelfinn and Eelfinn. The answers and gifts they give are truthful, yet there's often a twisted logic to them as well, it seems.
I can't say more here, I'm afraid, since I now know too much.
I have a very specific question about The Wheel of Time series. One of my favorite characters has been MIA for way too long. I'm assuming Moiraine Damodred returns to the playing field. I'm just wanting to know if it will be in the upcoming book or further on?
This is exactly the sort of thing I've been asked by the Jordan estate to stay quiet about, I'm afraid. (Sorry.) Some things the fans are expecting will happen in this book. But some things had to be saved for the next two volumes. And of Mr. Jordan's instructions were quite surprising, when seen in the light of what everyone expects will happen.
That's really not an answer, is it? Well, let's just call it a RAFO.
I believe, but am not taking the time to look it up, she used means more mundane than you're probably expecting.
Read and find out.
Okay, fine, be that way.
No, that's all right. It's one of the most frequently asked questions. RAFO (read and find out) is also the one of my most frequently given answer to things. Once Harriet asked me what I wanted for dinner and I told her to read and find out.
Cadsuane Melaidhrin was born in 705 NE in the city-state of Far Madding. At the age of fifteen, she went to the White Tower. There she spent six years as a novice and five years as Accepted. She might have moved faster as novice and Accepted—in fact almost certainly should have—but she was noted for both her stubbornness and her pride (read arrogance). At age 26, she was raised Aes Sedai and chose the Green Ajah.
Cadsuane was very strong in the One Power; for many years she served as the gauge by which every incoming novice was judged. In the last thousand years, no one had matched her and few had come close. Certainly no one in that time had exceeded her. Not even with her full strength yet, she was, on the very day she attained the shawl, at the pinnacle of the Aes Sedai social hierarchy.
She stood about 5'5" tall and was neither slender nor stout. She was not pretty, but she was strikingly handsome with a fair complexion. She had dark eyes, which some people occasionally mistook for black, especially when she was focused on them in an unpleasant fashion. Her hair became iron-gray, and she wore it in a bun on top of her head; the bun was decorated with small dangling golden ornaments, stars and moons and birds and fish. These hair ornaments were considered something of a trademark because she had worn them for as long as anyone could remember. For many sisters, the fact that she had was just one more indication of how set in her ways she was; they thought Cadsuane would never change, could never change. Of course, that was far from true; Cadsuane was remarkably adaptable, as befits someone who survived as long as she.
Cadsuane was considered by many to be a second Caraighan, although unlike Caraighin, she always refused offices. She preferred the field, so to speak; adventures were her bag. It was said that Cadsuane went through more Warders than most sisters have shoes; she didn't have all that many, since she was as vulnerable to the effects of a Warder's death as anyone else. Later in life, she refused to take another Warder because she felt that at her age, bonding a Warder would not be fair to the man.
Cadsuane first refused to be raised a Sitter in 846 NE; she reportedly did so a second time as well, though even one refusal was unheard of. She refused to be raised head of the Green Ajah in 862 NE, another thing that was unheard of. She was said to have vanished from the Tower for ten years (from roughly 890 NE to 900 NE) when she learned that the Hall intended to raise her Amyrlin after Sereille Bagand. She retired to northern Ghealdan about twenty-five years before the Aiel War, but came out of retirement, with her two surviving Warders, for that conflict. Soon after the Aiel War ended, she returned to her rustication. She claimed to have been raising roses when Logain appeared. His appearance drew her out of retirement again, but she was not interested in escorting him to Tar Valon and decided to wander a bit. Then Mazrim Taim rose up, and she headed for Saldaea as fast as she could ride.
When Siuan Sanche and Moiraine Damodred had reason to research Cadsuane because of their encounter with her shortly after reaching the shawl, they found many stories regarding Cadsuane. All of the ones that they were able to trace down turned out to be true, and in some cases the truth was more than the story. They were not able to follow or confirm all of the stories, of course.
One of the most prevalent Cadsuane stories was that she had once physically assaulted an Amyrlin Seat. Since physically assaulting any sister is a serious offense—and an Amyrlin even more so—the fact that Cadsuane apparently escaped any punishment at all, and that the tale is vague about which Amyrlin it was supposed to be, made most everyone think this story was false. It wasn't; it was the method Cadsuane used to turn Myriam Copan from a weak Amyrlin to a strong one in 758 NE. Myriam was thought to have gone on a two-month retreat by herself, but she had, in fact, been all but kidnaped by Cadsuane. Turning Myriam around involved, among other things, turning her upside down at least once. Although Myriam certainly had reason to keep the events of those two months secret (and was able to make a statement which seemed to deny that Cadsuane had assaulted her), it is the basis of the tale that Cadsuane once physically assaulted an Amyrlin.
Another story said that long ago she had removed a sitting king from his palace and taken him to Tar Valon to be gentled. In truth, Cadsuane had "a nose" for men who can channel. She faced more of them than any other sister living; she herself said more than any two Reds, maybe more than any ten. That seems to indicate at least twenty of them by that time, maybe more. She brought more of them to Tar Valon than any other sister. Of these, she never had to kill one, either because she could not capture him or because he was trying to escape. These men have ranged over the years from farmboys to nobles to the king of Tarabon, but one and all, they made much better adjustments to their fate than is considered normal. They eventually died short of a normal span, but they lived considerably longer than usual. And that King of Tarabon: he had to be winkled out of his palace, avoiding his army, which sought to rescue him. She carried him all the way to Tar Valon for gentling by herself, though pursued by his army that refused to believe that he was what he was.
It was also said that she kidnaped a King of Arad Doman and a Queen of Saldaea. After she released them, a war that had seemed inevitable simply faded away. She did actually spank or switch three reigning kings and four queens, though the facts of these are hidden in rumor.
Cadsuane is alleged to have once single-handedly stopped a coup in the White Tower. This did happen, though no one seems to know or agree on when. The true story: Cadsuane and Sereille Bagand did not get on with each other. In fact, they could not stand one another. Each was the sort of woman who dominated a room—or for that matter, a city!—by simply entering, and they struck sparks at every meeting. Despite her dislike for Sereille, though, Cadsuane uncovered a plot to overthrow Sereille and crushed it. The plotters thought she would be eager to join them, but she dragged the weeping ringleaders to Sereille and made them throw themselves on Sereille's rather small mercies. Sereille was not particularly pleased to have been saved—the plot was well laid out and ready to leap off—by one she so disliked.
She had a reputation for standing White Tower custom on its head, twisting it as she chose, and even violating it outright, as in her frank speech about age, her direct questions and refusals to accept oblique answers, and her interference in the actions of other sisters. The same could be said of her regarding Tower law, for that matter. She had a reputation for taking direct action, even to the point of violence, slapping faces, boxing ears, and more (especially when faced with what she considered stupidity), with high as often as low, or rather, more often. She also had a reputation for not caring whether she dented somebody's pride, if she thought it necessary.
There are the usual tales expected of a Green, only more of them. Riots suppressed and wars stopped single-handedly; rulers steadied on their thrones, or pulled from them, sometimes toppled openly and sometimes more subtly (toppling rulers was something Aes Sedai had not really done much of in the last thousand years, but Cadsuane seemed in many ways a throwback). Rescuing people carried into the Blight or kidnaped by dangerous bands of Darkfriends, breaking up murderous rings of Darkfriends plaguing villages and towns, and exposing powerful Darkfriends who tried to kill her to protect themselves. There are dozens, even hundreds, of improbable and sometimes seemingly impossible tales.
Some of these are not so much tales about her as an impression, a belief: Cadsuane will do what she intends to do, and no one can stop her: not a king or a queen, not an Amyrlin—not even the Dark One himself, some claimed. And when Rand al'Thor arose to power as the Dragon Reborn, Cadsuane once again chose to take part in directing the events of the world.
All right. Kelsier and Moiraine are facing each other in the Suvudu cage match next round. Guess I should do a write up.
I think I'll just flip a coin to decide who wins, then write something that makes it seem logical.
Though this is (for a Suvudu Cage Match) actually quite even, I'm going to have to play it very tongue-in-cheek. Just a warning.
Don't expect an epic battle. I don't have the time to spare to write up something like that in this case.
Okay, that's done. Quick and dirty, I'm afraid, but it's all the time I could spare. Should be up on Suvudu soon, maybe on my website also.
Warning: it not only contains huge spoilers for both series, but a lot of WoT and Mistborn in jokes.
If you disagree with the results of my coin flip, feel free to vote however you wish in the cage match poll. :)
Write up I did for Kelsier and Moiraine will go up Monday, I believe. I'll post a link when it goes live.
You stole my cage match, Brandon! ;)
Ha! You were the one who would tackle this, eh?
Well, if you had something cool you wanted to do, I'll post it on my site if you still want to write it.
In case you haven't seen it, my Moiraine vs Kelsier write up is here.
I liked it, it was a fun read, still voted for Moiraine though :P ^_^
I actually tried to leave it ambiguous at the end. The thing people should be asking themselves is this:
"As the write-up was from Kelseir's viewpoint, can we assume that the whole thing happened as Moiraine wanted it to?"
You need to ask yourself that whenever you end a conversation with an Aes Sedai. :)
Oh, you mean the fat man with... no, wait that was Rand....
Yeah, Moiraine’s one was an ivory woman.
Yeah, yeah. You know, that’s a good question, because it’s odd, the notes specifically said she got the angreal as one of her wishes...
Ah, so it’s definitely not the angreal Lanfear had? People have asked, I think because both were bracelets.
No, it’s definitely a different angreal. But yes, if she had another angreal, why would she ask for one?
Maybe the Finns took her original one. I mean she was naked when they found her, so they took...
Yeah, maybe *looks dubious*.
Or maybe it’s still in Cairhien with the rest of her stuff.
Yeah, but it would still be odd, that she’d ask, if she had another. Yeah, so, I don’t know, sorry.
*nodding before I finished* MAFO. That was something I was going to look into myself, because it stumped me during my last re-read. I never got round to it... you haven’t seen the size of the pile of notes, they are huge, and most of my time... I have to give over to things that are involved in what I’m working on. Sometimes though, I do just go into them purely for fan interest.
I would love to have an afternoon alone with the notes. *another fan nods fervently*
It is my understanding that Rand put that warding on when he was getting ready to leave Tear. As for Be’lal . . . well, he was one of the Chosen; what need had he of an angreal to go up against an untrained sheepherder? That’s my best guess, anyway.
No.(Will we know more?) They will be partially revealed.
This one I can't remember too well from the notes taken, so the wording may be a little off. He looked certain and a little cheerful on this one.
Moiraine's blue stone is a dig at Marion Zimmer Bradley.
When RJ was working on the first Conan book, he got the movie script and was told to stick as close to it as possible (though he did alter some things and later got approached with "man, I HATE what they did to your book"). After the book was published and the movie out, he one day got a letter from Marion Zimmer Bradley threatening to sue RJ for copyright infringement because one of his characters had a (blue) stone hanging on her forehead. RJ then sent a letter back referring her to the studios and the original script in which the stone appeared. The lawsuit never happened and Moiraine has a blue stone on her forehead.
We are very excited to reveal the cover to A Memory of Light, the final volume of Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. The artwork for this final edition is by, arguably, one of today’s most beloved illustrators, Michael Whelan.
The task of jumping into a 14 volume series on its last installment must have been a daunting one but Michael rose to the occasion. Harriet McDougal, Jordan’s editor and widow remarked, "that is the Rand I have waited to see for twenty years” when she saw the image. And while the artwork clearly has all the earmarks of a Whelan painting, its theme and coloration make it a fitting heir to Darrell K. Sweet’s series of Wheel of Time covers.
In keeping with the series’ covers, the scene gathers elements from a key scene in the book. Here, Rand stands with Callandor on the rocks of Shayol Ghul, heading down into its depths to confront the Dark One even as the sun itself vanishes from the world. Two Aes Sedai follow the Dragon Reborn into the mouth of darkness, two women who have been with Rand since the very beginning.
Not sure why there's still confusion. It's Nynaeve and Moiraine on the back cover. The yellow and blue dresses should make that apparent. Nynaeve's hair is obviously shorter than it used to be.
I spoke to Michael about the cover as he was finishing it. Since he didn't have the opportunity to read all fourteen books for the assignment, I was one of the people he leaned on to fact check his work.
Michael mentioned there are details the readers (like me) wouldn't be privy to yet. For example, Nynaeve takes the bulk of her jewelry off before this scene.
Callandor is a sword that isn't a sword, right? He's not holding it for defense. It's a source of power as well as his source of light (there's a clue about that in the lighting on his face). He's shielding his eyes as he stares in to the pit. Apparently, the deeper he goes into Shayol Ghul, the brighter it shines.
A little background that some might not know... Michael has studied martial arts, including Filipino Kali and Arnis. The forearm slash position actually has some utility in fights with bladed weapons.
Compositionally, the line of the sword is another element that draws you into the intensity of Rand's stare. Further, the opening of the cave is the shape of an eye; the eclipse suggests an iris. It's as if the gaze of the Dark One is falling on Rand. We see his strength and determination in response. How many illustrators can convey that kind of depth in a scene?
Say what you will, but I think Michael brought a lot to the plate on what was a very difficult cover assignment. He put his stamp on Rand while producing a cover that fits well with the first thirteen that DKS painted.
Thanks for confirming that. However, Nynaeve's hair is still the wrong color and, while it's shorter after the Aes Sedai testing in Towers of Midnight, it should still be in a shoulder-length braid. She never gave up her signature braid. That's why many people don't think it looks like Nynaeve—the braid is the main thing that would identify her as Nynaeve to the readers.
The loose light hair makes the woman on the cover look more like Alivia, who many fans believe is the woman in yellow. So I'm still of the opinion that Whelan did not do a good job with Nynaeve if longtime fans don't even recognize her. I think it's a beautiful cover, but as a reader, the main thing I care about is seeing the characters—who we have been reading about for twenty years—done right, not so much whether the cave looks realistic or happens to symbolize the Dark One spying on Rand. So it's disappointing that Nynaeve ended up virtually unrecognizable. She doesn't even wear yellow dresses in the books, despite being Yellow Ajah (she makes a point of wearing green or blue since that's what Lan likes), so that's not something that makes the woman's identity apparent either.
If you don't mind me asking (not trying to be rude here, it just strikes me as a bit strange), why did Whelan rely on fans to check his work instead of Team Jordan? I'm assuming you work for Tor, but you refer to yourself as a reader who hasn't read the book. To what extent were Brandon Sanderson and Team Jordan involved with the creative process behind this cover?
I was just one of the people helping with the details. Obviously Michael had Irene Gallo's art direction and was in contact with editors including Harriet.
Michael's wife Audrey usually serves as his sounding board, but she hadn't read the books. (For the record, I'm not affiliated with TOR. I've worked with Michael since the mid 90s, primarily on his website.) I'm a WoT fan and that's the kind of feedback Michael was looking for... someone he knew who had read the previous thirteen books.
Michael and I did discuss Nynaeve's dress color. I mentioned that she catered to Lan's color preference of green and blue. The yellow of her Ajah usually came in slashes of color, accents if I recall correctly.
Like I said, I haven't read the manuscript for A Memory of Light and Michael couldn't talk about it. But I distinctly recall Nynaeve taking pride in being a true Aes Sedai finally. Going into the Last Battle, I don't think it's a stretch that she would choose yellow. I suppose we'll have to RAFO on that.
In the background information I provided, I described Nynaeve's hair color as darker brown and referenced previous covers (among them the Melanie Delon's cover for A Crown of Swords that drew criticism for being too red).
I'd have to ask him why he chose lighter highlights. Just my speculation here, but Callandor is a light source. There's also illumination from the eclipse filtering in from the mouth of the cave to consider.
Michael got the length of Nynaeve's hair right, and this isn't simply opinion. Hopefully Brandon or Harriet will confirm at some point that her shoulder length hair was too short to braid.
Interestingly, Michael and I spoke about the challenge of pulling character descriptions from the text. If you're familiar with his illustration, he's known as a stickler for details. But it isn't always easy to translate text literally, especially when Jordan and Sanderson contradict in their description.
In correspondence, Michael wrote,
"Major characters are described as diminutive in size, yet 'commanding' in presence. Faces are youthful, yet ageless. Or young but having eyes full of wisdom of the ages. Rand is tall and manly, yet has an almost "feminine" beauty in his eyes or mouth. It's a bit confusing how one is supposed to render such conflicting elements."
Honestly, I don't mind the nitpicking. Criticism comes with the territory. My point in responding is to state that Michael was mindful of details here. There's evidence of it in the painting. I can tell you that he had Moiraine's kesiera and Nynaeve's ki'sain accounted for before I even spoke to him.
On a personal note, I had the privilege of meeting Robert Jordan before a signing on the Knife of Dreams tour. One of the things we talked about was the cover art for the series. I think Mr. Jordan would be pleased with this one. Obviously Harriet was when she said, "that is the Rand I have waited to see for twenty years."
Firstly, thank you very much for the thorough answer. It answered many of my questions, and it was also interesting to hear more about the creative process behind the cover.
[Nynaeve's hair] got singed off "a handspan below her shoulders" (Towers of Midnight ch 20), and she wore a shoulder-length braid in every scene she was in after the Aes Sedai testing. That's why it seemed odd for her signature braid to be missing on the cover. I don't really care about the dress or even much about the hair color, but Nynaeve isn't Nynaeve without her braid—it's part of who she is. It's like Mat showing up without his hat and ashandarei. And the ki'sain is too small to be visible, so it doesn't do anything to make the woman on the cover look more like Nynaeve.
I also wish Nynaeve and Moiraine hadn't been delegated to the background/back cover—since they're going to be linked with him, they deserve to stand at his side. But that's not an error, just something I wish were different.
However, while the cover isn't what I hoped for, I understand and deeply appreciate that you and Whelan both worked incredibly hard on it, and Whelan remains one of my favorite illustrators. I think he did a wonderful job with Rand.
I appreciate the sentiment but Michael did the actual work. He pushed his calendar aside this spring to make the cover happen. I was just support. But I will admit it took a lot of restraint on my part not to inundate him with questions that I knew he couldn't answer, so there is that.
As readers, we all have so much invested in this series that I completely understand what you're saying. I love Brandon's work, but I felt Towers of Midnight was a bit of a letdown, especially the resolution with Moiraine.
Moiraine has always been a favorite of mine. I would have liked to see her on the front cover as well. Thankfully Dan Dos Santos gave us that in his brilliant cover for The Fires of Heaven.
I think MRJackson & Mr. Whelan made a very good point, in that we have not yet read this book. By the time this scene happens, we may see several other events that make sense of the seeming discrepancies. Specifically, there are only two scenes after Nynaeve's testing which mention her braid, and in both cases it is specifically noted that it is too short and she finds it quite annoying. Quite possibly she'll meet up with Lan and find out that he likes it loose, or she'll simply decide that it's too irritating to fuss with a too-short braid, and we'll see her with loose hair in several scenes before this.
Someone was bothered earlier by the missing jewelry—but now we know that she specifically and deliberately removed the jewelry before this scene, probably so that someone else could use them. (That's what happened during the Cleansing; why not here as well?) Seems to me that we should make the assumption that the same kind of thing might happen with The Braid, instead of insisting that she should look like she did in the previous book, and claiming any discrepancies as mistakes. Such claims are not only rude, they are unfounded. Once the book is out and we've read the whole thing, we might have grounds for nitpicking; until then, not so much.
MRJackson—Thank you for your contributions, both to this thread and to Mr. Whelan.
Glad to be of help. Maybe someday we'll find closure in the great braid debate...
Seriously though, Michael painted Nynaeve's hair at that length (without a braid) for a reason. I wasn't trying to sidestep debate. I was expressing certainty. Michael was aware that the braid was an identifying feature of her character. The painting turned out the way it did through a long process that involved editorial input. I'll leave it at that.
I look at it this way (and this is my opinion)... Nynaeve has grown enormously through the books. She was always uniquely powerful, but it took time for her to grow into that power. More so, it took a dozen books to accept herself and decide who she wanted to be.
Nynaeve worked through enormous difficulty to channel reliably. Remember how she used to tug on that braid? It really was a symbol of who she used to be. Kind of fitting that the symbol is gone.
Old habits die hard, of course, but she isn't that girl tugging on her braid any more. She's a woman who fought to gain acceptance as an Aes Sedai, and she's going to stand at Rand side to face the Dark One. It's impressive how far she's come as a character.
The Fires of Heaven ebook cover was definitely one of the best, though there were a few things the artist got wrong (Moiraine does not have blue eyes). The New Spring cover was great too, especially Lan. It's mostly Nynaeve who has suffered bad luck with the ebook covers. There's A Crown of Swords where she got red hair and Lan looked like an underwater zombie, Winter's Heart where she didn't appear at all despite being linked with Rand for the Cleansing, The Path of Daggers where she got a Saldaean nose and Elayne looked suspiciously like Jean Grey...
I think much of my disappointment with the A Memory of Light cover stems from the fact that there's already an earlier cover (Winter's Heart) where Rand claimed the stage and his female linking partner was left out. "Hero poses manfully brandishing some kind of phallic object" is a pretty tired concept, especially on WoT covers. Rand does the same on Sweet's The Dragon Reborn and The Path of Daggers, the ebook covers for The Dragon Reborn, Winter's Heart, Knife of Dreams... Winter's Heart is probably the worst offender, if you look at the placement of the Choedan Kal. ;)
Sweet's A Memory of Light cover was a welcome break from that—I'm not usually a fan of Sweet's covers, but I liked that he gave Elayne, Min, and Aviendha a prominent role and added some emotion to the cover. So I really would have liked to see something different on the final cover, like Rand having the two women from the Callandor circle at his side. Here, Nynaeve and Moiraine are present, but only in the background, and not at all on the ebook cover.
The only female lead who held the cover spotlight on par with the men was Moiraine, and that is a shame.
There was definitely opportunity to feature Nynaeve linked with Rand on Winter's Heart. Despite the hair, I liked Nynaeve on the cover of A Crown of Swords. Lan not so much. The Path of Daggers was another miss, mostly because the colors were a distraction. I thought I was looking at an X-Men cover. Even if that was intentional, it didn't work for me.
I can only assume Rand was intended to stand at center stage alone on the last cover, but I think what you suggest would have been great too. Moiraine and Nynaeve definitely earned their place at Rand's side on the front.
That was a beautiful description of why Nynaeve is one of the most compelling characters in the series. She and Moiraine kept me invested during some dark years of almost giving up on WOT. I always hoped they would be the other Callandor channelers, as I could not imagine Rand putting himself in such a vulnerable position with anyone else. Aviendha, Min and Elayne included, though I do love Aviendha! So thank you for shedding light on why some things are portrayed as they are on this excellent new cover. Just don't think that it will put a dent in the debate. ;)
Thanks. I feel much the same way about those characters, and I'm sure the debate will keep going on well after the publication of A Memory of Light.
Padan Fain's power has morphed through time, going one way and then another (Shadar Logoth to the Dark One and back), which is why Moiraine was able to sense him at the end of The Eye of the World, but no Aes Sedai were able to sense him during his time in Tar Valon. He gained much of his power battling the Fade throughout The Great Hunt. Padan Fain is also now a powerhouse in the series.
Sure, this is information we all know, and it's not canon as it's not in the books, but it was cool hearing people in the know say it.
That's what you answered for Book 12. I'm asking about Book 13, which I've already read.
Everyone in line close your ears. The whole Tower of Ghenjei sequence. That was all written by Jim. Also, the surprise proposal at the end.
I debated writing this because you seem like a genuinely nice guy who cares about his fans, and I don't want to hurt your feelings. If you find it difficult to read criticism, please don't read any further.
To be honest, I am hoping that you won't write the outriggers/prequels because it seems to me like your heart's just not in it anymore. In 2011 you announced that you needed time off to reread the entire series before starting work on A Memory of Light since you'd forgotten too much and this had led to continuity issues in Towers of Midnight. But according to your own website, you only reread a third of the series, then went on to work on Alloy of Law, Legion, The Emperor's Soul, The Rithmatist... As someone who enjoyed Way of Kings a great deal, I'm glad that you've continued to work on your own books, but the fact that you abandoned the reread does make me worry about the quality of A Memory of Light. If you cannot give WoT as much time and attention as it needs, it's better to let it go.
Another big issue for me is the characterization. You're great at writing Perrin and also did a good job with Rand and the girls for the most part. Others felt off, and that unfortunately includes the main characters the outriggers and prequels would focus on. I'll leave out Mat since that's been discussed to death already, but Lan and Moiraine's scenes in Towers of Midnight were a huge disappointment for me. Lan has always been a favorite of mine, but here he came off as a whiny combination of Gawyn and Perrin. He's a grown man in his late 40s, not a sulky teenager.
Then there's Moiraine, now ready to give up all her power if only Thom tells her to. Yes, her captivity undoubtedly changed her, but at her core, she is someone who was ready to sacrifice everyone and everything to win the Last Battle, including herself. So it didn't seem right for Moiraine to offer to give up an important tool like the angreal.
""Egwene, I know what you feel for Rand, but you must realize by now that nothing can come of it. He belongs to the Pattern, and to history."—Moiraine, The Shadow Rising
For an instant she regretted sending Thom away. She did not like having to waste her time with these petty affairs. But he had too much influence with Rand; the boy had to depend on her counsel. Hers, and hers alone.—Moiraine, The Shadow Rising
That had been one of Moiraine's more succinct bits of advice. Never let them see you weaken.—Rand, Lord of Chaos
I happen to like Moiraine a lot, but there's no denying she was partly responsible for Rand thinking he needed to be hard. Yet in Towers of Midnight you have Rand speak of how caring she was; even Mat and Nynaeve sing her praises. You seem to be trying to retcon Moiraine into a saintly figure she never was. All WoT characters have major flaws; Moiraine's was that she treated people as chess pieces that sometimes needed to be sacrificed for the greater good. In The Shadow Rising she intentionally tried to separate Rand from his friends so she could be the only person influencing him. It wasn't until Rhuidean that she discovered firsthand what it felt like to be the person forced to make the ultimate sacrifice, and she finally became the advisor Rand needed. But even then she was still manipulating him and encouraging him to be hard, so obviously she hadn't changed completely. To ignore her flaws and mistakes is to do the character a disservice and hides her growth in The Fires of Heaven.
This is getting long, so I'll wrap it up here. I hope this made sense and that I didn't hurt your feelings. I still think you're a very talented writer and look forward to reading both A Memory of Light and the next Stormlight book.
Well, thanks for the thoughts. I will take the comments for what they are worth, and appreciate your sincerity.
By way of correction, I do want to point out that Alloy of Law, Legion, and The Rithmatist were all written BEFORE I started work on A Memory of Light. The only thing I've written during A Memory of Light was The Emperor's Soul, which is a short work I wrote on the flight home from Taiwan earlier in the year. I have always stopped my main projects for side ones. It is part of what keeps me fresh. Alcatraz was in the middle of Mistborn, Rithmatist in the middle of Liar of Partinel (which I decided not to publish; it was the last book I wrote before the WoT came my way.) Legion was during Towers of Midnight. Emperor's Soul during A Memory of Light.
My heart is completely in it—that I can assure you. I stopped the re-read because I was just too eager to be working on the book, and I'd already re-read (the last year) books 9-11 in working to get Perrin and Mat down for Towers of Midnight. But your complaint is valid. I did not re-read 6-8, except for spot reading. I kept telling myself I needed to get to them, but I was too deeply into the writing by that point.
As for where I misfired on characterization, I apologize. In some cases, I don't see them the same way as you do. In other cases, I am doing a worse job than RJ would have, and the failings are mine. I don't want to diminish your opinion, as it is valid. I certainly have struggled with some characters more than others.
Though, for the scene with Moiraine and Thom you quote above...I, uh, didn't write that scene, my friend. That one was RJ in its entirety, and was one of the most complete scenes he left behind.
Brandon, thank you for the thoughtful response. I understand that it's very difficult for most authors to read criticism (let alone reply to it), so I appreciate that you took the time to read and reply.
I'd like to stress that I wholeheartedly agree with Neil Gaiman's "GRRM is not your bitch" post and hope it didn't come across like I thought you shouldn't be working on anything besides WoT. Side projects are very much a good thing (happy and creative authors→better books), and I am personally excited about your upcoming books. It was mainly the fact that you seemed to have given up on the reread that felt like a reason for concern since you had previously said you needed to refresh your memory to avoid a repeat of Towers of Midnight's continuity errors. It also made me worry that you had gotten weary of working on A Memory of Light, which would have been understandable given that it's a very time-consuming and demanding project that you've already spent 4-5 years on. I'm glad to hear this is not the case.
"In some cases, I don't see them the same way as you do."
That's not something I object to since we all have different perceptions of the characters. In most cases I understand where you are coming from even if your interpretation differs somewhat from mine. Unlike me, you also have access to all sorts of character notes and spoilers about their futures.
However, in some cases it felt like your personal love or dislike of certain characters also played a strong role. To put it bluntly, it's easy to tell that Perrin, Egwene and Moiraine are your favorites since they've received a disproportionate amount of PoVs or praise from other characters, Egwene in particular (how many scenes do we need where people talk about how brilliant, clever and talented Egwene is?). I don't know how much you follow other WoT boards, but there's been a lot of debate in fandom as to whether Egwene has become too much of a Mary Sue-type character who easily defeats supposedly shrewd political opponents and is constantly praised by other characters, often at the expense of people like Siuan. It's impossible for a writer to remain completely objective, and your background as a fan is on the whole one of your biggest strengths, but sometimes things like that can feel jarring. I would not want to see the same happen to a complex, flawed and interesting character like Moiraine.
"Though, for the scene with Moiraine and Thom you quote above...I, uh, didn't write that scene, my friend. That one was RJ in its entirety, and was one of the most complete scenes he left behind."
I have to admit, this comes as a surprise to me, partly because of Moiraine's seemingly uncharacteristic offer to surrender almost all her power for Thom's sake and partly because she used contractions in this scene (in the New Spring graphic novel, there's a note from Jordan informing the comic writers that Moiraine never uses contractions). She and Thom seemed to have a mutual respect and attraction in the early books, but spent very little time together, so I would not have expected any full-blown love or a marriage proposal at this point. It just seemed very strange for Moiraine to be willing to sacrifice her only chance at regaining her strength when she's barely even thought about Thom in her PoVs before. But since Jordan wrote that scene, there's nothing to do but accept that it's where he wanted to take the characters.
Re: Contractions Interesting story here. Harriet and Team Jordan worried about my use of contractions in places that RJ did not. It seemed very striking to them. Their first instinct was to go through and change it, after the fact, in order to match RJ's style.
Harriet didn't like how that looked. She felt that my style needed to be blended with RJ's, rather than taking my style and forcing it to fit into something else. So it was decided that one of her tasks, as editor, would be to blend the writing after it was put together. She'd go through and make scenes feel right together, and would blend the two styles like a painter blending paint.
So, she takes away contractions from me where she feels they need to go and she actually adds them to RJ's writing where she thinks it needs to be blended. I was curious if that was the case here, so I went back to the original notes.
And it turns out RJ wrote the scene with contractions. Most likely, he was planning to trim them out with editing. Remember, even the most complete scenes we have from him are first drafts. In fact, in some of them, the tense is wrong. (Much of this Moiraine/Thom/Mat scene is in present tense. )
An example from the notes is:
He puts the angreal on her wrist, and says 'I'll marry you now.'
In revision, this line turned into:
He put the bracelet back on her wrist. "I'll marry you now, if you wish it."
Anyway, I don't want to spend too much time defending myself, because that's not the point of your post. Really, the most important thing for me to say is that I understand. I'll do my best, and criticism like this is important to me. (Particularly on the Wheel of Time books, where I feel that listening to fan direction is important for gauging how well I'm doing on the characters.) It was fan criticism that brought me around to finally seeing what I was doing wrong with Mat, and (hopefully) making some strides toward writing him more accurate to himself.
It will be very hard to do simply because, you know, you would have a lot of sentences that would four colors in them (laughter), because, here are three words from Brandon; here are a couple of words from Robert Jordan; the rest are from Harriet, that she has edited, and then here's the insertion by Maria as she's doing the copy-edit, that something needed to be [put] in. It would be very difficult to get right.
The other thing is, Harriet has several times expressed a reluctance to let people see the notes because she doesn't want people focusing when reading the books on what was me and what is Jim. I do still kinda tend to work on her and see if I can get her to let us do something with the notes. I'm not too expectant—if it doesn't happen I'm gonna be fine—but I tend to ask on behalf of the fans, people like yourself, and if I can do that I can then bring them out and I will talk a little bit more about that.
One thing that I've said to people a number of times, that in each of the three books there is a prologue [scene] that Robert Jordan wrote almost completely, or completely, for the prologue of the book, then since we split it in three, I took one scene from each completely that is Robert Jordan's—and there are a few fragments in each prologue as well that were also his—but there's one complete scene in the prologue. In the first book, it was the farmer sitting on the doorsteps watching the storm; that was one of the scenes he dictated, and we actually at JordanConI got to listen to that dictation. In the second book it was the Borderlander tower with the soldier and his son; that was one of the more complete scenes we had from Robert Jordan which had some minimal revision and editing during the process but was basically a complete scene that he gave us. And there's one like that in the third book as well.
In The Gathering Storm, I've said before that, as the notes went, Rand was a little more me; there were fewer notes on Rand. There were more notes on Egwene. We're both involved in all the viewpoints, but Rand from that is a little more me, and Egwene's a little more Robert Jordan, and then in Towers of Midnight, Perrin's a little bit more me, and Mat is a little more Robert Jordan. And maybe we'll be able to release more than that, but so far that's about all I've said. There are certain scenes that he did write, by the way—I'll give you everything; this is what I've told people; I haven't told people much—but there's a certain scene in The Gathering Storm where Egwene has an unexpected meeting with an old friend in the Tower. That one was done by Robert Jordan. And in Towers of Midnight, there is...most of the Mat stuff including the ending where a certain engagement happens was Robert Jordan.
I was thinking about Moiraine's questions to the Aelfinn. We already know what one of them was, is there any hint as to the other two?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Eleanor Lang
Publication date: February 21, 1990
THE EYE OF
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE EYE OF THE WORLD
"This intricate allegorical fantasy recalls the works of Tolkien because of its intensity and warmth."
THE EYE OF THE WORLD (A Tor book distributed by St. Martin's Press/February 21, 1990/$12.95, trade paperback) is a powerful saga of fantasy that focuses on the age-old conflict between good and evil. Author Robert Jordan has created a world so exceptional and magical, with characters and settings so voluminous, readers will feel that they are part of the tale, becoming caught up in the villagers [sic] fear of the hideous Trollocs. Once thought to be mythical, the Trollocs are carnivorous monsters set out to destroy the villagers and -- perhaps even the entire world. The only one to be trusted is Moiraine, a powerful witch whom all have misgivings about. It is she who reveals the only plan of redemption -- a plan that will involve the lives of three very different young men, only one who is destined to be the hero. THE EYE OF THE WORLD is the first volume in what is sure to be an important new series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert Jordan is a graduate of the Citadel and served in Vietnam. Before becoming a writer he was a physicist and nuclear engineer. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
So, I got everything at once. There are two things that stand out that are moments when I was looking through the notes and I was like, "Oh!" And then there was one that I'm like, "Oh no." [laughter]
The two that were "Oh!" were, in Gathering Storm where Egwene gets a special visitor, and colors of dresses are mentioned. [laughter] That one was kind of mind-boggling, and that's one of the things that Robert Jordan had complete. Not—I had to write into it and write out of it, but the important parts you're thinking about were done. The second scene was in another section that he had complete, and this is where, at the end of Towers of Midnight, someone you haven't seen for a long time and someone else have a romantic moment together, and that surprised me. I was not one that was expecting that—it's well-foreshadowed, but I just hadn't been expecting it. I actually went to Team Jordan, and I'm like, "This? I—What?" And they're like, "No, it's in there; here, look at this, look at this," and all the foreshadowing, and I had just completely missed it. And so, those two were the surprising moments for me.
The kind of "Oh no" moment was when...he didn't actually write the scene, he just made a sentence that said—oh, someone's plugging their ears because they don't want spoilers; I'm trying to talk around the spoilers, so—in Gathering Storm, there is a scene where a certain member of the Forsaken gets spanked [laughter], and Robert Jordan wrote, "This happens, and she gets spanked." And I'm like, "I'm not going to write a spanking scene; I've never written a spanking scene before!" [laughter] And I was kinda like, "Come on, Jim, do you really have to do this?" But I was like, it was in the notes, and there was no good reason not to [?] that scene, so I went ahead and wrote that scene.
I think Maria and Harriet are planning to put these in the encyclopedia, but you are right on the third question.
What did Moiraine ask Aelfinn/Eelfinn?
Ooh, good question. And one I don't have the answer to that handy, but we can MAFO that and ask Maria.
Everything I know about Aelfinn/Eelfinn questions/wishes will be in the encyclopedia.
How do Egwene, Nynaeve and Moiraine know Moridin's name? (Egwene mentions Moridin by name when talking to Rand at the meeting of the Field of Merrilor; Nynaeve and Moiraine each mention Moridin by name in respective POV while in Shayol Ghul.)
BWS paused for at least 10 seconds before answering. He said that he thought he remembered answering this question before and did not want to give me a misleading answer. BWS said Rand told each of the 3 women Moridin's name in an off-screen conversation.
I received a reply from Maria Simons regarding one of my previous questions:
I'm sorry to be so long in answering; it's been a busy week. But the answer to your question is that she (Moiraine) knew the face of her husband from a viewing of Min's.
For the record, I can only imagine how her schedule has gone since the AMoL release, and with Harriet joining in on the tour, so I don't consider a couple of days as long to respond at all. Like everyone else associated with The Wheel of Time, she rocks. And a long-standing question finally confirmed!
At this point, Brandon started signing my books. I recorded the conversation while he was doing it, so from here on out it's transcribed. I always ask for something unique, but this time around bossman insisted the HCFFs should ask for a unique personalization—probably because Brandalization kind of decreases the value of signed books!—so Brandon took it as a matter of course. I asked for Zombie's infamous love pentagram.
....you have to draw a pentagram....and then, you know, you can start with Moiraine on one tip, and then just follow it around, right?
Uh-huh. Okay, yeah, that is...I do remember that. Okay. So.... (draws two lines) Can I even draw a pentagram?
Now, they go up to the middle...
Yeah, now they go up like this...
...like that, and then across.
(laughs) Yes. It's perfect.
And then Thom...
No, nonononono! Because, like, Moiraine connects to Thom here...
Oh, it goes like that! I see what it is...
Right, right. Yeah.
And then Thom connects to...
Is this like the hook-up quadrilateral?
It's a love pentagram. (laughs)
Okay, and then Morgase is not going to be Tallanvor....
Morgase is going to be Gareth Bryne, and then Bryne is going to be Siuan....
Oh, Siuan and Moiraine, pillow-friends! Right, yeah....
...and then Siuan comes back to Moiraine! Yeah!
Yeah, yeah, okay.
It works perfectly.
Yeah, the Wheel of Time is basically one big hook-up chain. (laughter)
Well, I thought this was special, cause it's like...it's not a love triangle; it's a love pentagram.
Yeah, okay. Again, sorry for my handwriting.
And then you have to draw a heart.
(draws heart and sparklies)
(laughs) That's great. Now for the questions!
Alright, now for the questions.
Can you tell us one scene that RJ worked on outside of the prologue and epilogue?
Yes. He wrote Moiraine's dialogue at the, um....
...at the Merrilor meeting?
At the Merrilor meeting.
How come Lan couldn’t tell that Moiraine was alive, and with the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn? Because he felt the severing of the bond?
He did not have the bond any more. Since the bond was severed, he couldn't feel her any more.
But why would the bond be severed, she was still alive?
RJ says it is because she went to another dimension, and when that slice happened, it cut the bond. The bond couldn't function across the dimension there without some sort of connection there, without some sort of opening portal or something like that.
You were the person with the Moiraine question. RJ wrote in his notes that main purpose of Moiraine is to prevent a war between Rand and Egwene. And then she was to go with him into the Pit of Doom, but in the Pit of Doom there was nothing for her to do. And I felt bad about that, but that's what he instructed. It was hard to come up with stuff for everyone to have a part and a role. But I did what he instructed. It was a good question, people wondered. She did have an important role to play.
In book 6 or 7 when Moiraine gets thrown through the portal, was it RJ's plan to bring her back in Towers of Midnight?
Yes, he actually wrote most of the scenes that take place in the Tower of Ghenjei and afterwards.
From Freelancer again. Moiraine promised Thom to tell the names of the Red Aes Sedai (who gentled) Owyn. Does she ever do that?
Yes. It's not onscreen but it does happen.
And is there anybody in that list that we would be interested in?
I actually asked that question to Maria, and Maria said no.
Really what I said is, "Do we want to do this, is this relevant?" She said, "No I don't think this is relevant, and it's not worth jumping through hoops."
Because there is nothing there that's going to, yeah.
That was what came of it. Now whether that actually means, is there any name you'd recognize, you might recognize a name, but it wasn't relevant enough to jump through storytelling hoops to get that on screen, to bother with it.
I'm assuming research; I don't know.
My theory was always eavesdropping.
Oh yeah, that's another good possibility.
And that would be a reason why she tipped Sammael off to her presence.
How did she rediscover balefire? Assuming research again?
That question always comes up, about whether you can learn a weave by reading about it.
Yeah, I think it can help, and then you have to experiment and hope for the best.
So all the Forsaken pretty much ended up helping the Light win by accident. Is that the Pattern's design?
Well, this question is loaded with some issues. First off, there's the concept of the Pattern. Does it have a will? The Wheel does the weaving. The Pattern more IS...but some quotes in the books do ascribe small motives to it. This doesn't even get into the idea of whether what the characters believe is true or if it is simply their way of understanding.
Let's put it at this...Moiraine would say that the Wheel has woven what it Willed, and men beating against it only served to more surely enmesh them into their places.
When you took over writing the Wheel of Time series, was there anything that RJ had in his notes that just completely surprised you?
Hmm... The scene where Egwene gets a specific visitor in The Gathering Storm surprised me the most, I think. Also, at the end of Towers where Moiraine and Thom get engaged. I hadn't noticed how strong the clues about those two were.
There were three particular things that were quite a challenge in writing this last book. The first was how to use Rand fighting the Dark One in a way that would be interesting, visual, and powerful. The second was how to do the tactics of a large-scale battle. The final one had to do with Egwene.
In his notes, Robert Jordan was very specific about the fact that Rand and Egwene needed to almost come to blows in the lead-up to the Last Battle. He called it the grand union of the armies against Rand, whose decisions were considered too radical, too dangerous, to be allowed to proceed. Moiraine was to be the force that brought the two of them together, unifying the armies of light, cementing her importance—and showing why she needed to be rescued by Mat before the Last Battle. (There were a lot of instructions about what Moiraine was to say, and some good writing on that meeting at the Field of Merrilor.)
The burden upon me was to realistically bring Rand and Egwene to the point where the reader believed they'd fight one another—or at least go to the Last Battle separately, without cohesion—if Moiraine hadn't intervened. This was difficult. Having The Gathering Storm end on such a high note for Egwene left me struggling to figure out how, in Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light, to make her go at cross-purposes to Rand without alienating the reader from her viewpoints. I felt what she was doing was very realistic and in character for who she was, but I also knew that making the decisions she would make was going to cause some readers to be very annoyed with her.
In the end, I decided that the proper course was to let them be annoyed. The very same strength that had made Egwene shine in The Gathering Storm was also the strength that let her lead the Aes Sedai—of whom she had truly become one. The will of the Aes Sedai against the rest of the world is a major theme of the Wheel of Time, and say what you will of it, the theme is consistent—as are the characters. Egwene was at their head. Yes, I wanted her to be relatable, but I also wanted it clear that she was Aes Sedai, and she wasn't about to let someone else dominate the decisions on how to approach the Last Battle.
Also, there is an even greater oddity: travelers, a man and a woman. She goes veiled, and is dressed more richly (though not ornately) than anyone remembers seeing in Emond's Field before. He wears scale armor and carries a pair of swords (one long and one short), plus a third, longest of all, tied to his saddle. They arrive on the day of the beginning, causing great wonder, for the road from Emond's Field south leads only to Parry Coomb. They give no reason for their arrival, nor do they say how long they will stay. The woman's name is Moiraine, and the man is called Lan.
Nyneve is suspicious of them, but they offer to pay in gold, and that is reason enough in Owyn al'Vere's mind to allow them to stay. It is not that he is greedy, but few people come to rent rooms at the tavern. He sees no harm in them. He is a friendly man, always ready to see the best in anyone and often able to bring it out, even from those others thought had no good qualities at all. This is one of the reasons he was chosen Mayor.
Without delving too much into specifics, because I'm not sure exactly what's going to end up in the encyclopedia and what's going to end up in the notes, and things like this. Without going too much into specifics, for the Last Battle itself a lot of what Robert Jordan left me are concepts: concepts on this is how I want this to feel, the big crux of the Last Battle comes down to this question, this is where someone's crowning moment is—these sorts of emotions. It was like he was laying down the emotional beats, and the actual how to put it together—a lot of that was left in my hands. He did have some brainstorms on that, but some of those brainstorms were from years ago, before he wrote... For instance, I've mentioned before that there is a brainstorm we have on "here's how Rand is going to do it"—here's a brainstorm that Robert Jordan had left. But he'd written this brainstorm around book 7 or 6 or something, and it involved the Choedan Kal—both of them. And we're like, well he obviously threw that out the window and decided not to go with that. But some of these brainstorms that he'd had, we can say, oh this is the emotional resonance he's going for. Looking at the idea between we want to have the different powers work together, to work in this way from his brainstorm, even though we can't do it in the way that he was thinking of doing it ten years ago, we can still see the sort of thing that he was going for.
And the scene that Terez mentioned at the end mentions Rand's big revelation that needed to happen so that the last moments could occur—he's reflecting on that when he comes out. And so we knew this emotional resonance that Robert Jordan wanted. And we had all these sort of other things where he talks about just the feel he wants and things like this. And so a lot of the specifics—how to put these things together—were things that I pitched to Team Jordan to fit the framework of the notes, and then we tried out and saw if they worked. Which is kinda how you do writing, at least if you're an outliner like me. I pitch ideas at myself, I build an outline out of it, and I try it out and see if it works. And what ended up in the book are the things that did work. What didn't end up in the book are the things that didn't work. For instance, "River of Souls", which was in the (Unfettered) anthology, is one of the things I mentioned—that's the sort of thing that we tried that doesn't work. And the reason a lot of times that these things are being cut is because we are striving for that balance between "let's push the story in new and innovative ways" between "let's make sure we're not straying too far from Robert Jordan's vision". And something like "River of Souls" strayed too far, and also kind of was distracting from the main point of the book—there were two big reasons to cut that sequence. But you see us doing things like that, and so the ones we end up with... A lot of these things about the actual Last Battle are me looking to put together what I feel creates the emotional resonance and the plot structure that Robert Jordan wanted for this ending.
I've said before that the main bulk of the writing we had for this last book involved three main areas: the Epilogue, the scene at the Field of Merrilor where Moiraine shows up and things like this, and the scene at the beginning in the Town, the village in the Waste—what does he call it? Does he call it the Town? The Town is what he calls it. Yeah. And those are three places where we have kind of unchanged Robert Jordan writing. Granted, all through the books, each of the books, you'll find sprinklings where I'm able to use a paragraph or two, or a page, or something from his notes that spawns a chapter, but that's where we have untouched Robert Jordan writing in this last book—I think those are the three main places.