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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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Oh boy, you’re fishing for Nakomi!
No, actually I'm not; somebody else submitted that question.
Okay. I would have to have the timeline in front of me.
Yeah. I think they asked because there are certain contradictions in the timeline and that’s why...
Oh yeah. There’s a mistake in Mat’s timeline.
And that was in The Gathering Storm, right?
No, there’s a mistake in Towers of Midnight. Mat sees sunshine when he shouldn't, or vice-versa. The reason for that being, Mat's timeline was the big one we were playing with, and we were moving him through the book to different places to decide where various things were appropriate, and where we settled on, both Alan and Bob Kluttz—who are really detailed timeline people—both stamped this timeline and said 'There are no flaws in this except there is an error in The Gathering Storm', which we have now changed. But we let a typo creep through—that one was more of a typo because we moved a scene from some place to some place else—and so there is a cloud typo. It is recorded on Twitter—I don’t know if you saw it—where someone pointed it out to me and I said 'We will get that changed.' Maria now is aware of it.
If it was recently then I didn’t get it, because I’m behind.
Okay. But Bob Kluttz does have an official timeline...he was one of the beta readers. The betas have all kind of come out now. I didn’t want people being jealous of them before the book came out, but...
Too late. I already knew about Linda. And I was jealous.
Yeah. I went to Bob because Bob is a master of timeline—one of them; there are many out there—and Bob’s job was to keep me honest on the timeline, and he did a really fantastic job, but we did miss one typo at least.
No. Nice try! That's eliminating one theory, I'll give you that one.
Was Aviendha in Tel'aran'rhiod or in a mirror/portal world when she met Nakomi?
Is Nakomi Jenn Aiel?
[laughs and grins] I should RAFO that shouldn't I?
I'd appreciate it if you didn't.
[laughs] I want Nakomi....We're gonna RAFO that for now. Nakomi needs...there's gotta be a few things I don't answer. I'm so bad, I answer everything Robert Jordan put an answer [for, to?] [bunch of people laugh]. Track me down another time, after A Memory of Light is out.
To paraphrase, he stated that he wants to keep the specifics of what happened close to the chest for now, and that he has not decided whether he will address it in the next book.
The fact that Brandon may leave the identity of Nakomi unanswered makes me doubt that it was either Verin or one of the Forsaken. I am much more inclined to think that it was either a result of Aviendha camping next to a Portal Stone, or a "ghostly" encounter. As I told Brandon, I hope he leaves the issue unresolved. I like the sense of mystery behind this scene. :)
I asked Brandon about the chapter with Aviendha and Nakomi. I stated that it was a very striking encounter, and it reminded me thematically of the meeting with Tom Bombadil in Lord of the Rings, i.e., something mysterious an unexplained. I asked him if he would develop the encounter any further. He stated that he did not want to discuss the character any further at the moment, because he might explore the encounter in A Memory of Light. I told him that I hope he never explains Nakomi. ;)
Who was the Aiel woman that Aviendha met on her trip to Rhuidean?
Nakomi. Also, RAFO, there's a hint in A Memory of Light.
(Later in the evening, he said that hint can be found between the chapter "The Last Battle" and the end of the book. He also said she came from deep in Jordan's notes, and he did not feel like he could give more information than that. Also, she might be explained in the encyclopedia, but no promises regarding that.)
This Q&A was later clarified by a Twitter conversation in which Brandon said that something he found deep in RJ's notes made him include Nakomi. He refused to confirm that Nakomi actually was in the notes.
Why, her name is Nakomi. [laughter] Obviously.
That's an Aes Sedai answer.
Heh heh heh. [laughter, applause]
If you read online, there are many fan theories which may engage you. How about this, I’ll give you an official RAFO. There is at least one clue in this book.
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.
He didn't get a good look at her.
Understood, but if he had, would he have known her face?
I should RAFO that, but no. She wasn't Verin.
Oh, I never believed it could be Verin.
Then who do you think he would recognize?
A face from his visions in Rhuidean.
Aha, very subtle, I didn't see that coming. Still no.
So Nakomi (and we're sure it was Nakomi based on previous answers from Brandon who said Nakomi could be found near the end of A Memory of Light) is not one of the Jenn seen by Rand at the founding of Rhuidean. She could still be another of the Jenn. For others attending an upcoming signing, consider how to follow up on this question and try to get something useful.
I somehow ended up mentioning that I answered the trick trivia question on Nakomi, I told him I said my personal theory and that Brandon wasn't allowed to answer any questions about her.
He then asked what my theory was (-with an obvious poker face on-), I said that I found it obvious that Nakomi is the Creator (he goes mmmhmm). Then one of the Memory Keepers remarks "But Bela is the Creator!" to which I came up with the new theory that Nakomi is the Creator because Rand wouldn't be able to handle a talking horse.
Have we seen Nakomi in any other guise? Is she somebody we would know?
No, we haven't. Good question.
That's a good answer.
I can kill the Nakomi-Verin theory.
Yeah, well you already did that.
Yeah. I pay attention, you know.
Could you comment on the Aiel Wise woman that Aviendha met in Towers of Midnight?
I can give a comment, which is No Comment. That's one question that I am not answering because there are certain things in there that I don't think it's . . . I just don't want to answer that one, so I can't comment on that one. Sorry.
Chris Cottingham asked, Is Nakomi's dealing with the soup for Aviendha the same as Rand and the pipe?
What do you mean?
Is it the same power?
(Laughs) No, it is not. I'll go ahead and, wow, you actually managed to get a question out of me about Nakomi. No that is not the same.
(Brandon later said that he didn't know anything more than the fans do about the pipe.)
Is "Nakomi" from the Old Tongue, and is there a translation?
I'll go ahead and RAFO anything else dealing with Nakomi. You did get an answer out of me on one thing, so that's good.
Nakomi wandered in from the Song of Hiawatha.
There you go.
That's what we thought, yes.
Hey Brandon! I'm the redheaded dude who was helping at the last two Midnight Release parties, and I am actually at BYU right now. I have two questions:
I know you've said you can't answer these directly, so, rather than give the "official" answer, I was wondering if you could give us your "fan theory" on the answer, as if you weren't the writer.
What do you think about Mat, Rand, and Perrin keeping certain "abilities"? I know you've said that they may or may not still be ta'veren, and Perrin thinks they aren't, but can Perrin still talk to wolves? Is Mat still lucky? Does Mat still have his memories?
In your opinion, who do you think Nakomi was? Do you like the "Nakomi is the avatar of the Creator theory"? Do you think of her as the third member of the Christian godhead?
Finally, Harriet was quoted as saying that she thinks Rand's special ability at the end was a "new magic"? Do you agree? Or do you think it is something else?
Thanks for being awesome!
1. Perrin can still talk to wolves. That is certain. Also, Mat keeps his memories. These two are official, not theories on my part. What I can't give official on is the ta'veren-ness of the guys. I don't think RJ ever even says in the notes. Me? I think they aren't.
2. I'm too close to this one. I can't say, unfortunately. I can answer as a fan for things I don't know because it's not in the notes, or for things I could theorize about before I came onto the project. For things I learned about while working, I don't have a "fan" perspective, only a writer perspective. Sorry.
3. Harriet is more likely to be right than I am, but I don't believe it is a new magic. I think it is a result of Rand touching the Pattern directly.
Awesome! So, I'm still unsure about Mat's luck. Would you say that's part of his "ta'veren-ness?"
Thanks for the great answers. I'm more at peace now with some of the previous answers you've given.
My gut tells me Mat still has his luck, but not to the extent he once had. But I have no foundation for this in the notes.
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.
[RJ wrote the woman in the scene. I had to dig deep in the notes to figure out...] ...who this person is. It is something that I had to put together myself.
So you had to...you didn't change anything about that scene.
I don't believe that I changed anything about that scene. You will have to compare it to the original if that ever comes out in the notes—I don't know whether that's in the stuff that was released to the [library]—but I don't believe any changes were made except for perhaps proofreading and editing changes as we went through. The big changes I made to the epilogue were the addition of certain viewpoints, but were not changes to what was written. Some of these scenes we have in the epilogue were some of the cleanest scenes that we got. And sure, we had to clean them up in some ways, but I don't believe that scene had any major edits to it, but it's now been quite a long time since I worked on that scene, so take that with a caveat.
But that was one of those scenes, when I read it...now, you'll have to remember, it was 2007 when I went to Harriet's house and I got handed this stack of paper, and I sat down and I read it, and I started with that scene. That was the first thing that I read, because that was the completed—like, I wanted to read the ending, right? There was stuff written before that, but [...] the ending to me that I read started right with what you're talking about, that exact moment with him stumbling out, and the things that he's kind of mumbling, and the things that he's hearing and saying and stuff. But, you may have to—I honestly, it's so hard for me, some of these things, it's so hard for me to remember because we're going back seven years, where I started working on that outline, right after reading what he'd written—and started building it, and over the years, we get a lot of questions, was this you? was this him? I've forgotten. [laughter] Because...no, you have this whole thing and you're working on it for seven years, and what was him and what was me stopped really being that important when we're building the story. Granted, there are certain things we really wanted to preserve of his because we wanted the actual writing he completed, but you know, which themes, and which concepts—there are things where I'm like, "Oh!—I was looking back through my outline, and I'm like, "Oh, I put this in. Why did I put that in? Oh, it's because of this," and then I went back into his notes, "No wait, no he said to do that!" And he wrote that! And they blended together quite a bit. Like, that scene, over the years, I thought, "Oh, I added some stuff to that scene." And then I went back to the original when I was going to put it in, and lo and behold, I hadn't added anything to that scene, is my recollection. It was there, and I'm like, "Oh wait, no that was him, and that's what sparked me to do this other thing," which then, we turned into this other scene, and...but it gets really hard for me to parse without having, in front of me, to say, "Okay, did I change any words?" So...
What can you tell us about that woman?
That right there is one of the two main things which I have said I'm not going to say anything about. So I'm not answering...that's...that's one of the big...I feel that the notes indicated that this should be a mystery that he wanted to be left, and...things that...there are actually very few of those that we haven't said anything about, and I think this is the one that I'm just not gonna talk about. The other one of course is the pipe, and that's because we don't know. That...the woman you're talking about, I do know things about, but I'm just not...that's...you know, this is the mystery that he wanted us to have, and the pipe is another one. Those are the two big things I can't give you answers on, one because I won't, and one because...um, because I can't. The other thing I haven't been answering is I haven't been answering who made the decision on every specific character, who should live and who should die, and I don't think that focusing on that is really productive, and so I haven't been telling people who, except for one character [looks at Harriet; audience laughs] that I didn't want to die [awws], that Harriet decided needed to go, of the four-hoofed persuasion. [laughter] In general I just don't talk a lot about those, so I'll just give you a warning, those are things I'm not going to answer. I am pretty free about a lot of other things, but I don't answer those.