Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Aes Sedai History - New Era

By Linda

The essay in the Reference Library on the Aes Sedai History: New Era has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm ranging from the first Brown Amyrlin (of the New Era, but Egwene left out that qualifier) whom Egwene quoted right up until the most recent events:

Click here to expand the rest of this post

such as the activities (or lack thereof) of both Amyrlins and Halls, the Seanchan raid, the end of the schism, what the Ajah Heads were up to and how Verin's report ended the Black Ajah hunters' impasse.

It looks ahead a little too.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Lanfear Parallels essay

By Linda

The essay in the Reference Library on possible parallels used to develop Lanfear has now been updated with a small amount of information from The Gathering Storm plus quite a bit more information from The Gathering Storm book tour.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Aes Sedai History - AB to FY

By Linda

The essay in the Reference Library on the Aes Sedai History from the Breaking to the Hundred Years War has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Semirhage Parallels essay

By Linda

The essay in the Reference Library on possible parallels used in developing Semirhage has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

The Gathering Storm revealed more of Semirhage's atrocities, and also more information on her parallels with Fenrir the giant wolf of Norse mythology, and with the Nemean Lion which was the target of one of the labours of the Greek Hero Hercules.

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Article Released: Aiel Prophecy

By Linda

A new article is now available in the Reference Library: Aiel Prophecy, the third of the three new articles on the lesser known or regarded prophecies.

It details the prophecies of Rhuidean, and the Aiel Dreamwalkers' dreams and what they read in Tel'aran'rhiod.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Mat Parallels essay

By Linda

The essay in the Reference Library on possible parallels used in developing Mat's character has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

Even though Mat and Tuon were apart, there was much in the book touching on their role as King and Queen of the Dead/Underworld, and of Fortune, be it luck or prosperity.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Article Released: Shadowy Prophecy

By Linda

A new article is now available in the Reference Library: Shadowy Prophecy, the second of three articles I'll be writing on the lesser known or regarded prophecies.

The main question is: is there anything in it, or is it all a lie?

At the very least, the dark prophecy and all the other evil portents and happenings foreshadow or symbolise what is to follow. Their very taunting is inadvertently revealing. Even twisted prophecies have to contain some genuine information to make them feasible. So yes, there is something in it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Article Released: Off-shore Prophecy

By Linda

A new article is now available in the Reference Library: Off-shore Prophecy, the first of three articles I'll be writing on the lesser known or regarded prophecies.

It details the prophecies of both the Sea Folk and the Amayar, and what these led to: genocide for one people and future glory for the other.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: The Horn of Valere

By Linda

The article in the Reference Library on the Horn of Valere has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm, plus a little reworking of my previous ideas. The big questions about the Horn are: Where is it? How will it be given to whoever shall sound it?

Under the spoiler tag below I speculate on where the Horn might be.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

As for the Horn might be: after Verin's ringing endorsement of Laras, I wonder if it's not in the kitchens under Laras's watchful eye. It's not a place an Aes Sedai would hang out so the Horn would be safe there, but it is a place where one can enter or leave with a parcel and no one thinks anything of it. In the real world, such kitchens in the 16th-18th centuries had cupboards and cellars under lock and key to which only the Butler or Head Cook had access and again no one would think anything of it.

It was Egwene whom Verin told Laras was no Darkfriend. She went on to say "When you next see Laras, please thank her on my behalf..." And a short while later again: "As I said, please than Laras for me."

Verin quite subtly but firmly suggested to Egwene to visit Laras on an innocent 'last request'.

She said "when" Egwene next sees Laras even though Verin would have deduced that Egwene was soon to be Amyrlin judging by the political currents in the Tower. She compliments Egwene on how well she has done politically so she was certainly aware of how close Egwene was. Yet Egwene is to visit Laras...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Article Released: Who Is Not A Darkfriend?

By Linda

A new article is now available in the Reference Library: Who Is Not A Darkfriend?

Those characters revealed in The Gathering Storm to be not Darkfriends are included.

The 51 women bonded by Asha'man, 11 of the rebel Sitters, 11 of the Tower Sitters, most of the Tower Ajah Heads, the 10 rebel infiltrators...there's quite a few characters who aren't Darkfriends, never mind those individually identified.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Composition and Politics of the Halls

By Linda

The article in the Reference Library on The Composition and Politics of the Halls 998-1000 NE has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm. The factions of the various Halls have been re-analysed with particular emphasis on the political influence of the Ajah Heads and the Black Ajah.

Under the spoiler tag below I speculate on what the latest composition of the Hall might be.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

The Reunited Tower Hall under Egwene

What will be the composition of the new Hall? Removing Black Sitters, and those seemingly mired at the Black Tower, we are still left with too many Sitters in some Ajahs, and an embarrassing lack in others. Egwene warned that:

accommodations will have to be made, for between us there are far too many Sitters for the Hall, not to mention five too many Ajah heads. Some of you will have to step down…

- The Gathering Storm, To Be Forged Again

On The Gathering Storm book tour, Brandon Sanderson said

which Sitters remain in power after reunification will be dealt with quietly. The most likely default will be who was Sitter/Head before the split.

Blue Ajah

Lelaine is the only Blue Sitter around, currently. She may have been recently made Blue Ajah Head. Two more Sitters need to be raised for the Blue.

Brown Ajah

The Browns have an excess of Sitters. Saerin and Takima will probably stay Sitters. If Janya did not go to the Black Tower, she will probably be chosen; if she isn’t at the White Tower, then Shevan will probably become the third Sitter.

Green Ajah

Faiselle and Rubinde will probably remain Sitters for the Green. One of Rina, Malind and Samalin may be the third, but they are all too young. The Greens may elect a new third Sitter of proper age.

Grey Ajah

Varilin and Yukiri will probably remain Sitters for the Grey. If Naorisa Cambral is the right age, she may be the third Sitter, otherwise it will probably be Andaya Forae, who, although too young, gave the Hall’s invitation to Egwene to be Amyrlin.

Red Ajah

All three Sitters are absent from the Red Ajah. Duhara will be replaced anyway, because she is Black. Javindhra, while not on Verin’s Black list, may also be Black, judging by her behaviour, although this is academic since she is at the Black Tower. (Academic for the Hall, that is.) The Red Ajah was not given a chance to raise new Sitters prior to Egwene’s accession:

"Following Elaida's disappearance, they retreated back to their quarters. The Sitters here, they worried that the Red would choose new Sitters quickly and send them to this proceeding. I believe some . . . curt missives from the Hall of the Tower were enough to cow them."

- The Gathering Storm, To Be Forged Again

Egwene reported that the Reds have in part accepted her peace offering of choosing a Red as her Keeper. They may be slow to raise new Sitters under the guise of a ‘political gesture’ in the hope that those at the Black Tower return, but Egwene is likely to encourage them to raise new ones to have the Hall operating properly. If Pevara returns in time she is a likely Sitter. Lirene, who took the fall for the Reds over Sierin’s death, is a possible contender (provided she isn’t Black and fled).

White Ajah

For the White Ajah, Seaine and Saroiya are likely to remain Sitters. There may well be pressure within the Whites for Ferane to be either Ajah Head or Sitter, but not both. It's not common for the Ajah Head to also be a Sitter and for a good reason. It's considered not playing fair: other high ranking Aes Sedai in the Ajah want a chance to hold a high official position too. If the Ajah Head holds another official role it means that one woman holds two extremely powerful positions, while another woman does without. With too many Sitters, why should the Ajah Head also be a Sitter? The Ajah Heads lost standing due to promoting unsuitable Sitters and the price that Ferane (and Suana, too, for that matter) may pay for this is to resign her chair as Sitter. If Ferane resigns, she may well chose another Sitter of proper age, since Berana and Aledrin are too young.

Yellow Ajah

Doesine and Magla will probably retain their chairs for the Yellow. Suana and Romanda will contend for the remaining chair and for the role of Ajah Head. I think that Romanda will want to be in the Hall to counter Lelaine. Already Romanda has sent a note of protest to Egwene about her plans for the captured damane and Egwene expects Romanda to be a thorn in her side in the Hall for years. Suana will probably remain Ajah Head.

Egwene al’Vere, of no Ajah

Keeper of the Chronicles
Silviana Brehon, Red Ajah

Blue Ajah
Lelaine Akashi
+ 2 more

Brown Ajah
Saerin Asnobar
Janya Frende or Shevan

Green Ajah
Malind Nachenin or Rina Hafden or Samalin or new Sitter

Grey Ajah
Perhaps Naorisa Cambral if she is the right age, otherwise probably Andaya Forae

Red Ajah
3 to be raised

White Ajah
Seaine Herimon
new Sitter? Or Ferane?

Yellow Ajah
Doesine Alwain
Magla Daronos
Romanda Cassin probably rather than Suana

The Ajah Heads will probably be as they were:

Blue: maybe Lelaine if the previous incumbent was executed. Siuan tells Lelaine she is faithful to her as a Sitter for her Ajah in Knife of Dreams, When Last Sounds; she did not say Ajah Head. Therefore it was unlikely that Lelaine was Head of the Blue at that stage. However, The Gathering Storm Glossary has Lelaine as ‘suspected’ Blue Ajah Head. This might be an attempt to mislead, or the former Blue Ajah Head might have been executed for being Black and Lelaine has just taken her place.
Brown: Jesse Bilal
Green: Adelorna Bastine
Grey: Serancha Colvine
Red: Tsutama Rath
White: Ferane Neheran
Yellow: Suana Dragand

Friday, December 4, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Prophecies of the Dragon

By Linda

The article in the Reference Library on the Prophecies of the Dragon has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm. In fact, it was largely rewritten.

I have posted two additions below under the spoiler tag; the first is of an updated prophecy from the Karaethon Cycle, and the second is of a new prophecy from the Essanik Cycle.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

Fortune rides like the sun on high
With the fox that makes the ravens fly.
Luck his soul, lightning his eye,
He snatches the moons from out of the sky.
- Crossroads of Twilight, A Cluster of Rosebuds

Noal believes this part of the Prophecies refers to Mat and he is probably right. Perrin and Mat, Rand’s supporting ta’veren, have been included in the Prophecies in obscure metaphors so that they would not be targets of those who would like to manipulate (even with good intentions) or destroy the Pattern.

Tuon took the name of Fortuona (Fortuna of mythology) when she became Empress and she has already ridden with her consort Mat, ‘the fox that makes the ravens fly’. He has a fox-head medallion and a signet ring that shows nine moons and a fox startling two ravens. Mat is extremely lucky and has risen high due to his good fortune and to Tuon marrying him. A fortune-telling damane also named Mat as ‘the fox that makes the ravens fly’ (see Foretellings article). ‘Lightning his eye’ may refer to Mat inventing gunpowder weapons.

The raven is a symbol of the imperial family of Seanchan, and by kidnapping the daughter of the nine moons (‘snatched the moons from out of the sky’ ) and freeing the Windfinder damane, he has certainly stirred the Seanchan into flying after them.

Will Fortune stay high in the sky, or will she come back down again? Fortuna is associated with the Wheel of Fortune, and the cycle of fluctuating fortunes. Lady Luck is changeable. “What was exalted is cast down, what was cast down is raised up…” as the Prophecy says. What happens if the Empress channels?

At the end of time,
when the many become one,
the last storm shall gather its angry winds
to destroy a land already dying.
And at its center, the blind man shall stand
upon his own grave.
There he shall see again,
and weep for what has been wrought.

- from The Prophecies of the Dragon, Essanik Cycle. Malhavish's Official Translation, Imperial Record House of Seandar, Fourth Circle of Elevation

- The Gathering Storm, Epilogue

It is the first actual wording of a prophecy from the Essanik Cycle. “At the end of time” shows we have gone beyond the Last Days and the Last Battle is about to begin and as for “the many become one”: surely we aren’t going to have some unity! In a state of spiritual blindness, Rand went to the top of Dragonmount, the grave of his previous incarnation and while he didn’t literally weep, he certainly agonized over being bound by the Pattern to be born to make sacrifices and painful mistakes, to cause deaths and to fight the Dark One again and again. His pain nearly drove him to destroy the world. The last storm may refer to whatever issues from the Dark One’s sinister cloud layer, or it may be the tempest that surrounded Rand during the latter part of The Gathering Storm. Rand was about to destroy the land already dying but pulled back at the last.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Dead, Captured and Missing Aes Sedai

By Linda

The article in the Reference Library on Dead, Captured and Missing Aes Sedai has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm. Quite a bit of new material was added.

Below is a summary of the numbers of Aes Sedai 'lost' to the Tower since The Eye of the World. The article details each of these women and the circumstances in which they were lost.

Click here to expand the rest of this post


Perhaps 112 or more Aes Sedai have died since The Eye of the World opened:

  • 105+ definitely dead

  • 7 presumed dead

  • plus additional ones that were likely killed when Logain was taken, or during the Tower Coup, or that were executed by Egwene when she cleansed the Tower that were not enumerated in the books.

That’s over 11% of the total population of Aes Sedai (which was under 1000).

About 190 Aes Sedai have been captured or gone missing since The Eye of the World opened:

  • 84+ captured that are not presumed dead.

  • 106 “missing” that are not presumed dead.

That’s another 19% of the total population of Aes Sedai.

Combine the dead/captured/missing, and the total of well over 302 represents over 30% of the Aes Sedai. With such losses, the Asha'man probably now outnumber the Aes Sedai. Of course, they too need purging of Darkfriends...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Foretellings

By Linda

The article in the Reference Library on Foretellings has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm. No new Foretellings were made in The Gathering Storm, but previously made Foretellings were re-evaluated.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: two more articles updated.

By Linda

Two articles were updated with information from The Gathering Storm today:

The Aelfinn and the Eelfinn

Information about the Eelfinn given by Brandon Sanderson.

Fate, Free Will and Divining the Pattern

Three characters each react differently to Min's viewings of their fate in The Gathering Storm.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Egwene's Dreams

By Linda

The article in the Reference Library on Egwene's Dreams has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm. Quite a bit of new material was added.

I have posted two of the updated dreams below.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

She had dreamed of the Seanchan, too, of women in dresses with lightning bolts woven on their breasts, collaring a long line of women who wore Great Serpent rings, forcing them to call lightning against the White Tower.

- The Dragon Reborn, Questions

The great serpent ring is worn by both Aes Sedai and Accepted. In The Gathering Storm the Seanchan raided the White Tower and captured nearly forty initiates of which more than two dozen were Aes Sedai (The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light). That’s a good start on their “long line of women”.

The dream is interesting for another reason. Aes Sedai are bound by the Three Oaths not to use the One Power as a weapon unless against Shadowspawn or unless their lives, their Warder's life or that of another sister is in great danger. Thanks to Joline, in Knife of Dreams, the Seanchan learned that if the Aes Sedai damane fears for her life of that of another sister, she can use the One Power as a weapon (see theory).

She [Egwene] was climbing another path along a cliff shrouded in clouds, but this was a broad ledge of smoothly paved white stone, and there were no rocks underfoot. The cliff itself was chalky white and as smooth as if polished. Despite the clouds, the pale stone almost gleamed. She climbed quickly and soon realised that the ledge was spiralling around. The cliff was actually a spire. No sooner did that thought occur than she was standing on the top of it, a flat polished disc walled by mist. Not quite flat though. A small white plinth stood centred in that circle, supporting an oil-lamp made of clear glass. The flame on that lamp burned bright and steady, without flickering. It was white too.

Suddenly a pair of birds flashed out of the mist, two ravens as black as night. Streaking across the spire-top, they struck the lamp and flew on without so much as a pause. The lamp spun and wobbled, dancing around atop the plinth, flinging off droplets of oil. Some of those drops caught fire in midair and vanished. Others fell around the short column, each supporting a tiny flickering white flame. And the lamp continued to wobble on the edge of falling.

Egwene woke in darkness with a jolt. She knew. For the first time, she knew exactly what a dream meant…the Seanchan attacking the White Tower. An attack that would shake the Aes Sedai to their core and threaten the Tower itself. Of course, it was only a possibility. But the events seen in true dreams were more likely than other possibilities.

- Crossroads of Twilight, In The Night

This dream is more detailed, as though the Seanchan attack has become more likely. Certainly, the Seanchan war leaders were studying maps of the Tar Valon area as early as The Path of Daggers.

Egwene does a fair job of interpreting this dream herself. The white cliff with shining walls represents the White Tower and the lamp with the white flame fuelled by oil is the flame of Tar Valon fuelled by the Aes Sedai. The two ravens represent the Seanchan (more ravens would perhaps refer to the Shadow) and they did attack the Tower in The Gathering Storm. A number of Aes Sedai were killed, with perhaps more to come, since four Bloodknives are at large, and nearly forty initiates were collared; these are the drops of oil that catch fire and go out and are lost to the Tower.

Interestingly, the dream also indicates that when Egwene understands what the dream refers to while she is dreaming it the dream skips to the next scene and thus perhaps shows more of the future. This particular dream is one of Egwene’s most detailed and this may be a direct result of her comprehension of its metaphors while she was dreaming them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: two more articles updated.

By Linda

Two articles were updated with information from The Gathering Storm today:

Forsaken and their Deeds and Plans

More deeds of the Forsaken were added, both historic and recent, and their locations and current plans updated.

Elaida's Embassy To Rand

Three more Aes Sedai were added, one of them Black, and two Warders.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Min's Viewings

By Linda

The article in the Reference Library on Min's Viewings has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm. Quite a bit of new material was added.

I have posted two of the additions below; the first is of an old viewing now fulfilled and the second is of a new viewing not yet fulfilled.

Click here to expand the rest of this post


Sheriam’s tilted green eyes fixed immediately on Min’s face. Rays of silver and blue flashed about her fiery hair, and a soft golden light; Min could not say what it meant.

-The Fires of Heaven, Sallie Daera

Fulfilled at Sheriam’s execution:

They'd placed her head on the block and taken it off, just like the others. That scene would always be vivid in Egwene's mind—her former Keeper, lying with her head pressed against the stump, blue dress and fiery red hair suddenly bathed in warm golden light as a thinner section of clouds moved in front of the sun. Then the silvery axe, falling to claim her head.

- The Gathering Storm, The Tower stands

All three colours are there: Sheriam in blue and the silver axe, bathed in golden light. They are positive colours because her death was a positive event, removing a leader of the Black Ajah.


For instance, the black knife that spun around Beldeine's head recently could mean anything.

- The Gathering Storm, Reading the Commentary

It looks like an assassin’s knife. The knife might be that of a Bloodknife trying to kill her as a marath’damane. Beldeine left Cadsuane’s presence precipitately at the end of The Gathering Storm, due to being rebuked. Perhaps she returns to the Tower, where the Bloodknives are loose and one tries to kill her.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reference Library Updates : Who is a Darkfriend? - link added

By Linda

The article in the Reference Library on
Who is a Darkfriend
has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

The newly identified Darkfriends are almost all Aes Sedai, apart from Verin’s Warder.

Below is an analysis of Darkfriend deaths:

An End to Darkfriends

Being a Darkfriend is a capital offence, and many have died after being exposed. Few Darkfriends renounce the Dark, even those tempted to usually fear the Shadow’s retribution too much to do so. They could also still expect stiff punishments from those who walk in the Light for their crimes, possibly even execution.

There have been 116 Darkfriend deaths so far in the series:

Killed by accident – Comar, Gode, Madic, Rochaid
Killed in a duel – Cowin Gemallen, Ishamael, Rahvin, Ryne Venamar, Semirhage (though it could be described as self-defence), Toram Riatin
Killed by another Darkfriend – Amico, Carridin, Barthanes, Kadere, Isendre, Ispan, Jarna, Joiya, Osan’gar
Killed by Fain/Mordeth - Changu, Gedwyn, Kisman, Nidao, Torval
Killed by another powerful ‘being’ – Balthamel, Lanfear, Sammael
Ambushed – Asmodean, Be’lal, Graendal?
Killed in a fight/battle – Adden, Asne, Coke, Spar, Vane, Zaired Elbar
Killed in self-defence – Melindhra, Merean
Killed in revenge - Careane
Executed – Elza Penfell, Jen/Torwyn Barshaw, Moria Karentanis, Paitr Conel, Sheriam Byanar, over 50 other Black sisters
Self-destructed by overuse of the Power - Aginor
Repented and sacrificed self – Ingtar, Tomas, Verin

Most of the Darkfriends’ deaths are banal, not “noble”, in keeping with Jordan’s uncompromising stance against evil and refusal to either glorify it or excuse it.

Other Darkfriends have been enslaved. Five known so far:

Galina, Liandrin
Cyndane, Moghedien

Plus an unknown number of Black sisters collared as damane by the Seanchan

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Perrin's Wolfdreams

By Linda

The article in the Reference Library on Perrin's Wolfdreams has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm. The main addition has been re-posted here under the spoiler tag.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

Mat vanished, and it was Rand. Perrin thought it was Rand. He wore rags and a rough cloak, and a bandage covered his eyes.

-The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

This vision seems to have connections to Min's viewing in The Eye of the World of Rand with a beggar's staff. It should also be noted that the Fisher figure in Moridin's Sha'rah game is depicted with a blindfold and is an allusion to, or ‘dim memory’ of Rand according to Moridin (The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances).

Brandon Sanderson confirmed on The Gathering Storm book tour that this dream was fulfilled in the latter part of The Gathering Storm when Rand wandered alone in Altara after nearly killing Tam. He stayed with Tinkers outside Ebou Dar, from whom he acquired the ragged cloak and staff:

Last night, he had traded his fine black coat to a Tinker for a common brown cloak, ragged on the bottom and stitched in places. Not a Tinker cloak, just one that a Tinker had sewn up for a man who had never returned to claim it. It made him stand out less, even if it did require him to carry the access key looped to his belt, rather than his deep pocket. The Tinker also gave him a walking staff, which Rand used as he walked

- The Gathering Storm, Just Another Man

The staff shows Rand has begun a pilgrimage, and needs not only spiritual guidance, but support. Exchanging his black coat with the pocket to hold the ter’angreal for a humble cloak symbolises a need to step back from the destructive role of being the Asha’man and from his link to Moridin (death), both of which have tainted him. Rand has seen too much death and dealt too much death. As a result, his access key, the link to almost unlimited power, becomes a more obvious and inconvenient burden now that it can’t be carried close to his chest, hidden against his heart. RJ said that Lews Therin had ‘ultimate power’ in the Age of Legends. Yet while Lews Therin was able to save the world, it was at more than personal cost: the whole world is still paying. How telling that Rand received both the cloak and the staff from a benevolent and completely non-violent people whose ancestors served the Aes Sedai and were referred to as Children of the Dragon.

Trauma, death and his burdens have blinded Rand. Humbling himself was the first step to ‘meeting his toh’ and restoring his honour as an Aiel would, and the shame he felt in Ebou Dar when people innocently showed concern for him while he secretly considered committing genocide underlined this. Finally after an intense spiritual struggle at his birthplace Rand became conscious of his blindness and saw where he had gone astray:

And Rand opened his eyes for the first time in a very long while.

- The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold

Hopefully he won’t be blind again.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: three more articles updated.

By Linda

Three articles were updated with information from The Gathering Storm today:

Ages of the Characters

Likely ages for eight characters were added, including Captain Chubain, Harine and Hurin.

Animal Symbolism

Most of the entries were for Siuan and Bryne, although there was one for Rand.

Number Symbolism

Three new numbers were added and some others were augmented.

All further information is under the spoiler alert.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

One of the new numbers is Twenty-two:

It was on the twenty-second level of the White Tower that Egwene fought the Seanchan and drove them away. Twenty two is twice eleven, a double helping of excess, sin, danger, conflict and rebellion (Jack Tressider, Symbols and Their Meanings). Quite apt really, considering Egwene’s role in The Gathering Storm and the savagery of the Seanchan raid she repelled.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Dice Games

By Linda

The Dice Games article has been updated with information from The Gathering Storm about two new dice games, both requiring two dice. They are rather fun additions. I have posted one of them here under the spoiler tag.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

Cat’s Paw, Third Gem (Ebou Dar), Feathers Aloft (Cairhien)

Two dice are used for this game, with one person throwing them and everyone else betting on his tosses. The stakes are usually equal, but Mat waived that requirement:

"I ... don't know if we can match that," said a man with a short black beard. "M'lord," he added belatedly.
"My gold against your silver," Mat said lightly.

- The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding

Dice are thrown until a winning or losing throw is made. The winner takes all the stakes and new stakes are made for the next round. A throw of a one and a two is an instant loss. A pair of fours is “an outright-winning throw” (The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding).

The game strongly resembles Barbudi, a popular gambling game for two (although obviously onlookers can make bets among themselves) using two dice. (In Mat’s game it was him versus the clients of the inn, seeing as their pooled resources couldn’t match his own.)

In Barbudi both players put equal stakes in the centre and then one player throws both dice. If the dice show 6-6, 5-6, 5-5 or 4-4, the player wins the stakes outright. If the dice show 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, or 3-3, the player loses and the other player takes the stakes. Any other combination rolled is indeterminate and the other player then throws the dice. The same criteria are used to determine if that throw wins, loses or is indeterminate. The two players continue rolling in this way until there is a winning or a losing throw. The winner then takes both players’ stakes. Stakes are ventured again for the next round.

The feature of the game is that:

both players have equal prospects to succeed, irrespective of which player takes the first throw.

- Reiner Knizia, Dice Games Properly Explained

In this case, seemingly equal chance to win. Mat chose a game that would normally be fair, and then exerted his luck to lose (his first toss was a 1-2, which lost, just as it would in Barbudi) until the stakes were very high, and then win (with a pair of fours, which is also a win in Barbudi). Any of the betters could have pulled out, but their greed kept them playing. Mat was relying on that and used them as ‘cat’s paws’ (hence the name of the game) to win what they wouldn’t sell: sufficient quantities of the goods he needed. Mat the ‘shady’ character pays the extra price of being attacked by a town of ‘shades,’ in this case not entirely disembodied ones. And Mat is King of the Dead (see Mat essay) as well as a shady character. Or was Mat the cat’s paw of the Pattern? Mat has complained about being a tool of the Pattern often enough.

The scene ends with Mat claiming that he won the food and drink fairly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Herbs

By Linda

The herbs article in the Reference Library has now been updated with information from The Gathering Storm on: acem, feverbane, forkroot and healall. Two new herbs, asping rot and tarchrot leaf were added.

The entry for asping rot is also posted here under the spoiler tag.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

Asping Rot

Asping rot is a potent poison – a drop can kill according to Egwene – and it kills quickly and peacefully within an hour of ingestion in a (rather bitter-tasting) tea. Verin drank the tea in sips to kill herself slowly enough that she could pass on her research on the Shadow to Egwene and remain coherent while she did so. The poison appears to have strong narcotic or sedative properties, since she soon began to yawn and then gently lost consciousness and died (The Gathering Storm, A Visit from Verin Sedai).

While the word ‘rot’ implies a fungal poison – and many fungi certainly are poisonous – most fungi cause very painful deaths. The effect of asping rot is similar to that of an overdose of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), which incidentally is not absorbed quickly by the stomach, but it doesn’t have the lethal potency of asping rot and usually would require more than a drop to kill.

Asping alludes to asp, the venomous snake said to be used in Ancient Egypt for executing criminals who were thought to deserve a kinder death than that from regular executions. Cleopatra was said by Plutarch to have tested various poisons (on others, naturally – rank has its privileges!) and thought that the asp’s venom, which made the victim sleepy and weak, yet without pain, was the least terrible way to die. This is the death she chose herself when she suicided. Asping rot has a very similar physical effect although it is a plant, not snake venom.

The Calabar bean (Physostigma venenosum) or Ordeal bean also has interesting parallels with asping rot. It is very poisonous and the ground beans infused in water were used in West Africa as an ordeal to prove innocence or guilt:

If the prisoner vomits within half an hour he is accounted innocent, but if he succumbs he is found guilty.

- Maude Grieve, A Modern Herbal

It generally kills within an hour.

The explanation for the survival of the innocent is that they trustingly drank the poison straight down and their body reacted to the rapid dose with intense vomiting and diarrhoea, thus purging the poison from their system before it was absorbed. The guilt sipped their poison and this slower dose was absorbed through the gastro-intestinal tract without being violently ejected as a large dose would be and they died of cardiac arrest (Malcolm Stuart, Colour Dictionary of Herbs and Herbalism). (Mind you, it all seems a bit rough and ready!)

Verin’s actions in sipping her poison not only allowed her to hand on her report and explanations, but reflect that she that she accepted her guilt in swearing to the Dark One and for her actions (however reluctant) as part of the Black Ajah and was prepared to pay the price.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: three more articles updated.

By Linda

Three articles were updated with information from The Gathering Storm today:

Age of Legends

A new historic person was added.

The Nobles of Tear

The current situations and locations of various members of the Tairen nobility were updated.

Mat, Fireworks and Bellfounders

All further information is under the spoiler alert.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

The main new information from The Gathering Storm added to the Mat, Fireworks and Bellfounders article was Aludra’s analysis of materials, labour and costs for the dragons’ manufacture.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm: Ter'angreal

By Linda

The ter’angreal articles in the Reference Library have been updated with new information from The Gathering Storm and the book tour. Those articles with the new information now include spoiler warnings and the information itself is in bold.

Major additions include information on the access key, a'dams, crystal throne, dream ter’angreal, Far Madding’s ter’angreal, oath rod, Seals, miscellaneous ter’angreal and security measures for ter'angreal.

Two notable new ter’angreal were introduced in The Gathering Storm:

All further information is under the spoiler alert.

Click here to expand the rest of this post

Verin's Bookmark ter’angreal, which performs an important role, and the Bloodknife's Ring ter’angreal, an intriguing gizmo with such interesting potential ramifications that I have posted its entry here as well.

Bloodknife’s Ring

The Seanchan assassins, the Bloodknives, wear a black stone ter’angreal ring which grants them:

strength and speed, and would shroud them in darkness, allowing them to blend into shadows.
The incredible abilities came at a cost, however, for the rings leeched life from their hosts, killing them in a matter of days. Removing the ring would slow that process slightly, but once activated—done by touching a drop of one's own blood to the stone ring while wearing it—the process was irreversible.

- The Gathering Storm, The Death of Tuon

The ter’angreal certainly makes the Bloodknife hard to see: even the enhanced senses of a Warder barely detected one (The Gathering Storm, A Fount of Power).

The Bloodknives receive a benediction from the Empress (one of whose parallels is Queen of the Dead, see Tuon essay) as though they had died:

"May your death bring victory," she said softly, speaking the ritual words. "May your knife draw blood. May your children sing your praises until the final dawn."

- The Gathering Storm, The Death of Tuon

They are effectively dead men walking, who give their lives in exchange for enhanced assassin abilities, just as Grey Men and Women do in service to the Dark One and are thus one of the parallels the Seanchan society has with the Shadow. The Bloodknives’ ability to blend into shadows is reminiscent of another creature of the Shadow: Myrddraal. Many mainlanders liken the strange creatures the Seanchan use in battle to Shadowspawn, and of course ravens are important symbols for both the Seanchan and the Shadow, which is not surprising since Ishamael having encouraged Luthair’s invasion of Seanchan.

The assassins are also like ninjas, and thus one of many examples of the Seanchan society’s strong resemblance to Japan. The roles of ninjas were sabotage and espionage as much as assassination and their abilities were the subject of legends. Tuon (who also has parallels with a Japanese Emperor) described the role of Bloodknives as to cause as much damage as possible to the enemy, in this case to be achieved by assassinating Aes Sedai.

The wording used to described the ter'angreal's functions (leech, shroud) suggests an influence from games such as Magic the Gathering. There are Magic the Gathering cards with leeching spells similar to that of the Bloodknives’ ter’angreal, notably certain black-coloured spell cards (and Brandon Sanderson said on Twitter on November 10th that he favours Magic decks composed of black- and blue-coloured cards). For example, with the Magic card called Hatred you pay x life and your creature gets x stronger, just as the Bloodknives receive strength and speed in exchange for losing life. Hatred is an appropriate description of this mission aimed at weakening the Dragon Reborn by assassinating as many of the hated and feared Aes Sedai as possible. The Bloodknife killed by Gareth Bryne died with the words ‘marath’damane’ (his target) on his lips. Another black card called Unholy Strength strengthens the creature’s power far more than its toughness, just as the Bloodknife has enhanced powers but is ultimately weakened by the ter’angreal. There are other Magic cards that could also be considered apt descriptions. Some Magic cards grant the ability called ‘shroud’ which makes creatures untouchable by their opponent’s attacks. The Bloodknives are “shrouded in darkness” by their ter’angreal.

We do not know if the ter’angreal of the sole known dead Bloodknife was even found let alone recovered from his body. The other four Bloodknives are assumed to be alive and at large, since the Tower sub-thread ended less than 48 hours after the Seanchan raid.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

StormLeader report Barnes and Noble, NY Booksigning

Old Salt, one of our authors, was very happy to be chosen as a Stormleader for the New York Booksigning. This is his report.

I’m a lucky man. Not only did I get chosen to be a StormLeader, but I also got to be chosen to be one for the NYC signing. New York City, location of the Tor HQ. Not only would Harriet be at the signing, but I’d also get to meet Maria Simmons, RJ’s assistant and fact checker, what she doesn’t know about WoT doesn’t exist…literally. Not only did I get to meet Harriet and Maria, but the StormLeaders were invited to a pre-signing party put on by Tor. I got to meet many of the people behind WoT. I even got to meet and talk to Tom Doherty, the head of Tor. Like I said, I’m a lucky guy.
Maria Simmons is quiet and self effacing. But she starts to get quite animated when the subject swings around to Wot. Her face lights up and she speaks more quickly and with great authority. I wish I had had a couple of hours to speak with her, but alas, time was tight and the events were strictly scripted.

Maria, (pointing finger) Tom Doherty and Harriet (also pointing finger) having fun at a Tor staffers expense. Brandon in the black leather jacket with his back to the camera

Maria models her Brown Ajah Shawl

I also said I got the chance to talk with Tom Doherty. What a treat that was! I get the feeling that parts of Tam al’Thor and Gareth Bryne are modeled after him. A lot of life, very good sense of humor, and it doesn’t seem that anything much bothers him. We got talking about the ‘earlier days’ of Fantasy/SciFi. He’s of an age with me and we reminisced about the likes of the double back to back novels, authors like L. Sprague DeCamp and H. Beam Piper.

Maria, Tom Doherty, Harriet and Tor staff, Brandon peeking in from the upper right

I wish I could say that I got to spend some time with Harriet also but alas as the photographer, I had work to do and time was tight. I can say that the other StormLeaders who did get a chance to talk with her were impressed with her friendliness, dedication and general joy of life.

Harriet with a few StormLeaders

The party was lots of fun. There was even a Dragon cake.

After the party there was a small catered dinner for us StormLeaders and team Jordan. This is what I was really waiting for, a chance to pepper Brandon, Harriet and Maria with questions about Wot in general and TGS in particular. I only and a few questions…two pages in #10 font single spaced! Of course everyone else had questions too so as we ate we asked him questions. It was a Wot geek’s dream come true. Since most of you are waiting for this part I’ll get to it without further ado.
Brandon is a very funny guy. First of all he said he would reveal Asmo’s killer
then there was a perfectly timed pause…

“Asmo’s killer is Robert Jordan!”
It got a good laugh. Brandon’s sense of comedic timing is very good.

Note that some of the following questions and answers entail plot points from The Gathering Storm if you haven’t read it and don’t want to know what happens stop here.

Q: “Was Mat’s blank dice bit taken from Guys and Dolls?
A: “I’ve never seen Guys and Dolls”
Q: The next question was about the criteria that the Ajah Heads used to determine which sitters they sent to the rebels in Salidar.
A: Basically the Ajah heads had a small selection pool to start with. Their primary criteria were: a) loyalty to the Ajah Heads, would they do as they were told? b) would they be acceptable to the Aes Sedai in Salidar? c) finally did the Ajah Heads think they could be persuasive?
A comment was made about age, Brandon’s answer was to reiterate the limited nature of the Ajah Heads selection pool, the fact that most of the AS Sitters that were sent were young was coincidental. He did go on to mention that the “too young Sitters” was a completely different matter.
He then went on to say which Sitters remain in power after reunification will be dealt with quietly. The most likely default will be who was Sitter/Head before the split.
Q: “The Sea Folk, and the Aiel both have prophecies regarding the Dragon Reborn. Do the Tinkers have one also?”
Ans: “If the Tinkers had a prophecy we most likely (and the emphasis was definitely there) would have heard about it by now.”
There was a question about the Dragon Gates on the Rigney house. They had the gates made after several of the books had been published.
Q: Harine appears once just after she arrives from the Sea Folk. What happened to her?
A: Harine has not been forgotten. There hasn’t been a lot for her to do, and Rand is not keeping his side of the Bargain of keeping her close.
Q: What first hooked you on the series?
A: As a young teen it was the Hero’s Journey. He also mentioned that the Eye of the World prologue was special, much different than the usual for that time which were “talky” overly drawn out. What kept him reading in later years was the depth of world building and all the embedded secrets.
Q: What gave you the confidence to write? What kept you sticking with it after being turned down all those times?
A: “I fell in love with the process of writing. I would write even if I couldn’t sell any of it. Of course it makes it easier that it does sell” (Laughter) He then went on to describe that Elantris was the first thing he had ever sold, the 13th piece that he had submitted and the 6th novel. He went on to say that he doesn’t read any bad reviews of his work. “If it has a low star count I pass it by” He said that there could be thousands of rave reviews and only one negative one but he would focus on the negative and ignore all the raves, so he has learned to only read the “good” reviews. He also said that when he needs encouragement he will find a book he really likes and thinks is absolutely stellar and he will then read a one star review of it. “You can always find a one star review, no matter what it is. Even Hamlet has gotten one star reviews” (laughter)
He went on to talk about how the fans comment on that “you are not RJ” He agrees with them. “I’m not RJ and they have every right to be angry that I’m not.” He then said that they need to finish their grieving process and get over with it. He agrees that the book isn’t as good as what RJ would have done but he is happy with it.
Q: How much leeway were you given when writing the book?
A: He was given complete freedom to write, but that he was in constant contact with Maria and Allan about details. He compared it to a broken vase, much of it could be glued together but there were places where there were holes that needed to be filled in.
Maria interjected with the fact that there are well over 1200 files that are at least several sentences long and many many more that are shorter than that.
There was some back and forth with Harriet and Brandon about the writing/editing process. Harriet said a good editor never tells an author how to write. Brandon said that he actually writes the book for Harriet and it’s Harriet’s job to perfect it.
Q: “How much of tGS is yours and how much is RJ’s”
A: “I’m not going to break it down at this time. Maybe after all three books are finished I’ll go into that. For now I can say that 100% of the book is RJ’s and 100% of the book is mine.” (he later repeated this at the signing with the added comment that if that didn’t add up correctly he didn’t care because he was an English major…to much laughter)
It came up at this time that Maria is writing a WoT encyclopedia, to be published shortly after aMoL. Harriet interjected that it will be a “real encyclopedia” not like the “World of the Wheel of Time” her exact words were “Think Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition”.
Q: Will there be either prequels or outrigger novels?
A: Brandon said that he didn’t know but he hoped that the answer would be no. His reasoning was that WoT was RJ’s universe and that after aMoL and the encyclopedia it should be “allowed to go to rest” however he did say that the final decision was Harriet’s. Harriet said there was a Kenny Rogers song that fit perfectly here. “Know when to hold them and know when to fold them”. She said that she hadn’t made up her mind yet and would not until after aMoL and the Encyclopedia were published.
Q: “Do Rand and Egwene’s timelines end up at the same time at the end of tGS? Secondly, can you give us some idea as to when that is?
A: Yes they end up at the same time. I’ll have to give you a MAFO for an exact date for the second, but basically it is sometime in late June early July. In addition Tuon’s scene with Rand was about 3 or 4 weeks before her last scene in the book.
A relatively long discussion of timelines followed. Basically RJ would have the timeline within a story arc follow chronologically but “Jim was crafty” when it came to the overall timeline. Maria has a huge spreadsheet of a timeline but it is not publishable because it is very rough and unintelligible unless you’ve been working with it for a long time.
Q: Is there a Perrin wolf dream/vision that is fulfilled in the time from when Rand almost kills Tam to his epiphany at the top of Dragonmount?
A: If you mean Perrin’s dream with the bandage over his eyes, and dressed like a beggar than yes, that dream was fulfilled by Rand’s actions from Tear to Ebou Dar to Dragonmount.
Q: You mentioned a clue that occurred in books 4-6. What can you tell us about that?”
A: Brandon mentioned that he isn’t on the web constantly so he can’t state for certain whether or not it has been discussed. However he doubts very strongly that it has ever been discussed at length. That being said he did say that he was ‘very surprised’ that it hasn’t been discussed. Basically he thought it more important than ‘who killed Asmodean”.
Q: What did you think would happen at the end before you read the ‘real ending’?
A: Brandon talked a long time about how the first place he ever went on the web was rec.arts.rj. He talked about how RJ stood on the shoulders of giants, mentioning JRR Tolkien by name and he also said that he was surprised that RJ’s genius hadn’t crushed the giants beneath him. When he finally read the ending that RJ wrote he felt the ending was right, perfect and satisfied the promise of the books. He went on to say that aspects of the ending surprised him but that they made perfect sense.
The final question of the night was asked to Harriet:
Q: “Was Jim surprised by the massive fan base the series has generated?”
A: Oh yes. He even refused to do readings because “that would be showing off and egotistical”. However he enjoyed the anonymity of a pen name.
After that question it was time to get our stuff together and walk down the Barnes and Noble on 17th St. for the signing. Well, most of us walked Harriet and Brandon took a cab appropriately enough.
As you can see our questions ranged all over the place but Harriet and Brandon and Maria were very gracious in answering all of them.

End of Spoiler Alert

At the Signing

Brandon took about 10 minutes to make a few opening remarks. He had us in stitches! On his initial conversation with Harriet:
“Harriet left a voice mail on my phone. It is burned into my brain, I can remember the exact words she used and the tone she spoke them in”
He then went on to explain what “writer hours” meant to much laughter. Then
‘So I called Harriet back. No answer. So I immediately called my agent. No answer. I then called my editor. No answer. So I called Harriet again. No answer. So I called my agent again. No answer” He now has us all laughing with him in his obviously frantic attempt to get in touch with someone, anyone about this.
Finally he and Harriet hook up. Harriet asks him “I want to know if you would be interested on finishing The Wheel of Time.
Brandon’s answer?
“Haba abba but but but bab it What?”
He went on to say that he wrote her the next day to explain that he actually was NOT an idiot. That it was possible for him to string several words together into coherent sentences. That actually some even considered him eloquent. I wish you had been there because it was much funnier in person than my poor words can convey.

Harriet then read from Masema’s death passage in The Gathering Storm.
After the reading they answered questions from the crowd for about 15 to 20 minutes. Unfortunately I was doing my job of photographing the event and I was unable to take notes. Or even listen closely to what was being said.

They then explained how the signing was to happen. Everyone was given a sticky with what ever personalization they wished on it. Brandon would sign The Gathering Storm and any of his books the fans bought. He would personalize any three. He would not sign any earlier books in the WoT series, but Harriet and Maria did.

After that it was our job as StormLeaders to expedite the signing, make sure that the fans had their stickys personalized and accessible to Brandon, that the books were stuffed with the bumper stickers and other give-aways.

The signing went off very well I thought. People were well behaved, mostly cheerful and friendly. I didn’t see anyone in costume. Also during the signing one large and several small posters were raffled off from names drawn from Maria Simmons RAFO hat

Maria picks a name and the lucky winner.

And his jealous friends!

Some of us StormLeaders were blogging the event.

Finally at around 10 pm the signing was over, except for the books we StormLeaders had brought. Those were signed, a few last inside photos shot and then we all packed up.

After packing up we all went outside for a few final photos. Having gotten up at my usual 4AM, I then said good night to everyone, thanked Brandon Harriet and Maria one final time and then dragged myself off to the closest subway station for a long train ride home.

For anyone who is interested, full resolution of the photos posted here, and many others from the signing, can be found here:

My photos


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reference Library Updates after The Gathering Storm

By Linda

In a few days, the first of the Reference Library articles updated with information gleaned from The Gathering Storm and from the as yet unfinished book tour will be posted. Many articles - 30 at least! - will have to be updated since there was such a lot of new data.

In the article indexes, I’ll mark which articles will be updated and also which ones have been updated. And that means that updated articles will of course have spoilers, so I’ll also put a spoiler warning icon at the beginning of an updated article. Within an article the new information will be in bold so you should be able to find it easily.

I intend to post the larger pieces of really new and exciting data on the front page of the blog as well as in its proper place within the relevant essay.

Considering how many articles require changes or additions, plus the fact that I have…ahem…other things I have to do, the whole updating process will take at least a month.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Wheel of Time ebooks' Cover Art on

We're late with this "news", but has started a while ago an interesting series of articles by Tor Books' art director Irene Gallo describing the development of each new painting created for the ebook releases of the Wheel of Time volumes. A new article comes out as each ebook is about to be released (one per month).

These paintings and the new look chosen for the Wheel of Time is a major improvement over the "classic look" that has been with the series since The Eye of the World.

I personally support the decision to finish the series in print with this look (despite hating the Sansweet paintings and the layout used for TWOT) as you just don't go and revamp this look now, a look that for being dated and in my opinion quite ugly is associated to the series so much and instantly recognizable as the "WOT look" by all readers, especially not for the last book(s), especially not at the same time a new name appears on those covers. But I sure hope Tor and Harriet will consider this new look when a new printed edition (mentioned as a distinct possibility by Harriet and Tom Doherty during JordanCon) of the whole series comes out after AMOL's release. (Your new covers would look lovely on oversized/upscale paperbacks one day, Mrs. Gallo - the sort you've used for the Book of the New Sun omnibus. :))

My personal comments on the new design and art so far :

They both capture extremely well the spirit of the series, increasing the pseudo-historical feel of it that is an integral aspect of Jordan's work (the Sansweet covers are too "fairy tale" for me). There is something of the same feeling of "old fashioned" Fantasy/adventures (from the 20th century and back to predecessors in many genres, from Dumas, L'Amour to Twain and co.) that Sansweet's covers also capture, but this time it's devoid of the voluntary "epic cheesiness" and is far more faithful to the feeling Jordan's books evoke for me, completed by care that the paintings represent Jordan's world faithfully, something that was quite secondary in the concept of the present edition with the Sansweet covers. The two first paintings are not only great art in themselves, but the nice subdued layout completes them perfectly (even with the ebook specifics, like accounting for the thumbnails shown by ebook sellers), giving the whole a feeling not unlike, for example, one of the upscale paperback editions of Patrick O'Brien's historical series (the Harper/Collins UK one). A great success so far, IMHO - and it will be interesting to see the rest of the approaches chosen for the other books by Mrs. Gallo over the next months.

The choice of scene for the Eye of the World painting (representing Rand atop the mast of Domon's ship) is inspired, going for an important character development moment instead of something more spectacular, resulting in something emblematic and symbolic of his long journey that barely begins, and the vast world that opens to him. The Great Hunt's painting is a twist on the original cover's concept, illustrating the same scene but going in a wholly different direction artistically - another great idea, almost an inside joke with the fans as The Great Hunt's cover misrepresentations (who can forget Leprechaun Loial, brrr!) have been the source of gags among fans for years. The new version captures well the ambiguity of The Great Hunt, giving Rand the spotlight, but placing the Trollocs (excellently rendered) at the forefront: who is hunting who?

Here are links to Irene Gallo's articles on

- On David Grove's painting for The Eye of the World.
- On Kekai Otaki's painting for The Great Hunt

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wheel of Time Embroidery Collection #1 - Tairen Mazes

By Linda

This post is the first of a series on the Costume of The Wheel of Time world.

Names such as Belcelona and Sanche, and the prevalence of coolie hats and brocaded silk coats with puffy striped sleeves indicate that the two major real world influences on Tear are 16th century Moorish Spain and East Asia (and Spain had a colony in East Asia - the Philippines). Some of the Tairen people are dark-skinned, again suggesting a Moorish influence.

One of the many things the Moors brought to Spain was the usage of geometric pattern for decoration. A popular Tairen motif in textiles is the Tairen maze, a geometric design used as a border on rugs and clothing and as panels on sleeves and bodices. These would be comparable to the geometric bands of North African (Moorish) design such as those on the borders of the rug right (picture from

I thought I'd try my hand at some WOT-inspired embroidery and have embroidered three samples of Tairen mazes in materials and colours consistent with what would have been available in that nation in RJ’s world (which the clothes and inventions show is roughly equivalent to the 16th to 18th century of our world.)

The first Tairen maze I embroidered (shown right, click to enlarge) is part of a simple maze border cross-stitched in indigo-coloured thread on raw silk of slightly uneven weave (as would come off a handloom) and a deep red colour similar to the madder dye that would be historically authentic for the period. Likewise indigo was the usual blue dye-stuff of the time. Red and blue Tairen mazes are mentioned a few times in the books:

There were even silk carpets on the floor, dark red on dark blue, woven in the Tairen maze.

- The Dragon Reborn, Into the Stone

She was thrown down on layered carpets, the edge of a red-and-blue Tairen maze...

- A Crown of Swords, Spears

The second sampler is a sleeve panel of a nobleman’s coat – Mat’s coat to be precise. In Winter’s Heart he was described as wearing a coat:

blue enough for a Tinker, worked in red and gold Tairen mazes across the chest and down the sleeves for good measure.
He did not like recalling what he had been forced to go through to convince Tylin to leave off the pearls and sapphires and the Light alone knew what else she had wanted.

- Winter’s Heart, In Need of a Bellfounder

The maze is embroidered in chain stitch in red silk and gold thread (not real gold, but the thread does have silver in it) on the brightest blue silk satin I could find. It’s supposed to be over-the-top but it could have been worse! Bear in mind that Tylin wanted to scatter gems over the fabric as well. Apparently it pays to advertise that you have a toy boy. Again, click the photo to enlarge.

The last sampler was the most difficult and required considerable familiarity with the maze motif. In Lord of Chaos, Siuan Sanche had a Tairen maze of tiny blue flowers embroidered on her grey riding dress:

Studying her divided gray skirts, not looking at anyone, [Siuan] seemed to be thinking aloud.

- A Crown of Swords, The Figurehead

Incongruously, Egwene noticed that [Siuan’s] dress had tiny blue flowers embroidered in a wide Tairen maze around the bottom, a band that made the divided skirts seem one when she was still. Another band curved becomingly across the bodice. Concern for her clothes, that they be pretty instead of just suitable, was certainly a small change, looking at it one way— she never took it to extremes—yet in another, it was as drastic as her face.

- A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike

My version has daisies (in single chain stitch and French knots) intertwined with a flowering vine (in French knots, split back stitch and single chain) in silk thread on fairly hard-wearing grey ribbed moired (the swirly effect) silk. At around 13 cm (5 inches) wide, the maze border is in proportion to edge the hem of a dress. I tried to be consistent with Siuan’s style as well as following the maze design. She is known to prefer an informal, wildflower look:

Siuan enjoyed flowers, but she preferred a bouquet of colors, like a field of wildflowers in miniature.

- The Fires of Heaven, What Can Be Learned in Dreams

So while the flowers all had to be blue, I made each flower slightly different and imperfect and the vines irregularly sinuous with the odd flower dropping off. Siuan also owns a yellow linen dress with a blue Tairen maze around the neckline.

I'll be looking into the embroidery styles of the other nations too. I intend to sew many more items to compile a ‘sampler book’ of different Wheel of Time embroideries.