Week 1 Question: Was the Horn of Valere known and used in the Age of Legends? Or did it only appear in the Third Age?
Robert Jordan Answers: The Horn of Valere was known in the Age of Legends, though it was an artifact of an earlier age, but it was never used in the Age of Legends. In part, this was because there wasn't any need in an Age that knew universal peace, but also it was because what it could do was considered a sort of myth by most people in that Age. No one who is serious spends time trying to test out whether a myth might be real. (Seen anybody sacrificing a white bull to Jupiter lately?) And once the Dark One touched the world, before the War of the Shadow actually began, the Horn was among the items lost, and thought destroyed, in the first rush of mob violence, terrorism etc. So it wasn't available for use then even had someone wanted to try. It was later recovered and sealed up with the Dragon Banner because along with the Foretellings that made up the Prophecies of the Dragon was one saying that it must be.
In any case, the story of the Horn was carried on through the Age of Legends in the same way that myths are today, and magnified thereafter though the twisting that occurs in the telling and retelling of a story. And believe me, stories about the Dragon Reborn and the Prophecies and everything concerned with them were rife during the Breaking. When everything is going to hell around them, people cling to anything and everything that might offer hope. That is how the Breaking could end with tales of the Dragon Reborn and the Prophecies already on many peoples' lips.
Week 2 Question: Once all three prequel novels are written, is there any particular order you would recommend new readers read the prequels/books? Should they start off with the prequel novels, or finish with them, or read each one at certain points throughout the series?
Robert Jordan Answers: I intend to write each of the prequel novels just as I did New Spring: The Novel, in such a way that someone could pick any one of them up and begin there with no other exposure to The Wheel of Time, but for best effect, I suggest reading them in the order that they will be published. If you read the second one first, you might find a few surprises spoiled in New Spring: The Novel. And if you read the third one first, you would certainly find spoilers for the first book and some for the second. As for whether to begin with the prequel novels or with the main sequence books, you can do either.
Week 3 Question: There are many theories that attempt to create a connection of time duration to the transmigration of the dead Forsaken. Are there time and/or power constraints on the Dark One's ability to transmigrate souls?
Robert Jordan Answers: There are definitely time constraints on the Dark One's power to transmigrate a soul. The soul doesn't have to be secured immediately - that is, the Dark One doesn't have to be ready to snatch the soul at the instant of death - but the longer that passes after the death, the less chance that the Dark One will be able to secure the soul. Someone who has been killed with balefire in actuality died before the apparent time of his or her death, and thus the window of opportunity for the Dark One to secure that soul for transmigration is gone before the Dark One can know that the soul must be secured unless the amount of balefire used is very small. Remember that the more balefire is used, the further back the target's thread is burned out of the pattern.
After the soul is secured, then a suitable body must be acquired and stripped of the (former) owner's memory and soul to make way for the favored one. By the way, what constitutes a suitable body from the Dark One's perspective is not that of the recipient. Certainly Aginor would never have chosen to be reincarnated in his, shall we say, less than imposing body, nor would the womanizing Balthamel have chosen to be reincarnated as a beautiful woman. It was only chance that Moridin ended up in a body that is young, fairly good looking and physically imposing. Those things simply don't matter to the Dark One. But the body has to be basically healthy and sound, and neither too young nor too old. After all, the Dark One wants his servants to be effective, and a body that meets those basic requirements is more desirable than one that doesn't. Since there is no stockpile of such bodies, the only way for someone to die and immediately be reincarnated would be a matter of pure chance. That is, the death occurred when a suitable body was on hand for some other reason.
There are a few other limits and constraints, but I won't go into them here, since I may want to use them in the books, and I would rather they come as a surprise if I do.
Week 4 Question: At recent book signing following the release of Crossroads of Twilight, it was reported that you confirmed that the Forsaken Demandred has never posed as the man known as Mazrim Taim, who was introduced to Rand at the beginning of Lord of Chaos. Have you confirmed that Demandred has never posed as the man known as Mazrim Taim, leader of the Black Tower?
Robert Jordan Answers: Yes. Demandred has never posed as Mazrim Taim. All right, those of who fell over from the shock of a simple, straightforward answer can get up off the floor now. Sometimes, simple and straightforward can be the most devious of all, as any student of Aes Sedai will tell you.
Week 5 Question: How much do you expect your work on the prequels will delay the completion of the regular Wheel of Time series?
Robert Jordan Answers: Very little, I hope. The prequels are all to be much smaller books and considerably less complex than the main sequence titles, so I expect to finish each of them relatively quickly.
Week 6 Question: How do the Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah "find" men who can channel?
Robert Jordan Answers: We're told throughout the books that the male channelers get goose bumps whenever the females are channeling or embracing the source. However, it is continuously mentioned that the women don't know if the male Asha'man and Rand are embracing or channeling Saidin. So how does the Red Ajah and Cadsuane, find Male Channelers and then gentle them?
There are various ways that the effects of male channeling can be found, weaves that find the resonance of the residues of saidin. Check in Crossroads of Twilight. They do not detect the actual weaves, though, only the residues left after the weave is released. After that, it becomes a matter of detective work. Though perhaps stalking a leopard might be a better metaphor. As for Cadsuane, she has a few more tools at her disposal than other Aes Sedai, the reason for her extremely high success rate. Check Winter's Heart, and a few earlier mentions, for this one.
Week 7 Question: I would like to ask about knotting a weave. Does a channeler determine how long it will last when she knots it or is it dependent on her strength? If a channeler who knotted a weave died, would the weave dissipate immediately?
Robert Jordan Answers: The length of time the knot lasts is the choice of whoever makes the knot. It is not strength dependent. And the knot would continue in existence if the channeler died, at least if the channeler had not set it to unravel in a certain time. Remember, tying off a weave is a way to keep the weave in existence without having to actually channel to maintain it, so once it is tied off, there is really no need for the channeler to continue living for the weave to be maintained.
Week 8 Question: Is the top of the White Tower steepled or flat? If it's flat, what is on the roof?
Robert Jordan Answers: The top of the White Tower (that is, the top of the main tower, since the wings of the Tower along with their much smaller towers must be considered part of the White Tower also) is flat, and surrounded by a solid wall about waist-high on a woman. There is nothing there except a door flat in the surface for getting onto the top of the Tower. Aes Sedai of the present day occasionally use it for observation of events in the vicinity of Tar Valon, such as the progress of the Blood Snow, but it isn't used now on any regular basis. At various times in the past, there has been a garden there, but the sisters inevitably found ground-level gardens more convenient and much more easily maintained.
Week 9 Question: If it's possible to bond a Myrddraal like a Warder? For one of the Black Ajah or a Forsaken, for example? What happens then to such a person?
Robert Jordan Answers: It would be possible, but hardly wise because of the sharing of emotions. It is exceedingly likely that anyone who had a knot of Myrddraal emotions in his or her head, even to the small degree caused by the Warder bond, would very soon go insane. Myrddraal may contain human stock, but they are definitely not human. I don't think even Padan Fain could survive that without going madder than he already is.
Week 10 Question: What did Lanfear do to Rand at the end of The Great Hunt, when she drew the Dragon's Fang on his forehead?
Robert Jordan Answers: She drew the Dragon Fang on his forehead. For exactly the reason you would think.
Week 11 Question: I just started The Great Hunt and I find the religious and political aspects very interesting. I notice the dedication for The Great Hunt says, "They came to my aid when God walked across the water, and the true Eye of the World passed over my house." Has your own religion in any way helped to shape the book?
Robert Jordan Answers: Only in the sense that it helped to shape my moral and ethical beliefs. My work certainly is not religious in even the sense that J.R.R. Tolkien's was, much less the work of C.S. Lewis. That inscription, by the way, referred to Hurricane Hugo striking Charleston, where I live. The word hurricane comes from the name of a god of the Caribe Indians, who believed that the storm was that god walking across the water. Anyone who has ridden out a hurricane, and I have ridden out several, can well believe that it is. And if a hurricane isn't the Eye of the World, it's as close as we will come in this world.
Week 12 Question: You stated in another interview that Mat's memories came from adventurers who traveled through the ter'angreal. However several of Mat's memories end with the adventurer dying. Since adventurers probably didn't go through the ter'angreal after they died, how could the 'Finns have obtained these memories?
Robert Jordan Answers: A good question. I was wondering when someone would ask that. I expected it as soon as Mat started revealing those old memories. At least a partial answer will be coming up in the next main sequence book, so I guess you could say this is a RAFO. But I will say that if I said those adventurers all entered through the two ter'angreal, I misspoke. A good many entered through the Tower of Ghenjei, which was more widely known in earlier years, if never exactly a household name.
Week 13 Question: Is the White Tower currently aware of any way to completely dissolve/undo the bond between an Aes Sedai and her Warder so that the link no longer exists and all the positive and negative effects of the bond are removed?
Robert Jordan Answers: Yes, they are. It is called releasing a Warder, and an Aes Sedai who is very old or injured so badly that she knows she is going to die will, if she has the strength, release him so he doesn't suffer from her death. This does require the two of them to be together, and a little more time that laying on the bond. If they are physically apart, or she doesn't have enough time or strength remaining, touch on him.
It has also been used to get rid of a Warder who proved to be unsuitable in some way, such as a man who is discovered to be a thief or who takes reckless chances, a fighter of duels who won't stop without the bond being used to force him. No sister is going to want a Warder who will risk getting himself killed, with all the attendant results to her, for no very good reason.
Although use of the bond in that way (controlling) was not unknown in the past, it came to be regarded as a form of Compulsion to use it so except in the slightest forms. Besides, using the bond to control a Warder all the time is a lot of work. An Aes Sedai wants somebody who can watch her back and keep it safe, not somebody she has to work on all the time. (Which is one of the reasons Aes Sedai stopped bonding men against their will. Not ethical concerns or ethical growth, I'm afraid; it was just not very practical really) Better simply to release the fellow who can't measure up and find another who will.
By the by, releasing a Warder except for cause (the Aes Sedai's imminent death, his own unsuitability) or because he has asked for release is something that JUST IS NOT DONE! It would gain the sister considerable opprobrium from other sisters. A sister certainly would be looked at askance if she released a Warder who was dying, for example, just to avoid the effects on her of his death. When an Aes Sedai bonds a Warder, she is expected to buy in for the full ride. For that matter, releasing him for unsuitability is considered to reflect on the sister's judgment. She should have known better about him from the start.
Week 14 Question: In the middle books in the series, we see that a Roofmistress is typically the clan chief's wife. What happens if the clan chief is not married? Or what status does the roofmistress have if she runs a Hold that is not the home of a clan chief?
Robert Jordan Answers: The roofmistress of a clan hold is always the wife of the clan chief, if he is married. If he is unmarried, his eldest first-sister would be the roofmistress until he did marry. If he didn't have a first-sister, then it would be his eldest living sister-mother, his mother's sister, who is considered more closely related to him than his father's sisters are. After that, there is a whole set of complexities involving blood-relationships that make sure that the woman is who is both the eldest and the most closely related to the clan chief has the position. This is a situation that seldom develops, however, and seldom lasts long if it does. The Wise Ones believe that a clan chief should be married, as a stabilizing influence if for no other reason, and they will arrange the matter one way or another if he himself does not. And since Aiel women in general also believe that a clan chief should be married, in most cases the woman who is temporarily roofmistress will work toward the same end as well.
The roofmistress of a hold that is not the home of a clan chief or a sept chief has the same status as the roofmistress of a clan chief or sept chief, at least inside her own hold. She would gain that position by being the wife of the man who leads the algai'd'siswai of that hold, though her authority in some ways outstrips his inside the hold, just as the authority of clan or sept roofmistresses in some ways outstrips that of the clan or sept chiefs inside the hold. There are certain decisions that are hers alone and in which he has no say at all.
There is a hierarchy of roofmistresses within a clan, with the roofmistress of the clan chief at the top, roofmistress of sept chiefs next, and other roofmistresses ranked below according to the size of the holds of which they are roofmistresses. Roofmistresses of other clans are considered to have comparable status in any inter-clan dealings, though without the authority in any clan save their own.
Week 15 Question: What does the Dark One view as the worst punishment he can inflict on his minions: Killing them as painfully as possible? Balefire? Mindtrap? Being continually resurrected to suffer at his hand for eternity? Something we haven't seen yet?
Robert Jordan Answers: The Dark One doesn't care about his minions sufficiently to invest much time in their punishment except as it serves to correct their behavior or as object lesson to others, nor is there much in the way of gradation. Simple failure and outright betrayal might be punished equally, or one might result in death and the other in becoming an object lesson or in something else. (The mindtrap, by the way, could be called an object lesson only to the one so trapped; remember, none of the Forsaken know who is mindtrapped except Moridin and those who are trapped.) The decision, death or object lesson or something else, normally would be simply a matter of whether or not he believed there was any point to an object lesson and/or whether or not he felt there was really any further use in the individual. Or, for that matter, made for reasons unknowable to a human mind. Remember, the Dark One is NOT human and thinking of him in human terms just doesn't work.
But he also operates under a constraint that did not exist in the Age of Legends. At that time, about 3% of the population could learn to channel to some extent, though not all chose to -- the training program took time, and being able to channel carried with it certain obligations that not everyone wanted to undertake -- but that still meant there were, at a minimum, hundreds of thousands of people in the world who could channel, and more likely millions. A large pool of possible recruits. Break a tool or decide it isn't working right and throw it out, because there is an endless supply of similar tools waiting on the shelf. That might be said to have been his attitude. In the here-and-now of the books, that figure is about 1%, and of that 1%, very, very few have any idea that they could learn to channel, much less have any training at all. Here-and-now, the pool of possible recruits is tiny.
Also, while the Forsaken themselves have realized that these primitives have discovered how to do things with the Power that they themselves cannot, or perhaps can once they learn how but never dreamed of doing until they found that the weaves existed here-and-now, they still think of people in the here-and-now as primitives, and their attitudes filter through to the Dark One, who believes that his people from the age of Legends are in all practical ways better -- for which read better trained, more capable, and thus better able to serve him efficiently and effectively -- than the people of the present time. And he is right. In a way. They are certainly better trained, with a much wider knowledge, at least in some areas. Some of their skills are absolutely useless in the society they are forced to live in. Aginor was a genius in biology and genetics, but in this world, he had no way to make the tools to make the tools to make the tools…. Well, you get the idea. Pity the poor chip designer dropped into the seventeenth century.
In any event, the Dark One tries to conserve his resources, using and reusing those he might have killed himself, or ordered killed, in a time where there were thousands to equal them.
Week 16 Question: Can you give us any updates on the next book series you plan to write? (Besides what you have told us before)
Robert Jordan Answers: Sorry, that is very much a work in progress, with nothing at all on paper yet. As such, details change frequently. Also, the more I tell you of what doesn't change, the fewer surprises there will be when the books come out. You'll start reading and say, "I knew that. And I knew that. And I knew THAT! God, Jordan is getting predictable in his old age. I think I'll go read somebody else." And you'll probably be upset about what did change, too, for that matter. I know that when I expect a book or movie to be a certain way and it isn't, quite often the shifting of gears detracts from my enjoyment until it is complete.
Questions from August 17th, 2004 - January 25th, 2005
Week 1 Question: The Dark One has promised his followers immortality and power above all others on the Day of Return. In previous interviews you have said that this is within his power. My question is, will he? I mean, he doesn't seem very loyal or trustworthy to me. If (Light forbid) he breaks free, will he remember the "little people" or just destroy all the puny humans when he remakes the world in his own image?
Robert Jordan Answers: That's the big question for the Forsaken, isn't it. Can they trust the Dark One? You're right; he isn't very trustworthy or loyal. Greed leads people to believe strange things, to excuse the most abhorrent behavior on their parts-just check out the nightly news for confirmation-and at the root, that is what motivates the Forsaken and, in truth, most Darkfriends. Greed for power, greed for immortality. That makes them believe, because they want to believe. So will he grant these things? Maybe. After all, he gains more willing followers, more eager followers, if he is seen to give rewards. But will he care whether he has any followers at all in a world where he is all-powerful? Flip a coin and check which way the wind is blowing. Maybe you can find the answer there.
Week 2 Question: The other big murder mystery - Ispan and Adeleas. Have you given us sufficient clues in the books that you think we should be able to figure out this one? Any hints on where to look?
Robert Jordan Answers: No, I haven't given you enough information to solve the murders of Adeleas and Ispan, but they will be solved in Knife of Dreams. How's that for a hint?
Week 3 Question: How do the Seanchan Ogier cope with the Longing, given that their duties in the Deathwatch Guard take them overseas? Are there many Steddings in Seanchan?
Robert Jordan Answers: There are many more stedding in Seanchan than there are in the part of the world where the story is taking place, and that is why the Seanchan Ogier don't suffer from the Longing. Because there are so many more stedding, they were able to find them more easily even during the Breaking and therefore never had the very extended separation that Ogier on this side of the Aryth Ocean had, though they seldom were able to settle in one for very long until the Breaking ended.
Week 4 Question: In New Spring you mentioned that the Blue Ajah taught Moraine and Siuan secret weaves upon their raising. Do other Ajahs have secret weaves, and if so, what are they? Could you share a few of them with us?
Robert Jordan Answers: Yes, other Ajahs also have secret weaves, though a few of those secrets are actually known to more than one Ajah, each of which believes that it alone knows. That's always the problem with secrets, isn't it? You can never really be sure that somebody else doesn't know too. I could share, but if I told you, then I'd have to kill you. I may yet use one or more Ajah secret weaves in the books, so I'm afraid the answer here is RAFO.
Week 5 Question: Will Hurin the Sniffer return in any of the remaining books? Please? We miss him. Could you share some insight as to why you decided not to use him after The Great Hunt?
Robert Jordan Answers: He'll turn up again. He hasn't reappeared earlier because the part he had to play was a sidelight to the main story. You should be able to glean some of what he was doing, what effect he and the news he brought was having, from the news that came out of the Borderlands in the books following The Dragon Reborn, though.
Week 6 Question: How were the Gholams made? Were they created or bred like the Trollocs? How exactly are they controlled if they are immune to the One Power?
Robert Jordan Answers: The gholam---singular and plural are the same---were created, not bred. Supposedly their creation involved making them so that they would be obedient to the Chosen, whoever they might be at any given time. This was an attempt at copying something that had turned up in Myrddraal, which seem incapable of disobeying one of the Chosen, possibly because of the use of the True Power in creation of the Trollocs, the parent stock of the Myrddraal. Even Aginor, who created the Trollocs, and thus indirectly the Myrddraal, was uncertain about the actual cause. (Becoming one of the Forsaken involves receiving a mark from the Dark One in return for your oaths; this mark is invisible and cannot be sensed by another human being, even another of the Forsaken, but it can be by certain non-human creatures, including Myrddraal and draghkar among others. This may play a part in the Myrddraal's obedience but doesn't explain it completely.) This element in gholam has some flaws, however, as we have seen in a small measure. In any case, if I were you, I wouldn't try giving orders to a gholam unless I were one of the Forsaken.
Week 7 Question: What was the most respected Talent in the Age of Legends? Why?
Robert Jordan Answers: Healing was probably the most respected single Talent in the Age of Legends, in part because it eased suffering (disease had been all been eradicated, but injuries still occurred) and in part because high levels of ability in that Talent were much more rare than high levels in most other Talents.
Week 8 Question: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the task of finishing up The Wheel of Time while mentally planning for your next series? Have any of your WoT ideas been put on hold until the next series? (For example, a certain character)
Robert Jordan Answers: No, I don't ever feel overwhelmed by The Wheel of Time. I do sometimes feel that I set out on a 15K run and found that I had somehow been entered in the marathon, but I'm enjoying the run and hoping to make a good time over the distance. I believe I've been doing all right so far. (For those who think I've been slow, I've had well over six thousand pages in The Wheel of Time published over a thirteen year span, which in smaller books of a more usual size would come out at 15 to 18 novels, hardly a slow pace for thirteen years.) And no, none of the ideas for the The Wheel of Time have been put aside for the next series of books. That one has been forming in my head for...Lord, it must be ten years, now. Maybe longer. I've lost count. All of the characters and situations in that series will be distinct to that series and that very different world. When I think of something for those books, I tuck it away in my notes and compartmentalize like the very devil.
Week 9 Question: When a person channels, where do the flows appear to originate from? Do they extrude themselves somehow from the person's body, or do they seem to appear out of thin air in the channeler's general vicinity? What do the flows look like to a person who can channel? Are they colored, clear or indeterminate, smooth or rough, wispy or solid?
Robert Jordan Answers: To the channeler, the flows seem to originate in his or her very immediate vicinity, not to emanate from themselves, although to another channeler, those flows do seem to be emanating from the channeler. The latter is the actual case, as the One Power is passing through the channeler, one of the reasons for individual limits on how much of the Power a particular person can handle. (And you have seen characters react as if to a blow from having a flow snapped or cut.)
A channeler sees the flows as colored very faintly, according to which of the Five Powers is involved (red = Fire, Blue = Water, green = Earth, yellow = Air, white = Spirit), although the "feel" of the flows are also different to a channeler, so that a channeler can tell one from another without actually seeing them. (That is how someone can tell that somebody else has channeled, say, Fire and Earth, in their vicinity without seeing the flows.) It isn't a physical feel; you might almost as well say that they have different flavors. They appear to be smooth and nearly transparent, tinged with color.
Week 10 Question: Now that Shadar Logoth is gone, (cool way to get rid of it by the way), has the evil power in Padan Fain/Mordeth/the Ruby Dagger decreased any? Has it driven him even more insane? Or since the next book is called the Knife of Dreams, will all these questions be answered in it?
Robert Jordan Answers: The evil power in Padan Fain has neither decreased nor increased, nor has that in the dagger. The corruption in him was partly caused by the taint on Shadar Logoth, but it didn't constitute a real connection to the city. Remember that it was because he was Padan Fain, the Hound of the Shadow, that he was able to leave Shadar Logoth in his new condition after he merged with/absorbed Mordeth. (By the way, any other artifacts that might be lying around from Shadar Logoth would have the same long-term corrupting effect as the dagger. Fortunately, or unfortunately, any such thing would need to be metal or stone. The wood and fabric had decayed. It wouldn't have been pleasant to get a splinter from, say, a chair from Shadar Logoth.)
The destruction of Shadar Logoth has not driven Fain any more insane. I'm not certain he'd be able to function at all if he were any madder than he already is. But being insane doesn't make him any less dangerous, only less predictable. He no longer responds to situations or events in any sort of sane, logical manner. His abiding concerns are hatred of Rand al'Thor (and to a lesser degree Mat and Perrin) because he blames them for what the Dark One did to him in order to turn him into the Shadow's Hound, and hatred for the Dark One because of what the Dark One did to him. He goes after Rand because Rand is the easiest target in his mind, but if he can take a swipe at the Dark One or the Dark One's minions in some way that he felt would cause real harm, he'd leap at it.
Week 11 Question: Which of your characters would you most like to sit and have a cup of tea with? Why? And if you don't have a preference, which character do you think would want to sit with YOU (the Creator) and have some tea?
Robert Jordan Answers: I wouldn't really care to have tea with any of them. In the first place, since I created them, I know exactly what they would say in response to any given question or comment, word for word, which would make for boring conversation. In the second place, I've put these people through some fairly rough paces. If one of them showed up and wanted to have tea with me, I think I'd sneak out the back door and leave town for a while. No joking there; oh, no, not at all.
Week 12 Question: In Winters Heart, you mention that back in the Age of Legends, there were several other Forsaken that the Dark One had killed because he suspected they would betray him. What's their story? Were those people ever as high ranking as the 13 survivors, or where they more like high-ranking Dreadlords then actual Forsaken?
Robert Jordan Answers: First off, Dreadlords was the name given to men and women who could channel and sided with the Shadow in the Trolloc Wars. Yes, the women were called Dreadlords, too. They might have liked to call themselves "the Chosen," like the Forsaken, but feared to. The real Forsaken might not have appreciated it when they returned, as prophecies of the Shadow foretold would happen. Some of the Dreadlords had authority and responsibility equivalent to that of the Forsaken in the War of the Shadow, however. They ran the Shadow's side of the Trolloc Wars, though without the inherent ability to command the Myrddraal that the Forsaken possess, meaning they had to negotiate with them. Overall command at the beginning was in another's hands.
Forsaken was the name given to Aes Sedai who went over to the Shadow in the War of the Shadow at the end of the Age of Legends, though of course, they called themselves the Chosen, and despite the tales of the "current"Age, there were many more than a few of them. Since they occupied all sorts of levels, you might say that many were equivalent to some of the lesser Dreadlords, but it would be incorrect to call them so. At the time, they were all Forsaken—or Chosen—from the greatest to the least.
Some of those Forsaken the Dark One killed were every bit as high-ranking as the thirteen who were remembered, and who you might say constituted a large part of the Dark One's General Staff at the time of the sealing. With the Forsaken, where treachery and backstabbing were an acceptable way of getting ahead, the turnover in the upper ranks was fairly high, though Ishamael, Demandred, Lanfear, Graendal, Semirhage, and later Sammael, were always at the top end of the pyramid. They were very skilled at personal survival, politically and physically.
In large part the thirteen were remembered because they were trapped at Shayol Ghul, and so their names became part of that story, though it turned out that details of them, stories of them, survived wide-spread knowledge of the tale of the actual sealing itself. Just that they had been sealed away. Other Forsaken were left behind, so to speak, free but in a world that was rapidly sliding down the tube. The men eventually went mad and died from the same taint that killed off the other male Aes Sedai. They had no access to the Dark One's protective filters. The women died, too, though from age or in battle or from natural disasters created by insane male AesSedai or from diseases that could no longer be controlled because civilization itself had been destroyed and access to those who were skilled in Healing was all but gone. And soon after their deaths, their names were forgotten, except for what might possibly be discovered in some ancient manuscript fragment that survived the Breaking. A bleak story of people who deserved no better, and not worth telling in any detail.
Week 13 Question: If a wolfbrother is reborn in another Age, will he be a wolfbrother again? In other words, is being a wolfbrother a trait related to the soul? Can women be wolfbrothers?
Robert Jordan Answers: Women certainly can be wolfbrothers, though the term would be wolfsisters. A wolfbrother or wolfsister reborn in another age would only be a wolfbrother or wolfsister again if that were possible in that Age. The ability to speak with wolves doesn't exist in every Age. In the "current" Age, it is a fairly new thing, appearing not too long ago. There are tales of it, sometimes just vague stories of people who supposedly "can talk to animals," without necessarily mentioning wolves, but remember that Elyas's ability was taken, at least by some Aes Sedai, as a sign that he was linked to the Shadow.
Week 14 Question: If the Forsaken were sealed away in Shayol Ghul since the Age of Legends, with no contact with the outside world, wouldn't they be speaking the Old Tongue when they woke back up? How did they learn the Common Tongue?
Robert Jordan Answers: They still do speak the Old Tongue among themselves, but the first two who were freed, Aginor and Balthamel, had been held very near to the edge of the sealing, the reason they were so visibly affected and twisted while the rest came out whole and healthy, and they were very much aware of what had gone on in the world outside. You might say they had floated in limbo while watching three thousand plus years roll by, with the ability to zoom in. That is probably the only reason they didn't emerge entirely mad. In truth, those two have a much better understanding of the current world than any of the others because they watched it forming. They don't have a complete knowledge, because they couldn't see and hear everything at once, but they have an overview that is unavailable to any of the others, excepting Ishamael to a lesser extent. But then, he's a special case.
For the rest (aside from Ishamael), who spend those thousands of years in a dreamless sleep, the language spoken "here and now" was derived from the Old Tongue. I've heard the analogy used of a well-educated, highly intelligent citizen of ancient Rome needing to learn modern Italian. It would hardly be a slam-dunk, but he or she would have the roots of the language already. In the case of the Forsaken, the task is actually easier than that of the ancient Roman, since modern Italian is a more complex language than Latin, while the Old Tongue, as I have said time and again, is more complex and nuanced than the language of "today."
Week 15 Question: At the risk of being RAFO'd: Mesaana was punished for ignoring her orders to go to stop Rand from cleansing Saidin. Was Semirhage also punished for ignoring orders, or did she have special exemption? (If you're going to RAFO us, consider giving us some other little tidbit instead?)
Robert Jordan Answers: Semirhage was present at Shadar Logoth, though not seen. You didn't see Graendal, either, though admittedly Moghedien thought of her, thinking it would be good if she or Cyndane died. If I always tried to show everyone who was present at a battle or the like, the books would be a LOT longer than they are now. And those battles would get rather boring, a list of names. Go down the checklist and make sure everyone gets mentioned. Boring. Anyway, Mesaana was the only one who tried to sit it out. By the way, Moridin also was not present, for reasons that will become self-evident as you read on.
By the by, Rand and his companions very likely would have been killed or captured if the Forsaken were not who they are, if they had been willing to form links and coordinate their attacks. But they suffer from a combination of arrogance toward the "ignorant peasants" of the current Age and distrust of one another. Forming a link is all very well, but who leads? Which of them would be willing to give up control over their own ability and put it completely under the control of another of them? Who are you willing to let get behind your back in a fight? Moghedien? Semirhage? I didn't think so.
Week 16 Question: Is there any relationship between Foretelling and Min's viewings? Or is Foretelling a talent that only manifests in someone who can channel? Is Min's ability completely unique, or has it appeared in Ages past?
Robert Jordan Answers: There is no relationship whatsoever between Foretelling, which manifests only in someone who can channel, and Min's viewings. There have been versions of Min's viewings in some previous ages, though not exactly the same.
Min, and the sniffers, and wolfbrothers appearing are all highly indicative, you know. New abilities, for this Age, are appearing, and that in itself indicates great changes coming. Great changes underway. Min's abilities will not remain unique; we have already seen one wolfbrother besides Perrin and Elyas, though a pitiful soul who couldn't master his gift, and there will be other sniffers. The Age is changing. The Wheel never stands still.
Week 17 Question: What parts of the series were difficult for you to write both emotionally and mentally? Have you ever turned something in for press and later realized you hated how it read?
Robert Jordan Answers: None of it has been hard mentally, though getting inside the skins of the Forsaken and folks like Padan Fain required some effort. You have to really like your character unless that character is meant to be self-hating for some reason, which most people are not. Liking Padan Fain just isn't easy.
I've often read things later and thought I could have done better, but I always think I could do better if only I had another few months to do rewrites. Just a few more months, that's all. Deadline? Pub date? Never heard of them, sport. I've never looked at anything I wrote and hated it. Even the first things I wrote aren't too bad, really. I certainly know that I could do them better, now—I'd hope so, after all these years—but they aren't bad.
Week 18 Question: Who were the first channelers, and how did they learn? By trial and error? Are there any Ages where channeling does not exist?
Robert Jordan Answers: The first people to discover the ability to channel learned through trial and error, with fairly high casualty rates until they learned enough not to kill themselves accidentally. Their appearance marked the beginning of the previous Age to that of the books, or at least the end of the Age before that one.
Yes, as I have set things up, there are Ages when no one has any idea of how to channel or even that the One Power exists. Our own, for one. (The Wheel of Time turns.)
Week 19 Question: How far can a channeler Travel with the One Power? I know they can Travel anywhere on the globe, and enter Tel'aran'rhiod through a slightly different weave, but is it possible to Travel to other planets, or even planets in other galaxies?
Robert Jordan Answers: Travel to other planets within the solar system would require a circle of fairly strong channelers, though not necessarily as many as thirteen, depending on exactly how far out they wanted to go. Travel to a planet in another solar system would require a rather large circle (of the maximum possible size) of very strong channelers, and there would a limit on how far they could go in one jump. They could planet-hop, of course. Travel to another galaxy would be beyond them even if they began on the planet in this galaxy nearest the target galaxy.
Week 20 Question: Why was Aginor so interested in the Eye of the World? He could channel clean Saidin anyway so it shouldn't have been an issue?
Robert Jordan Answers: He was able to channel clean saidin, true, but only through the "filter" which had been provided by the Dark One just a short time previously, which meant the Dark One would be aware of him channeling wherever he was. Remember, Aginor was the creator of the Trollocs; he is quite able to reason things out clearly, at least in a scientific sense. Also, he wasn't certain whether or not the Dark One also would know what he was doing when he channeled, too. For someone as secretive, competitive, and generally untrustworthy as the one of the Forsaken, the Eye of the World amounted to a valuable asset if it could be secured. To put it simply, Aginor saw a means of channeling without the Dark One looking over his shoulder, and maybe a way to increase his own power at the expense of those who didn't have that advantage. Balthamel might well have been for the long drop, administered by Aginor, if things hadn't worked out differently.
Week 21 Question: Just how can an Aes Sedai be a damane? Aren't they bound by the Third Oath: to not use the One Power as a weapon except to defend their lives, their Warder's life, or another sister's life? Wouldn't they be useless as damane to the Seanchan?
Robert Jordan Answers: The Aes Sedai captured by the Seanchan are indeed useless as weapons, except against Shadowspawn or Darkfriends, because they are bound by the Three Oaths, and that limits their value considerably since being weapons is a major use for damane. Damane are used for other tasks, however, including finding ores for mining (Egwene was tested for this, remember; it's a very valuable, and fairly rare, ability), for some mining operations where it would be too dangerous or uneconomical to use human miners (bringing ores out of the ground and refining them using the Power), and in some construction projects, especially where something very large or with a need for added strength is envisioned. The first two both require a high ability in Earth, which has faded considerably on "this" side of the Aryth Ocean and to a smaller degree of the other side, but construction projects and others things, such as producing Sky Lights, are well within the abilities of collared Aes Sedai. The Three Oaths don't inhibit them there at all.
Week 22 Question: How many people have you met that have named their children or pets after characters in your books?
Robert Jordan Answers: A fair number, though I haven't kept count. I'd say a couple of dozen, at least. Whether there are any who I haven't met, and who haven't written to tell me, I couldn't say, of course.
Week 23 Question: In The Path of Daggers,Unweaving, Elayne discovers a ter'angreal that looks like: 'A stout, bearded man with a jolly smile, holding a book.' Was this a sneaky cameo appearance by yourself?
Robert Jordan Answers: Well, I may not be Alfred Hitchcock, but I do like to show up now and then.
Questions from February 1st, 2005 - July 19th, 2005
Week 1 Question: Are the Eelfinn limited in their power to grant wishes? To what degree can they affect the outside world? Also, is there any relation between what the Aelfinn do and Min's ability?
Robert Jordan Answers: Oh, yes, there definitely are limits to the powers of the Eelfin. For one thing, they cannot affect the outside world at all. If you said that you wanted to be King of the World, you might well find that what you received was not what you expected. For example, they might put you out of their world into a world with no other sentient life, where you would be king by default. Then again, you might find yourself with the necessary skills to make yourself King of the World, if you were able. Actually achieving it would be up to you. But then, many of their "gifts" are skewed in this way. You must be very careful is you're asking if you want to receive what you are hoping for. And yet, remember that Mat actually did receive very much what he asked for. Just not in the way that he wanted.
No, there is no connection between what the Aelfinn do and what Min does.
Week 2 Question: Is the mark that Alviarin received from Shaidar Haran the same as that the Forsaken received from the Dark One? If so, is she now a Forsaken, or some sort of lesser Chosen?
Robert Jordan Answers: The mark that Alviarin received from Shaidar Haran was not the same as that given to the Forsaken, though it shares one function: Shadowspawn will recognize her as belonging to the Dark One. They will not obey her as they will the Forsaken, however, but she doesn't have to worry about one trying to kill her, either. She is not any sort of lesser Chosen. You might think of it more like the tattoo some people get put inside the ear of their dog, an identification so others will know who the dog belongs to as soon as they see it.
Week 3 Question: After Moiraine fought Lanfear in Cairhien, what happened to the wagons full of ter'angreal and such that came out of the Aiel Waste? Are they just in some storeroom there? And what happened to Moiraine's horse Aldieb?
Robert Jordan Answers: The ter'angreal and so forth that came from Rhuidean are still in Cairhien for the moment, warded by Rand so they aren't accessible to anyone but him. Aldieb is in the stables at the Sun Palace.
Week 4 Question: How exactly does one become a Darkfriend? How does the recruiting structure for the Black Ajah work? Being Mistress of Novices, was Merean particularly active in recruiting?
Robert Jordan Answers: By and large, each cell of Darkfriends recruits people it thinks are likely candidates, though they need to do so very carefully, studying them, sounding them out slowly. Darkfriends are always on the lookout for new members, since they feel very much like an oppressed minority and want to increase their numbers. Once a move to recruit is made, though, either it succeeds or the failed candidate dies.
For someone seeking actively to become a Darkfriend, generally one begins by trying to attract the attention of those who already are Darkfriends. One fairly safe way is to let comments drop that indicate that you don't think the Light is all it's cracked up to be, that praying to the Creator seems useless etc. If this comes to the wrong ears, you might be in varying degrees of trouble depending on what country you are in and who it is that overhears, but you are unlikely to get worse than a flogging from the authorities and possibly only a stern warning to watch your talk from somebody in a tavern, perhaps accompanied by a clout on the ear. Although someone might decide to slip a knife into you in some rougher areas of some towns. It's only relatively safe. By the by, claiming not to believe in the Creator is a good way to avoid recruitment by the Darkfriends. After all, if there is no Creator, how can the Dark One be imprisoned, and if he isn't, then why hasn't he taken over and rewarded the faithful? One of the fastest ways to attract attention is to show yourself willing to kill to advance yourself or simply for gain. That doesn't mean that every strongarm who's willing to slit a throat to steal a purse is a Darkfriend. Some of those might well be horrified by the suggestion. This method has its drawbacks, of course, since if you attract the attention of the authorities first, you are very likely to end up with a noose around your neck or a trip to the headsman's block.
In the White Tower, Black sisters watch novices and Accepted closely for any indication that they might be leaning toward the Shadow or susceptible to the promises of the Shadow. They also watch other sisters, since people do change. Not every Black sister was recruited on the day she gained the shawl nor soon after. Merean had a fine position for watching novices and Accepted, but many sisters teach. Some do little else, but others take turns at it for various periods, so Merean was not necessarily the primary recruiter during her time as Mistress of Novices, not even among those in her charge.
Week 5 Question: Did the Dark One or Ishamael, either one, have a say in the placement of any or all of the other Chosen once they were released, or did they all just carve out power bases of their own choosing?
Robert Jordan Answers: They carved out power bases of their own choosing based on various criteria, one of which I will reveal. (Others are definitely RAFO!) For the most part, Ishamael excepted, they set out to create worldly power for themselves using the methods they favored in the Age of Legends. That is, Moghedien worked from the shadows using subversion, Sammael, Be'lal and Rahvin attempted to seize control of national governments and so on. The theory behind this was that once the Dark One broke free, those with the largest worldly power bases would be rewarded most.
Week 6 Question: House Damodred seems really complicated. Who is who, and how are they related (Moiraine, Barthanes, Laman, Caraline etc...)?
Robert Jordan Answers: Laman was Moiraine's uncle, and Caraline is her cousin. Barthanes was Laman's cousin and succeeded him as High Seat though not as king.
Week 7 Question: Since the first few books, Rand's and Perrin's dreams have been protected. Rand can weave a ward around his dreams. Perrin being a wolfbrother has protected his dreams. How have Mat's dreams been protected since the first half of the series?
Robert Jordan Answers: A side effect of his foxhead medallion, though he doesn't know it. This was not part of the intended purpose of making the medallion; it's a true side effect.
Week 8 Question: When a person that can channel is shielded, where is the shield placed? Is it placed around the whole body of the person or around the head of the channeler where they sense saidin/saidar? If you are shielded from the One Power, are you also shielded from the True Power? What happens if someone in a circle is shielded? Can a Warder feel that his Aes Sedai is shielded?
Robert Jordan Answers: A shield exists both as a barrier around the entire person and as a single point along with everything in between. . (In a way, this is like the Bore, which does not actually exist as Shayol Ghul. The Bore exists everywhere, but Shayol Ghul is the place where it can best be detected. Which is not to say that there is any connection between the Bore and a shield. Both simply exist in different states simultaneously.) Someone who is shielded and trying to get past the shield can "feel" their way along its inner "surface" hunting for weaknesses, such as the points that indicate where the shield is being maintained or has been tied off. Shielding against the One Power will indeed stop someone from reaching for the True Power. It isn't possible to shield one person out of a circle since, in effect, the circle has become a single person for the purpose of channeling. You would have to shield the entire circle, which would require either a circle of your own or a pretty hefty sa'angreal. A Warder cannot feel that his Aes Sedai has been shielded, though he would be aware of any agitation on her part. But this would tell him no more than that she was agitated.
Week 9 Question: We've read in the Forsaken's POVs that channeling in the Pit of Doom would have some...unpleasant...effects. Is this related to the nature of the opposition of the One Power to the True Power or is it the Dark One consciously acting against the channeler? If so, why should the Dark One care?
Robert Jordan Answers:It is a matter of the Dark One consciously acting, though interactions between the One Power and him, the source of the True Power, can be unpredictable. The Dark One is not pleasant. He is also highly distrustful. He…dislikes…things that happen outside his control or not at his order. Call him the ur-control freak. Combine these two facts, and anyone channeling in the Pit of Doom without permission can expect swift punishment on the assumption that failure to ask permission means you intend to do something he won't like. It isn't that he believes anyone can harm him, just that he is in charge, and your failure to ask permission, your presumed intention to do something he wouldn't like, means that your faithfulness quotient has just suffered a severe downturn. Myself, I'd sell you short in a skinny minute.
Week 10 Question: In The Great Hunt, who wrote the Dark Prophecy on the dungeon wall in Fal Dara? And why, after Ingtar released Padan Fain from the dungeon, did Fain decide to go to Toman Head? We know he was rebelling against Ishamael's orders (he was supposed to follow the Myrddraal to Shayol Ghul) but why did Fain go to Cairhien and then to Toman Head?
Robert Jordan Answers: A Myrddraal wrote the Dark Prophecy on orders, as a threat. I might want to use some of the reasons, so the rest on that is RAFO.
Fain (now amalgamated with Mordeth) was seeking his own power base, something he would try again with Pedron Niall and Toram Riatin. He wanted enough power to be able to kill Rand, Mat and Perrin, though most especially Rand, and to protect himself against agents of the Shadow. Because of Darkfriend reports, the Myrddraal who wrote the prophecy already knew who the strangers on Toman Head were, or claimed to be: Artur Hawkwing's armies returned to reclaim the lands stolen from Hawkwing's heirs. He knew that they collared women who could channel, which appealed to Fain/Mordeth, since one disliked Aes Sedai at best and the other purely hated them. The Myrddraal didn't simply give this up to Fain, you understand. Fain is one of the few people who could successfully torture information out of one of the Eyeless. As for why he went to Cairhien first, he knew the location of the Waygate there (along with several others and how to read the guidings in the Ways, this last from Mordeth) and preferred to use the Ways rather than make the longer cross-country journey from Fal Dara to Toman Head.
Week 11 Question: In the books, Perrin calls on the wolves in times of need (rescuing Rand, searching for Faile, etc.). Do the wolves view his use of the gift as selfish due to his general theme of "help ME," "do ME a favor?" Does Perrin risk alienating himself from the wolves as a result of such actions?
Robert Jordan Answers: No, he doesn't. Among wolves, requests for aid are common, though aid isn't always given. Witness how the wolves withdraw from Perrin when they don't want to talk about a subject. Of course, there are wolves for whom the whole notion of talking to men is anathema, but most know that according to their lore, it will be a human who can talk to wolves who will warn them that it is time for them to take part in the Last Hunt, their name for the Last Battle. They don't know whether that will be Perrin or Elyas or someone else yet to be revealed to them, but most of them value this return, as they see it, to a time when men and wolves cooperated in the hunt. This despite the fact that the reappearance of such people tells them that the Last Hunt is coming.
Week 12 Question: Who was Beidomon, who helped Lanfear with the project that lead to the drilling of the Bore? Did he figure in the later events at the end of the Age of Legends?
Robert Jordan Answers: Beidomon was a male Aes Sedai, and a research genius, who believed that they were onto something great. The drilling of the Bore itself caused great damage, and Beidomon, Lanfear and others involved were blamed for that. Once it became clear what had actually happened, the opprobrium increased, and Beidomon sought obscurity, finally committing suicide when he was unable to achieve it. Everyone knew his name, and what he had done. He had nowhere to hide.
As an aside, for those who think that Lanfear was in some way twisted against her will by being involved in drilling the Bore---I have heard the theory advanced---of all those involved in the project, she was the only major figure to go over to the Shadow. She was ripe for the Shadow's plucking long before the Bore was drilled.
Week 13 Question: Can a weave be moved or otherwise affected by external non-Power related forces? For example, can a non-channeler take a sword of Air and use it for battle? Or can a shield of Air be moved by the wind? Or can a natural event disturb a weave without affecting the channeler?
Robert Jordan Answers: The first example given has to be treated separately, I think. A sword woven of Air---or Fire or any other of the Five Powers---could be wielded by a non-channeler if the weave had been tied off or the channeler maintained it. But that is a difficult way to acquire a sword and not really worth the effort unless there is great need for a sword and no other sword available. But in that case, why wouldn't the channeler simply handle things another way? To paraphrase Siuan Sanche, "It's simpler and easier just to use a steel sword."
As to weaves being affected by other non-Power, natural occurrences, no, not directly. Though an earthquake knocking an Aes Sedai off her feet and bouncing her around might put a crimp on her channeling for a bit. The wind will not move a shield woven of Air, nor will any other natural event affect a weave UNLESS it does so by affecting the channeler first and thus disrupting his or her ability for whatever period of time. If the channeler is being swept away down rapids, this presents problems. Not necessarily insurmountable problems, but being tumbled head over heels, bounced off boulders and half drowned makes the necessary concentration not easy.
Week 14 Question: Military strategy in the War of Power must have been odd, indeed. How do the concepts of capturing and holding territory even make sense in a world where forces can Travel?
Robert Jordan Answers: Good question, though not all of the forces involved could use gateways. (Rafo! Rafo!) Think of the ability to Travel in terms of moving troops via aircraft, and you will begin to get the picture. Even with the largest possible circles, there are limits to the size of gateways and thus limits to the front along which you can move troops out through it, the numbers you can commit simultaneously. Of course, you can use multiple gateways, but each is still only so large and can admit only so many soldiers at a time.
So-called front lines were very fluid, but you couldn't fling your forces in anywhere without regard to what would be surrounding them or how you were going to re-supply, reinforce or withdraw them. Although no one has shown it so far in the books, there are ways to interfere with the making of a gateway - and ways to defend against interference - so the battle would take place on many levels. Yes, any area you hold can be attacked by your enemy, and you can attack any area that he holds. (Part of the result was great destruction and a great fall-off in the ability to produce high tech items. By the time the Bore was sealed, soldiers were already much, much more likely to ride horses and carry swords than to ride armored vehicles or aircraft and carry shocklances, which had all become very rare.) But holding an area is not impossible so long as you can successfully disrupt your opponent's attempts to make gateways into it. Even if he manages to get those first soldiers in, if you can disrupt his ability to reinforce, re-supply or withdraw, it becomes another Dien Bien Phu for him. Of course, if you fail, then it becomes Gettysburg or Waterloo, a bloody fight that will be decisive for somebody. At least until the next "decisive" battle is fought. Remember, that designation is always given after the fact, by historians."
Week 15 Question: When a channeler is forcibly turned to the Dark, is his/her former personality lost to eternity? Are they in a permanent state of mindless Compulsion? Furthermore, can a channeler forcibly turned to the Dark return to the Light unaided?
Robert Jordan Answers: They are not in a mindless state of Compulsion. Their former personality is twisted, the darker elements that everyone has to some degree elevated while what might be called the good elements are largely suppressed. I don't mean things like courage, which is useful even to villains, but they are unlikely to be very charitable, for example, and forget any altruistic impulses. Call it being turned into a mirror image of yourself in many ways. It is very unlikely that a channeler forcibly turned to the Shadow could find a way back to the Light unaided. For one reason, by virtue of the twisting he or she had undergone, it is very unlikely that he or she would have any desire to do so.
Week 16 Question: What is the currency break down for Wheel of Time? How many coppers make up a silver penny? How many silver pennies equal a silver mark? How many silver marks make up a gold mark?
Robert Jordan Answers: This varies from country to country, along with the sizes and weights of the various coins, the reason that bankers and others - such as Bran al'Vere - use scales for comparing coins. The heaviest coins in weight of precious metal come from Andor and Tar Valon. For the coins of those two, the scale is very simple.
Ten copper pennies = one silver penny.
One hundred silver pennies = one silver mark.
Ten silver marks = one silver crown.
Ten silver crowns = one gold mark.
Ten gold marks = one gold crown.
As an example of other countries' currencies, the scale for Altara, where the weight of silver or gold in larger coins is less than that in Andor or Tar Valon, is this:
Ten copper pennies = one silver penny.
Twenty-one silver pennies = one silver mark.
Twenty silver marks = one silver crown.
Twenty silver crowns = one gold mark.
Twenty gold marks = one gold crown.
Week 17 Question: You have said before that you write High Fantasy and not Sword and Sorcery Fantasy. What do you feel the future holds for those of us who are so in love with High Fantasy? Do you consider your next works to be High Fantasy? Who else do you consider as writing High Fantasy?
Robert Jordan Answers: If I knew what the future held, I would make a fortune on the stock market, but my next works - tentatively titled Infinity of Heaven - will definitely be High Fantasy. At least, I think so. Others may disagree. That is the slippery difficulty with sub-genres. Everybody has an opinion, and those sometimes differ. As a short - not at all attempting to be all-inclusive and in no particular order -- list of who writes High Fantasy in my opinion: Robin Hobb, Jacqueline Carey, Robert Holdstock, Tim Powers, Guy Gavriel Kay, George R.R. Martin, Tad Williams, J.V. Jones…. Wow, this list is getting long. But I'll add one more. When John M. Ford finishes Aspects - he's let me read some excerpts -- I think you'll call it High Fantasy. Then again, he may disagree. There's that difficulty again.
Week 18 Question: How did the people of the current Age go three thousand years without discovering the military applications of explosives? Were the Illuminators just that ruthless?
Robert Jordan Answers: The Illuminators were completely ruthless in protecting their secret. And they put about tales such as that exposure to air could sometimes makes the substances inside fireworks explode without fire, and even more violently than fire did, in order to discourage close examination. Then there is the fact that there hasn't been a single three thousand year climb from barbarism and disaster, but three roughly one thousand climbs, from the Breaking of the World, from the near total destruction of the Trolloc Wars, which either destroyed or doomed every nation then existing, and from the devastation of the War of the Hundred Years. As an historical note, fireworks were used in China for roughly a thousand years before someone decided to use gunpowder as a weapon. As a matter of desperation, they dropped large firecrackers on the heads of soldiers climbing siege ladders. And by the evidence I've seen, gunpowder wasn't used as a weapon again for several hundred more years after that. I can see the view. All right, they held off the assault, but firecrackers? Firecrackers?
Week 19 Question: What were Moiraine's three questions that she asked the Aelfinn and what were their answers? If the whole answer is RAFO could you give us one Q&A?
Robert Jordan Answers: Sorry, guys. This one is a big time RAFO.
Week 20 Question: It seems that Elaida, leading the Sitters who arrest Siuan Sanche, must be a Sitter herself, yet she was just a few months returned from her position in Caemlyn. Was she actually a Sitter and if so when was she raised? Can you also clarify her change of heart on the Black Ajah from warning the three girls about them in The Dragon Reborn to violently denying their existence in later books?
Robert Jordan Answers: Elaida wasn't a Sitter when she led the arrest of Siuan, but she had organized it, managed to arrange for a rump Hall of the Tower to vote on deposing Siuan and raising her in Siuan's place. By the time Siuan was arrested, Elaida was the "legal" Amrylin Seat, so of course she was leading the Sitters.
As for her change of heart of the Black Ajah, she bounces on whether or not she believes in their existence. When she has convinced herself that they do exist, she is vehement on the subject, but uneasy over Darkfriend sisters, and so manages to convince herself that she was mistaken, whereupon she becomes vehement about their non-existence. But then she becomes uneasy over the possibility that they do exist after all and convinces herself that they really do after all, whereupon…. I have even had a character in the White Tower comment that sometimes Elaida doesn't seem to know from one day to the next whether or not she believes in the Black Ajah.
CORRECTION: Answering these questions, I have always taken the assumption that I knew the books well enough that I did not need to refer to my notes. My answer for the Week 20 Question showed that I was mistaken. I said that Elaida was never a Sitter, but no sooner was that answer posted than my assistant Maria, who also is a fan, came to me with the relevant passage where Elaida is mentioned as a Sitter. I went to my notes, and after a lot of checking, I found the following in a file working out exactly how some points were to be structured and making sure that I had all the details covered. Somehow, I had never incorporated it into the base notes, perhaps because it seemed such a small matter, Elaida having been a Sitter for such a short time and then only as prelude to replacing Siuan and Amyrlin.
“Returning to the White Tower, Elaida quickly became convinced that Siuan and Moiraine were engaged in a scheme that involved Rand al’Thor. Indeed, she had suspicions of this before departing Caemlyn for Tar Valon. Moiraine’s presence in Tar Valon had not escaped her, nor that Moiraine had been seen with Rand. If, as seemed the more likely, he was simply a man who could channel who Siuan and Moiraine intended to make use of as a false Dragon, then it was a scheme that was extremely dangerous to the Tower. Revelation of such involvement could easily shatter the Tower’s prestige, and with it the influence that was the primary cornerstone of the Tower’s influence in the world. And if he was indeed the Dragon Reborn, Elaida certainly had no confidence in Siuan’s ability to handle the him, as surely the Dragon Reborn would need to be handled, guided and directed, not to mention controlled. Helped by her long-standing personal animosity toward Siuan and Moiraine, Elaida came to the conclusion that Siuan must be removed for the good of the Tower. This was not something that could be accomplished by an ordinary sister, however the stepping down of a Red Sitter (Amira Moselle) gave her an opening, and she managed to get herself chosen as Amira’s replacement in the Hall of the Tower.
In large part this was because of Galina Casban’s support as head of the Red Ajah, Galina having her own reasons to take any chance to pull Siuan down and, of course, favoring anything that would give the Amyrlin Seat to the Red Ajah again after so long. Galina made no attempt to attain the Amyrlin Seat herself because she knew she had little or no chance of being raised. Elaida, who had been so long away from Tar Valon and thus remained out of the political currents of the Tower, not to mention the favorable mention she had received for her guidance of Queen Morgase and Andor, was another matter.
Once Elaida had a chair in the Hall, it was a relatively simple matter to identify the Sitters who seemed most likely to stand for deposing Siuan, since a number of Sitters were uneasy at best about what Siuan was up to. Her support in the Hall had eroded sufficiently by The Great Hunt that she had opposition to her journey to Shienar. As a Sitter, Elaida was able to call a sitting of the Hall while making sure that only the Sitters she wanted to attend actually received notification. Elaida is a forceful and effective speaker, and her arguments to this bare quorum in favor of deposing Siuan were also her campaign for being raised to the Amyrlin Seat herself, so the vote to depose Siuan was followed immediately by the vote to make Elaida the new Amyrlin. She did not expect the violent reaction that would come from this. She had not had access to the secret histories for very long at this point, so her view was that of most sisters. The Tower had always acceded to the will of the Hall however sisters might grumble. Like many others, she was blind-sided by what she thought she knew.”
So there it is. I offer my apologies for giving an erroneous answer. From now on, I’ll be sure to check my notes.
Week 21 Question: One thing that's always confused me is just why Dashiva/Osangar chose to attack Rand (with the turncoat Asha'man) when he did. The last time we saw Rand with Dashiva before that was when they went together (with Flinn, Hopwil and Morr) to confront Cadsuane, and there didn't seem to be any one particular incident that would "set him off."
Robert Jordan Answers: Partly this was guilty conscience working. Even people who don't have a conscience can have a guilty conscience, the sudden conviction - as when Rand came on Dashiva and the others - that somebody knows what they are up to. Add to this that Dashiva was plain getting tired of trailing around after Rand, taking orders. He's one of the Chosen, and the Dark One reclaimed him from death, which is really good, but he's been stuck in a decidedly second-rate body and stuck spying on Rand, fetching and carrying like a servant as he sees it, with hardly even an opportunity to put a spoke in Rand's wheels except in very minor ways. How much better if Rand simply died.
Week 22 Question: In the Randland map there is a cliff (?) called Garen's Wall at the northeast border of Ghealdan. What is Garen's Wall or better to say: Who was Garen?
Robert Jordan Answers: An ancient king of Dhowlan, one of the nations that came into being after the Trolloc Wars. He had a number of wars with his northern neighbor, Farsahelle, and the extremely long cliff line made a very good defense, enough so that the name stuck.
Week 23 Question: Was the Fade who visited Jaichim Carridin in the Prologue of The Dragon Reborn an early version of Shaidar Haran? Its response that it likes to keep an eye on 'all who serve me' and its apparent sense of humour are behaviour atypical of a Fade.
Robert Jordan Answers: I was wondering who would spot that. Shadar Haran Version 0.5! The Dark One doesn't get it spot on the first time every time.
Week 24 Question: How come we haven’t seen any Malkieri Aes Sedai? Or if we have, could you identify a couple for us?
Robert Jordan Answers: They just haven’t been at the forefront, I’m afraid.
Week 25 Question: After reading a book like Misery by Stephen King I think that I would be terrified to be a writer. What has been your creepiest experience with a fan?
Robert Jordan Answers: I haven’t had any creepy experiences with fans unless you count the bikers who came to a signing after hearing a rumor – untrue -- that I was in very bad health and threatened to desecrate my grave if I died before finishing the books. That was a little on the odd side, especially since they looked as if they might desecrate graves for a hobby. On the whole, my fans seem to be pretty sane. No freeze dried cats as presents. No requests for autographs in blood. Oh, a few women have volunteered to have my baby, but that’s a whole different thing.