The day begins much like the previous twenty-four hours have passed by, with an oppressive blanket of steel grey clouds and constant rain making the already brisk November air seem that much colder. But today is different; today is the book signing in Hanover for the release of Towers of Midnight, and as if by the blessing of the Light, when I set out at midday the sun has finally broken through the overcast skies to shine brightly on my journey south and west towards my fellow Tower Guard. I carefully dodge Darkfriends in black cars, Aes Sedai of every Ajah driving green SUVs, blue four-doors, or yellow minivans, and Asha’man in their sleek sports cars. As a Tower Guard it is my duty to brave such lonesome odds, so I continue on unabated, happy to drive the two hours it will take to reach my destination.
When I arrive there is already a crowd of people waiting to make petitions to the Amyrlin and her Keeper of the Chronicles, but there is a while yet before they will arrive and so I do my best to see that everyone is kept happy along with the other Tower Guard. During my talks with some, I find that they have come from cities as far away as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and in the case of one gentleman, London, England. They are all excited to be here, however, and are as pleased as I was to make the journey if it meant getting the opportunity to have an audience with Harriet and Brandon. After a short delay -- planes will simply never be as reliable as Traveling -- the two arrived to much applause and got right down to business.
The evening started with a reading by Harriet from the prologue of Towers of Midnight. We were given the choice of hearing a section from Lan’s point of view or Padan Fain’s, though it wasn’t much of a competition when it came time to raise our hands and vote. For the next quarter hour we listened as Harriet read about Fain’s trek north into the Blight, sometimes laughing and sometimes nodding our heads thoughtfully as she read the passage with a slight southern drawl. Once Harriet was finished, Brandon stepped up to the podium and proceeded to answer questions posed by those in the audience for another twenty minutes, covering topics ranging from the Mistborn series to future works within the Wheel of Time universe after A Memory of Light is complete.
The hour is already growing late, however, and we must move quickly if we are to get all the books signed before Tarmon Gai’don arrives. My duty is to prepare the thick tomes by making sure dust jackets and post-it notes are in their proper place, while others of the Tower Guard perform their assigned tasks. Melody is taking professional photos to document the event; Cassy, ever ebullient, stays nearby to assist Harriet and take pictures for people on their personal cameras; David, Maureen, and Gavin stroll through the crowd waiting in line and play trivia games to win a bookmark or conduct interviews about who their favorite characters and moments are from the Wheel of Time. Eric, our leader, is stalwart by Harriet and Brandon’s table, ready to marshal the other Tower Guard into action when needed.
All things considered, in short order the last person made their way through the line, and by eleven o’clock there were only a handful of people left roaming about the Tower. I was able to absorb a lot in that brief window of time, due in most part to Brandon and Harriet’s unflagging dedication to their fans. Over and over Brandon made sure to ask each person if they had any questions, not just about the Wheel of Time but about any of the projects he is involved in, and more than a few people were brave enough to ask the occasional question of Harriet or tell her how Robert Jordan’s work has changed their life. I felt almost like a Brown, quietly sitting back to listen and make mental notes to jot down once I returned home. If I can take away anything from that experience to pass on and share with the rest of you, it would only be to say that we truly are blessed to have Robert’s life’s work left in such capable, enthusiastic hands.
All too soon I’m on my way home, after a few precious moments getting to talk one on one with Harriet and Brandon about the books they’ve been a part of writing. I asked a single question each of the duo, receiving a RAFO response from Brandon when I asked if we ever get to see Shara, and finally solving the mystery of how, exactly, to pronounce Cairhien from Harriet. A group wolf howl and several goodbyes later, I find myself driving back down Route 50, and this late at night I am the only car on the road. I have left the other Tower Guard to go our separate directions, forging a lone path of light through the darkness as I travel east and north to await the Last Battle. Until then, my friends, may you always find water and shade.
- Renee, Tower Guard 11/05/2010
Damn. That was awesome.
It seemed that our event was going to be plagued with transportation issues. From traffic for the Tower Guard to the tarmac for Harriet and Brandon, the world was just running late. (Oh, who are we kidding? It's the DC-Baltimore metro area on a Friday. That is the Lord of Chaos' time to shine!) But Brandon and Harriet stuck it out, and Books-a-Million allowed people to stay waaaay past their closing time. And just like many years ago with Robert Jordan, Brandon and Harriet inquired and responded to every fan so everyone felt like they had a personal moment. Everyone that wanted to wait had the opportunity to get signatures and to have a small amount of time with Brandon and Harriet. It seems like the word for the signing was "gracious." Thanks, Books-a-Million! Thanks, Harriet and Brandon!
But gracious did not just apply to the people responsible for the event, it also describes the people that got to enjoy the event: the fans. At 11:00, while putting personalizations on post-its, people were still smiling and laughing, sharing their WoT experiences and theories, having a good time despite some having waited for as long as four hours. I got to meet many cool fans, from Bobby and Tammy to Karina, Christoph and Aviendha to Aryn, the birthday girl -- everyone had a WoT story. I will remember Dawn, although I never met her, and her stoic (but unnamed) friend. Dawn, I hope that somewhere you know that there is a Towers of Midnight book dedicated to your memory by Brandon. And some of the theories were fantastic; Paul and Sandy were discussing Rhuidean and the possibility that your sanity passing through the ter'angreal depended on your lineage. Waaaaaay cool, Sandy! It was great that people were excited about the crossword puzzle (even if I did make a few mistakes -- thanks for not lynching me, guys!), and it was more wonderful seeing people reading in line, because before I had WoT friends to go to signings with, that's what I was doing. It's been many years, but this was the first time I got to be on the other side.
Damn. That was awesome.
- Maureen, Tower Guard 11/05/2010
The book signing was so much fun! My role was basically helping out with the fans, talking to everyone, and handing out numbers and stickers (red for -No Spoilers!- and green for -Spoiler Alert!-) so people would know who had finished Towers of Midnight and who you had to watch what you say around. It was amazing seeing everyone there, hanging out and talking about Wheel of Time. Thanks to Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz series, there were some kids who came out to see him. Brandon and Harriet were running late due to plane issues, but they were all smiles when they arrived. Both of them made sure to give each and every fan their attention, thanking them for waiting, asking if anyone had questions and signing many, many books. And in the end, even after spending the day on a plane and signing books until 11:00pm, they made sure to spend a little bit of time with the Tower Guard. Harriet told me a story about Robert Jordan and even howled with "Perrin" -- a fan who stayed around until the very end. All in all, this experience was so much fun, and being a bigger part of this event meant so much to me. I've made some great friends, saw some people from last year, and was able to talk to people who are as big a fan of Robert Jordan's work as I am.
- Cassy, Tower Guard 11/05/2010
-- Most difficult trivia question: What gifts does Mat give Tuon while courting her during Crossroads of Twilight and Knife of Dreams? Answer: Jewelry, Silk Rosebuds, and a Razor (rare breed of horse).
-- Most popular character: Matrim Cauthon by a landslide; 17 votes. Egwene took second place; 4 votes. Verin took third place; 3 votes. There were 19 characters total mentioned by members of the audience.
-- Favorite Moment from WoT: A tie between when Rand cleanses the Taint and when he travels to Rhuidean; 4 votes each. Second place was a three way tie between Rand’s battle with himself/Lews Therin on top Dragonmount, when Aviendha and Elayne become first sisters, and the battle at Dumai’s Wells; 3 votes each. Third place was another three way tie between when Rand and Aviendha took shelter in the igloo in Seanchan, when Egwene solidifies her authority with the rebel Aes Sedai, and the romance between Mat and Tuon; 2 votes each.
-- Best answer why ________ is your favorite character: “Thom, [because any] old man who can do back flips has my heart.” - Karina
-- Best answer how you found the Wheel of Time: “A friend named Michelle [introduced me to the series] but died before she graduated. [i am on a] mission to get people to read [the books] in her honor.” - Christoph
-- There were two children present who were named after the books: Perrin and Aviendha.