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,
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,
The dynamic duo has returned from the Mayo with mostly good, but certainly mixed results. Amyloidal deposits are measured as monoclonal free light chain fragments. There are "good and bad" light chains. The good news is that the ratio of good to bad has definitely improved. The mixed news is that both numbers were up. We are ecstatic that the news is positive, but would have liked the offending Lambda light chains to have stayed level or decreased in number. Overall though guys, this is very good news.
The computer has been relocated from the office to the house and RJ was working, some. Not right now though guys. In preparation for the trip, the docs pulled him off of Lasix, a diuretic, which resulted in a gain of almost 12 pounds in three days. At the Mayo, he went back on the Lasix and dropped 5 pounds in 2 days. Then the Lasix was stopped for the trip back home and a gain of 7 pounds was achieved. Through it all, RJ figures he has about 20 to 25 pounds of excess water on him at the moment. The extra weight was causing the difficulty in sleeping he described to you before. Result: the docs have him back on the Lasix to get rid of the water weight and have enforced strict rest. Sorry, no writing, not even on the blog at the moment. He is reading your posts however.
He hit me with something on the phone today that I never knew about. Like many soldiers, he had a nickname while serving in Vietnam. RJ overheard a group discussing something and one said they should ask Ganesh what to do. He walked into the discussion and asked who this Ganesh was. "You.", they told him. You see, RJ was considered a good luck charm by those he served with. He and the crews he served with always made it back. It got to where pilots would ask for him by name for their crew. Ganesh is the Hindu Lord of Good Fortune. RJ referred to Ganesh as the Remover of Obstacles. To this day, he has no idea who gave him the name. I still consider him my good luck charm. Heck, he brought Harriet into my life. A man can't get any luckier than that. Truth be known, both of us married above our station. Bitter truth guys, we all do.
To Sue fighting the same menace, prayers go both ways. Stay the course.
To Johannes in Sweden, when RJ recovers and revisits your beautiful country, hopefully you'll get the chance to chat with him about both his worlds.
To Jennifer Sedai, Harriet is all you said and more. Elegant, intelligent, a worker not a watcher, interesting and interested, a friend to all, a hell of a cook, a gardener extraordinaire, unpretentious, the defender and provider of those in need, tough, tender and above all, REAL. My life is better for having her in it. Know I'm not speaking out of turn, RJ's is too.
To all of you who've asked me to pass on your love to them both, done and will continue. Please don't stop. Long live the Dragon and his Queen!
Brother-Cousin, 4th of 3
I know. Not who you wanted to hear from. The Big Guy asked me to update you in his absence.
I just got off the phone with Harriet and RJ, as they were passing through the Atlanta airport en route to the Mayo Clinic. They fly into Minneapolis and will drive the 90 miles to the Mayo this afternoon. Harriet is taking on the driving duties. Love her like a sister, but don't get in her way. She drives by the dictum: lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. Upon arrival, they'll hunker down for the evening. RJ mentioned having "Take Out Taxi" deliver Szechwan for dinner. Their evening will consist of reading and rest from the trip. RJ will undergo another round of medical tests and consult with the doctors. On Saturday they'll return home. Thirty days from now, it'll be the same routine.
RJ is recovering still from the effects of the chemo. As an example, six weeks ago he gave me the green light to regrow my hair. I've pretty much returned to normal, though my coworkers would argue that, while his hair is very short and as fine as a newborn's. He did tell me today that I would be able to see his hair from a few feet away, a vast improvement. Additionally, RJ is on a pharmaceutical regime that would bring lesser persons to their knees. I'm personally amazed at how well my brother-cousin is doing, but he is still weaker than he would like. That said, the record heat we've had this summer has really gotten to him. His office is a short walk from the back door of their home. Stepping from the air-conditioned house to the heat and then back into the air-conditioned office was taking its toll. As a result, the office computer is being relocated into the house. It will take a little time to make the transition and get the network up and running properly. I'm sure you'll hear from him shortly after that's completed.
We lost round one. The chemo didn't work and the strength hasn't returned as quickly as he'd hoped. Round two is underway, and as he's told you himself, he intends to win. This very day, he told me how fortunate he was. Facing what he's facing and he feels fortunate. Take something from that guys and allot time to be thankful for your own blessings. Do keep the prayers and well wishes coming. He still needs them. While you're at it, toss in a couple for yourselves.
Brother-cousin, 4th of 3
He reads your posts. I read them. All of them. You are all great for your caring and support. Thanks from the recesses of my soul. All of you WOT'ers are like extended family. But as family, I've got to ask that you allow RJ the time to heal. He's been extremely forthcoming with his status, and will continue to be regardless the news. But unless you've seen someone in a similar fight, you really have no idea how much of a struggle he's in. Thank God he's a stubborn ole cuss. Without that he could have easily said this is too difficult long ago and the game would have been lost.
Not that we shouldn't still be concerned about his health, because we should. But he's as fine as is possible. At the moment, he is very, very tired. Rehab is hard work. The medicines he is on can have dreadful side effects and have to monitored constantly. A slight imbalance causes all manner of issues. In his writing to you, he has glibbed over them as simply "rough patches". Rough? As fans of his writing, you'll not believe it, but he does have a talent for the understatement. Rough? I'd hate to see something Really Rough. Those who have been through something similar know what it does to you. It zaps all of your strength. That's where he is right now. His words, "I'm as weak as a kitten". The great news is that the LLC production is in check, not officially in remission, simply in check. But, his system still has to shed those that were deposited in his heart, which will take time, lots of it. Waiting is hard work too. Patience is not something that either he or I possess in great quantities. His doctors told him 6 months, maybe a year till he feels himself somewhat back to normal. We chat frequently and laugh through it as best we can. That's a big part of my job in this journey, making him smile. I found myself doing the same with our beloved Harriet this past week. She's one of the two strongest ladies I know, still the load gets heavy. Thank you for always including Harriet in your well wishes. (FYI: The other woman of strength is my other mother, aka mother in law, who is a real lady and a tiger. Wouldn't want her in the other guy's corner.) Janet and I will be with Harriet and my Brother/Cousin next weekend, and all involved can hardly wait. We haven't seen them since Labor Day, too long.
Physically he's a long way from being the man that many of you have met at events. But were you to speak to him via telephone, you'd not know that anything was going on. The voice on the phone is strong and resolute. Lord I love him for that, among many other things. But, he has to follow the advise of his doctors, do as Harriet says (we all answer to someone) and be patient, and careful to allow for his recovery to continue. Thus, we'll need you to be patient too. Hang in there gang. The Dragon is tired and may be dragging, but he is winning.
4th of 3
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.
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, thanks to NaClH2O and to Anonymous. I didn't know that Pentangle had gone on beyond their first two albums. I remember walking down the corridor in my hooch in Nam and hearing music coming from a doorway that made me duck in and ask who it was. The next time I could get by the Air Force PX, I picked up Pentangle, and later the second album. After that, I heard nothing, so I suppose I simply assumed they had vanished like so many other musicians. They're like writers, you know. I can't recall the number of albums I've listened to with excitement, like the first novels I've read with excitement, only to never hear from the artist again. In any case, I'll look up the early Pentangle stuff on CD and hope the others are as good as those first two. As for Anonymous nominating Fairport Convention as heavily influential on the music that followed, they just don't make the cut. I heard Fairport Convention when they first came out, as well as later, and never thought I was listening to anything that was coming close to the envelope much less pushing it. When I heard those first few notes from Pentangle, they stopped me dead. I knew it then. Envelope? Forget the stinking envelope, gringo. These guys were so far beyond the envelope, the light from the envelope was a rapidly diminishing flicker in their wake, struggling hopelessly to catch up. Over the horizon? They were over the event horizon and out the other side. Today, maybe it wouldn't sound so fresh, but the fact is, where rock ventures today, Pentangle was running for the sunrise better than thirty years ago. That's why so often when I listen, I find myself thinking, been there, heard that, long time gone.
Okay, down to the books and stuff. There are so many questions on my printout already (95 pages) that sometimes I doubt I'll ever get to all of them. It may take a long, long while to get to the older questions or comments. I'll do my best, though, for those that seem interesting in one way or another or won't give away what I don't want given away. But I'm not going to tell you how many hit points Lan has or whether Callandor is a plus-100 Sword of Ultimate Doom in ordinary sword usage, though. In those cases it's because I don't know and, more importantly, don't care.
For Emma, and sundry others, my apologies. No, not about twitting Emma. That's too much fun to apologize for. But the questions she had Sander hand in on the tour really were about Asmodean, not Nynaeve. I don't know why, but for some reason when I think "questions from Emma," the name "Nynaeve" simply springs into my head. Anybody out there think they have any explanations for this phenomena? It is a puzzlement.
For someone -- Marigan, I think, but my notes are a little wonky right about here -- the Crystal Throne is not the High seat of the Tamyrlin, none of the Forsaken were among the Nine Rods of Dominion, and the "Rods" were symbols of office. Mil Tesen was really just a peddler who happened to be in the right place to pass on news of Morgase's supposed death to Gawyn. Not everyone is somebody other than who they seem, you know. And finally, Da'concion means "the Chosen Ones" in the Old Tongue, which is used with more frequency among the Seanchan than among inhabitants of the eastern side of the Aryth Ocean.
For Begona, I'm afraid there aren't any further signings until late June of 2006. And those will be in Anchorage, Alaska and Seattle, Washington. If you send a letter snail-mail to Tor Books, they'll forward it to me, and I'll send you some bookplates -- if you want actual books signed, you must include the return shipping container and postage -- but that won't get you autographs until February earliest, I'd say.
For several people. Nynaeve could Travel after depositing Lan in Saldaea because she had "learned" that spot by Traveling to it. Remember, if someone Travels to a place, they now know the place they have Traveled to as well as if they had spent time there learning it.
For Weasel, my idea of the game of stones hasn't changed, though my way of describing it may well have. I try not to describe things the same way all the time. It gets boring after a while. I mean, think of Homer, who used some of the first macros. He gestured so, and the scribe taking the story wrote, "When first dawn with rosy fingers caressed the sky," or he gestured thus and the scribe wrote, "They sat at the oars row on row and smote the wine-dark sea to foam." Okay, okay; every time and culture has its catch-phrases which haven't yet become cliches. (Though they will. For anyone who has attempted, foolishly, to connect with a son or daughter or any other young person, especially one under the age of 25, by attempting to use their speech, take heart. Remember how you talked at 25, 18, 15? Nowadays, it would be good for a laugh from the younger set, right? Well, in another 15 years, the insular speech those younglings use today will be sufficient to send them scurrying from the room. And better still, sufficient to set their kids off in attacks of giggles and/or near-terminal eye-rolling. What goes around, comes around.)
For sheep the evicted, who has heard that I assigned various numerical strengths in the One Power to Rand, Ishamael and others based on a scale of 100 points, no I did not. I have said that in my notes I have such a scale that I use to keep track of everyone, but its main use is for the lesser characters, in particular Aes Sedai, so that I can check on who should defer to whom, who should only listen a little more attentively to whom, and so forth.
For Deadsy, who has a truly incredible lingerie (or is it just underwear in general?) fetish, some people in this word wear silk smallclothes, and some have their sigils embroidered on their smallclothes. Some Aes Sedai do use pigeons to send cake recipes, but only in cipher and only to people they have never met. It's an Aes Sedai thing.
For David, Warders don't slow. They age at a natural pace, but they do maintain vitality and vigor beyond the levels associated with most ordinary men. That said, I recently saw a photograph of a man in his seventies who had an absolutely ripped six-pack. In fact, from the neck down, if you were told you were looking at somebody in his 20s or 30s, you'd just think he was in incredible shape. And he wasn't bonded to anyone. Also, Aes Sedai can release a Warder from the bond. In fact, I have said that most Aes Sedai who have time to realize that they are dying will release any Warders they have in order to spare them the effects. I'm pretty certain I have said that publicly, by the way.
As an aside, I saw somewhere that I supposedly said that Sharina Melloy will not grow younger. If I did, then I misspoke. Sharina will not grow young, but she will grow younger in appearance, as will any other older women who begin to channel. For Sharina, by way of example, she will "regress" into apparent middle age, but no younger.
For kcf, one of Cadsuane's ornaments is a ter'angreal that can interfere with weaves. That is how she was able to disrupt Semirhage's use of Illusion.
I haven't seen J.K.Rowling's comments on reading and writing fantasy, nor any comments by Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett. Are you thinking of particular comments? It seems that you do for Rowling. For myself, I believe that the popularity of fantasy has expanded in the last decade or so, perhaps the last two decades, and expanded far beyond the level at which it began. The success of the Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter phenomena are both results of this increase in popularity. Neither the LotR movie nor Harry are causes. Nor do big budgets or modern special effects have much to do with this popularity. People flocked to the movies in droves long before there was any chance that more than a (relative) handful had actually heard about the special effects.
The reason for the popularity of fantasy, and the reason science fiction is fading in comparison, is quite simple, really. Increasingly in books and films, including science fiction but also in everything from mysteries to so-called "main stream literary" novels, the lines between right and wrong have become blurred. Good and evil are more and more portrayed as two sides of the same coin. This is called realism. People by and large want to believe that there is a clear cut right and wrong, though, and that good and evil depend on more than how you look in the mirror or whether you're squinting when you do. In fantasy, you can talk about good and evil, right and wrong, with a straight face and no need to elbow anybody in the ribs to let them know you're just kidding, you don't really believe in this childish, simplistic baloney. That seems to be less and less so in other genres.
Does that mean fantasy all has to be goody-goody on the side of right and black-as-the-pit on the side of evil. No. In my own work telling right from wrong is often difficult. Sometimes my characters make the wrong choice there. Sometimes they do things are quite horrific. But they try to find the right choice. This is the way I think most people see the world and their behavior in it -- trying to do the right thing with the knowledge that sometimes you're going to make the wrong choice, and with "right" defined as more than simply being of benefit to yourself -- and they want to read books that reflect this. Right and wrong are not simply different shades of gray. Good and evil are not simply a matter of how you look at them. (Have you ever noticed the use of "of course?' As in, "The actions of the suicide bombers is quite horrific, of course...." You know that a "but" is coming, followed by an explanation of why their actions, while "quite horrific, of course" are also "entirely understandable under the circumstances," which come down to "the death and destruction is all somebody else's fault completely.")
As the view of the world, as expressed by the evening news and most books, has increasingly become that everything is really just shades of gray, people have grown more and more to want something that says choosing right from wrong may be difficult, seeing what is evil might be hard, but it is not only worth making the effort, it is possible if you try. Maybe not every time, but most of the time by and large. And that is the heart of the popularity of fantasy, and why it has grown. I suspect that somebody has a doctorate in the waiting simply by showing a correlation between the increase in popularity of fantasy on one hand and, on the other, the increase on the evening news and in most literature of the view that right and wrong, good and evil, are just matters of where you stand and how you're holding your head at the moment.
On the large scale, the gender relationships in the Wheel grew from the very beginnings of the books, really. I recall seeing a paperback book back in the 70s, a fantasy novel about a young woman who wasn't allowed to become a magician of whatever sort it was because she was a woman. The notion struck me as interesting, since it was the first fantasy novel with that theme that I had ever seen, but what really stuck with me was this. That novel was a simple reflection of the then-current mundane world, but what about if it were men who were not allowed to become whatever it was? Now that would be an interesting twist, and unexpected. Why would that be, and how could it be enforced? As Harriet has often pointed out, many of the world's gender inequalities stem from superior male upper body strength. (To which I usually say, "Oh, dear! Isn't that awful and unfair!" While pulling off my shirt and flexing my biceps, to be sure.) From that genesis grew the division of the One Power into a male and a female half with the male half tainted, giving a reason why men not only would not be allowed to become Aes Sedai, as they were not then called, but must not be allowed even to channel, again as it was not then called. From that, and from the history that I was even then beginning to put together for this world, though I didn't realize it then, came the result of 3000+ plus years when men who can wield the ultimate power, the One Power, are to be feared and hated above all things, when the only safety from such men comes from the one stable center of political, and other, power for those 3000+ years, a female center of power. The view I then had was a world with a sort of gender equality. Not the matriarchy that some envision -- Far Madding is the only true matriarchy in the lot -- but gender equality as it might work out given various things that seem to be hard-wired into male and female brains. The result is what you see.
Now as to communications and the lack thereof, these things are not commentaries on any sort of technologies. They are a commentary on the human navel. Do you really know anybody who actually tells everything he or she knows to everybody? Even when they really need to know? Maybe especially when they really need to know. Do you really trust people who think they always know what other people really need to know? May I postulate that this person has few close friends, those quite quiet when around him or her? There are a thousand reasons why we don't tell everything to everybody, including often things that we should tell. Maybe the information puts us in a bad light, so we withhold information, or perhaps shade the truth a bit. That's one of the most common. Or maybe we think the other person must already know because it is so obvious. Which can add the factor that we don't want to appear foolish for pointing out that the sky seems to be blue today. Or maybe we just didn't bloody well think of it. It has always struck me how unrealistic, how incredibly fortuitous -- you think ta'veren are centers of unrealistic coincidence? Huh! -- books are where almost everybody learns everything they need to know as soon as they need to know it, where almost nobody of any note or importance ever has to make decisions based on incomplete information, information that the reader may know is at least partly wrong. Lord, even when they just learn almost everything they need to know exactly when they need to know it, matters seem just too far-fetched. No, it isn't a commentary on technology. Just people.
For Sandar, you know very well that Emma would be disappointed if I stopped tugging at her pig-tail. Now as to the fellow who went mad in the cell next to Padan Fain and the other who committed suicide, neither is evidence for Lanfear's presence. Which is just as well. Repeat after me, slowly. Lanfear -- did -- not -- free -- Padan -- Fain -- in -- Shienar. Nor anywhere else, for that matter. There were two prisoners in the cells with Fain, both of them Bordermen who had some knowledge of Shadowspawn. And in the heart of the fortress here comes a troop of Trollocs and the Light alone knows what else. Put yourself in their place. Put yourself in a cage. You can't get out. You are in the dark. And here comes your worst nightmares walking in. Only it's worse than nightmares, because you know that these nightmares are real. You know what they do to human beings. You know they sometimes keep people alive a long time so they can have fresh meat. People don't need arms or legs to survive, so they can feed off you for days, maybe weeks. And you can't get out. You can't get away. You just have to shiver in your cage and watch them open up another of the cages. While you wonder whether they're going to open your cage, too. How do you escape? How can you get away? Maybe suicide is an option? At least it's quick. Quicker, anyway. But make up your mind fast, sport. While you're dithering, your mind might decide to make its own escape. That won't stop you from being butchered slowly, but at least you won't know it's happening. Maybe you can see why Lanfear wasn't necessary here?
Okay, that's it for now. I need to get back to writing.
All my best, guys.
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.
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
A running commentary on the Mayo Clinic. I had intended to post before this, but it didn't work out. This began life as bits and pieces and notes I intended to use. It turned into something a little different. Sorry about that. I hope it's coherent.
The first week has been interesting. If you find needles interesting. There have been other sorts of tests – X-rays literally of every bone in my body; a pulmonary function test with me coughing all over the place and the tech sighing and saying "Well, let's try again then;" vast collections of urine – but mainly it has been the needles. I've been pursued by people with needles from dawn until sunset at the least. Sometimes they don't hold to those limits. At one point I was sent back to a particular station because the phlebotomist had drawn only a quart and not the quart and a half that had been in the orders. God's truth. I swear. Still, they say I seem to be healthy. For somebody in my condition, anyway.
I've gotten two bits of outstanding news. As of two months ago, my heart wall had thickened to 17mm rather than the normal 10-13 mm. On one side that has now shrunk to 14 mm. This is unheard of and has evoked murmurs of measuring errors, which I don't see Mayo making. The other bit isn't open to any arguments. The ejection fraction is the percentage of the blood in the heart which is ejected each time the heart contracts. Normal is 50%-65%. Two months ago mine was 48%. It is now 67%!
Second week began with getting an Ash Split shunt put in my chest. I wanted to avoid this, but the nurse-coordinator convinced me that it's going to be necessary come time for chemo and re-implanting the stem cells, so I decided to go ahead and get something that will do not only for those things but for blood samples, the necessary transfusions and so forth. I now have a couple of tubes dangling from my chest on the upper right side, with the far end going directly into my jugular vein. I've been telling people at home that I have a tap on the side of my neck leading straight to my jugular, and that this is attracting a great deal of attention from the Goths on staff, not to mention the vampire wannabes. The tap may be a joke, but the Goths and vampires, now.... You can tell from the way they lick their lips when they look at your neck.
The unit I'm working with really does have vampires. Witness all that blood gathering. And they always want to start it before the sun is up, meaning they're safely indoors come sunrise. They call themselves BMT, for Bone Marrow Transplant, but I have deduced the real name. Bacon, Marrow and Tomato. They're good people, very conscientious, but be careful if you have lunch with them. Very careful.
From then on it's been a matter of getting injections of growth factor twice a day to stimulate growth of bone marrow stem cells, and in between spending five hours a day hooked up to an a-pharesis machine for harvesting stem cells. The area isn't too bad, really. WiFi is available, plus small TVs with first run movies. Harriet can sit by my bed so we can talk, or read. My plan is to stick to books, mainly, and maybe get off a blog entry to you guys.
The Ash Split didn't go in so smoothly as I hoped. I woke up about midnight Monday night, the first, and found a damp patch of blood on my bedsheet about the size of a dinner plate with another on my pajama top. (For Deadsy, this is being worn only to protect the shunt; I don't wear pajamas. That ought to settle her down for a week or so. Or maybe get her hyperventillating?) Needless to say, with the end of the tubes in my jugular, I was a little concerned. We went over to Rochester Methodist, the hospital attached to the clinic, where I had the dressing changed. Three times before we got the bleeding quieted down. It's never simple with me. Harriet likes to point that out from time to time. But then, I told her if she married me, it would never be boring.
That meant no sleep to speak of before heading into my first day of collection. I slept instead of messing with the computer or reading. Slept after I got back to the hotel. Collapsed after dinner and went to sleep at about 8:30. A few more bleeding problems on day two, plus I slept again. That begins to get on your nerves after a bit.
Got some explanation from the collection staff about why I've been so tired. For one thing, the effects of the growth factor, over-stimulating the bone marrow's production of stem cells, is extremely tiring in itself. On top of that, the machine pulls all of the blood out of your body roughly three times and pumps it back in. During this five hour process your cardiovascular system tries to maintain a steady blood pressure. It can't because all of the values are shifting constantly, but it keeps trying. The result is that each day is the equivalent of running a marathon. Two marathons down in two days, and we'll see how many to come. I can't really think of much besides when I can go back to sleep. Have to get my head straight. Can't let it go on like this. Straighten up and soldier, soldier.
This is getting a little jumbled together as I go back and make additions or corrections. I'm not sure I can keep the time line straight myself. Sorry about that. In Australia a while back I was mad enough to sign up for a hike to the Valley of the Winds, not far from Uluru. We made it in and out in a little over two hours, each of us with a liter of water, and only then did I see the sign which cautioned hikers to allow a minimum of two hours for the hike EACH way and drink a minimum of one liter of water per hour. Before heading in, the guide told us that she sometimes forgot that the people she was leading weren't as fit as she was. "So do try to keep up," she said. I'd get the time line straight if I could, guys, if I had time, but in the meanwhile, do try to keep up.
For the basic transplant, they want 4 million stem cells. Using 8 million or 12 doesn't do any better. They will go with as little as 2, but they don't really like it. I asked what the top one day collection was and was told that, very rarely, somebody produced over 20 million. That was my first day goal, but I missed it badly. 4.17 million. My doctor, Suzanne Hayman, has signed off for a collection of 8 million, but I'm arguing. Not for 20, now, but for 12-16 million. That would give me a full transplant with two or even three in the freezer just in case. They very seldom do a second transplant for amyloidosis, and have never done a third, but given the rapidity with which the treatments change, I want to be ready for anything.
Doctor Hayman signed off for 12 million. She says she's happy to go with 3 million for a base transplant. We're on track and running hot and true.
Got my second day collection report. Barely 2 million. I'm going to have to pick up the pace. Dr. Hayman won't approve an increase in the growth factor. I understand even if I don't like it. It does have its side effects. They'll only listen to me so far as to what risks I'm willing to take.
Third day collection reports in. Only a little over 1 million. Looks as if I'm definitely on the downhill slope of production. There's still a chance, though. Production can fluctuate. Additional bad news. I put on ten pounds yesterday. That's fluid retention, one of the side effects of growth factor. I've been fighting that with lasix, keeping the weight under control pretty much. Until now.
Trouble breathing on the night of the third collection day. Couldn't get to sleep. The fluid presses on the diaphragm, so the lungs can't work properly. Harriet got me across the street to the hospital where they put me on oxygen for the night. Tomorrow (fourth day; today, actually), will be the key. Can I pull up my production numbers?
Fourth day production numbers in. I'm down to 700,000 plus. Time to face facts. The number will continue to drop. In a day or two they'll tell me the tests show I won't make the minimum number for harvesting. I'm not going to make 12 million, much less 16. And they're giving me extra lasix to help control the weight, though so far it just seems to be helping me hold my own. The growth factor could very easily put me into congestive heart failure with the fluid retention. Been there, did that, didn't like it. Time to pull the plug, says I.
They don't let you know anything discouraging before they have to around this place. God bless them. Turns out my 8.6-8.7 million wasn't so bad after all. Turns out that a lot of amyloidosis patients can barely make 4 total. Turns out a lot of them can barely make 2. Seems I didn't do too badly after all. Hey, the kid can always pull it out when he needs to. Bring it on, Jack. Bring it on.
The weekend is mine, except for a few blood tests and some fragmin (blood thinner) shots. I don't think I'm up to Easter services -- plus, I have to get some blood tests dones during the hours of services -- but I've made reservations to take Harriet to Easter brunch. And Will. Our son has flown out to visit for a week. God, it's good to see him.
Monday I have interviews with various doctors and others. The reason, I think, is to give me a final thumbs up for the chemo, to begin on Tuesday. Knock wood.
Looking around me here, I see a lot I'd like to think I would have noticed before, but I'm not sure I would have. I remember Harriet exclaiming in horror at Feng Du, in China, when the tide of crippled beggars came flopping toward the boat landing like a tide of Medieval horror. I barely blinked. They weren't the first crippled beggars I'd seen. But day or so ago I saw a young woman pushing an older woman in a wheelchair while leading a younger woman (her sister? Her daughter?) by the hand. It was painfully obvious that the youngest woman, the girl, was mentally challenged. Some people just get handed loads that can't be called fair in any sense of the word. But both older women were smiling. I've talked a lot about fighting, but I'm not the only one by a long country mile. You can pick them out, sometimes. The elderly man with a few wisps of white hair shuffling along behind his IV tree, mask in place and eyes fixed on something ahead. The little girl huddled in her wheelchair clutching her stuffed bear as she is pushed from one appointment to the next. And her eyes are so big. As big as half her face. She ain't here to get a hangnail clipped, Jack. This place is chock full of fighters. I'm proud to be in their company.
Had a letter from the Mayo forwarded to me. Seems some of you have given money on the name of James Rigney. I'd like to thank Mr. Chris Mardle, Mr. Matthew Longland, Mr. T.J.Rowe, Mr. Fredrik Trobo, Mr. Dennis Clark, Ms Krista Baker, Mr. Phillip Johnston, Mr. Kenneth Spores, and Mr. Thane Hecox. Thanks to you all very much, truly from the bottom of my heart.
Had my interviews with the doctors. I'm good to go. Tomorrow morning, 9 am. Let's boogey. Let's boogey.
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.
2:58 pm (1458 hours, hooah!), 23 July 2007
I'm stealing a line from a friend and big WOT fan, "leave the imagination to RJ."
He's fine! Having one of those "rough patch" days today, but fine. In fact, he had a hearty breakfast of Sauerkraut and a Hamburger. You read that right. Yuck! Not to my liking, but gives you an idea of the cast iron nature of his stomach. I guess eating cold C rations in the rain and mud of Vietnam will cause you to think anything is good. In fairness to his taste buds, he would season the Cs with a few dashes of hot sauce, a secret his father shared with him.
RJ and Harriet are off to the Mayo tomorrow for the 90-day check up. Her biggest concern is that their flight departs during the time frame that the President of the US is due to arrive in Charleston for the debates to be held at the Citadel tomorrow evening. They also have a family affair to attend during this trip. So, they are not due back in Charleston until the middle of next week.
He'll let you guys know the results of the trip after their return. Not exactly sure when, but after.
FYI: A woman that I adore whom shall remain nameless, but whose initials are... HARRIET, will be celebrating a birthday on 4 August. You might want to extend her a Happy Birthday message.
For Sadie: Jason at Dragon Mount has my personal contact info. If you will email him a "ship to" address, I will personally get RJ to sign some bookplates "to Sadie"(about business card size, peel off stickers) to place in your books. Consider them my birthday gift to you, a survivor. Kudos girl. Figuratively of course, but keep the dresser in front of the door. Throw yourself headlong into your schoolwork. Thanks for your prayers for my brother/cousin. I will offer prayers for your continued success and that your Mother and Sister find their way back into the light.
I ask you to keep the prayers coming, they are still needed. Please toss in a few for our men and women in uniform.
Blessings on you all,
4th of 3
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
I don't think I've ever broken a promise to you guys before, but I must this time. I won't be in Seattle or Anchorage as promised. Harriet finally allowed as how she was just too tired to make the trip, and I guess that freed me up to take a long look at myself. I can see where I am right now, and for all the brave talk, the chances of me actually making it to Anchorage were somewhere between small and nill. Especially if I expected to walk away at the end instead of being carried. So we aren't going to be there.
My apologies. Mia culpa, mia culpa, mia maxima culpa. Sometimes you just can't deliver. Still, I can't help thinking that getting more back on my feet by the end of June is a better plan.
I am likely to curb my blog posts a bit, too, so don't go worrying over that. They'll be shorter, likely further between for a time, but I'm just trying to get a little rest, that's all. Don't sweat it.
All my best,
Well, guys, the letter in Locus is indeed from me. I had hoped to be a little more focused with this and get a post up here before anything came out in Locus, or anywhere else public, so you would get it first, but I flat forgot that Charles has his on-line version of Locus now, too. Sorry about that.
Don't get too upset, guys. Worse comes to worst, I will finish A Memory of Light, so the main story arc, at least, will be completed. And frankly, as I said, I intend to beat this thing. Anything can be beaten with the right attitude, and my attitude is, I have too many books to write yet for me to just lie down. Don't have time for it. Besides, I promised Harriet I'd be around for our 50th, and that means another 25 years from this month right there. Can't break a promise to Harriet, now can I?
I had intended to go on with a few answers to questions when I made this post (I see some interesting ones), but that will have to wait, I'm afraid. I have a few other things to get done first. Maybe I'll be able to get that up this afternoon or tomorrow. No promises, though. Before I go to Mayo, though, I promise. And updates from the Mayo as I can manage.
Oh, yes. When the hair goes, with the chemo -- as it is very likely to do -- I'll post some before and after shots, just so people showing up in Seattle and Anchorage won't think we've run in a ringer. Yes, I plan to keeping those signings in late June. The chemo and recuperation should be finished by mid-to-late May, so I can make it. Hey, there will be big salmon running in Alaska at that time, and I never passed up a chance at big fish in my life.
Again, sorry that you got the news in such a raggedy fashion. I really did mean to handle things more smoothly.
Take care, guys. Until the next time.
All my best,
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.
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
Dear all: Most sincere thanks from Robert Jordan (via Harriet) go out to
Michael J. Fredericks, Jean Verney-Carron, Evan Harmon, Lisa Kirwood,Ryan Salsamendi, Emma de Laat (hello, Emma!),David Freeman, Helena Taylor and Janet Taylor
for gifts to the Mao Hematologic Malignancies Program -- amyloidosis research. Thank you one and all.
Jim is taking it easy today, since we go up to the Mayo tomorrow for a routine workup -- but as a consolation prize, here is a poem of mine:
Bard: n., a full set of equine armor.
Your head seethes with essential magic,
its glittering chanfron deep and wise,
high-buffed, strong in dream and reason.
and your escutcheon shining pure.
The crinet of your glistening neck,
glides swiftly to the brazen peytral
of your great roomy chest.
On it emblazoned script in gothic flame:
Live in today, live for tomorrow.
Your flanchards bearing you in strength,
shine bright below your gleaming crupper.
And for your groin: festooned galloons,
fine textiles in a nest, and heavy gold.
All worlds flare in your burning eyes,
as soul and words bring fat new flames
to the pale page, and to my greedy heart.
Hope you enjoy it . You have all been a wonderful support for both of us.... I guess this is a little thank-you token. Best, Harriet
First off, guys, I want to thank Lewis Nemes for making a donation to the Mayo Clinic Hematologic Malignancies Program -- Amyloidosis Research. Thanks much!
Now. I got some news last week, and I am holding at about a 97% confidence level that it is about as good as it can get for me. A recent blood test looking for lambda light chains (an indication of amyloid production) showed a normal ratio, and if that is right, it means a complete hematologic response, a total stoppage of amyloid production. We won't know for sure until I get tested again at the Mayo Clinic, where they have much more sensitive tests. That will happen in mid-July. If this information is right, though, I just jumped from a median life expectancy of one year to a median expectancy of six years. And that will be terrific news! It will mean that my heart has a chance to begin healing to whatever extent it can. It just doesn't get any better than that. I already have a bottle of bubbly in the icebox awaiting confirmation.
Well, take care, guys. I just wanted to share the (tentative) good news.
Talk to you again soon.
I have photos of family around me in my office. They are a gentle reminder that we work to have a life, not the other way around. In one of those photos, Jim and I are shoulder-to-shoulder, our heads leaning in and touching at the temples. A private moment captured by my Janet. At the end of a busy day in mid-October, I was heading towards the door, glanced at the photo and thought, "I haven't called him in days. I need to do it on the way home..." Then it hit me. I can't call him. He won't answer. The stages of grieving are something with which I am all too familiar. I knew what to expect: loss, denial, guilt, anger and finally acceptance. Even so, it is a trip we each must take every time we suffer a loss. And there I stood, staring at the photo, weeping for my loss and feeling guilty for forgetting, if just for a moment.
Thank you for your prayers, your well-wishing, your concerns about our family and especially for the mountains of praise you have heaped upon my Brother/Cousin. Thank you for every note. I have read all of them, all. They have offered more comfort than you could ever imagine. We are healing.
Here in this forum, I want to publicly thank Jason. He has been and continues to be a loyal fan and friend. Through his words and pictures you have been allowed a peek into the world that was my Brother/Cousin's. Jason told you he came to Charleston feeling a bit of anxiety. It didn't show. He blended into our family fabric as if he had always been there. Still he was there as your representative. The questions he asked were those you would have asked. The things he wanted to see were what you would have wanted to see. He touched, smelled and tasted life in the Two Rivers. With Jason's words and photos, I pray that you were able to gain a sense of closure.
Plans are well underway to erect a permanent memorial detailing the life and accomplishments of James Oliver Rigney, Jr., aka Robert Jordan. The site could not be more perfect, the library at the Citadel in Charleston. Items that you would easily recognize will be included in the exhibit: his ram's horn cane, his Citadel ring and one of his broad-brimmed black hats to name a few. The exhibit will be dedicated in the spring of 2008.
By now you are all aware of the grand news that Brandon Sanderson will be working closely with Harriet and Jim's staff to write aMoL. Brandon has proven himself in the genre. Harriet, hand picked him for the task. I hope you are as pleased and excited as we that he accepted the challenge. As you will learn in Jason's interview, Brandon has long been a WOT fan. Now he has the privilege of donning the gleeman's cloak and telling us the ending of the tale. I am sure that he will do Jim's epic proud.
Remember my Brother/Cousin in the old familiar way. I miss you Bubba. Now, as Harriet has told us, Onward.
4th of 3
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.
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.
Family, friends and fans of fantasy gathered at The Citadel on Tuesday 8 April 2008 to dedicate a permanent memorial to my brother/cousin, James Oliver Rigney, Jr. This was a celebration of Jimâ€™s life and his work. I would be lying were I to tell you I was looking forward to the event. We had assembled only a few weeks earlier at the Citadel to induct Jim into the South Carolina Authorâ€™s Hall of Fame. That evening had propelled me back to the awful moments in September when we lost Jim. Both Harriet and I were in dread of the same happening yet again. It didnâ€™t. Rather the opposite.
Harriet had told us all, Onward, still she and I (and Iâ€™m sure the rest of the family) were mired in that part of grieving that causes us to hang on, denial. Only a day before, Harriet had rolled up her sleeves and dove headlong into the first chapter of MoL. She, Jimâ€™s loyal staff and Brandon were hard at work on the book. She called me to share that and her excitement was obvious. She sounded like a new woman. Harriet told me that she finally knew that Jim wasnâ€™t coming back. That doesnâ€™t mean that she doesnâ€™t still hurt. The hurt will never totally subside, but now it doesnâ€™t interfere with going "onward". Indeed it helps to maintain purpose and focus.
The memorial dedication was begun by a brief introduction of the event from Angie LeClercq, the Director of the Library. The introduction of the panel was made by our own Harriet. Sitting with her were Michael Livingston (Assistant Professor of Medieval Literature at The Citadel), Brandon Sanderson (Elantris, Mistborn) and Dave Drake (Hammer Slammers series, Lord of the Isles series and at least 60 other books). Michael Livingston began by offering what he thought Jim had meant to literature. He compared the body of writers to that of waves on the ocean with peaks and troughs, with the last peak being JRR Tolkein. After him there was a long period in the trough of the wave, then came Jordan. Brandon then waded in with the impact Jordan had upon him as a 15 year old reading fantasy for the first time. He said that his parents were directing him towards Chemistry and Medical School. But Jordanâ€™s fantasy world hooked him so much that he too wanted to write. But every time heâ€™d try something, heâ€™d say to himself, "I canâ€™t. Jordan already did that." (For you writers of the future out there, Brandon wrote 12 books before getting one published. Never quit.) This prompted questions about Jordanâ€™s impact on other writers, "were there people following his style?" I think you all know the answer to that question, there are many. Dave Drake added the observation that there are those who write about something and there are those who write about something that they know because theyâ€™ve lived it. He used his own experience from Vietnam to illustrate his point. He said that when you read Jordan you are privy to Jordanâ€™s experiences. The question was asked about who might be the next wave peak. Brandon offered a wonderful bit of insight. It wonâ€™t be someone who imitates anotherâ€™s work. Brandon said that the one(s) who get it right will look not at what Jordan did, but how he did it. If they are successful in applying the method to their own experience, then we may see the next great writer.
The photo below shows (from right to left) Harriet, Michael, Brandon and Dave. The glass case directly behind them houses the memorabilia. There you will find copies of all of Jimâ€™s books, a Heron marked blade, his wide-brimmed black hat, his ramâ€™s horn cane, his military decorations as well as his unit insignia from the 68th Attach Helicopter Company, photos of Jim throughout his life and of course, his Citadel ring. Should you find yourself in the Two Rivers, Charleston, do make time to go by the Citadel to see this very moving display. Iâ€™ve also included a copy of the dedication program.
[img'>http://www.dragonmount.com/RobertJordan/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/citadel_panel.thumbnail.jpg' alt='citadel_panel.jpg' /> (click to enlarge)
I teased you before with MoL. You all know the timing, and that hasnâ€™t changed. But as I listened in on the exchange between Harriet, Maria (a walking dictionary of the books), Alan and Brandon, I couldnâ€™t help but get even more excited. You all know that Jim told me in great detail, the bones of the book and very vividly described the last scene. Still, listening to the team working collectively on the minute details, hearing the excitement in their voices, feeling the electricity in the room made me want to stay till we were done. I lingered for a moment before leaving watching them sitting around the dining room table where we had shared so many meals, stories and good times. As with most families, our family members have assumed places at the table where we normally sit. I smiled when it struck me that sitting in Jimâ€™s place was the man tapped to finish Jimâ€™s work, Brandon. Iâ€™m sure Jim was smiling too. Onward!
4th of 3
[Editor note: We also received some additional words and photos from Alan Romanczuk, one of Jim's assistants. Here's what he writes]
Jim's memorial case was put on permanent display in the Citadel library on the 8th of this month. It's a beautiful piece of work, and is probably worth more than some of the houses in the neighborhood. On display are a variety of artifacts representing different periods of Jim's life, and include photographs, articles of clothing and accessories, weapons, everything one would expect to give insight into the personality and experiences of this complex and fascinating individual.
Jim's Harriet convened a panel to discuss his life and literary works before an audience that filled one large section of the library. The panel was comprised of [i'm doing this in order of position, from the left, in the photo shown above] David Drake, famous author of fantasy and military science fiction, and friend/admirer of Jim and Harriet's for many years; Brandon Sanderson, talented young fantasy writer who was selected to finish the last volume in the Wheel of Time series; Michael Livingston, Assistant Professor of English at the Citadel, specialist in medieval studies and author in his own right, who is dedicated to ensuring that Robert Jordan's work be recognized by scholars to be among the masterpieces of world mythology; and, standing, Harriet. The discussion lasted about a hour, and included questions and comments from the audience. All in all, it was a stimulating evening, a fitting tribute to Jim, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. It also gave Brandon the opportunity to say for the first time, "Read and Find Out."
[url='http://www.dragonmount.com/RobertJordan/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/citadel_drake_maria.jpg' title='David Drake and Maria'>
David Drake & Maria
(from left), Melanie,
, and Wilson
The following letter is from Greg Kitchens, the "Armorer" who is facilitating the auction of Robert Jordan's weapon collection on ebay.
Robert Jordan's personal collection of blades are now available on ebay.
I have been planning these auctions for a couple of months now and have some thoughts to share.
First of all, these are the first of over 100 knives, swords, and various other weaponry owned by RJ. There are plenty more to come so it would be foolish for fans to bid these first blades at astronomical prices. Please, do not go crazy. Also, keep in mind that when Jim Rigney liked something he often bought at least two. Some of his favorites, such as the Nepalese Kukuri, the scimitar, or the traditional Japanese Katana, were highly represented in his collection with multiple variations and examples. If you see something on auction you like, there may be more opportunities to buy something similar. In the listings it will always say that "This is from the personal collection of the late author Robert Jordan whose bestselling Wheel of Time series of books is hugely popular throughout the world". If one goes to ebay and searches "COLLECTION LATE AUTHOR ROBERT JORDAN" and checks the block for "search titles AND descriptions" you will be directed to the blade collection while filtering out the plethora of books and other items out there. Once you find one of the actual listings you may then view the seller's other auctions. One may also subscribe to ebay to get emails when items are newly posted or bid upon. I will make comments on this site and keep you updated.
Jim Rigney was a friend of mine. For some of us sentimental types it is a great honor to own a personal item that meant something to a friend who passed. When the family so graciously made the offer, I selected a Cold Steel Magnum Tanto and an Applegate-Fairbairn fighter from Jim's collection to go with me to Iraq next year (I likely will need neither for any more than cutting open an MRE, but a good knife does inspire confidence). Later, Wilson later gave me a modernly made katana cane sword that I found in Jim's bucket of staffs. These are now 3 very special blades to me because they were Jim's. The family decided to allow me to auction off these remaining items so that fans and collectors, the VERY people who will appreciate and take care of them, will have a chance to own them. That is really what this blade auction is all about.
Some of the blades are antiques or highly desirable custom items. I have done thorough research on these blades and will not sell anything unless I am confident that it is what we say it is. There is a "horsehead" saber from the 1830s, a couple of Randall knives, some nice antique Chinese swords, and several others. These items will have value to collectors. If one is a fan AND interested in the particular genre of blade, all the better. ALL items will start at a price that is lower, in some cases MUCH lower, that the flat retail value of the item.
RJ owned over a dozen Japanese swords, although most were either modern reproductions or Chinese "fakes". The Chinese swords were made to appear to be old, which they are not. There were two authentic Japanese swords (besides a few military and police swords) and they will both stay in the family. There are also a few newly made, high quality katanas and wakizashis by CAS Iberia/Paul Chen Hanwei. These are fully functional warrior quality blades and are worth significantly more than the Chinese reproductions. Japanese swords, Nihon-to, are classic and legendary weapons and certainly interested RJ. Fans will undoubtedly recognize the influence these blades had on the RJ's design of the Heron marked swords. I have spent a great deal of time studying and researching these historic weapons to make sure they are represented accurately.
Many have asked about charities. These blades were left to some close relatives of RJ and each will get a percentage of the net profit and are, thus, free to do with it what they see fit. I do know that at least one recipient plans to donate a portion of the money to the Mayo Clinic and another has mentioned looking after The Citadel (RJ's school, and mine), but the particulars are not yet decided. Please do not rationalize your decision to bid by telling yourself that "it's for a good cause". Again, our primary objective is to ensure that RJ's collection finds its way into the hands of those who appreciate them. We hope that nobody buys something that they cannot realistically afford. We have also put some items off to the side to be charity auctioned or otherwise given away at the upcoming JordanCon. [Editor Note: Dragonmount.com will be raffling off at least one of these items. More info will be posted in our News section when it gets closer to happening.]
We have no way of enforcing it but would appreciate it if no one would buy more than two or three blades in total. We hope that several fans get the opportunity to own one of RJ's personal collectibles.
I just hate to limit the sales to US only but made the decision to do just that. My apologies to our overseas friends but shipping blades internationally can get legally complicated and we just do not have an international lawyer on retainer. A knife or sword that one country may view as a harmless tool yet another country sees as a national threat! Customs and unvested carriers add another dimension of risk in ensuring that these items safely get to the buyers. I am new to ebay. If I did this for a living I'd likely be experienced enough to know the ropes for shipping and customs for any given country. There just is not adequate time to properly work it all out. I decided that I do not want to learn the hard lessons the hard way and, in the process, allow something to happen to one of RJ's blades. If you are overseas and want to bid, perhaps you have a friend in the US to whom we can ship? You would then have the time to thoroughly work out the details in getting it into your particular country. Of course, all buyers are responsible for knowing and complying with their local laws. Again, our international friends have my personal apologies as it was with a heavy heart that I made this difficult decision.
The letter of authenticity will be sent with each item and I will retain a copy. The letter will include a description of the blade and name the recipient. No copy of these letters will be sent electronically. We ask all buyers to disallow copies or scannings as we do not want these to ever be faked should they fall into the hands of the unscrupulous. I am personally invested in making sure you are satisfied with this sale. Please contact me with any questions or concerns. All sales are guaranteed.
Col G.H. Kitchens
View all available items for bidding
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