First off, why are you reading this when you could be reading your new copy of ToM?
Second, thanks for reading this!
Third, this post will be updated on occasion as more TGs send me their reports. For now, you get to read my report (jemron) of the Event! Be warned: IT IS LONG! Like Loial, I don’t know the meaning of the word “brief.”
Fourth, I’m still a bit bleary-eyed from the release party, and it was a day and a half ago. Some of the details are crisp in my mind, and some are very fuzzy. I’ll do my best to recall the Event as I remember it. Pictures also help. There will shortly be LOTS of pictures posted in the gallery of the event. I’ll also try and break this overly long report up with some cool pictures that I and other Tower Guards took of the Event.
Fifth, enough lists, let’s get to it!
The day came too quickly. It didn’t come fast enough. I awoke early, anxious to be on my way and out the door so that I could help setup at the BYU Bookstore.
I gathered together a TON of equipment (too much, and, of course, not enough) that I had agreed to bring to help with the live video feed, including my computer, a bunch of various cables, an iPad, cameras, and other things you don’t care about.
I finally arrived at the bookstore at around 10:30am, where I got to meet some of the other awesome Tower Guards, including Matt Hatch (Tamyrlin of Theoryland), Mark (Kaldric from readandfindout.com), and Spencer (of the 4th Age Podcast). Later I met Andy (the tall one) and his brother Chris (the unofficial Tower Guard). These guys came in from Paige, AZ and were very friendly and helpful the whole time, willing to do anything and everything they were asked to do.
I also met Casey (aka Beast, aka Rodrigo, aka Big Scary Guy Who Was Super Super Nice—Please don’t eat me ), and Riley (A Shatayan/CFO from TarValon.net). Riley also brought a friend who was very helpful whose name has escaped me for the moment (sorry!). Christie or Krissy maybe? (Please correct me in the comments). Anyway, she was representing TarValon.net as well, and was also an unofficial Tower Guard. And, of course, Jennifer Liang. I don’t think I need to explain who she is. She was really cool too (actually, a lot like I imagined her).
It was really great to also have people representing pretty much every major fan site, including Theoryland.com, Readandfindout.com, TarValon.net, and Dragonmount. Did I leave any out?
Though some arrived later than others, we all got along really well, and everyone was super helpful and friendly. This is what I love about the Wheel of Time community! We come from all walks of life (and different fan sites), and yet we all treat each other like long-lost friends. We have something great in common. We are HCFFs (Hard Core Fan Freaks) who love what Robert Jordan, Harriet Rigney, and Brandon Sanderson have created. Everyone who was there that night, and all of you who are reading this, are HCFFs too.
I also met some really cool people at the front of the line, including a guy who flew in all the way from Sweden! Some of these people had been camped out since the Thursday afternoon before. One guy told us he was out here on a “family vacation” from Australia, but that he secretly planned the whole thing without telling his wife that the real reason for coming here was the Midnight Release party! How cool is that?!
The giddiness/excitement for the Event was palpable from the start. I immediately got sidetracked from my “duties” and started talking to people in line about theories, the WoT movies, and other WoT related stuff. I just kept getting pulled into conversations, though I should’ve been helping setup. And even though I also love discussing on-line via chat and/or forums, there’s just nothing better than discussing the books with real people. I love this about these events. This is why we should all plan on going to JordonCon next year (and Jennifer didn’t even pay me to say that).
Anyhoo, fast-forward to later in the day, after our introductions and after setting up some stuff; some of us find ourselves in a Best Buy in a city north of Provo, looking for a piece of equipment we needed for the live feed. A random guy in the store sees Andy’s Tower Guard t-shirt and says, “Hey guys! I’ll be there tonight!” So cool. So geeky.
Fast-forward even farther, and the Tower Guards are all sitting around in the bookstore chatting about the series, anxiously awaiting news about Brandon’s arrival, and then a palette of books appears:
This is when I suddenly realized; I was going to be reading ToM in a matter of hours! Years and years of waiting, and it came down to just a few hours. I almost peed myself. Okay, maybe I did… a little.
When that first box opened, we all held the books in reverence, careful with each and every one. Then, 500-600 books later, we just were treating it like an assembly line. We had to setup the books so that Brandon could quickly open each one, number it, and sign it.
About an hour of prepping, and the crowd outside was getting bigger. Brandon shows up at 8pm, and then the fun really began.
Brandon is just so chill. He’s one of us. A fan, a nerd, a human being. It was so cool to be able to talk with him as he signed all the books. Each signature was important to him. If the table was bumped, or if he made the tiniest mistake, he did whatever he could to make it right. He cares about the fans and it really shows through with how he treats everything he does.
We asked him all sorts of questions but few were actually related to spoilers/teasers.
One of the questions that I asked him was, “Do you think it is fair to you, as a prolific author, to be asked by the rest of “Team Jordan” to write the prequels and/or outriggers?” I asked because as a BWS fan and as a WoT fan, I’m torn between wanting to let Brandon get on with his other work (he still has 9 Stormlight books to write, 6 Mistborn books, an Elantris sequel, a Warbreaker sequel or two, AND another 10 book series called “Dragonsteel” to write!), and wanting to see more WoT after the main series ends. I told him this, and he was very open about it. He said, honestly, it probably wouldn’t happen. But, he said, if Harriet does want them written (which he seemed to indicate that she probably wouldn’t at this point) he says he would want to be the only choice to write them. He said he feels like he more of a right to it than any other author, though he can’t call it his work/world, it is a part of him now, and he wouldn’t want anybody else writing those other books.
Anyway, Tamyrlin will be posting a much more in-depth write-up of the questions and answers from that night, so I won’t write any of that here. Brandon had also brought just 3 things with him (that I could tell). An ARC (advanced reader copy) of The Way of Kings which was to be given out to a lucky winner as a prize and two of his special decks of Magic: The Gathering cards that he hoped to be able to use in a game or two before the event.
We also had several other cool prizes donated by various people, including Tor (thanks for the bumper stickers and goodies!!), Inkwing.com (those t-shirts ROCKED, thanks guys for this!—checkout their site for awesome BWS paraphernalia), Theoryland, and the BYU Bookstore (thank you guys too).
All the prizes were lying out on a table and, sadly, someone stole the ARC of the Way of Kings right off of the prize table!! The one thing that Brandon himself brought to give away to a lucky fan, and it was stolen. I was saddened that someone who likely calls him/herself a “fan” did that! I felt for a moment that whoever did that made all of us, as fans look bad. Then I decided that that thief is not a true fan anyway, so it doesn’t affect me. I’m still angry about it though and I could tell Brandon was disappointed too when he found out. I hope it will be returned!
The rest of the night, after the doors were opened, and the sheep were led in to wander around for hours before midnight, is a bit of a blur to me. I was so tired at this point, and a lot of cool stuff happened, but I can only share the things I remember.
I was given the task of “polling” people in the crowd about the WoT. I asked people if they thought Rand would die during the series, and whether or not they thought he would return. I asked them who they thought Mesanna was hiding as in the Tower, and I asked if they thought Moiraine would come back able to channel (if she comes back at all). It was a good set of questions that Matt came up with that got people talking/excited about ToM. I ran around asking various people and discussing some crazy theories with them. I couldn’t convince anybody that Laras is Mesanna though .
At around 10:30 or 11, Brandon did a reading from Chapter 2 of ToM. It was a nice reading, but I had already listened to it from the free audio version that Tor provided a few weeks ago. No offense to Brandon, but Michael Kramer does a bit better job at reading the books than Brandon does . At least Brandon does a good job of writing them!
After that was a Q&A where Brandon took many questions from the audience. I was running around for a lot of it, and so I didn’t get to hear much of them. Hopefully Matt’s write-up will include some or all of these at Theoryland.com.
Just before midnight, there was some panic from the bookstore because they thought they might actually have over sold too many books (more than they had). Luckily it all worked out, but I think there were only a very few left by the end of the night (like 10-12 copies maybe). There were a LOT of people from all over the place, and many people bought more than 1 copy.
In the chaos of the last half hour, we attempted to herd the sheep in a somewhat orderly fashion back into the line so that they could receive their books. With everyone lined up, they did a countdown to the release (I think they did it 5 minutes early) and soon Brandon was personalizing books.
That took about 3.5 hours. Brandon was kind to everyone, and took the time to answer questions and to talk to each person in the line. It was worth the wait for everyone, I think. A lot of people left after they received their signed copies, expecting to have their books personalized another time, when they didn’t have to wait in line for 3 hours.
Eventually, the line got smaller and smaller, and soon it was just us tired, worn-out Tower Guards remaining. Though Brandon had just spent the last 7 or so hours talking to fans, signing, and answering questions, he was gracious to us as TGs and took the time to personalize each of our books, get pictures, and answer even more questions. What a stud!
At or around 3:30am we were packing up all my equipment, and leaving. Spencer and I were the last two Tower Guards remaining. The bookstore employees had mostly disappeared as well. Just as we were getting ready to leave we noticed that there was a very small group of fans (from the 17thshard.com—Brandon’s official fan site) that were waiting patiently outside in the cold for Brandon to play a game of Magic: The Gathering with them.
Even at 3:30am, Brandon was kind and alert, and he agreed to play “just one” game with them. I’ve never played, but I could tell that it was 5 on 1. Brandon creamed them all. Muahahahahaha!! It was cool to see that. At about 4am, he said his good-byes, and walked away.
What an Event! I had a blast. I met a lot of really great people, met Brandon (though I had “met” him before, after that night, I felt like I knew him), and, most importantly, I got my book!! Brandon wrote this in my book, “To Jemron, you stood at your post bravely Tower Guard.”
Thanks everybody who participated.
Now… where’s my book?