Sep 2 2012 10:30pm

Revelations from the A Memory of Light DragonCon Preview

Revelations from the A Memory of Light DragonCon Preview

You’ve read the preview from A Memory of Light, but do you know what else Brandon Sanderson revealed on Sunday at DragonCon?

The question and answer portion during the packed Memory of Light preview yielded some stunning new facts, especially in regards to what portions of the final three Wheel of Time books Robert Jordan left for fans of the series. Do you know where Brandon cameos in the books? And what huge surprise is waiting for readers at the end of A Memory of Light?

Video and exact wordings from the Q&A is forthcoming later this week, but in the meantime, here’s a summary to tide you over!

First, the Read and Find Outs (RAFOs):

  • Will we see cannons and gateways used in creative ways during the Last Battle? Brandon: “You will see me playing with gateways.”
  • Will we see a Green Man in A Memory of Light?
  • Will we find out what all of Cadsuane’s ornaments do?

A good amount of the questions weren’t concerned with the plot of the final book but with Brandon’s writing style, his struggles in adapting the material, and how it was melded to the work that Robert Jordan left behind. The audience wondered whether we might see future annotated versions of the final three books, with Robert Jordan’s work and Brandon Sanderson’s work marked out.

Brandon responded that it’s highly unlikely, due to it being against Harriet McDougal’s wishes and to the fact that annotations would have to be down to the sentence level, as it was often the case that one sentence would have been written by Robert Jordan, then altered by Brandon, then edited for content and style by Harriet, then copy edited by Harriet’s assistant Maria L. Simons.

Brandon did reveal several doozies in regards to what Jordan left behind, however. Each prologue to the final three books contains a scene written by Robert Jordan. One already known is the scene with the farmer in The Gathering Storm, for Towers of Midnight, Jordan wrote the prologue scene involving the soldiers in the Borderlander tower. And for A Memory of Light? We’ll see.

Perhaps the biggest admission, and one that brought a hush over the crowd, was the reveal that Jordan wrote the chapter in The Gathering Storm where Verin reveals she is Black Ajah to Egwene and the sequence in Towers of Midnight where Moiraine is rescued by Mat. Two of the most important elements in these final books came directly from Jordan’s hand.

Additionally, Sanderson pointed out that the Rand and Perrin viewpoints in The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight are more of his work, while Egwene and Mat’s viewpoints in those books are more Robert Jordan’s work.

Brandon also revealed that he makes a cameo in the books, in much the same way that Robert Jordan makes a cameo as an item in Knife of Dreams. (He appears as a ter’angreal of a fat man holding a book in the chapter “A Different Skill.”) A few years ago Sanderson was gifted one of Robert Jordan’s swords, choosing a katana with red and gold dragons twining around the hilt and handle. This gift from Robert Jordan’s family is now present in the series, and represents Brandon’s own cameo, for those who wish to look.

When an audience member asked the author what scene from the entire series really stuck with him, Brandon provided three that were particularly resonant; his favorite being when Rand visits Rhuidean. A close runner-up was the sequence at the end of A Crown of Swords, where Nynaeve loses her block and Lan rushes to her aid. And another reliable favorite for Brandon? Perrin during the siege of the Two Rivers in The Shadow Rising.

The audience was also curious as to what characters he had the hardest time grasping. “Aviendha and Tuon are the ones I worked the hardest on, but I expected them to be hard. I wasn’t expecting Mat to be hard. That blindsided me.” Brandon explained that in general the Andoran characters are the easiest for him to write as, “They feel like friends from high school.” So it surprised Brandon when he sat down to write Mat and discovered that he didn’t have an immediate grasp on him. Brandon eventually realized it was because, unlike the other characters, “Mat is an untrustworthy narrator. He doesn’t always believe what he says and he doesn’t even always believe the thoughts in his own head. He’s a character I’ve struggled to write but I think I’ve gotten as close to him as it’s possible for me to get.” (The positive reaction to the Mat chapter he read certainly put weight to this statement.)

Revelations from the A Memory of Light DragonCon Preview

He also, tongue-in-cheek, admitted that before he wrote Cadsuane she was his least favorite character. “She was just too mean!”

Brandon also spoke about the aspects of his writing that have improved due to his work on The Wheel of Time. Sanderson praised Jordan’s abilities with prose, considering it unmatchable in regards to his own writing style, but noted that Jordan was responsible for Brandon’s growing skills in dealing with multiple character viewpoints, and for Jordan’s remarkable subtlety in regards to foreshadowing in the Wheel of Time series. Brandon also noted how differently he and Jordan approach battles in regards to their personal histories. Jordan, having experienced warfare firsthand, wrote battle scenes with a sense of dread while Brandon’s battles have a cinematic design to them.

The discussion of multiple viewpoints prompted one audience member to ask about the growing amount of secondary viewpoints in the series itself, most notably in the prologues. Brandon pointed that Jordan himself began that trend in the prologues; “Embers Falling on Dry Grass” being among Sanderson’s favorite uses of that device, and revealed that readers should expect even more in the final volume.

How many more?

Upwards of 80. In a single chapter. That’s around 70,000 words and which takes place near the end of A Memory of Light. (We’re very curious to see if that chapter is titled “Tarmon Gai’don.”)

Brandon spoke further on the ending of the book and the series. For example, was the fanboy inside of him satisfied with the ending? “I really like the ending. When you get to what Robert Jordan wrote at the end of the book there’s a serenity that arrives. Everything clicks into place.”

There was a lot more in the Q&A, including a great speech from Brandon about the emotional toll writing the Wheel of Time has. Stay tuned for the video later this week!


Update: There’s now video of Brandon reading Chapter 11 below. Click the below link to watch a larger version, courtesy of Kristen Nedopak!

A Memory of Light - Chapter 11 (read by Brandon Sanderson at Dragon*Con 2012) from Unreal Classy on Vimeo.

Chris Lough is the production manager at and has heard way more about Trolloc pants this weekend than he cares to.

This article is part of A Memory of Light: ‹ previous | index | next ›
F Shelley
1. FSS
What else can we say? After more than 13 years for me, it's good that the series is ending, but it seems odd that this is the last wait for a WoT book. Thanks to Brandon for taking this on and ending the story so well. I wish Harriett would change her mind on releasing RJ's notes, but understand why she didn't.

Now i just need to put in for time off work in January to read and finish the book...
Katie Pi
2. Darth_Katie
A 70,000 word chapter with 80 different points of view? YOU'RE SHITTING ME. God in Heaven, I'm excited for this.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
3. Lisamarie
I am very excited for this last chapter :D

Anyway, it was cool to see that RJ wrote the big Verin scene, as that is probably my favorite scene in the series to date :)

Can't wait can't wait can't wait!
Tricia Irish
4. Tektonica
Wow..thanks for this info and update. Looking forward to the video too. This is all just making me drool.
5. Gambit
So for all those haters on Sanderson's Mat in TGS and TOM.... I guess a large part of that was actually written by the big man himself... Can't wait for AMOL, as always
Brandon Daggerhart
6. BDaggerhart
My thoughts on that 70k chapter w/ 80 POV's - I don't know how exactly it would be pulled off, but to me it seems likely and/or possible it would involve multiple people around the world witnessing some spectacle -possibly Rand's death, possibly his resurrection, possibly the "Twice Dawns the Day (whatever that may be)", but basically, a ton of POVs from random characters we know nothing about, experiencing the most important event in the history of the world.
Chris Lough
7. TorChris
@6. That might be part of it, but Brandon couched it in the context of a lot of fighting happening all over Randland/the world. (So, come to think of it, we might actually get a glimpse of Shara?)
8. visalus ambassador
Thanks for this info and update. I guess a large part of that was actually written by the big man himself.
9. Brian001
Chris - Thanks for taking the time to post this update so quickly. We all appreciate it. Is it January yet?
Theresa Gray
10. Terez27
Gambit@5—None of the info on who wrote what was new (see the 'who wrote what?' tag) so the 'haters' as you call them often do so in the context of that information. Brandon has also said that hardly anything written by RJ went untouched by him; for example—and this has been known since the first JordanCon (2009), before the release of TGS—the prologue section 'written' by RJ in TGS was the first scene, with the farmer in the Borderlands (Renald Fanwar), but RJ didn't actually write that scene—he dictated it in storyteller fashion that is essentially not at all like his written prose, and Brandon had to turn it into written prose. (I'm not certain because I haven't heard the recording, but I'm not sure RJ even named the characters involved.) The RJ scenes (usually not full scenes) that Brandon did insert more or less untouched were in draft form, written by RJ when his health was declining. Nothing was truly finished.

The bit about the 80-POV chapter is definitely new (though Linda posted about it first). We knew RJ wrote a big chunk of the ending, though, but not that. The previous record is "With the Choedan Kal", with 21 POVs including repeats and omni.
11. Freelancer
Very nice. Looking forward to the greater detail. Brandon continues to be one of the most communicative and approachable authors around. Glad all of the hard work on WoT is finished, now he can devote the lion's share of his time to his own literary visions.
12. J.A.R. Huygebaert
"One already known is the scene with the farmer in The Gathering Storm" - a scene written by Robert Jordan... oké, I really tought it was one by Sanderson, because I tought it was really not good. It was actually the only scene I didn't like in the whole book.
Nadine L.
13. travyl
Chris, thank you so much for keeping us updated.
This is all great to read. -
To see the final book sitting in front of Mr. Sanderson (top picture) makes it really hard to wait for january though.
15. Ron Derry
20 years. It's been a long journey and I don't want it to end.
Alice Arneson
16. Wetlandernw
This is going to be so good. My thanks to Brandon - and all of Team Jordan - for being so open and friendly with the fan community. It's fun to get these glimpses of "who wrote what" and so on, but all in all, it doesn't matter that much to me. (Well, it's really, really fun to be able to point out to some would-be critic that "No, in fact, you really can't tell just from a quick read which bits were written by Brandon and which by RJ, because you just proved yourself wrong...")

Snark aside, though, I'm so very grateful to them all for finishing this story, and doing it with style and grace.
zac d
17. Asio
"Snark aside, though, I'm so very grateful to them all for finishing this story, and doing it with style and grace."

this. exactly this!
18. son of Amun
I started reading book one in 1991 on my way to bootcamp. They took the book away from me on arrival and I had to wait to finish it after "boot" was over, and I did on the bus and the plane etc... I look forward to this with a longing I have not reserved for anything. Thank you to all who made this happen.
19. somewheresouth
squee. and also eeeep!

You're right, it feels really odd to be waiting for the last book! I remember my brother reading the first book to me when I had an eye infection, I can't have been ten years old yet. It's a very mixed and poignant feeling.
S Cooper
20. SPC
I was there - he did say that it wasn't 80 different points of view; that number includes repeated people. It's 80 POV changes. Nevertheless, it's going to be something to see.

For me, one of the fun parts of the reading was watching Brandon struggle to pronounce some of the more unpronounceable names. He said several times that he'd never said them out loud before. That tickled my funny bone.

It was hilarious watching people at all his panels take pictures of the mocked-up book. I admit I took one too.
Deana Whitney
21. Braid_Tug
Wow! they are telling us who did what!

And I'm not really surprised that RJ wrote at least one scene per pro-log. I started thinking it would be cool if each of the three joint books started with a bit that RJ wrote.

Glad Sanderson admitted his problems with writing Mat!

Really not surprised we are going to get a “mega-chapter” of jumping viewpoints.
RJ did it when he cleaned the Source, Sanderson has done it in several of his books. Hope they tell us stuff we want to see!
22. Halcyal
Okay. A 70,000 word chapter. Based on my own little back-of-the-envelope metric, that's like something between 110 and 150 hardcover pages. Yikes. Don't get into that one just before bed.
23. maze
Well that sparked a few things ... found out my favorite scene is also in Brandons top 3 (breaking Nynaeve block in the Crown of Swords), offtopic: number two is Veins of Gold in the Gathering Storm and number three is healing Siuan and Leane in Lord of Chaos ... I'm not ashamed of admitting all three scenes made me shed a few tears after reading them.

It's also very good to hear a part of the "who did what". Thanks to Brandon becomming involved in I have become a big fan of his writing, but i got still get (positive) goosebumps knowing which parts where done by Robert Jordan.

4 months and counting ...
Glen V
24. Ways
Thanks, Chris.
Can't wait, love the little teasers we get from time-to-time.
You go, Wet (still my hero *smiles*).
Terry McNamee
25. macster
Wow...just hearing these little tidbits has me getting more and more excited and covered with goosebumps!

I find the RAFOs from Brandon to be incredibly intriguing, particularly the Green Man since that suggests that yet another thing from early in the series is returning for the ending. Whether that means we'll learn more about the Eye's relevance and the voice Rand heard in all caps, who knows... Creative use of gateways is fun to hear about, since this is one of the things commenters on Leigh's re-read have been discussing lately (the lack of such a thing so far). And I do wonder about Cadsuane's ornaments...if their uses are revealed though, I hope they aren't some sudden deus ex machina but something that has either been foreshadowed already or which won't save the day but merely be very useful.

I am not at all surprised that Jordan wrote the scene at Heeth Tower, or Verin's confession; both felt very like him in content if not in actual style (though IMO it felt like that as well).

And I love that Brandon's three favorite scenes are some of mine as well--and many other WOT fans!
26. Helane
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
27. WoT NOW
Thanks goodness I wasn't introduced to WoT earlier in my life - don't think I would have survived this suspense more than three times!
28. Mukund
wow... freaking out to read the whole book...
think that would be the last chapter.. getting an epilogue with everyone of main characters having a view and common people having some view points...
29. Ed Maddie
I've read this series 6 times now. I started when I was 14 years old, 20 years ago, and these are still my favorite books. This is the only series I've read more than once, and for good reason. I thought Brandon did an excellect job on towers of midnight, and I'm finally lookng forward to closure on the series that I"ve been reading for most of my life.
30. Drayburg
It has been nearly 24 years for me and this series and that is quite a long time. This series is such an awesome Literature Event. I know I will be sad when the end (for me) finally arrives as I turn to the last page and read the last word. I am pretty sure it will be without a dry eye or two. I wish, like everyone else, that Mr. Rigney, nee "Jordan" could be the one to finish his magnum opus. Alas, it is not to be, but I still want to give thanks to him now, before I read the last book, for all he has done and written. I had the chance to meet him and listen to him speak at a Comic Con years ago, and found him to be glib, hilarious, serious, articulate, larger than life, and humble. It was nice to put a human person(ality) behind the words I had read and re-read for years. When next I hoist a drink with friends, I will make a toast for Mr. Jordan. Thank you. (And Great Thanks to Mr. have done a most admirable job at continuing and adding to the world Mr. Jordan allowed the rest of us to witness and be a part of.)

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