Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
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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Tam "knows" that Rand is the Dragon Reborn. Jordan said that Tam has all the clues he needs to figure out that Rand is the Dragon Reborn. Whether or not Tam will admit it to himself is another matter. Jordan said that Tam merely finding Rand as a baby on the slopes of Dragonmount wasn't enough of a clue—even if Tam were familiar with that prophecy then, few people think about those things or expect them to happen literally to them—but that, plus the fact that Rand has disappeared off with Aes Sedai who say he's important, and the fact that the world is going crazy, should give Tam enough information to make the conclusion.
No, but let me give you an example of why. When I first thought I might have what would become the Wheel of Time ready, the character of Rand, who is about 19 years old, and his father Tam, were one character. A man who had run away from home as a boy of thirteen or fourteen, and in that sort of world that you can get if you've grown up on a farm. He began to work with horses among soldiers and then he became a soldier, and having spent twenty years of his life as a soldier, he's tired, and decides he wants to go home.
So a man in his middle thirties returns home to his village, and discovers that the place he returns to is not the place he left, and that he is not the young man who ran away, and on top of that the world and phrophecy were hard on his heels. It would have been a very different story than the one I wound up writing. I decided that I wanted to split them because I wanted the major characters to be Candides. I wanted them to look at fresh eyes...I wanted everything to be new.
I really like it. There's a tendency in [genre] fiction to ignore the boundaries of family. Telling a story, often, especially young-adult stories, want to take everyone away from their families, and to pretend they don't have families, so they can go on this adventure and not be constrained by family ties. It's this idea of escapism. Part of the realism for me in The Wheel of Time is that that doesn't happen to the characters. You follow different characters' parents and siblings, and it stretches across so many different types of lives and different social statuses, different cultures and countries that it feels very real, and it also feels very personal. Rand has a father. Granted, he's an adopted father, but Rand has a father and his relationship with his father is extremely important to him throughout the entire series. Even though we haven't seen Tam for a while, he doesn't just vanish as a character. Robert Jordan is very good about weaving people back in, and Tam goes and hangs out with Perrin and is working with him. There's a sense that they are real people because of their family relationships.
Having a son now myself, it makes me want to tell stories where you deal with family, because that's such a big part of all of our lives. It feels now awkward and strange to me that so many stories ignore this. It's become a cliché: the parents are either killed off at the end or at the beginning, or you go away and we don't bother about them or talk about them because they're boring, and the adventure is cool. That's not life.
Brandon said there was no way around this as they had to catch Perrin up. Then we asked if there was a chance of getting the last three books re-released with the chapters in chronological order. He said this might be possible as an e-book or maybe a rearranged audiobook. Only the chapter orders would be changed.
You couldn't fit it all in one published book and it would just be weird to have three separate volumes published again with the chapters in different orders. I could totally see an ebook or one huge rearranged audiobook though as something attractive and maybe not too costly to produce that some HCFFs like us would enjoy having.
Rand and Tam al’Thor originally started out as one character.
He is a man in his 30s from Emond’s Field in the present.
(Earlier, when his story ‘starts’) There isn’t much for a kid from a small village out wherever to do that does not involve backbreaking work. At about 15, he runs away to become a soldier (yes, a field that does involve backbreaking labor). After 20 years or so as a soldier, Rand/Tam wants to go home, but when he does, he realizes he’s no longer the boy that left that little village. “And prophecy is on his heels”. Maybe something of the sort will be done in a future series.
One of the things that...okay, blasphemy: I've only read through the series once.
At least you've read through it once...Jimmy.
Anyway, in some of these later books, one of the biggest issues that I had was when the timeline got fractured, and there was a period of time when I was fully convinced that there was a Darkfriend impersonating Tam. It just had me really confused. What lessons did you learn from that experience as you're gonna carry forward into your future writing?
The timeline fracture in Towers of Midnight came because of the book split, and what needed to go in one book, had to go in...you know, and things like that, and after the fact of releasing The Gathering Storm, we had Towers of Midnight sitting there, and I hadn't finished Towers of Midnight completely, I'd written like...I'd basically, when we split it, I'd written one...like, Perrin almost all the way through, but not other sequences all the way through and things, and we released The Gathering Storm, and we had to like fix things in The Gathering Storm, when we were getting in that, we realized, "Oh no..." I mean, the timeline is fine, but it means that Tam has to jump back in time. And this was going to be a bit of a challenge even if the book were whole, because Robert Jordan had them off of time with one another at the start of The Gathering Storm; Perrin was several months behind everyone else. And so, once you start bringing people back together, you either had to...we either had to do some things like walls fall on them, which was famously how Jim got Mat back in sync with everybody else, when he'd been behind, is a wall fell on him, and then he left him for several months for him to heal, and then we come back, and Mat's like, "Man, I hated having that wall fall on me!" (laughter)
"Good thing that was three months ago; I'm better now!"
Yeah. And that was the way that Robert Jordan, since people get off track from each other...some of the things you kind of have to do. I had to get Perrin stuck in the mud for a while. (laughter) Yeah. And this is just to get everyone synced up, and the Tam sync-up, as a writer, I think what I learned is, I think of timelines a little differently. Like I, being deep in the series and working on it, I knew where everyone was, and I'm like, "Everyone will know that we're flashing back to Perrin here." But of course not everyone knows that; they're not all following the timeline; they don't know that we're starting this book two months before The Gathering Storm ended, so to bring them back on track, that's why Tam ended up in two places at once, because he wasn't in two places at once; they were off track from one another, time-wise. And I guess I would just take more consideration of the fact that not everyone is steeped in the timelines like I am, and knowing where everyone is, and things like that, and I would have tried to find a better cue for the fact that we've jumped backward in time.
"Three months earlier..."
Yes. "Three months ago..."
"...back when dinosaurs ruled the earth..."
Did Brandon insert a character in the story based on himself?
No. He did however mention two items, one for Robert Jordan, one for him. In the ter'angreal cache found in Ebou Dar, there is a man with a beard statue. The power of the item is to be like an easily movable library. [MY NOTE: We see this in A Memory of Light.] This was Robert Jordan. Brandon then told the story of how he got his sword, with the dragon scabbard, while in Mr. Jordan's home in South Carolina, and meeting with Wilson. That sword appears in the book, and is the one which Rand gives to Tam in A Memory of Light. So Brandon's sword is in the book, but not Brandon himself.
RJ referred to his appearance in the form of the bearded man ter'angreal as his "Alfred Hitchcock moment". Aviendha first discovered the use of the bearded man ter'angreal in Knife of Dreams 15. Brandon's sword appears in A Memory of Light 15.
Will you confirm now that Rand's sword (received in The Gathering Storm, given to Tam in A Memory of Light) is Hawkwing's sword Justice?
"Yes, I can now confirm that. It's also my sword." (But in-world, it's Justice.)
(Possible follow-on question, if anyone is interested: Is there a backstory on it, e.g. the theory that Hawkwing took it from Guaire Amalasan? What about the idea that it came from the War of Power and was Lews Therin's own sword then?)
Hello, Mr. Sanderson. This may sound like a strange question, but in Russian WoT-fandom we have a lot of heated debates about it. Some people think "Rand trying to kill Tam"—is part of Cadsuane's Plan. So, [was the] meeting with Tam in tGS:47 planned to "soften" Rand or to purposely provoke him (by mention of Cadsuane's name) and cause emotional outburst that had led him to catharsis after all?
Cadsuane did not expect what happened to happen.
I have a fondness for Aviendha, my personal favorite of the female leads in the Wheel of Time. (My favorite among the male leads is Perrin.) I wanted to see a return of Avi in the last books, as I felt we just hadn't had enough of her lately. I also have an interesting relationship with Nynaeve, a character who I (as a young man) resented. My opinion of her is the one that grew the most during the course of my reading as just a fan, and by Knife of Dreams I absolutely loved her. I knew that with all of the crowding in the last books, she actually wouldn't have a large part to play in the Last Battle. (Very few would be able to do so, beyond Rand/Egwene/Perrin/Mat.) Therefore, it was important to me to give her a solid and interesting sequence of scenes through both The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight. Her raising was not instructed by the notes, but was something I was insistent be in the books. (And along those lines, one thing Harriet insisted happen—and I was all too ready to oblige—was a meeting between Rand and his father.)
To be continued.