I wanted to take a break from our normal memes to talk about a new reader who’s taking the Wheel of Time fandom by storm. Christopher Green started reading The Wheel of Time in January. His father is a huge fan, and Christopher started reading after his father suggested it to him. Around the middle of his read of The Eye of the World, Christopher began to post real time updates about his progress and his reactions on the Facebook public group Screw You All, I Love Wheel of Time. The journey has been amazing so far, and many fans are reliving the joys of a first read through Randland. Some of Christopher’s first posts into The Great Hunt: (Alright..... how in the WORLD..... am I gonna sit down all relaxed to read this book before my wife made super sweet awesome dinner of chili.... to find in the first two chapters before dinner...... The dark one is alive and apparently regaining his physical form with like 100 darkfriends AND this [amyrlin] person the queen of the aes sedai shows up the end of chapter there isn't any messing around I hope that [amyrlin] lady helps him) (This is me trying [to] help rand find a way to avoid the [amyrlin] seat right now lol all the gates are barred and he can’t leave) (Ladies and gentleman... WE HAVE A BLADEMASTER!!! GO RAND GO) (MAN EGWENE IS GOING NUTS KILLING SEANCHAN PEOPLE WITH LIGHTNING!!!!) (LORD INGTAR NOOOOOOOOO WHYYY!!!!!!) Christopher started using the hashtag #firstwalkthroughrandland on all his posts once his followers begged him to. And some have even expressed their anxiety that Christopher hadn’t posted yet that day. And naturally, everyone is waiting with anticipation for Christopher to reach certain scenes. (I can't wait till Christopher gets to the end of Fires of Heaven, and asks the biggest burning question of the series that we all fought and theorized over for years. Who ___ed ___an?) And this past weekend, he finally hit the turning point for Mat. Christopher didn’t care for Mat at first: (I woke up and was thinking.... that I have no idea how mat is important to the story other than comic relief and mischief? He literally got stabbed by a knife and that's it so [far]. I mean rand can channel and is the dragon, Perrin talks to wolf's and the women are aes sedai.) But the scene where Mat challenges Galad and Gawyn to a spar changed his mind. (WHAT THE HELL HE WON AND WHOOPED EM.... I LIKE NEW MAT) Almost everyone has been kind and considerate to Christopher, and they are going out of their way to avoid spoiling major parts later in the books. Christopher is happy that everyone is being nice and getting such joy out of his shared experience. You can read with Christopher on his journey at the Screw You All, I Love Wheel of Time Facebook group!
I've been meaning to highlight this craft for awhile. For last year's JordanCon, I was very excited to finish my sul'dam dress. It turned out beautiful, and I adore the silver lightning bolts. But a sul'dam without a damane isn't complete. So, with long-time Dragonmount member Hallia as a willing participant, I got to work on crafting a damane dress. I started with four yards of a gray poplin folded in half. This gave me 72 inches in height and 60 inches in length. That's a great amount of material and the price for poplin is so reasonable! With simplicity in mind, I wanted to do as little cutting and sewing as possible. I cut the arms and sides with a single cut, then cut the neckline. I added satin binding to the bottom hem and the sleeves. The neckline gave me some trouble. I started an elastic binding, but it bunched too weird, so I switched it for a ruffle. And here we are at JordanCon! Hallia was such a good damane! And this was such a simple project.
Welcome back to another Meme Monday. This week's victim is Lanfear, our favorite crazy ex-girlfriend. She first appears as Selene in The Great Hunt, and seems a sweet, sympathetic noblewoman on the run. However, things escalate quickly. And if that weren’t bad enough…. Odd to think that not much needs to be added to Lanfear’s actual dialogue. At least she serves as a good example of how not to act. The memes this week come from Kevin O'Bryan of DMEN Designs. If you have memes you want to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This past week, Dragonmount's second-in-command Jennifer Liang participated in an Ask Me Anything discussion for JordanCon! The questions asked range from favorite con memory: Jenn: When I got the Chodan Kal at opening Ceremonies last year. I was so shocked and touched that y’all did that for us. To "what's your favorite thing to do at JordanCon" (asked by Jimmy, her husband): Jenn: Bother you. She also talked about this year's JordanCon theme: Jenn: This year is “Shai’Con”. We decided to embrace our darker natures this year. So expect an evil twist on the usual things like opening ceremonies and the dance. And the growing trend of wearing tiaras: Jenn: At #JordanCon? In 2013 I was elected Pres of the Southern Fandom Confederation. Jimmy did not believe I’d win & promised to buy me a tiara if I did. I proved him wrong and now I have five. To learn more about Jenn and other JordanCon shenanigans, you can read the whole thread here.
Tor Books has announced it plans to release Warrior of the Altaii, a previously-unpublished fantasy novel by Robert Jordan. The book is currently scheduled for release on October 8, 2019. Publication History Warrior of the Altaii was written before Robert Jordan began The Eye of the World (which was published in 1990). After finishing the manuscript, he received an offer of publication from Donald Wolheim at DAW Books. Jordan responded to the publisher that he was happy to receive such an offer, but wondered if some changes to the contract could be made. The publisher replied by cancelling the offer, saying that unknown authors shouldn't make such demands. Here's Robert Jordan talking about it: Jordan sold the book again in 1979 to Jim Baen, who worked for Tom Doherty at the time at ACE books. The project never got off the ground, in part because Baen was focused on science-fiction at the time, and because Tom Doherty left to found Tor Books. The rights to Warrior of the Altaii ultimately reverted back to Jordan, who decided to rest the project. What's it About? The book's official plot description: Not much else is known about the plot yet, but Wheel of Time fans can likely expect a "proto-WoT" novel filled with thematic foreshadowing that resonates with Jordan's later books. Warrior of the Altaii is expected to be a more modest-sized novel, at least in comparison to Jordan's later books. Why publish it now? Robert Jordan is on record several times saying that he didn't expect to ever publish this novel. It's clear now that Jordan's comment about having the manuscript destroyed was made in jest. Fans should remember that he made similar comments about how he would have his hard drive erased if he ever died before finishing The Wheel of Time series, and that he could never imagine another author writing in his universe, which he destained at the time as "sharecropping." Harriet McDougal, Robert Jordan's wife and the editor of The Wheel of Time series, had this to say: Although Robert Jordan has been gone for well over a decade, his legacy, and his stories live on. With this new novel, which was both his first, and his last, he is once again showing us that time, indeed, has no beginnings or endings. Warrior of the Altaii is now available for pre-order. Amazon Barnes & Noble Macmillan info page
This year, JordanCon is trying something new. They put out a call to all JordanCon members, past and present, and asked for donated stories to compile into an anthology. Twenty were selected to be featured in 2019's edition, entitled You Want Stories? The list of authors is a great one, featuring Brandon Sanderson, our own Jason Denzel, as well as well-known authors such as Seanan McGuire, and Charles E Gannon. The others contributors are: Terry Beyer, Foster Bridget Cassidy, David B. Coe, Blue Cole, Gerald L. Coleman, Milton J Davis, P. Andrew Floyd, John G. Hartness, Alexandra Hill, Robert A. Hilliard, Jr, Faith Hunter, David Alan Jones, Tim Lewis, Jana Oliver, Morgan Smith, and Sarah J. Sover. I'm very happy to say that my offering was accepted! (Written under my pen name Foster Bridget Cassidy.) The beautiful cover art is by Dan dos Santos, this year's JordanCon Artist Guest of Honor. The anthology is available for pre-order now through April 8th, 2019. The Con will have a limited supply to sell to those who have not pre-ordered, but there's no guarantee you will receive a copy. The anthology can ONLY be picked up at JordanCon 11 (April 26th-28th, 2019). The book WILL NOT be shipped anywhere. That said, it is possible to have a friend pick up a copy for you. Check out the details on JordanCon's website. The net proceeds of the anthology will go to the Mayo Clinic. Pre-order now to support some indie (and not-so-indie) authors and the Mayo Clinic!
Welcome back to another "Meme Monday." This week, our focus shifts to concepts and ideas within Randland. There are some pretty humorous things that happen in-world. Like, how Bayle Domon is always around to rescue whichever of the main characters is in need. Another globally acceptable idea in Randland is that innkeepers should be plump. And of course, there are the rather unorthodox ways of the Altarans. I wish I could live in Randland. I'm sure many of you wish you could too! The memes this week come from Kevin O'Bryan of DMEN Designs. If you have memes you want to share, email me at email@example.com.
The Way of Shadows is the first installment of the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks. Weeks will be the Author Guest of Honor at this year’s JordanCon, taking place April 26-28, 2019. The story follows Azoth, an orphan living on the streets of Cenaria. Azoth's character development is fascinating since he starts as a relatively young child living on the streets in the Warrens, the seedy underside of Cenaria. We watch him go from child to young adult under the tutelage of Durzo Blint. Durzo is not the best of influences, but he is all Azoth has. Azoth's character arc almost seems to be the reverse of Blint's which makes the interaction between the characters interesting. As far as Weeks writing style, he does not spend an extensive amount of time on descriptions of settings or clothing, but it does not take away from the story. Character interaction gives the reader the complete experience of setting and mood. Week's portrayal of female characters fell a little short for me. He seems to stick to many of the tropes women are regulated to in fantasy. That being said, there is one female character that shows promise at the end of the story. Hopefully, this continues into the second installment. My Pros: There are plot twists. I always enjoy it when an author can catch me off guard. Once the action starts, it is quick paced and holds the reader's interest. Azoth is a well-developed character, and it is interesting to see how his character grows and changes as he learns the ways of the world. My Cons: Contains possible triggers for those that have experienced sexual abuse. The beginning of the book that takes place in the Warrens is rather dark, more so, because the characters involved are children. All in all, The Way of Shadows is a good read, provided you are not bothered by the darkness of the beginning chapters. You can find out more about Brent Weeks and his other books at his website.
Here are some more Wheel of Time memes. I can't get enough of them! This week features our third favorite ta'veren: Perrin. When the series starts, I loved Perrin more than Rand and Mat. He's the only one who kept his morals after leaving the Two Rivers. As he grows, he's strong, dependable, unyielding. Well, there is that one factor that keeps many readers from adoring him... Unlike most fans, I'm not put off by Faile's captivity by the Shaido. And I don't dislike Perrin's chapters when he's chasing her. For me, it's another facet of his personality that I love. He is dedicated to her and he'll do anything to get her back. If it had been switched, and Tuon or one of Rand's love interests had been taken, I believe Mat and Rand would have acted the same way. Of course, Mat has a bigger, badder army so he has more resources, and Rand has the Asha'man at his disposal, so both could probably achieve success quicker. But that's not Perrin's fault. Perrin's wolfdreams are a huge part of his draw as a character. His abilities in tel'aran'rhiod are almost more impressive than any of the Wise Ones. And let's not forget Mah'alleinir. This is an iconic scene within the whole series. It's powerful and so full of potential. It sets the stage for things to come after the Last Battle. Say what you will, Perrin is still one of my favorite characters! The memes this week come from Kevin O'Bryan of DMEN Designs. If you have memes you want to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grim Oaks Press has announced a give-away contest where you can win one of 25 advance copies of their upcoming anthology, Unfettered III. Details for entering can be found on Goodreads. Add the book to your shelf to enter the giveaway. Unfortunately, the contest is only open to US and Canada residents. Unfettered III is an anthology of fantasy short stories from some of today's most well-known authors. It includes a deleted 20,000 word sequence (~55 pages in paperback) from A Memory of Light written Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan featuring Perrin in the Ways. The sequence is a lengthy "deleted scene" that isn't considered canon to the story, but still offers us a fascinating and exciting adventure. You can read Brandon's comments about the sequence on his website. The anthology also contains a short story from Dragonmount founder Jason Denzel entitled, "The Stone Golem of Qual'Jom." WoT fans will appreciate Jason's epic narrative about a lonely golem living in a cave who waits across eons for his master to return home. Unfettered III will be available from Amazon and other retailers in March 2019. A limited limited edition will be available from Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle from March 14-17th.
As a millennial, I love memes. Give me Wheel of Time memes and I'm as happy as can be. With a plethora of social media sights to cruise, you can find just about anything in meme form. So starts our new humor blog "Meme Monday." This one particularly speaks to me because my mom just started reading Wheel of Time. She finished The Eye of the World a few days ago and started The Great Hunt the same day. When we talk, she asks me questions about characters or places and I feel like this. It's too deep to answer a lot of what she wants to know without spending hours on the phone. I feel this thinking about the TV show. Which plots to cut, which characters to combine? Too overwhelming for me to contemplate. Yes! Meeting Wheel of Time fans in the wild is an amazing experience! I get to quite frequently because my licence plate says "Sedai." Also, I've been stopped by several people while wearing my Wheel of Time hoodie from Ta'veren Tees. It's like a beacon for nerds. The memes this week come from Kevin O'Bryan of DMEN Designs. If you have memes you want to share, email me at email@example.com
You may know him as the guy with that excellent Rand al’Thor cosplay, but his name is Paul Bielaczyc and he is a JordanCon staple. I got a chance to talk to Paul about JordanCon, being toastmaster, and his love of The Wheel of Time. Ebony: First things, first: When did you start reading Wheel of Time? Paul: I first picked it up my senior year of high school, and stopped reading at what I like to refer to as "The Hump." I feel like most people read a few chapters of a new book to see if they are hooked, and for Wheel of Time, that magical point is the end of Chapter 4. I know I got to that point, put the book down, and then life happened. And I know that speaking to many readers who tried reading the series, they got to the same point (I now tell people to go back and cross "The Hump"). I picked it up again the summer after my freshman year of college after seeing a display at the student bookstore for the release of The Path of Daggers. Another student pointed out how excited he was to read the next book in the series, and he encouraged me to pick it back up. So summer of 1999 is when I devoured the first 7 books of The Wheel of Time. By the way, quitting at Chapter 4 stinks. Chapter 5 is nuts!! And the story doesn't really let up at all after that. (Editor note: I actually did the same thing) Ebony: What made you decide to cosplay as our favorite moody Ta'veren? Paul: In Grad school I thought it would be cool to dress up as Rand al'Thor for Halloween. Not a single person knew who I was. Many years later, I was apprenticing with an artist out in Kirby, WY, population 57. A young lady who modeled for the artist asked to see my art, which lead to showing off pictures of my costumes. When I clicked on the folder for that Halloween, the young lady was shocked. She looked up at me and said, "I know you! You're Rand al'Thor." I didn't follow. She then pulled up Google Images, and when she searched for "Rand al'Thor," there I was, 6 out of the first 10 images on Google Search. She told me that The Wheel of Time was her favorite book series, and when she did a book report earlier that year, she used photos of me in her report. A few years after that, I was working at my Artist table at Dragon*Con, when a young man walked by dressed as an Aiel. When I complimented his awesome WoT cosplay, he turned to me, bowed deeply, and said, "Thank you, Car'a'carn." There I am, not in costume, but simply dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. I looked at him confused. To which he replied, "Your cosplay of Rand al'Thor is all over the internet. When I read the books, I picture you whenever Rand is brought up. You *are* The Dragon Reborn." And that was the moment. I had to be the Lord Dragon. And funny enough, many more years after that, when signing my copy of Memory of Light, a certain author by the name of Brandon Sanderson asked me, "I make this out to Rand, right?" E: Do you do any other character cosplay? P: Within The Wheel of Time, the only other cosplay that I have done is a Trolloc. Well, I also did a Grayman in year 3, and Moridin/"Just Rand" a few years ago, but nothing as impressive as the Trolloc. Outside of that, the list is pretty insane. Ash Williams from Army of Darkness, Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 4, Waldo, Link from all the Zeldas, a realistic Ice King from Adventure Time, CLU from Tron Legacy, Ander Elessedil from MTV's The Chronicles of Shannara, and probably a bunch of throw-away costumes that I wore once. E: When did you first attend JordanCon? P: My first JordanCon was year 2. (2009) E: Aside from being the resident Lord Dragon, what other roles do you play at JordanCon? P: My first year I was a simple sheepherder... I mean vendor. I then played some music on Saturday night, and I become the resident DJ for the Saturday Dance Party. I am also a Co-Director for the Art Show with April Moore, and the Dealer's Hall Director as well. Phew. E: Did you get to have any say in the theme for JordanCon 2019 or did Jennifer Liang (JordanCon Director) and Aubree Pham (JordanCon 2018’s Toastmaster) just tell you what to do? P: I did not. I was just as excited as everyone else when they announced it during Closing Ceremonies. I'm sure that once the theme was settled on Shai'Con for 2019, those in charge figured that since I have been embracing The Dark Lord Dragon for the past 2 years, that it would be a good fit. And all I can say is, "Indeed." E: What was your reaction to being asked to be Toastmaster for JordanCon 2019? P: JordanCon has become family to me, and I wouldn't be a licensed Wheel of Time artist without JordanCon or Ta'veren Tees. So when they ask for my help, I'm usually ready to assist. And I'm pretty extroverted (if you didn't know). The best moment though was while I already agreed to be Toastmaster when the announcement was made at Closing Ceremonies in 2018, I didn't know the theme. When they announced that, well, my darker side was very, very pleased. Oh crap, I guess that's another character cosplay I forgot to mention. But everyone will see that costume in 2019. E: What can we expect from you as toastmaster? P: Having someone bleep me constantly with the word "hot dog?" Thankfully Patrick Minze is really good at that. I'm kidding. (Editor’s note: He is not kidding) I am hoping to have a few fun surprises for Opening Ceremonies, and otherwise be entertaining while informative. There is a happy balance of making sure that actual information is conveyed to the attendees (how Art Show or Charity bidding works, Weapons policy, etc.) while still making it fun and memorable. I am asking people to come up with fun, twisted versions of their favorite characters, similar to my Dark Lord Dragon, to embrace the theme. Portal Stones exist in the series, and definitely are the windows to alternate universes. I really want to see how crazy and fun people can make their favorite characters this year. This year's theme, crossed with the idea of the Portal Stones, really allows for level of creativity and originality that I don't think we've seen in the first 10 years. So obviously, as The Lord of Chaos and The Shai'aman, one can expect a little breaking of the Wheel and Pattern. That goes without saying really. And next year is also the culmination of the Black Ajah mystery that has been going on now for 3 years. As a participant myself, I have no idea what is going on, other than to say that I'm sorry if actively encouraging people to be Darkest Timeline versions of themselves throws off the balance of the game. But there definitely will be specialized badge ribbons for anyone that joins Team Shadow for 2019 (we can celebrate the Light in 2020). E: What is your favorite JordanCon memory? P: Man, that is a hard question to answer. I think one of my favorite moments was the year when TWoTcast were the Toastmasters. Chip Moore and I came up with an idea for Opening Ceremonies a few weeks before the convention, and so spent multiple nights in my driveway working in the dark. But we thought recreating the climax to Lord of Chaos would be too much fun to pass up. We built a man-sized chest out of insulation foam, and then carefully cut it apart, and pieced it together using just toothpicks. Chip (and a team of Red Ajah) dragged the over-sized chest out from backstage. And then, on cue, I burst out of the chest in full Rand Al'Thor get-up. Of course, the speech I gave during the Costume Contest when I was dressed as "Just Rand" was really poignant and much more serious than most people expected from me. But then on the flip-side, the entire Rand on the Run Facebook Adventure. So many memories. E: What do you do for actual money? What is your "day job"? P: So my day job is pretty unusual, or at least, was more unusual back when we started in 2002. Nowadays kids make a living posting the pictures to the Instagrams, so I guess our business isn't all that strange with how popular Cosplay has become. So my brother, sister, and I co-own Aradani Studios, which is known all over the world primarily for making prosthetic elf ears which are hand-painted to match your skintone. We do a variety of other prosthetics, horns, noses, and masks, but elf ears are what we are known for. My brother and I are both fantasy artists as well, my brother working in oils, acrylics, and digital painting, and I work primarily in charcoal, graphite, and pastel. We have both won awards across the country over our 16+ years in this career, and in 2006 I won the prestigious Chesley Award for my piece, Nightmare. And of course I am one of the 6 current licensed Wheel of Time artists. Thankfully, everywhere we sell our ears, we sell our artwork. But when someone asks how I pay my mortgage every month, it is definitely because of those ears. Thanks to Paul for joining me. I am sure you can tell JordanCon will never be the same once Dark Lord Rand al’Thor is done with it. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. JordanCon tickets are currently $50 for the full three days. The price goes up to $55 January 1, 2019. Check out JordanCon’s website for more information.