The Path of Daggers Book Tour
Report from Kevin Bartlett - Seattle, 29 October 1998
Last night I went to the Seattle signing at the UW bookstore, and all in all it was ... anticlimactic. Admission was ticketed, and in order to get a ticket, you had to have a receipt from the bookstore for PoD, Legends or tWoRJtWoT. There were 350 tickets distributed, but more people showed up, and they waited in a first-come, first-served line. He would only sign two hardcover books per ticketholder from the WoT, Legends, or tWoRJtWoT.
Of approximately 400 people, I was the only person who tried to ask him plot-related questions, AFAIK. I stood around up near the front until my number (157) was almost up, and heard not a single interesting tidbit. He should really consider putting together a Signing FAQ: "Book 9 will be published shortly after I finish writing it." "There will be at least three more books in the series, and that's a minimum. I've known the last scene of the last book since I started writing, and the series will keep on going until I get there." He must have gotten really tired of giving those answers.
I only got to ask two of the five questions I had prepared, and I got one RAFO (sigh). Here they are (my answers are paraphrased, but accurate):
1. In tDR, when Rand encountered the lady merchant and her soldiers and slaughtered the whole bunch, did he have a good reason for doing so? Were they all really Darkfriends? Was that eleventh man really a grey man, or did Rand just count wrong?
He said that it's not supposed to be clear to the reader exactly what is going on. What _is_ supposed to be clear is that there was definitely a grey man in the party. But whether or not Rand knew that before he lopped off their heads, we're _not_ supposed to know. It's supposed to be unclear whether Rand is just very observant, or whether he's on the brink of madness.
2. When an Aes Sedai turns BA, does she keep her warder? If so, how is that accomplished.
RAFO. Of course, the easiest way is to pick a DF for a warder. But RAFO.
He either misinterpreted my question with that parenthetical comment, or intentionally avoided the point. I was thinking specifically of Vandene here, since it looks like she might have killed Adeleas and Ispan, and I have a hard time believing that she has been Black since before she ever bonded a warder. She obviously _has_ been Black for quite a while, since it was most likely her that warded the Draghkar who nearly killed Moi in tGH. But I have to think she most likely turned black some time during her tenure as an AS. So is Jaem a DF too? We must assume...
After asking those two questions, I had already taken up my time at the desk, and most of the next guy's time, so I dropped my other three questions (none of which were as good IMO anyway).
After that, I made a sojourn to the UW Chemistry building, since it was hot and stuffy in the Bookstore, and I wanted to call my wife. Besides, RJ wasn't exactly dripping with plot-oriented information... After about 45 minutes, I came back to the signing, in hopes that RJ would get a little more conversational as the crowds dwindled (and because I had missed my bus to the Eastside, and it was almost an hour until the next one came). So I missed tickets #160-300 or so, but I doubt I missed much.
By that time, it was becoming clear that the line had gone a little quicker than expected, and that the (short) line of first-come, first-served people would all be able to have their books signed. So I got back in line to get another two books signed (and wished I had brought my other three unsigned books). There were a few people with a whole mess of books (some as many as 15-20), and they all got signed.
As I had hoped, with a shorter line weighing less heavily on RJ, he did become a little more conversational. Very little had to do with the series, but I thought it might be of interest, so I tried to remember as much as I could. My recollections are necessarily a little disjointed, so forgive me.
First of all, Harriet was not present at the signing. I made a complete fool of myself by asking a female assistant (who was in general being very helpful, snapping pictures for starry-eyed fans, and basically making sure things went smoothly) if she was Harriet. She gave me a startled look, and said "No, I'm his publicist," at which point I'm certain I was beet red... After all, she looked to be in her late twenties or early thirties... I bulled ahead and asked Jordan if his wife was on the tour, and he said that unfortunately she had to go home. I didn't press the point or ask him why she had to leave, but I wouldn't count on her presence on the rest of this tour.
At one point, he began reminiscing about signings from years past when all of 15-20 people would show up for a signing, and after they were all done, they would sit around and chat. I'm sure that some of the signings he was referring to involved some of our very own Cabal members (TINC). He said he hopes those days never come again, but that he certainly enjoyed the signings more back then...
Somehow, the topic wandered over to his Conan novels, and one of the as to whether the scantily-clad warrior-woman should be flung over Conan's shoulder on the cover, or held tightly to his chest. Jordan (dirty old man that he is) quipped that "over the shoulder" was the obvious choice, for perfectly mercenary reasons. He then went on to say that if the cover art included some only partially covered buttock, that the book sold markedly better. He also claimed that it made little difference whether it was the amazon's skin or Conan's, which got a rise out of the observers. So I asked the obvious question: "Are you going to have a talk with Darrell Sweet about this?" He gave a wry grin and said, "This is a different kind of series..." But he did say that he has gotten several letters asking for Rand's butt to appear on the cover...
At one point, someone made some comment about Orson Scott Card (which I didn't hear), and Jordan replied with a meaningful "Scott and I disagree on _many_ things." I don't know what brought that on, but evidently the two have had some contact, enough to identify gaping differences. It was hard to miss the point of his comment; in fact, IIRC, he said basically the exact same thing at least twice, and almost in succession.
As the line was drying up, the crowd apparently consisted mainly of several booksellers. They got talking about first edition printings of the hardcovers for tEotW. Jordan said that he has a whole box of them at home, and that he should give the bunch of them to his son, so he can finance all his children's college educations... At a later time, he said that he heard recently from a used fantasy dealer that an _unsigned_ first printing tEotW was sold from his store for $700 dollars. RJ said he had heard of prices around $300, but not that high. He also said he heard of first printing LoC's going at $55, which he seemed to think was absurd, since well over 200,000 had been printed. They also commented that at times, the hardcovers have been hard to find, but _not_ because they had been out of print, but because "sensible" people _assumed_ they would be out of print. He said that his books "break the rules", in that hardcovers aren't supposed to stay in print for 8-9 years. He also said that at one point, a computer "glitch" resulted in stores remaindering tSR while there was still a high demand for it at the normal price (10,000 sales annually without any advertising). Someone else mentioned that they had been to a bookstore recently which had the hardcover aCoS both for sale at the regular price _and_ on the remaindering table. Jordan expressed significant disgust with screw-ups of this sort.
Well, that's all I scribbled down on the bus on the way home. Again, all in all it was somewhat of a letdown. But I did get four of my hardcovers signed. Of course, I quickly looked at the publishing information page of my tEotW, but it was a fifth printing. I have firsts of tDR, tFoH, LoC, aCoS, and PoD, but those last four are all pretty easy to get, I'm sure.
If any one is actually still reading, I'm impressed.
klbartle (at) u.washington.edu- Dovie'andi se tovya sagain.