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Storm Leader report: New York City

Guest Jason


This is the seventeenth of our Storm Leader reports we'll be posting throughout the U.S. book tour for

The first humorous moment of the evening came when we had to call our fellow Storm Leader and Tor.com contributor, Leigh, who was conspicuously absent from the event up till that point. Brandon caught on and proceeded to make light of her unexpected absence by Twittering about it from his blackberry! Suffice it to say a slightly winded Leigh arrived shortly after.

After things wound down a bit and the Wheel of Time themed deviled chocolate cake was safely stored in our stomachs, we were treated to our hour with Brandon, Harriet, and Maria. And what a wondrous time it was.

New York City

After a brief explanation of RAFO, spoiler killer extraordinaire, we got down to the nitty-gritty business of trying to tease out threads from the pattern. The questions ranged from the deeply theoretical – these came mostly form our Theoryland Storm Leader’s – to the factual. For your convenience, bullet points:


- Which Ajah heads will stay in power? It will be dealt with traditional Aes Sedai quietness and generally default to those who were heads before the split.

- There are no tinker prophecies… as we would have seen them already if there were.

- The Dragon on RJ and Harriet’s gate was commissioned after the series began.

- We will most probably not be seeing any actual dragons in the series – the naming of Aludra’s cannons is not because of the shared fire breathing, but simply a general association with power.

- When asked about Harine, Brandon confirmed that Rand was not sticking to the bargain.

- It was mentioned that a fight between Eugene and Cadsuanne would be totally awesome. I concur.

- Brandon initially got hooked for the series because of the hero's journey – and the size of the books (he was on a budget). It changed as he grew up, and he mentions how much he enjoyed the prologue by contrasting it with generic fantasy prologues that are long and drawn out. What kept him reading was the depth of world building and the secrets embedded within secrets.

- Brandon apparently likes writing so much he would continue putting out a book a year even if they went unpublished. He never even submitted his first five books and jokingly referred to them as sub par.

- He avoids bad reviews like the plague, but when he does stumble across them he then proceeds to read one star reviews of great works of literature, like Shakespeare.

- Writing the Gathering Storm, Brandon admits he received input from numerous sources. He was, however, uncomfortable discussing the amount of input and the amount of freedom he had in writing The Gathering Storm. He says maybe after A Memory of Light he will reveal a bit more about what specifically was RJ’s. Generally though, he was unrestricted in his writing, and Harriet, as editor, was there to perfect what he had done.

- When asked about the outriggers, Harriet responded with the famous line from Kenny Rogers: “Know when to hold-em, know when to fold-em.†It is something they will get into once the A Memory of Light is in the bag, but the tone of their replies seemed to suggest that is was not even close to a done deal.

- Rand and Egwene are in the same time zone, approximately, at the end of tGS.

- Tuon’s scene was 3-4 weeks after her last scene in the previous book. RJ was “crafty†with his use of timelines, but generally they were chronological within a viewpoint.

- When asked if the timeline will ever be published, Brandon referred to a couple admirable efforts by fans, and Maria added that she tracks it with an Excel spreadsheet, but it would take a lot of effort to get it into a publishable format. Also, RJ was uncomfortable showing anyone his unpublished work and would go through a number of drafts, even if it was just for Harriet.

- When asked about the number of years between the breaking and current day Brandon replied that it was well know and referred us to ewot, which is accurate except for a year here or there.

- Regarding the notorious clue that everyone has missed, Brandon pinned it down to somewhere between books 4-6 (reread time!). He reiterated how astonished we would be when we found it… but won’t get any more specific for fear of ruining our surprise. Also, the “never mentioned†aspect of the clue might not be entirely true, but Brandon himself has never come across it. Maria had a knowing smile at the time, suggesting maybe it has been mentioned. Time will tell.

- Brandon confirmed that the wolf dream / fortelling of Rand as a beggar and the one with bandages over his eyes is fulfilled with his visit to Ebou Dar.

- Brandon reiterate how satisfied he was with RJ’s ending to the series but danced around the question of what he imagined the ending to be before he read it. RJ’s ending “satisfied the promise of the booksâ€.

- When the Internet was in its infancy, Brandon (before ever even using email) went to rec.arts.rj. It was the first site he ever visited online.

- RJ was surprised by the devoted fans of the WoT and always felt a bit egotistical when doing readings—hence his use of a pseudonym and bring “low profileâ€.


This event recap was collectively written by the Storm Leaders, and in every submission I received (my job is to cobble them together), they mentioned how wonderful it was to meet both Harriet and Maria. And, indeed, their presence seemed to brighten the room and podium both. Their devotion and love for the series, and its author, shone through in their actions and conversations – the sincerity of their numerous thanks to fans did not go unnoticed. The following paragraphs are taken directly from the individual recaps sent to me, so excuse their slightly disjointed nature, but I unable to depersonalize such sincere words.


I want to talk about Miss Harriet. It is my sincere hope that every single one of you gets to meet her in person. Even if it’s just for a moment at a signing or a convention, if the opportunity arises, go say hello. Seeing her smile really lit up the room; she is one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of meeting. In every way, it is in large part thanks to her that we now have The Gathering Storm, that we will have a conclusion to the series that is so near and dear to all of us. She thanked all of us, repeatedly, and I nearly laughed every time she did – it is to her that I wish to say thank you, not the other way around.


After Harriet, the next woman who deserves some mention is Maria Simons. If you don’t recognize the name and weren’t able to make it to the New York signing, Maria was one of Mr. Rigney’s assistants, and is the guru of all things tWoT. Flip open your copy of The Gathering Storm: she’s one of the two individuals that Brandon dedicated the book to, with good reason. She is a true sister of the Brown Ajah, and not just because of her shawl. Very much like Harriet, Maria was very easy to approach and talk to. Just don’t go up to her expecting to get secrets or tidbits out of this living Wheel of Time depository. She carried with her a hat that reads “RAFO: ... it’s a way of lifeâ€, and she truly does live it.

New York City


For me, these two ladies were the heroes of the hour, and I was honored to get to spend time with them. Brandon has done a magnificent and incredibly tough job-don’t get me wrong, but many of us tend to forget how much Harriet has invested in this on a personal level, and Maria as well. I think that deserves a very honorable mention, and for me, personally, these two amazing women made the whole evening and event that much more important to me than just a book signing.


The signing itself was, in my perhaps less than unbiased opinion, a complete success. I do not believe an accurate count was taken, but I estimate roughly three hundred to three hundred fifty or so fans were in attendance. Brandon’s speech had many of us both laughing and drying our suddenly moist eyes. I feel no shame in admitting that hearing Brandon speak of both Mr. Rigney’s death and how he himself was chosen to finish the series had brought tears to my eyes, and other fans confided the same in me.


That latter I think is what makes me claim that I had the best job of the night. Each of the Storm Leaders had a task, and I know several, perhaps all of us, think we had the best jobs. . . but seriously, I had the best job of the night: writing out the personalization’s on sticky-notes and bookmarking the pages to be signed. I got to speak with the vast majority of the fans who came to the signing. With some, it was only long enough to find out how they wanted their book personalized; but with others, I got to talk about how they were interested in the series, or other people they knew who read, other series they liked, other events they’d been to. A hundred different stories. Two in particular touched me, one man having his book dedicated to his mother, another to his children. I hope the latter will forgive me for sharing his dedication, anonymously: “May reading this bring you the peace of the stedding.†When he first said it, I thought it was cool, but when he explained that it was for his children reading the series, I damn near teared up again. It was an honor to get to speak to so many of you, every single bit as much as it was an honor to meet Team Jordan.

New York City

To open the signing at the Union Square B&N, Brandon begun by describing how he had come to store, back in the day, with his agent, and signed the one copy of Elantris that was on the shelf. His agent promised that he would do a signing there one day, and lo and behold, it came to pass. Among other interesting tidbits in Brandon’s introduction was the story of how he came to write the Wheel of Time, his first incoherent conversation with Harriet, and his follow-up email where he assured her he was “not an idiotâ€.


The ebullient crowd was generous with both applause and laughs, and listened in rapt attention as Harriet read the Prophet’s passage from the prologue, which proceeded at a fairly brisk clip. Before she began, she thanked the crowd, saying, “It is because of you the series continues.†And she meant it.


New York City


The Q&A that followed was filled with interesting tidbits from both Brandon’s work and the WoT series. More bullet points!

- When asked to briefly describe The Way of Kings (Brandon’s forthcoming epic fantasy series) he said he is not good at short descriptions. Harriet humorously interjected that is precisely the reason that he was hired. He went on for a bit about the Way of Kings (WoK?!). What sets it apart from other epic fantasy, which is done in a setting where magic is in decline and the world has lost much of the splendor it once held, is that WoK is about a “renaissance of magicâ€.

- Harriet commented that she browses fan boards sometimes and that she had looked at people saying: this part is Brandon and this part is RJ. She laughed and said that most of the time they were totally wrong.

- When asked if his religion played a part in his books, Brandon replied that it was a part of him, and that as a consequence it did.

- When asked if he knows who killed Asmodean, he replied, “Yes, I do.â€

- When asked why Justice (AH’s sword) was introduced at this point in the series, Brandon refused to answer, saying it was not even certain that Justice had been introduced, and thus he could not say either way without spoilering.



To add to the fun during the signing Tor provided a bunch of awesome posters for giveaways, which we raffled off. Storm Leaders also conducted an informal survey of those waiting in line to get their books signed. The results might surprise you!


Who is your favorite character? (top three responses)

- Mat: 25 votes.

- Rand & Perrin: tied with 8 votes.

- Lan & Thom: tied with 4 votes.


How many times have you read the series?

- with 50 respondents answering, the average was 3.37!

- the most times was 14!


Who killed Asmodean?

- Lanfear with 10 votes.

- Graendal with 7 votes.

- Slayer & Morridin with 5 votes each.

- Tam with 1 vote…


And so, fellow fans, I hope you all get a chance to meet Team Jordan, for it is truly a memorable experience. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments, as we will endeavor to fill in anything we left out from this brief recap. Tai’shar New York, it was great meeting all of you! Oh, you can also check out the rest of the picks here.



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