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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Last ten theories at Theoryland.
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You don’t remember who Valeria is? Let me tell you of the days of high adventure...
In a 2003 interview the Creator said:
"when Tom Doherty got the rights to do the Conan novels, he needed the first one very fast so that it would come out the same time the movie came out. And he knew that I had once written a 98,000 word novel in 13 days. So he thought I could write something fast, and he was right, and I liked it. It was fun writing something completely over the top, full of purple prose, and in a weak moment I agreed to do five more and the novelization of the second Conan movie."
Robert Jordan was what I would call committed to the Conan franchise, even developing a timeline of every known Conan work, much as we Theorylanders have done to the Wheel of Time series.
In 1984, Robert Jordan wrote the novelization of "Conan the Destroyer". In the story, Conan is yet mourning the death of Valeria. He feels quite strongly that there is no other woman who can ever compare.
What is Valeria like? First, although the character in the movie is a little different from the character in the original Conan stories, she was nonetheless based on the Valeria from the posthumously-published Robert E. Howard story "Red Nails". Here’s Howard’s description:
She was tall, full-bosomed, and large-limbed, with compact shoulders. Her whole figure reflected an unusual strength, without detracting from the femininity of her appearance. She was all woman, in spite of her bearing and her garments. The latter were incongruous, in view of her present environs. Instead of a skirt she wore short, wide-legged silk breeches, which ceased a hand's breadth short of her knees, and were upheld by a wide silken sash worn as a girdle. Flaring-topped boots of soft leather came almost to her knees, and a low-necked, wide-collared, wide-sleeved silk shirt completed her costume. On one shapely hip she wore a straight double-edged sword, and on the other a long dirk. Her unruly golden hair, cut square at her shoulders, was confined by a band of crimson satin.
— Red Nails, Robert E. Howard
The quote I really want to show you, is from Robert Jordan’s Conan the Destroyer novel. As Conan thinks about his lost love, he recalls with fondness how Valeria would point out hot chicks across the tavern for him to ogle, because she didn’t want her man to miss out on anything he might like to see. Oh where would he ever find such a woman again?
(One of you rabid fans has this novelization. Mine is lent away, or stolen by Eelfinn or something. Find the quote I seek!)
Contrast with Birgitte exhibiting what can only be a most rare behaviour in women:
Ch 29 The Festival of Birds:
"That was one of the things about Birgitte; she would nudge him in the ribs and point out a pretty girl for his eye as readily as any man he had ever known, and expect him to point out in turn what she liked to see, which was generally the ugliest man in sight. Whether or not she chose to go half-naked today—a quarter, anyway—she was... well, a friend."
At this point you’ll say, bow and silver arrows, yellow trousers, blah blah blah.
Birgitte wears yellow pants? No No No... She can change her appearance in Tel’aran’rhiod, like anyone else. In the waking world she has worn trousers of red, yellow or green, just so long as the colours are loud.
But the clothes or weapons don’t even matter. Birgitte may have been an archer in the Age of Legends, she may still say she’d likely stab herself if she held a sword. But the behaviour of pointing out pretty women to a man has got to be much more rare than a female archer, or bright pantaloons. The behaviour, not the weapon or clothes of choice, is the defining characteristic of her soul.
So then what about Gaidal Cain? Selected quotes from various places:
From, The Great Hunt
"Gaidal Cain, a swarthy man with the hilts of his two swords sticking above his broad shoulders."
"Time?" Birgitte said, smiling. "We have all of time." Gaidal Cain dropped his reins and, guiding his horse with his knees, drew a sword in either hand. All along the small band of heroes there was an unsheathing of swords, an unlimbering of bows, a hefting of spears and axes.
From, The Shadow Rising
"The man was dark and strongly muscled, with the long hilts of two swords thrusting above his shoulders as he strode the few paces from where he had appeared to Birgitte. With what she had heard from Birgitte, the swords were enough to name him as Gaidal Cain, but where fair, golden-haired Birgitte was as beautiful as in the stories, he was definitely not. In fact, he was perhaps as ugly a man as Nynaeve had ever seen, his face wide and flat, his heavy nose too big, and his mouth a gash, far too broad. Birgitte smiled at him, though; her touch on his cheek held more than fondness. It was a surprise to see he was the shorter. Stocky and muscled as he was, powerful in his movements, he gave the impression of being taller than he was."
One of Howard’s description of Conan:
His brow was low and broad, his eyes a volcanic blue that smoldered as if with some inner fire. His dark, scarred, almost sinister face was that of a fighting-man, and his velvet garments could not conceal the hard, dangerous lines of his limbs.
Wow! A case can be made for Gaidal Cain being Conan!
Fires of Heaven Ch.14 Meetings:
"Birgitte was always tied to Gaidal, had been tied in story after story, in Age after Age, of adventure and a romance that even the Wheel of Time did not break"
Shadow Rising CH. 52 Need:
"He is usually born well before me-so I know my time approaches again when I cannot find him-and I usually hate him at first sight in the flesh. But we nearly always end lovers or wed. A simple story, but I think we have spun it out in a thousand variations."
A thousand variations of adventure and romance. One of which is Conan and Valeria.
I first related this take in my Mat is Gaidal Cain theory. But it’s likely more palatable to the rest of you if I leave Mat out of it (for now).