Friday was a beautiful day in the Two Rivers. There was a gentle breeze blowing inland and the sky was crystal. Perfect. Unlike the services a year ago, the laying of the ledger stone on Jim's grave was a quiet family affair. So, with apologies, I won't share the details. Jim's resting place is identified with a marker that will last for a few hundred years. I found myself thinking that his work will outlive even the marble on his grave. The stone is simple in form. It is etched with a few words which perfectly describe the gentle giant of a man that he was.....
James Oliver Rigney, Jr.
Born October 17, 1948
Died September 16, 2007
Father Story Teller
It is with great sadness that I tell you that the Dragon is gone. RJ left us today at 2:45 PM. He fought a valiant fight against this most horrid disease. In the end, he left peacefully and in no pain. In the years he had fought this, he taught me much about living and about facing death. He never waivered in his faith, nor questioned our God's timing. I could not possibly be more proud of anyone. I am eternally grateful for the time that I had with him on this earth and look forward to our reunion, though as I told him this afternoon, not yet. I love you bubba.
Our beloved Harriet was at his side through the entire fight and to the end. The last words from his mouth were to tell her that he loved her.
Thank each and everyone of you for your prayers and support through this ordeal. He knew you were there. Harriet reminded him today that she was very proud of the many lives he had touched through his work. We've all felt the love that you've been sending my brother/cousin. Please keep it coming as our Harriet could use the support.
Jason will be posting funeral arrangements.
My sincerest thanks.
Peace and Light be with each of you,
4th of 3
To Catalyst: Never, never loose faith. RJ did not. Harriet hasn't. I haven't. Going through what we have, our faith is only strengthened. Besides, if God didn't exist, we would have never had Jim. We did. God does. Remember my Brother/Cousin, my friend, think of him fondly and glorify God's name.
The entire staff of Dragonmount.com would like to extend its most deepest sympathies to Robert Jordan's family. He touched all of our lives in some way and we wish him the rest and peace he deserves. We will be posting information in the near future about where you can send condolences. Please check the News Section for these updates.
Jason here again. RJ asked me to post this message from his cousin Wilson. To give you some context, read over the previous few blog entries.
Enjoy. And thanks, Wilson!
To those of you that have said nice things about my small show of support for my brother-cousin, thank you. He's what this is about however. To Nynaeve, you were absolutely spot on. He would have done the same to support me were the tables reversed.
I have read all your comments and well wishings and I sense that in your own ways, you love him as much as I do. That you have included sweet Harriet in your thoughts is most wonderful. Thank you for that. RJ is doing what few get to, pursue his passion. Parrot Heads will recognize the origin; most of us live as oysters. RJ on the other hand is a Pearl. Still, imagine the courage it takes to put your work out there for the entire world to critique. That you have embraced his imaginary world and him is humbling, but gratifying validation. However, I know the man, he would be doing the same, as a starving writer to a scant few as long as the publisher allowed. True, your devoted following has made it easier for him to pursue his craft, but pursue it he would regardless. And for making his road in life a bit easier to navigate, I again thank you.
We had a really great day together this past Saturday. Our dearest Harriet insisted that the boys needed to visit the local Harley shop to procure do rags for our chrome domes. RJ entered the showroom of gleaming road-ready American icons with a thunderous, "Holy Mamma! We're in Church!" Stopped people dead where they stood he did. Janet, my love and shade of my heart, found a camouflage do rag which the Vietnam Vet thought fit him most nicely. Then she happened upon a black rag with a luminescent blue pattern on it. She showed it to me and I announced that they were dragons. RJ's head popped from around the opposite side of the display and he queried quite like we were still adolescents, "Dragons?" Two left the shop and were soon upon our heads. Oh we did kick tires and discuss at length the merits of this or that bike. I longed for the Classic mid life comfort bike, bedecked of faring, chrome, CD player, et al. RJ offered that I might as well be riding in a car. In the end I think we were both eyeing the Soft Tail. But our favorite was the Fat Boy in a very stealthy new matte paint, Black Denim.
All the rattling about the Do Rags is for a reason. You, his loyal fans and supporters, know that this world that you so love has sprung from that amazing mind of his. Rand, for all his heroics is but a figment of my dear brother's imagination. RJ on the other hand, is now and has always been the Dragon. Seeing him wearing his dragon bedecked do rag only refocused me to that fact. When he called me with the news of the disease, he announced with calm resolve that it was there and that it was fatal. He also vowed to beat it. Heroes do that you know. He has shared the amyloid ordeal most openly with you all. Read between the lines of his postings and you will see that this was no small struggle. While he is setting all manner of records for an amyloid patient, we have yet to learn if the amyloids are truly gone for good. Time will tell. Pray, as I do, that they are. Dr. Hayman is truly of the yellow ajah. But, the medical treatments required to vanquish this unseen enemy damned near kills the patient. Thusly, RJ is back from near-death and reborn to us. Fantasy is just that. Reality is much more inspiring. I am here to proclaim loudly to all of you that my brother-cousin, my confidant, my friend, is indeed the Dragon Reborn. Long live the Dragon!
He has gone where pain and suffering are no more.
Whenever he was able to be at the computer, he checked the blog first thing. Your e-mails REALLY MATTERED to him. He loved them ... and I think in some sense he loved you all.
I never thanked you for all my birthday messages, but I do now. We had a nice party...about a dozen people, ranging in age from 4 months to 82 years, sitting around the dining room table which had been covered with lots of newspaper, picking our own lovely boiled local shrimp, eating corn on the cob and homemade biscuits , and later eating watermelon; a good deal of white wine went down our gullets, too. I should add, no cooking was done by me. My dearest first cousin, also named Harriet (we're both named for her mother), did it all, just about.
It was a happy time. Jim made it so.
He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind was gone.
These are words Jim said to me several books ago, in the weary but always thrilling hours of putting the manuscript to bed, ready to carry to New York in the morning -- I remember grabbing a piece of discarded script and scrawling those words up the margin, because they were so beautiful. He was talking about Rand. I of course am not.
I know he touched all of you. Thanks for being there.
Here is his final interview, given to the local newspaper. Notice the date:
Robert Jordan aims to get back on feet
By Bill Thompson
Thursday,September 13, 2007
Jim Rigney intends to "keep marching to the horizon." Stage One is getting back on his feet.
Known to millions of readers as Robert Jordan, the best-selling author of "The Wheel of Time" fantasy series continues to cross swords with the rare blood disease amyloidosis, a progressive disorder he was first diagnosed with in December 2005 at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Subsequently, the author has been undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Rigney reports that with the help of the Mayo Clinic, he is keeping things under control.
"My numbers are still good, in the normal range. We will be going back up to the Mayo in about a month and we'll see what the status is. Now I just have to get my foot healed up so I have a chance of getting out of this wheelchair. Strange to think that my foot, of all things, would be giving me the most trouble. It's getting better, but unfortunately the amyloidosis makes healing go very slowly.
"When I get the foot better then I can start on the process of walking again. I hope to do this in another two or three months."
While there has been no improvement in heart function and no change in his overall prognosis as of June, Rigney says improvement remains possible. And he's determined.
"I've got promises to keep."
And he did march, guys. He marched toward that horizon until he crossed it, where we cannot follow yet.
The word now, the only possible word, is Onward.
Go for it. With love.
Consider yourselves hugged.
Well a bit rocky, but not too.
Janet, my ever-youthful bride of 32 years and I spent the weekend with RJ and Harriet in Charleston. They are both as fine as anyone could be in the middle of such an ordeal.
The weakness persists, an unwanted side affect of the medications. Claims that he could sleep 22 hours a day if Harriet were to allow it. She won't. You'll recall that we've both spoken cryptically of the nasty side affects of the drugs required to fight Amyloidosis. Prolonged exposure to both the Revlimid and Dexamethasone have left his skin thinned and fragile. As a result, he bruises and cuts pretty easily these days, so we passed on the opportunity to wrestle in the side yard. The cuts that are there are attended to daily by the best warder a person could wish for, Harriet. His hair is back in spades however, as is the beard. Not a gray strand on top, not one. The Lambda light chain number was up ever so slightly this month. No one, not even the Mayo, is concerned about that. Most likely this was due to the month of February being off the Revlimid and that in March they had cut the dosage by 40%. Besides, he told me he had an angel looking out for him. Really!
Though I've known him, well, all my life, he still hits me with a tidbit from time to time that I have either forgotten or never knew. Here's one of those. When he was 2 to 3 years old, seems he would on occasion dart out into the street in front of their home. Looking for traffic was out of the question. Adults would scamper after him and tell him that he had to stay out of the street or a car would hit him. He told them not to worry, that he had an angel who looked out for him and wouldn't let him be harmed. I asked him how he knew about the angel and he said he could sense that he was there. RJ somehow felt that the angel was a he even though angels are most often described as being without sexual definition. RJ even felt that were he to spin quickly around he would catch a fleeting glimpse of his angel as he vaporized to be unseen. RJ is feeling like, if not looking a bit like; one of those cars may have tagged him just a bit. But he knows that he has his angel looking out for him. I wonder if it's the same angel from his early youth. Hope so.
For Janice. Prayers offered for your Peace Officer as he also fights this awful disease.
For Sherry, thanks for the praise. Undeserved. It's easy to love someone who loves you as much as RJ loves this guy. Amazing how the ones seemingly in need of strength give it to those around them.
For Major Jim. First, thank you for your service. A correction however, RJ flew IN helicopters, he wasn't the pilot. Volunteered he did, to be a door gunner on a huey. Freaking insane. Imagine if you can a rather large 19 year old tethered to the chopper, standing outside on the skid, laying suppressing machine gun fire on the landing zone in front of and below the helicopter. On one occasion, one of the times he knew he would be dead in seconds, an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) was fired at their ship as they were slowing to land. The business end of the grenade is smaller than a football and travels at blinding speed. RJ saw it approaching and knew they were all dead. The only thing he could do to defend his crew was to fire his machine gun at the rapidly approaching object. What are the chances of hitting it? With the luck of Ganesh, his bullets found the target and it exploded, close enough that shrapnel rained on the helicopter.
To Ryan Toy. Thank you for sharing about your fight. If a 14 year old can do it... Inspirational you are. Thanks.
For Sgt Cody. Shook his hand, hugged his neck, kissed him on the cheek and told him I loved him. Hope that covers your request. From the heart, thanks for your service. Hooah!
Do keep the prayers coming. We're a long way from not needing them.
Brother / Cousin
4th of 3
Over a hundred people e-mailed condolences to the undertaker in Charleston. There is no way to respond on that site, and I just can't do individual responses. I hope that those who wrote there also read the blog -- thank you all for your very kind messages. I've read them all, and so has Will, and I've sent them on to Reynolds and Wilson.
The word now is ONWARD.
With love, Harriet
Robert Jordan asked me to pass along some more photos. Here they are, and here's what he had to say about them:
Here are a few more pictures for you to post. First off, my niece Ariel. She didn't have her head, obviously, but what she did was neater, really. There is a charity called Locks for Love [
] to which women can donate their hair if they have at least 10 inches that can be cut. This hair is then made into wigs for women and girls undergoing chemo. A righteous move on her part. (These are before and after, of course.)
Then there is my brother, Reynolds, who shaved as per promise, followed by one of me and my nephew Rey, a New Orleans Police Officer, who also shaved as per promise. And finally, for those who really do want to gaze at my bone structure -- there are sickos and liars all over the place -- a last pair of me sans hair.
Click each image to see a larger version.
During Dragon Conn in Atlanta last week rumors flew about that my brother/cousin was gravely ill, wasn't eating and had in fact had "Last Rites" administered. I just got off the telephone with him and he's surrounded by laughing friends and relatives and is about to enjoy a shrimp-based bowl of gumbo. He got a chuckle out of news of his impending departure.
Go back and reread RJ's blog entries and you'll know exactly what is going on. Armed with those medical facts, if any of you have shared time with very ill relatives you'll know what person looked like and felt like during the ordeal. RJ looks and feels just like that. So, we're not taking any family photos at the moment.
Fact: He is ill, very ill. He has shared that with you in medical jargon. He has told you the prognosis of his physicians and told you that he plans to beat their predictions. I pray that he will. But should it not be in the cards, he'll manage that phase of his life as he has every step he has taken thus far. So, should you hear another "rumor" it's just that. Until you hear it from RJ, Harriet or from me, it's just a rumor.
Fact: He's told you that his appetite comes and goes. It does. He's taking a handful of medications everyday to help him in the fight. Unfortunately some of them have adverse affects on the appetite. Pretty much like a kid in that regard right now. He eats when he feels up to it, and says "No Thanks!" when he doesn't. When I visited a couple of weeks back he had a hankering for Cream of Mushroom soup served with rice and a dash of tabasco. RJ and Harriet were busy in the parlor, so I whipped up the soup. He told me it was good, but not as good as when Harriet prepares it. Duh!?!?
Fact: The deacon from his church visits their home for weekly worship services and to bring communion. RJ doesn't feel up to sitting on two hundred year old wooden pews for an hour. Painful even for someone in the peak of health, which you know RJ is not. These visits are to share communion, which is a weekly (at least) part of RJ and Harriet's lives. Same goes for Janet and me. When RJ is physically stronger, he'll be back on the hard pews. I hope that whatever your faith that you are able to "Commune" with God often.
Bottom line guys, he's been completely forthcoming with you from the very beginning of this ordeal. He intends to continue that dialog. When he and I spoke a few minutes ago, I asked if he wanted to end this rumor or for me to do it? I then reminded him that the last time he wrote you he was feeling as he put it "a bit viperish" and that his posting had kicked over a huge ant hill. He allowed that perhaps I should write you guys this time. Calmer heads and all.
Keep the prayer lines open please. He's a stubborn old cuss but welcomes, appreciates, yes even needs your collective petitions to our God. I'll be seeing RJ and Harriet in a week and will give them a hug and an "I Love You" from each and every one of you.
Thanks for caring.
Peace be with each of you,
4th of 3
Epilog: Yes he is continuing to work through all of this medical calamity. MOL is going into the word processor and onto audio tapes almost daily. Not every day mind you, because the medical fight takes first priority. But, he told you he'd finish and he will. Fact is that it has been finished in his head for years. During a recent family sit around, he became the Gleeman and told the bones of it ALL to Harriet and me. You read that right, I did say ALL. Don't ask, ain't telling. Two and a half hours of story telling by the Creator himself went by in the twinkling of an eye. Truly magical. All I can say is WOW! Best stuff he's ever done. MOL is going to knock your socks off! That's a promise.
First of all, Major thanks from both of us to Dustin Micheletti, Greg Pearson, Michael Kemp, William Walker, Carols Franco, Jenna Medaris, and John Knam, for your very kind gifts to the Hematologic Malignancies Program -- amyloidosis research. Thank you for joining this fight!
Now I must add my own personal and heartfelt thanks to Brad Condray, Proxy Candy Striper for all of wotmania, and all of you dear Wotmaniacs, for your lavish, heartfelt, and delightful Care package. Your card of good wishes moved me to tears. And the box contained so many smiles, good tastes, and fun pastimes that I was overwhelmed.
Thank you very much, all of you.
Some of you don't like my striped shirt, and some don't like the braces but you'll have to get used to both, boys and girls; I like stripes, this simple red-and-white isn't even close to one of the full-bore stripes. With French cuffs. As for the braces, I adopted those some 20 years ago. A tailor in London was marking up the waist of a pair of trousers when I commented on the fact that I had trouble with trousers sliding down...and off "Sir has no shelf," he replied, and I realized he was right. I have very little behind. Hence the braces. Though I will admit that I have to go get these trousers taken up. When I bought them, I weighed approximately 30 pounds more than I do now.
I am sleeping about 20 hours a day, and feeling ready to go back to sleep as soon as I wake, but I feel good enough to try bringing you all up to speed on how things have gone. Some of this will be repeat work, so bear with me. Those who've been there can consider it a recap with maybe a little extra that wasn't there before. No jokes in here, or not very many. Just the straight ski-nay.
The first symptoms I am aware of occurred last Memorial Day. I was on my way to a charity fund raiser when I suddenly felt light-headed. I was afraid that if I did not stop, I would fall over, but since I was crossing an asphalt parking lot and didn't want to fall on the hot asphalt, I decided to keep going until I reached the grass on the other side of the street. I got there, but along the way, buildings began to glow white and everyone I could see acquired a nimbus. I made it inside, paid our entry fee (total elapsed time about 1 minute) and sat down for a while until I could join the festivities. A weird occurrence, but I paid it no further attention.
Exactly one week later I was in the lobby of the theater showing Spamalot, five minutes to curtain. I went light-headed, and then I went blind. This lasted for about 3 to 5 seconds. [The blindness has not reoccurred, but I have not driven since. Three seconds of blindness at 80 is nothing I want to fool around with.] A lot of people (exclusively women) have asked why I didn't go to the ER. The men I have talked to, including every male doctor, has understood. On the one hand, a night waiting in an ER and on the other, five minutes to curtain for Spamalot, original cast. A no brainer.
Still, on getting home, I went to my doctor, and she set up a full neurological work-up, a full cardio work-up, a full pulmonary work-up, everything she could think of. I aced them all. The techs started frisking me on the possibility that I was sneaking in a ringer. No ringer, but golden test scores.
Then I went on tour for Knife of Dreams. I came home expecting to be five or six pounds up from where I started (3 meals a day in restaurants for five weeks), but I was nine pounds up. My cardio man put me in a Halter Monitor, which you wear 24 hours a day and which records pulse rate, blood pressure, and a mini-EKG. This showed that I had an irregular heart-beat with roughly 1.5 second gaps plus low blood pressure. When low blood pressure combined with a downward spike in the BP, the result was light-headedness.
The doctor told me to load salt, and it was a good thing that he did. First off, I put on 15 pounds in 2 weeks. Then I had an episode of light-headedness while seated, which had never happened before. Harriet insisted on calling the doctor, who said to meet him at the University Hospital immediately. I was check in with what turned out to be congestive heart failure, a buildup of fluid around the heart. Once I was put on lasix, I lost 35 pounds in ten days. I also was seen by Doctor Zile, the head of the cardio department, because my cardio man had just gone on vacation. It turned out that he was med-school buddies with a man named Gertz, who is the #1 man in the world on amyloids. The result of that was that I was tested for amyloids (bingo!) and aimed at the Mayo Clinic.
Now, we're going to skip over a few things in here -- my first mini-dose of chemo, two hospitalizations with dehydration, fever and chills so bad that it was taking me three or four attempts to grasp my reading glasses, etc. The reason I've taken you step by step this far is that I got my first symptoms in May, my first diagnosis in December, and a confirmation of that diagnosis in January. That isn't just fast, in the world of amyloidosis, it is blindingly fast. Many people take 3, 4, 5 or even 6 years to get to that diagnosis. I intend to start a small foundation aimed at educating GPs primarily. At the Mayo, they say that by the time they get an amyloidosis patient, said patient has been beaten up within an inch of his or her life. It shouldn't be that way. I got lucky, but it shouldn't depend on luck.
Okay. Back to the rendition.
After roughly a week of testing to see whether I was a viable candidate, they decided that I was. Then I began bone marrow stem cell collection. I was able to collect 9 million ml/kilogram of body mass, which I though was very low. They will do a transplant with a few as 3 million per kg body mass, but they don't like going below 4, and they will not, can not, go below 2. I had been hoping to hit at least 12 million and preferably 16 million or even 20. Not until it was over did they tell me that people with amyloidosis often have trouble harvesting 4 million, and some can't make the 2 million.
After this came two days of chemo. The drug used is melphalan. The old fashioned name is mustard gas. Yeah; same-same World War I. On each of those two days they give you just short of a lethal dose of mustard gas. There is nothing haphazard about this. They calculate exactly what it will take to kill you and stop just short of it.
This is the point where I got my hair cut the first time. You see, movies notwithstanding, if your hair does fall out, it comes in chunks and patches, not smooth sheets. I figured I'd keep control of what I could keep control of and had the barber do me with a razor.
On the third day, called Day 0, you get back some bone marrow stem cells. Your appetite has already gone away by this time, but you haven't really noticed it because you've been hooked up to an aphaeresis machine for stripping out the stem cells. If you were a non-amyloid patient, they would give you more injections of growth factor, they same stuff they gave you to make you produce extra stem cells in the first places. Not if you are an amyloidosis patient, in which case the growth factor can make you put on 30 to 40 pounds of fluid in a day, in which case you are hauled off for congestive heart failure. This while your blood numbers (white blood cell counts, platelet counts, red blood cell counts etc) are headed through the floor. Not a good thing, as they say.
I've said that your appetite goes away during this, but this isn't a matter of just hunting for what you'd really like to eat. You don't want to eat anything. Nothing. Your favorite food? Forget it. You try to force something down, try to get some calories down. Protein powder, whatever, you choke it down. Only it still isn't enough.
I went to the Mayo weighing 240 pounds, and that was 6 pounds lower than my trainer and I had established as my dry bottom weight. This morning I weighed 217 for the second morning running, and I am ecstatic. I didn't loose anything.
I'm very grateful to those of you who sent Harriet a care package. More grateful than I can say. She showed it around, laughing sometimes. And sometimes crying. You see, she's still afraid she could loose me. We won't know whether any of the treatment did any good for at least six months, and probably not for a year. Until then, we hang on and fight. Her as much as me. She's my whole corner team, cut man and all. Leaving the Mayo wasn't the bell to end the fight. That was the end of Round Five, and Liston made it a nasty one. (I've alluded to it earlier, and I'll let it go at that,) But I beat him back, got inside his rhythm by the end of the round. Is he ahead on points? Am I? I don't know. I just know we're fighting by the old rules. None of this 12 round kiddy stuff.
"Welcome to the Garden, Ladies and Gentlemen, for at least fifteen rounds of cham-pi-on-ship boxing. By prior agreement, this fight cannot end in a draw. The match will continue until one opponent either cannot come out of his corner to answer the bell or cannot answer to the mark by the count of ten."
(And we got one of Marciano's old refs, so don't worry it's going to be stopped on cuts. This guy figures if you step into the ring, you expect to bleed.)
Anyway. The pictures are not for life-style options. When I can grow the hair back, I will. The goatee may stay, but not the shaved head. The tattoo, maybe. The Harley? Oh, yeah, I'm pretty serious about that. Harriet seems to leaning to riding postillion.
Well, that about wraps it up for now. I'll be back to you in a few days.
Take care, guys.
All my best,
This is a very short post, I'm afraid. I know it's been awhile since I posted last, but various things kept getting in the way. Still, here goes, with the best Christmas present I've ever received. Something I had to share without any delay.
As you all no doubt know by now, the marker for amyloids is something called Lambda Light Chains, which are found in the blood. The normal range is between 1 and 3. Five months ago, I was at 75. Four months ago, that had gone up to 96. The higher the LLC number, the worse for you. So I wasn't doing so hot.
This morning the Mayo gave me my most recent LLC number. 3.14!!!! No, that isn't a typo. 3.14!!! I'm on the brink of normal. Something I never thought I'd say about myself in any regard, frankly. I've got Liston the ropes, guys, and I really believe that your prayers and well-wishes have helped put him there. Now I just have to put him on the canvas. This isn't a cure, and I'm not even sure whether it will count as remission, but it means I'm still on my feet and will be for a while yet. 3.14! Hot damn!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody.
I'll talk to you again after the 1st.
Well, I'm back from my monthly (at present) visit to the Mayo, and I have some new results that I thought I'd share with you. That is the reason for this short entry. Just to get the news out. I'll do the usual a's to your q's in a post in a few days.
First off, a little explanation. The markers for amyloids are things called Lambda Light Chains. The normal range for Lambda Light Chains (you have them, too) is between 0.50 and 2.63. If the number gets above that, it is bad, and the higher, the worse. Two months ago, my number was 75. Not good. One month ago, it was 95. Definitely not good. There were some mitigating factors that made it maybe not quite as bad as it might have been, but the disease was definitely progressing. On Thursday, I was given the most recent test result. My number is now 13.
This is not a cure. I repeat: This is NOT a cure. There is no cure for amyloidosis any more than there is for cancer. The best you hope for is remission, and this isn't even remission. I will need to keep taking this medicine for a long time in order to keep the good result going. But it is the first time in such a long time that I have had any good news. I haven't lied to you in this blog, not ever, but I haven't always told you everything. I told you in the beginning that I wasn't going to. There was no need as I saw it to burden you with descriptions of every bout of nausea or the like. Wilson has spoken of rough patches. A fair number of those were hospital stays, for dehydration, for congestive heart failure (again), for whatever, once three of them in three weeks. Up to now, going back to the boxing metaphor, the best I've been able to manage for any round was a bare, skin-of-my-teeth draw, then drop on the stool in my corner, get the blood out of my eyes, and stay on the stool right up until the bell rang because the legs badly needed those few added seconds of rest if they were going to carry me through the next round. Some rounds weren't a draw, not even close, but I've got a good corner crew in Harriet and others, and they always helped me get ready to answer the bell one more time. This time, however....
For the first time, I've scored a round over Liston clearly and cleanly. There's still blood to clean out of the eyes, but not so much, and this time, I'll be already on my feet and waiting when the bell rings. As Harriet said to me, for the first time, we can be sure the light we see at the end of the tunnel is not a train. And that is such a relief, for me as well as for her, because for so long, as it seems to us, we have been sure that the light really was a train, but there was nothing to do except keep running toward it as hard as we could.
To all of those of who have posted that you are praying for me, thank you. For all of those who say you don't believe, but you send good wishes, thank you, too. You think good wishes; God hears prayers. To all of you who post at all, thank you.
We're still here, and we're still fighting. And I finally took a round from Liston! HOT DAMN!!!!
Back to you real soon, guys.
RJ has dropped a ton of water weight, over 30 pounds. He's feeling much better as a result. Earlier this week he and Harriet made one of their many trips to his doctors and were pleased that he was able to negotiate all of the walking without rest or assistance. You'll recall his description of his first attempt to mosey around the block with me a while back. We made it more than half way, and may have gone further save the sun getting to us both. Harriet reports that his appetite is also improving.
Their sense of humor never dims. We were chatting on Wednesday about both our hair growth. Harriet announced that RJ had hair "all over his head". He corrected that it was only growing down to his eyebrows. We laughed about having to learn the wolf man dance. RJ said that he was spending time lurking in the bushes in front of the house lunging at unsuspecting tourists. So should you be sight seeing in Charleston, you've been warned.
To SJP, Elseby, Ray and Damien: Thanks for your service guys. Be safe.
To Kristen: Lost it, but you kept on fishing, atta girl! Ask RJ about the day we spent fishing with my cousin, his then 9 year old nephew and were both skunked. As I recall the score was Jim III three pretty good sized sharks, RJ and Wilson zero.
I know there is trifling little news in this update. But find comfort in the fact that things are still very positive. Your continued support is very important. RJ and Harriet are weary from the fight and have much more ahead. Your words of encouragement, advise, humor and well wishing help lighten their load. Thank you all.
Brother-Cousin, 4th of 3
RJ sent us a close-up photo of his dragon do-rag. It was a bit hard to see in the previous blog entries. Click the pictures below for a larger image. If you're not sure what this is all about, see his previous blog entries.
I should have a long list of thank-yous for folks who made donations to the Mayo in my name, but that will have to wait until next time because I left the pages with the laptop.
I'm sending Jason something to post, either here on the blog or elsewhere. It's from my brother/cousin Wilson. I thought a long time before deciding to include it. It's awfully laudatory. Besides, you don't think he writes stuff like that for free, do you?
I made it out in record time, and would have made it faster still except for a few little glitches. First off, I began having coughing jags that led to me passing out. Believe me, you do not want to hear your wife saying, "Stay with me, babe! Stay with me!" sounding like the damned medic on a medivac. Then they shunted me off to ICU for a night, and there was the incident of catheter slap-stick which resulted in me flat on the floor with a broken toe and a foot approximately one-half black, deciding that I would, after all, wait where I was until someone came to give me assistance. I reduced two groups of doctors to stitches, holding onto the wall to keep from falling down, by recounting that tale. But it's definitely rated NC-17, so not here.
In the end it all came down to sodium levels, would you believe. Mine were low, and if they didn't come up, I wouldn't be going home.
Can you say bacon?
I had no appetite, and still have no appetite, but I managed to get down five strips of bacon a couple of hours before my blood test, so I passed.
I ended up coming home on one of the Hormel Corporate jets. Not because I'm Robert Jordan or because Hormel had any idea who RJ is. There is a nifty organization in the country called Corporate Angels. Each week, corporations notify Corporate Angels of what the schedules are for their corporate jets, along with what seat vacancies they have available. CA then hooks these planes up with cancer patients, transplant patients and others with serious illness. It just so happened that Hormel's #2 man had a meeting in Charleston, so Harriet and I got free rides.
I am still fighting the appetite thing. Namely, I don't have one. Harriet has convinced me to try Ensure, which I must say is very near to the pits. I'm trying very hard to find other things to eat. I don't get very much of anything down -- I only weighed 227 this morning -- and I know I need to hit the protein, but t'ain't easy, McGee. T'ain't easy.
My cousin Wilson came down last weekend, and we went up to the big Harley shop on Dorchester Road, the one where a floor about twice the size of a basketball court is covered with new machines. The walls climb and climb and climb, and all the way up, six or seven up, they're lined with glass-fronted shelves that are full of classic Harleys, antique Harleys, you name it. Okay; they have a few Indians and the like up there, but we are talking 98% Harley here, and gorgeous. Stone cold gorgeous. And that's before you go back into the area where the mechanics work, which is about half again as large.
I'm leaning toward a Fat Boy with a Black Denim paint job (as close to matte-black as you are likely to get) and a blacked-out engine (almost no chrome showing at all!). The balance is sweet, and if I get the backroom boys to work over the engine a bit, she'll dig in and climb for the stars, I'm betting. This is the machine you ride into town sliding down the razor's edge of midnight. By the time they know you've been there, it's too late. If anybody asks you, RJ's done been here and gone. Apologies to Josh White.
Harriet's fighting me on this one. Which is to say, she hasn't said one word against the bike, but.... Those of you who are married to smart women know how this routine works. Luckily, she hasn't made this a hill. (A man who expects a long relationship needs to chose carefully the hills on which he is willing to die.) We'll have to see how it works out. Time is on my side. It will be August or September earliest before I am strong enough to actually ride. By that time, she'll assume she's won just because I've gone silent.
I will, however, be in Seattle and in Anchorage as promised, so don't worry about that. I'll post a few "boiled egg" pictures in a day or two, though I have considered them long and hard. I don't think anybody will tell me how good I look or how cool or anything like that. This is one ugly dude, boys and girls. Stone ugly. Harriet can lie all she wants to.
Well, I'm out of here for now, guys.
Hi, guys. Jason at Dragonmount set this up for me so I can talk to you directly now and then without having to ask him to make a post for me. I won't be posting often, and certainly not regularly. Just when I have something to say. That's it for now. An announcement to WATCH THIS SPACE. I am trying to fight off a nasty cold while dreading the early morning drive tomorrow to Winston-Salem for SEBA, the Southeastern Booksellers Association convention, so I will sign off now to try to get a little rest.
Take care, guys.
PS For the European fans and those planning to fly to Copenhagen, Tor Books informed me this morning that they asked Fantask to remove Knife of Dreams from the shelves until the official laydown date, and Fantask has complied. Sorry about that. Well, not too sorry. It was very bad of Fantask to try to break the laydown date.
I noticed in browsing the other day that someone wondered whether my cold was part of my "cancer." I want to quash that one before it turns into a rumor. I do not have cancer. I did have a cold that had me sick as a dog for three days, but not cancer. I've been undergoing a thorough checkup since finishing Knife of Dreams, with every sort of test you can imagine, and believe me, if there was any suspicion of such a thing, I would know.
This should be confirmation that I do lurk upon occasion, on several sites. At the moment, working only half days on the new book -- that will continue until the tour begins; after the tour, it is back to full days -- I have time to do that more often than when I am writing all day. Then I can only drop by once in a while for a a few minutes to scan through the thread headers and see if anyone else has figured out who killed Asmodean -- some of you have, but I won't say who -- or whether some incredible rumor has begun growing like a fungus. But I am not a member at any site, so forget about the possibility that I make posts.
Take care, guys. And remember -- no cancer.
For Marigan at Wotmania, and anyone else who might be wondering, not only do I not have cancer at present, I have never had cancer. Never. That was one of those rumors that float around without a shred of truth to them, thank God. I understand that I have been dead or near dead several times according to the rumors. I was run down by a bus once, so I recall hearing. Not true.
For the poster at Dragonmount who thinks I'm "whipped," boy do you have the wrong end of the stick. The smelly end, in fact. I might in truth be described as a top in occasional remission, following on Marigan's theme. I do tend to let the women in my life have their own way most of the time. After all, how often does it really matter? In any enduring relationship, you have to choose the hills on which you are ready to die. At least if you expect it to endure. Besides, it has advantages. (I don't mind making this public, since Harriet has heard it before and doesn't believe it. Read on and see why she doesn't believe.) The women I have let have their own way have always done their best to make my life pleasant, which is very nice indeed. And just at the point where contempt might start creeping in because I seemingly am such a pushover, something inevitably comes up to which I say, not yes, but no. The result of this sudden shock is that all of her dendrites uncurl simultaneously, resulting in short-term physical paralysis and amnesia. (Yes, it also works with Harriet, AKA Wonder Woman.) By the time she remembers how to walk again, by the time she remembers her own name, everything has been adjusted as I wish, and all she is left with is the vague realization that something happened and matters are not quite as she would wish, but she can't see how to recover the situation. Additionally, she is left with the impression that I was somehow involved in this, which puts shadows of darkness and danger around me all over again, thus dispelling any chances of contempt forming, and we are back happily to me saying yes and her making my life pleasant. Plus being darkly dangerous adds to your level of being interesting, you see. Just because you don't ride a Harley any more doesn't mean your soul can't fire up the Fat Boy now and again. Even women who deny it find a certain fascination there. If you don't believe, just watch her eyes dilate the next time a Harley rumbles past.
Take care, guys.
I just finished with a post to this blog, but I thought I'd make this separate, especially since I told Jason to go ahead and let you post comments to the blog. Not that I'll be answering your comments necessarily, but we may enter into a dialogue upon occasion.
No, I'm not going to reveal what the "gasp" moment is. I certainly won't be putting any spoilers here. But I have read the reviews, both spoiler and non-spoiler. For those who have read the book and believe you have identified the "gasp" moment, congratulations. For those who have read the book and still don't know what the "gasp" moment is, my sympathies. I mean that in all truth. You failed to see something that really should have made you gasp. I think I am fairly hardened, but occasionally something happens that makes me mutter, "Where are you, God? Are you sleeping? Are you blind?" This is fiction, but even so, I had to pause a couple of times in writing about it. Of course, I get deeply immersed in my work so that it becomes real to me while I am writing, but I hope to pull the reader into that level of realness, too. Either I failed completely in this instance, or some of you have become way too hardened. Too much on the evening news, I suppose. It's just today's hurricane, today's tsunami, today's Armageddon. I wonder what's coming up at eleven?
On a lighter note, I understand that some of you are unhappy with the pronunciation of Taim's name. Sorry, guys, but it is tah-EEM, not tame. Never tame. Not that one. In the same vein, Shaido is shah-EE-doh, not SHY-doh.
For a few others that I understand some folks have trouble with:
Siuan -- swan.
Demandred -- deh-MAN-drehd.
Seanchan -- SHAWN-chan.
Seandar -- SHAWN-dahr.
Moiraine -- mwah-RAIN.
Mandragoran -- man-drah-GORE-ahn.
Maybe I'll give you a few others another time.
Take care, guys. And remember, if you can look at absolutely anything without at least a desire to weep, then you've lost part of your humanity.
I see a number of posts about that, and I find them a little surprising. Anybody out there ever read about the internal workings of the Third Reich or the reasons why the Nazis made some of their major, and often disastrous decisions? It was a zoo. A madhouse! Just for an example, even in the last days, they were sidelining trains carrying desperately needed supplies to the front in order to use the engines to transport more people to the death camps! And yet they came within a whisker or two of winning. There are hundreds of counterfactuals -- the historian's name for alternate histories -- showing how the Nazis could have won outright as late as Normandy, at least to the extent of hanging onto Germany and quite possibly France, or pulled out a tie as late as the Battle of the Bulge. The internal workings of the Soviet Union under Lenin, Stalin (even more so) and most of their successors often made the Nazis look almost sensible, yet Stalin did manage to defeat the Nazis, though largely with the inadvertent help of the Nazis themselves. And his successors, frequently making decisions in nearly buffoon-like fashion, came very close to pulling out a victory over the Western democracies. Henry Kissinger actually saw his position as negotiating the best second-place position he could for the United States vis-a-vis the Soviet Union and the inevitable triumph of communism. True fact. You can look it up. Both Kissinger's feelings and the view of many intelligent people on this side of the Iron Curtain that we were fighting a losing battle are a matter of record. I lived through a lot of that, took part in some of the skirmishing, and I'll tell you, it was a damned close run thing.
The Forsaken are a group of power hungry people who don't like one another and vie with one another for power as much as they vie with the forces of the Light. Much like the internal politicking in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But look at the situation in the world as it actually stands, from the White Tower divided to crop failures caused by a too-long winter and a too-long summer and people fleeing their farms because the Dragon Reborn has broken all bonds, meaning still less food, and that spoiling at a fearsome rate, from chaos in Arad Doman to a large part of the Borderland armies out of position, from the arrival of the Seanchan focusing too many eyes on them instead of the Shadow to the strongest single nation, Andor, riven by civil war in all but name and Tear split by open warfare, from.... Well, take your pick. There are lots more to chose from. Take a step back and look at what the forces of the Shadow have wrought. The world and the forces of the Light are in bad shape. At this point, boys and girls, the Shadow is winning. There are glimmers of hope, but only glimmers, and they MUST pay off for the Light to win. All the Shadow needs for victory is for matters to keep on as they have been going thus far and one or two of those glimmers to fade or be extinguished. The forces of the Light are on the ropes, and they don't even know everything the Dark One has up his sleeve.
Think of it this way. The bell is about to ring for the fifteenth round, and the Light is so far behind on points the only way to win is a knockout. Our boy is game, but he's wobbly on his legs and bleeding from cuts over his eyes. Now he has three minutes to pull out his best stuff and deliver the punch of his life. The Dark One has taken a few shots, but nothing that has really damaged him. He's still dancing on his toes and talking trash. His head shots can fracture a skull, and his body punches can break ribs. And now he's ready to unveil his surprises. You didn't think all it would take is for Rand to show up at the Last Battle, did you? According to the Prophecies, the Light has no chance without him, but his presence doesn't ensure victory, just that the Light has a chance. Gotta stiffen your legs and blink the blood out of your eyes. Gotta suck it up and find that punch. Three minutes to go, and you gotta find that knockout. That's your only chance.
I seem to be making a lot of posts to something I said I would post to infrequently. I think I need to let my keyboard cool off.
Take care, guys.
It seems to me that you've put up a lot of comments given the few days that has been possible. I think I'll address a few of them.
I see that someone -- anonymous -- uses the audio book pronunciations for a guide. In the very beginning, the actors doing the reading got in touch with me about pronunciations, but they stopped halfway through reading The Eye of the World, and I haven't heard from them since. So I wouldn't go too much by what they use.
kcf asks whether I can get Tor to include Phoenix, Arizona, in my tour. Sorry, but I just go where Tor sends me, and they make their choices based on some arcane ritual in the basement of the Flatiron Building that involves killing a white rooster at midnight. No; don't take that seriously. No threads about white roosters! Actually they receive proposals from a LOT of bookstores and chains, enough to keep me on the road for four or five months they tell me, and pick out what they can fit into roughly a month while hitting most of the major markets (Chicago, Seattle, Denver and St. Louis are among those that missed the cut this time), making the major chains feel well thought of (sorry, but that's how it is), and trying to hit as many New York Times reporting bookstores as possible. The extent of my involvement this time was getting them to include a second Barnes & Noble signing in Charleston, SC, some weeks after the tour ends, because the manager of that store had really worked hard to get the Charleston signing. And that is about how much involvement I have in picking cities in any tour.
For Kamanile, I didn't put the whole onus for failing to see the gasp moment on the fans. If you read my post, I said that either I had failed completely in making you have the same sense of realness in the books that I do when writing or else.... I do think there is a hardening to many people, though, through being inundated with images of hurricane victims, tsunami victims, people starving because of famines, suicide bombing sites etc. There was a time that the splattered blood of a suicide bomb site would have been considered too graphic and violent for the evening news. Now, it is an appropriate thing to show while people are having dinner. It won't spoil too many appetites. I noticed one or two posts of comments to spoiler reviews where the gasp moment was revealed and some people seemed to find it funny. That's somebody who probably makes Darfur jokes.
For Justy_Hakubi, do I have notes? I have notes you wouldn't believe. For example, the file called Individual Aes Sedai and Initiates of the White Tower is well over 2 megabytes now, and the Aes Sedai General file, which contains details of Tower law, Tower life, training for novices and Accepted, customs, ceremonies etc, is nearly as big. The file Remember, which lists things about each character that I must remember when writing about him or her, would be well over a thousand pages if printed out. I have an individual file on each major character and on each nation and each group, such as the Children of the Light and the Kin. The nation and group files include, among other things, every person of that nation or group ever mentioned, everything that has been said about them, and information about them that has never been in the books but helped me see a three-dimensional character. And those are just the tip of the iceberg.
For kcf again, I haven't visited the FAQs recently. I'll have to do so when I have time. It does take time to go through everything in even one FAQ, you know. I suspect by this time you guys may have bettered what I said a few years ago, that one-third of the FAQ information was right, one-third was close but no cigar, and one-third was pure blue sky fantasy. Occasionally I'll see something posted and think, "Well, you really have been paying attention, haven't you, now. You hit that dead on." This is especially interesting when somebody has accurately figured out what I intend to do in the future, or close to it. Of course, I also see posts that make me chuckle. Somebody who though he was taking the train to Boston but jumped on a roller-coaster instead.
Well, that's it for now, guys.
All my best,
First off, to all of you have said thank you, in so many ways, for writing these books, you're welcome. And also thank you. You have given me what every writer wants, a readership that is truly involved and interested. Thank you, very much.
Some of you have expressed worry over my lurking and a fear that I might take offense at some of the posts. I don't. Not even at the trolls. Please feel free to keep on saying whatever you have been saying. I am not the thought police.
For Seriana Sedai, don't worry. I won't be discussing spam here. To tell you the truth, I skip over it very quickly.
DomA asks whether I feel sadness at the hatred of Cadsuane. No, nor do I feel sadness over those who dislike Egwene or Elayne or Faile or insert name here. The characters are who I want them to be. Some, people will like, and others people will dislike. In any case, I've noticed that even Faile has her supporters. As for her, I like her a lot. But then, I like all of my characters, even Semirhage. Even Padan Fain. As a character, anyway. As for Faile, she is a tough woman with a lot of gumption. Taken prisoner, enslaved in truth, caught in a cleft stick by the threats of Galina and Therava, she has (1) tried to get her people to freedom as she could and (2) worked toward an escape for the rest. However tough her situation gets, she wastes zero time on moaning about it. She gets on with trying to make it better. And Cadsuane? She's the tough maiden aunt a lot of us have had. Not the one who tries to keep you a child your whole life. She's the one who began expecting at least some adult responses out of you at about age six, the one who was willing to hand you responsibilities that everyone else thought you were too young for. You probably had a more nerve-wracking time, and more excitement and adventure, with her than you did with any three or four other adults in your life.
Now then. Isabel. Does your mother know you're posting at 1 AM? Do I need to ask her to supervise your online activities? Well, I suppose it might be 1 AM Eastern time, or Pacific. And you are in the Netherlands. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. And thank you for the spirited defense. I probably won't answer plot-related questions, but who knows. I might slip up and do one now and then.
For Rohit and Mand680, Robert Jordan doesn't come out of Hemingway. In fact, when I first made the connection, I had already written three books under the name. My pen names have all been chosen from three lists of names using my real initials. It has been a matter of one from column A and one from column B, or maybe column C. One pen name actually managed to contain all three initials in a first name and a surname.
For Cloverleaf, my next set of books after The Wheel of Time will also be fantasy, entitled Infinity of Heaven. The writing style will remain the same, though I will keep trying, as I always have, to get better. There are no plans to publish a collection of my raw notes, but Harriet, with my incidental help, will be doing an Encyclopedia of WoT which will have a lot of stuff out of the notes.
For llm (hope I have that spelled correctly), I do daily backups using Nero and keep the backup discs in a safe place so that if something drastic happens to my main computer, all I need do is pick up a laptop, pop in the discs, and go on working.
For JBunG, I will definitely be spending a lot more time writing than on the blog. Now, I put in an hour now and again on the blog, every few days. When I go on tour, the blog will go silent for a while. And when I come back and go to full work days on Book 12, I'll probably post no more than once a week unless I have something I think really needs to be said.
And for MJJ, as posted by DomA, pillow friends are not just good friends. Oh, they are that, too, but they also get hot and sweaty together and muss up the sheets something fierce. By the way, pillow friends is a term used in the White Tower. The same relationship between men or women elsewhere would be called something else, depending on the country.
Well, enough of that. Some of you are probably getting afraid that I intend to post daily screeds by this time. I have a list of questions to answer already, and I'll try to get to the rest of them, and any others that pop up, before I go on tour.
Take care, guys.
All my best,
Well, here I am again. I've compiled a long list of questions from various places, and I'll try to answer as many as I can before the tour begins. I won't be taking them in any specific order.
First off, for JBumG, my apologies for misspelling your name.
For DomA, I can't be sure that the logical patterns you see in the election of Amyrlins are the same that I used in making the list, but there are logical patterns to them. If Harriet adds to the Encyclopedia who was a strong Amyrlin, who middling and who weak, you might see more patterns.
For F Horn of Valere, I spend relatively little time with the notes compared to the time I spend actually writing. I do a refresher run-through before I begin writing, and I have what I call a "base notes" file for each storyline and each group. That contains the major things I believe might be necessary for each storyline along with reminders of where more detailed information is to be found.
For HotW-Moiraine, yes, the bearded man ter'angreal could be said to be my Alfred Hitchcock moment. In KoD, you'll learn what it does.
For SemiArmadillo, Harriet doesn't post to any websites.
For kcf, I think I would like fans to walk away with the following. If the answer is easy, consider the possibility that you asked the wrong question.
For Infested Templar, two women linking have slightly less of saidar available to them than the two women would have individually. But it can be used much, much more precisely, and therefore more effectively, than they could manage working merely as partners. The reduction also occurs for men entering a circle. One man in a circle means that only the amount of saidin that he can handle, less the reduction for being in a circle, is available. Men can be much stronger than women in the pure quantity of the Power that they can channel, but on a practical level, women are much more deft in their weaving and that means the strongest possible woman can do just about anything that the strongest possible man could, and to the same degree. And finally, the Old Tongue is written in a script that has more letters than the English alphabet, some representing diphthongs. That script will be in the Encyclopedia that Harriet will do, along with 950 or so words of the Old Tongue derived from what is called Basic English, the 950 words necessary to carry on a understandable conversation. Some words I dropped as essentially unnecessary to the books -- electricity, for example -- while others -- such as sword and names of birds and animals -- I had to add. The total might come nearer 1000 words by now.
For Papazen, while I have spoken of souls being born with the ability to channel in response to questions, I think of it as being genetic also. In the Age of Legends, between 2 and 3% of people had some ability, following a bell curve distribution in strength. For over 3000 years, though, Aes Sedai have been removing men who actually learned to channel from the gene pool. They have been very efficient at this. As a result, the "present day" sees about 1% of the population who can learn to channel, with a much, much smaller percentage of that being born with the spark.
For N.O. Scott, no development in any of the characters has ever caught me by surprise, though once or twice I have realized that I could use someone in a fashion I hadn't expected to. There have been a few things that I intended to do but didn't. Sometimes, choosing to take a character in a certain direction precludes other things. The only thing that I wish I hadn't done was use the structure that I did for CoT, with major sections beginning on the same day. Mind, I still think the book works as it is, but I believe it would have been better had I taken a more linear approach. When you try something different, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.
For Brent Ross, getting an agent isn't expensive. An agent makes his or her money from taking a commission on what your work is sold for and earns. Agents who want reading fees and the like are to be distrusted, in my book. You really need an agent, though, if you want to sell your work, short fiction aside. I don't know of a major publishing house that will even look at unagented submissions any more.
For Lucky Day, Asha'man have varying degrees of ability with the sword, just like anyone else. There has to be a certain level of talent for anyone to reach a particular level of skill, and also there is the question of how hard a particular person might try at learning the word. After all, he can channel, right? Sword? I don't need no stinking sword, gringo!
For Children of the Light, the Whitecloaks were inspired by the Inquisition, the SS, the Teutonic Knights and others. In fact, they were inspired by all those groups who say, "We know the truth. It is the only truth. You will believe it, or we will kill you."
For Perrin WT, I don't think about how many pages I do in a day. I don't believe I've ever really tried to estimate it. The way I work, frequently going back to rewrite something done earlier, makes it very hard to count pages per day. I have misspelled characters names now and then; when I am typing very fast, sometimes my fingers get dyslexic. I believe my grammar is very good, though I sometimes use constructions that I doubt any English teacher I ever had would approve of. First you learn the rules. Then you can start learning when and where you can break the rules.
For Shiska, a mixed gender circle has X amount of saidin and Y amount of saidar available, set by the strengths of the men and women in it. Talents or special skills available to members of the circle other than whoever is melding the flows are not available to the person who is. If those Talents or skills are particularly needed, then control of the circle must be passed.
For Rifty, the extra body Rand found was that of a Gray Man. And, by the way, proof that the lady was no lady. She was a Darkfriend.
For Margot, I'm sure that people will still want quasi-medieval fantasy, but other types are interesting, too. In Infinity of Heaven, one of the cultures involved will be at more of an early-to-mid Eighteenth Century level, complete with gunpowder weapons. I'd like to do some books set in a late Victorian or Edwardian world, and I have a stand-alone in mind that I might do eventually which is set partly in the present day and partly in various real historical periods. As you say, other writers are broadening the field, and that is good, to my mind.
For Crowl Rife, the last movie I saw in a theater was Junebug. It has some truly sad parts, but Harriet and I laughed through most of it. Then she took a couple of her friends to see it, and they thought it was the most depressing thing they had ever seen. Go figure.
For Cooner 1987, I don't think there is any similarity between Hobbits and the Two Rivers folk. The Two Rivers people are based on a lot of country people I have known, and among whom I did a lot of my growing up. I did try to make the first roughly 100 pages of EYE seem somewhat Tolkienesque. I wanted to say, "This is the place you know, guys. Now we're going somewhere else." And then the Trolloc kicked in the farmhouse door. But I didn't take it to the point of trying to make the Two Rivers folk seem like Hobbits. I mean, I love The Lord of the Rings and have read it at least a dozen times, but when you have too many Hobbits together, they can be so bloody cute that I need a stiff drink.
For Flavion, I'm sorry you've had some bad experiences with writers. I think a writer should either make an effort to be pleasant with the fans or else avoid them. Of course.... A fellow once wrote me a long screed, back around The Great Hunt or perhaps The Dragon Reborn, complaining bitterly, and I do mean bitterly, about the complexity of the plots making the books unreadable. I shouldn't have done it, but I wrote back suggesting that he try The Velveteen Rabbit as more his speed. In my defense, I can only say that it was late in the day, and I was tired.
For son o'merc, I doubt I'll ever do any short stories, but who knows? Never say never.
For Anonymous -- a busy poster -- the ruby in Padan Fain's dagger is just a ruby. Of course, the entire dagger is corrupted and corrupting.
And last but not least, for Deadsy, there is only one way for you find out whether I wear boxers or briefs, and you wouldn't like Harriet's reaction. Neither would I. Yes, I've begun picking up questions before they reach the blog.
That's all for now, guys.
All my best,
My, this could get addictive. I hope you guys realize that I'll be going silent this weekend, for the duration of the tour. But I'll try to get in another post or two before then. No promises, however.
First off, apologies to everyone if I misspell your screen name. It seems that may turn out to be a bad habit I can't break. Spellcheck is no help at all, of course.
For Deadsy, the last book I completed was Walter Mosley's Cinnamon Kiss. I just started Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. And I'm ashamed to say that when I first saw your post on wotmania about having a secret, I thought, "Ah-ha! Palm or hairbrush?" Just following the context, and your blushes. Then I realized what it was. Thank you for keeping the secret.
For Corin Ashaman, I've never changed anything because of a post. I did think of doing so when I first discovered the online community. I'd see someone who had figured out where I was going with something and think that I should change it just to keep the surprise factor. But there was always somebody else, often a lot of somebodies, who would post explaining why the first post just had to be wrong. So I went ahead and did what I had planned to do. Now, when somebody figures out what's what, I just think that's somebody who's on the ball and go on with my writing.
For elementfwwe, what keeps me going is that I enjoy what am doing. Think about it. I can make a living doing what I enjoy more than anything except sex. I don't pattern characters after real people, but I do sometimes lift part of a real person for a character. I will say that a character in KoD, Charlz Guybon, is named after a man whose wife won an auction for naming rights after I agreed to be part of a fund raiser for an English charity that works with victims of torture. She sent me his description, which I used. As I've often said, each of my major female characters has at least one element drawn from Harriet. And I won't tell her which parts of which characters came from her. That despite the fact that, as she likes to point out, she knows where I sleep. She did figure out that she is Semirhage when the garbage doesn't get to the curb on time, though. As for my idol, that is my father, now deceased. He was a wonderful man, with a rich life. I'll try to paint a small picture. He got his first car, a Model A, at the age of thirteen because he had the habit of hitching rides with bootleggers in the Tennessee mountains, and after he was in a wreck where the driver ran off and my father told the police who had been chasing them that he had been driving, his father decided to put an end to the hitching. He was a noted middleweight boxer in the 1930s, rising in the rankings, but stopped after he badly injured another man in the ring. He was a veteran of WWII who spent a lot of time behind the Japanese lines, a quiet, gentle man who taught me to rebuild automobile engines, to hunt and fish. He told stories over the campfire when we were out hunting or fishing, thus starting me on the road to storytelling myself. He never said a word about me stealing shotgun shells from his stock so a known bootlegger and poacher would take me into the woods with him. Well, I didn't know about the poaching until later. But Junior knew more about the woods than anybody else I've ever met. My father was a poker shark with a photographic memory who allowed me to sit in for three hands whenever the weekly game was at our house, even when I was young enough to need to sit on three encyclopedias to be able to get my arms on the table. He staked me, he ate the losses, and we split any winnings I had. I did win one of those hands while sitting on stacked up Encyclopedia Americanas. He told my brothers and me that he had few requirements of us. Be honest. Keep your word always. Try to do better with your life than he had done with his. And whatever you decided to be, whether it was a college professor or an auto mechanic, be the best at it that you could manage to be. Yes, he was, and is, my idol.
For Niall Reborn, I don't think that lurking will make me lose detachment or distance. But then, I don't really do it very often. Oh, yes. Slayer just chooses who he will be when he steps into or out of Tel'aran'rhiod. The stepping in and out is part of the mechanism for his change. He couldn't do it in the middle of a street, say, not without the stepping in or out. Which might be a little noticeable, since he would vanish from sight for a perceptible time.
For Infested Templar, I had little to do with the RPG. Mainly my role was limited to telling them that they could not have paladins, ninjas, clerics, shuriken etc. I had to put so much time into that fighting that I washed my hands of the rest, I'm afraid. I could see that trying to make them actually adapt the books was going to be Valmy Ridge all over again. At least I managed to stop them from putting in a ter'angreal that could bring on the Last Battle in some unspecified manner and also some other really terrible ideas. I wish I had been able to do more, but I had a book to write.
For Child of Lir, until I recently learned that there is a fern called leatherleaf, I thought that I had made the name up out of thin air. In any case, mine is a tree. Several of the trees I have named have been, I thought, my inventions. I am surprised that that they actually exist.
For Gillmadin, I actually had comparatively few notes when I sold the books to Tor. They built up considerably over the writing of The Eye of the World, and still more later. To give an example, for Eye, I had considerable notes about the Aes Sedai, about Andor, the Two Rivers, Shienar, the Ways and the history of the world, but my notes on, say Cairhien, were much sketchier. When I needed to write about Cairhien, though, I fleshed those notes out. I didn't begin writing the Wheel of Time until after I was finished with writing the Conan novels, but some of the ideas that would become tWoT were kicking around in my head before I began The Fallon Blood.
For Segovia, my intention is finish with twelve books, and that may mean that the last book will be VERY long, but I really can't say how long it will take me to write. My publisher is always trying to get me to commit to a time frame. I just do a little sand dance until he goes away. I carry a small bottle of sand with me in New York for exactly that purpose.
For Mr Mashadar, I think Faile's reaction is perfectly reasonable. Here she is thinking that Perrin may just be Mr Right, and then this sultry floozy waltzes in and starts trying to put the moves on him. Berelain even says right out that she'll take him away from Faile. Even without that, Faile has plenty of reason to consider Berelain a floozy and essentially worthless. After all, from what she knows, Berelain has tried putting the moves on not only Perrin, but also Rand and quite likely Rhuarc. She can't be inside Berelain's head to know that Berelain uses sex and her reputation as political tools. So why would she want to be chums with Berelain?
Also for Mr Mashadar, I think, my favorite fantasy novel is The Lord of the Rings, hands down. The largest effect that it had on my writing was a desire to be the flip side of the coin, to take the comfortable old tropes and put a different spin on them. Also, the creation of paradox is one source of balefire's danger. Remember that in the War of the Shadow, even the forces of the Shadow gave up using it because of the fear that reality itself might unravel.
For Krassos, yes, a channeler could still channel wearing Mat's amulet. Cadsuane has one much like it. And I think that I will complete "Trust" eventually. I think about doing so every now and then.
For Anonymous, you can send plot related questions to me through my publisher, but I don't often answer those.
For Phil Reborn, Lanfear climbed onto the wagon to get the angreal. Rand was occupying her to the extent that she couldn't afford to just use flows of Air to bring it to her. And Lanfear being Lanfear, there was a touch of the dramatic in it. She was always a drama queen.
For Alys Kinch, the Healing of stilling must be done by the other gender to be fully effective. A woman Healing a woman or a man Healing a man results in less than full restoration. It all ties into that theme I keep harping on. Men and women have to work together to be their most effective. And while the weave used by Flinn for Healing is not exactly that used by Nynaeve, either would use the same weave on a man or a woman.
For Randshammer, you might say that mortals made the Horn of Valere. They certainly weren't gods. No, the story is NOT a dream. Jeez Marie! A very strong male channeler bonded to a very weak Aes Sedai could not use the bond to control her. Whoever holds the bond is in charge, though she might have a hard time controlling him. Everybody fears death because the being that is reborn, while possessing the same soul, will not be the same person. The fear is simple. I will cease to exist. Someone else will exist, bearing my soul. But I will cease. I have met many believers in reincarnation, and most of them seem to fear death just as much as anyone else. Yes, Elayne, Nynaeve and Egwene could pass the test for Aes Sedai with their current abilities, though Nynaeve might be a little hard pressed. Too much specialization. And finally, as I have said, I would not change anything in the books except the way that I structured CoT.
For Sodas, when you are balefired, you are dead, dead, dead. It almost seemed redundant to say so.
For Sidious, when Alivia faced Cyndane, Alivia was by far the stronger because of her angreal, and had various tools (ter'angreal) to work with besides, but Cyndane was much, much more knowledgeable about channeling. Alivia, after all, knew relatively little except how to be a weapon. That was very useful in the situation, but in this case, knowledge versus strength made it an even match. Now as to Rahvin sitting on his throne and being shocked to see Rand. First off, he knew his first trap hadn't worked, but he had others ready. He saw no reason to start jumping about. He thought he was maneuvering Rand into a series of traps, one of which he was sure would work. He did not expect Rand to simply leap into the same room with him. He did not expect Rand to know that he could Travel to somewhere in sight of himself without knowing the ground. So what he had expected to be a chess game where he knew the positions of all the pieces and Rand did not suddenly turned into a close-quarters slugging match. Surprise!
For Paetram, the game of Stones is very much like Go. No, I don't play go myself, only go-moku. It is remarkably hard to learn the game when you have no one to play against. I would love to find a computer game to practice against, but I haven't been able to find one. I probably haven't looked hard enough. There must be one out there.
For Gyrehead, Foretelling is not related to strength. The weakest possible channeler could Foretell as strongly as Elaida or Nicola, or perhaps even more so, depending entirely on the strength of his or her Talent for Foretelling. The three Red Sitters were sent into exile in 985 NE under Marith Jaen. Yes, Morgase has slowed, and that is exactly why there is so much emphasis on her looking only ten years older than Perrin when she has children the ages of Elayne and Gawyn. Regarding the percentage of women who could test for the shawl, it would be 62.5% of the bellcurve. I'll leave the maths to you for an idle moment. The question doesn't really apply to men, since the Black Tower accepts anyone who can learn to channel, but if the White Tower limits were applied, it would be roughly 65.4% of the bellcurve. Although, considering the effectiveness question, they should probably set it at the same 62.5%. Again, the maths are all yours. Regarding the levels of male strength, while the weakest man and the weakest woman would be roughly equivalent, you might say that there are several levels of male strength on top of the female levels. Remember to integrate this with what I've said elsewhere about effectiveness, though.
For ems, I really don't mind that some of you hate characters, and I don't mind the spam. Sometimes I read the theories, and if you mean by listen to the debates, read the posted discussions, then yes, I do, sometimes. This is very much a sometime thing, though. I don't have much time to lurk, so I drift around until I see what seems an interesting thread and peek in.
For foxhead, I think you'll find this covered elsewhere, but here goes. The evil of Shadar Logoth and the evil of the Shadow might be considered positive and negative poles. They attract, as do the positive and negative poles of two magnets, but if they make contact, the result is more like making contact between the positive and negative poles of your car battery. Big sparks. Really big sparks.
For Mike Hopessorrow, it took me aback a little the first time I saw myself named as the Creator, but I don't really mind. So long as you don't start believing I deserve the cap. Now when a very pretty roughly twenty-year old girl, trembling mind, said to me, "You're a god!", that I liked a lot.
For Linda Sedai, Rand misjudges Taim's age because when they meet, you might say Taim has been rode hard and put away wet. He has just finished a long and difficult flight to reach Caemlyn, the one place where he might find refuge instead of being hunted -- along with other reasons -- and that has a wearing effect on anyone. Now that he has recovered, he doesn't look so old.
Well, that ought to be enough for today, guys. Enjoy.
All my best,
If I seem to be posting a lot, it's because the tour is coming up. I want to get in some of these things before I go away and the blog goes on hiatus. We'll be flying to New York on Saturday to take care of some business before the tour begins, on Tuesday. I'm a little worried about the first signing, I'll admit. I know I can pull a good evening crowd in NYC; I've done it before. But 12:30 on a Tuesday? That's the slot where they put politicians, movies stars and celebrities. Yes, I'm a little concerned.
I will try to post again tomorrow or Friday, but I can't guarantee. We've been housing relatives from New Orleans, you see. My younger brother Reynolds has already gone back and begun teaching high school again, and his son Rey, a NO cop who was at the precinct they dubbed Fort Apache until he was told off to drive a sick officer to Shreveport for medical aid, has also returned to duty after fighting off bronchitis. Rey's wife Heather, who has a masters in disaster relief management, is hoping to head back today or tomorrow with infant son David, while Reynolds' wife Barbara Gay will be heading back tomorrow or the next day with son Jim III. Can you spell hectic? I knew that you could.
Well, let's get on with it. By the way, I don't favor women in my answers. I just answer what seem like interesting questions where answering won't give away too much.
For Flavius who is not Flavion, my apologies. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Hey, it always worked with the vicar.
For Matrimoni Cauthon, Rand gets only the same benefits as he got from being bonded to one Aes Sedai. It neither multiplies nor divides. Each of a Green's Warders get the same amount of benefits as the single Warder of another sister.
For Child of Lir, peaches being poisonous in the world of tWoT is one of the things I did to make the world different. Though peach pits do contain small amounts of cyanide, which was once manufactured through processing peach pits. Several other fruits with pits, such as apricots, also have trace amounts of cyanide in the pits. And almonds may be the first genetically engineered plant since humans bred the deadly, to humans, cyanide levels out them to make them edible for people.
For Dracos, the Forsaken could not talk to one another, not even Balthamel and Aginor, who were trapped near the surface and at least intermittently conscious and aware what was happening in the world. You might say that being trapped where they were, in a Bore that existed everywhere at once, allowed them to see the whole world. But for the others, it was a deep and dreamless sleep. Even for Ishamael, except when he was spun out periodically. When thinking about the Forsaken, you might factor in the effects of dream deprivation.
For Comet Sedai, no, Slayer didn't kill Laura Palmer. But Lanfear can tie a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue. In fact, she can tie it into a square knot. Or a bowline. Or.... Well, the list goes on too long. Yes, the Ayyad's eyes were popping, as well as those of damane in Seanchan. Anyone who can channel, to however small a degree, is vulnerable to the circle of 13 trick.
For kcf, again, we have never met anyone who has the Talent of emulating the effects of a ta'veren over a small area. I give my input on the design of the chapter icons whenever a new one seems needed, but Harriet actually decides where to place them, and I am happy to leave the job to her. Yes, Ingtar was seen at the Darkfriend Social. The Wheel creates ta'veren at need, making someone who is already alive one. You aren't born ta'veren. Can you imagine being around a ta'veren who is teething? It would be possible for a Darkfriend or Forsaken to be made ta'veren, but it seems unlikely. Ta'veren are part of the Wheel's self-correcting mechanism. When the Pattern seems to be drifting too quickly, and especially if it is in the wrong direction, one or more ta'veren are created. I can't really see how making a Darkfriend or Forsaken ta'veren would help with correcting the drift of the Pattern. Ta'veren can oppose one another, when their conflict is what the Wheel "sees" as the necessary corrective. And, no, ta'veren is not Old Tongue for Deus ex machina. It came out of musings on luck, charismatic leaders, and the theory of the indispensable man. Katerine escaped with the help of Darkfriends. Galina, who is much more closely watched by Wise Ones than Katerine was, would have little opportunity to use their help for an escape even if she wanted to, and she doesn't, not until she can get her hands on that rod. She'll put up with anything to get that. Anyone who can channel, however weakly, can see the glow of saidar and feel someone channel. For sul'dam who have been sul'dam for a time, some begin to be able to see what might be called a ghostly image of the flows. Others convince themselves that this is, of course, only imagination and manage to give themselves a block. Wow, you have a lot of questions. One more, and then I'm off to the next person. Someone who sees ta'veren sees them as glowing. The more strongly ta'veren, the brighter the glow. This is a Talent, and is something that only someone who can channel can do. While she was stilled, Siuan could not see ta'veren, nor could she have if she had been burned out.
For Roland Arien, a lot of people have asked questions about Alric's death. I should have made matters plainer. As I envisioned it, Alric, having sensed Siuan's extreme shock, came running to her and arrived just in time to be stabbed just before Siuan was taken into the anteroom. She should have sensed the knife going in, but that was masked by her shock. When she sees him lying there, he is dying, though not yet dead. As I said, I should have made it plainer.
For ricktheinevitable, I have no plans to send Rand to Shara at present. Oh, yes. I think of time in this world as fixed circular, but with a drifting variation. There are slight differences in the Pattern each time through so that if you thought of the Pattern as a tapestry and held up two successive weaves, you couldn't see any differences from a distance, only close up, but the more time turnings between tapestries, the more changes are apparent. But the basic Pattern always remains the same.
For Mark A, there are plenty of reasons for men and women to have a certain degree of distrust, though the fact that many Aes Sedai have Warders and good relationships with them shows that it isn't all mistrust. How much trust do most men and women have for the opposite gender here and now? I trust Harriet with my life, but look at how most people are. Look at most women's views of men, and most men's views of women. There is a lot of distrust right there. As for the Forsaken, they don't trust anybody. Gender doesn't enter into it.
Okay, not such a long post today, but it's getting late here. We're having venison tonight, and I need to pick out a good wine.
Take care, guys.
All my best,
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