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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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There are definitely time constraints on the Dark One's power to transmigrate a soul. The soul doesn't have to be secured immediately—that is, the Dark One doesn't have to be ready to snatch the soul at the instant of death—but the longer that passes after the death, the less chance that the Dark One will be able to secure the soul. Someone who has been killed with balefire in actuality died before the apparent time of his or her death, and thus the window of opportunity for the Dark One to secure that soul for transmigration is gone before the Dark One can know that the soul must be secured unless the amount of balefire used is very small. Remember that the more balefire is used, the further back the target's thread is burned out of the Pattern.
After the soul is secured, then a suitable body must be acquired and stripped of the (former) owner's memory and soul to make way for the favored one. By the way, what constitutes a suitable body from the Dark One's perspective is not that of the recipient. Certainly Aginor would never have chosen to be reincarnated in his, shall we say, less than imposing body, nor would the womanizing Balthamel have chosen to be reincarnated as a beautiful woman. It was only chance that Moridin ended up in a body that is young, fairly good looking and physically imposing. Those things simply don't matter to the Dark One. But the body has to be basically healthy and sound, and neither too young nor too old. After all, the Dark One wants his servants to be effective, and a body that meets those basic requirements is more desirable than one that doesn't. Since there is no stockpile of such bodies, the only way for someone to die and immediately be reincarnated would be a matter of pure chance. That is, the death occurred when a suitable body was on hand for some other reason.
There are a few other limits and constraints, but I won't go into them here, since I may want to use them in the books, and I would rather they come as a surprise if I do.
Semirhage was present at Shadar Logoth, though not seen. You didn't see Graendal, either, though admittedly Moghedien thought of her, thinking it would be good if she or Cyndane died. If I always tried to show everyone who was present at a battle or the like, the books would be a LOT longer than they are now. And those battles would get rather boring, a list of names. Go down the checklist and make sure everyone gets mentioned. Boring. Anyway, Mesaana was the only one who tried to sit it out. By the way, Moridin also was not present, for reasons that will become self-evident as you read on.
By the by, Rand and his companions very likely would have been killed or captured if the Forsaken were not who they are, if they had been willing to form links and coordinate their attacks. But they suffer from a combination of arrogance toward the "ignorant peasants" of the current Age and distrust of one another. Forming a link is all very well, but who leads? Which of them would be willing to give up control over their own ability and put it completely under the control of another of them? Who are you willing to let get behind your back in a fight? Moghedien? Semirhage? I didn't think so.
Ye means "I." He is "sin," she is "sar," you is "asa," and it is "aso."
One of the difficulties is context and flexibility: for example, al can mean "the" or "of the." The word cuebiyar can mean simply "heart," or "my heart," or when capitalized, "the heart" as in the heart of a people or nation. The word moridin means "grave" or "tomb," but when capitalized it means "the grave," standing for "death." It is intended to be a language of subtlety, where the meanings of words can change to a great extent according to context. Remember Moiraine's comments on the difficulty of translation.
The Fourth Age titles are not Old Tongue, though influenced by it. Some common names are from the Old Tongue, and some aren't. Sorry I can't go into more detail, but we're talking a treatise.
Well. I am going to have to cut this off, now. Thanks for writing. Keep me posted on your deductions. One of these days, maybe I'll have time to give congratulations on the hits and point out the misses. One clue to some: sometimes when words are combined and the end of the first word is the same as the beginning of the second, they overlap.
With best wishes, I am,
And now, just for fun:
Who's nastier: Moridin, or Padan Fain?
From Knife of Dreams Chapter 21, "Within the Stone":
The face of the man from Shadar Logoth floated in his head for a moment. He looked furious. And near to sicking up.
There was some confusion about Rand and the Dark One’s permission, so for clarification’s sake, did Rand have the Dark One’s permission to use the True Power?
I have not answered that. If anyone says that I have, I have not. What I have said specifically is, this is recording: generally one must have the Dark One’s permission to use the True Power. Semirhage believed that the Dark One had betrayed her by letting Rand use it. [...] It is good that you have asked this so I can make sure on the record that is the answer I have given.
Lastly I want to mention that in general conversation at the end, Brandon was very careful to state that we cannot assume that Rand drew the True Power through the link with Moridin; nor may we assume the opposite. (In other words, we're not supposed to have enough evidence yet to draw a conclusion.)
Furthermore, it seemed that he wanted to make it clear that we cannot discount the idea that the Dark One did indeed "set up" Semirhage (pretty much per Isilel's scenario). I'm not saying he's telling us that that is what happened, but he was almost insistent that we did not close the door on that line of speculation. Take it for what you will.
It's very difficult (but not impossible) to channel the True Power without the Dark One's direct permission.
This led to lots of discussion about the whole Semirhage death scene. Basically, she felt betrayed by the Dark One, and Brandon says she's a very astute person. Brandon also said that Moridin and the Dark One are on the same page with most things, and that Moridin is the most trustworthy Forsaken for the Dark One.
No one may channel the True Power without the Dark One's permission, and Rand doesn't have that.
This answer was challenged by another person who was at the Q&A, though Freelancer said later his question was asked at the signing table. Link broken.
I was at that signing, I was literally right next to Brandon as he answered this question, and that is far from his exact wording.
The response was more accurately something like: So far as we know, no one may channel the True Power without the Dark One's permission. Semirhage certainly seemed to think she was betrayed.
There was never a comment about Rand not having permission.
After this came to light, Matt Hatch asked Brandon about it, and he said that he never said Rand didn't have permission. Later I asked him if one normally has to visit Shayol Ghul to get permission, and he said yes. Freelancer responded thus:
Brandon's later answer has to take precedence. He says that he didn't specify directly whether Rand did or did not have the Dark One's permission. That is what everyone must operate by, as his word is now canon. That does not change what I wrote down as my questions were being answered.
As to Writo's comments, I can only offer this. The comment by Brandon about Semirhage believing she had been betrayed was definitely in response to someone else's question. It did not come up with mine, but I do remember hearing it.
I did mean Dreamers. People have been trying to pin me down on that one.
Yeah, everybody has been like convinced that you were just confused...
...that I was just confused. No. I meant Dreamers. I DID INDEED MEAN DREAMERS.
I know you did, but...just verifying.
Yeah. And I’m like 95% on that one. We’ll put an asterisk on it. I actually sent Maria deeper into the notes, but I know at least one is, and I’m pretty sure one of each gender is.
I believe Moridin was...okay, in The Gathering Storm, he was in his own dream. He at least believes he was in his own dream, and he is usually right on things like that. And in The Eye of the World, he...I believe it was their dreams that he was controlling. But...
That's difficult to do.
That's very difficult to do....so I could be wrong on that. It's easier to pull someone into your own dreams, but it's easier to influence multiple dreams from the outside. So...does that make sense?
So, since he's doing it to all three of them, that makes me believe he was actually controlling their dreams. I'm pretty sure on that one, Terez. [Cut discussion of the pronunciation of Terez.] I could be wrong...but my understanding of the mechanics is that since they're all dreaming the same thing, that it's external, much as a lot of the Forsaken have been not warding their dreams through the early parts of the books, and causing people to dream lots of weird things, and share dreams. Ishamael was doing that intentionally...doing something similar. Does that make sense?
Right, and it also has to do with his ability to find ta'veren.
In my reread I noticed in A Crown of Swords Chapter 10, "Unseen Eyes", that Egwene says it's possible for a Dreamer to pull someone out of their dreams into a dream of her own making in Tel'aran'rhiod; this is something the Wise Ones won't do, but Ishamael wouldn't have a problem with it; I had forgotten that detail for some reason, and the Moridin dream confused the issue. It can be assumed that Lanfear did the same thing; Moghedien has shown no sign of having the ability (or perhaps the desire) to reach others' dreams, but she can trap Dreamwalkers in their own dreams in Tel'aran'rhiod. Aran'gar can do it weakly, and then only if she is sleeping right next to the person. Brandon has a point about the fact that all three of them dreamed the same dream apparently at once, but in once instance, after Perrin found the wolves, it seemed to Rand and Mat that they fell asleep, had the dream, and immediately woke up, when Moiraine says they were asleep for four hours.
(pause) I'm a little bit out on a limb on this one, but I don't believe he was. We have seen places where Rand manifests in Tel'aran'rhiod when he's in the real world, and this is something that happens with Rand that we haven't seen with other people...
Are you talking about like when...
Well, there's the Perrin sequence, for one...
Right, and when Ishamael visits him in The Great Hunt...
So, I believe Rand has got something a little unique going on there...
Oh, okay. That's interesting.
...but, I'm a little on a limb on that one.
Um...(pause) Yes. I see what you're fishing for there.
Well, I mean...obviously. I didn't think I would slip that one past you.
I was mainly following up on Freelancer's question. Despite the confusion, most fans believe that Rand accessed the True Power through his link with Moridin (and most also believe the Dark One is okay with this, despite not having granted explicit permission). Brandon's answer to Freelancer seemed to confirm that, but then Brandon denied he had actually said that.
Um...I have to have the list in front of me for that one.
I really want to just post that for people, because so many people ask about it...
Right, they're like really obsessed with it at rafo.com....
Yeah, they're very obsessed with it, and the thing is, a lot of them are really close, and so it's a matter of a few points on Jim's scale...
Yeah, I figured, like what you were saying earlier about how they were Chosen because their talents...
...obviously they're all within...
...yeah. They're all awesome. And so, you know, you couldn't be a Forsaken simply for being awesome in the Power. It's like you had to be awesome at the Power, and be awesome at other stuff.
Well, I mean...that's what they said about Balthamel, that that was the only reason he was one of them, was that he was so strong...
But, you know, obviously there was something else going on there...
Yeah. [I think he was already looking at the next (last) question at this point because we were nearing the airport terminal.]
Next, I believe, was the aforementioned big mouth. In the interests of not getting banned, we will simply call him Cranially Undernourished Bozo. He was asking something about Ishamael and about him being the only one to use the True Power therefore he is Mordin. RJ started explaining that he didn't necessarily have to be Mordin to which CUB declared that he was avoiding the question. RJ then gives a complicated explanation about the Watcher watching the events unfurling (this is all from memory and unfortunately I can't remember everything) which ended in a question if that is what he meant. CUB with a confused look on his face was obviously in over his head, and started planning how he could become a bigger nuisance.
And now, just for fun:
Who's nastier: Moridin, or Padan Fain?
Brandon looked a bit uncomfortable/hesitant answering this one. Not sure I should have warned him it was a Terez one, but he answered all the same. Theories, anyone? ALSO: Followup question asked Sun 22. Can someone ask how the stone got there? Was it dragged by teams to where it was safe to gateway?
This question was also asked by another person. I was going to ask about the stone that Taim used as his podium, a symbol of his office, beginning in Lord of Chaos, but I figured the description was too complicated for a question I had to pass on to be asked by someone else. I was thinking everything at the Black Tower was made with that same rock, so I said to ask about Taim's palace. Turns out only the walls are made out of that rock, and the original podium is still used as a podium in the palace. The palace is white marble, though it has black stone columns. Brandon probably knew the walls were made out of Shayol Ghul rock, and assumed I knew what I was talking about with the palace. (I didn't.) I didn't expect him to answer the question with a 'yes', or I might have put more effort into looking it up first. So we can probably assume that the podium and the walls are made of Shayol Ghul rock, and possibly also Moridin's Blightfortress and the Towers of Midnight in Imfaral. The significance is probably mostly symbolic, like the red-and-black floor tiles in Taim's palace.
Well... (This is not quite verbatim.) You have to be human of course, and all the other things as with the One Power. I don't believe so, but I am not sure. (Don't take this last sentence as gospel as I may not recall it correctly.)
I think we need to clarify what sort of conditions so he can say yes or no to them. Maybe MAFO?
Rand didn't think he deserved the third name.
But Elan Morin were his two names, like Lews Therin. Tedronai was his third name.
Speaking as Rand does was an intentional insult, as per my understanding via the notes.
I saw it as a familiarity, since he calls Ilyena by her first name only. Well, so does everyone...(she has three).
I view it this way, but it might be colored by my own personal experience. In Korea, using a very familial tone...
...is either endearing or incredibly offensive, depending on your relationship to the person. That's how I see it here.
At times, honestly, I don't know if Rand is intending insult or familiarity—perhaps both.
I have been advised to RAFO questions regarding most everything from there on.
It's funny to say RAFO when there is no more to read, but what that term means is "This is supposed to be ambiguous."
With all of the homages to global myths/legends, is Nakomi the Wandering Jew/Jenn?
That's a very clever question that nobody has yet asked me. I'm not going to say more, however.
I gotta ask, is Nakomi / the Woman at the End a Shard of Adonalsium? Perhaps Balance?
No. There is not crossover between my shared world and the Wheel of Time. (Sorry.)
Who helped Rand out of the Shayol Ghul after the fight with the Dark One and told him he knew what he needed to do?
Hi, Neth. This is one I'm not answering, but if you track me down in person, you might be able to beat it out of me.
Is Nakomi the avatar of the Creator?
SIFADFOE (Scream In Frustration And Don't Find Out, Ever) :-)
Yay, that means I can officially not give a shit about Nakomi. :)
You are allowed that right officially. She's becoming the Asmodean kill of this sequence of books.
I, of course, should have realized she'd become so big a thing as she did—but that wasn't the intention.
I want to know what the heck was with Nakomi—who/what she is. Also was that her at the end of A Memory of Light?
Just answered this. Have a look below. (Sorry. It's a RAFO, I'm afraid.)
Who/What is Nakomi?
That is a good question, but not one I'm planning to answer any time soon. (sorry.)
Who was Nakomi? How did the body swap happen? How did Rand light the pipe?
You've asked all three of the big questions I'm not allowed or unable to answer, I'm afraid.
Who was the old Aiel lady at the end of Rand's battle?
Is Nakomi the person that Rand encountered at the mouth of Shayol Ghul? And is she the embodiment of The Creator?
This is one that I'm not answering, I'm afraid. RJ wanted some things about the ending to remain ambiguous.
There are far more reasons, worldbuilding wise, to believe it was real than to believe it was illusion.
Is Rand's soul in Moridin's body?
Ha. Right to the point, are you? Let's just say that trickery is not likely in this case.
Can you confirm that Rand's body was burned at the end of A Memory of Light?
Okay, fine. Yes, I will confirm that Rand's body was indeed the one that was burned. :)
Why didn't anybody notice when a supposedly-dead Moridin got up and walked away?
I'd say coincidence. But there aren't many of those in the WoT world.
Seems like a conversation between the Creator and Rand was missing where "switch" and Alivia's role in it are laid out—thoughts?
I believe that RJ included everything he wanted in this sequence.
Why did Rand switch bodies at the end and why is he going incognito now? Did not understand that part.
RJ wrote these scenes, and intended to leave them as is. I don't think me delving into explanations is what he'd want.
Did the bonding between Rand, Nynaeve, Elayne, and Min transfer over to the new body?
Yes, though I don't know how or why.
Why did the bond survive the body switch at the end of A Memory of Light?
I don't know. RJ did not explain this one to me.
How were Rand/Elan able to switch bodies?
How did Rand wind up with Moridin's body?
Could you explain further about the body switch and how it was possible?
This is one that I'm not answering, I'm afraid. RJ wanted some things about the ending to remain ambiguous.
Sanderson said that no he did not get his wish.
I asked if Moridin had been on Dragonmount and had the opportunity that Rand had to end it all, would he.
Sanderson said yes he would have.
Can you shed any light on how the Rand/Elan body swap happened? I'm wondering whether it was like the Dark One's transmigration of souls, if it's tied to Rand's apparent new abilities, or something else.
It's not outlined in the notes, but I think of it as the soul that wanted to live found a body, and the one that wanted to die, did.
I knew going in that Brandon has said RJ didn't explain how it happened, but a friend wanted me to ask and I'm glad I did! It was a much better answer than the shoulder shrug I expected based on the torchat.
Speaking of torchat, I noticed Brandon told someone that if they ask him on a tour stop, he might tell them who it was that helped Rand out of the cave. I'd be interested in knowing that and I would have asked that too if I'd remembered.
A fan asked him if Alivia's role in the epilogue was her fulfillment of Min's viewing and he said that it was very clear that that was all that that viewing meant. He said that fans are speculating that she played a part in the body swap but she did not.
Brandon went in to little detail about the body swap, saying he knows as much about it as we do and the notes just didn't give more. He asserted that he has to do with the balefire streams touching and the fact that Moridin no longer wanted to continue to exist but that Rand very much wanted to continue to exist.
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.
And the decision to exchange the bodies at the end?
That was his (Robert Jordan). And it began with the crossing of the balefire streams, way back when, and continued on through the series up to here. He actually wrote those scenes at the end himself.
Is the Town, the only human settlement in the Blight?
I believe so.
And was the Town the same cluster of building that was seen by Graendal in Towers of Midnight from Moridin's...
Do we know what Moridin was doing in the Town?
Umm, Define we.
Will we know what Moridin was doing in the town?
That depends on how good you are at guessing.
I think he was building a new Westin Hotel.
Sounds reasonable to me.
No, I don't mind at all.
The group that I'm a part of on Facebook has a list going of things we want to ask you.
So I'm trying to ask one that's not gonna get a Read And Find Out.
Do the women in Randland shave?
[Laughter] Wow, I've never been asked that. Oh wow, I don't know. I honestly don't know.
It's been bothering me since I started the series.
Wow. That's an excellent question. Ask Maria, she might actually know. That's the sort of thing that's probably buried in the notes somewhere. You can ask another one since I didn't know. You can go down a few and if I have to RAFO, then I will but is there another one you can ask that might get an answer?
Maybe, you're going to have to forgive me if I mispronounce...
That's all right.
What did Moridin mean by the Fisher King being a dim remnant of a memory of Rand al'Thor?
There are lots of ways to interpret that I will give you one interpretation. And that is that it is a memory from the last time that Rand al'Thor did what he did. And that those stories were passed on and passed on and so now he is following legends about himself. Does that make sense?
We had some discussion about whether or not the scene in AMOL in which Rand thinks Roedran is Demandred was intended as a bit of a dig at all the fan theories assuming that to be true. Or was Rand really just supposed to be convinced of that same theory? (And how did Shara never occur to anyone in the books?)
Balefire question: If balefire isn't tearing someone's soul out of the pattern, why is it so destructive? Why, in AMOL is it literally tearing the world apart when Darkfriends are using it?
Thanks! I will try and remember to ask more questions on 15 April!
1. The item you discuss was not intended as a dig against fans. You could read it, potentially, as an acknowledgement of fans—though really, all it comes from is the fact that you have a fan writing these books. I'm aware of many of the theories, and even spent years thinking about them and talking of them. In constructing this scene, it was my impression that if we'd spent all of this time working on these theories, how much more effort would those in world have expended?
And so, my impression was that this would be genuinely what the character thought. I thought it would be very strange if he HADN'T considered it. Therefore, I put a note of it in the text—to indicate that the characters had been working through these same issues, and come to some of the same conclusions. It wasn't meant to break the fourth wall, though I can see how it stands out to some readers.
2. I was under the impression that to be killed by balefire meant dying forever. However, Maria and the notes showed me I was wrong about this fact. Balefire does weaken the Pattern, but it can't destroy souls, which are (you might say) the substance of the Pattern. Just like you can take a hammer to a cup and shatter it, but the pieces of glass will still be there. The Pattern can (theoretically) be unraveled, the world end, but the souls still exist.
It should be note that Moridin believed strongly that the soul CAN be ended by other means, and the implication of wolves (at least) being killed with no rebirth means it can happen.
So, in final answer to your question, it is so destructive because it leaves the Pattern in a mess, strained, and more easily subjected to the Dark One's will. His goal is to shatter the cup, so to speak, and then rebuilt it into a cup more to his liking.
Oh man, I am so happy (a) that you answered my questions and (b) that you answered them well. Thank you for all you've done with the series, Brandon!
(I pointed out the Demandred scene because it is fun on all of those levels. I've thought about the "fourth wall" comment and it doesn't make sense; there's no moment where Rand looks at us. Just at Roedran, in a way that actually is entirely sensical.)
And so, my impression was that this would be genuinely what the character thought.
This was a bit jarring for me, because most of the reasons for the Demandred=Roedran theory came from hints given by Robert Jordan, that Rand wouldn't have access to.
Ah, but Rand would have a whole LOT of information in-world that we don't have. Spy reports, rumors, his knowledge of how the Forsaken like to work. If you remove the places where one of the Forsaken had already set up shop, remove the monarchs that Rand has already met and interacted with, and look for a place that has been suspiciously quiet, you end up with very few options.
One of which just happens to be as we now know Shara.
It's funny, it was an RJ quote that pushed people away from that particular theory. It turned out to be an extremely Aes Sedai answer.
I would love to read that quote.
And of course RJ would give Aes Sedai answers. That makes a lot of sense.
I'll try to find it, but he basically said that we'd never see Shara "on-screen".
Oh right! Yeah. That's a very Aes Sedai answer. Heh. 'You'll never see their country, but they'll see ours!'
While Brandon was signing my book(s) I asked him about Alivia and if she had a role in the body swap. I assumed it was Nakomi but the others I was reading the book with all decided it HAD to be Alivia and that's how she fulfilled Min's viewing.
Brandon confirmed that Alivia had NOTHING to do with the body swap but wouldn't go into it further.
Nothing is popping up man, but what did you ask? We had someone actually ask who killed Asmodean, literally THE ENTIRE CROWD booed this guy. Alivia helped him die by disappearing. It was quite anticlimactic.
Huh, not sure why the spoiler isn't working right. Anyways, I was having a debate with the 5 other people I'd been reading with and felt like I was taking crazy pills—all the others thought Alivia is the one who found Rand outside Shayol Ghul after the battle and did the swap. I asked Brandon to confirm that it wasn't Alivia and was in fact Nakomi and he said he wouldn't answer anything about Nakomi, but vehemently denied Alivia had anything to do with the swap.
The body swap was a result of the crossed balefire stream.
Sure, it's clear that was what triggered the whole event but the end of A Memory of Light heavily implies that the woman outside Shayol Ghul finalized the deal. I'd assume that was Nakomi.
Anyways, BS has made it clear he can't/won't answer any questions about Nakomi so I was just hoping for a solid confirmation that Alivia wasn't involved in anything at Shayol Ghul, and he confirmed that. That was good enough for me.
Ohhhh you're talking the old woman in the tent with Alivia? I'm almost positive it was Caddy and Alivia was referring to her as an old woman. You're talking about "The wise ones and the old woman with them" line correct? It's not Verin, we know that much. Nakomi, I'm convinced is no one, and everyone is just assuming there's something special about her. Though I found that old woman line suspicious.
Nah, I'm talking about the first page of the epilogue—892. The figure outside Shayol Ghul that says "Yes, that's good. That is what you need to do" as he brings Moridin's body out. For some reason a fair amount of people I've talked too (including the group I read with) thought that was Alivia, since it's suggested this person starts the body swap at that point (or finishes it I suppose). BS confirmed it was NOT Alivia though. I assume it's Nakomi. Who Nakomi actually is is an entirely different story.
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.