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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.
The Dark One doesn't care about his minions sufficiently to invest much time in their punishment except as it serves to correct their behavior or as object lesson to others, nor is there much in the way of gradation. Simple failure and outright betrayal might be punished equally, or one might result in death and the other in becoming an object lesson or in something else. (The mindtrap, by the way, could be called an object lesson only to the one so trapped; remember, none of the Forsaken know who is mindtrapped except Moridin and those who are trapped.) The decision, death or object lesson or something else, normally would be simply a matter of whether or not he believed there was any point to an object lesson and/or whether or not he felt there was really any further use in the individual. Or, for that matter, made for reasons unknowable to a human mind. Remember, the Dark One is NOT human and thinking of him in human terms just doesn't work.
But he also operates under a constraint that did not exist in the Age of Legends. At that time, about 3% of the population could learn to channel to some extent, though not all chose to—the training program took time, and being able to channel carried with it certain obligations that not everyone wanted to undertake—but that still meant there were, at a minimum, hundreds of thousands of people in the world who could channel, and more likely millions. A large pool of possible recruits. Break a tool or decide it isn't working right and throw it out, because there is an endless supply of similar tools waiting on the shelf. That might be said to have been his attitude. In the here-and-now of the books, that figure is about 1%, and of that 1%, very, very few have any idea that they could learn to channel, much less have any training at all. Here-and-now, the pool of possible recruits is tiny.
Also, while the Forsaken themselves have realized that these primitives have discovered how to do things with the Power that they themselves cannot, or perhaps can once they learn how but never dreamed of doing until they found that the weaves existed here-and-now, they still think of people in the here-and-now as primitives, and their attitudes filter through to the Dark One, who believes that his people from the age of Legends are in all practical ways better—for which read better trained, more capable, and thus better able to serve him efficiently and effectively—than the people of the present time. And he is right. In a way. They are certainly better trained, with a much wider knowledge, at least in some areas. Some of their skills are absolutely useless in the society they are forced to live in. Aginor was a genius in biology and genetics, but in this world, he had no way to make the tools to make the tools to make the tools.... Well, you get the idea. Pity the poor chip designer dropped into the seventeenth century.
In any event, the Dark One tries to conserve his resources, using and reusing those he might have killed himself, or ordered killed, in a time where there were thousands to equal them.
Since you said at an earlier signing that the Dark One couldn't have brought back Asmodean if he wanted, was that at the time of Asmodean's death, or after that?
The Dark One couldn't bring back Asmodean because of the combination of two factors: HOW HE DIED and WHERE HE DIED. Not one or the other, both factors.
The referred to earlier question was asked at the NYC Barnes & Noble signing on the Crossroads of Twilight tour.
Someone asked Jordan about the 'gars, and mentioned that he'd seen theories that Lanfear was one of the 'gars. I was expecting a RAFO, but RJ gave the guy a disgusted look, and said that "No, Osan'gar and Aran'gar are Aginor and Balthamel." The guy said (I'm paraphrasing here), "You're confirming this, and not hinting about it?" RJ replied (more paraphrasing), "I'm confirming. After all, it's pretty obvious in the books that it's those two. After all, that's what Aginor thought was so funny; Balthamel, the lecher, was stuck in a female body." Jordan then went on to give the standard disclaimer that a lot of the clues are already in the books, and reasonably intelligent people should be able to figure a lot of this out. His job, he said, was to make sure you're still guessing about some stuff at the end of the story.
It's fairly safe to say that this was Jordan's version of thwacking the guy with a clue stick...
The Two *gars
RJ admitted outright that they were Aginor and Balthamel, and that Aginor was the male and Balthamel was the woman. I still feel that Aginor describing himself as "helping" make the Trollocs is not consistent, but hey, I didn't write the books. When I asked him if he was confirming their IDs, RJ said (in a slightly tired tone), "I've never denied it." This was rather surprising to me, to say the least.
I'm fairly sure he's done this before, but he said Aginor and Balthamel are Aran'gar and Osan'gar, and he also said that Terry Goodkind actually uses WOT as inspiration, instead of going to a historical source. He sounded serious.
Finally, he also recommended several authors, but said that the guy who wrote Cryptonomicon was really good.
Oh, and one more thing: The Forsaken are reborn pretty much straight away when they die. "Not right on the heels, but close." That should make things interesting :)
I have always thought that the small whimper of a theory as it dies is a beautiful sound.
(General laughter all around.)
Ok...which brings up the following questions about the Wheel and its relationship to souls, Talents, abilities and channeling. Is the Wheel responsible for giving or weaving in Talents and abilities to a particular life, or are they like channeling, attached to the soul?
That’s an excellent question. I’m going to have to RAFO that...it’s actually more of a MAFO. What you're asking is would someone who is reborn into the Pattern have the same Talents again?
Right. Or does...the Wheel, we obviously know it is very capable of affecting the Pattern, so the question is does it give and take when it comes to abilities and talents it needs?
Yeah, right, I will have to MAFO that.
Ok, so can the Wheel give an individual life the ability to channel, if the soul does not come to that life with an inborn ability to learn or a spark? Can the Wheel give them that?
Again, I will have to MAFO this whole thing. I will have to go and look. I don’t know if someone is necessarily always born with the ability to channel, if they are in every Age...
...there is a quote I brought that we asked at DragonCon, Jordan said: “I don't think I have said if you are born with the spark you would have the have the spark again. I have said if you were born with the ability to channel, to learn or with the spark, you will, when your soul is born again, you will have the ability again, whether with the spark or without...” So, in essence he said it’s inherent you have the ability. Whether or not you spark or you can learn it that depends on the life.
My instinct knowing how Jim wrote and knowing the parallels in the notes would be that he would parallel the other Talents along the same lines. A Wolfbrother then would always have the ability to become a Wolfbrother and other things along those lines. I’m going off of instinct so that is an asterisked answer. I can MAFO that and look it up and we can see what we can find, but he did like to parallel a lot of these things...
...ok, so at the end of that answer he said this...we were asking a specific question about stilling and burning out...he said, “And neither burning out or stilling affects that except in this lifetime, your current lifetime”. In other words...
...that is consistent...
...it doesn’t affect your souls ability, your soul’s connection. So stilling and burning out do not affect the ability to channel, which seems to be integral to the soul as it pertains to a new life. That being said, Aran'gar and Osan'gar, they were transmigrated and we see that they can channel in their new bodies, which makes sense because the ability comes with the soul...
...and because of that if you were male before and reborn (in a female body)...you are channeling the wrong power...
...exactly...he was transmigrated into a different body, but still channeling the same power the soul inherits. So considering Jordan's statement about stilling and burning out not affecting the channeling ability of the new life of a soul, is the same for the new life of a soul transmigrated?
I’m going to say that transmigrated...if you were burned out and transmigrated you would still be burned out, is my guess.
Is that a MAFO question? Or...
...that is my guess and you can MAFO it if you want to send it to me, but that is a “I’m pretty sure” answer.
Yes, you would. Jim said that “neither burning out or stilling affects that except in this lifetime, your current lifetime.” (DragonCon), but transmigration is not really a different lifetime; more than just the soul moves. The new person (I’m at a loss for words here) also has the memories of the previous person, and its personality, and such. So Brandon is correct.
Jim says of Talents: “A Talent is a special ability with the One Power. While the name is used for other things, a Talent is, in truth, something which is inborn in the person and not something that can be learned.” And there is mention of the Wheel throwing out what it needs on occasion, and there’s the phrase, “The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.” The Wheel can give and take as it needs.
I believe that the potential for a Talent is there, but it doesn't necessarily manifest each time a soul is born. If the Wheel needs the Talent, the Talent is there. But if the Wheel doesn't need it, it lies dormant.
You saw where we were going…
...yes, I see where you are going...
...I had to do the build up to it because it all comes down to that one question for a couple of things.
This one question you are going to ask next?
I’m not going to ask it...
...oh, the one you asked…
...yeah, I guess I asked a piece of it last night...
...when it comes to this certain character that you are talking about, there is a whole thing where Maria and I exchanged a bunch of emails about this. She had managed to pull some things out of the notes that I had not seen, which is interesting, because I was going off of something else. I did not think that Cyndane should be nearly as powerful as she was put in the books as being, so I had been under the belief that the Dark One was pulling shenanigans...
...like a little, in essence, let’s say what the Forsaken Lanfear did to Asmodean, you thought maybe the Dark One was doing some similar...shielding...
...or the other way around…here is a little extra power you can draw upon while I am pleased with you, I can take this away...
...that is a question...let’s jump to that question, there have been some theories that talk about Lanfear...
...let’s back up and say I was wrong. I was interpreting the notes a certain way. Maria was able to pull something out that I had not seen that made it clear that I had misinterpreted and that that is not the case, Cyndane is not under any shenanigans. What you see is what you get.
Cyndane and her alter ego have never been under any shenanigans?
I’m not going to say never been under any shenanigans, but when you see her creating a gateway she is legitimately powerful enough to do it, which I did not believe that she was. Does that make sense? This is all digging into my read of the notes versus and Maria’s read of the notes and Maria was right. She was able to provide information to me that I had not seen which is nice because it was stuff that was very pertinent for what I am working on right now. It would have come out eventually when I would have sent her the scenes I’m working on, but it came out earlier, which is nice. Once I found out what was going on it all made perfect sense.
So, we will understand then in the next book or so why there is a decrease in power but not a significant decrease?
Ok, so that being said there are some theories out there that in the Age of Legends, at one point, Lanfear might have...
...let’s just say I have not said that Lanfear and Cyndane are the same person...
...Oh, absolutely, I’m jumping to this other Forsaken that we are talking about...
...this other completely different person...Uh huh...
...so Lanfear, the theory goes, that maybe she was accentuated from a beauty and/or power perspective by going to the Finnland previously...
...would the Finns have the ability to accentuate someone’s beauty and/or quantity or access to the One Power through their own capabilities and talents?
Yes, but it might involve third party ter’angreal, angreal, this sort of thing...
...so, they don’t have power to affect the soul’s capability of increasing its total channeling?
Certainly not permanently, as far I understand, that is outside the realm of their ability…
...from a beauty perspective can they affect the outer body of some individual?
I would say that, yes they can, but they may have to be using some type of ter’angreal or...
...some item of power?
Some item of power, something like that...of which they have great stores...[what???]
...Really...heh, so the obvious question, where did the Finns get great stores of ter’angreal, angreal, and is that part of the Pact they made.?
RAFO...but if you just think about it, we don’t even have to go to the notes for this if you think about it logically, we know of them providing certain items of power to certain individuals that they were able to match very nicely with certain requests very easily. If you run the statistics on that its either a huge coincidence or they have very many to choose from.
Yes, but I'm not going to tell you what.
This led to a fair amount of discussion about balefire and such. At one point, Brandon said 'all Forsaken other than Sammael who haven't come back were balefired'.
I immediately jumped on this and asked if that included Asmodean—Brandon said that he wasn't talking about Asmodean (we all didn't even want to go there), but this is further evidence of Brandon slipping hints that Asmodean was balefired.
This led to a small debate about Osan'gar—I didn't think he was balefired, everyone else at the table thought he was.
Where have any of the new bodies come from? He then mentioned that it's not confirmed who Cyndane is, though he didn't refute me when we all said that it's pretty certain.
I asked about her strength in the One Power—Brandon says she's very, very weak. This surprised me since I didn't think she was that weak.
Yes, I know.
Why is he dead?
Robert Jordan once said that res...transmigrating a soul had not just to do with the way that they were killed but the time and...not necessarily just a weave, but why and how. [Technically, where and how.] I am not going to delve too much into transmigration. Robert Jordan did speak on these sorts of things. And so, the Dark One also might not think that the person was an asset worth bringing back.
Dashiva kinda sucks.
I'm not gonna say, but those are all factors in this.
I asked him if there is a time limit on how long the Dark One can hold the souls he grabs.
He said that he is not sure and might have to consult the notes but he thinks that there is a time limit.
I think that should put an end to the theories that the Dark One has been holding any souls for hundreds or even thousands of years.
Once a person pledges themselves to the Shadow (either voluntarily or involuntarily), are they always reborn as agents of the Dark?
BWS first qualified that any answer he will give is as always subject to the caveat that it is subject to a subsequent unearthing of RJ's notes on the subject or an answer that RJ previously gave on the subject. BWS then stated that assuming that a soul was not transmigrated (for example the 'gars [I probably botched the spelling of this word]), then no. That person's soul is a blank slate.
Regarding burning out, is it Healable?
Not in the same way that stilling is Healed. All it says in the notes is what I just said. And that Nynaeve would not be able to Heal Setalle. Being reborn would heal burning out, but transmigration would not. That's why even though Lanfear shifted bodies, she was still reduced.