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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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Verin is older than most Aes Sedai think, but not as old as some fans think she is. Jordan said specifically that she is not from the Age of Legends. Other than that, he was fairly vague, but he implied that she's no older than, say, 300. "There's a reason why Aes Sedai respect a sister with gray hair," he said.
Additional note: One fan claimed that, at the convention, Jordan said that Verin had never held the Oath Rod. Jordan later denied having said any such thing.
Verin: Considerably older than anyone expects. (I presume he was talking about the characters, not the fans, considering that our guesses range up to 3000 years old.) He also said that Age of Legends lifespans are not known in modern Randland. (Thus, I presume that Verin is NOT 300 years old.) He said something about "the effects of the Oath Rod," I don't know whether this was with reference to aging, or effects on something totally unrelated.
Well, that's that.
Shaidar Haran needs a minion to most of his work for him. Elza was essential to Shaidar Haran in getting things done.
This led to lots of discussion about swearing to the Shadow—basically, it's a very bad idea and you forfeit some very basic protections when you do. Shaidar Haran has special power over those that swear to the Dark One, and the Forsaken in particular.
I asked about Alvairin's special mark, and he said Shaidar Haran has similar power over her. The implication is that there are lots of ramifications for swearing to the Dark One. Brandon mentioned that this makes Verin all the more remarkable.
Did the notes squash/support any of your theories/ideas of where the books were going? Are you able to tell us what or how?
Yes. It did both. Some things were supported, some things were squashed, and some things I just didn't have any personal theories on. I can't speak of many of them. I'm trying to remember which ones were in The Gathering Storm that I can talk about. I did think that there was a good chance—or at least I hoped and theorized—that Elaida would end up as a damane. And I was very happy to see that. I was taken completely by surprise by the Verin revelation. Most of the things that were squashed happen in the next two books, so I can't really talk about them. And it's very hard to look back and say, "What were my theories, and what did I think about things?" because it's been three years now since I first looked at the notes and I already have all of that in my head.
Oh, I can tell you one thing that was squashed. To be perfectly honest, I'd always secretly suspected that Asmodean was still around, and that was totally squashed. So there you go. Part of me always thought, “Oh, Robert Jordan isn't telling us because Asmodean is around; he's doing something," but no, he's just dead. He's totally dead. But you know, I think Robert Jordan had even confirmed that and I hadn't seen the interviews until after I started working on the series. I'm pretty sure that somewhere out there is a Robert Jordan confirmation, a "He's toast" comment.
Will Verin face punishment from the Dark One for what she did? (Also, wow for that scene. Just plain flat out wow!)
Well, I can’t claim very much credit for that scene.
Will Verin face punishment from the Dark One? It will all depend on whether he can get his mitts on her or not.
Okay, this one has me all confused. Can you expand this and explain? I should note that we have asked for a correction to one section in this chapter (I'll include it a bit later). Somehow I'm also missing where Merana says that every sister knows when each one arrived (I do see the bit about knowing how long each was novice and Accepted). Here's the change we asked for (it hasn't been made in the mmp I'm holding; I don't know if it was elsewhere):
At present reads: Alanna had been six years a novice, Merana only five, but more importantly, Merana had been Aes Sedai ten years the day the midwife laid Alanna at her mother's breast. Should read: Alanna had been six years a novice, Merana only five, but more importantly, Merana had been Aes Sedai above thirty years the day the midwife laid Alanna at her mother's breast.
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?
Speaking about activities outside of the White Tower, Verin was quite the traveler. She plays an integral role throughout the series, particularly in The Great Hunt, where she displays some of her deceptive personality.
Was Verin sent to Shienar by the Black Ajah?
A couple of other curious events involving Verin occur in The Great Hunt, such as her discussion of Portal Stones with Rand.
Was Verin lying to Rand when she said his use of a Portal Stone was more recent than hers as she had never traveled by one?
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.
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.
A couple of things here.
The primary one is that Verin had to work around her oaths, which required her to go through some strange mental gymnastics. She actually tried out different ways of getting this information across, and could never make it work. (In her pouch was actually a letter that said something similar to Mat, but which read "Ignore what I say and open this immediately.) She couldn't pick it up at the moment, however. The oaths were binding. She would either have had to take poison right then, or bet on Mat being too impatient to wait.
Second thing is this, and it's a slight spoiler for the next book. She did build in redundancy.
My question isn't regarding the loophole that she found, the question is as to why make Mat promise to obey the letter. She could have made him promise not to open the letter for three days and still maintained her loophole. It's the promise to obey the letter that makes Mat not read it and now they are in a whole lot of trouble because of it.
Let's just say that Verin...didn't understand Mat as well as she thought that she did.
It was pretty close. She did a good job.
That is interesting, because I'm still speculating that there may be other Black Ajah working around that haven't been discovered, and actually I have a whole load of questions I'd love to ask, but I just know they're all gonna be…you know, "Read and Find Out" answers. It always amazes me that Egwene spent so much time under Halima's thumb, in a way, that I can't believe that the only weaves that she laid on her were producing migraines. It makes you wonder if there isn't some hidden Compulsion weave going on there, that we'll find out later that maybe some of the Black Ajah in the White Tower could take advantage of. You know, there are so many things like that that I just know…
Yeah, I don't wanna go there.
I don't think that there's any Black Ajah left in the White Tower currently.
I wouldn't wanna bet my life on that. I don't think there are many.
Other than Mesaana who's hiding somewhere because she can defeat the Oath Rod, or so thinks Egwene herself in the end of The Gathering Storm.
Well, you still have the Black Ajah that escaped, too.
Yeah, there was a lot of those that got out.
And we have Maria and Alan just sitting there going, "Yep, yep; you do." [laughter]
No, I was just thinking that she was minimizing headaches. What a horrible thing for migraine-sufferers.
Oh, listen…I get migraines. I have complete and total sympathy for anybody that gets migraines, but it seems to me like that probably wasn't the most…probably wasn't the only thing that she was doing to poor Egwene.
Well, the consensus that we…that was in the WoTFAQ when I was editing that article this summer was that Halima doing something to suppress Egwene's Dreaming talent so that she was not getting messages about the future any more, from whatever causes this to happen, and so the headache is the side-effect of that. I don't know if this is true or not; this is just the fan speculation from the WoTFAQ, but it is very telling that as soon as she gets away from Halima and is in the White Tower, her Dreaming ability comes back, because she had been having nightmares that she couldn't remember before about being chased by something, or something like that, and then when she gets into the White Tower, she stops having those nightmares, and she starts having the prophetic dreams again.
And she stops having headaches as well.
Yeah, and the headaches go away. And she does not make the connection in Knife of Dreams when she first sees this happen. I don't remember if she makes the connection in The Gathering Storm when she finds out about Halima's infiltration of the Salidar Aes Sedai. I have to go back and reread The Gathering Storm in the next couple of weeks, because I'm a little fuzzy on the details there.
Mm-hmm. Well, it certainly seems plausible. [laughter]
I'm not surprised that you guys have got this down to an art.
You guys give the perfect Aes Sedai answers.
I love it when I ask Maria and Alan things that relate to FAQ, and they'll just kind of smile and nod at me and go, 'That's a good guess!'
I was going to say another Aes Sedai answer, but then...I wonder if we’re going to get the Asha’man known for convoluted answers, but then they don’t have the oath rod to get around. They can say whatever they want to at all times.
They'll just blow you up and have done with it.
Yeah. They are refreshingly direct about their methods.
What you have to understand is Tomas was tired of this world. Without Verin, he didn’t really want to be around...
So Tomas is dead?
Yes. Tomas is dead. She could have released him, yes, but he didn’t want that.
(Blinked.) Can you...I don't know...?
Did this for the Weiramon eyes thing people, to see if we could rule out her letters to Rand. Nope.
Yes, Lanfear knew of Verin.
(One step closer...)
That's what you answered for Book 12. I'm asking about Book 13, which I've already read.
Everyone in line close your ears. The whole Tower of Ghenjei sequence. That was all written by Jim. Also, the surprise proposal at the end.
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.
It will be very hard to do simply because, you know, you would have a lot of sentences that would four colors in them (laughter), because, here are three words from Brandon; here are a couple of words from Robert Jordan; the rest are from Harriet, that she has edited, and then here's the insertion by Maria as she's doing the copy-edit, that something needed to be [put] in. It would be very difficult to get right.
The other thing is, Harriet has several times expressed a reluctance to let people see the notes because she doesn't want people focusing when reading the books on what was me and what is Jim. I do still kinda tend to work on her and see if I can get her to let us do something with the notes. I'm not too expectant—if it doesn't happen I'm gonna be fine—but I tend to ask on behalf of the fans, people like yourself, and if I can do that I can then bring them out and I will talk a little bit more about that.
One thing that I've said to people a number of times, that in each of the three books there is a prologue [scene] that Robert Jordan wrote almost completely, or completely, for the prologue of the book, then since we split it in three, I took one scene from each completely that is Robert Jordan's—and there are a few fragments in each prologue as well that were also his—but there's one complete scene in the prologue. In the first book, it was the farmer sitting on the doorsteps watching the storm; that was one of the scenes he dictated, and we actually at JordanConI got to listen to that dictation. In the second book it was the Borderlander tower with the soldier and his son; that was one of the more complete scenes we had from Robert Jordan which had some minimal revision and editing during the process but was basically a complete scene that he gave us. And there's one like that in the third book as well.
In The Gathering Storm, I've said before that, as the notes went, Rand was a little more me; there were fewer notes on Rand. There were more notes on Egwene. We're both involved in all the viewpoints, but Rand from that is a little more me, and Egwene's a little more Robert Jordan, and then in Towers of Midnight, Perrin's a little bit more me, and Mat is a little more Robert Jordan. And maybe we'll be able to release more than that, but so far that's about all I've said. There are certain scenes that he did write, by the way—I'll give you everything; this is what I've told people; I haven't told people much—but there's a certain scene in The Gathering Storm where Egwene has an unexpected meeting with an old friend in the Tower. That one was done by Robert Jordan. And in Towers of Midnight, there is...most of the Mat stuff including the ending where a certain engagement happens was Robert Jordan.
I also asked him if the character of Verin had any mythological parallels.
He said that he doesn't know and would have to see if there is anything in the notes. He also said that most of that stuff was done by RJ but he did add some of his own. He specifically mentioned that Perrin getting wounded in the leg in Towers of Midnight was his own addition. He didn't elaborate but there are a number of deities (particularly blacksmiths of some sort) like Vulcan and Perun who were wounded in the leg.
Perrin forging his hammer is probably my favorite that I worked on extensively. My favorite that Jim worked on extensively would be Verin's last scene. Rand atop Dragonmount at the end of The Gathering Storm is a pretty big one for me. In the last book, my favorite would have to be Lan's charge right at the end, which is a scene that I worked out years ago, that I pointed a lot of things toward, and specifically in this book built a lot of things around. For a fun scene, getting Mat on the back of a raken was a pure joy for me to be able to do.
What other scenes really stand out to me? Robert Jordan's last scene, which I've mentioned before, is a great one because it's become the focus, for me, for the entire sequence that I have written. From the beginning, that was the ending that I was working toward. So I was very excited to be able to actually get there.
That's just a few scenes; there are a lot of them in this book and the series.
Hi, I'm Michael Chantry from Podunk [?] Idaho—[claps] someone knows the area. Thank you for the books; they're amazing. Thanks Robert Jordan for the books. I like them so much I actually named my second child Perrin. [applause]
My question is to both Brandon and Harriet. I know you love this new book, A Memory of Light, that you've created for us, and out of it, is there anything that we... What is your favorite part? What did you enjoy most about it? If you can give us a chapter, a section...anything. I know you're going to say "the whole thing." [laughter]
(flips through book) [laughter] There's a 200-page chapter in this book. [hoots, buzz of talking] I felt it very thematically important, and my favorite part is right at the end of that chapter and the beginning of the next chapter, and the next chapter is actually very short, and so really, it's probably Chapter 39, but with the lead-in at the end of chapter 38.
And Harriet, do you have a favorite part?
(talks to Peter) 37 and 38? Okay, 37 and 38. Peter knows these things better than I do. [laughter]
Well, I love the end of Chapter 23—the final sequence—and as you're aware from Brandon's other books, I mean a lot of the chapters will have a piece here, and then there's a two-line space and you jump five hundred miles away, and so on, but the last segment of 23 I think is just super. But there are an awful lot of things that I do love in this book; the scene I read for you is one of my favorites; there's more of it, but I thought, "Oh, I don't know; I think I'm getting on too long," because we hadn't quite timed it out. I think it's a wonderful book. [laughter, applause]
I know that the question wasn't directed up here to me, but I think I definitely need to say that—without being cliché—the ending, the epilogue, was far and away everything I could have hoped it was, and it was my favorite part of the book. It was just...I can't wait for all of you to eventually read it, and hopefully have the same kind of reaction that I did. It's pretty awesome.
I can talk a little bit more about that, because...I told you the Asmodean story, but next under that sheet was this, was the...were the scenes that Robert Jordan had written for the book. And so, that included sections from the prologue, which got split into various pieces of the various prologues of the three novels; sections out of the book; and then this ending, the epilogue, and it's one of the most...one of the scenes where you're able to preserve, a sequence that's the most close to the way Robert Jordan left it. Because a lot of scenes he'd leave, he'd leave like a paragraph, and then it's like I have to expand that into, or I have to work a whole thing and then have that paragraph in.
There's a famous scene, for instance, with Verin in Gathering Storm where he left, you know, the kinda...what you would imagine is the important parts, but it's only the important parts, and then it doesn't have a lead-in or an exit to the scene, and so I had to write up and then lead in to what he'd written, and then lead out of it, and that sort of stuff. And this, it's actually...we've got complete sequences that he wrote before he passed away. And so, when you get to that epilogue, you can know...there's some very non-touched-by-the-rest-of-us stuff that he had in a very good shape to be published before he passed away.
And I should have thought of that, but as he read it in 2007—and so did I, and I had known some bits of it for years before that—but it really is splendid.
Thank you very much. [applause]
So, I got everything at once. There are two things that stand out that are moments when I was looking through the notes and I was like, "Oh!" And then there was one that I'm like, "Oh no." [laughter]
The two that were "Oh!" were, in Gathering Storm where Egwene gets a special visitor, and colors of dresses are mentioned. [laughter] That one was kind of mind-boggling, and that's one of the things that Robert Jordan had complete. Not—I had to write into it and write out of it, but the important parts you're thinking about were done. The second scene was in another section that he had complete, and this is where, at the end of Towers of Midnight, someone you haven't seen for a long time and someone else have a romantic moment together, and that surprised me. I was not one that was expecting that—it's well-foreshadowed, but I just hadn't been expecting it. I actually went to Team Jordan, and I'm like, "This? I—What?" And they're like, "No, it's in there; here, look at this, look at this," and all the foreshadowing, and I had just completely missed it. And so, those two were the surprising moments for me.
The kind of "Oh no" moment was when...he didn't actually write the scene, he just made a sentence that said—oh, someone's plugging their ears because they don't want spoilers; I'm trying to talk around the spoilers, so—in Gathering Storm, there is a scene where a certain member of the Forsaken gets spanked [laughter], and Robert Jordan wrote, "This happens, and she gets spanked." And I'm like, "I'm not going to write a spanking scene; I've never written a spanking scene before!" [laughter] And I was kinda like, "Come on, Jim, do you really have to do this?" But I was like, it was in the notes, and there was no good reason not to [?] that scene, so I went ahead and wrote that scene.
Let's see if I can answer this one... They're not going to be, I don't think there's a law against... But only the greatest heroes are bound to the Horn. They are not the greatest heroes. So, why are you asking this?
I’m pretty much asking about Verin, and the likelihood of her being bound.
Okay, I don't know that there would be anything forbidding Verin from being bound to the Horn.
Is there any mention of that in A Memory of Light?
That's a RAFO.
Alright, thank you though...
I managed to get in one question of my own: Do we know how many total letters Verin wrote, and did they all reach their intended destinations?
Brandon smiled, and of course said, "Well, I know, but you don't." :) I immediately rephrased to 'Will we know?', to which he responded that yes, all of the letters were delivered, and he believed that further details were forthcoming in the Encyclopedia.
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.
Was the Shadow able to track down or intercept any of Verin's letters after she died?
You can answer that vaguely if you want.
....(laughs, coughs)...I'm (ahem) really good at answering things vaguely, but I can say that at least one of them did not find its mark.
Okay. That's good.
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.
When you took over writing the Wheel of Time series, was there anything that RJ had in his notes that just completely surprised you?
Hmm... The scene where Egwene gets a specific visitor in The Gathering Storm surprised me the most, I think. Also, at the end of Towers where Moiraine and Thom get engaged. I hadn't noticed how strong the clues about those two were.