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Your search for the tag 'wot themes' yielded 93 results

  • 1

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Tibur

    Hi. I love your books and I was just wondering where you got your ideas for the series. It's like nothing ever published before!

    Robert Jordan

    It all started with wondering what it was really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you are the savior of mankind. Ten years of thinking about that, and I began writing.

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  • 2

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Whether his war experiences have influenced his fantasy writing, or more, been translated directly into fiction, is difficult for Jordan to say.

    Robert Jordan

    "I do think the military characters in my fantasy novels are more realistic in terms of how soldiers really are, how they feel about combat, about being soldiers, about civilians. Beyond that, my time in Vietnam certainly has affected a certain moral vision. Not just based on what happened to me, but on the abandonment of a people who had put everything on the line for us. It started me off on a quest for morality, both in religious and philosophical reading, and in my writing. Again one of the central themes in 'The Wheel of Time' is the struggle between the forces of good and evil. How far can one go in fighting evil before becoming like evil itself? Or do you maintain your purity at the cost of evil's victory? I'm fond of saying that if the answer is too easy, you've probably asked the wrong question."

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  • 3

    Interview: Nov, 1993

    Trinity College Q&A (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    He also spoke for quite some time on the splitting of the One Power into male and female halves, and on the disharmony produced when they don't work together...this came across as one of the core elements in the origin of WoT. (re: Yin/Yang—leaving out the little dots in the symbol is an intentional representation of the lack of harmony between male/female Power in Randland.)

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  • 4

    Interview: Mar 1st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Does evil need to be effective to be evil? And how do you define effectiveness? Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge managed to murder about 25-30% of Cambodia's population, destroy the country's agricultural and industrial base, fairly well wipe out the educated class inside the country (defined as anyone with an education beyond the ability to read; a good many of those went too, of course), and in general became so rabid that only China was willing to maintain any sort of contact with them, and that at arm's length. Their rabidity was the prime reason that they ended up losing the country. (though they are still around and still causing trouble.) In other words, they were extremely ineffective in attaining their goal, which was to seize Cambodia, remake it in the way Pol Pot wished (and still wishes), and export their brand of revolution abroad. Looking at the death toll, the cities emptied out (hospital patients were told they had one hour to leave or die; post-op patients, those still in the operating room, everybody), the murders of entire families down to infants because one member of the family was suspected of "counter-revolutionary" crimes, the mass executions (one method was for hundreds of people to be bound hand and foot, then bulldozed into graves alive; the bulldozers drove back and forth over these mass graves until attempts to dig out stopped)—given all of that, can you say that Khmer Rough's ineffectiveness made them less evil? Irrationality is more fearful than rationality (if we can use that term in this regard) because if you have brown hair and know that the serial killer out there is only killing blondes, you are safe, but if he is one of those following no easily discernible pattern, if every murder seems truly random, then it could be you who will be next. But "rationality" can have its terrors. What if that killer is only after brunettes named Carolyn? Stalin had the very rational goal (according to Communist dogma) of forcibly collectivizing all farmland in the Soviet Union. He was effective—all the land was collectivized—and to do it he murdered some thirty million small farmers who did not want to go along.

    But are the Forsaken ineffective or irrational? Are they any more divided than any other group plotting to take over a country, a world, IBM? True, they plot to secure power for themselves. But I give you Stalin v. Trotsky and the entire history of the Soviet Union. I give you Thomas Jefferson v. Alexander Hamilton v. John Adams, and we will ignore such things as Jefferson's hounding of Aaron Burr (he tore up the Constitution to do it; double jeopardy, habeas corpus, the whole nine yards), or Horatio Gates' attempted military coup against Washington, with the support of a fair amount of the Continental Congress. We can also ignore Secretary of War Stanton's attempts to undermine Lincoln throughout the Civil War, the New England states' attempt to make a separate peace with England during the Revolution and their continued trading with the enemy (the British again) during the War of 1812, and... The list could go on forever, frankly, and take in every country. Human nature is to seize personal advantage, and when the situation is the one the Forsaken face (namely that one of them will be given the rule of the entire earth while the others are forever subordinate), they are going to maneuver and backstab like crazy. You yourself say "If ever there was the possibility that some alien force was going to invade this planet, half the countries would refuse to admit the problem, the other half would be fighting each other to figure out who will lead the countries into battle, etc." Even events like Rahvin or Sammael or Be'lal seizing a nation have a basis. What better way to hand over large chunks of land and people to the Dark One than to be ruler of those lands and people? The thing is that they are human. But aside from that, are you sure that you know what they are up to? All of them? Are you sure you know what the Dark One's own plans are? Now let's see about Rand and his dangers and his allies. Have you been skimming, my dear? What makes you think the Tairens, Cairhienin and Andorans are solidly behind him? They're plotting and scheming as hard as the Forsaken. Rand is the Dragon Reborn, but this is my country, and we don't need anybody, and so on. And then there are those who don't think he is the Dragon Reborn at all, just a puppet of Tar Valon. Most of the Aiel may be behind him, but the Shaido are still around, and the bleakness is still taking its toll, since not all Aiel can face up to what Rand has told them about themselves. What makes you think the Seanchan will fall in behind Rand? Have you seen any Seanchan volunteers showing up? Carolyn, half of these people are denying there is a problem, and half are trying to be big honcho themselves. Read again, Carolyn. The world Rand lives in is getting more frenzied and turbulent. Damned few are saying, "Lead, because you know best." A good many who are following are saying "Lead, because I'd rather follow you than have you call down lightning and burn me to a crisp!"

    As for lack of challenge, I refer you again to the question about whether you really think you know what all the Forsaken are planning. Or what Padan Fain is up to. There is a flaw inherent in fiction, one that is overcome by suspension of disbelief. We do always know, somewhere in the back of our heads, that the hero is going to make it through as far as he needs to. After all, if Frodo buys the farm, the story is over, kids. The excitement comes in trying to figure out how he can possibly wiggle out, how he can possibly triumph.

    In Rand's case, let's see what he still has stacked against him. The Cairhienin and Tairens are for the most part reluctant allies, and in many cases not even that. At the end of Fires, he has Caemlyn, but I don't see any Andoran nobles crowding around to hail him. Illian still belongs to Sammael. Pedron Niall is working to convince people Rand is a false Dragon, and the Prophet is alienating ten people for every one he convinces. Tarabon and Arad Doman are unholy messes; even if Rand manages to get in touch with all of the Dragonsworn—who are not organized beyond individual bands—he has two humongous civil wars to deal with. True, he can use the Aiel to suppress those, but he has to avoid men killing men too much; there are Trollocs waiting to spill out of the Blight eventually. We must always remember the Trollocs, Myrddraal etc; the last time they came out in force, it took over 300 years to beat them back, and the Last Battle doesn't give Rand anywhere near that. Altara and Murandy are so divided in any case that simply getting the king or queen on his side isn't going to work; remember that most people in those two countries give loyalty to a city or a local lord and only toss in their country as an afterthought. Davram Bashere thinks Tenobia will bring Saldaea to Rand, and that is possible since the Borderlands would be one place where everyone is aware of the Last Battle and the Prophecies, but even Bashere isn't willing to make any promises, not even for Saldaea much less the other Borderlands, and I haven't seen any Borderland rulers showing up to hand Rand the keys to the kingdom. Padan Fain is out there, able to feel Rand, and hating him because of what was done to him, Fain, to make him able to find Rand. The surviving Forsaken are out there and except for Sammael, nobody knows what they are up to or where they can be found. For that matter, who knows everything that Sammael is up to? Elaida, in the White Tower, thinks Rand has to be tightly controlled. The Salidar Aes Sedai are not simply ready to fall in and kiss his boots, either. Aes Sedai have been manipulating the world for more than three thousand years, guiding it, making sure it remembers the Dark One and Tarmon Gai'don as real threats, doing their best, as they see it, to prepare the world for the Dark One breaking free. Are they likely to simply step aside and hand over control to a farmboy, even if he is the Dragon Reborn? Even after Moiraine decided he had to be given his head, Siuan was reluctant, and Siuan was in Moiraine's little conspiracy from the beginning. And the Seanchan...The last we saw of their forces, they were commanded by a Darkfriend. As for the Sea Folk, do you know what their prophecy says about the Coramoor? Do you think working with them it will be any simpler than dealing with the Aiel, say?

    Now, what and who does Rand have solidly in his camp? Perrin knows what is needed, but he's hardly happy about it. What he really wants is to settle down with Faile and be a blacksmith; everything else is a reluctant duty. Mat blew the Horn of Valere, but it's hidden in the Tower, and frankly, if he could figure some way to go away and spend the rest of his life carousing and chasing women, he would. He'll do what he has to do, but Light he doesn't want to. The Aiel are for Rand (less the Shaido, still a formidable force), but the Dragon Reborn and the Last Battle are no part of the Prophecy of Rhuidean. That is all wetlander stuff. Besides which, they are still suffering losses from bleakness, people throwing down their spears and leaving, people defecting to the Shaido or drifting back to the Waste because what Rand told them of their origins can't possibly be true and if it isn't then he can't be the Car'a'carn. Rand has declared an amnesty for men who can channel and is trying to gather them in; they, at least, should give their loyalty to him. But how many can he find? How much can he teach them in the time he has? How many will go mad before the Last Battle? There is still the taint on saidin, remember. For that matter, can Rand hang onto his own sanity? What effect will having a madman inside his head have? Can he stop Lews Therin from taking him over?

    I know that was supposed to be a listing of what Rand has in his favor, but the fact is that he is walking the razor's edge, barely hanging onto his sanity and growing more paranoid all the time, barely hanging onto putative allies, most of whom would just as soon see him go away in the hope that then everything would be the way it was before he showed up, confronted by enemies on every side. In short he has challenges enough for ten men. I've had people write to say they can't see how Rand is going to untangle all of this and get humanity ready to face the Last Battle. What I say is, what you believe to be true is not always true. What you think is going to happen is not always going to happen. That has been demonstrated time and again in The Wheel of Time. You could call those two statements one of the themes of the books.

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  • 5

    Interview: 1994

    Grey Culberson

    (question about series genesis)

    Robert Jordan

    RJ responded that the crux of the series was based on a disbelieving boy being told he was the savior of mankind, then that youth reluctantly realizing the truth of the matter but unwilling to admit it, and finally the boy assenting to the savior role and that only left puzzling out what he would do as the savior. When asked why RJ had chosen to go into so much depth and detail so as to confuse and overburden the reader, RJ responded, "It's all right there in front of you. Surely, something I've thought about for fifteen years and written about for nine is something you can work out over a weekend."

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  • 6

    Interview: 2010

    Terez (16 August 2010)

    Are there many themes in WoT that will only become clear as we read the final two books? Things going back to early books?

    Brandon Sanderson (17 August 2010)

    I think so.

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  • 7

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (10 January 2011)

    Pop quiz: What is the first thing that makes Perrin hate his axe? (It's something I've always found very interesting about him.)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It's not Whitecloaks, though that's a good guess. Perrin thinks if the ravens attack, he'll kill Egwene & save her from a worse death.

    LORI ELENA MELE

    Ah, I'd forgotten about that. Elyas goading him about it didn't help either, as I recall.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, Elyas all but taunted the truth out of him.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Regarding how Elyas goads Perrin in that scene: I'm sure he knew exactly what Perrin was thinking, and wanted to make him confront it.

    TEREZ

    Well, yeah. Perrin didn't say anything about what he was thinking. Elyas said it all, exactly what he was thinking.

    TEREZ

    Both his true motivations—choosing her death—and the motivations he feared (which were stupid, of course).

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    No. Elyas claims that he thinks Perrin hates Egwene. Which is dead wrong, and Elyas knew it.

    TEREZ

    Right, that's what I was saying. Both his true motivations and the stupid ones. Elyas mocks him for the latter.

    TEREZ

    And then spells out what he really wanted: 'One clean blow of your axe, or the way the animals we saw today died?'

    TEREZ

    It's not that Perrin was thinking he hated her. He was hating himself for wanting to help her, which was dumb.

    TEREZ

    Which of course led to a philosophical conversation similar to Second Amendment debates. Which was ongoing, of course.

    TEREZ

    Did the axe make Perrin more likely to kill? Than before? Than with the hammer? What about the sword, and the spear?

    TEREZ

    I see it as Elyas very blatantly pointing out the flaw in Perrin's logic. He didn't hate her—that was exactly the flaw.

    TEREZ

    Didn't hate her, but he hated the axe, and that was a good thing. Never stopped. (Another good cover @torbooks)

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  • 8

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Sense of Wonder

    From the October/November 1994 issue of Sense of Wonder, a B. Dalton publication

    It's an exciting fall for fans of Robert Jordan's phenomenal series The Wheel of Time. Book Five: The Fires of Heaven, which was a New York Times best-seller, finally came out in paperback this September, and the long-awaited sixth book, Lord of Chaos, will be out in hardcover this October. Since this series has captured the imagination of so many readers, I asked Robert Jordan to talk to Sense of Wonder readers about the inspiration behind his remarkable Wheel of Time series.

    Robert Jordan

    The first inspiration was the thought of what it was really like to be tapped as the savior of mankind. In a lot of books that have somebody who is the "chosen one" if you will, it seems that the world quickly divides into allies who are strongly behind the "chosen one" and the evil guys. It seemed to me that if somebody is chosen to be the savior, there is going to be a good bit of resistance, both "let this cup pass from me," and a lot of people who aren't going to be that happy to have a savior show up, even if they are on his side nominally. That established, I began to think about the world.

    What I'm trying to do here is rather complex. The usual thing is to either tell a sweeping story that is, in effect, the history of a nation or a people, or to tell a tighter story that is very much inside the heads of individuals themselves. I am trying to do the stories of individual people, a large number of them, at the same time as I tell the story of a world. I want to give readers an entire picture of this world—not just its current history and situation, but its past as well. That's hard to do at the same time we're so deeply involved with individual characters. The complexity of that combination is one of the reasons the darn thing has gone on as long as it has.

    There are a number of themes that run through the series. There's the good old basic struggle between good and evil, with an emphasis on the difficulty in recognizing what is god and what is evil. There's also the difficulty in deciding how far you can go in fighting evil. I like to think of it as a scale. At one end you hold purely to your own ideals no matter what the cost, with the result that possibly evil wins. At the other end, you do anything and everything to win, with the result that maybe it doesn't make much difference whether you've won or evil has won. There has to be some sort of balance found in the middle, and it's very difficult to find.

    Another recurring theme is lack of information, and the mutability of information. No one knows everything. Everyone has to operate on incomplete knowledge, and quite often they know they are operating on incomplete knowledge, but they still have to make decisions. The reader quite often knows that the reason why a character is doing something is totally erroneous, but it's still the best information that the character in the book has. I like to explore the changeability of knowledge, the way that, in the beginning, characters see things in one way, and as they grow and learn more, we and they find out that what they knew as the truth wasn't necessarily the whole truth. Sometimes it's hardly the truth at all. When Rand and the rest first met Moiraine, they saw her as an Aes Sedai, and they thought of her as being practically omnipotent. It's only as they go along that they begin to find out that the Aes Sedai have limits. In the beginning everyone says the White Tower makes thrones dance and kings and queens play at their command, but the characters begin to find out that, yes, the White Tower has certainly manipulated a lot of thrones, but it's hardly all-powerful. Characters learn more about the truth as time goes on, and sometimes found out that what they knew before was only the first layer of the onion. That's a major theme, really, in the whole series, that changeability—the way something starts out seeming to be one simple thing, and slowly it is revealed to have a number of very complex layers.

    But for all the grand events and great hoop-la and whoop-de-do going on, the things that really interest me more than anything else are the characters themselves. How they change. How they don't change. How they relate to each other. The people fascinate me. And, of course, there are things happening that major characters sometimes don't even see, and the reader sometimes does. There's a lot going on beneath the surface that major characters don't realize, despite the fact that they do see a lot of what seems very furious activity.

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  • 9

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1994

    Fast Forward

    And that resonates in Perrin's fighting his way toward Rand in the climatic scene in this battle. He basically refuses to think of them as males or females, because if he thought of the person in front of him, trying to kill him, as a female—because there is a mixture of both in the group they are fighting—he wouldn't be able to proceed, and he'd end up being killed. So he has to blank that out of his mind so he can be purely reactive. So it's almost a repeat of that.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, in a way it is. It's something that comes out of the way they think. And it fits with the society, as well, as it's been devised. Three thousand years ago men destroyed the world. In effect, O.K. it was the male Aes Sedai, but it was MEN that did it. For three thousand years the world has been afraid of men who can channel. You have that sort of history, and women are going to have power, women are going to have influence and prestige. There is not going to be the same sort of subjugation of women you find in other cultures in our world. Given that, and given the fact that men are, quite simply, stronger than women. There's no two ways about it, on the average man is stronger than woman.

    Fast Forward

    We're talking physically stronger.

    Robert Jordan

    Right. Physically stronger. It's going to be, in many cases, a very strong cultural prohibition against a man using that strength against a woman. It seemed to me to fit very well with the way the cultures are set up.

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  • 10

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 1995

    Interviewer

    Jordan, a veteran of the Vietnam war, has definitely connected with his audience, both male and female. And he has some definite thoughts as to why fantasy literature is so popular.

    Robert Jordan

    Two things, really, I think. One, you can talk about good and evil, right and wrong, and nobody tells you that you're being judgmental. And the other thing is, in fantasy there's always the belief that you can overcome whatever obstacles there are, that you can make tomorrow better. And not only that you can, but that you will, if you work at it.

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  • 11

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 1995

    Interviewer

    Do you remember when you conceived The Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    The first thought that came to me was what would it be like, what would it really be like, to be tapped on the shoulder and told you were born to be the savior of mankind. And I then very quickly thought, what would happen if the savior of mankind really showed up and he was really there to save the world from impending doom, what would the real response of the world be? And after ten or twelve years of knocking around in my head, because I always give my books a long lead time, that turned into The Wheel of Time.

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  • 12

    Interview: Jun 17th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    The interview then continued with the communication between the various characters, and Robert Jordan stated clearly that every person keeping a secret, or withholding information, has a good reason for it, even if it in many cases are very personal. He exemplified this with the relation between Birgitte, Elayne and Egwene, where everyone knew that all knew Birgitte's secret (or at least a large part of it), but due to Elayne giving her word, the situation could not be resolved. Robert Jordan also took this as an example of the very great significance on a person's word and on oaths that the people in TWoT places. A word given is something to be kept, at all costs, however the circumstances changes.

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  • 13

    Interview: Jun 16th, 1995

    Karl-Johan Norén

    The major theme he tried to put forward in the WoT books he saw as the nature of information:

    Robert Jordan

    "Information changes, over time, distance and perception. Only way to see the truth is to oneself experience the event, but even then every person perceives it differently". Knowledge and information has an inherent mutability. The example he brought up was Birgitte's living of the history, apart from reading it, and the very different views it brought.

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  • 14

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    How did the series come about when you originally started writing it? You started about eight years ago?

    Robert Jordan

    I started writing about eight years ago. The first thought occurred to me, oh, somewhere between 18 and 20 years ago. My books always bubble around in my head a long time before anything gets on paper. Actually, yeah, I guess it is about that.

    The first idea that came to me, the first thought, was what is it really like to be the savior of mankind? What's it really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told you are the savior of mankind, and oh by the way, we expect you to go mad and die in order to fulfill prophecy and save everybody. That was the genesis.

    Dave Slusher

    Originally, had you planned it to be as epic in scope as it has turned out to become?

    Robert Jordan

    Not really. When I went to my publisher originally—and this was about 1986—I said I want to do this set of books, and I have no idea how many books I'm talking about. It is at least three or four, it might be five or six, I don't know. And luckily he was willing to go along with that. Most publishers would not go along with that. Most publishers would not go along with me not giving then an outline for the book, but instead giving them a twelve- or fifteen-page philosophical treatise explaining the themes of the book, and not a damn thing about what's actually going to be in the books. But Tom has always liked what I write, so he was willing to go.

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  • 15

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Tell us a little about the origins. Basically in any type of fantastical literature, you don't have the crutch of being able to pillage our own history so much. You have to make everything from the mythology and the basis of the culture up. I would imagine this was a pretty tall task for this series.

    Robert Jordan

    It's complicated. My degrees are mathematics and physics, but one of my hobbies has always been history. And also what now is called, I suppose, social anthropology. Those were hobbies of mine from the time I was a boy. It became relatively easy for me to create a "fake" culture simply because I had studied a good bit about how cultures came about. And I was always willing to ask the question of result. If you begin by saying: I want this, this, this, and this to be true in the culture I'm creating. But, you then say, if A is true, what else has to be true? And if B is true, what else has to be true? And more than that, if both A and B are true, what has to be true about that culture? Then you add in C and D, and you've started off with four things that you wanted to be true in this culture, and you have constructed the sort of culture in which those four things can be true—not the only culture in which they could be true necessarily, but one that holds together.

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  • 16

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, when you're writing on this scope, you're writing on many levels at the same time. You've got the individual interactions. You've got the interactions of different cultures. You have the larger interactions of the good and evil, and you have the supernatural characters that are sort of pulling strings all down below them. How hard is it to balance the action through all of these different levels?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, it's not all that hard in my head because I grew up in Charleston, which one writer once said makes Byzantium look simple. But I couldn't do it in a computer. I don't have the time to invest in that much effort on the computer simply to keep track of it.

    There are a lot of layers—everything is an onion. And we're talking almost a four-dimensional onion here. Any particular point that you look at—almost any particular point—has layers to it. It's one of the interesting things to me, is how much can I layer things without making it too complicated. It's quite possible for somebody to read these books as pure adventure, and I actually have twelve-year-old fans who do that. I was surprised to find that I had twelve-year-old fans, but I do and they read it just like that. Other people spend quite a lot of time discussing the layering, and it's fun for me to do.

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  • 17

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Since you had mentioned the characterization of women in the books: now this book has, as opposed to some of the older fantasy of the last forty years, you have women, very strong women in positions of power, in positions of combat. Is that something that wouldn't have happened if you were writing these books in the past? Is that kind of a product of our times?

    Robert Jordan

    No, it's a product of growing up with strong women. All of the women I knew growing up were quite strong. All of the men I knew growing up were quite strong because any of the weak men got shredded and thrown aside. So it made for a certain viewpoint, a certain outlook in life.

    Aside from that, the basic premise of the books, that 3000 years before the time of the books the world was essentially destroyed. The details don't really matter in the context of this interview, except for the fact that that destruction was caused by men, members of the male sex. A world that has grown out of that has to have a great deal of power for women, especially when the world has spent the last 3000 years being afraid of any man who has the ability to channel the One Power. You have to have a world where women have power. That's the way it's going to evolve. It can't go any other way. It's only a question of how much power they have.

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  • 18

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, structured as it is around the prophecies and the circularity of your history, does that lend to the story a certain . . . obviously, it focuses where the story can head. Does it limit you in any way, when you've got characters that are acting out the prophecies?

    Robert Jordan

    Not really. What I do is have certain main points that I know I'm going to touch on. But I am flexible in the order that I touch them, and I'm flexible in how to get from one to the next. Think of it as traveling cross country, and you know that you're going to go to mountain A, mountain B, mountain C, and mountain D. But maybe you'll go to mountain D first and mountain A second, and then you'll slide back to C. And in traveling from one mountain to another, you can take a lot of different paths.

    It becomes a little bit more complex because you have to imagine this whole piece of terrain is only one layer, and you have another piece of terrain stacked above it, and another stacked above it, and another stacked above it, and another stacked above that. And which path is taken on the first level influences which path can be taken on the second level, which influences which path can be taken and which can't on the third level, and so forth on down the line. But still, the main points are fixed. It's only the paths between that flex.

    Footnote

    RJ might have been dropping hints here, in his special way, about Rand going to Dragonmount before going to Shayol Ghul.

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  • 19

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    In my reading of the book, it seemed to me that individual identity is one of the themes that pretty much permeates a lot of the interactions of the characters. You have various struggles. You have the struggle of Rand for his own identity. You have various people submerging their identities in either cultural bonds, or you have various bonds, the bonds between the Aes Sedai and the Warders.

    Robert Jordan

    It is one of the themes. We like to believe in the United States that we're a nation of great individualists. And we do have occasional great individualists. By and large, we are a nation of people who bond together in groups and are generally suspicious of anybody in any other group. It's always been a struggle for Americans, it seems to me, what group to belong to and how far to submerge ourselves in that group. How far do you retain your own thoughts, and how much do you go by received wisdom? Sometimes received wisdom is true, and sometimes it's not. And it's difficult sometimes to tell the true from the false.

    So, that is all part of it, that struggle, which I play out again and again. Because I'm not trying to give answers here, I'm basically trying to tell a story. And if in telling a story, I can make a few people think about this or that and ask a few questions, I'm really not that interested in what answers they come up with as long as I can get them to ask the questions.

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  • 20

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, a lot of fantasy, and yours is no exception, deals with the idea of nobility. It's a very old tradition in fantasy going back a thousand years, to have the idea of someone of common upbringing that rises up to the leadership position.

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, further than that.

    Dave Slusher

    And your structure is quite similar to the King Arthur structure.

    Robert Jordan

    It's not only an ancient structure like that. It's in places like, oh, say a country that has a tradition of the common man born in the log cabin and rising to the White House. You know, anybody can be President. And in recent years, anybody has been.

    It's an old tradition, and it's not just American. I've seen it in Japanese and Chinese mythology and African mythology. In Asia and Africa, more often the fellow who's the commoner who aspires to greatness gets punished for it by the gods. It is more—I should say, not exclusively—but more of a European and Middle-eastern tradition that the common man can challenge the gods, the entrenched powers, and conquer, or at least work out some sort of rapprochement.

    And yeah, I work with that. I've tried to mine myths from every country and every continent. And reverse engineer them, of course. The Arthur myths, the Arthur legends, are easily recognizable in the books. I tried to hide them to some extent, but frankly Arthur is, I believe, the most recognizable legend in the United States. More people know about King Arthur than know about Paul Bunyan or Davey Crockett or anything that we have out of our own culture. But the others—myths from Africa and the Middle East, Norse mythology, Chinese mythologies—those things I could bury more deeply, more easily, because they're not very much recognized here.

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  • 21

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, let's talk a little about when you first started writing this series. Did you have any indication that it would be as popular and take off the way it has?

    Robert Jordan

    Of course not. Look, I hoped that the series would be successful. Nobody writes a book and hopes it's going to be a flop. But as far as this—no, I had no notion, no notion at all.

    Dave Slusher

    And I'm sure that you're aware of it. For example, on the internet there's a very large group devoted to your work. Very in-depth discussion. Does this flatter you, that people are so willing to discuss in very, very fine detail?

    Robert Jordan

    It's a wonderful ego stroking. And it's also astonishing. I've known it about it for some time, and I'm not certain I'm over it yet, really. It does sort of make me want to drop my jaw. I find it astonishing. And, as I say, it's very very flattering, very flattering.

    Dave Slusher

    Do you find that people's interpretations of the book, do they match up with what you intend? Or do people sometimes bring to you an interpretation that you hadn't thought of yourself?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, more often they're trying to work out details of what I'm intending to do, and what I have meant by things that I've already written. I've been sent in some cases sheets of Frequently Asked Questions and the answers that have been deduced. The only thing is, they're right between 20 percent, and oh, 33 percent of the time. They're almost right maybe another 20 percent of the time, 25 percent. And the rest of the time, they've gotten off into an incredibly wild tangent that makes me wonder if I ought to re-read the books to figure out how they came up with this.

    I do look at what they have said. And by that, I mean I look at it when somebody sends me a print-out. I'm not on the 'nets, normally. But sometimes people will send me a print-out of a couple of days of discussion, or a Frequently Asked Questions list, as I said. And I'll look at that, and it does give me some feedback.

    There are things in the books that I have tried to bury very deeply. And if, from the discussion or from the questions, I can see that they're beginning to get close to something I want to keep buried, I know that I have to be more subtle from now on, that I haven't been subtle enough. Or, on the other hand, there are some times when I realize that they're spending a lot of time discussing something that I was certainly not trying to make obscure that I thought was perfectly obvious. Then it becomes plain to me that I've gone the opposite way. I didn't say enough about it for them to understand. So then I have to maybe reiterate a little bit.

    But I certainly—I don't change the plots or anything like that. I'm certainly not going to alter the fates of major characters or anything of that sort, whether someone has figured out what that's going to be or not. I must say, they've not figured out very much of that accurately, but it's fun to see.

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  • 22

    Interview: Jun 21st, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    All the women are based in part on his wife. Many women have been amazed that he was not a woman using a male pen name because he writes women so well. He just wrote them as he thought women would be if men had destroyed the world 3000 years ago. Obviously, their roles would be much different than they are in our society. The women are not based on Southern women in general, just his wife.

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  • 23

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Martin Reznick

    How was the Dark One created, i.e. is he a fallen angel, an inherent part of the universe, etc.?

    Robert Jordan

    I envision the Dark One as being the dark counterpart, the dark balance if you will, to the Creator...carrying on the theme, the ying yang, light dark, necessity of balance theme that has run through the books. It's somewhat Manichean I know, but I think it works.

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  • 24

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Brendan T. Lavin

    Mr. Jordan. I love your series, it is intricate and interesting. My favorite character (other than Rand) is Mat. People have speculated that Odin was the outline for this character. I see Chukullen (misspelled). Could you elaborate?

    Robert Jordan

    There are a number of characters reflected, mythological characters, reflected in each of the books. Because of the basic theme, if you will, of the books, that information becomes distorted over distance or time, you cannot know the truth of an event the further you get from it. These people are supposed to be the source of a great many of our legends or myths, but what they actually did bears little resemblance to the myth. That is the conceit, that time has shifted these actions to other people, perhaps compressing two people into one or dividing one into three as far as their actions go.

    So Rand has bits of Arthur and bits of Thor and bits of other characters. And so does Mat and so does Nynaeve, and so do others. And yes Mat does have some bits of Odin, but not exclusively. He has bits of Loki and bits of Coyote and of the Monkey King.

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  • 25

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Dave Berenthal

    Are there any particular themes that you have added since the beginning, e.g., theme or characters that you did not have in mind when you first thought up the series? Are there any items of the story that have been cut out that you would like to tell us about?

    Robert Jordan

    In both cases, no. I have, in some cases, developed the story in ways that I did not quite intend to at first, but there has been no important character who has been deleted, there has been no necessity to add in something I did not expect to add in.

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  • 26

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    James Tillett

    Of the many themes that occur throughout your books, which do you consider the most important?

    Robert Jordan

    I think that's for the reader to decide. I like to put things out there and let the readers absorb them as they will. One of the things that has happened that I rather enjoyed was listening to some people talk as they waited for me to sign books. They were discussing the books, then changed the subject, and, without meaning to, were discussing what I consider one of the subjects of the books...that was very gratifying.

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  • 27

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Scotty1489

    Is our earth a future or past turn of the wheel?

    Robert Jordan

    Both. The characters in the books are the source of many of our myths and legends and we are the source of many of theirs. You can look two ways along a wheel.

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  • 28

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Loial

    What do you think has been your best book thus far? Do you like writing more action or more for the human emotions?

    Robert Jordan

    My best book is the one that I'm working on now. My best book is ALWAYS the one I'm working on now. And, as far as I'm concerned, action is always secondary. The main part of the story is the relationships between people. Those relationships sometimes lead to god-awful troubles, battles, etc., etc., but it's the relationships that are the important things.

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  • 29

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Lana Trezise from Columbia, MO

    A recurring motif in the Wheel of Time series is the differences between men and women. Why did you decide to make this such an important feature in your writings, and why do you take such a bipolar view on gender?

    Robert Jordan

    I became fascinated with women at the age of three. It's a long story—too long to go into here. But I quickly realized that for everything that was the same about men and women, there seemed to be at least two or three things that were different. Once I had decided that I wanted to use the One Power in the way that I was using it—that is divided into a male half and a female half—it became obvious to me that the differences between men and women themselves should also play a part.

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  • 30

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Gautam Mukunda from Harvard University

    Mr. Jordan—I'm a dedicated fan of your series who's bought all of the books in hardback, and first I'd like to thank you for bringing such a wonderful world to life for us. It seems to me that your work is something relatively new in fantasy—you're exploring a situation where there is no known quest or goal to be fulfilled in order for victory to be assured. Instead it seems more like the real world—uncertain, with the heroes fighting a war without knowledge of the 'victory conditions'. Would you care to comment?

    Robert Jordan

    I wanted to write a fantasy that reflected the real world. With characters who reflected real people—not specific people—but characters who were real people. And there are things about the real world that I wanted such as people who end up heroes very rarely set out to be heroes and heroic journeys consist mainly of sleeping rough and going hungry, wondering how you are going to pay for the next meal and wonder exactly what it is you are supposed to do and how are you going to get out of it alive.

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  • 31

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    The Chicago Sun-Times calls your work "A fantasy tale seldom equaled and still more seldom surpassed in English." This is rather high praise! What does fantasy mean to you? Why would you decide to write epic fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    It is certainly high praise—embarrassingly high! I chose fantasy in a large part because of its flexibility. It is possible to talk about right and wrong, good and evil, with a straight face in fantasy, and while one of the themes of the books is the difficulty of telling right from wrong at times, these things are important to me. There are always shades of gray in places and slippery points—simple answers are so often wrong—but in so much "mainstream" fiction, there isn't anything except gray areas and slippery points, and there isn't 10 cents worth of moral difference between "the good guys" and "the bad guys." If, indeed, the whole point in those books isn't that there is no difference. Besides, while I read fairly widely, fantasy has been in there since the beginning. My older brother used to read to me when I was very small, and among my earliest memories are listening to him read Beowulf and Paradise Lost. I suppose some of it "took."

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  • 32

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    What do you hope readers will gain from reading your novels?

    Robert Jordan

    I do hope that people will occasionally think about "the right thing to do," about right behavior and wrong, after reading one of my books. I certainly don't try to tell them what right behavior is, only to make them think and consider. But mainly, I just want to tell a story. In this case, about ordinary people pushed into extraordinary events and forced to grow and change whether they want to or not, sometimes in ways they never expected and certainly wouldn't have picked out given a choice. I am a storyteller, after all, and the job of a storyteller is to entertain. Anything else is icing on the cake.

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  • 33

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Andrew Wooster from Pomona College

    Do you feel that the fantasy genre of literature has any importance in society, and if so, what is its importance?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I think it has too many levels of importance to go into all of them here, but the one that is very clear to me is the human need for myth. We have tried to scrape away, carve away, all the myths in our lives, but we do have that need. It can be demonstrated as simply as by looking at the rise of urban legends. Humans have a deep need for myth, and fantasy literature helps to provide that, I think. Or at least to provide an outlet for that need.

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  • 34

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Sense of Wonder

    You are a strong support of literacy programs, such as Reading is Fundamental (RIF), and your novels have been praised by the American Library Association, VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) and Library Journal. Do you hope your work will be used to further literacy?

    Robert Jordan

    I hope so, and I also hope that people will occasionally think about "the right thing to do," about right behavior and wrong, after reading one of my books. I don't try to tell them what is right or wrong, only to make them think and consider. But primarily, I am a storyteller, and the job of a storyteller is to entertain. In the case of the Wheel of Time, I tell a story about ordinary people pushed into extraordinary events and forced to grow and change whether they want to or not, sometime in ways they never expected.

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  • 35

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    DrewofWotism

    I am curious to find out why there are no male Dreamwalkers mentioned since according to the Wise Ones it is not connected to the One Power.

    Robert Jordan

    Simply because it's a talent that appears very rarely among men. The Wise Ones are doubtful that there actually can be a male Dreamwalker. One of the themes of the book is that no one knows everything there is to know. Another is that just because you believe something to be true, doesn't mean that it is true.

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  • 36

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Jimbo3

    How did you get the idea for the the Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    Well...the first thing I thought of was what would it REALLY be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you had been born to save mankind. And somehow or other I suspect it wouldn't be very much like anyone had said it was so far...and about the same time, I was wondering about the sources of myth. And why there are so many myths and legends that show striking similarities when they're paired with cultural references. Those two things are as clear to a starting point as I can show you. And they bounced around in the back of my head along with 40 odd years of reading everything I can get my hands on. History, Biography, Myth, Legend, Comparative Religion, Social Anthro, whatever I found. And out eventually came the Wheel of Time...but not until a number of years thinking about it.

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  • 37

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Matthew Hunter

    Where did ideas come from?

    Robert Jordan

    What if you were tapped on the shoulder and told you had to save the world?

    What are the sources of myths? "Reverse-engineered" legends.

    The game of "telephone". (He calls it "whisper").

    Proud of the little things that slip up on you, like Callandor being "the Sword in the Stone."

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  • 38

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    There are things I am saying, things I am talking about, but I try not to make them obtrusive. The necessity to struggle against evil, the difficulty of identifying evil, how easy it is to go astray, are very simple questions. In modern mainstream fiction, if you discuss good and evil, you're castigated for being judgmental or for being old-fashioned. Originally this was a way of deciding which was the greater wrong—'It is wrong to steal, but my child is starving to death. Obviously, in that situation it is better to steal than to let my child die of hunger.' But today that has been transmogrified into a belief that anything goes, it's what you can get by with, and there is no real morality, no right, no wrong—it's simply what produces the Platonic definition of evil: 'a temporary disadvantage for the one perceiving evil.'

    In fantasy, we can talk about right and wrong, and good and evil, and do it with a straight face. We can discuss morality or ethics, and believe that these things are important, where you cannot in mainstream fiction. It's part of the reason why I believe fantasy is perhaps the oldest form of literature in the world, at least in the western canon. You go back not simply to Beowulf but The Epic of Gilgamesh.

    And it survives pervasively today. People in the field of science fiction and fantasy are willing to accept that the magic realists are fantasy writers, but to the world at large, 'Oh no, that's not fantasy, that's literature.' Yes it is fantasy. And a lot of other things, that are published as mainstream, really are fantasy but not identified as such. We really have quite a pervasive influence.

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  • 39

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    If and when you start another series of books after the Wheel of Time series will you use some of the characters from that series?

    Robert Jordan

    No. Absolutely, positively, never under heaven! I have no plans ever to return to this universe once I reach the end. If I have such a compelling idea one day that I simply must go back, then I’ll shift the story so far in time that it might as will be a different universe. Anything else would be doing the same thing over again. For the next set of books, I will be in a completely different universe with different rules, different cultures, different people. I expect I will examine some of the same issues—the clash of cultures, the tide of change, the difficulty men and women alike have in figuring out the rules of the game—but I certainly don’t expect to chew my cud twice.

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  • 40

    Interview: Oct, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit Books

    What inspired you to write in the fantasy genre?

    Robert Jordan

    Some stories need to be told in certain genres, and fantasy allows the writer to explore good and evil, right and wrong, honour and duty without having to bow to the mainstream belief that all of these things are merely two sides of a coin. Good and evil exist, so do right and wrong. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference, just as it can be difficult to know what is the proper thing to do, but it is worth making the effort.

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  • 41

    Interview: Oct, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit Books

    Was there a single idea that inspired the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    Not a single idea, but many, large and small, which coalesced. I wondered what it would really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you had been born to carry out a great mission, that this was your inevitable destiny no matter what you yourself wished. I was thinking about the source of legends, about how come must be real events distorted by the passage of time, and also about how similar many legends are between different and often distant cultures. There were many other things involved in this, but eventually they began to come together in my mind, and I saw the possibility of the story.

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  • 42

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Ken Wimer from Vallejo, CA

    Mr. Jordan, it is a such a pleasure to converse with you like this. (Unfortunately, I am at work, so I must submit this without knowing if it will actually get answered, being 10 AM PST!) My question: It is apparent that the majority of the "World" is and has been greatly influenced, if not outright controlled by females. As we all know, females and males must work together (as in a circle) so as to defeat the Dark One. Will we be seeing more of a "work together attitude" between men and women in your future novels, or more of the "women should control all while looking down their nose at men" theme?

    Robert Jordan

    Both. I'm not certain that I have a women-looking-down-their-nose at men theme; I simply have women that consider themselves competent in and of themselves.

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  • 43

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Davidexx from Philadelphia

    First, thanks for such a wonderful series. Your unsurpassed character development, such an important part of fiction writing, makes this series stand head and shoulders above similar-themed works. My question is about balance. Obviously your world is driven by pattern and balance (male and female, light and dark, etc). Why is it that as many of your major and minor characters find their complement (i.e. significant other), Rand has three, ehh, girlfriends. Is this simply because he's the "big cheese", or does this obvious imbalance represent the Wheel weaving what is necessary for the final resolution of the story?

    Robert Jordan

    Read and find out. Sorry about that!

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  • 44

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Doug Carlson from Urbana, IL

    What would happen if the Dark One was victorious? And why can the Dark One act on the world but it seems the Creator cannot?

    Robert Jordan

    Read and find out. It's a good question, and an important theme—but read and find out.

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  • 45

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Fetch

    Did you draw on folklore and mythologies for your books? Specifically, Mat as a parallel to Odin, with his spear that has Thought and Memory on it (Odin's ravens) and the distinct possibility that he's gonna lose an eye sometime soon?

    Robert Jordan

    I've tried to reverse engineer myths and legends. As if this was a game of whispers. By the time the whisper travels around the room it changes. The legends of the world today are what the last child said. I'm trying to remember what was on the original paper. Yes, Odin, yes Rand has Arthur in him. But the stories have changed so... So the legends are ultimately not at all alike.

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  • 46

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    What attracted you to writing fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    I think that, in large part, I was led to fantasy because in fantasy it is possible to talk about right and wrong, good and evil, with a straight face. In so much else of literature, everything has begun to be rendered in shades of gray. It isn't that I don't believe there are gray areas, morally and ethically, but not everything is murky.

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  • 47

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    What started you down the road that led to writing The Eye of the World?

    Robert Jordan

    A number of idle speculations that percolated around in the back of my head. I thought about what it really would be like—really—to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you had been born to save humanity. Even if the danger was real and imminent and everyone knew that someone was...scheduled, you might say...to show up and take care of matters, how would they react when that someone stood up and said here I am? I was thinking about the distortion of information over distance, whether distance in space or in time, and how that applied to both history and legends. The further you are from an event, the less likely you are to know what really happened. I was thinking about what the world would be like if there had never been any need for a struggle for women's rights, or if that struggle had taken place so long ago that it just wasn't relevant any longer. No one thinks it's odd to see women as high ranking politicians, or working on the docks. No one ever thinks that something is or isn't a suitable job for a woman. There were fifty or more lines of thought, and suddenly I saw, in rough form, what turned out to be the final scene of the last book of the Wheel. When I realized that that was what it was, a conclusion, all I had to do was figure out where to start from and how to get from A to Z.

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  • 48

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    If you had to describe the series in six words, what would they be?

    Robert Jordan

    Sheesh! I've written a few million words so far, and you want me to summarize in six? Well, here goes. Cultures clash, worlds change; cope. I know; only five. But I hate to be wordy.

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  • 49

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    RawShock

    What got you into writing fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    Fantasy is an area where it is possible to talk about right and wrong, good and evil, with a straight face. In mainstream fiction and even in a good deal of mystery, these things are presented as simply two sides of the same coin. Never really more than a matter of where you happen to be standing. I think quite often it's hard to tell the difference. I think that quite often you can only find a choice between bad and worse. But I think it's worth making the effort and I like to expose my characters to that sort of situation.

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  • 50

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    I've read your Conan books. I've read The Wheel of Time series, all of it to date. I'm almost finished with your last one, Winter's Heart. How do you do it? How did you come up with such a huge project?

    Robert Jordan

    I had a lot of different ideas perking in the back of my head about the distortion of information. Whether you are distant from an event in time or in space, it doesn't matter. The further you are from the event, the less likely you are to know it actually happened.

    At the same time, I was thinking about the source of legends, that some of them must be connected to actual events, actual people, but of course, would be distorted in that way by being passed orally for generations perhaps, before they were written down. Perhaps for hundreds of years.

    I was thinking about what it would really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told you were born to be the salvation of mankind, and oh, by the way, you'll probably have to die in the end...There's no rule book, kid, and you can't get out of the game. You've been drafted so get in there and win one for the Gipper.

    And there were a lot of things perking around. The only odd point is, I guess, is that really at the same time, I thought of what had come to be the last scene of the last book and it seemed to me that it was very interesting, and I wanted to figure out how I could get to that last scene. After a number of years of poking this around in my head, I had a rough outline of The Wheel of Time.

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  • 51

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Question

    The first specific question for Jordan was asked why he chose to write a fantasy series, instead of going for historical novels.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, in terms of history, I see some similarity to the writing of a fantasy novel and the writing of a history novel. In both cases you are presenting a world that is totally strange and alien to the reader. And if you don't believe that, read a good novel set three hundred years ago, one that really describes the life and you'll find very little recognizable in it.

    So there is a great deal of similarity there. The major difference is that if you're writing a good historical novel you must place the historical events where they actually happened, not shift them about at your own convenience. In a fantasy novel you can shift history for your own convenience. It's a great...a great aid.

    Question

    And that's attracted you because you felt your hands free to...

    Robert Jordan

    That's, that's a part of it. Another part of it is that I felt I could discuss things writing fantasy that I couldn't discuss writing in other genres, things that I would have to...sidestep.

    There's a great deal of the struggle between good and evil. I'm trying to decide what is good, and what is evil, what's right, what is wrong, am I doing the right thing? Not by preaching; simply the characters keeping face with a situation or they're gonna make a decision; they don't know enough, don't have enough information, and they don't know what the results are going to be; oh they know what the results are gonna be and they're wrong. We'll give them that. At least wrong a lot of the times. And they have to blunder on and blunder through anyway, cause that's all there is to do.

    But if I wrote about that, if I tried to say that there is a right, there is a wrong, there is good, there is evil, it's tough to tell the difference, but you really have to make the try. ... It's worth the effort to try. If I said that in a mainstream novel, it would be laughed out of town.

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  • 52

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    Fantasy is the literature of hope. In fantasy there is a belief that you can make a difference. Today may be bleak, but you can live through today. And tomorrow will be better. And maybe there'll be a different darkness tomorrow, but you can live through that, too, and you can make the light come, and the darkness go away. It doesn't matter how many times the darkness comes. There is always hope for something better. I think that that is the central core running through fantasy. And having said that...I have to apologize, by the way, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. I'm a bit groggy, a bit punchy. And I'm trying very hard to hold on to my thoughts and to my line of reasoning and not go off on strange and awful tangents. I think what I'm going to do now is ask who would like to ask me a question.

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  • 53

    Interview: 2002

    The Wheel of Time saga

    Robert Jordan

    The Wheel of Time is a story of a world in change, and of people in change. These are ordinary people who find themselves thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Their world is altering, their society is altering, quite often in ways they don't like. And they are learning that some of these things they can change the direction of, or stop the changes, but they can't stop everything. Change happens, no matter what you want to happen, change is going to happen. And they are changing as well. By Crossroads of Twilight, if you followed from The Eye of the World, you'd realize that they are the same people they were in the beginning, but you also realize they're very different people. They have been changed by their world changing and by their experiences, just as much as their world has changed.

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  • 54

    Interview: Jan 22nd, 2003

    USA Today Article (Verbatim)

    Robert Jordan

    Fantasy—"fiction based on the unreal"—is his true calling, however. "It touches on dreams and hope. No matter how dire the situation...there is a presumption of things coming out all right."

    USA Today

    There are an estimated 65,000 fan Web sites devoted to Jordan's work. But The Wheel of Time series has not been made into a film or miniseries. (In the 1980s, Jordan wrote a series about Conan the Destroyer of film fame. The character was first created in the 1930s by Robert E. Howard.) Jordan promises that he will write "at least" two more novels in The Wheel of Time series.

    "What makes Jordan so popular, I think, is that everything he writes makes perfect sense," notes Swedish high school teacher Lars Jacobsson, 27, from Malmö. He has been a fan since 1995. "In most other fantasy books, there's always a point where you go, 'I don't buy that, that doesn't seem right.' In The Wheel of Time, that point has yet to come."

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  • 55

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    San Diego, CA

    I've noticed that many names, items, etc. are similar, if not the same, as what could be found in material relating to the Holy Grail and other subject matter relating to Catholicism, the Crusades, etc. Is this coincidence or intentional?

    Robert Jordan

    It's intentional. I have intended from the beginning that these books should be a sort of source for all of our legends and myths. That is the conceit that I'm playing with here.

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  • 56

    Interview: Apr 27th, 2004

    Wotmania Interview (Verbatim)

    Wotmania

    Do you ever let compassion for a character affect or influence plot development?

    Robert Jordan

    Never in life. I like writing books where good triumphs, though seldom as completely as some would wish, but sometimes bad things do happen to good people. That is the touch of realism in the fantasy that helps make it feel real. One of them, anyway.

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  • 57

    Interview: Jul 22nd, 2004

    Jason Denzel

    One unique subject discussed over dinner was the metaphysical basis for the underlying spiritual topography of the WoT. Specifically, one member of the dinner party asked RJ whether he had intentionally woven core elements of the world's various spiritual/mystical traditions into his work, or whether those ideas were in fact manifesting THROUGH him as pure art.

    Robert Jordan

    His answer was a description of his bookshelf at home, which begins at the left side with the Christian Bible, continues into more Judeo-Christian texts, then picks up with the Quran, with books on Hindusim (I got the sense he was referring to the Bhagavad-Gita, but would need to check with him to be sure), Buddhist texts, and then what he called various "discourses" on world religion and spiritual philosophy.

    Jason Denzel

    In short—RJ is a student of world relgion, which explains much of the religious diversity of his work, not just in terms of the many cultures of his world but in terms of the underlying metaphysical structure of his universe.

    By the way, Robert Jordan also sent me an email recently further describing his book collection.

    Robert Jordan

    The bookshelf I spoke of is one bookcase that holds my books on religion. There are a couple of others for mythology, and a great many covering nonfiction and fiction. At present, the total collection is around thirteen thousand volumes in my study. That's the carriage house behind what is colloquially called "the big house" in Charleston, the main dwelling, whether it is all that big or not; books in the big house aren't part of this total since most of them are Harriet's, and she doesn't catalog her books. I'm trying to pare that number down because I don't have enough room. Unfortunately, as fast as I can give books away, I buy more. Oh, well.

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  • 58

    Interview: Sep 3rd, 2005

    Question

    When you first starting thinking about the series and thinking about writing it: when you were naming things, and places and people, did you have any sort of process or did you say, hey that sounds cool?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I don't know, it is a combination of things. I gave this recently, so it is probably already on the net. How did I come up with the division of the One Power, the male and female half? I had seen a novel, there are a lot now, but this was the first I had seen like this. Young woman wants to be whatever it was, a magician, whatever, but she can't because she is a woman, and women aren't allowed to do that so she is going to struggle through it.

    I thought it was interesting, one of the earlier novels of the feminist struggle, and all that. I put it back, because it didn't seem something I cared to read, but I thought about it because the thought that occurred to me is okay, that's real easy, women aren't allowed to do this, it is historically based or grounded at least, what if it was men who couldn't, now how would that be, as my wife points out to me, we have the upper body strength, and she is convinced all of the inequities in the world vis a vis gender, are subject to the fact that we have all the upper body strength, and I am sorry about that baby, I ain't giving it up. So, how could there be a situation where men were not allowed to do this, and it does not somehow get itself reversed over time, add into this I wanted a near gender equal world as I could, and how could I have a situation where women could maintain gender equality?

    Okay, now I split men and women, have different sources of power and the male source of power is tainted. Okay, you've gotta stop men and at the same time, out of this beginning came the division of the One Power, the White Tower existing as the political center of power for three thousand years, false dragon, the destruction of the world by men, false dragons arising periodically to remind humanity exactly why men can't be allowed to channel and why the White Tower must remain the center of political power. A lot of stuff came out of that one notion.

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  • 59

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Isabel

    When Mat had the dagger, Verin and Moiraine thought he would contaminate other people with the evil of Shadar Logoth, and they would contaminate other people. Fain does seem to be influencing without contaminating people. Is it as dangerous as it seems, could also normal people become evil and would they also contaminate other people?

    Robert Jordan

    No. Fain can contaminate people because he has the dagger; it is the dagger. What Verin and Moiraine thought was incorrect; they were extending it too far. It is the one of things you may have noted in the books. Aes Sedai often believe they know more than they actually know. In other words, a lot of people believe they know more than they actually know. One of the themes I have running through the books is that whatever you think you know, some of it is almost certainly wrong, and it may even be the most crucial bit that is wrong. But even when you are aware that some of your information may be wrong you still have to go ahead and make a decision. You...you cannot afford the luxury of saying, well I don't know everything and some of what I know may be wrong, so I am not going to do anything, I am just going to sit here and wait and see if I can find out some more, because that only leads to sitting still forever.

    Footnote

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  • 60

    Interview: Oct 29th, 2005

    Question

    Another guy asked about how Rand has not been in the forefront of the series for the last few books, and he asked how long RJ knew that that would happen, or if it just happened.

    Robert Jordan

    RJ said that he knew it would happen from the beginning, because he wanted to show that the "man on the shining white horse, the man who is the only hope, he can only do what he does because of the help of ten thousand other people." He wanted to portray that Rand has to be at the Last Battle to win, but he cannot be the ONLY one there.

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  • 61

    Interview: Oct 31st, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    He confirmed that he's due to start working on "Infinity of Heaven" next. The next series will be set in a different universe, with different rules. He acknowledged that it would still have his main theme: "Men and women misunderstanding each other."

    He also stated that he hopes to get better. One day he's sure to make it. To this proclamation a gent up front called out "you're great", to which he replied: "Thank you, thank you, yes, I thank you and my mother thanks you."

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  • 62

    Interview: Dec 19th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    (for kcf) On the large scale, the gender relationships in the Wheel grew from the very beginnings of the books, really. I recall seeing a paperback book back in the 70s, a fantasy novel about a young woman who wasn't allowed to become a magician of whatever sort it was because she was a woman. The notion struck me as interesting, since it was the first fantasy novel with that theme that I had ever seen, but what really stuck with me was this. That novel was a simple reflection of the then-current mundane world, but what about if it were men who were not allowed to become whatever it was? Now that would be an interesting twist, and unexpected. Why would that be, and how could it be enforced? As Harriet has often pointed out, many of the world's gender inequalities stem from superior male upper body strength. (To which I usually say, "Oh, dear! Isn't that awful and unfair!" While pulling off my shirt and flexing my biceps, to be sure.) From that genesis grew the division of the One Power into a male and a female half with the male half tainted, giving a reason why men not only would not be allowed to become Aes Sedai, as they were not then called, but must not be allowed even to channel, again as it was not then called. From that, and from the history that I was even then beginning to put together for this world, though I didn't realize it then, came the result of 3000+ plus years when men who can wield the ultimate power, the One Power, are to be feared and hated above all things, when the only safety from such men comes from the one stable center of political, and other, power for those 3000+ years, a female center of power. The view I then had was a world with a sort of gender equality. Not the matriarchy that some envision—Far Madding is the only true matriarchy in the lot—but gender equality as it might work out given various things that seem to be hard-wired into male and female brains. The result is what you see.

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  • 63

    Interview: Dec 19th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    (for kcf) Now as to communications and the lack thereof, these things are not commentaries on any sort of technologies. They are a commentary on the human navel. Do you really know anybody who actually tells everything he or she knows to everybody? Even when they really need to know? Maybe especially when they really need to know. Do you really trust people who think they always know what other people really need to know? May I postulate that this person has few close friends, those quite quiet when around him or her? There are a thousand reasons why we don't tell everything to everybody, including often things that we should tell. Maybe the information puts us in a bad light, so we withhold information, or perhaps shade the truth a bit. That's one of the most common. Or maybe we think the other person must already know because it is so obvious. Which can add the factor that we don't want to appear foolish for pointing out that the sky seems to be blue today. Or maybe we just didn't bloody well think of it. It has always struck me how unrealistic, how incredibly fortuitous—you think ta'veren are centers of unrealistic coincidence? Huh!—books are where almost everybody learns everything they need to know as soon as they need to know it, where almost nobody of any note or importance ever has to make decisions based on incomplete information, information that the reader may know is at least partly wrong. Lord, even when they just learn almost everything they need to know exactly when they need to know it, matters seem just too far-fetched. No, it isn't a commentary on technology. Just people.

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  • 64

    Interview: Mar, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    Before I start a book I always sit down and try to think how much of the story I can put into it. The outline is in my head until I sit down and start doing what I call a ramble, which is figuring how to put in the bits and pieces. In the beginning, I thought The Wheel of Time was six books and I'd be finished in six years. I actually write quite fast. The first Conan novel I did took 24 days. (I wrote seven Conan books—for my sins—but they paid the bills for a number of years.) For my Western, I was under severe time constraints in the contract so it was 98,000 words in 21 days—a killer of a schedule, especially since I was not working on a computer then, just using an IBM Correcting Selectric!

    I started The Wheel of Time knowing how it began and how it all ended. I could have written the last scene of the last book 20 years ago—the wording would be different, but what happened would be the same. When I was asked to describe the series in six words, I said, 'Cultures clash, worlds change—cope. I know it's only five, but I hate to be wordy.' What I intended to do was a reverse-engineered mythology to change the characters in the first set of scenes into the characters in the last set of scenes, a bunch of innocent country folk changed into people who are not innocent at all. I wanted these boys to be Candides as much as possible, to be full of 'Golly, gee whiz!' at everything they saw once they got out of their home village. Later they could never go back as the same person to the same place they'd known.

    But I'd sit down and figure I could get so much into a story, then begin writing and realize halfway in that I wasn't even halfway through the ramble. I'd have to see how I could rework things and put off some of the story until later. It took me four years to write The Eye of the World, and I still couldn't get as much of the story into it as I wanted; same with The Great Hunt. I finally reached a point where I won't have to do that. For Knife of Dreams I thought, "I've got to get all of that into one book: it's the penultimate volume!" And I did. Well, with one exception, but that's OK. That one exception would probably have added 300 pages to the book but I see how to put it in the last volume in fewer.

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  • 65

    Interview: Mar, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    I've been asked why there's no organized religion in my books. (My fans ask me questions about everything!) The main point of organized religion is our gathering together in one place to undergo rituals, reaffirm our own belief, and testify to others that we believe, thus strengthening their belief and our own. But in a world where miracles are a daily occurrence, where anybody walking down the street could see the Hand of God lifting up dead men from the grave, suddenly organized religion becomes less important. This manifestation of the Creator as something they may be able to see on any day at any given hour, anywhere. Still, my character Rand is a messiah figure, prophesied to save mankind and to die for it.

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  • 66

    Interview: Dec 17th, 2008

    Question

    You've inherited a world that is on the verge of destruction, and a main character who is now crippled, partially insane, and probably now blind.

    Brandon Sanderson

    (Brandon's interjection: Yup indeed! Lots of conflict. Just the way I like it. This is the stuff that great epics are made of. It looks like Jason cut this part of the question when he did the original post. Probably for space issues.)

    Question Continued

    You've said before in other interviews that your fantasy novels (Elantris, and the Mistborn series) were born in part by the notion of taking a typical fantasy concept and turning it on its head. For example, you said that while The Wheel of Time is about "peasants becoming kings", your Elantris book is about "Kings who become peasants." And one of the fundamental ideas behind the Mistborn series is the question: "What if the Dark One won?" Having explored those interesting ideas, what's it like to suddenly find yourself writing the ending of a massive series which in large part defined the fantasy genre that many readers are familiar with?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think I covered this one last year as well as I could. I'll add to my response that I think, in our hearts, every one of us fantasy authors wants to write this classic story. There's a piece of us who wants to emulate our masters, to do as they did, because they brought us such delight and emotion at reading. That's why many authors, when they first begin, tend to write works that feel heavily derivative.

    Most of us never publish those novels. We move on, like a tottering child, searching for our own voice. Trying to find a way to bring those same emotions to people, but by telling our own stories. Our own way. It's the correct way of things. Telling the exact same story over and over again is an exercise in futility.

    But I get the chance to actually do that, to be part of this thing that nurtured me through those years when I was a quiet fantasy reader who spent more time in his room with his books than outside with living people. I get to write on this story, I get to be part of the master's work. That's very humbling.

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  • 67

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    What was your inspiration for this series? Anything specific?

    Robert Jordan

    For First Cause: I suppose the question of what it would really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you were born to be the savior of mankind. Beyond that, two or three hundred things.

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  • 68

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Is there any symbolism or "deeper meaning" behind this series?

    Robert Jordan

    There are layers, certainly, but I don't know about deeper meaning.

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  • 69

    Interview: Nov 2nd, 2009

    GeekDad

    Anyone who knows the books at all knows that Rand al'Thor hears the voice of Lews Therin in his head—sometimes cackling like a madman, other times more helpfully. After wading through all of Robert Jordan's notes, and listening to those dictated comments, do you have a new sympathy for Rand?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Robert Jordan dropped a bomb at the end of Knife of Dreams, with what Semirhage was saying about or to Rand, talking about his level of stability. I remember as a reader, going through as a kid—I think Robert Jordan blindsided me with Lews Therin, because I'd been told that "Rand will go mad, Rand will go mad," but I didn't accept that voice as Rand going mad. I accepted that as another person, inside of Rand's head, and not a delusion or anything like that. Across the course of the books, Robert Jordan brought together this thing that he'd promised: "No, look, this guy is just going crazy. Yes, he's seeing part of his past life, but he's going insane. It's the immense pressure that's doing this." In looking through the notes, and seeing what Rand has to go through, it's hard not to sympathize with the poor guy.

    Robert Jordan once said in an interview, when someone tried to get him to boil down the series to its core—he first said, you can't boil down this series. I wrote it as long as I did because that's how long I needed to tell the story, and so boiling it down doesn't work. But he finally did say this: At its essence, this series is about what it's like to be told that you need to save the world, and that it's probably going to cost your life. Even all of the other characters, you could say that that is a theme for them, too. Egwene has had to give up the life that she'd assumed that she was going to live, and to adopt this other life in the name of the greater good. And that's happening to everybody. Kings and queens are being cast down, and people who thought that their lives were just going to be normal and stable, and that's all they really wanted, are being forced to take upon themselves these mantles of responsibility. And Rand is at the very heart of that. Rand is the center, the example for all of them of what they're having to go through, and it's the worst for him.

    GeekDad

    True—but I also meant for you as the writer finishing someone else's series: As you're writing, you surely have Robert Jordan's voice rattling around in your head.

    Brandon Sanderson

    (Laughs.) It does kind of feel like that at times, particularly after I've spent some time reading Robert Jordan's writing and then jumping into the book. It is like I have this voice saying, "Well, do it this way," or "This is how I would approach it." Juggling Brandon and Robert Jordan and trying to make sure that this isn't a Brandon book—but it's also not going to be a Robert Jordan book—and making sure that it's a Wheel of Time book. That's been a delicate balance.

    Footnote—Terez

    I commented on the Dragonmount forums when I found this interview that it seemed that Brandon had accidentally confirmed construct theory in this interview, and that I suspected someone on Team Jordan had said something to him about it, resulting in the vaguer answers that followed on the book tour. Luckers emailed Brandon and got this response:

    Brandon Sanderson

    James,

    Feel free to post this response from me.

    "I stand by everything I said in those interviews; I did not make any miss-steps. However, there is one big misinterpretation. Terez says that I was asked by Team Jordan to be more secretive. That's not the case. There was one time when Harriet asked me to be more secretive, but that was in regards to spoilers about Towers of Midnight when I was working on it, and she felt (rightly) that I was hinting about too many things that would come in the book.

    I have not settled, and do not intend to settle, this debate except in regard to the things placed specifically in the books. The Geekdad interview response is primarily talking about my own reactions as a reader the first time I read specific scenes, long before I saw what was in the notes. At that point, as a fan, my view of the books shifted.

    Those views may have shifted again while looking at the notes. I have not said, and will continue not to say, what was in them on this point. There are clues in the text. That is always the way it has been, and I think that is sufficient for this conversation. However, I can explicitly say there was no "Team Jordan order of silence" on this particular point. In fact, there have been few (or none) of those except in regards to spoiling surprises for the books not yet in print. I prefer to keep it that way, which is why I generally ask interviewers to run my interviews past Team Jordan for clarification, and so that they know what I'm saying and can steer me if I do happen to stray into areas best left quiet."

    Best,
    Brandon

    Footnote—Terez

    Of course, the bolded bits (emphasis mine) are still telling, and there must have been some reason why he decided to be less open about his feelings after this point.

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  • 70

    Interview: Nov 2nd, 2009

    GeekDad

    One of the things I noticed in the book is how often, both at the beginning and again near the end, scenes and chapters are punctuated with laughter, of all different types—including the inability to laugh. What's interesting about laughter?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was a theme for the book. And, giving no spoilers, we have known for a while that Cadsuane and the Wise Ones have been saying that Rand needs to learn to laugh and cry again. That was their big concern. The idea of laughter as a theme was an interesting one to consider.

    I mean, there's never one main theme for a book, particularly one this long. And so when you sit down to look at it, you want to have a lot of different threads, kind of like the threads in the Pattern, weaving together to make the tapestry of a story. One of those was the idea of laughter and how different people found enjoyment and amusement. We have the twisted laughter of the Forsaken and we have the genuine laughter of some of the characters, and we have one character, Rand, who can no longer laugh—he is incapable of doing it, even of laughing in wryness. And so I could approach it from those three different directions. We've got the terrible laughter and the full, joyful laughter, and poor Rand's silence in the middle. I thought that highlighting it in other people would only make his excruciating inability to feel all the more obvious, all the more of a smack in the face.

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  • 71

    Interview: Nov 2nd, 2009

    GeekDad

    The book opens with Rand's principled refusal to torture Semirhage, one of the Forsaken. You can't accuse a series that's twenty years in the making of direct political allegory—but surely there's a comment...

    Brandon Sanderson

    That was in my mind, certainly. The Wheel of Time has always actually had quite an interesting relationship with political allegory. There was an article in the New York Times [I think this one—JBJ] a number of years ago talking about the Wheel of Time as a manifestation of interesting things that were happening in the world, which I think is fascinating. One of the reasons we like fantasy as writers is because fantasy is, at its very core, inherently representative. It is metaphorical. It is fantastical. It's wonderful to be able to write something that is so fantastical and use the threads of true personality, of characterization, of people that you sympathize with, to anchor it in the real world at the same time. So that was running through my mind. I didn't sit down and say, "I'm going to write a political allegory." And yet these concepts were so big in our culture at the time that they did influence me. In these scenes—it's even more interesting because I was working with direct comments from Robert Jordan in his notes mixed with things that had been said about Rand previously and trying to show both sides of the situation.

    Robert Jordan had an interesting quote on this once. The interviewer asked him, "What are you trying to say with your stories? What are you trying to teach?" Robert Jordan took exception to that, and said: I am not trying specifically to teach anything. What he said, and the exact quote is something along these lines: "I love it when my books ask questions, but I don't want to give the answers. The answers are yours. My job is to ask the questions." And I see that. For many years I've thought that was a brilliant and poignant thing to say, and have used that as a guide in my own writing. I don't want to give you answers. I want to raise issues and have characters struggle with them, because that's what people do, and that's what we [as writers] do. But I'm not sitting down to say, I am going to tell you what is right and what is wrong. I'm going to show you that there are characters who have a belief in what is right and what is wrong, and you can agree or disagree with them. But, like real people, they have views on these issues. I'm not trying to say anything specific; I'm only reacting, I think, in part to what we're all saying, part of the cultural dialogue.

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  • 72

    Interview: Apr 30th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    One can take it even further with The Wheel. Even the magic system, which is very scientifically based, lends us to call it magical Sci-Fi. So perhaps some of the other concepts of Sci-Fi are there too, such as social commentaries or looking at issues from other angles.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Yes! And the big thing about fantasy is that you can address questions of good and evil without making people run for cover and thinking, "Oh my God, he's going to turn into a preacher any minute now." But, making his great theme of making decisions without enough information is so true.

    And, his early fan letters, I noticed, would come from two large categories of adult: people in law enforcement and people in medicine: doctors, nurses, policemen, district attorneys. What do these groups have in common? They're making life and death decisions, every day, without enough information. The policeman, should he draw his weapon? If so, he will probably be shot at himself. The doctor, dealing with a person who is dying, and you never have enough information.

    Richard Fife

    And sometimes, you just have to act.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Yes, and how you do that is a major theme in the series, and how you can be expected to have to do that.

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  • 73

    Interview: May 25th, 2010

    Patrick

    The Gathering Storm appears to be the most thematically-oriented book in the WoT series, with several readers rhapsodizing about the parallels between Rand, Egwene, and others and how they deal with issues of pain and responsibility. Is the upcoming Towers of Midnight shaping up to have some interesting thematic parallels similar to The Gathering Storm and if so, would they be extensions of what we saw in The Gathering Storm or something completely different?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The reason I divided the book the way I did was because of the way that I felt the themes would play well with one another. Towers of Midnight certainly has its own themes, and you will be able to notice them. There will be some carryover. But it's going to be a different book. We need to expand and look wider about the world to catch up with other characters we haven't seen for a while. And there are quite a number of them.

    So, it's a yes and a no. The themes will be there, but there will be a lot more going on around them, so they'll be diluted in favor of scope. I've had to be careful not to make Towers of Midnight simply a "jump back in time and catch up" book. I don't want to do that. It does move forward.

    Rand and Egwene will be there. But the themes are going to be different because of the different mix. We are going to see a lot more of Perrin, and we are going to see a lot more of Mat. And what's going on in their plotlines will influence theme in a different way.

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  • 74

    Interview: Nov 30th, 2009

    David Lenberg

    Brandon, thank you. Can you tell us a bit more about the Wheel of Time series? The Gathering Storm is number twelve?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. The Wheel of Time is epic fantasy. If you're not familiar with epic fantasy, in that genre what we really try to do is, we try to tell historical novels that take place. . . we try to write historical novels that take place in worlds that don't exist, if that makes any sense whatsoever. Lord of the Rings is of course the classic example of a great epic fantasy. These are stories about the beginnings and endings of eras and ages. They're stories about people put through extreme pressures and into extreme situations. In fantasy, what we're really trying to do is, we're trying to explore the human experience by going places that regular fiction can't go because we have the freedom in this genre to ask the 'what ifs': what if this?, what if that?

    And the Wheel of Time's big 'what if' is: what if you were told that you were the person who had to save the world? What if you were told that you would probably end up dying, but if you succeeded the world would continue to exist, and if you failed everything would end? And it follows one character, and then splits off from there. The first book, about the first half, is about a man named Rand, who's this person who's been told this. But it really becomes a sweeping epic that follows the lives of dozens of different characters as they're living through these experiences and dealing with them. And it's about their lives and their relationships, and really just digging down into the core of the types of emotions that people display during the most stressful moments that could possibly exist.

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  • 75

    Interview: 2004

    Robert Jordan

    I began writing the Wheel of Time because a great many notions had been bouncing around inside my head and they started to coalesce. I wondered what it was really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told you were born to be the savior of mankind. I didn't think it would be very much the way it is in so many books where someone pops up and says, "Hi, I was born to be the savior of mankind, and here's the prophecy," and everybody says, "Oh well, let's go then." I thought self interest would play a big part, on other peoples' parts.

    And I was also wondering about the source of legends and myths. They can't all be anthropomorphizations of natural events. Some of them have to be distortions of things that actually happened, distortions by being passed down over generations. And that led into the inevitable distortion of information over distance, whether that's temporal distance or spatial distance. The further you are in time or space from the actual event, the less likely you are to know what really happened.

    And then finally there was the thought about something that happens in Tolkien and a lot of other places. The wise old wizard, or whatever—the wise old fellow shows up in a small country village, and says, "You must follow me to save the world." And the villagers say, "Right then, guv, off we go!" And well, I did a lot of growing up in the country, and I've always thought that what those country folk would say is, "Oh, is that so? Look here, have another beer. Have two, on me. I'll be right back. I will, really." And then slip out the back door.

    There were a lot of things that came together, and even once I started, of course, a lot of things built in, and added in, and changed.

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  • 76

    Interview: 1997

    Laura Wilson

    Hi, This is Laura Wilson of Audio Renaissance, and I'm speaking with Robert Jordan. How did you decide to start writing the Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    I began writing the Wheel of Time because a great many notions had been bouncing around inside my head and they started to coalesce. I wondered what it was really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told you were born to be the savior of mankind. I didn't think it would be very much the way it is in so many books where someone pops up and says, "Hi, I was born to be the savior of mankind, and here's the prophecy," and everybody says, "Oh well, let's go then." I thought self interest would play a big part.

    And, I was also wondering about the source of legends and myths. They can't all be anthropomorphizations of natural events. Some of them have to be distortions of things that actually happened, distortions by being passed down over generations. And that led into the distortion of information over distance, whether that's temporal distance or spatial distance. The further you are in time or space from the actual event, the less likely you are to know what really happened.

    And then finally there was the thought about something that happens in Tolkien and a lot of other places. The wise old wizard shows up in a country village and says, "You must follow me to save the world." And the villagers say, "Right then, guv, off we go!" Well, I did a lot of growing up in the country, and I've always thought that what those country folk would say is, "Oh, is that so? Look here, have another beer. Have two, on me. I'll be right back. I will, really." And then slip out the back door.

    There were a lot of things that came together, and even once I started, of course, a lot of things built in, and added in, and changed.

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  • 77

    Interview: 2001

    Thus Spake the Creator (Paraphrased)

    Question (How did the series originate?)

    To the books then. The Wheel of Time is a fantasy series epic in size and scale. How did it all begin—and what was your inspiration for it?

    Robert Jordan

    It's really hard to say. There's all sorts of things that come about before you start writing a series. You don't have "an idea" that becomes a short story, or a book. A short story is maybe hundreds of ideas that have come together, a novel is thousands of ideas that have come together. But The Wheel of Time—I was thinking at one point about what it'd really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told "You were born to be the savior of mankind. And oh yes—you're probably going to die in the end and no, you can't resign—it's your job, you're stuck with it".

    Then I had been thinking about the source of myths, the source of legends. About whether some of them might not have been personifications of natural events, the way we say some of them are supposed to be. What if some of them were things that people had done, and had simply been told and told until it became a myth and legend?

    At the same time, I was thinking about the degradation of information over distance. The further you are from an event in either space or time, the less reliable your knowledge of the event. Information inevitably degrades over distance, whether it's spatial or temporal.

    I was thinking about lots of other things too, and it began to coalesce. It was the beginnings of what would become the Wheel of Time. I let it mull over for four or five years, then I thought I was ready to sit down and write. But it took four years to write The Eye of the World because I discovered there were a lot of other things I had to think and sort out.

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  • 78

    Interview: 2001

    Thus Spake the Creator (Paraphrased)

    Question (How did the series originate?)

    [Some question on perspective and what happens]

    Robert Jordan

    [basically] What a character sees and thinks happened is not necessarily what did [made a big deal of this, as if it wasn’t a “duh” point again. This screamed ‘Sammael’ at me for some reason.]

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  • 79

    Interview: 2001

    Thus Spake the Creator (Paraphrased)

    Question (Themes of the series)

    Some people have found so much depth to your books, that they've claimed you've attempted to start a new philosophical movement, or even a new religion, with the Wheel of Time. What have you set out to do with the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm not trying to create a philosophy, I'm not trying to create a religion. If people think that, they're missing the point.

    What I'm primarily trying to do is tell a story. If I get to ask you a few questions along the way, that's good. And if I don't get to ask you a few questions, that's good also. If there are any messages it's that everybody has to struggle against evil, as opposed to good. Because you can't depend on a few heroes to take care of it. If you depend on heroes, evil's gonna win. Also, how it's not easy to tell the difference between bad and good sometimes. Sometimes you think a course of action is the right thing to do. And if you do it and a few million people starve to death somewhere, was it really the right thing to do? Unintended consequences too: every action you take will have at least two results that you never intended and one of them will be a result that you really didn't want. You have to contend with that under all circumstances. You can never figure out all consequences of what you do, and you can't stop them because of that. I'm fascinated by these ideas.

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  • 80

    Interview: 2001

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    Now, do you ever plan to do a book in the future where you will have one group of characters that will move throughout the story instead of breaking it down into different segments for each group?

    Robert Jordan

    It depends on how that particular story works. I don't have a set of rules that I follow for any particular story. I look at the story that I want to tell and decide how best to tell it.

    In this particular instance, especially since it's in part about the reader knowing more than the individual characters do in the story, I like to show things from different people's points of view so that we're not seeing someone with the same opinions always looking at what's happening. There are people with different opinions about everything under the sun who witness the events, take part in the event, and thus report them according to their own beliefs and prejudices.

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  • 81

    Interview: Aug 31st, 1999

    Robert Jordan

    His own reading list includes Jane Austen and Louis D. L'Amour. "I think I write with a southern voice as we reckon things in America." Underneath the fantasy adventures, Jordan says his writing is about "the struggle between men and women ... not for control, the struggle to understand the rules of the game ... the interactions between men and women. We're all still playing it by ear (and) you're never really sure you've got it right. I've managed to hold on to my wife (Harriet) for 20 years, and she's pretty special, so I must be getting something right."

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  • 82

    Interview: Jun 17th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    On the question on the "alignment" of the characters, he said that there are no completely good character in the books, as he thought such a character would be completely boring (right—Galad is boring!—my comment), and would probably be killed rather quickly, like other fully good persons in the world. He took Jesus as example of this. Instead, every person struggles with the good and bad sides of his/her personality.

    Another point he pressed was that "no one's going to rescue you", there are not going to happen any miracles. The Creator shaped the world and set the rules, but does not interfere. Humankind messed things up, and have to fix it too, as well as finding the truth themselves.

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  • 83

    Interview: Jul 22nd, 2012

    emozilla

    Here's a video I took at LibertyCon of Brandon reading the A Memory of Light opening again. No new text (he actually stops a few paragraphs short) but he does talk about about why he structured the scene as he did. Sorry for the shakiness, it was taken on my iPhone (my arms were pretty sore near the end!).

    (Transcript)

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, the last wind scene. I spent a long time thinking about this one, and what I would do with this, because Jim had intended one book, so from the notes you can guess that there was only one wind scene indicated, and I had three to do, because of three books, and it felt very appropriate for me, as I was going over it, to have the wind come out of the Two Rivers. It felt appropriate to me; it felt thematic with the first book—if you go back and look at the wind scene from the first book—and I actually had it blow across the course of book one, basically. We don't get all the way up where book one is, but we head out to Caemlyn, and then they kind of veer off. The point of this scene is kind of...again, it set everything that's been happening—where we are, and what's going on—but I also felt that this is a book of contrasts. This is a book of stark, stark whites and deep, deep blacks. It's named A Memory of Light for that reason, and so I wanted to end the scene at Rand laughing, with warm light spilling out of his tent, and that's kind of what we've got going on there—the contrast that's going on in this land—and there is this pool of light right there, represented in him, and that's our metaphor for this whole book: death, destruction, and the Dragon Reborn.

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  • 84

    Interview: Apr, 1997

    SFX

    There's one major problem with huge fantasy series—picking up on them halfway through. Robert Jordan has one word of advice for anyone who's considering joining his epic "Wheel Of Time" saga with volume seven, A Crown Of Swords (SFX16; B), now out in paperback at £5.99.

    Robert Jordan

    Don't! Start on the paperback of the first book The Eye Of The World. The characters are innocent at the beginning and you see the world in a certain way through their eyes. One of themes of the books is the mutability of knowledge—you cannot possibly know the truth of an event unless you were there to see it, and then you know only what you observed yourself. So the characters suspect that some of what they know is wrong, but they never know which parts are wrong. Each book changes the books before.

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  • 85

    Interview: Apr, 1997

    SFX

    It's a world where the conflicts between different factions of supposed heroes often take precedence over their preparations for battle against The Dark Lord—indeed, at first glance it seems as if the main story hasn't even started yet.

    Robert Jordan

    The battle between good and evil is a big part of the story, but it's not easy to see how many of the struggles for advantage are actually motivated by the Dark One, by evil. People who've read the books a few times are beginning to spot what's happening, and that while our heroes don't realize it, the war against evil has been going on from the beginning.

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  • 86

    Interview: Aug, 1996

    Hailing Frequency

    The last time Hailing Frequency had the privilege of interviewing Robert Jordan, he had just released the fourth volume of his vast fantasy tale, "The Wheel of Time." At the time, we asked him to give a brief summary of the story thus far. He laughed—it had already grown so complex that no easy summary was possible. Now with the release of A Crown of Swords, "The Wheel of Time" has grown to seven volumes. Since each new volume has leaped to the top of the Waldenbooks bestseller lists almost on the day of its release, it would appear that a remarkable number of readers are already familiar with the story to date. So rather than ask the impossible once again, we decided to ask Jordan about the project as a whole—its origins and its overall shape, as the author sees it from somewhere in mid-course.

    Robert Jordan

    "The Wheel of Time" is in effect a recreation of the source of legends. I gathered together a lot of legends, fairy tales, and folk tales from around the world and stripped away the cultural references, so that just the bare story was left. The I reverse-engineered them.

    You might recall a game: I've heard it called "Whispers," I've heard it called "Telephone"—a child's game. If you remember, the last child in the row stood up and said aloud, and what actually happened is what's on the piece of paper. So I've reverse-engineered to try and get back to something like what the piece of paper says. King Arthur is there, but most people don't recognize him right off. And there are a lot of other myths and legends too, although King Arthur is the most easily recognizable. As a matter of fact, I was shocked that some people didn't realize that Arthur was in the books until they read the third volume.

    The story begins with The Eye of the World. That's the first book. And it begins in a very pastoral setting, with people who are very...well, innocent is the word. They are rural, they are themselves pastoral. And I tried to make the beginning almost Tolkienesque, as a homage, and as a way of saying, "This is the foundation that we're all jumping off from." But it begins to change, because I'm not trying to do a Tolkien pastiche in any way. And as we leave that pastoral setting, things begin to change. You begin to move away from the style of Tolkien. The characters begin to learn more about the world. They become more sophisticated, in the sense of having more knowledge, and thus they see the world in a more sophisticated way. They're not as innocent, as time goes on, as the books go on, as they were in the beginning. And so the tone of the books changes slightly with their worldview.

    As to where the books are going—I know that exactly. I've known it from the beginning. I've known from the beginning what the last scene of the last book was going to be. I know how I intend to tie up the major threads. I know who's going to be alive, who's going to be dead, who's going to be married to whom, all these things. I know the details. I could have sat down six or seven years ago, and written the final scene of the books. And there wouldn't be a great deal of difference in what I'd write when I actually do reach that point.

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  • 87

    Interview: Jan 4th, 2013

    Dave Golder

    So what can we expect?

    Brandon Sanderson

    "I can tell you a few things as Robert Jordan was once asked what the series was about and he said that 'It's about what it's like if you're a normal person who is told that the world is going to end unless you try and save it.' This end book is what everyone has been expecting. They call it the Last Battle, so it's the last showdown as there's this massive war going on. You can also expect the last chapter written by Robert Jordan himself. He always promised fans that he knew what the end of the series would be, so he sat down and wrote it before he passed away. It's gone into the book virtually unchanged by me. It's the goal I've been working towards all this time.”

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  • 88

    Interview: Jan 7th, 2013

    Harriet McDougal

    He began all his books with the wind blowing. Breath, to instill life into his characters. In the Bible, Job 33:4 says, "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." When other writers would talk of their characters taking on life of their own, and controlling the story, he said, "I am an Old Testament creator: My fist is in the middle of my characters' lives."

    Oh, dear, dear man. And what a creator he was! And, as Scott Card said of The Eye of the World, what a powerful vision of good and evil.

    On January 8 you will see the final turning of his powerful vision. It comes to you with his love. And mine.

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  • 89

    Interview: Jan 4th, 2013

    Petra Mayer

    It's here, it's here, it's here. It's A Memory of Light. It's the last Wheel of Time book, and it's in my hot little hands. True to form, it's enormous: two and a half pounds, two and a quarter inches thick, and 909 pages—all of it to tell the story of a backcountry farm boy who finds out he's the Dragon Reborn, a hero out of prophecies, destined to defeat the Dark One, and probably die doing it. Here is how author Robert Jordan described the story, when he was asked to summarize it:

    Harriet McDougal

    Cultures clash, worlds change, cope.

    Petra Mayer

    You'll note that's not actually Robert Jordan. It's his widow and editor Harriet McDougal. Tragically, Jordan could not finish his epic work by himself. The series he originally planned as six books had stretched to book eleven when he died in 2007. McDougal picked fantasy author Brandon Sanderson to finish the last book, which—no surprise here—grew from one, to three volumes.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was like getting hit with a freight train. There was, you know, all this continuity and all these characters, it was a massive undertaking.

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  • 90

    Interview: Jan 4th, 2013

    Petra Mayer

    If you had to sum up the series for people who hadn't read it, what would you say?

    Harriet McDougal

    (laughs) Well . . . Gosh, I'm going to quote my husband, who was asked this. He said, "Well, I've written over a million words, and now you're asking me to summarize it in six words: Cultures clash. Worlds change. Cope." That's only five words, but he didn't want to be wordy.

    Petra Mayer

    That's good though. (laughs) That's right up there with 'baby shoes, never worn.'

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, quite right. He did an amazing job of writing about real people in fantastic situations in which they had to make decisions on not enough information, and it might cost them their lives if they made the wrong decision. Well, when that is said, one would see that first responders—medical people, law enforcement people&mdashwere among the earliest group of identifiable fans. Fans in general range from geezers to 12-year-olds, both sexes.

    Petra Mayer

    I did meet a pretty big cross-section when I was at DragonCon this year.

    Footnote

    The five-word summary of the series by RJ was given in an interview with Orbit in 2000.

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  • 91

    Interview: Feb 11th, 2013

    Question

    Tell me why there are so many references to peach pits in the Wheel of Time.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Harriet? (laughter)

    Harriet McDougal

    I've never counted them! (laughter) I will tell you this, though, that peach pits do....someone wrote and said, "When did peaches become poisonous?" And I said, "You know, they're not." One of Robert Jordan's great themes was the unreliability of information, that we all think we know things that sometimes are absolutely cuckoo, and that's one of them. We do...if a child manages to eat a peach pit, chewing on it to get at the kernel inside, then you have to call poison control. That's true now, so that's why. I guess. (laughter) I don't know how many references there are.

    Footnote

    Harriet is referring to her interview with Luckers, which was conducted by email.

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  • 92

    Interview: Jan 10th, 2013

    NutiketAiel

    Harriet McDougal

    After the Q&A session, Harriet read the first two paragraphs of Chapter One of A Memory of Light, the "wind" section. She spoke afterward about how she felt that the wind at the beginning of each novel was "very consciously" the breath of life into his characters.

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