Thu
May 3 2012 9:58am

Michael Whelan’s Cover for A Memory of Light Revealed

Michael Whelan’s cover for A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

We are very excited to reveal the cover to A Memory of Light, the final volume of Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. The artwork for this final edition is by, arguably, one of today’s most beloved illustrators, Michael Whelan.

The task of jumping into a 14 volume series on its last installment must have been a daunting one but Michael rose to the occasion. Harriet McDougal, Jordan’s editor and widow remarked, "that is the Rand I have waited to see for twenty years.” when she saw the image. And while the artwork clearly has all the earmarks of a Whelan painting, it’s theme and coloration make it a fitting heir to Darrell K. Sweet’s series of Wheel of Time covers.

In keeping with the series’ covers, the scene gathers elements from a key scene in the book. Here, Rand stands with Callandor on the rocks of Shayol Ghul, heading down into its depths to confront the Dark One even as the sun itself vanishes from the world. Two Aes Sedai follow the Dragon Reborn into the mouth of darkness, two women who have been with Rand since the very beginning.

 

Below you will see part of Michael’s process and his thoughts about the project:

As you know, there was a specific scene already chosen as the source idea for the cover image, so I was spared going through my usual process of reading the book, then trying to distill it into one image. I often lose a lot of time trying to pick which scene or cover idea to go with from the narrative. On the other hand, there was a lot of research required to familiarize myself with the particular attributes of the three characters I knew were going to be in the image. Not having read the Wheel of Time series yet, I had a lot of catching up to do! I knew a cave was going to be in the image, so the question then became “should we see the characters from the outside going in or from the inside as they are entering?” While I mulled the possibilities over in my mind I began to sketch out some poses and costuming ideas, trying to feel my way into the image.

Michael Whelan’s sketches for the cover of A Memory of Light

Michael Whelan’s sketches for the cover of A Memory of Light

Michael Whelan’s sketches for the cover of A Memory of Light

Then I did several preliminary layouts in monochrome acrylics or digital media, sometimes going back and forth between the two.

Michael Whelan’s sketches for the cover of A Memory of Light

Michael Whelan’s sketches for the cover of A Memory of Light

Michael Whelan’s sketches for the cover of A Memory of Light

After it was decided which concept to go with, I first played around with my acrylics experimenting with making stalactite shapes using paint and a squeegee. After that, I felt ready to start the background work. Usually I work from background to foreground, but this time I decided to work the middle area first, then do the figure of Rand and the background/sky area at the same time.

Here’s a few shots of the painting as it progressed. The background color of the panel was a light grey tone. The acetate in the center was left in place to mask out the sky area and keep it clean until I was ready to work on it.

Michael Whelan’s sketches for the cover of A Memory of Light

Michael Whelan’s sketches for the cover of A Memory of Light

Michael Whelan’s sketches for the cover of A Memory of Light

Michael Whelan’s sketches for the cover of A Memory of Light

I was fortunately well supplied with cave photos to use as reference because I had recently gone to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, where I took some pictures of some pretty strange stuff:

Michael Whelan’s sketches for the cover of A Memory of Light

But I wasn’t happy with my visualizations of the figures, especially Rand. I tried using myself as a model, without much success.

I was also feeling frustrated about the coat I wanted to have Rand wearing in the picture. Sure, I could have faked it if the figure was small in the picture, but with Rand being so “up close and personal” as it were, I thought I should take the time to get it right.

I mentioned all this in a conversation with Dan Dos Santos, and he graciously took the time to help me find a model and find the kind of coat I was looking for. He introduced me to famed illustrator Edward Vebell, which was a humbling experience, I can tell you. Ed’s had a stellar career and is a real pro’s pro — and there were stacks of his paintings all over the place, amazing stuff from the 1940’s onward.

But the thing is, Ed also happens to own an amazing costume collection which he rents out to other artists, photographers, theatre productions, etc. Dan and I almost got lost in his attic looking through the hundreds of coats and military uniforms. We found a couple of likely candidates, and the next day the model came to my studio and Dan shared his photo and lighting setup with me so I could try out his equipment setup.

It was great; almost too good, actually. I felt a little like a guy wearing several watches and never knowing what the real time is. There were so many good reference photos to work with it was hard to cull out one or two to work from and leave the rest. The main thing I look for in posing a model is to check the reality against my visualization of a pose, and correct any errors. Once I had the information I was looking for, things proceeded at a steady pace until the painting was complete.

 

The full cover of A Memory of Light:

A Memory of Light cover by Michael Whelan

Now I’m looking forward to getting to read the books!

 

You can download desktop/mobile device wallpaper of the cover here.


Michael Whelan is a Hugo, Society of Illustrators, and Chesley award-winning artist. His work can be seen in galleries, book stores, and within many art and illustration annuals.

Irene Gallo is the Art Director of Tor Books and the Creative Director of Tor.com.

290 comments
Giacomo357
1. Giacomo357
Can't Wait. Hope Armageddon (12/20/2012) doesn't hit before we can finally get to see the end of this series.
andrew smith
2. sillyslovene
Let the speculation begin: Who are the women based on their appearance?
Looks like Moraine and Nyn to me...
Rajesh Vaidya
3. Buddhacat
Woot! Rand with Callandor and Moiraine and Nynaeve and eclipsing sun .... A jangle of prophecies crashing together. And Rand's head is PROPORTIONATE! Awesome!
Giacomo357
4. chosen
Now thats what I am talking about! Excellent cover by Whelan, its obviously its own work but I think it will fit in as nicely with the DKS covers and is not a huge departure from the style of the other covers.

... and Moi and Nyn will be buffering calandor for Rand it seems.
Giacomo357
5. Akshay Bakshi
It's here. It's awesome. It's what we deserved. It's perfect.

Michael Whelan, you are amazing.
Giacomo357
6. DjPon3
I got goosebumps when I saw it.

Amazing work, I cannot wait to get my hands on this book!
Giacomo357
7. Walpurgis117
Looks great! It really does the series justice.
Will you be releasing a higher resolution of the full cover because I want to use it as my wallpaper :-)
David Rodriguez
9. strakul
Rand seems to have a lot of weapons for the number of hands he has ;)
Still, this looks awesome! I look forward to the epic conclusion!
Marcus W
10. toryx
Wow, Callandor, huh? That's interesting. And the two women in the background! Awesome, but I'm so sad that we don't get that beautiful cover from the original artist.
Giacomo357
11. trench
That is the cosest representation of my image of Rand I have seen yet. I knew Whelan would not let me down.

@7 Indeed, I must have this as my wallpaper, heck i'll take it as actual wall paper to.
Giacomo357
12. Sage1024
This is the most beautiful cover art I have ever seen... I can't stop geeking out! THANK YOU MICHAEL WHELAN!
Giacomo357
13. Brandon M.
The heck? The cover for the final book in WoT has been revealed and ONLY 4 comments?
Giacomo357
14. Ricardo A J Penteado
Is there any chance we could get a bigger picture of this cover?
Pretty please?
Giacomo357
15. Qurtyslyn
Awesome cover, can't wait to have it gracing my bookshelf.

However, my bet is for Moiraine and Alivia, the second Aes Sedai has lighter colored hair, which means if it is correct, it can't be Nyn
Karen Jacobs
16. KJacobs
Beautiful! What a nice treat to brighten up this dreary day!
Giacomo357
17. Stephen L
It's no field of roses in front of the Dark Tower (my favorite of Whelan's works), but it's pretty dang good. I suspect some speculation may continue as to the women in the background. Moraine always wore a gem on her forehead, for example, and I don't see one on the women. Nor is anyone's hair in a long Two Rivers-style braid with the kishari (is that the word?) on her forehead.
Giacomo357
18. BDM
This cover makes my hands itch. I want to hold it in my hands desperately.

Is it January yet?
Giacomo357
19. Hammerlock
Now THIS is a cover I won't have to remove or hide. Nice work Whelan.
Marcus W
20. toryx
Qurtyslyn @ 15:

It can't be Alivia. According to the article, it's two Aes Sedai who have been with Rand since the beginning:
Two Aes Sedai follow the Dragon Reborn into the mouth of darkness, two women who have been with Rand since the very beginning.
Marcus W
21. toryx
My guess is Moiraine and Egwene. The light haired one definitely doesn't look like Nynaeve.
Giacomo357
22. trench
Its is definetly Nynaeve, the sketch shows her wearing the ki'san so it is her or some random Malkieri woman.
T C
23. Freelancer
Now that's just freaky. As soon as I saw the post image, I said, "Now THAT's the Rand I see in my mind". For Harriet to have said virtually the same thing...priceless.

As always, Michael Whelan's mastery is on display. A cursory view of the image declares its beauty, and a detailed examination only increases the awe and respect for his genius.

Very, very well done. Irene must be about to burst.


trench @22

I'd say the sketch suggests Moiraine's blue gem hanging on her forehead, not Nynaeve's ki'sain.
ana liese
24. analiese
Beautiful cover! Rand looks very close how I've always pictured him.

It's a bit disappointing though that Moiraine and Nynaeve are so small in the background, and that Nynaeve is missing her signature braid - she doesn't really look like Nynaeve without it. It's shorter now since her Aes Sedai test, but the last time she appeared in ToM, she still had it braided. It should be darker too; here she looks almost blonde.

Qurtyslyn @ 15

Apparently Harriet told someone at JordanCon that Nynaeve would be on Whelan's cover, so yeah, it's Nynaeve. Whelan just got her hair wrong.
Karen Jacobs
25. KJacobs
Analiese@24: Thanks for the reminder about Nynaeve's short hair - I had forgotten about that!
John Mann
26. jcmnyu
It is a gorgeous painting and an excellent cover. The colors of the dresses lead me to believe it is Moiraine and Nynaeve. I don't think you would be able to see the ki'sain on Nynaeve's forehead at this distance and there very well may something on the blue woman's forehead. It is hard to tell. Can't wait to read that scene and all the rest in January. Nine more months.
Giacomo357
27. ed kriner
is this book 14 or15 great job on the cover
Giacomo357
28. tpp
Great cover and very much WOT look and feel!! Well done!!

Could they be egwene and moiraine??
Sharon E.
29. Sulin
O.o Oh. WOW. It's Rand! :D Beautiful, beautiful cover, I've got goose bumps!

SulinoftheIcantwaitforjanuaryaiel
Donna Harvey
30. snaggletoothedwoman
Awesome, just absolutely awesome! I actually had tears in my eyes! This is the Rand I have always had in my minds eye.... can't wait...January HURRY!!
James Whitehead
31. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Gorgeous. Have to agree with Harriet & Freelancer, too me that's Rand.

I do love Whelan's work.

Kato
Giacomo357
32. SlappytheClown
Excellent cover, though Rand's pose kind of threw me off at first (is he shielding his eyes from something?).

With regards to the women, I'm guessing Moraine and Nynaeve. Remember, during her testing most of her braid was burned off. I seem to remember afterwards it was remarked that it only comes down to her shoulders now. So the picture would be accurate for the current timeline.
Giacomo357
33. EzioCauthon
That. Looks. Awesome. Gotta admit, not how I pictured Callandor to look, but still incredible!
Giacomo357
34. Skyla
In re: to Nyneave's hair, I think everyone is forgetting that it got singed off during testing and she no longer has one, so it is correct.
T C
35. Freelancer
strakul @9

Callandor isn't meant to be wielded as a weapon. While we can all agree that the Dragon Reborn usually has no need of mundane blades, he would remember Far Madding. It wouldn't be uncommon to carry both a dagger and a sword, and with only one hand they wouldn't be slung on opposite hips, so this is appropriate.
R B
36. MasterAlThor
Um wow. Really just wow.

(sits in awe)

Dragon
Sam Mickel
37. Samadai
What a beautiful awesome painting. A fantastic job. I see Rand the way I have always seen him. And to be walking down into the pit of Shayol Ghul, Totally amazing, especially with Moiraine and Nynaeve and the eclipse happening.
Mo -
39. Astus
Echoing Hammerlock @ 19. Wouldn't mind lugging this about. I'm actually somewhat regretful now seeing as we follow the UK covers here in Oz so it'll be plain and all that.
It's just awesome.
A.J. Bobo
40. Daedylus
Fantastic cover. That's not how I pictured Callandor, it was always a much more plain sword in my head, but I like this better. I'm not sure Rand is exactly how I pictured him, but this is the closest I've ever seen. The expression on his face, though, is absolutely perfect.

Also, "making stalactite shapes using paint and a squeegee" has to be one of the coolest things that I have ever read. That would explain the very natural, organic feel to the stalagtites. Awesome.
Daniel Dos Santos
41. DanDosSantos
This came out great!

I know it's never ideal to swap artists in the middle of a series, but I must say, this piece compliments Darrell's covers in a really nice way. The piece is definitely a Whelan, but something about the palette sits well with the other covers too. I think Darrell would be pleased.
ana liese
42. analiese
Nynaeve reached for her braid, but it now came only to her shoulders. She gritted her teeth at that. -ToM
So, yeah, it's shoulder-length now... It should still be braided though, and darker than what it is on Whelan's cover. But it's not the first time a cover artist has messed up her hair - it was red on the ACoS ebook cover. Maybe Whelan would be willing to correct it before the book's published?
Giacomo357
43. GordonH
unless Nyn got a haircut, that is not her. though, she is in a yellow dress
Giacomo357
44. AngelaB
I love it!!! awesome! It feels like the picture is in 3D and jumps out at you, which makes want to reach out and read the book now!! It is perfect!!
john mullen
45. johntheirishmongol
Very cool cover! I want a poster out of it. Will fit nicely in my library.
Kate Nepveu
46. katenepveu
I think this is a terrific cover in its own right and all the more remarkable for fitting harmoniously with the covers to date. Well done.
Giacomo357
47. Fenric25
Wow, great cover! Adds the best aspects of Darrel K. Sweet's works (the colors, the backgrounds) while actually giving us the Rand that's actually described in the book. This will fit in very nicely with the rest of the series and is instantly my third favorite cover (after Eye of the World, despite its inaccuracies, and A Crown of Swords, which is just very creepy and dark and is the closest that DKS got to doing Rand right in my mind, despite what Leight Butler refers to the Power-Walking pose). Can't wait for January to roll around, this book will be a great early birthday present :)
Deana Whitney
48. Braid_Tug
Thanks analiese for the reminder about Nynaeve's short hair. But, yeah, it should be dark...
Guess she doesn't need the jewelry to face the Dark One, either.

I still see Callandor as Sweet showed it in TDR. (didn't pay close attention to the book's description. So no I don’t remember if the glass sword looks like a katana or a broadsword. Doesn't impact my impressson of the cover.)

This cover is great. People shown as people! Backgrounds great, yet not overwhelming the people! Love how the sun looks like Lanfear’s moon icon.
January, please come soon.
Rich Bennett
49. Neuralnet
Wow! this cover really is amazing. I love that Rand is on the last book and what a great depiction of him. Wish I could see moraine and nynaeve better. also, I think this cover still retains the vibe of the previous covers too (I cant put my finger on anything specific, maybe the colors). Very well done... my mouth is watering for this book to get released.
Skip Ives
50. Skip
Love the cover!

I thought it looked like Moiraine and Alivia too, before I read the description as “two AS who had been with him from the beginning”. Aviendha's too tall, a red head, and not AS. Elayne is pregnant, and while going to the bore is something she would do, I can't see Rand being okay with that. Nynaeve, Egwene, Suian, and Alanna all have dark hair. But as others have said, it would not be the first time some artistic license was taken with a cover.

Did anyone else see the eclipse and think of this bit from The Great Hunt:
"Twice dawns the day when his blood is shed.
Once for mourning, once for birth.
Red on black, the Dragon's blood stains the rock of Shayol Ghul.
In the Pit of Doom shall his blood free men from the Shadow."
Giacomo357
51. Kate Kenney
It's fascinating to see this process; these illustrations are Gorgeous!
Erik mayne
52. wolven74
That's just beautiful! True to the series, yet Rand, Moiraine and Nynaeve actually look true to their actual characters. It's an intriguing cover without giving away key plot points.

The color on this cover is just... wow. Its a perfect match for the color pallet of the whole series, but not muted as the others are. Not as....cartoonish.

I love how the emotional impact of the end of the series is portrayed completely on Rand's face. It's done perfectly without any spoilers. Gives me goosebumps.

No offense to the body of work of DKS, but this cover makes me wish Michael Whelan could go through and redo the series' artwork. This is what it should have been from the beginning.

Cannot wait til Jan. 8
Jane Smyth
53. Kaboom
If you zoom in on the picture, there is a mark on the forehead of the women with the yellow dress that could very well be a kisain.
Also it is well possible that during the story of that book, Nynaeve did decide to leave her hair loose.

Besides Rand has already asked her to accompany him to Shayo Gul.

So even with the wrong hair color, I'm willing to bet that is Nynaeve
Giacomo357
54. djpon3
Moiraine is in the blue dress for sure. Nynaeve must be the other. I suppose that could be considered a yellow dress.

I had originally wondered if it could indeed be Moiraine because she mentioned how weak in the power she was now after her rescue, but then I remembered that she totally rocks and would be the one directing the flows while Rand and Nynaeve supplied copious amounts of One Power.

I just cannot wait to read how all this plays out.

And again, excellent artwork. Perfect way to end the series covers. Just fantastic.
Alice Arneson
55. Wetlandernw
I love the cover, love the scene, and can't say anything that hasn't already been said about them. Beautiful! Thank you, Irene and Michael!

I also love the fact that in 50 comments, we haven't had a single complaint about spoilers! Thank you all! (I'm sure those will come soon enough...)

Nynaeve's hair.... is about the color I would expect it to be, given the lighting, the way it's blowing around, etc. It was never black, just dark brown. Might could be a little darker, but it looks fine. And have you ever seriously tried to braid shoulder-length hair? Good luck with that...
Giacomo357
56. jack bailey
Who's the male model?
Giacomo357
57. infinitexero
I never did like the illustrations of DKS, but this is excellent.
Irene Gallo
58. Irene
Thanks guys!

Michael was very concerned to get it right and did a lot of research to do so. As he states, he prefers to read the books -- since we didn't have the book at the time, well, it just added to the the "without a net" feeling. My thanks to him for taking on the challenge.

And personally, I just can't believe this chapter of my career is over. I've been working on these books since I graduated college. There's plenty of more work to be done but this really does feel like a chapter closing.
Matthew Hunter
59. matthew1215
Well, let's see.

Overall, I like the cover. A really good cover. It manages to have stylistic references to Sweet's covers, while being significantly better than those covers in its depiction of characters and detail. Rand is rendered perfectly, the coat is very well done.

I have only two minor gripes.

1) What is Rand DOING with Callandor? That's not a grip that's useful for anything. Not for fighting, not for holding for long periods to channel with. It looks like he's in the middle of some kind of sword form only he's holding the sword upside down in a weak grip that couldn't possibly stand up to any sort of shock (like, say, parrying a blow or striking one). It does, sort of, look cool. But it makes no sense. This is going to bug me every time I look at the cover.

2) Rand has a dagger and a second sword sheathed. OK, I can understand that. It's been said that Callandor isn't meant to be fought with physically (so why make it in the shape of a sword? I always figured the point of the sword-shape was a "just in case if you can't channel you can always stab someone" since the Dragon was an expert swordsman), thus he might need those. But when he isn't waving Callandor around ... where does he put it? I'd like to see a third scabbard on his belt or the tip of one sticking out from behind his back or something. Maybe there's an unmentioned fourth person there just out of the frame, sword-carrier to the Dragon Reborn or something.

Anyways. Really good cover, don't mind the nitpicks.
Giacomo357
60. JediPug1
I LOVE it!! It complements the previous work of Darrell K. Sweet nicely, while still being able to stand on its own. Nicely done!
Giacomo357
61. denari6
Oh my, I just got goosebumps.

I have no words to describe my feelings.

Tai'shar Manetheran!

D
Giacomo357
62. Taryntula
RIGHTEOUS!
Giacomo357
63. Saad Qazi
Why is he holding the sword so awkwardly?
Giacomo357
64. Aren
They would be Moiraine and Nynaeve, based on the fact they were both referred to accompanying Rand along with Callandor to Shayol Ghul.
Giacomo357
65. djpon3
Moiraine is in the blue dress for sure. Nynaeve must be the other. I suppose that could be considered a yellow dress.

I had originally wondered if it could indeed be Moiraine because she mentioned how weak in the power she was now after her rescue, but then I remembered that she totally rocks and would be the one directing the flows while Rand and Nynaeve supplied copious amounts of One Power.

I just cannot wait to read how all this plays out.

And again, excellent artwork. Perfect way to end the series covers. Just fantastic.
Giacomo357
66. Cori
The woman in yellow is definitely Nynaeve (remeber, she lost her braid during the testing to become and Aei Sedai). The question is if the other woman is Moriane or Egwene--blue makes me think Moriane, height makes me think Egwene.
Giacomo357
67. Hacksand
Goosebumps. That's all I can say. Simply amazing job.
Damon Garner
68. IrishOmalley
Awesome. Thematically having Moraine and Nynaeve accompany Rand to SG makes perfect sense. Remember all those times Nynaeve wished ill towards Moraine. Now they've come full circle and will fight together to fight the DO and protect a wool headed sheppard from the Two Rivers...
Giacomo357
68. djpon3
RE: Sword positioning.



I took it as Rand has raised his arm as if to shield his eyes/face from something.



As others have mentioned perhaps we "caught" him while moving the sword to another position.



From the sketches (which were awesome to see, ty!) it looks like he
played around with other sword positions and perhaps this one just
looked the coolest or captured what he wanted it to.



/shrug



It doesn't bother me, but I did have that reaction of "what is he doing" after studying the picture a while.

As for the height, isn't Nyaneve pretty short too?
ana liese
69. analiese
55. Wetlandernw

And have you ever seriously tried to braid shoulder-length hair? Good luck with that...

She still wore a braid in ToM--her hair got singed off "a handspan below her shoulders," and later she put it in a shoulder-length braid. It's always been her signature look and something she refused to give up since it was part of who she was - a Two Rivers woman. So it's a bit disappointing that Whelan left out the main thing that would identify her as Nynaeve to the readers. I don't blame Whelan since he apparently hasn't read WoT, but someone at Tor should have caught it.
Giacomo357
70. Lurking Canadian
That is AWESOME. Like wolven74 said, I wish I lived in the timeline in which Whelan did all the covers.

My only quibble is that I thought Rand was over fancy red coats with gold embroidery, now that he's a Jedi Master.
Giacomo357
71. BassSinger
Holy C**p! Very good. Though poor Rand is looking so old now.
Bill Reamy
72. BillinHI
Absolutely GORGEOUS!!! Finally a cover where the people look like people. Have to agree the 2 AS are Moiraine and Nynaeve and Rand does look like he could be shielding his eyes from something. Come on, January!!!!!
Skip Ives
73. Skip
I have no problems with his sword grip, because it isn't a sword. I kind of got the feeling that he was holding it reversed, like a walking stick, and lifted his arm to get more light or ward off the heat of the place. Plus it looks cool and makes a nice line under the title.

And I really don't have any issue with the hair if that is Nynaeve (as we suspect). I pictured her hair a shade or two darker, but I also realize that darker hair would wash her into the shadows behind her and like Wetlandernw points out, her hair being blown and back lit can make it look lighter.

@68. djpon3 - They are both the same height. M is 5'2"ish and N about 5'4".

http://www.encyclopaedia-wot.org/ is your friend.

So, tl:dnr - Awesome cover!
Giacomo357
74. alMordre
I took the odd sword position as forcing back the roof of the cave - remember how the ceiling easily cleared Shadar Haran's head, but the shorter Forsaken behind him was having to duck to avoid the stalactites? I think if the cave's going to NOT like someone, it'd be Rand, so he'd have to force it back with the Power...
Giacomo357
75. starseeker
Simply - thank you.
Giacomo357
76. mazza3
LOVE IT! seriously, can i get an f yes????

especially love that rand is hiding his missing hand, it seems as though he is hiding much more than that. love the implications.

if that is moraine and nynaeve, i am ok with the hair color issue, but why is the sky blue? the whole series = black and red = shayol ghul's sky. i am not fixated on this though, maybe the sky color changes before rand's arrival, who knows! am def super stoked right now, i cannot wait another minute for this book!
T C
77. Freelancer
As for Callandor, the books don't give a detailed description, such as single- or double-edged, straight or curved blade. At least, in the chapters where Egwene first sees it in T'a'R, and where Rand arrives and sees it live for the first time. Maybe the later scenes in TSR have something, will have to check later.

Rand definitely requested Nynaeve to join him, so one is her. Egwene has enough responsibilities that she would probably refuse, and Rand probably wouldn't ask, though I could wish it were otherwise. It is poetic symmetry that Moiraine, the first Aes Sedai we meet, and the one who dedicated her life to this very event, be the other. Her lack of strength in the Power is immaterial in this case. Callandor is a male sa'angreal, through it flows saidin. A women leading the circle must direct the flows, but that requires skill, not strength.
Alice Arneson
78. Wetlandernw
FWIW, it's definitely Moiraine and Nynaeve. If you can zoom in enough, you can see the kesiera and the ki'sain. From this computer, I can't tell if Nynaeve is wearing any of her jewelry; maybe someone with higher resolution can do that.

As for Nynaeve's braid, maybe by the time this scene arrives she just got tired of trying to make that 6-inch braid stay braided. Or maybe she had another reason for trimming it a bit shorter. Maybe Lan likes it short.

Or maybe Whelan just really hates painting braids. Or he couldn't get the right feel to the painting without the blowing hair. For my part, I don't really care, but having not yet read the book, I'm certainly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt regarding Nynaeve's hairstyle.
Gary Singer
79. AhoyMatey
Irene @58: There's still the cover for the encyclopedia though, right?

That is one awesome cover. Pretty much what everyone else said…
Giacomo357
80. Yishai
It's perfect.
Giacomo357
81. Susie
Why is Nynaeve wearing a green dress? Shouldn't it be yellow? It is possible that she cuts her hair before the end of A Memory of Light. Perhaps in mourning for Lan? Just a guess.
Giacomo357
82. DavidM
Annnd . . . now it's time for him to make new covers for all the preceding books.
Liz J
83. Ellisande
Love it! There are only so many dynamic sword poses, and most are overused to the point of ridiculousness. I think something a little different is more striking. Also, if you look at the other concepts, the bottom one Rand's holding the sword upside down more in a position of a priest using a crucifix to ward off vampires, so I think there must be some text basis for not holding it exactly as one would during a swordfight.

Well done, Team!
Alan Courchene
84. Majicou
Excellent cover.

In ToM, Rand asked Nynaeve to join the Callandor circle and said that the third might be Elayne or Aviendha, but he didn't know about Moiraine's potential return then. This makes perfect sense, dramatically--having only one of Rand's lovers/wives in the circle when two are channelers would feel unbalanced, and of course Moiraine has to be a big part of things in AMoL.
I also thought back to "Twice dawns the day" on seeing the eclipse. It's a long-standing fan theory, and it looks like it just got a huge boost, if not outright confirmation.
Kimani Rogers
85. KiManiak
Such a great start to the morning.

First off, let me thank Mr. Whelan, Team Jordan and Tor.com for sharing this with us. Very clever of TOR and Team Jordan to continue to whet our appetites and slowly build up the anticipation for AMoL.
(Not that I think the book needs it or anything; we’re already primed to get that bad boy the minute it comes out; but still…)

Second, can I just say “Wow!” That cover looks fantastic! I really like this rendition of Rand. And wielding Callandor! So happy…

Next: This cover is clearly stellar, and in a perfect world should be the only illustration included on AMoL. However, I would restate my request from a week or so ago to ask that AMoL somehow find a way to have Mr. Whelan’s artwork on the cover, yet find a place somewhere inside the book for a color rendition of Mr. Sweet’s sketch/draft. I think that would be a wonderful bit of artwork attached to the final chapter of this series. I don’t know if its feasible; I hope so.

As to the discussion re: the 2 women on the cover:

If I had to guess (ah, hell with it; I want to guess!), I would say that I think its Moiraine and Nynaeve.

Given the written clue, “Two Aes Sedai follow the Dragon Reborn into the mouth of darkness, two women who have been with Rand since the very beginning,” there really aren’t that many possibilities. You could argue for Moiriaine, Nynaeve, Egwene and possibly Elayne, if you really want to push it.

Based on the image and the drafts/sketches, you can:
-easily eliminate Elayne (unless she cuts and/or dyes her hair, and either gives birth or loses the babies).
-make an educated guess that Moiraine is the lady in Blue due to relative size; the fact that an early draft had her with what appears to be the gem on her forehead; the connection between Min’s viewing and the general fan interpretation that she would be one of the 2 accompanying Rand; and… the fact that I want it to be her.

Which leaves the other image to be either Egwene or Nynaeve. I believe its Nynaeve because:
-I could see Whelan dressing a Blue Ajah member in blue (Moiraine) and then dressing a Yellow Ajah member in yellow (Nynaeve);
-In ToM, Nynaeve’s hair was burned off to about shoulder length (if I remember correctly) in her test for the shawl, whereas Egwene’s hair has not been a victim to any of her trials and tribulations;
-Rand asked for her in ToM, whereas he was busy playing Egwene in ToM, and I don’t see him shifting that approach unless circumstances dictate;
-Rand would need people with him who would be willing to support and advise him, but ultimately be willing to trust and follow him; Nynaeve has demonstrated that she can do that; Egwene has not

Regardless, this is a fun bit to talk about for the foreseeable future (until we get the next little juicy teaser). Thanks again, Team Jordan, Mr. Whelan and Tor.com
Giacomo357
86. Susie
Courtesy of Terez, Brandon Sanderson's acknowledged WOT expert, (@Terez27)

"When she learned that Lan's favorite colors on a woman were blue, green
and white all other colors disappeared from her wardrobe."

So the dress color is correct.
Giacomo357
87. Maureen Ineedmorewords
Thank you, thank you, thank you. It's perfect.
Giacomo357
88. NotInventedHere
@73: I agree, no issues with the sword grip. He's just showing it to the Dark One; "This... is my BOOMSTICK!"

Sorry, someone's earlier comment about having both knife and real sword on the same hip because of his lack of a left hand suddenly put images of a certain other one-handed hero into my head... unfortunately no chainsaws available for Rand to stick on his off hand.

As for the cover - love it. It definitely has that Sweet-esque feel so it blends well with the others, but now with a hero who looks like an actual person! This is just making it harder to wait, you know...
Giacomo357
89. Indiana Jim
That looks like a yellow dress to me.

I'm not sure about Moiraine though. She hasn't exactly been with Rand since the beginning. But she WAS "with" him in a manner of speaking. I can't think of any other two he should go to Shayol Ghul with, though. Nyneave helped him clean the taint and God knows what Moiraine's been up to. I would have maybe said Egwene, though she's been separate from Rand, too, but both came with him from Two Rivers.
Giacomo357
90. Indiana Jim
re: sword grip - he has no other hand to hold Callandor and it doesn't come with a scabbard, and he's just shielding his eyes from the... dark? Maybe he mistook Mount Doom for Dragonmount....
Giacomo357
91. LisaLB
From someone who has worn her hair in a long braid for many years: if the wind is blowing, a lot of hair around the face can pull out and if the braid itself is not pulled very tight, wind can 'poof' hair up so that it appears shorter and loose. Just sayin'....

I'm thrilled with the Whelan artwork; I've always liked his work. Nothing against DKS, but something about the proportions in his figures has always bothered me.
j p
92. sps49
I have been enthralled by Michael Whelan's work since the late 70s, and by Robert Jordan's since the late 90s. Uniting the two is an excellent way to present the last book of the Wheel of Time.

Thank you, everyone involved in bringing this to us.
Tricia Irish
93. Tektonica
Fabulous! Love it!! Rand looks like Rand! And his head is the right size! The details are wonderful. Thank you M. Whelan! And Irene and Harriet and Tor!

The only nit I might pick is how he's holding Callandor (I know it's not a fighting weapon) but it's still awkward. Just, odd??

I vote Moraine and Nynaeve, for sure. The only two AS he trusts and Moraine has inside info from the Finns.

This is so exciting!
Giacomo357
94. Cesco of the Tzora Aiel
I support the request for a poster sized image of this!

Just... *****ing... awesome!!!!

To me Callandor looks like he was hiding it behind his arm and just swung it out, perhaps in spinning a defensive Web?
Giacomo357
95. markerikson
I honestly think you should stick with the DKS sketch for the final cover.

Not this this is bad, I just think that DKS's version is a) the best work he ever did for WOT, and b) more poignant than this.
ana liese
96. analiese
Skip @ 73

And I really don't have any issue with the hair if that is Nynaeve (as we suspect).

I think the fact that people can't tell it's Nynaeve is an issue - everyone immediately recognized Rand and Moiraine, but from reactions on other WoT forums, many fans are convinced the second woman's Alivia and refuse to believe it's Nynaeve since she doesn't have a braid.

I don't think it's too much to ask that the characters on the final WoT cover actually look like the characters they're meant to represent. Especially when Tor's graphics people already got Nynaeve's appearance wrong once before on her only other cover and turned her into a redhead. Now she apparently bleached her hair and ditched the trademark braid she's been known for since the beginning of the series... As an artist, I would be embarrassed to mess up basic details like that, especially on the final volume of a 20-year-old multi-million dollar series. There are only three characters on the cover, so it's not like there are that many details to get right, either.
Anthony Pero
97. anthonypero
Amazing. And kind of a spoiler.

Now we know Rand will be going through the same tunnel that Demandred and the Forsaken travelled with Shaidar Haran while visiting the DO.
Giacomo357
98. CallumLamond
I have been following your work since The White Dragon. I can't think of a better artist to do the final artwork. Thank you
Giacomo357
99. TyphoonClass17
I can not wait for this read! I've dreamt up so many endings in my head for each character, to know what Jordan actually had in store for us will be exhilarating.

Whelan has captured this image perfectly, right in line with the previous cover art, and he certainly does an amazing job bringing to life the image of Rand I have always had in my head. (and I like the grip on Callandor, not holding it by the hilt for the purpose of stabbing or slashing)
Anthony Pero
100. anthonypero
Does this also answer "Twice Dawns the Day"? A simple eclipse?
Daryl Strickler
101. Seacaptain13
What can I say, I picked up Eye of the World in 1991 and it is so close I can smell it. Went from being a teenager to a father of 2 while this series was being completed and now it is finally here. Can't say I ever wanted it to end though. That said, Great Cover, everything I have been waiting for it looks like. Now if I can only get Aviendha's visions of the Aiel Future out of my head...
Anthony Pero
102. anthonypero
Two Aes Sedai follow the Dragon Reborn into the mouth of darkness, two women who have been with Rand since the very beginning.
This limits the pool to three potential candidates: Egwene, Moiraine and Nynaeve.
Giacomo357
103. Duncan Long
Always nice to see Whelan's masterful work -- and the behind-the-scenes peek at sketches and concept paintings is a real treat.

http://duncanlong.com/art.html
Giacomo357
104. cpt morgan
Somehow, in the back of my head there was this little, "Got a little Cap'n in Ya?" hmm
Giacomo357
105. AndrewB
I like how the cave looks natural, but at the same time gives an image of somebody entering the mouth of a giant monster. The image of teeth closing was prominent in Demadred and Moggy's respective journeys to the Bore.

Thanks for reading my musings.
AndrewB
Anthony Pero
106. anthonypero
Obviously Moiraine is the one in blue... whose the girl with short, light brown hair supposed to be? Can't be Nynaeve. Egwene I guess. I thought she had dark hair? And did she cut it short? The height is about right, Egwene is supposed to be nearly as short as Moiraine, right?
Giacomo357
107. Steve Napolitano
Great Cover art!. It stays true with the earlier cover, and sets the mood for this grand finaly of books. Just finishing rereading the entire series(started in November, last year) to get ready for the final book. What a grand journey Robert's legacy was, and still is thanks to Harriot and Brandon, all all of you at TOR.
Giacomo357
108. John the Bowman
yes very good. just what we have come to expect, a quality cover for a quality book. it is said one should never judge a book by its cover, I'm not I know this book will be way, way better than any cover could portray.
must hold it together till January
Giacomo357
109. tarloren
Awesome cover !

What a fitting cover for the last book in one of the greatest epic fantasy series ever (and longest I know of).

Can't wait for January! Hurry up year of the Dragon, get a move on.
Scott Silver
110. hihosilver28
All that I have to say about the cover is Made of WIN! That and agreement with everyone else that it's about time that humans looked like humans on the cover. That said, this is probably my 3rd favorite after Path of Daggers (best that Sweet has ever drawn Rand...or anything for that matter) and Fires of Heaven.

@anthonypero
The consensus here seems to be pretty strong on the side of Nynaeve being the third person on the cover, and I'm inclined to agree with that assessment. Hair burned off in the test, she could be tired of the braid...battle knocked it loose, honestly not even a big deal to me. I think it's most likely considering Nynaeve's relationship with Rand ever since cleansing Saidin.
Giacomo357
111. Steve L
The cloud formation between the eclipse and Callandor looks kind of like a person's head with tassles flowing off the back of the head (from some sort of headband.) Could that be a reference to Lan and the army that he's been gathering in his trip through the Borderlands?
Giacomo357
112. WoTFan
So, when are we going to get a good cover like the ebooks? Those were fantastic and beautiful. I get a bit tired of all fantasy book covers looking alike. However, this one is better than the Sweet cover.
Giacomo357
113. Josh A.
Wow, at long last! Amazing work by Michael Whelan. If only he had done all the covers in the series.

This is a MARKED departure from D.K. Sweet's direction, of course. This one is more victorious and bold, while Sweet's felt more like a dirge, much, much darker. Hope they can put Sweet's cover on the inside or something. After all this is probably Tor's biggest book release ever!
Giacomo357
114. mkyritsi
Thanks for making it copyable! I now have a printed pic of the cover to tide me over until January. It's an AWESOME picture and Rand looks exactly right: still rough, but matured. Michael should go back and redo all the other covers!
lake sidey
115. lakesidey
Thank you, Michael. I know you probably won't even see this amid the 100+ comments (assuming you visit Tor's forums at all!), but I am glad you agreed to do this.

(My favourite artist, illustrating another one of my favourite series...I only wish it didn't take DKS' passing away for this to happen :( But we are lucky that Michael, like Brandon, was willing to take this on and risk the nitpicking of a billion fans!)
Now I am dreaming of a Michael Whelan cover for Kingkiller day 3... A man can dream, right?

~lakesidey
Giacomo357
116. Ingtar
Zooming in, it appears one lady has a blue stone and the other a spot on the forehead. That makes it rather clear to me.
lake sidey
117. lakesidey
I think it should be Moiraine and Nynaeve. Quite apart from the fast that they are wearing what seems to be blue and yellow outfits and have spotty foreheads, we should consider the facts that (a) Moiraine is destined to be involved in saving the world according to the Finn and (b) Rand has already pretty much directly asked Nynaeve to go with him to Shayol Ghul.

Waiting eagerly for Jan...so eagerly...

~lakesidey
Giacomo357
118. hotrod
good cover and i was wondering are they going to surpise everyone with an earlier than announced release date, like the date of his passing as it must be nearly 5 years now, one could not have a greater celebration of his life and the man himself by releasing it on his anniversary. All the best, will miss the books when the series is finished, maybe a series about the breaking of the world should be next.
Giacomo357
119. Skyler
Cover looks wonderful to me!!! A masterpiece!!
Brent Longstaff
120. Brentus
Awesome cover, although I see Bela got left out again. Sigh.
Chris Hawks
121. SaltManZ
I don't even care about WoT, but that's pretty amazing.
Giacomo357
123. MRC Halifax
So, the dagger at his belt: anyone suspicious that it might be a dagger we've seen a few times before? We know Fain is heading in that direction. . .
Nadine L.
124. travyl
I agree with it being a beautiful cover.
Thank you Irene, Tor and Mr. Whelan for giving us not only the final cover but the whole process of its creation. - Amazing.
Giacomo357
125. theotherGareth
Finally a cover that does the Wheel of Time justice.
Giacomo357
126. RachaelAbude
This is incredible, and Rand is exactly as I have pictured him at this point. I also got chills when I saw this, and feel a little teary since this is the end. Thank you to Harriet McDougal, Brandon Sanderson, Darrell K. Sweet, Michael Whelan, and most of all of course, to Robert Jordan for giving us this amazing world! I am so excited and sad to read the final installment!
Giacomo357
127. BlackAjah
We love you Rand!!!! Thanks for sacrificing yourself to save mankind! I suppose we still have AMOL eBook cover to look forward to as well, Irene, or will it be this cover? I also wish Nynaeve's hair was darker and it a braid but oh well, that's just a simple nitpick. It's beautiful, bold, it's the end, it's RAND al'THOR, THE DRAGON REBORN in all his glory!!
Thomas Voss
128. ThomV
This is a wonderful cover!! I love that it keeps to overall feel of the DKS covers while highlighting Whelan's style. This is one my favorites and will look great on the bookshelf with all the rest. As for the two Aes Sedai they almost certainly have to be Moiraine and Nynaeve , exciting stuff!
Tess Laird
129. thewindrose
Amazing cover! Thanks for sharing it with us so early. It is funny - I saw it and thought there is Rand, Moiraine and Nynaeve - I am kind of surprised there is so much doubt.
Anyways - I am so excited for aMoL, with the 2 covers being shown now(I hope Sweet's cover is included inside the book) - it is making me think way too much about Randland...

tempest™
Thomas Keith
130. insectoid
Beautiful cover! A big thanks to Michael, Tor, Harriet, and the rest of Team Jordan for sharing this with us.

Rand looks great this time around. And it's so nice to see Moiraine and Nynaeve on a cover together.

brentus @120: LOL!

Can't wait for January... *twitch*

Bzzz™.
Tess Laird
131. thewindrose
Also - great sense of humor - Gollum in hanging out in the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico! Ha!!

Or is that a clue about Fain...

tempest™
Giacomo357
132. bardiclady
Thank you Michael, I will buy any book that has you as an artist and I have always felt the lack of your beautiful work on the WoT covers....

Bless you!
Cameron Tucker
133. Loialson
Beautiful...my heart is full.
Michael Whelan, may you ever find water and shade.
Karen Fox
134. thepupxpert
Really great cover, so nice to have this rolled out while we're in between books on the re-read. I echo all the other sentiments, this really captures Rand for me, I especially like that his face does look older and more care-worn, I mean, the guy's been through a lot...

Also agree that the women are Moir & Nyn.
Giacomo357
135. StrangeCat
Great Cover!

Moiraine and Nynaeve and Rand ! Fantastic!
Look forward to the final ending of a terrific and epic fantasy series!
Giacomo357
137. SKM
Looks like Moiraine and Nynaeve to me (her hair may be a bit light, but she's wearing yellow). Am I the only one who thinks Rand's sword pose looks a bit odd?
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
138. tnh
SKM, if you'll read the thread, you'll find you're not.
Giacomo357
139. joeheron
OMG..i've been a commenter here and there for a long time. each time i critisized DKS (God blessed the man) cover, i'll get flamed. For the FIRST time, i am REALLY REALLY excited to get a 1st edition of a WOT hardcover.

Great Job!
Giacomo357
140. Repitivity
Just to throw out something different - what if one of the women on the cover is Lanfear? She has been with Rand since the beginning and she is an Aes Sedai. Who better to guide Rand to the correct path or help him find the back way in?

I guess all we can do is RAFO.
Irene Gallo
142. Irene
@127 BlackAjah,

This will be the ebook cover as well. As it happened, we orginally commissioned Michael to do the ebook cover when we still believed Darrell could do the print cover. When Darrell passed away, we discussed various options but always came up thinking Michael was the way to go. After that, it just seemed redundant to try to replace Micahel on the ebook -- we had always hoped he would cap the e-book series.
Giacomo357
143. atergoboy
Looks great, but since when does Rand have six fingers?
Noneo Yourbusiness
144. Longtimefan
I find the cover to be very well renderd and the sword position is exactly what I would expect from a structured painting.

Paintings tell full stories with still images and must use every symbol as completely as possible so the position of the sword must convey so much m0re than "hey, look, I have a shiny sword!"

To bare the sword means that he is ready to fight. To raise his arm across his head shows that he is pushing onward into something that is pushing back at him.

That he is fighting against an unseen force that a direct sword stance cannot defend against.

The sword that is not a sword becomes a shield and a focus for Sadin which is guided by his eyes. A channeler must see what weaves they are using to use them effectively.

The sword above his face also draws the attention to his eyes and the general set of his face. determined.

The last battle is a battle of wills and intelligence more than one of sheer strength. The Dark one is a force of the universe, Rand is just a really powerful guy but cannot move the course of seasons with his touch or grab souls out of death and place them into new bodies.

Rand must be smart in facing the Dark One. The blade above his brow focuses the image on both his channeling and swordsmanship and intelligence. A unification of all his talents and skills into one gesture.

He is stepping forward showing that he is the agressor in this confrontation. He is moving toward the Dark One, not waiting or retreating.

There is much more but I am at work and just loved this artwork and thought I would throw in my two cents about why the position of the sword was an excellent choice.

It makes sense to me.
Noneo Yourbusiness
145. Longtimefan
@ 143 Rand has the normal 4 fingers and a thumb. The "other" finger is the palm of his hand just above the blade.
Karen Fox
146. thepupxpert
140 Repitivity - Lanfear isn't technically Lanfear anymore, she's Cyndane, who is supposed to be short and blonde so I don't think that works in this case. I also remember her denying she was AS in one of the books but don't have them with me so I can't quote.

143 Atergoboy - If you zoom in on the image that's a portion of his hand.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
147. tnh
Atergoboy @143: You know the famous example of that?
Karen Fox
148. thepupxpert
tnh - now THAT's funny! I had to look at it a couple of times but I got there in the end.
Sam Mickel
149. Samadai
My name is Inigo Montoyez, you keeled my father, prepare to die!
Ron Garrison
150. Man-0-Manetheran
What really means something to me is Harriet’s comment: “that is the Rand I have waited to see for twenty years.”

I second that emotion! The color and feel is Sweet, but the human figure is all Whelan, and one we’ve all been waiting for.
John Massey
151. subwoofer
Nope, this definitely works. Don't really recognize the sword form... I think it is "did I wear deoderant this morning" or "sniff, sniff, what's that smell?" or some such but like the scale and artwork for the characters.

Woof™.
Giacomo357
152. Taijutsu
The woman in yellow is definitely Nynaeve. If you zoom in you can see the dot between her eyes (not that there was much of a question lol).
Giacomo357
153. Emily10
Absolutely amazing. What fitting cover art for the last book in this awesome series. I hope that Mr. Whelan can make it back to Dragon*Con again one day so I can get this one autographed as well (have a signed copy of The Dark Tower thanks to him and his graciousness). Thank you so much, Ms. Gallo (were you at D*C a couple of years ago -- if so, I think I saw a panel you were on) and Mr. Whelan. I can't wait. Maybe one day I'll be wealthy enough to purchase this painting :)
Tricia Irish
154. Tektonica
Does anyone think that the Rand on the cover looks a wee bit like
Luke Skywalker?

I still love it, don't get me wrong. I love this cover, and Rand...and Luke...er....I think I've been looking at it too long.....
Giacomo357
155. alreadymadwithcover
Strakul @4
LOL

Seriously though, the depiction of Callandor isn't far from what I thought it would look like. I seem to remember references to it being described as "curved". Not surprising when you consider the common design for swords left over from that Age. And despite the material used, I also seem to remember that it can be used as a sword just as well as its other function.

As to his other weapons, not surprised to see his preferred sword and possibly an Aiel style long knife. I'd agree with Harriet though, this is the Rand Al'Thor I've been waiting to see. Certainly close to what we've been seeing on the ebook covers but far from the hulks DKS have always presented us with, barring few exceptions.

n the two women, colors alone would suggest Moiraine and Nynaeve(it looks yellow to me). Three have been with him from the very start, the two and Egwene. I don't see the Aes Sedai letting Egwene wander off, and she has other duties to the coalition being established anyway.

Over all, it quite duplicates the feel of a DKS cover. With a vastly upgraded Rand.
Giacomo357
156. Heather Torpy
GREAT JOB!
Giacomo357
157. AlBrown
Well done to Michael. As good an artist as he is, I didn't think he was going to be able to match all the DKS covers in style, while giving us something that would be true to his own style. But he did, and did so brilliantly. This project, stepping into a series with such a long history and definitive style, must have been far more difficult than facing a blank canvas. Wow...
Valentin M
158. ValMar
Wow, how did I miss this all evening. Can't wait to see a larger size of the cover. Even as it is, I like it. Glad to see the symbolism of Moiraine and Nyn being there. I guess this probably answers the question who the two women who yield Callandor with Rand are.
As for the "sword pose"- Callandor isn't really a sword. This besides the fact that this is a painting not an illustration in a fencing manual, or that there may be a good explanation. E.g. there can be something about this notorious ceiling in SG...
Jeff Schweer
159. JeffS.
In my mind Callandor was never meant to be used as a weapon. Everytime it has been, there's been various large and small problems.
The pose implies something that I have always wondered about.
Looney theory alert:

Callandor is shaped like a sword but is meant to be used counterintuitively as a shield to push back on the essence of the DO, helping to force him back into the bore. Maybe it is the epitome of Order, giving strength and helping to clear away the debris. That's my looney theory, let's see if it holds up.


Moraine and Nynaeve, couldn't be anyone one else.
As others have said, the palette is perfect in that it bridges the styles of the two artists masterfully. Just freaking beautiful...
JeffS.
I am only an egg
Anthony Pero
160. anthonypero
Or it could just be positioned that way to make Rand look badass.
Kerly Luige
162. Celebrinnen
Simply marvellous. When I heard Michael Whelan will do it, I had feeling it will be awesome, and so it did. Poor Rand seems so ... serious and weary, but I suppose that`s to be expected when you have gone through what he has and you`re going to Shayol Ghul to die in order to save the world. But he really looks like what you would expect - the strength, the determination, the knowledge and experience. And my first impression wile seeing the pic was "Ah, Callandor, finally!"

As of the women, I think there is no doubt they are Moiraine and Nynaeve. I was pretty sure they will accompany him through the series, especially after Mat got Moiraine back from the tower. Nynaeve herself said Rand had asked her and this was not an "if". And since, if I remember correctly, it was also said Moirane was the only other Aes Sedai Rand trusted, and other little things between them considered, I think there is no doubt of it. I was sure who I will see even before I got to the sketches and the final painting only assured it.

All in one: amazing job!

PS. When did Gollum move to New Mexico?! :)
Randommer
163. Randommer
Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot!

That is all.
Rand Al Thor
164. Elayne_Cousland
I just love that pic of Rand, that's right around how I've always pictured him and so far I find that one to be the best. He looks so serious, definitely like someone who has the weight of the world on him.

N can I say that he looks so yummy too lol
Giacomo357
165. Michlej
I has wallpaper...iz awsome.
T C
166. Freelancer
MRC Halifax @123

There's no reason Rand would be wearing the Shadar Logoth dagger. And it isn't by description. Mordeth's dagger has a ruby-capped, gold wire-wrapped hilt, a heavily curved blade, and serpent-head quillons.
Giacomo357
167. Geckomayhem
I've always admired Whelan's dragon art especially. And seeing this cover, where the main focus is the Dragon Reborn; well, it's simply amazing. Can't wait for the release next year. But time is ticking down, and if I'm to restart the series, I'd better get onto it soon!
Giacomo357
168. SaidinsDragon
Got a lump in my throat when I saw this...its fantastic. I can't believe it's goining to end. But then again there is neither a begining or an end to the Wheel of Time... but it will be an ending.
Giacomo357
169. SherriS
Oh I am getting so excited for the last book. Finally! I can hardly wait!
Giacomo357
170. FranciscoDS
Legend
Giacomo357
171. faoiltiama
I definitely think the two women with Rand are Nynaeve and Egwene. They have been with him from the very beginning, before Moiraine and Lan ever arrived in the Two Rivers. I always pictured Callandor as being more of a broad sword, but that illustration is breathtaking. It's the best cover art since The Eye of the World.
Cynthia Ahmar
172. tenkuu
This cover looks very nice, but the only problem I have with it is that Rand simply looks too old. For a guy barely in his 20s, he looks too much like he's in mid-30s.
Roger Powell
174. forkroot
MRC Halifax@123 and Freelancer@166
One possibility is that the dagger is the dull dagger that Avienda identified as a ter'angreal that would make the possessor immune from being seen by Shadowspawn (and possibly even the DO.)

The picture has the dagger too large, but that requires less artistic license than the change in Nyn's hair color - and as noted by many, Whelan never read the books. He would have to go off the scene description provided by Team Jordan and they may not have given the details of the dull dagger.

As for the cover ... well Michael Whelan is a gifted artist, there's no doubt. Sorry I can't muster up quite the level of enthusiasm shown by others (not disrepecting your opinions ... glad you all love it!)

I guess I'm still hung up on some of the e-Book covers, especially Sam Weber's masterpiece for TSR. I was hoping for something that conveyed emotion like that.

On the other hand, when taken in context with the tone of the Sweet covers, this exhibits continuity and I respect that. You could almost call it a paean to DKS - use his color palette and make sure the characters don't match their description in the text!
Giacomo357
175. RickC1313
Excellent cover. Can't wait for January 2012.
SQUEE!!!
Giacomo357
176. alreadymadwithswordpose
That sword pose seems real convenient for a couple things I could think of:
Notice how his arm is between the (presumably) glowing sword and his eyes.
That underhand grip can also be used to stab the sword downward into the ground.

In addition, one of the women's dress looks yellow to me. Not green. So my thinking is definitely Nynaeve.
Giacomo357
177. BoltWalt
Now this is a cover! I never really cared for the covers by Sweet. Now if they could just have Whelan redue all of the previous covers.
Giacomo357
178. Deadsy
It's not Egwene, you goobers.
Giacomo357
179. ashaman73
First off I think the cover art looks great! I have one major gripe and one minor gripe. The major gripe is whats up with the text-the final volume of TWOT being in the upper right corner? It just looks weird like that. The minor gripe is where is the synopsis on the inside of the dust jacket though I am sure we will see that eventually. Other than that everything looks good.
Giacomo357
180. Graddion
It simply looks amazing, though I am one of those who always pictured callandor as more of a scottish claymore, but whatever. The eclipse leaves me thinking "The Darkest Day. The greatest evil."
Giacomo357
181. Xbob
Very much in agreement with the whole series of covers... The unfinished version by Darrell would have been better!
Giacomo357
184. konga
Greatest cover ever! Whelan is the Pablo Picasso of fantasy cover artists!
Birgit
185. birgit
If you ignore Callandor Rand is doing the karate block age-uke (he even stands in zenkutsu dachi). Maybe he is combining his Aiel training in unarmed combat with using Callandor to defend the world from the DO.
Terry McNamee
186. macster
This is utterly incredible and amazing. While I have liked other renditions of Rand (particularly TDR and TGH, where he had a similar coat oddly enough), this is indeed exactly as I've always pictured him. And he does look older than he should--which is right! Aside from everything he's been through, it was noted by Min in TOM that there were wrinkles around his eyes, that his face looked older, and both Egwene and Siuan (and Bryne too) could see the age in his eyes, the agelessness of an Aes Sedai. So that's his Dragon-ness shining through. Callandor looks awesome (though it's more transparent than I expected, somehow), the mouth of Shayol Ghul is impressive (definitely brings back memories of Demandred and Moghedien), the eclipse and clouds are portentous, the coloring and background does evoke Sweet, and I instantly recognized Moiraine. It is quite fitting she and Nynaeve should be here, since they have not gotten to be on any covers except the ebooks, save for Moiraine being on TEotW. Being the two Aes Sedai who have been with him since the beginning makes perfect sense to me.

As for Nynaeve, aside from the arguments people have made about the burned off braid and the light changing her hair color (and that is a yellow dress for sure), I think the very fact we know Team Jordan, Harriet, and Irene were so focused and dedicated, and the long process Michael Whelan went through as illustrated by the many sketches here, means that someone would have said something if it were wrong to depict Nynaeve this way. So whether some people want to believe it or not, that is indeed her, and while we might regret the lack of the braid, I am sure when we read the scene this depicts, we'll understand why it looks the way it does.

Simply gorgeous, a beautiful and worthy ending to the series. Though I also still agree with KiManiak, that I think Sweet's sketch should be included as the endpapers or something. They would complement each other well, and it deserves to be seen just as much.

@48 WouldBeBrownAjah, 77 Freelancer: I think the sword was described as curved, if not in the scenes in the Stone then in the part with Someshta in Rand's ancestor memories. Also for what it is worth, the sword is both described as curved and shown to be in the BBoBA; while Jordan said the book was not meant to be completely accurate so as to reflect how historians get things wrong, I don't see why he'd have left that bit in if it was blatantly false, nor why Harriet and the rest of Team Jordan would allow Michael Whelan to base his depiction of Callandor off that image if it was wrong.

And to WBBA, I agree that the sun looking like Lanfear's moon icon is a very nice touch. Just shows (as if we didn't already know) she'll play a key role in the book.

@50 Skip: No, you aren't the only one. Also recall the greeting to the Amyrlin Seat back in The Great Hunt: "For what do we wait?" "The shadow at noon." It seems certain folks' theories have just died a screaming death, since it's clear the "twice dawns the day" does indeed mean an eclipse. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

@54 djpon3, 77 Freelancer re: Moiraine--I am not sure why people keep forgetting this, but Moiraine has the angreal she tore off of Lanfear. While she can barely light a fire without it, she says that with it she is as powerful as she was before, or even more so. So while skill matters more than strength in directing the flows of a circle, Moiraine does still have great strength in the Power thanks to that angreal.

@70 Lurking Canadian: While Rand is all Zen now, that doesn't mean he won't wear fancy clothing when it is appropriate. I am sure he would for meeting Tuon, for example, as well as for Egwene at Merrilor (which might precede this scene by not too long). Or it could be Lews Therin's fashion sense coming through.

@76 mazza3: Remember the sun breaks through the clouds wherever Rand goes. Maybe that even applies to near Shayol Ghul?
Chris Chaplain
187. chaplainchris1
Wow. Beautiful. As so many have said, consistent in tone with the covers we've had all this time, but with a proportion, balance, and dynamism all its own.

And it's Moiraine and Nynaeve - hah! I knew it! (Well...I didn't know it...but I did pick it as the most likely scenario.) And in addition to the reasons I gave on TGS thread, this cover and the "two Aes Sedai who've been with him from the beginning" makes me realize two additional nice convergences. Moiraine is the Aes Sedai Rand mentions to Nynaeve in TOM when encouraging Nynaeve to hold onto her passion, not letting the other AS force her into their mold. So it's nice that the two AS with Rand will be the ones he holds up as examples of AS who are caring and emotive.

Plus, considering how much Nynaeve hated Moiraine in the beginning, it will be nice to see the two of them united.

Again, though, brilliant cover. I'm not all that visually oriented, and I generally don't pay much attention to covers - but I love this one.
Anthony Pero
188. anthonypero
Actually, Moiraine's power level is immaterial. Callendor only uses saidin. Besides the amount of power that Rand can hold with Callendor, Moiraine at full-strength, even Nynaeve at full-strength, is a drop in the bucket.

It's Moiraine's skill and finesse in the OP that is important.
ana liese
189. analiese
I think the very fact we know Team Jordan, Harriet, and Irene were so focused and dedicated, and the long process Michael Whelan went through as illustrated by the many sketches here, means that someone would have said something if it were wrong to depict Nynaeve this way. So whether some people want to believe it or not, that is indeed her, and while we might regret the lack of the braid, I am sure when we read the scene this depicts, we'll understand why it looks the way it does.

Unfortunately, Tor has a history of getting the characters' appearances wrong, so I wouldn't hold my breath for AMoL to explain why Nynaeve's hair looks the way it does. Aside from twenty years of horribly inaccurate Sweet covers, Elayne and Aviendha switched hair color on the TPoD ebook cover and Nynaeve was a redhead on the ACoS cover. As an artist, I find it remarkable that such glaring mistakes made it into the finished versions--either those responsible for the WoT covers aren't familiar with the series or don't want to offend big name artists by asking for corrections.
Sam Mickel
190. Samadai
You know, quite a few have speculated that Rand will die and Nynaeve will pull him out of Tel'aran'rhiod to live again. Suppose that is why Rand looks like a man in his 30's or 40's. His true soul would not be limited to age, and from what we know, it is the soul that lives in T'A'R. Not sure I am 100% on board with that theory, but it is an "evident" one for certain
Giacomo357
191. DJWilson300
Sword Position-
We all Know Callandor glows crazy bright when the power is surging through it. How would you hold it so that the light could be used if you were going into someplace very dark, say the entrance into the pit of doom, and not have that light beaming back into your own eyes?
I think the holding position is due to the brilliance of the sword. Also, Rand can not channel that close to the bore without nasty side effects, so using Callandor as a night light actually makes a bit of sense.
Ron Garrison
192. Man-0-Manetheran
re. Callandor:
This is not the first time Callandor has appeared on a cover. I call your attention to the cover of The Dragon Reborn. Pretty much front and center. Whelan's depiction is very close to Sweet's, and I would imagine that Whelan would keep his design close to what has already been depicted. Note the hilt. It is very much the same. Sweet's Callandor is glowing so strongly one cannot tell if it is solid or clear, and it appears to be a straight design. The tip is obscured by the title, but all in all, I think Whelan stayed mostly true to Sweet's design. (Thank God he did not stay true to Sweet's depiction of Rand!)

Tai'Shar Manetheren
Giacomo357
193. "Kayfey"
That's the incredible and indelible Mr. Whelan! He's drafting and preliminary processes should be studied by science! One of my all-time FAVORITE illustrators... He's on my favored illustrators list on my Art/Writer Blog http://inprettyprint.blogspot.com
Giacomo357
194. Konig
Several notes:

I really like the cover. My favourite touch is the sun being eclipsed (or being eaten, if we are going with Norse mythology). I just /knew/ that the an eclipse would happen.

I am, of course, quite curious as to the identity of the two women. Moiraine seems likely- I recognized her immediately. I would be disappointed if it were not her.
The yellow dress would invoke thoughts of Nyn, but her hair is wrong (as is her forehead). Hmmm...

When I saw the sketches, one thing stuck out to me: the cruciform of Callandor. I feel that (although it is a sword and, thus, always crossish) the shape is being emphasized here. This is not a new connection in literature by any means. But, considering Rand's similarities to Jesus (wounds in the side, Crown of Swords/Thorns, Savior, resurrection, etc.), perhaps Callandor will come to harm (and save) him? Just speculation. I would not be unhappy (in a certain respect) to see him get impaled by it, although I cannot quite imagine how that would come about or why he could not be Healed. Anyway, I am ready for the Harrowing of Hell, WoT style!
Giacomo357
195. juzam
Somewhat slighly disappointed. It's not consistent in tone with the rest of the covers . Never been a fan of theatrically posed covers too.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
196. tnh
Juzam, it's a different artist. Perfect duplication of tone is not in the cards.
Giacomo357
197. Hew
Look closely at the cave walls and stalactites...you can see trollocs and other darkfriends faces! They are watching him enter Shayol Ghul. Awesome job!
Giacomo357
198. boffo
Is that blood on his left side?
John Massey
199. subwoofer
Well, y'know, I think that is the gaping maw of Shayol Ghul that the Chosen were talking about... Rand is going to poke a bear with a crystal stick.

Woof™.
John Massey
200. subwoofer
::sniff sniff::

What's that?

The two hunny:D

Lookit the bright side, Fabio wasn't used as a face/body model for Rand. And we have the one hand deal and we have the Dragon Belt thingy and stuff that actually appears in the story.

This cover deserves a big Yay!

Woof™.
John Massey
201. subwoofer
Well, we all know one is going to be Nynaeve from the start, so that was a gimme. Moiraine... seems obvious here too, how many Blues would Rand trust to take to the pit of doom?

Woof™.
Giacomo357
203. J.R
I gasped audibly when I saw this. I just froze...my brother thought something bad had happened!
Excellent Excellent Excellent
Giacomo357
204. Bhelliom Rahl
Beautiful. They say you should not judge a book by its cover, but with this you can't help it.
Its like the icing on a cake, a taste of the wonders to come.
Theresa Gray
205. Terez27
@Macster—Dont' get ahead of yourself. For one thing, there are two foreshadowings that Rand will be dead for three days. Once for mourning, once for birth indicates that the first dawn will accompany his death, and the second dawn his rebirth, or the birth of his children, or both. Eclipses last a couple of hours generally, and totality only a couple of minutes (and this one appears to be annular). So it doesn't seem any more likely than it did before that an eclipse will fulfill 'twice dawns the day'. For another, note that the eclipse was missing from earlier drafts.
Giacomo357
206. Hmm
One of the female characters had a vision of Rand with an Onyx hand. Clearly someone, like Nynaeve, has healed him by utilizing some sort of onyx melded with the power to make Rand a new hand. He's going to do some amazing stuff in this final book and he can't be the only one. Nynaeve will continue to heal 'impossible-to-heal' things. That's why his hand is hidden; you can't give away the key plot point on the cover...
Alice Arneson
207. Wetlandernw
Hmm @206 - Actually, I think the viewing was actually just Callandor being gripped in a black hand. No knowing whether the hand belonged to Rand or not. It's as good a reading as any, though.
Giacomo357
208. MorpheusStone
A great piece of cover art for most part.

@ Everyone who thinks it's Egwene with him,they must be on drugs because he'd trust a Draghkar sooner than trust her.She's gone to the darkside!!This book is taking crazy long to be released,Bradon is such a slacker playing Magic so much.
Rajesh Vaidya
209. Buddhacat
Don't see why the onyx hand has to be someone on "Light"-side. Shaidar Haran could be left holding it too - there is some fore-shadowing of Callandor tunring against him, having another flaw, etc.
Alice Arneson
210. Wetlandernw
A glowing sword, Callandor, being gripped in a black hand. She gasped.

"What did you see?" Rand asked softly.

"Callandor, held in a fist. The hand looks to be made of onyx."
Min has no indication what it means, but her other research has led her to believe that it has a deeper flaw and may be used against him. We've had no further information on black hands or Callandor, IIRC.

By the way, that same passage describes how Rand
took the sa'angreal from Min, then slid it over his shoulder into a sheath on his back. At his side, he once again wore the ancient sword with the red-and-gold dragons painted on the sheath.
Depicting him with both swords (plus a dagger) at Shayol Ghul is appropriate, and if the sheath for Callandor is on his back, we wouldn't see it from this angle.
Giacomo357
211. matanyabs
Amazing cover!
and about Rand shielding his eyes, I remember Tuon saying something about Rand needs to go blind eventually. Maybe he uses Callandor as a guide?
Giacomo357
212. Gschibby
Matthew1215: Perhaps Rand's posture is for the simple reason that he's fighting off the ceiling in the caves? If you remember in one of the earlier books, one of the Forsaken is going down to see the Dark One and feels the stalagites brushing his head and almost crushes him/her (don't remember who it was), wich suggest that the Dark One possibly can alter the shape of the caverns. I'm thinking he's holding it that way just because he's using it to clear a path downwards. :)
Birgit
213. birgit
I remember Tuon saying something about Rand needs to go blind eventually.

The blind beggar prophecy has already happened. After Semi's fireball he had trouble with his eyes for a while. In Ebou Dar he was the blind beggar and on Dragonmount his mental "blindness" ended when he understood what he is fighting for.
Gerd K
214. Kah-thurak
I kind of like the cover, but the arkward way Rand holds the sword irks me. I cannot imagine anyone who is as proficient in sword fighting as Rand holding a sword like a dagger/knife in hidden-blade style - it looks like he is going to stab himself if he moves out of that pose.
Giacomo357
215. WOTepicFAN
It looks amazing. While reading all of the complaints I can only say that that is Moraine and Nynaeve. Nynaeve does have the ki'sain on her forehead if you blow the picture up like I did when I stretched it into my wallpaper. Rand could be in the middle of a weave and maybe it's one he has to make gestures to do and it's a snapshot of him using the power. They may not be linked just yet. Yes, Nynaeves hair should be darker but it's a great picture. I can't remember if Moiraine had her gem when she was rescued and we don't know what happened leading up to their entrance.

The only complaint I do have is Nynaeves hair and Nynaeve would not go anywhere without Lan's ring on her necklace.

Still amazing though. Can. Not. Wait.
JAMES MCCLELLAN
216. ZEXXES
First let me say I generely love Whelen's work. And in the case of this work, as a fellow artist, I love the choice of color (so vibrant) and the depth shown in its entirety.

But I have two major issues with this cover. Some may think I'm niggling, but for me they are rather Large errors. I say "Large", because as soon as I saw it in miniature, I thought it looked like he was blocking a strike. So I went to look at a enlargement and.... nope, no downward falling sword to parry.

This part of a form that he is in, is used to parry a downward strike from the reverse grip. It is a parry and not a block, because there is not enough strength in the hand from that grip angle to block a coming strike. The result, if tried, would be to have your own sword driven in to your head, shoulder or perhaps even your chest. The striking sword would also have still carried enough momentum to continue its strike albiet deflected slightly.

The form this figure of Rand is using is in fact a parry ment to sweep away or pass the blow. One would also take a step during the form allowing the completion of the passed blow safely, which gives the added benifit of partially flanking the attacker, giving superior position during the exchange. The logical next form would be to grab the hilt with the other hand and changing to a conventional grip with the forehand, while simultaneous perfoming a two step pivot, which would swing the blade by body movement alone, creating a short arcing slice across either the exposed flanking leg (which is the ideal attack) or the more novice slice to the mid section. If done correctly it will be extremely quick leaving little time for parry or block. It would also keep you in the flank of the opponent. If the opponent had no timely parry for the counter and lacked the where with all to pivot and retreat to a more secure position, a death blow would be your next attack. With the full back exposed you could take your pick within reason.

Sweet huh?

The problem is that there is no visible attacker in the painting and what your left with is a dork posing for a painting, in a albiet cool pose, but in a slightly overly balanced way. Overbalanced? Yes, overbalanced. This is because the only way you could be in that position using that form, is if you posed in it. The Action of the form would be very different.


Thus the two Large errors that would be apparent to any fellow martial artist, no matter their discipline.

Z
Giacomo357
217. Morsk
Re: sword positioning. Rand is posing. He knows it's going to be on a book cover.

Rand remembers his previous lives, and since the Age is ending in 2012, Rand must be alive now. He's seen this book cover on the Internet, many times, in endless variations. He remembers to pose for it. I mean, why not?
Mike Jackson
218. MRJackson
Not sure why there's still confusion. It's Nynaeve and Moiraine on the back cover. The yellow and blue dresses should make that apparent. Nynaeve's hair is obviously shorter than it used to be.

I spoke to Michael about the cover as he was finishing it. Since he didn't have the opportunity to read all 14 books for the assignment, I was one of the people he leaned on to fact check his work.

Michael mentioned there are details the readers (like me) wouldn't be privvy to yet. For example, Nynaeve takes the bulk of her jewelry off before this scene.

Callandor is a sword that isn't a sword, right? He's not holding it for defense. It's a source of power as well as his source of light (there's a clue about that in the lighting on his face). He's shielding his eyes as he stares in to the pit. Apparently, the deeper he goes into Shayol Ghul, the brighter it shines.

A little background that some might not know... Michael ha's studied martial arts, including Filipino Kali and Arnis. The forearm slash position actually has some utility in fights with bladed weapons.

Compositionally, the line of the sword is another element that draws you into the intensity of Rand's stare. Further, the opening of the cave is the shape of an eye; the eclipse suggests an iris. It's as if the gaze of the Dark One is falling on Rand. We see his strength and determination in response. How many illustrators can convey that kind of depth in a scene?

Say what you will, but I think Michael brought a lot to the plate on what was a very difficult cover assignment. He put his stamp on Rand while producing a cover that fits well with the first 13 that DKS painted.
Giacomo357
219. Apollyon7x
You guys know you can click on the picture to enlarge? And from the enlarged picture it seems obvious that there is a dot on Nyn's forhead and it appears to be some sort of circlet on Moi's.

So much fuss. They wouldn't get it wrong.
Giacomo357
220. Apollyon7x
or maybe they are both growing third eyes. PLOT TWIST OMG
ana liese
222. analiese
MRJackson @ 218

Not sure why there's still confusion. It's Nynaeve and Moiraine on the back cover. The yellow and blue dresses should make that apparent. Nynaeve's hair is obviously shorter than it used to be.

Thanks for confirming that. However, Nynaeve's hair is still the wrong color and, while it's shorter after the Aes Sedai testing in ToM, it should still be in a shoulder-length braid. She never gave up her signature braid. That's why many people don't think it looks like Nynaeve--the braid is the main thing that would identify her as Nynaeve to the readers.

The loose light hair makes the woman on the cover look more like Alivia, who many fans believe is the woman in yellow. So I'm still of the opinion that Whelan did not do a good job with Nynaeve if longtime fans don't even recognize her. I think it's a beautiful cover, but as a reader, the main thing I care about is seeing the characters--who we have been reading about for twenty years--done right, not so much whether the cave looks realistic or happens to symbolize the Dark One spying on Rand. So it's disappointing that Nynaeve ended up virtually unrecognizable. She doesn't even wear yellow dresses in the books, despite being Yellow Ajah (she makes a point of wearing green or blue since that's what Lan likes), so that's not something that makes the woman's identity apparent either.

Since he didn't have the opportunity to read all 14 books for the assignment, I was one of the people he leaned on to fact check his work.

If you don't mind me asking (not trying to be rude here, it just strikes me as a bit strange), why did Whelan rely on fans to check his work instead of Team Jordan? I'm assuming you work for Tor, but you refer to yourself as a reader who hasn't read the book. To what extent were Brandon Sanderson and Team Jordan involved with the creative process behind this cover?
Mike Jackson
223. MRJackson
@ Analiese

I was just one of the people helping with the details. Obviously Michael had Irene Gallo's art direction and was in contact with editors including Harriet.

Michael's wife Audrey usually serves as his sounding board, but she hadn't read the books. (For the record, I'm not affiliated with TOR. I've worked with Michael since the mid 90s, primarily on his website.) I'm a WoT fan and that's the kind of feedback Michael was looking for... someone he knew who had read the previous 13 books.

Michael and I did discuss Nynaeve's dress color. I mentioned that she catered to Lan's color preference of green and blue. The yellow of her ajah usually came in slashes of color, accents if I recall correctly.

Like I said, I haven't read the manuscript for AMoL and Michael couldn't talk about it. But I distinctly recall Nynaeve taking pride in being a true Aes Sedai finally. Going into the Last Battle, I don't think it's a stretch that she would choose yellow. I suppose we'll have to RAFO on that.

In the background information I provided, I described Nynaeve's hair color as darker brown and referenced previous covers (among them the Melanie Delon's cover for A Crown of Swords that drew criticism for being too red).

I'd have to ask him why he chose lighter highlights. Just my speculation here, but Callandor is a light source. There's also illumination from the eclipse filtering in from the mouth of the cave to consider.

Michael got the length of Nyn's hair right, and this isn't simply opinion. Hopefully Brandon or Harriet will confirm at some point that her shoulder length hair was too short to braid.

Interestingly, Michael and I spoke about the challenge of pulling character descriptions from the text. If you're familiar with his illustration, he's known as a stickler for details. But it isn't always easy to translate text literally, especially when Jordan and Sanderson contradict in their description.

In correspondence, Michael wrote, "Major characters are described as diminutive in size, yet 'commanding' in presence. Faces are youthful, yet ageless. Or young but having eyes full of wisdom of the ages. Rand is tall and manly, yet has an almost "feminine" beauty in his eyes or mouth. It's a bit confusing how one is supposed to render such conflicting elements."

Honestly, I don't mind the nitpicking. Criticism comes with the territory. My point in responding is to state that Michael was mindful of details here. There's evidence of it in the painting. I can tell you that he had Moiraine's kesiera and Nynaeve's ki'sain accounted for before I even spoke to him.

On a personal note, I had the priviledge of meeting Robert Jordan before a signing on the Knife of Dreams tour. One of the things we talked about was the cover art for the series. I think Mr. Jordan would be pleased with this one. Obviously Harriet was when she said, "that is the Rand I have waited to see for twenty years."
ana liese
224. analiese
MRJackson @ 223

Firstly, thank you very much for the thorough answer. It answered many of my questions, and it was also interesting to hear more about the creative process behind the cover.

Michael got the length of Nyn's hair right, and this isn't simply opinion. Hopefully Brandon or Harriet will confirm at some point that her shoulder length hair was too short to braid.

It got singed off "a handspan below her shoulders" (ToM ch 20), and she wore a shoulder-length braid in every scene she was in after the Aes Sedai testing. That's why it seemed odd for her signature braid to be missing on the cover. I don't really care about the dress or even much about the hair color, but Nynaeve isn't Nynaeve without her braid--it's part of who she is. It's like Mat showing up without his hat and ashandarei. And the ki'sain is too small to be visible, so it doesn't do anything to make the woman on the cover look more like Nynaeve.

I also wish Nynaeve and Moiraine hadn't been delegated to the background/back cover--since they're going to be linked with him, they deserve to stand at his side. But that's not an error, just something I wish were different.

However, while the cover isn't what I hoped for, I understand and deeply appreciate that you and Whelan both worked incredibly hard on it, and Whelan remains one of my favorite illustrators. I think he did a wonderful job with Rand.
Skip Ives
225. Skip
The only thing missing is a small shaggy mare at the mouth of the cave. We all know Bela is the Creator.

186. macster - Thanks for the warder line, I had forgotten that. I have to agree with @205. Terez27 though, it is not a definitive point for the eclipse until the Damandred fails to recognize the Flinn - so to speak.
Jay Dauro
226. J.Dauro
I really like the cover. It fufills the primary purpose of a cover, making me want to buy the book. (Okay, that was really not necessary, I'd buy this book with no cover. But it does make me want it sooner.)

There are 4 mentions of Nyneave's Braid during and after it is damaged in the Test.
She rose to her knees, which were scraped and bleeding. Her braid ended in a smoldering stump about a handspan below her shoulders. She retched to the side, shivering. - Towers of Midnight (p. 306).
She was burned to blisters in swaths across her body, and the greater part of her braid was gone. Her unraveled hair fell across her face as she tried to banish the memories of what she had done. - Towers of Midnight (p. 309).
Nynaeve had to stop herself from reaching for her braid. It was too short now to tug. That was going to take a lot of getting used to. - Towers of Midnight (p. 315).
Nynaeve reached for her braid, but it now came only to her shoulders. She gritted her teeth at that. - Towers of Midnight (p. 512).
In the last scene her hair is described as only coming to her shoulders. She may have lost more of it in the test. Yes, she is described as keeping it in a braid in these two post-test scenes. But until we get to read the scene in AMOL, we don't know whether she still wears a braid. It may be by this time she has met up with her husband and he says he like her hair loose, and her in Yellow. ;^)


The folks who have read the book all praise the cover, so I will wait until I know what the book says.
Alice Arneson
227. Wetlandernw
I think MRJackson & Mr. Whelan made a very good point, in that we have not yet read this book. By the time this scene happens, we may see several other events that make sense of the seeming discrepancies. Specifically, there are only two scenes after Nynaeve's testing which mention her braid, and in both cases it is specifically noted that it is too short and she finds it quite annoying. Quite possibly she'll meet up with Lan and find out that he likes it loose, or she'll simply decide that it's too irritating to fuss with a too-short braid, and we'll see her with loose hair in several scenes before this.

Someone was bothered earlier by the missing jewelry - but now we know that she specifically and deliberately removed the jewelry before this scene, probably so that someone else could use them. (That's what happened during the Cleansing; why not here as well?) Seems to me that we should make the assumption that the same kind of thing might happen with The Braid, instead of insisting that she should look like she did in the previous book, and claiming any discrepancies as mistakes. Such claims are not only rude, they are unfounded. Once the book is out and we've read the whole thing, we might have grounds for nitpicking; until then, not so much.

MRJackson - Thank you for your contributions, both to this thread and to Mr. Whelan.

Edit to add: I see Jay beat me to it, or typed faster, or something. Great minds, and all that... :)
Mike Jackson
228. MRJackson
Analiese @ 224

I appreciate the sentiment but Michael did the actual work. He pushed his calendar aside this spring to make the cover happen. I was just support. But I will admit it took a lot of restraint on my part not to inundate him with questions that I knew he couldn't answer, so there is that.

As readers, we all have so much invested in this series that I completely understand what you're saying. I love Brandon's work, but I felt ToM was a bit of a letdown, especially the resolution with Moiraine.

Moiraine has always been a favorite of mine. I would have liked to see her on the front cover as well. Thankfully Dan Dos Santos gave us that in his brilliant cover for The Fires of Heaven.
Jay Dauro
229. J.Dauro
Wetlander

Great Minds? Yours maybe. I just have a good way to look stuff up.
Mike Jackson
230. MRJackson
Wetlander @ 227

Glad to be of help. Maybe someday we'll find closure in the great braid debate...

Seriously though, Michael painted Nyn's hair at that length (without a braid) for a reason. I wasn't trying to sidestep debate. I was expressing certainty. Michael was aware that the braid was an identifying feature of her character. The painting turned out the way it did through a long process that involved editorial input. I'll leave it at that.

I look at it this way (and this is my opinion)... Nynaeve has grown enormously through the books. She was always uniquely powerful, but it took time for her to grow into that power. Moreso, it took a dozen books to accept herself and decide who she wanted to be.

Nynaeve worked through enormous difficulty to channel reliably. Remember how she used to tug on that braid? It really was a symbol of who she used to be. Kind of fitting that the symbol is gone.

Old habits die hard, of course, but she isn't that girl tugging on her braid any more. She's a woman who fought to gain acceptance as an Aes Sedai, and she's going to stand at Rand side to face the Dark One. It's impressive how far she's come as a character.
Giacomo357
231. StephStephCat
All I really have to say is this:

TINGLES EVERYWHERE
Theresa Gray
232. Terez27
Mr. Jackson (your name isn't Michael is it? because that would be unfortunate),

Thanks for the reassurances. Do you happen to know if specs were given for the eclipse? We're wondering if we can assume it's accurately portrayed from the perspective of an astronomer (we have one of those at Theoryland, and a hobbyist as well). That's not to say we can figure anything out about it right now, or even that we'll be able to figure it out when the book comes out judging on recent portrayal of chronology. Just curious. No worries if no particular care was taken to portray it accurately; I understand it's complicated, but it could have been made simple if RJ left notes about it. Also curious as to why it didn't show up until the final draft.

In case Mr. Whelan reads these comments (which honestly didn't occur to me until now), I think the cover is fantastic. I complained about Nynaeve wearing yellow, but even while complaining I understood that Ajah colors are better indicators for the casual reader. The recent changes in her appearance make it difficult enough to convey who she is without a close-up on the ki'sain.
ana liese
233. analiese
J.Dauro @ 226

In the last scene her hair is described as only coming to her shoulders. She may have lost more of it in the test.

There's no discrepancy there--in the testing, it was singed off "a handspan below her shoulders." But like any girl could tell you, if you braid your hair, it ends up a good bit shorter than it is loose. So it makes sense for Nynaeve's hair to be a handspan below her shoulders when it's loose and shoulder-length braided. Her hair is shorter than it should be on the AMoL cover.

It may be by this time she has met up with her husband and he says he like her hair loose, and her in Yellow. ;^)

I'll take MRJackson's word for it that the braid is missing for a reason, though I think it would be surprising if Nynaeve suddenly decided to give up the braid when she's always placed so much value on being a Two Rivers woman. It's not just a hair style; it means something to her. One possibility is that Lan's dead, because Malkieri cut their hair as a sign of mourning, like Edeyn did at the end of New Spring. But then the ki'sain would also be of a different color (white instead of red). Additionally, Rand was planning to go to Shayol Ghul literally just the day after the end of ToM, so there's very little time for Nynaeve to embark on a total makeover. Though it would explain why she's yet to be seen at Merrilor: she's still at the White Tower salon.

MRJackson @ 228

Moiraine has always been a favorite of mine. I would have liked to see her on the front cover as well. Thankfully Dan Dos Santos gave us that in his brilliant cover for The Fires of Heaven.

The Fires of Heaven ebook cover was definitely one of the best, though there were a few things the artist got wrong (Moiraine does not have blue eyes). The New Spring cover was great too, especially Lan. It's mostly Nynaeve who has suffered bad luck with the ebook covers. There's ACoS where she got red hair and Lan looked like an underwater zombie, Winter's Heart where she didn't appear at all despite being linked with Rand for the Cleansing, TPoD where she got a Saldaean nose and Elayne looked suspiciously like Jean Grey...

I think much of my disappointment with the AMoL cover stems from the fact that there's already an earlier cover (Winter's Heart) where Rand claimed the stage and his female linking partner was left out. "Hero poses manfully brandishing some kind of phallic object" is a pretty tired concept, especially on WoT covers. Rand does the same on Sweet's TDR and TPoD, the ebook covers for TDR, WH, KoD... Winter's Heart is probably the worst offender, if you look at the placement of the Choedan Kal. ;)

Sweet's AMoL cover was a welcome break from that--I'm not usually a fan of Sweet's covers, but I liked that he gave Elayne, Min, and Aviendha a prominent role and added some emotion to the cover. So I really would have liked to see something different on the final cover, like Rand having the two women from the Callandor circle at his side. Here, Nynaeve and Moiraine are present, but only in the background, and not at all on the ebook cover.
Theresa Gray
234. Terez27
lol. I don't think I would have ever noticed that. I noticed the map of Tar Valon easily enough, but I spend a lot more time staring at maps than I do staring at book covers.
Mike Jackson
235. MRJackson
Terez27 @ 227

Do you happen to know if specs were given for the eclipse? We're
wondering if we can assume it's accurately portrayed from the
perspective of an astronomer (we have one of those at Theoryland, and a hobbyist as well).

We didn't talk about it, but I can ask him. Michael has more than a passing interest in astronomy so it's possible.

And M and R are my initials...
Mike Jackson
236. MRJackson
analiese @ 233

The only female lead who held the cover spotlight on par with the men was Moiraine, and that is a shame.

There was definitely opportunity to feature Nyn linked with Rand on WH. Despite the hair, I liked Nynaeve on the cover of ACoS. Lan not so much. PoD was another miss, mostly because the colors were a distraction. I thought I was looking at an X-Men cover. Even if that was intentional, it didn't work for me.

I can only assume Rand was intended to stand at center stage alone on the last cover, but I think what you suggest would have been great too. Moiraine and Nynaeve definitely earned their place at Rand's side on the front.
Anthony Pero
237. anthonypero
Rand would have had to be much smaller to include the two of them on the cover as well... I suppose it could have been done, but it would have been an entirely different cover at that point. The way the shot is composed... with the the cave and eclipse forming a dragon's eye, and the teeth of the cave closing on Rand... most of that would have been lost in the noise if more than one figure was on the front cover.
Mike Jackson
238. MRJackson
Terez27 @ 227

Michael's response:

The few pages of manuscript I was given to work from didn't have any mention of an eclipse. The subject didn't come up until I had done several conceptual renderings. After sending some of them to TOR I got an email from Irene telling me that if I showed the sky through the mouth of the cave I might want to work an eclipse into the scene.

For reference I looked at a lot of photos of eclipses and liked the idea (for symbolic reasons) of indicating an imminent annular eclipse, the kind where the moon doesn't entirely cover the sun but leaves a thin ring of light in the sky.
ana liese
239. analiese
Terez27 @ 234

lol. I don't think I would have ever noticed that. I noticed the map of
Tar Valon easily enough, but I spend a lot more time staring at maps
than I do staring at book covers.

I'll try to keep it PG-13 here for the sake of innocents, but it's even more noticeable in the textless version where you can see the circles on the sides of the statue. I think my initial reaction was something along the lines of, "Instead of Rand and Nynaeve working together to cleanse the Taint, we got what looks like a Manic Panic-haired Rand masturbating? Goddamnit, Tor." Nowadays it mostly just amuses me whenever I see the cover.

It took me YEARS to notice the map, though--probably because while phallic imagery is a staple of fantasy art, the female equivalent is much more rare, so it never occurred to me to look at the map that way. (Or maybe my inner Sigmund Freud is more attuned to cigar-shaped objects.) You have to wonder what kind of conversation RJ had with the illustrator...
Theresa Gray
240. Terez27
Mr. Jackson (see, I was just trying to be proper; I figured it was your initials which is why I asked you if you'd been cursed with that particular M-name to go with your J-name),

Thanks so much for asking Mr. Whelan about the eclipse, and thank him for his response as well!
Theresa Gray
241. Terez27
@analiese—I figure he probably didn't have to have any kind of strange conversation with the illustrator. He sketched all his maps, so as long as he made the river/city distinction clear, and said 'make sure to include the harbors', he could have slipped it under her nose. But his illustrator was a woman, so... ;) (Elisa Mitchell) I did notice the circles on the non-text WH ebook cover. I wouldn't have thought much of it otherwise, but that was the convincing element. :p
Chris
242. hzfreelancer
I must say that I really do like this cover. I must say thought that the women are not quite right... Nyn has some epic sag for someone her age and Mo must be wearing a corset or something. (Yes it is Mo. The earrings give it away.)
JAMES MCCLELLAN
243. ZEXXES
I personaly don't have a problem with Rand being in the fore of the cover. It IS his stage all others are walking on. It is his deeds that will save them. It always has and always will be the Rand Al'Thor show. Everyone else have always been prominent supporting cast members witht heir on mini-series thrown in the mix. No thing that any other character has gone through or has done that will equal the cause the Dragon Reborn. My favorite character in the book is Mat, but if he never even had a cover appearance , I would understand completely.

Its like Colin MacLeod said, "There can be only one"


Z
Jay Dauro
244. J.Dauro
Listening to TOM again last night.
Egwene started, spinning. Nynaeve stood there, wearing a dress of bright yellow trimmed with green across the high bodice and along the skirt. She wore a red dot at the center of her forehead, and had her hair woven into its characteristic braid.
Towers of Midnight - 14 (p. 205). Tor Books. Kindle Edition.


analiese @233

But in both cases where Nyneave's hair length is described after being damaged, it is braided. One below her shoulders, the later one to her shoulders.
Theresa Gray
245. Terez27
ZEXXES - One of the major themes of the series is that it's far from a one-man show. If it's Rand's deeds that will save them all, then why will he almost surely fail without Moiraine? etc.
ana liese
246. analiese
ZEXXES @ 243

It always has and always will be the Rand Al'Thor show.

I think Brandon himself mentioned recently that he doesn't see it as only Rand's story, but that there are six main characters. Not that I don't love Rand, but book covers shouldn't look like Oprah's magazine covers. It's a moot point now though since there won't be any more WoT covers (aside from Harriet's upcoming encyclopedia, which might have new art if we're lucky).

J.Dauro @ 244

Brandon also had Nynaeve wear a maroon wool dress in TGS, which RJ's Nynaeve wouldn't be caught dead in, as much as she pretends to miss Two Rivers wool. :) I don't think Brandon pays attention to things like that and just figured Nynaeve would wear yellow like her Ajah. He'll probably have her wear a yellow dress in AMoL as well, so I don't mind the dress color on the cover; it just isn't something that would necessarily clue readers into the fact that it's Nynaeve. In RJ's books she always wore blue or green with some yellow slashes or embroidery.

Since RJ was so detail-oriented, many expected TGS/ToM to be the same, but details are just not Brandon's forte. In TGS he described Suana as "plump," then "a lanky thing, all bones and skin" in her next scene. Nynaeve's jewelry was also absent in ToM, leading some to speculate that she had been forced to turn it over to the Tower. So I was curious whether she would wear her jewelry again in AMoL--the "invisible armor" ter'angreal would certainly come in handy at Shayol Ghul, and we've yet to see it used. It's a bit surprising to hear that she apparently takes it off at some point.
Giacomo357
247. Tabatha
First off - this is a superb bit of art. I got goosebumps studying it. I could frame it & proudly hang it on my wall.
I LOVE Rand's appearance here. The coat is great, very detailed. He appears just as I have imagined him. Piercing blue eyes, scruffy around the edges, but still handsome & noble. I like the theory of him shielding his eyes or possibly weaving to hold the jagged stalagtites back.

Yes, Nynaeve should have darker, slightly longer hair. But I can't quibble with that. It could just be like a previous commenter said, it's backlit & blowing, thus appearing lighter. And shoulder length hair does have a tendancy to pull out of a braid, especially in windy conditions. There is clearly a red ki'sain on her forehead. Open up the wallpaper & zoom in, you can see it. Since Rand has already asked her to acompany him, well... There you go.

And yes, the other is indeed Moraine. The blue cloak, about the same height as Nynaeve, wearing a kesiera, dark curly hair no longer in perfect spirals but more real after her time with the 'finn. She looks exactly right to me.

It will be proudly displayed right next to my prints from The Dark Tower. The cover of the The Dark Tower was so perfect to me it was eerie.

Masterful work, thank you thank you thank you
Giacomo357
248. laclongquan
A bad cover for Memory of Light... simply bad.

If it's for another book, it's one thing. Mediocre novels are dime a dozen and we dont really care how mediocre their covers are.

This is for the final book of the Wheel of Time, for god's sake. The cover should show something that either describe the whole thing in one glance , full of meanings, OR showcase a character with identifiable features.

You hid the other arm or Rand, which is one. The pose is frankly terrible, which is another. The sky is normal, which is not what people imagine it in this scene should be. The mountain? bah. "Red on black his blood stained the rock of Shayol Ghul" not this normal looking poseur with this normal scene.

In short, this is bad.
Jhon Mondarte
249. SpeedyProcrastinator
@ 248. laclongquan

I totally agree with you. Just feels like the spelunking time I did last month...no feel of the impending doom at all! Great artwork but a shame nevertheless.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
250. tnh
Maybe Nynaeve just washed her hair, and she's letting it dry before she braids it.

Covers are about the look and feel of the book. They're not technical references.
James Whitehead
251. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@250tnh, "I'm gonna was that Dark One right outta my hair. I'm gonna wash that Dark One right outta my hair. I'm gonna wash that dark one right outta my hair. I'm gonna was that dark one right outta my hair. And seal him away for good..."

Kato

PS - Full apologies to Mssers Rodgers & Hammerstein. ;-)
Philip Wardlow
252. PhilipWardlow
I think the cover art is on par with the rest of the hardcover additions from before..for me nothing special. sorry..personally I really like all the new ones coming out in the run of the New Paperback series. I like the watercolored look to the those pictures and the tone they take and the way they seem to engage you in the scene, this one above did not do that for me at all. If anything it was disconcerting. but as everyone says Art is subjective. I actually liked some of Whelan's test sketches more than the the final product. I did not get goosebumps from this picture above sorry again.
ana liese
253. analiese
tnh @ 250

Covers are about the look and feel of the book. They're not technical references.

I think they should be faithful to the book, but I can understand how fans' nitpickiness would drive publishers up the wall. Some of that we caught from RJ--I have no idea and don't care about how 99% of characters in my favorite books would style themselves, but RJ described their feelings about various fabrics and colors in excruciating detail, often making their clothes reflect changes in their life and personality. There's a lot of color symbolism in WoT, as well. As a result, many fans have grown hyper-aware of any changes and sometimes read more into Brandon's alterations than we really should.

Using Nynaeve as an example, if she suddenly switches to wearing yellow, fans will wonder if it's a sign she's showing more pride in her Ajah, or that she's losing her rebellious streak and starting to conform to Tower traditions more. Or maybe Lan is dead, so she doesn't have to wear blue and green for him anymore? Theories abound. But a more likely explanation is that Brandon didn't realize she doesn't normally wear yellow dresses.

It's the same with her hair. Is she giving up her Two Rivers identity or honoring the Malkieri tradition of cutting one's hair as a sign of mourning? Or is there another reason why the people in charge of the cover art left out her main identifying feature? RJ assigned so much meaning to it; of course fans will be unhappy about its exclusion and wonder why it's missing.

Also, the book's release date is still far away, many topics have dried up, and we're desperate for spoilers...so it's not surprising that fans will scrutinize the eclipse, clothes, expressions etc and wonder what clues they offer.
Terry McNamee
255. macster
@205 Terez and 225 Skip: True, it hasn't been completely confirmed that the eclipse is the fufillment of that prophecy, but it seems fairly obvious that it is--why include it otherwise? A red herring, this close to the end? That really doesn't make sense. And note the rather sly way Whelan was told he "might want to include" it, as if as an afterthought to deflect from its importance. The fact he was told things regarding Nynaeve (like the absence of the jewelry or why her braid isn't there or the dress color) that we are not privy to could also mean he was told to include the eclipse for the same reason. If the eclipse isn't the fufillment of the prophecy, why was it added, why does it happen, what does it mean? Also, just because it has been strongly foreshadowed Rand will be dead for three days before living again doesn't mean that is the fulfillment of the "twice dawns the day" prophecy either--all the prophecy says is it will dawn twice the day he sheds his blood to stop the Shadow, nothing saying that day is also the day he dies and lives again. "Once for mourning, once for birth" could merely be symbolic, saying that's what the two dawns stand for, not that they happen at the same time as the death and rebirth. So he could easily die and live again before the eclipse and blood-shedding happen, even well before--especially if he does die at Caemlyn, as has been theorized. And the eclipse only lasting a short time isn't relevant if he died and lived again beforehand; it would just be a portentous sign from the heavens during Rand's assault on Shayol Ghul/the Dark One breaking free.

Basically, it may not be ironclad that the eclipse fulfills the prophecy, but as usual it also isn't ironclad that it doesn't. Occam's Razor, however, suggests that it does, and neither side should be proclaiming their theories are obviously the gospel truth. It's just hard not to do so when the other side has already done so for some time. If it turns out the eclipse has some other explanation and "twice dawns the day" doesn't mean the obvious, fine, that would certainly be a good twist, but if it does that doesn't make Jordan/Sanderson bad for being "obvious". It's not as if eclipses haven't been used for mythical and symbolic resonance practically since society began.

@251 KatoCrossesTheCourtyard: LOL!!!!
Terry McNamee
256. macster
Further thought: consider that aside from Arthur the main mythological parallels for Rand have always been to Jesus. When Christ died on the cross, there was an eclipse; this would be when his blood "freed men from the Shadow" (of sin). Then, after this, he was dead three days and rose again. So why couldn't it be that Rand faces the Dark One, there's an eclipse, he sheds his blood, he dies...and then after this is when he's dead three days, then resurrected?

Yes, Jordan mixed up a lot of mythology and symbols to suggest the changing of stories and legends over time, to suggest that (in this example) the story of Jesus is a garbled account of what happens to Rand, in which case the order of events in the Bible wouldn't necessarily be reflected in WOT. But that doesn't mean it has to be different either, and if it isn't, that would allow both the eclipse as "twice dawns the day" and the being dead for three days/living again foreshadowing to come true without contradicting each other. Again, not saying this is what will happen or has to happen, just pointing out other interpretations are just as likely and should not be dismissed out of hand.
Giacomo357
257. Julie Sedai
re: sword grip. Don't know if anyone said this already (too many comments to wade through!) but Rand could be using Heron Wading through the Rushes. Remember TGH, and Sheathing the Sword. I suspect that since Callandor can't be used, exactly, as a sword, Rand will be using it another way, that may involve him taking a blow from the DO and Callandor doing something to counter it and create the Sharom again ("clear rubble before you can build"). Can't figure out all the details, really, but I can't believe such an important lesson from Rand's early days would be tossed aside, as well as the words from the guy in Cairhien who was killed by the gholem (can't recall his name--said not to send Min anymore "girl too pretty". She kept his note, remember?). The wound in the side, the way he healed saidin.... something's coalescing here, and it has to do with the sword form. JMO.
Giacomo357
258. Julie Sedai
Also, to the people who think Rand looks "too old" here.... why don't you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, suffer torture while a prisoner, go a little mad, carry another person around in your head who keeps trying to take over your body, and go through life knowing that you are going to have to die to save the world? Look as good when you reach that point in your life you will not, hmmm?
Birgit
259. birgit
"clear rubble before you can build"

Herid Fel was talking about breaking the Seals before resealing the Bore.

Rand is an ageless AS. After his reintegration he is older than Cads.
Theresa Gray
260. Terez27
macster—Again, there are several reasons to believe an eclipse won't fulfill that prophecy. As to why it's there, well I'm sure it's there because there's going to be an eclipse. Just because there's going to be an eclipse doesn't mean it's going to fulfill that prophecy. Occam's Razor doesn't work here because there are too many details that are not explained at all by an eclipse.
Giacomo357
261. gibbo7420
Brilliant. Looks amazing! Has anyone thought it could be nyn and aviendha? One of the women has reddish-blonde hair, and the artist admits he hasn't read the books yet so may assume Avie was there from the start
Anthony Pero
262. anthonypero
If your hair was burned off to just below the sholders, wouldn't you have someone take a knife and scissors to them at some point, to clean up the burned ends and keep the inevitable splits from spreading? THe fact that her hair was a bit longer in ToM is only indicative of not having that done yet.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
263. tnh
Good point, Anthony. I once got my hair shortened on one side by a Guy Fawkes bonfire, and I can vouch for the damage not being evenly distributed. It was a mess until it was recut.
Amanda Perez
264. ViciousCircle
MRJackson @ 230 That was a beautiful description of why Nynaeve is one of the most compelling characters in the series. She and Moiraine kept me invested during some dark years of almost giving up on WOT. I always hoped they would be the other Callandor channelers, as I could not imagine Rand putting himself in such a vulnerable position with anyone else. Aviendha, Min and Elayne included, though I do love Aviendha! So thank you for shedding light on why some things are portrayed as they are on this excellent new cover. Just don't think that it will put a dent in the debate. ;)

On with the bickering!
Giacomo357
265. MarioInOttawa
Anyone know why his left hand is hidden? I think it is because his hand grows back and they didn't want to give that part away (The Dragon Reborn is causing all sorts of broken things to go good again).
Mike Jackson
266. MRJackson
ViciousCircle @ 264

Thanks. I feel much the same way about those characters, and I'm sure the debate will keep going on well after the publication of AMoL.

MarioInOttawa @ 265

Nice thought but Michael was just hiding the stump.
Giacomo357
267. LewFox
i dont know if thats a dagger in his left hand. i never knew or read that he carried one. maybe thats the seanchan spear? but it has no tassels. i could be wrong...
Giacomo357
268. LeHaug
Saved the best for last...Whelan crushed it. Can't wait to hold A Memory of Light, wrapped in this, on Jan 8th!
Giacomo357
269. ajdecarlo
Just to throw out a thought, as I saw someone talking about Rand's pose... I distinctly remember several places in the early books where RJ described the stalagtites in the cave as moving to either brush the head or even force the supplicant to the Dark One to crawl. Could this pose just be a matter of Rand using Callandor to keep the cave from closing on him?
Giacomo357
270. Julie Sedai
@birgit #259: you're right, it was Herid Fel (just finished rereading LoC) and he was talking about the Seals. But I still say that there's something going on in this book about Sheathing the Sword, and it may have something to do with the pose on the cover.

Frankly, I think he looks like the Rand I picture in my head on this cover, more so than on prior ones. I particularly hate the cover for LoC, because the proportions are wrong.
Giacomo357
271. SPB
I beilieve the two women are Nyn and Egwene. Rand has already stated that he would take Nyn and an another person he trusted. Whelan has already said that the two women on the cover had been with Rand since the beginning.
Both Egewene and Moraine have been there since the beginning but, if we look at the art we see that Nyn and the other woman are approximately the same hieght. It is stated multiple times in the book that Moraine is shorter than her companions. The only person left meeting the requirements is Egwene so we must conclude that the two women are Nyn and Egwene.
Alice Arneson
272. Wetlandernw
SPB @271 - One, the difference in height is only a matter of about 2 inches. Two, when has Egwene worn a kesiera?

(Per RJ, Nynaeve & Egwene are about 5'5" and Moiraine is about 5'3". You can't make much of an argument from that.)
Giacomo357
273. Taherds
Oops! Wasn't Rands right hand damaged by Semirage?
Alice Arneson
274. Wetlandernw
Taherds @273 - His left hand was blown off by Semirhage. No oops. That's (partly) why his left arm is behind his back here.
Giacomo357
275. Henry Lim
The perfect cover for the epic epilogue of the best epic fantasy sagas ever. Robert Jorden would be proud.
Mike Jackson
276. MRJackson
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see the painting in person. Wow is all I can say! There's a whole other level to seeing it with the naked eye.

Because of the craftsmanship MW puts into his finished paintings, he really does make it look easy. The prelimary work shown here is small fraction of the concepts, sketches and reference work that MW reviewed with me.

The work that went on behind the scenes was tremendous. We'll be featuring more on Michael's website in a few months.

If you get a chance to attend JordanCon next year when Michael is the Artist GoH, you'll be glad for the opportunity. Trust me... this painting is a beauty!

http://www.jordancon.org/content/michael-whelan

Also, while chatting about WoT, I was able to confirm that Nynaeve's yellow dress and Moiraine's blue shawl are straight from the text. So there you go...
Giacomo357
277. JGM
Moraine and Nynaeve for sure. Just remember all of Min's prohecies and doubts about Moraine needing to be there, when she thought Moraine was dead. Also when Nynaeve arrives at Baerlon in the Eye of the World it suggested that Nynaeve had to be there as well.
Giacomo357
278. The Ancients
Personally, for me the two figures are Morraine and Nynaeve. From dot Nynaeve was the person able to touch the source until Moraine turned up with Lan and so the barney with "those that dare not be mentioned because their not quite hospitable" happened.

Now granted Egwene is the top dog of the White Tower - she knew there was something about Rand - with experience it's been found out that it was friendship and with that over the books it's been twisted or slightly bent in an unatural mannor became somewhat sceptical about Rand until the clensing.

imho it's certainly not Egwene, she'll be dealing with the forsaken and the dark tower traitors, Min will be off gathering armies (she is a princess btw) in favor of the DR.

Apart from Perry and Mat - of which I don't see them in girly costumes (although they do have a significant influence on all that goes about them) the only logical approach is that it is Nyeneve and Moraine.

That's my pov anyway.
Giacomo357
279. Melissa C
I don't get it. Are people not reading the posts that came before? The women on the cover with Rand are Nynaeve and Moiraine. There is no debate. (Even if there were, Egwene is setting herself against Rand. but there's no debate.) I would have liked to see Moiraine and Nynaeve on the front as well, but I can understand how that would interfere with the other aspects of the symbolism in the image. It just seems a bit odd that they seem so far from him if theyu're going to be linking.

In any case, my only actual complaint is that it isn't full on Michael Whelan style. I would have much preferred it not even remotely come close to Sweet's work. Sweet's covers were horrendous.

Michael Whelan is a tremendous artist. I was heart-broken when they took the Xanth covers away from him and gave them to D.K. Sweet. This has a feeling of justice about it. After he's done reading the books, I hope he will do paintings for each of the books. That would be epic!
Alice Arneson
280. Wetlandernw
Melissa C. - Clearly, not. I've given up pointing it out. *sigh*
Giacomo357
281. zefred
When-is-the-darn-book-coming-out?
:)
Giacomo357
282. James Davis Nicoll
A Michael Whelan discovery that boggled me: he has no entry over on tv tropes. He's mentioned in other entries so I expected he'd get a personal write up but nope.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
283. tnh
The only trope I can think of that's associated with him is working his signature-glyph into the image, well in from the edges, so it can't be cropped or removed.
Giacomo357
284. Britt
The tone of this cover is extremely referential to TGH:
- coat color & embroidery retrieved from TGH;
- Rand's elegant grip on Callandor would align the heron on the hilt with the heron-brand on his hand;
- the warding-yet-exposed stance is firm & sacrifical (a la Sheathing the Sword, obviously) (& I agree with 'cruciform design' remark above);
- Rand's black-on-red coat (TGH) is the inverse of Ishamael/Moridin's iconic red-on-black (early books & emphasized by BS for Rand in TGS & Moridin (& Taim? Coincidence? ;)) in ToM);
- the ornate dragon belt is not itself saturated with TGH Rand v. Ishy theme -- but note that Whelan uses rubies for the dragon's eyes, obviously recalling Ishy.

Rand's side-wound appears to be open & bleeding through his shirt, and since this Rand is iconic in appearance (with pose and accessories tied closely to thematic elements of self-sacrifice) I find it interesting a) that the side-wound is presented so discretely and that b) the wound is open at all. Regarding a), since Rand's accessorizing, it seems to me, relates thematically to the early Rand v. Ishy contrast (and the TGS Rand v. Moridin collusion), I wonder why the blood is discrete rather than emphasized. I wouldn't have noticed it if I hadn't enlarged the cover image (read: Rand is a sexy, sexy man). Regarding b), I wonder if the wound is physically opened (in battle? by Fain? via excessive morning tai-chi, bad Rand bad!), opened with the power, or just won't shut at all as Rand's body degrades & so would be largely symbolic. I have no idea what role the wound could play in the LB -- so, interesting to note that it is definitely opened in Whelan's depiction.
Giacomo357
285. Nyx
Under M's & N's feet, there is a round symbol in the rocks... I can't make it out and I don't know why it would be there or what it might represent (a seal on the Dark One's prison maybe?)... Or am I reading too much into it??
Giacomo357
286. kkaone
Ofcourse its Moraine and Nynaeve. The Past and Present of Lan. And as Rand said in ToM, only Aes Sedai who behave as they are and are closer to rand than any other Aes sedai. egg head can never be with the Dragon in a circle as rand himself does not trust her fully.
Giacomo357
287. RebornDragon
Oh Shai'tan! Rand is coming for you! The wheel is weaving you out.
Giacomo357
288. Dwimmerlaik
Beautiful job Mr. Whelan! I can't wait to hold this book in my hands (signed by Brandon, of course, like the other two he's written).
Giacomo357
289. CCM
I don't like the cover. He looks like a Russian Ballet dancer not an epic hero.
Alice Arneson
290. Wetlandernw
You're saying Russian Ballet dancers can't be epic heroes? My world is shattered.
Giacomo357
291. CCM
Russian Ballet dancers can be epic heroes. just in this context it looks silly.
Giacomo357
292. vancenick
hmm i expected for callandor to more of a handandahalfer like swords on previous covers were or maybe a heavy rapier but the works to
Giacomo357
293. Jay T
Anyone else think its weird that every sketch is hiding Rand's left hand? Is it possible he has been healed before the last battle and it is being hidden so as not to spoil it for readers?

Jtric
Giacomo357
294. tessa
In ToM Min had a viewing about Callandor being gripped in a black hand. I'm thinking that's why it's hidden in the pictures.
Giacomo357
295. Pjb
Is it possible Nyn restored Moiraine's powers?
Roger Powell
296. forkroot
@295
Moiraine didn't lose her "powers" per-se, she just had her channeling strength reduced (by the Finn). This is somewhat analogous to the loss in strength that Suian and Leane incurred after having their stilling healed by Nynaeve.

At present, we've not seen Nynaeve able to "restore strength to initial potential". It's not clear that such a "healing" is possible, although you never know.

Meanwhile, Mo smartly snagged a pretty powerful angreal as part of her dealings with the Finn, so for practical purposes she's more powerful than before.

When it comes time for Rand to use Callandor in a circle (presumably with Mo and Nyn), I'm not sure if their strengths will be as important as their skills and wisdom (NPI.)
Giacomo357
297. @296
Nynaeve can not restore women to their full power, but she did Logain. And the Ashaman who healed the stilled sisters from 'Dumai's Well' did so without loss of power to the sisters. So you connect those dots.

It will be interesting to see if they can still say Suian and have a male restore her to full strength. Maybe that will work for Moiraine. Wondering here if stilling and burning out are different.

Rob-Creo

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