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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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Tiny spoilers follow.
This should be enough space.
When Fades use their swords, we often see blue flashes when the Fade blade hits another weapon. Is this an interaction between the Fade blade and a specific sort of weapon (such as other Fade blades, or Aes Sedai-forged swords), or an interaction between the Fade blade and any iron, or is it just a special effect with no special basis?
There is more to making the Myrddraal sword than simply quenching it in a living body. Though I am not going to go into details here, it must be a human body. Trollocs, for instance, though much easier to procure, would not work. I wonder what you would get using, say, rabbits? A blade that made your wounds break out in Easter eggs?
The piece in the game could be said to still be human—those pieces that came from humans, anyway; there were other sources too—though they are about the size of moderately large chess-pieces. They retain memories, souls, personalities, but they are part of the game now, permanently slaved to the game and part of it as surely as a cog in a clock is part of the clock. They have no personal volition, though they do have awareness. The only lives they can live are being used in the game. In the Age of Legends, these games were destroyed when found; the choice for the pieces was to remain part of the game or death, since removing them from the board/field meant death in any case. The game is all one, board and playing pieces together. And that is much as I will tell you of it. I don't want to give away what I might use later on, after all.
And for the final one, the requisite "dirty question." Compare the length of this answer to the length of the previous two. I think he LIKES dirty questions. *sniff*
WARNING—NOT FAMILY NEWSFROUP MATERIAL. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.
Where do Trollocs come from? Are there male and female Trollocs that mate? Are there only male Trollocs that mate with animals and/or humans to reproduce? Are Trollocs neuter, grown in a big vat at Shayol Ghul? Inquiring minds want to know!
You know the original source, of course...a blending of human and animal genetic material in an effort to produce the "perfect" soldier, though as envisioned by somebody who had never seen combat. Yes, there are female Trollocs, though you don't want to know more than that...there was a clear statement of this actually—that Trollocs breed—when where Myrddraal come from was explained. Sometimes a Trolloc off-spring is a throwback, but not all the way back to human, and twisted. Thus, eyeless but with keen vision, very strong indeed though not in Trolloc-class, able to vanish into shadows & reappear in other shadows.
There are no female Myrddraal; not even the laddie who made the Trollocs in the first place knew why...Myrddraal must have their "pleasures" with captured human women...there is no possibility of cross-breeding—it was tested, during the War of the Power, in the crudest sort of way; the Myrddraal isn't sterile, but its sperm kills both human and Trolloc ova—and the sex practices and other attributes of Myrddraal are such that a very strong woman might retain her sanity for six months, but very few do.
Also, there's another (non-FAQ-related) note concerning the pre-Bore Age of Legends...
RJ had mentioned (in response to another question) that what the characters believe does not make it so (Moiraine's statements were used as an example), so I asked whether the pre-Bore Age of Legends was the Utopia that the characters believed it to be. His reply is paraphrased below:
Compared to their current world, it certainly would be a utopia. However, that doesn't mean that it wasn't perfect. Of course, outbreaks of diseases were kept to a minimum, but it and other disasters of that ilk still occurred. Evil still existed, as well.
The Forsaken, for example, weren't exactly a stellar bunch to begin with. Semirhage, for example, was a sadist. (I'll skip his description of what a sadist is.) She went into her profession (the equivalent of a surgeon) because it provided an outlet for her sadism. (He then cited some studies that showed that there were more people with sadist tendencies in the medical profession, and surgeons in particular, to support his point.) Aginor (whom he said after some prompting had several elements of the classic mad scientist type) was a biological scientist who never considered the consequences of his actions. Aginor would say, "I wonder what would happen if I took the ebola virus and altered it to be an airborne virus." He'd go ahead and do just that, all without realizing he'd be creating a potentially unstoppable plague. All Aginor would reply to that was, "Hmm. Interesting." (Jordan then mentioned Aginor's creation of the Trollocs, their defects, "It was strong, big, tough to kill, and...... stupid," and that it was the birth of the first Myrddraal that saved the Trollocs from being a complete failure.)
Even back in the Age of Legends, regular, ordinary folks could do some pretty nasty things. He then cited a study about a small town of ordinary Germans in WWII who did some pretty horrific things (I believe he was referring to the book "Hitler's Willing Executioners").
(General summarization of the attack on Rand) Moridin is speaking to the Chosen. He’s kind of pissed. He’s saying look somebody, it was either Sammael or someone pretending to be Sammael, but it was definitely one of the Chosen. Is Moridin’s assumption/belief correct, that the only way for that to have occurred was for one of the Chosen to be involved?
Someone very high up would have to have been involved.
(Sorry Terez—made up these questions on the fly, so they weren’t very good, but it’s something to chew on. Next.)
At the Cincinnati signing I asked Brandon a question concerning our favorite killing machine!
I asked Brandon since Shadowspawn die when they go through gateways was the gholam dead, or is it a construct?
I didn't push that response because someone constantly being hunted would invariably have a moment where they were unawares so it was not really a limitation for the gholam to hunt channelers who can Travel.
An obvious RAFO would we be seeing this particular gholam again? I did not ask it though.
Okay! Alright! So Wetlander and people.
Yes...Are the impressive displays of power that Rand makes in Towers of Midnight (i.e., stopping the Trolloc army and having no concern over being able to leave the White Tower) a result of his integrated knowledge or his ta'veren nature?
Umm...Both, though, one thing you have to keep in mind, is...Rand, as a result of power level...Robert Jordan was specifically not using him very often because his power had grown so powerful even by the end of Knife of Dreams. I mean, you look at Knife of Dreams—if you go reread the fight in Knife of Dreams he is laying waste to nearly as many Trollocs as he has when he does the battle at the temple—which is not actually called that in the books—that's the one with the Trollocs and things [referencing Rand's big single-handed fight in Towers of Midnight]. And so...yes, some of these things have changed, but he's really powerful now.
Now, the thing about in the White Tower is something different. [Brandon smiles]
Umm...yes, you don't abandon it that easily, but, the other touch on Fain is far more dominant.
That would be Mordeth?
Is Fain still a Darkfriend?
I don't know if Fain counts as a Darkfriend anymore. I think Fain is his own faction.
How is Fain getting Trollocs and Myrddraal to follow him if he is not a Darkfriend?
He is using...other means...they aren't following him because he is a Darkfriend. Certainly not [he smiles a bit here].
Is Mat still attached in any way to Fain's dagger?
Read and Find out.
That is an awesome theory. No. But I am very glad you came up with it—it fits very neatly with how Sanderson would have done it. But still, no.
Can you tell me the actual cause for the difference?
Haha, no. RAFO.
Can you tell me what the Crossroads of Twilight superpack are hunting?
Ummm. No, I still might... it still might be in the books. So RAFO. But if it’s not in the books then it’s open for you all to ask again after A Memory of Light. But for now, RAFO.
He also got into his own approach to magic systems, which lead to questions about how much of a challenge he found the One Power and how he prepared himself to handle it (and yeah, he admits being a One Power fan). Brandon explained researching and analyzing the One Power was one of his main focuses during his pre-writing re-read of the series (the other was analyzing the characters' "voices". He also said RJ left a massive amount of notes about the One Power, some of it he's read (he couldn't read everything, he rather relied on Maria to find him the exact information he needed when he needed it). I think he's said that before—or RJ did—but RJ's notes for WOT are longer than the series itself and he always kept adding to them, from back story and history elements to world building tidbits to creating hundreds of characters he could use to sketches for possible scenes. It was Maria's job to index all of this so if he was writing a scene he wanted to use backstory elements or a new weave in, he could have her look first if this already existed in the notes and what of it had appeared in the series already—or if he didn't already have it and needed to create something from scratch.
Sanderson said he resisted creating new weaves (beside introducing those Jordan planned to introduce) for the most part. His contribution will rather be to have the characters figure out they can use weaves they know in new ways—turn them into weapon etc., and for this he looked for details in the previous books. He mentioned one specific example: after Knife of Dreams, he thought characters figured out gateways and deathgates can also be used to slice non-Shadowspawn up in battle.
We also discussed a bit the 21 levels list, which Brandon used a lot. Jordan did start it just the way he described it long ago, that is as a way to keep track of who defers to whom among minor players etc. However, as of now, this document's scope goes beyond this (and it's quite big). The document assigns a rank number to each Aes Sedai referring to the twenty-one levels system, and it lists their personal weaves if they have any, and who knows and have the skills to use which weave and to what extent, their strength in flows if details in the series have blocked this up etc. Brandon confirmed Jordan developed a similar ranking system for the Asha'man as well, but couldn't recall out of hand how many levels there were for them.
-first- Rumors: he said that rumors are just rumors. About Trolloc attacks, specifically, he said that "Trollocs have been attacking, or invading in various places for months" and that rumors abound in all sorts of forms about them.
With regard to the White Tower attack—I prompted this one a little, and he said that they are simply rumors which have coalesced from multiple rumors together, nothing related specifically to the real attack adding that "in the Wheel of Time rumors sometimes have a tendency to double back on themselves" turning into truth eventually.
As for the horse riding in Caemlyn, I asked him specifically about Rand seeing Mat and Thom on horses in Caemlyn, but Mat in Chapter 8 was not taking his horse into the city, and he responded by saying that Rand didn't see Mat in this specific scene and assured me that all that would work out in the rest of the book.
He did admit that there has been one "hitch" found in The Gathering Storm as per chronology that will be changed in upcoming editions. If I remember correctly he said Mat is roughly two weeks behind where he was meant to be and explained that Mat's position in time at the end of The Gathering Storm was supposed to be two weeks earlier than it was portrayed as being.
Well—this is something I'd like to understand better—and hear it verbatim. I'm not sure I understand what is being said by the reporter.
This means that something currently in The Gathering Storm needed to be retconned to get the timeline to work and will be changed in future editions of The Gathering Storm. Unfortunately, there wasn't time to get it changed in the paperback that's coming out this month. I'm guessing the change will affect only a sentence or two.
Retconning was a last resort that they really didn't want to have to take, but it was unavoidable.
Team Jordan has a very detailed chronology that looks in many respects similar to Steven Cooper's chronology, but Steven's is a bit off in a few areas. Certain beta readers helped verify it was nailed down.
And Terez: It doesn't have to do with Sulin. Actually, they decided Sulin needed to be retconned earlier. You can find out in the paperback of The Gathering Storm how that was worked out.
(from Drew Gillmore's report): Chris used his moment with the Creator to open himself up to a huge RAFO, but his question was answered. Chris asked if Moghedian had been raped by Shaidar Haran. The answer was "Yes, among other things."
Praise be to Jordan, allowing us to close out that question.
He also mentioned that Myrddraal aren't sterile, but that they would make a woman sterile.