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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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We're told throughout the books that the male channelers get goose bumps whenever the females are channeling or embracing the source. However, it is continuously mentioned that the women don't know if the male Asha'man and Rand are embracing or channeling saidin. So how does the Red Ajah and Cadsuane, find male channelers and then gentle them?
There are various ways that the effects of male channeling can be found, weaves that find the resonance of the residues of saidin. Check in Crossroads of Twilight. They do not detect the actual weaves, though, only the residues left after the weave is released. After that, it becomes a matter of detective work. Though perhaps stalking a leopard might be a better metaphor. As for Cadsuane, she has a few more tools at her disposal than other Aes Sedai, the reason for her extremely high success rate. Check Winter's Heart, and a few earlier mentions, for this one.
Heya. So. Kind of harsh question—you are reported to have inferred recently that the Black Ajah and Nynaeve etc. ability to...
...to be solid and channel properly during the Dream Battle in Towers of Midnight has an explanation. Is this true? I struggle...
... to believe that given the text and my communications with Maria, and was wondering if it was misquoted?
Aight. Literally as I posted the above to Brandon, Maria replied with that this whole issue is a Read and Find Out issue. I'm a douche.
Did anyone check out the ebook to see if any changes have been made to that scene?
Don't think so... been chatting with Maria about it and she's not indicated any changes.
Look for an email soon; there were changes. I'm having a difficult day; I didn't think that you might not have seen an ebook.
The differences were found and posted at Theoryland.
I found the bit with Luckers after I'd done the 2011 Tweets. By date, it fits here best, but the context is not necessarily significant; I can't insert entries anywhere but at the end of an 'interview' page, but I can edit previous entries, so here it is.
Why did Mat think that someone was "holding" the True Source when his medallion grew cold? (That is I thought it only did this when he came in contact with an actual flow. This occurred on page 595 of A Crown of Swords, for reference.)
I'm going to quote the whole response again.
I asked at the signing on Saturday. The exchange went something like this:
What happened with Elayne and that warm ter'angreal?
The places that novices visit while testing for Accepted are other realities, but it's not quite that simple. Anyone being tested is merely a visitor, or rider, on whoever she is in that world. Some of those who have not come back have died, and some have become absorbed in the different reality, but that is not to say that they are still alive in any sense that we would recognize. You really don't want to stay in the other reality, no matter how terrific it might seem.
[Verbatim. Everything he said about the Accepted test ter'angreal.]
No the...well, I am not going to say where they are for the tests for Accepted, that might be a RAFO, probably not, but it might be.
For the test for Aes Sedai, they are in effect inside what you might call an uber-virtual reality device where what happens is entirely controlled in this case by the sisters controlling the device, but it is a virtual reality that is so terrific that it is reality for you. You die, you are dead. No game over, start again. You are dead.
For Krassos, yes, a channeler could still channel wearing Mat's amulet. Cadsuane has one much like it. And I think that I will complete "Trust" eventually. I think about doing so every now and then.
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.
RAFO, but I will tell you something about the Horn. People always ask why the inscription on the Horn is in the Old Tongue, if it's so old. It was added in the Age of Legends.
It should also be noted that, when a panel moderator asked the audience if we wanted to see the Heroes of the Horn come back before the end, Maria raised her hand high.
As far as I know, no. That's an 80%.
The question they should be asking is could Perrin (be taught to find dreams)?
Verin makes many statements throughout the books that are suspect now that we know she was not bound by the Oaths. In regards to the ter'angreal dream ring, Verin tells Egwene, "I tried it myself, once, some years ago. Anaiya's Healing did not work as well as it should have. Remember that."
During the time Verin gave Egwene the ring she mentioned going to Anaiya to be healed. She didn't go to a Yellow for Healing—does Verin hold something over Anaiya? Were they pillow friends? Or was this simply a case of asking a friend to do a minor healing because she knew she would keep it quiet?
Oh yeah, I also asked about the Tel'aran'rhiod fight (that was actually during the walk to the restaurant) and if the Black Ajah shouldn't have been more blurred out. See discussion at Readandfindout.com.
(long silence) I believe...I'll give you a percentage on these. If I say, "I believe", it means, "this is my understanding, but, um..."
Right, the asterisk.
There's an asterisk on it. And most of my understanding is informed by the notes and what I've read, but I often get things mixed up. So, I'm going to say on a 75% surety, not everybody can be trained to enter without a ter'angreal eventually, and some talent is required, but there are some who can...there is a middle ground between, for instance, Egwene, and somebody who can't at all.
Like Aran'gar, who obviously has hardly any talent at all, but she can get into people's dreams.
Yeah. So, there is a middle ground. But I don't believe everybody can.
Have all of the Forsaken been trained to do this or do some of them have to use gateways to get there?
In choosing the Forsaken—and this one is actually, um...I am quoting sources that you don't have access to, but I do...
In choosing the Forsaken, the Dark One was careful...um, the very nature of it led to people with great talent in many areas being chosen. They are extraordinary in many areas, and having talents that others do not have, beyond being powerful channelers.
We're talking about the thirteen that were at Shayol Ghul...
Yeah. ...This is what led to them being at the top of the heap. That said, I do believe that, among the Forsaken, there are some who had to use gateways to get there...but the majority of the Forsaken are very talented in many areas.
They’re definitely cousins. Whether they would consider it a form of Compulsion...to them, Compulsion is complete evil, so they will not view it at all like that...
Yeah, I thought that might be part of what Verin used to cobble together her own Compulsion weave.
Yeah. They’re definitely cousins.
This question came out of a thread I started on Theoryland, which in turn came out of a response Brandon made to someone on Twitter. I thought that Nynaeve remembering she could channel at all in her Accepted test might be related to her ability to resist Compulsion as she did with Moghedien (which, as we know from Rahvin, is a fairly rare ability possessed by only the most strong-willed, such as Morgase). Egwene's Accepted test is a whole different ballgame because of her Dreaming talent and the interference with the stone ring ter'angreal that Verin had just given her.
Do you know what the original use for the testing ter'angreal was?
The notes do. I don’t have it off the top of my head.
The area it covers? Yes, it is.
That’s a good question.
Well, 1) we haven't seen Elayne in a whole book; we don't really know what she's doing, and 2) she has problems channeling because of this pregnancy deal, and 3) everything's going to be in the Old Tongue and she's a little busy to sit down and translate documents.
But you don't understand the significance of that ter'angreal: Jim foreshadowed the creation of the Kindle. [laughter]
Mmhmm, he did. And actually, Elayne—right now as we speak—is in her bed reading fiction on that.
I bet they're dirty romance novels.
I was going to peg her for an urban fantasy fan.
No, no, no, no, no. She loves the Harlequins. Case closed.
Oh, the Harlequins. Yeah.
Either her or Aviendha, but one of those two is definitely into the Harlequin super-romance.
How can she get all excited about the cover art of Fabio when she's got Rand? [laughter]
Have you seen the cover of Lord of Chaos?
Yeah, I'm telling you! No comparison.
Yeah, that one was nicknamed at our house 'Passion of the Aes Sedai'. I actually had to take the dust jacket off of that one when I would take it to school, when I was in high school, because I was like, "I do not want people to think I'm reading some kind of filthy romance novel in class."
Well, I'm thinking more of, what was it? A Crown of Swords? Where he's got the, uh…all he needs is some baby oil and a little less clothes and he looks like he's posing…
We love fist-pumping, body-building Rand.
Don't make me get out the water bottle to squirt you ladies. Jeez… [laughter]
I have a big cardboard cut-out of fist-pumping, baby-oil Rand in my garage right now. I use it as a [decoration] at conventions. [Amusingly, it was stolen at JordanCon 2011, a few months after this interview.]
Is that cool, or is that creepy?
Well, it's a little insane I think.
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.
This was my first RJ signing, at a Tower Books. While I was getting The Path of Daggers and Winter's Heart signed, I asked RJ how Narishma could have channeled inside Far Madding to set off their alarms (or was he outside but within the range of the detection ter'angreal)?
He corrected me that it was Flinn who channeled (I haven't reread that part of the book yet, and was taking the Seafolk channeler's word on it, as I recalled it), and that he did indeed do so outside the range of the blocking field, but inside the detection range.
Did Lanfear and Verin have any contact, and if not did Verin give Egwene the ter'angreal of her own free will?
Yeah she gave it with her own free will and choice. And no contact between Lanfear and Verin.
I was thinking about the Bloodknives' rings. What are the stones that they have? Are they Shayol Ghul rocks or something else?
*long pause* Finding Shayol Ghul rocks in Seanchan hands would be a very difficult thing.
So that's a no.
I didn't say no. I just said it would be a very difficult thing.
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.
We know the Aes Sedai don't use a lot of the ter'angreal they have in their possession in the manner in which they are meant to be used. Specifically, what are the correct uses for the ter'angreal used to raise a novice to Accepted and an Accepted to Aes Sedai?
I have no idea.
Okay, excellent question; I'll repeat it just for those who might not have been able to hear it. We know that the Aes Sedai are using certain ter'angreal for things other than their original intended purpose, such as the Oath Rod and the ones they use in the raising ceremonies. (to Maria) What were their intended purposes? [laughter]
I don't know. [laughter, applause]
Sorry. Robert Jordan could answer that. Sometimes we can't.
Yes. Many authors tend the write themselves into their books. I was just wondering if Robert Jordan had done that, and in particular, if he had written himself in as Rand's ter'angreal.
Had he written himself into the book? Robert Jordan did write himself in, but it's not—I think you're thinking of Rand's angreal. It's actually something else. It's the ter'angreal that they find in the Ebou Dar cache, which is a man—a jolly man statue that is full of stories. And that was Robert Jordan's cameo that he wrote himself in.
So, a lot of people are very curious about this conversation, rightfully so. They had many interesting things to say to one another. And I didn’t put that on-screen on purpose because I think that there are . . . Number one, I feel like it was the wrong place, narrative-wise, to have a break for something like that. And it’s also one of these things that I feel is going to work better in your mind than it might have worked on the page because there are so many places that conversation could have gone, that locking it down into to one of them would not have . . . I don’t think would have fully accomplished what we needed to accomplish there.
Beyond that, the conversation that they have would be directly tied to the sequel series, which is not going to be written. And, you know, I feel that if Robert Jordan were still with us and were going to write that sequel series, that scene would have appeared. He would have had them talk, because that would be important then for character motivation, or at least would have been referenced in the sequel trilogy. But since we’re not doing the sequel trilogy, doing that makes promises, also, that you’re not going to get fulfilled as a reader. And so, leaving that off-screen, I felt, was very much the right move.
That said, a lot of people make the assumption that Artur Hawkwing would be—and I’m not sure why they make this assumption, but I do get this from people—that he would be upset, that he would quote/unquote set her straight, or things like that. I think the conversation would have gone in a very different direction. In a, “You're doing a good job. There are certain things that I would suggest to you, but you need to conquer the work. That’s what your job would be. And here’s some advice on going about it.” Rather than a setting her straight, I think personally he would be proud of her. Granted, you know, now that he has all of his memories back, and he’s no longer under the dark influence that he was under during certain parts of his recent mortal existence, he will not be the exact same person he was back then. But he still is a conqueror, and that’s part of who his make-up is. And so, just keep that in mind as you imagine that scene however you want it to go. And I am still adamant about the fact that I think he would not like Aes Sedai even without the influence upon him. They are not his . . . yeah, he would not want to be involved with them.
This is a follow-up to that. We have a certain tall red-headed lady who goes through a magical object that shows what the future is. Does that future take into account the conversation that would have been had between the leader and her ancestor? Or is that something outside of the overall scheme of the world, and therefore would not have been taken into account in the future that was presented in that magical object?
So the future that was presented is—I think people are clear about the idea that this is a possible future. And that is not . . . You know, some of the things that we get as glimpses of the future in the Wheel of Time are set in stone, and some of them are not. And this is one that is not. And so that conversation could have been part of that, but could also not have been part of that.