Tony Zbaraschuk Seattle Signing Report 1994
Well, here's the Seattle signing report from the University of Washington bookstore. We had quite a lot of people (probably somewhere around 130-140, according to one of the UW reps there; he didn't think it was quite 150). Jordan was quite friendly and accessible, even on the factory line of signatures. I met several other net.inhabitants, and told one guy (who hadn't heard about it) about rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan; he said he'd log on immediately he got home that night. I got a number of questions answered, and heard the answers to many more. Herewith the digest. (There ARE some LoC spoilers below. Last chance to back out! OK, the straight scoop. At least, as straight a scoop as could be gotten. Following "answer" text is my paraphrase of Jordan comments. (I didn't have a tape recorder, <sob>.)
1. Q: How does the Black Ajah recruit new members?
A: Very carefully. You have to understand that EVERY Ajah recruits carefully and subtly. Generally, after all those years as novice and Accepted, your teachers know your character and personality VERY well, and you are guided to the Ajah where you fit. The Black Ajah watches too. And recruitment is a one-shot offer: they offer, and you can accept or die. There are a lot of ways to die that wouldn't lead to any suspicion; for instance, it's pretty easy to kill yourself experimenting with the One Power. Who would think that such a death wasn't accidental?
[I mentioned Katerine Sedai, 17 years Aes Sedai, 12 years Black.]
One thing they do, for instance, is watch new Aes Sedai. Sometimes women get past the final tests and then discover that they _don't_ have anywhere near as much power and freedom as they thought they would have.
2. Q: What were the female Aes Sedai doing during the Breaking? Surely they could have got together in circles of six or 13 or whatever, cut off one man from the Source, and gone onto the next.
A: Several things. Partly, you have to find the men before you can do anything. Partly, by the time they realized what was going on, it was too late. The massive geological upheavals were only a part (and not the most important part) of the Breaking. There was also the cumulative social collapse, breakdown of transportation systems, etc.. Imagine a city like Seattle that suddenly loses ALL contact with the outside world. Also, the women were (after a point) trying to preserve what they could, not fight the men directly. Finally, in order to make someone _stop_ doing something, you have to be able to threaten them. What can you threaten a madman with, that he will listen to you and stop?
3. Q: Speaking of the Breaking, how did Dragonmount survive all that rearrangement of geography?
A: Well, the Breaking had different effects in different areas. Some areas were raised up, others lowered, others moved around... but the effects were relatively mild in some areas; Dragonmount was one of them. [Which I suppose makes sense, since nobody lived in the area, the men would likely have been elsewhere.--TZ] Note that Shayol Ghul used to be a subtropical island. The Tar Valon area was moved, but as an entire piece, so the mountain, the island, and the river stayed in the same places relative to each other.
4. Q: What about Mazrim Taim? Isn't his withstanding of the madness for 15 years something exceptional? [Short segue from there to Taim=Demandred?]
A: The duration varies from man to man; the circumstances are different, and the men themselves. Nobody really knows how long the process takes (or has to take), since once you start channelling the Aes Sedai usually find you pretty quickly, and gentling stops the progression of the madness and the taint (though it does not cure what's already happened). Channelling is addictive; once you've done it, you can't stop. The Breaking took about a hundred years before all the men finally died, though some of them did shelter in the _stedding_ for a while. Nobody knows how long the process takes, except that there is variation. It's all in my notes.
Q: But what about Taim? Isn't 15 years something really exceptional?
[Subtext: Is he Demandred???]
A: Read and find out.
4. Q: Can Thom Merrilin channel?
A: Absolutely not. I never intended anyone to think he could.
[Jordan also strongly implied that Thom was not Elayne's father. Oh, well, so much for all our beautiful net.theories based on those two facts.]
5. Speaking of the Net, Jordan did say (as noted before) that he'd read the FAQ, and was both impressed and amused by it. We got a lot of stuff right, and a lot of stuff wrong. We also have based a lot of discussion on "facts" we deduced that were actually wrong.
He DID say that he had done some things in response to net.speculations. First, if we seemed to be getting too close to something he had intended to stay hidden for a while longer, he would tone it done in later books. And if we seemed to be going off on an incredible tangent (the "How could they think THAT?" sort of thing) he would correct it. In both cases, however, he only did this if it could be fitted unobtrusively into the book.
Naturally, he refused to provide specifics. I asked if the linking discussion on the Net had led to the Glossary entry in LoC (which discussed linking in some depth). He said no, the info about linking has been in his notes all along, but he had to cut it out of previous Glossaries in order to save space.
[I was discussing Moghedien's nature at this point, as an example of how wrong some of our deductions were [specifically mine about Moghedien's exact identity and the nature of her companions--see the FAQ, and compare with the Salidar sections in LoC] and said that it was almost impossible to get a straight answer (or any info) out of Moghedien, and Harriet Jordan said that that was a lot like her husband; it was very hard to get info out of him.]
6. Q: What about Warders? I thought the previous Glossaries (up to tFoH) said that Aes Sedai _couldn't_ sense the direction of their Warders?
A: The link goes both ways. Aes Sedai CAN sense the direction (and, roughly, with some practice) the distance of their Warders. Those earlier Glossary entries were an error carried over from a very early version of the Glossary. If you read carefully, you will notice references in the earlier books to Aes Sedai sensing the direction of their Warders.
[Anyone got a hint as to where those references are??]
[One of the other people at the signing mentioned the 'bonds' that Moiraine tied to Rand, Perrin, and Mat early in tEotW. Those _were_ directional, and I speculated that maybe they were related, in a very small way, to the Warder bond.]
7. Q: What about those Warders in Caemlyn around Logain in tEotW? Didn't Moiraine say that they were all Red sisters? Reds don't have Warders!
A: Moiraine never mentioned the sisters escorting Logain (not all of whom were Red). The ones with Logain weren't in Caemlyn at the time [evidently they stayed with the army, which stayed outside the city--TZ]. Moiraine was referring to those that _were_ in Caemlyn. There is something explaining this in LoC. Remember that the interleaving of plot threads goes backward as well as forward.
[Side note: I _think_ I know the reference Jordan was talking about, but I'm not sure I believe it. Remember when Logain was talking to those Altaran nobles, mentioning all the Reds that had secretly supported him, apparently under Elaida's direction. Mentioning this at Siuan's instigation, we all thought. What if Logain was actually _telling the truth_? Siuan Sanche will be the most surprised woman in the world. I sort of hope I'm wrong on this one. Can anyone else come up with another reference in LoC that might explain this? One mentioning Reds in Caemlyn around the time of Logain's capture?]
[Note 2: If Jordan was planning this all the way back in tEotW-- I am in _awe_. Pure stricken awe at the plotting consistency.]
8. Q: How many more WoT books will there be?
A: Several. Some. A few. I'm not even speculating now on how many books I hope it will take, because every time I do mention a number I hope I can finish it in, it turns out to take longer. It will be at least 8, because I've signed the contracts for books 7 and 8.
[I got the strong impression that Jordan is NOT padding anything; the WoT just keeps growing by leaps and bounds.]
9. Q: What about Gawyn?
A: Well, all the information he can find indicates that his mother's dead. (First the rumor, then it apparently got confirmed when he reached Cairhien. [Even Rand thinks that Morgase is dead.--TZ]). Rand probably killed her. His sister is missing, maybe dead. Rand's involved again. He _released_ the woman responsible for finding Rand because he loved Egwene. Egwene is tied up with Rand, who killed his mother and is probably responsible for his sister's disappearance. Why do you think he's under any stress?
10. Q: Can the Power really be used to make you different? [This arose as part of a discussion of Illusion ("Mirror of Mists" is an old name for the same thing).]
A: Illusion is illusion. Doesn't fool the sense of touch, so you have to be really subtle (such as Moghedien's disguise) to avoid detection.
Q: So Sammael couldn't make himself taller?
A: He could make himself _look_ taller, but he's not interested in _looking_ taller. He wants to _be_ taller. Besides, any sufficiently experienced man would be able to tell that it was illusion.
Q: So the Power really isn't capable of genetic reconstruction? (Like, for example, making you taller.)
A: Maybe, in the Age of Legends, someone might have been able to pull it off, if they were _really_ skilled. Might have.
Q: Like Aginor? He seemed to be the expert among the Forsaken on that.
A: Aginor was d**n good, but he wasn't that good.
11. Q: What about your characters? Are there any of them you don't like?
A: You have to like a character to get inside of them, to make them real _to the reader_. Ever read a book where several characters felt _right_, and one of them was just _wrong_, where your reaction is "That can't be a real person?" If so, odds are that the writer didn't like that character. I get into each of my characters. For instance, I'm really a mean SOB when I'm writing Semirhage.
12. Q: Which of the three (Elayne, Min, Aviendha) do you like best? I'm not asking which one Rand is going to get; which one is _your_ favorite.
A: All my female characters are based on my wife. Am I supposed to dislike something about her?
13. Finally, Jordan refused to either confirm or deny
(a) if Bela was _ta'veren_
(b) that Bela was a Darkfriend
(c) whether Bela killed Asmodean.
P.S. That isn't a Trolloc horn on his cane, it's an English ram's horn.
"I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness. I love that which they defend, the city of the Men of Numenor." --- Faramir, _The Two Towers_