Sunday, December 4, 2016

Horn of Valere & the Heroes of the Horn

Haeva Stone on December 04, 2016 12:16:46PM:
I was reading some interview snippits concerning the Heroes of the Horn. In the text it's implied that they will fight for either the Dark or Light depending on which side the Hornsounder is on. However, it later states, and some answers to questions in interviews, states that no, they will only fight for the Light. The whole issue seemed a bit confused, IMHO, but I've come up with a theory that might satisfy.
I'd be very interested in seeing what everyone else thinks :) I've not seen this theory elsewhere, so I'm hoping it's original!
How far are the Heroes of the Horn able to invoke free will? Perhaps they will always be summoned when the Horn is blown, but if it's blown by a Darkfriend, maybe they would have the option of saying "screw that" and simply refuse to fight for the Shadow.
Lael Miskeri on December 18, 2016 10:10:40PM:
In TGH, when they arrive... doesn't Hawking comment about how they come to the call of the Horn, but they follow the Banner of the Dragon? Because they're not willing to budge until Rand unfurls the Banner. I have to believe that they are still sentient, and so have a measure of Free Will, but they are working as agents of the Creator to support the battle for the Light. Perhaps, and this is possibly the question... if the Dragon has Fallen, the sounding of the Horn will either pit the Heroes against Him (if the Sounder still follows the Light) or they won't come at all, if the Sounder is the Fallen Dragon or someone on his side?
Haeva Stone on January 02, 2017 02:43:33PM:
I think that's a good idea. Perhaps they act as a kind of security measure - if the Dragon supports the Shadow instead of the Light, perhaps they are called to eliminate him, instead.
As I delved further into the interview snippits, I did find references that the Dragon had turned to the Dark One in previous turnings of the wheel, but those 'Last Battles' had always ended in a draw (as evidenced by the world not having ended). I haven't seen anything that specifically links the Heroes of the Horn to those 'turnings', but that doesn't mean they aren't!
Perhaps something about the Dragon Banner tells them what side the Dragon is on?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Gaidal Cain

[quote author=Lariean Malinar on September 23, 2016, 04:26:21 PM]
Okay, so everyone knows that Gaidal Cain was NOT reborn as Olver or Gadren Grady. But apparently....Jur Grady has a younger child (courtesy of Terez from DM cornering Brandon about it), that is a new possibility.
Also, someone theorized that it could also be the child that Logain saves instead of taking Demandred's sa'angreal from Taim's crystallized corpse. Both would be the right age.

What do you think?

[quote author=Lael Miskeri on September 23, 2016, 11:32:13 PM]
I would like to think that the child of an Asha'man might be more inclined towards growing up as a soldier than a child that was on the Fields of Merrilor during the Last Battle. I have to think that children at the Black Tower would be taught basic survival methods and likely fighting, since you're never exactly certain if a child could either be a sparker or a potential channeler. I think it also fits the concept of the Black Tower that people who "wash out" would then move towards more militaristic roles.

[quote author=Haeva Stone on September 25, 2016, 01:53:13 PM]
I'm pretty much with Lael on this one. I think that the child Logain saves at the end of MoL is a terrific candidate for Gaidal Cain reborn. It's the best theory I have heard yet.
However, I didn't know that Jur Grady's ugly son was definitely out of the running - could I ask when this was confirmed, just out of interest?

Brandon Sanderson has apparently said that he knows who Gaidal Cain is, but when I last checked, he had not revealed his identity.

Does anyone else think that Team Jordan has held a few snippits back, either for a future TV show, or to keep future interest high?

[quote author=Lariean Malinar on September 25, 2016, 04:11:47 PM]
Jur Grady's son Gadren is 4 years old, 2 at most when Gaidal is spun out. Brandon did say that he was too old, and James did say that time does not run backward between the real world and Tel'aran'rhiod, so Gaidal would have been an infant.

The other child of Grady, however, could very well be the perfect age for Gaidal, thanks to prying by Terez.

Is Gaidal Cain, Grady's kid, Gadren?
That's a good theory. Some fans think he would be too old, however. What do you think?
According to RJ's comments on the subject, he is too old; Rand thought he was about four years old in Lord of Chaos, and even if Rand was off, Gaidal can't have been any more than two months old at the time, and was more likely just being born. It stretches credulity that Rand would have mistaken a newborn baby for a four-year-old child.

next interview (and I missed this one):

INTERVIEW: Feb 22nd, 2013
AMOL Signing Report - Terez (Verbatim)
Okay, so, Grady has multiple children.... (pauses for confirmation)

(gets this gleefully smug look on his face that knocks about a quarter century off his age)

What is that look for? I mean, come on. You've been, like, dancing around the bush...(crosstalk)

I've dodged this one so well, Terez! (crosstalk)

...on this one for like two years, I'm not gonna let you dodge any more! Just tell me if he has multiple children.

(stubbornly reluctant) Grady. Has. Multiple. Children.

(Thank you Theoryland for the info for both posts)

[quote author=Haeva Stone on September 26, 2016, 12:17:50 PM]
Cheers, Lariean :) I like to have the references.

I'd forgotten Grady's son was quite that old. I knew time ran differently in Tel'aran'rhiod, but it would definitely be stretching things too much, there. I didn't know whether it had been absolutely established, yet.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Where do you guys get your gear?

The topic of where to find and how to make parts of an Asha'man costume has, of course, been a recurring conversation in the Facebook group, since we started back in [url=]March[/url].  Okay, I admit we hijacked that thread.  :)  But later conversations, after JordanCon in [url=]April[/url] and [url=]May[/url] were a little more focused.

Costume design and cosplay, not just of Asha'man, are central to what Black-Tower.Net is about.  But sadly, in the buildup towards having this site up in time for DragonCon, I fell behind in keeping the discussion going.  So, I'd like to correct that.

Tell us about your experiences and ideas.  Got a cool looking coat, sword, or accessory you've considered using?  Don't be shy, show us a picture.  Not sure how to approach making your own?  Ask away!  We're here to help.

Female members as Asha'man or Aes Sedai?

With regard to the question of whether female members are either Asha'man or Aes Sedai, (more accurately, how/why they may be both), I'd like to share with you our thought process behind developing our membership structure.

Extrapolating from the books and comments I'd read from Robert Jordan, its my impression that each of the Towers would continue to handle the training of female and male channelers, separately. And while Aes Sedai and Asha'man might bond, likely with one moving to the other's Tower, they would remain separate groups and keep their respective names. RJ did hint that at some point in the future, both groups return to being Aes Sedai, independent of gender. But, to me, it felt like he meant distant future, not immediately after the Last Battle. So, that was my starting point with trying to figure out how our membership structure would work.

One of my more grandiose ideas was to honor those who had put in the time and effort to become Aes Sedai over at, by allowing them to start here with that rank. Primarily, due to the amount of community involvement it takes to reach the rank. This is still partially the case (read on), but as development became a team effort we realized that this couldn't work exactly as intended.

Very early on, in the [url=]Facebook group[/url], it became clear that there was a demand for female members to actually be Asha'man, instead of Aes Sedai. (Including people that are Aes Sedai on TarValon.Net and other sites.) At the same time I felt, for flavor reasons, that we shouldn't limit ourselves by dispensing with Aes Sedai entirely. (Its a common opinion that many of the bonded Aes Sedai might have returned to The Black Tower to help rebuild the organization, after the Last Battle.)

So, that placed us down the road of having separate paths for members to earn ranks. Including, a third (Tradesman) path for those that didn't want to be either Asha'man or Aes Sedai. (The third path was later tossed out for other reasons.) But, planning ahead to where we have several hundred members, we realized that having multiple rank paths could become a management nightmare. (I've been told it kind of already is, over at Tar Valon, due to similar mechanics.)

Despite the desire to promote quickly and early, the policy for allowing members to join as full Aes Sedai carried with it the "what if" of us having more Aes Sedai than Asha'man in the organization, which would be kind of silly when you consider the books. This also presents a problem with determining where to draw the line with new members joining, and at what rank. Too many Aes Sedai would require all us guys to automatically be full Asha'man, which would dilute the entire concept of earning ranks. (People like to earn things.)

The other thing that totally bothered me about this, with regard to the books, was having Aes Sedai as a rank necessitating having Novice and Accepted as ranks, for new members that chose that path. In the books, The Black Tower lacks both the arch ter'angreal and the Oath Rod, so The Black Tower can't actually raise Aes Sedai.

So, we (primarily [member=2]Ariana Davion[/member] and I) went back-and-forth for a few months trying to come up with a way to work around these problems. Finally, it hit us what we were missing... The Aes Sedai that came to The Black Tower in the books were not granted any special rank or privilege for being one. In that context it's a title, not a rank. (Granted, this is an artifact of Taim's regime, but it helps solve a lot of problems.) Also, despite lacking the means to raise Aes Sedai, there are Aes Sedai at the Black Tower that (conceivably) could train female channelers, in turn making female Asha'man a possibility within the context of the books.

And there you have it. Visitor, Villager, Soldier, Dedicated, and Asha'man are ranks, but Aes Sedai is a title. Those granted the right to use the Aes Sedai title may freely update their forum profile to show it. (Profile tab at the top of the page --> Forum Profile --> enter your title in Custom Title)

This just leaves the one open ended question, that I'd rather not decide on unilaterally. [u]Who gets to be an Aes Sedai?[/u]

In keeping with the "servant of all" aspect from the books, I feel like some form of community involvement should be required. So, Tar Valon members would certainly qualify, and are easy to look up for confirmation of this. But, as [member=4]Braid_Tug[/member] pointed out, in one of our team discussions, we don't want to alienate people from other sites in the process. And, at the same time, allowing anybody to use it (really any title) on a whim wouldn't be fair either. Some qualifier should be necessary.

So what do you all think?

[quote author=Gabriel Kross on September 10, 2016, 11:15:34 PM]
Hmmmm, I mean, there's always the obvious answer. Make Aes Sedai an obtainable title for any female member but make them earn it in a community type capacity, however at the same time for fairness maybe add a warder title or something for guys who want a bit of duality as well so both sides would have to have an equal extra requirement in order to get a special title. YAY FAIRNESS!

Also I had a chuckle at this for reasons that people should know:
(Granted, this is an artifact of Taim's regime, but it helps solve a lot of problems.)

[quote author=Haeva Stone September 11, 2016, 08:48:39 AM]
IMHO (and please understand that I'm not very experienced with how these things work - I'm still trying to figure out what I'm actually supposed to be doing at, there are a few ways to approach it:

1 - Regardless of gender, anybody could apply to be Asha'man OR Aes Sedai; the same level of involvement would be required, but tests or other 'qualifying' mechanisms may be different, but require equal work/dedication. So Soldiers and Novices would be equal, Accepted and Dedicated &c.

2 - Have all male members as Asha'man and all female as Aes Sedai, with the requirements being the same for both. I sense from other posts and comments (including some on FB), however, that this would not be popular.

3 - Have any member at allowed to keep the title of Aes Sedai, and have a test or other qualifier in order to obtain the RANK at the Black Tower (This might be used in conjunction with other options), since they've already done a lot to earn that title. Perhaps if anybody wished to qualify as Asha'man here who held the Aes Sedai rank there, they might similarly 'transfer' or automatically have the Dedicated rank instead of starting from scratch.

4 - What about Warders? After Birgitte and Leilwin, my thought is that female Warders might start to become more common after the Last Battle - perhaps even give the Red Ajah a way around the problems of not having one at all. (I can't remember where I saw it, but there was a suggestion of Gaidar as the title for female Warders). And allow either gender to bond either gender to avoid any problems or objections. Asha'man bonded their wives, didn't they?
I'm not sure how Aes'Sedai and Asha'man bonding each other might work...

These are just ideas. I do apologise if I've misunderstood anything about this. Please let me know if I'm just creating more problems.

[quote author=Illinger Covale'rahien on September 11, 2016, 12:19:58 PM]
[member=34]Haeva Stone[/member] There is no such thing as a bad question here.

So, what I was getting at in the article, mainly applies to #3 on this list.
Having done things to be recognized as an Aes Sedai on other sites is usually a badge of honor for that person, and this site being the "new kid", making people start over just doesn't feel right to me. However, there are a few members in our Facebook group who are Aes Sedai, but would rather identify as an Asha'man. So, this is why we made it a title, not a rank. It may be used optionally, by anyone that meets the criteria (to be determined).

The perception, when we were designing the membership structure was that #1 & #2 would require separate rank paths. While on the surface that may seem most logical, on the back end it will effectively double the work that membership staff will need to do in order to maintain it. (Remember, we're planning ahead here, to where we're a larger group.)

#4 is a little off topic, but still a good point. Bonding is absolutely a thing at The Black Tower; reminds me we forgot to put that drop-down in everybody's forum profile. :) However, Asha'man don't have Warders in the same sense as Aes Sedai do in the books. So, we intentionally left that open to interpretation. If members A and B decide to Bond, with member B being designated as member A's Warder, that's totally up to them. (I'm not opposed to implementing Gaidin/Gaidar as a title either, if people want them.)

[quote author=Ariana Davion on September 11, 2016, 02:03:38 PM]
All excellent thoughts!

One thing that weighed heavy on this was that no two sites are the same. Each one has a different vetting system, or raising system, that would easily lead to some level of inequality.

For example, to become Aes Sedai or Gaidin on you go through not 1 but 3 different approvals through the Hall. (A collection of 2 reps from each Ajah/Company). While an Ajah or Company can't deny you aspiration to their group, the Hall can choose not to allow you to become Aes Sedai or Gaidin. It's not a common thing, but I have seen it done. Raising takes time and 1 contribution and general activity.

Dragonmount is more convoluted in it's system. (And I am more rusty on how it works) You can genuinely be denied into an Ajah if the members decide you don't belong.

And then there are other sites that have their own unique system.

Part of adding that stipulation of crossover is that there is only so much we know about each site and what they consider "Aes Sedai" or 'Gaidin". It is not bad in any way, but at the same time for the level of fairness we want contribution into what the Black Tower stands for. What we want to build as a unique community within the larger WoT community. And naturally "Aes Sedai" fit much better as a title than a rank.

If Aes Sedai was a rank, would we have Ajahs'? Who would lead those Ajah's and would we have an Amyrlin? No. There are a great many sites that have all these things. But Asha'man and M'Haels are much more rare. I think to uphold at least some of the sanctity of the Black Tower we need to keep to the Asha'man structure. Having Aes Sedai as a Title sort of helps get around that in a more painless way.

That isn't stopping people from saying "I'm an Aes Sedai from the Blue Ajah on Dragonmount, and I have come to join the rebel Black Tower. Power to the M'Hael!". I mean, we're not complete assholes about it.

[quote author=Illinger Covale'rahien on September 11, 2016, 03:24:15 PM]
Well said!

One of the concepts we were building on was (at least here in the early stages) to keep to the fast promotion and all inclusive nature of Rand's model for The Black Tower in the books. Granted that model didn't include Aes Sedai at all, but it feels like the direction Logain/Androl might go after the Last Battle. But, at the same time, we want any ranks or titles that are issued to have meaning.

So, yes. If you're already an Aes Sedai at Tar Valon, the last thing I'm going to want to do is make you jump through more hurdles to call yourself one here. (Probably also true for Dragonmount, I'm guessing?)

Really, the only line we might draw is if its a site where the policy is "Hi. I'm an Aes Sedai." Because that would completely devalue the title for anyone we grant it to, same as if we started handing out the Blademaster title (another special one we're allowing for import) to those that haven't won the annual contest at JordanCon.

As for our own system, for folks that want to earn the title internally (if that's even a thing here), I'm going to defer to Arie as our ranking Aes Sedai on that one :) At that point, it's totally her job as Director of Membership. I'm just the figurehead in that scenario.

Also remember, since it's not a rank, you can claim the Aes Sedai title as early as Visitor rank on the day you register. Provided the criteria we've been discussing (whatever they end up being) are met, of course.

[quote author=Gabriel Kross on September 13, 2016, 12:54:14 PM]
I can offer a bit more insight on how the bolded part of the quaote below works when I get home from class. Just so we'll have it for explanative purposes.

[quote author=Arion on September 13, 2016, 06:13:07 PM]
I think that there shouldn’t be female asha’man as this is a concept Rand created for male channelers.

If I understand it right Rand said that an Asha’man was a weapon and he did not care if they died the same way he did when a women was killed even if she was an Aes Sedai. I therefor think that there should be a separate rank for women in the BT equal to Asha’man but not Asha’man.

They could be Aes Sedai and as I understand it being an Aes Sedai wasn’t always about taking the oath on the terangreal so I see no problem with us granting this rank to female members.

I also do not see why women should be required to use the terangreal and not the male once for there was nothing like the Three Oaths in the Black Tower in the books.

We should come up with our own unique way of raising people to the rank of Asha’man and Aes Sedai and at the same time honor the once from other sites with an additional title.

[quote author=Lael Miskeri on September 13, 2016, 06:33:31 PM]
I think I agree with Arion. While the original title of "Aes Sedai" was gender-neutral, in the time since the Breaking it became fully associated with females (because, you know, madness)... so I think that if we want to be giving out titles for Senior Members, Asha'man should be restricted to men. If we don't want to co-opt Aes Sedai from Tar Valon, then maybe we could make Senior female members "Kin" or "Knitting Circle" members, unless they want to carry their title over from TV? Again, I certainly think if someone is a Senior Member at TV (or Dragonmount... I don't know of other significant fan sites) and they don't want to carry the Aes Sedai with them, then we certainly award them Senior Member status here, I just don't know that it should be Asha'man.

I also don't know how TV works. Can men become Aes Sedai over there?

[quote author=Ariana Davion on September 13, 2016, 07:42:19 PM]
I don't think it is wise to alienate women from the Asha'man rank because the book has only men as Asha'men. What the BT stands for is being a Guardian, while Aes Sedai stands more for Servant. Two different philosophies, and many of us (women) DO identify with the Guardian aspect of the Black. Saying no because their biology is different comes off as pretty sexist.

Yes, Men can be Aes Sedai on TarValon.Net.

[quote author=Lael Miskeri on September 13, 2016, 07:46:46 PM]

Thank you for the information about TV. With regards to that, I withdraw my argument! If men at TV can be Aes Sedai, then the reverse also makes sense.

[quote author=Illinger Covale'rahien on September 13, 2016, 08:22:21 PM]
That last part was actually news to me, as well.

But, more to the point, I was going to remind people that Aes Sedai here is only a title, nothing to do with rank. As explained above, this is in line with the books with regard to Aes Sedai at The Black Tower.

Also, there's plenty of titles in the books, some gender neutral, others not. And only a few that we've applied any special meaning to, so far. (Master/Mistess of whatever is for staff, Blademaster and Innkeeper have specific cultural meanings in WoT-fandom, etc.) I'll post something separate about titles in general later.

[quote author=Gabriel Kross on September 13, 2016, 08:36:26 PM]
[quote author=Ariana Davion on September 13, 2016, 07:42:19 PM]
I don't think it is wise to alienate women from the Asha'man rank because the book has only men as Asha'men. What the BT stands for is being a Guardian, while Aes Sedai stands more for Servant. Two different philosophies, and many of us (women) DO identify with the Guardian aspect of the Black. Saying no because their biology is different comes off as pretty sexist.

Yes, Men can be Aes Sedai on TarValon.Net.

^ this just all of this, plus there are many females that actually want to be Asha'men if I understand correctly.

Also to go into what I promissed earlier about clarifying how DM does their raisings atleast on the social side. They have an intro class like thing where you are supposed to participate in a discussion in each of the Ajah and Warder paths no matter what path you feel inclined to. Then after the class you have participation requirements and what not for getting to your tier two, and then declarations. However before you can declare you must apply to your path of choice's leader then the staff of that path will discuss whether they think you'd be a good fit personality wise and whether there are conflicts between the applicant and members/staff of that path. From my experience it was rare to be turned down, but I also feel it has most-likely happened. This is the long version of what was briefly mentioned before, it's kind of convoluted, but it's also kind of logical on a social level. Like I was the leader of one of the warder paths for a good while so I do know first hand how the system is set up.

all that being said I don't think this is a method we should employ, it's too complex and just kind of just not even fitting lore wise.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Applying the Marvel model to WoT

One of the more interesting topics discussed in the [url=]Facebook group[/url]...

How would people feel if, instead of just doing the TV show, movies based on various parts of the books were made to compliment the series? This would be similar to the way the Marvel Universe now switches between "Agents of SHIELD" and the various movies.

[quote author=Haeva Stone on September 08, 2016, 11:43:00 AM]
I think that would be a terrific idea. There's lots of bits and pieces that might have to be cut from the series, but this kind of format could ensure that more was kept in and therefore keep more current fans happier.

I think varying the format in this way would probably keep interest high, as well, especially if some of the sub-plots that would fit a film could be tweaked in terms of chronology. It would be really interesting to see how the pacing would be handled.

[quote author=Arion on September 24, 2016, 04:43:50 PM]
I hope they will make a movie of "New Spring" and then the series of the other books :D

[quote author=Illinger Covale'rahien on September 24, 2016, 11:25:25 PM]
Chronologically, this might seem to make sense. But keep in mind, we don't really have an emotional attachment to Moiraine prior to the events in the earlier books. So in order to make that work, they would have to write in a lot more and build her as the main character, which of course she is not.

If we're staying with the Marvel model, Moiraine is basically Peggy Carter in that way. So, a miniseries for "New Spring" would make more sense to me.

[quote author=Haeva Stone on September 25, 2016, 01:47:29 PM]
I have very mixed feelings about New Spring. I can't remember exactly when I read it in relation to the rest of the series, so what I previously knew about Moiraine and Lan obviously had their effect. I loved that we got more detail about the life of an Accepted in the Tower, the hierarchy and how Aes Sedai were viewed in the world. Also, having been effectively cloistered, how a new Aes Sedai coped with her new status and life.

However, I find it a slow-paced book that I don't feel would adapt very well. I also feel it is very 'unfinished' and in that way unsatisfying on its own. I've often felt this was part I of a single prequel and the details of Tam al'Thor in the wars and finding Rand on Dragonmount &c. would have been an excellent part II. (I know that was more-or-less the plan, with a third taking us to just prior to EotW). But I think it would be a huge risk to launch a WoT series with New Spring, IMHO.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

TIP: Removing tarnish from your pins.

I'll probably update this post with photo examples, during the lead up to JordanCon, when I'll need to do this again.  But back in April, we had a brief discussion in the [url=]Facebook group[/url] about how best to shine up your Dedicated pin, or other small silver accessories.

Whether you are using silver polish or toothpaste, the key is to use only a very small amount (use the tip of the sword as a tiny scoop), to ensure you don't over do it and accidentally mess with the antiquing. 

Once you have the desired amount, apply it directly to the cloth you will be using.  (A good microfiber cloth is best, but any rag will do.)  This will help keep the paste/polish out of crevasses, and only polish the raised surfaces.

A brief history of Black-Tower.Net

For those who were not with us, this thread out on the [url=]Facebook group[/url] provides some insight into our early thoughts about what this website should be about, and where we saw it heading.

Some of the ideas outlined there have changed over time (keep in mind this was a few weeks before JordanCon). But one thing that has not changed, a vow that I would like to renew, is that this website is not all about what I think. It is about what we can accomplish together as a group.

If anyone has comments or suggestions on how we can make the site better, the door is always open!

WoT/SW Crossplay

One of the more interesting conversations we had going earlier in the Facebook group.  (Also, here.)  And something we saw a bunch of at JordanCon this year...

If you were going to Crossplay WoT and Star Wars (or really anything), what would you go with?

Tsingtao September 6, 2016 08:25:13PM:
Jedi/Asha'man of course :)

IDK...  Looks Sith to me.  LOL

From Facebook

This crazy, awesome costume was submitted to us by [member=59]Terribilis Armigerum[/member] via our Facebook group.
[img width=330 height=600][/img]
It was inspired by this cool piece of fan art.

Also, some inspiration for the ladies...

EDIT: If anybody knows how to contact the artist (no response to my note at Deviant Art), I'd gladly update this post to show them side by side.

Wheel of Time Companion Nominated for World Fantasy Award

Congratulations to Team Jordan on this nomination.

For more on this story, here is the article at Dragonmount:


[member=14]Nesteph[/member] has been tied up with a few other projects, but will be working on picking things up in these sections fairly soon.
For those who are unaware of his street-creds in costuming, he made this for JordanCon 2016.
[img width=400 height=600][/img]
(Shardplate from "The Stormlight Archive" by Brandon Sanderson)

TIP: Peace Binding

I will definitely need to post a couple photos as an example of this.  (Check back later.)
But, some basic tips were discussed earlier in the [url=]Facebook group[/url].

But, one of the most important things to take into account in your cosplay is that security for whatever venue you are at will want your sword, and/or other bladed weapons, tied off so that they cannot be removed from the scabbard.  One of the common names for this is "peace binding".

In many venues, simply having a baldric or frog with a strap that snaps shut is enough.  In other venues, they will want you to have it tied so that drawing the blade is impossible; usually with obvious/ugly zip ties, if you failed to do so yourself.  Also, be aware that most local governments prohibit the carrying of such weapons in public, outside of the venue (in some cases at all), even if they are peace bound.  ALWAYS be aware of the local laws and venue rules before attending any event.

So, you have your sword.  It sits nice and neat in your baldric, or frog attached to a belt.  You don't have a strap, or the venue you will be attending says that's not good enough.  But, you still want to be able to be able to take it out for photos (assuming that's permitted; again, know the rules beforehand) Here's what you do...

Find yourself some string or ribbon that matches your costume and is strong enough that it won't break if you pull on it too hard.  (If you don't care about ever taking the sword out for show, or that is not permitted, or you're just not sure, find some zip ties that match and follow the remaining directions.)  I highly recommend against using leather cord, as it will be too spongy when you go to tie it off, causing the knot to come loose, or might even snap at the knot as you tie it.

Your baldric or frog will typically have loop holes for the leather cord used to tie the scabbard to it.  Pull the string through one of the loop holes closest to the guard, and cross-wise over the guard, around the hilt, back down, then repeat in the opposite direction using the opposite loop hole.  Alternately, I use two strings, one for each side.  Also, my guard has additional holes that I can loop through an extra time each side, which helps add some style as I'm binding.

Tie the string to itself with a strong knot, to prevent it from unraveling.  In my case, a double-granny knot on each string is enough that I can't get it loose without picking at it for an hour.  (No joke.  Twice Harriet asked to see the blade, twice I couldn't.)  However, depending what material your string is made of, you may need to tie it differently.  Don't tie it like a shoelace, that absolutely will come loose when you don't want it too.

Finally, holding the scabbard, give the hilt a few good tugs.  If the sword doesn't budge, and the string is not pulling too tight on the frog, you've got it right!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Congratulations, Asha'man Terribilis!

Last week in Ely, Nevada [url=]this happened[/url].

As it turns out, one of the gentlemen that discovered and reported this to police, was none other than our own [member=59]Terribilis Armigerum[/member] .  Beyond that, like a true Asha'man and "servant of all", he and his buddy organized an effort to clean it up.

On this day, I hereby confer upon him the rank of Full Asha'man.  May you wear the pins with pride!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Welcome to The Black Tower

So, I'd considered making a more formal address to everybody, but it occurred to me that the sheer number of administrative posts I've had to make since the site went live were getting out of control.   If I'm posting something that reads as bureaucratic, that's me fulfilling my duties as the M'hael, not me as a person.  A lot of people here know me in real life, but for those that don't, I want to make it clear that I'm not normally that guy.

Folks that know me can probably confirm, about 90% of what I post online are jokes.  I'm the guy that parties until dawn every night at JordanCon, and the guy who (faithfully?) never missed an opportunity to turn Rand On The Run into Chuck Norris. ;D  Some of the big reasons for starting this organization was to provide a venue for fellow WoT geeks to hang out online, share cosplay ideas, talk about the books, and (most important) HAVE FUN!

A little history about how The Black Tower, and Black-Tower.Net, came to be...

Every year immediately after JordanCon, like clockwork, I found that I was having the same conversation.  Someone on Facebook would ask “How come there is no Asha’man version of TarValon.Net?”  Someone else would answer “Well, there used to be a BlackTower.Net, but they took the site down years ago.”  And that’s about as far as the conversation went.  Finally back in March, that conversation came early and I decided I’d had enough of waiting for someone else to pick up the flag.  And so, The Black Tower was reborn!

We started out as a Facebook group, as more of a temporary forum space, while we could build Black-Tower.Net properly.  And our first official meetup as a group in the bar at JordanCon.  (Photo by [member=4]Braid_Tug[/member] )

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We were about as organized as the Black Tower in the books; which is to say it was total chaos. ;D  With confusion about when we were supposed to start, and what time one of our member's wedding proposal was going to happen at the dance, which none of us wanted to miss.  But, we finally got together for me (out of breath at this point) to give our inaugural toast.

This was followed up by some group pictures in the lobby, where we discovered that David Bowie's "Dance Magic Dance" is a form of Compulsion, as evidenced by Tsorovan'm'hael (Storm Leader) [member=3]Tsingtao[/member] failing to make it into either of these shots. ;D  (Photos by [member=4]Braid_Tug[/member] )

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A little more about where I see the site going...
Early on, we had identified that one topic that is not covered by other WoT fan sites is cosplay.  We specifically looked (in other fandom) at the 501st Legion as a model for this, and agreed this would make an interesting long-term goal.  I say long-term here, because until the upcoming television series is released, demand to have a group of Asha'man or Aes Sedai show up to little Timmy or Jenny's birthday party in exchange for charitable contributions will be fairly low.  But, we would be on the ground floor of building towards that within WoT fandom!

In the meantime, I still see this as a great way for fans all over the world to share their work in cosplay, both for Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time" and for other works.  (Who knows?  Maybe whoever makes the show might take some creative queues from what we all dream up.)

For groups that want to get together and hangout, either in or out of costume, we offer a place to organize that.  And, coming soon, we'll be adding the capability of hosting charity events for causes that members want to see The Black Tower support.

Additionally, no fan site would be complete without an array of discussion forums, including a spoiler-free section for people that are new to the series, and fantasy casting for the upcoming television show (hosted by yours truly).

Some people to thank...
[member=3]Tsingtao[/member]  [member=14]Nesteph[/member]  [member=2]Ariana Davion[/member]  [member=4]Braid_Tug[/member]  [member=5]Radical Edward[/member]  [member=7]Lariean Malinar[/member]  [member=13]Gabriel Kross[/member]  , everyone that volunteered to help out as moderators, all our members in the Facebook group, and all of you just joining us!  This project would never have moved forward, if not for your tremendous help and support over these past few months.  *raises a glass*  Here's to the future!

The late Robert Jordan, for creating the series; his wife Harriet and the rest of Team Jordan, for keeping the dream alive; and Brandon Sanderson, my personal hero for finishing the series.

*music starts playing*

Oh, they're playing me off...  Thanks to everyone!  See you on the website!

Six Degrees of Rand al'Thor

Lariean Malinar on August 27, 2016 4:01:13PM
A WoT version of the Kevin Bacon game:
The al'Thor number of a character is the number of degrees of separation he or she is from Rand. The higher the al'Thor number, the farther away from Rand that person is.
To figure out the al'Thor number, you want the shortest path to Rand.
Rand has an al'Thor number of 0.
The characters who interact with Rand directly have an al'Thor number of 1.
If the lowest al'Thor number of a person is X, the person who has interacted with them (but not Rand directly) has an al'Thor number of X + 1.
Example: General Galgan has an al'Thor number of 2. He interacted with Fortuona, who has an al'Thor number of 1.
A harder (funner) version of the game (based on a comment by Eleanor Chandler-Temple about how everyone is related to Rand) would be degrees of RELATION separation:
The al'Thor number of a character is the number of degrees of relation separation he or she is from Rand. The higher the al'Thor number, the farther away in relation from Rand that person is:
To figure out the al'Thor number, you want the shortest relation path to Rand.
Rand has an al'Thor number of 0.
The characters who are directly related to Rand have an al'Thor number of 1.
If the lowest al'Thor number of a person is X, the person related to them has an al'Thor number of X + 1.
Example: Thom has an al'Thor number of 3: he is married to Moiraine (al'Thor number 2), who is Galad's half-aunt. Galad has an al'Thor number of 1.
Another alternate way to play would be to see who has the HIGHEST al'Thor number (the furthest away from Rand).
Lael Miskeri on August 28, 2016 1:44:36AM
This is EVIL... yet totally fun. So on the relations side, al'Lan Mandragoran has an al'Thor number of 4? Lan's father's brother is the father of Isam, who is conflated with Luc, brother of Tigraine, mother of Rand? So Tigraine is 1, Luc/Isam is 2, al'Akir is 3, Lan is 4?
What would Tam's relational number be?
Lariean Malinar on August 28, 2016 11:25:34AM
It is isn't it?
For Tam, it depends on which version of the game you play.  In the regular version, he'd have an al'Thor number of 1.  Relationship, it would be an astronomical number, because he has no relationship to Rand unless you count adoption.  Kari would probably have a lower number, because she was from Caemlyn, and then you can add the Ishara quotient because of Tigraine.  That would also lower Tam's number because of his marriage to Kari. 

Who is Nakomi?

[quote author=Lariean Malinar on August 27, 2016, 03:01:33 PM]
So, there is a woman that Aviendha meets in the Waste on her way to Rhuidean on her second trip to it, trying to become a Wise One...
Theoretically, this same woman appears to Rand as he lays dying, showing him how to transmigrate his soul into Moridin's body...

Everyone knows this, but who is she?  Yes, her name is Nakomi (the only Old Tongue word not translated in the Companion), but not even the glossaries give us hints about who she is.

[quote author=Lael Miskeri on August 28, 2016, 01:40:28 AM]
While I can certainly appreciate the theory that it is some form of Verin's soul flitting about, I'm not certain I agree with that. Verin's role was so HUGE in the books, and she operated from such a background point that we want her to have more involvement, I think. What if Nakomi is the personification of the Creator? Or a personification? We don't have a whole lot of appearances by the Creator in the series... even The Voice that Rand hears in Eye of the World could possibly be the DO... what if, in true RJ duality, the Creator is personified by a Wise Woman when the adversarial force is rather blatantly masculine?

[quote author=Arion on August 28, 2016, 04:59:28 AM]
What if she is his morthers spirit?

[quote author=Lariean Malinar on August 28, 2016, 11:30:30 AM]
I think if Nakomi had been Tigraine's or Kari's spirit, he would have recognized her.

The Verin one is tough to dismiss...until the transmigration. She was dead, so she wouldn't be able to show up to teach Rand how to switch bodies. Unless she is a Hero of the Horn, because it had been blown at that point...

[quote author=Haeva Stone on August 28, 2016, 02:52:59 PM]
I must admit that this was one of the things I was disappointed not to see a definitive answer for in the last book. But on my latest re-listen of the entire series, during an otherwise boring day at work, I came to the conclusion that she was Bela... (it had been a long day, and I was tired ;) )

[quote author=Lariean Malinar on August 29, 2016, 08:04:48 PM]
Yes, it would have to be because of weariness...
[quote author=Lael Miskeri link=topic=123.msg313#msg313 date=1472362828]
While I can certainly appreciate the theory that it is some form of Verin's soul flitting about, I'm not certain I agree with that. Verin's role was so HUGE in the books, and she operated from such a background point that we want her to have more involvement, I think. What if Nakomi is the personification of the Creator? Or a personification? We don't have a whole lot of appearances by the Creator in the series... even The Voice that Rand hears in Eye of the World could possibly be the DO... what if, in true RJ duality, the Creator is personified by a Wise Woman when the adversarial force is rather blatantly masculine?

I truly believe it's this option, but we'll never get that answer.

[quote author=Haeva Stone on August 30, 2016, 02:53:34 PM]
I know this may seem obvious, but I don't think I've ever heard that anybody asked Brandon Sanderson if he knew? Or whether RJ had left her identity in his notes, or any clues. Does anyone else from Team Jordan know?
(And if so, does anybody know what was said?)

[quote author=Illinger Covale'rahien on August 30, 2016, 04:32:53 PM]
I feel like I overheard someone ask Maria that at JordanCon, but do not remember the response.

[quote author=Braid_Tug on August 30, 2016, 04:58:45 PM]
It was asked of Brandon and Team Jordan at JordanCon the year aMoL came out.

Basically we were told, we would never be told the full answer. Brandon has stood firm on not telling us any more than he said in 2013.

AMoL panel:

Around 10:20 minute mark

[quote author=Haeva Stone on August 31, 2016, 12:06:53 PM]
I think it's often forgotten that people can change their minds about something when circumstances change. And in many cases it's definitely not a bad thing. JK Rowling changed her mind twice about writing anything after the seventh book of Harry Potter; Mercedes Lackey said she wouldn't be doing any more Valdemar 7 books ago!!

We can hope :)

It also occurred to me that Nakomi is almost a shamanic character - perhaps a Spirit Guide?

[quote author=Haeva Stone on November 20, 2016, 07:27:36 AM]
This is definitely within the realms of pure speculation, but I came across another similarly mysterious character in the form of 'Norla'. She was a wilder who lived in the Black Hills. She taught Cadsuane some important lessons and it's implied Cadsuane wouldn't be who she is today without her; she also earned [sic] her paralis-net from Norla, although it's never explained how Norla came by it.

If Nakomi was some kind of Spirit Guide, then it's possible that she and Norla are one and the same. An agent of the Creator who guides people into places and circumstances that they ought to be.

It might be interesting to look out for any others of these characters referenced in the series...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hard to Start Books

[quote author=Locke on August 22, 2016, 09:44:14 AM]
Have you ever picked up a book and wanted to put it down after the first few pages or the few minutes of audio? It can be for a variety of reasons: bad prose, overuse of proper nouns, lack of engagement, etc. I'm just curious, what books have you had this response to? Currently I'm reading Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan (well listening to the Audiobook). The prologue is told in the from of a letter, but it's got this Victorian English level of detachment that it's hard to get into. Especially egregious because half of the letter is an action scene. After that, it's not as bad, I do enjoy the world and such, but I have yet to latch on to any characters.

So yeah, tell me about the books you've picked up that you just couldn't get into or for whom reading was a chore (for all you crazy completionists out there).

[quote author=Lariean Malinar on August 22, 2016, 09:51:00 AM]
aSoIaF was like that for me the second time around. I've re-read WoT constantly since 1996, but I couldn't get halfway through GoT the second time.

The Chronicles of Amber as well. I had to stop reading and pick it up a decade later before I could read it. I hated Corwin that much.

But I've read all of Stephen Donaldson (except the Final Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, for this very reason.) Mazalan is waiting, I just can't get up the interest yet. And I got bored with Sanderson after I read Warbreaker (which was a wonderful book.) Elantris was great, the first book of Mistborn was good, but after that I just couldn't read him.

Of course, those are just mainly because of personal preference. I'm sure I could make myself read, but I hate doing it.

[quote author=Gabriel Kross on August 22, 2016, 01:23:52 PM]
Honestly, I tried to read the Harry Potter books in 6th grade, but I never could get past the first chapter. The writing style was designed for younger children but I had already been reading at a 12th grade level, so it was too childish for me.

[quote author=Lael Miskeri on August 22, 2016, 06:42:31 PM]
To draw in WoT here briefly, Crossroads was murderous for me to get through. I have a mind that's really decent at trivia, so the fact that the first half of that book only established where people were at the end of the last book was rather difficult for me to slog through. I put the book down for a year and a half before I picked it back up to finish. I still won't read it if I can avoid it. Aside from that, aSoIaF was hard to get into initially, but I ended up enjoying it... just not the gaps. I still haven't read aDwD because I feel like I've lost too much of the story in the waiting. Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart was difficult as well because I didn't "get" the world immediately. And I was warned off David Eddings fairly early on, though I know people who love his work.

[quote author=Arion on August 22, 2016, 08:33:10 PM]
I found that some books are hard to get started on and I agree that the Game of Thrones is one of those books that I never really managed to dive into.

I also have found that if there is a book I think is interesting BUT for some reason I find hard getting started on, it is a good idea to buy an audio book of it just to get a better hold on what the book is about as I am out walking my dog.

Then I can buy the book and enjoy later and get more involved into the world of the book.

[quote author=Roheryn on August 23, 2016, 11:57:42 PM]
I started aSoIaF... I even got through about a book and three quarters. That's when I quit. Just couldn't get into it.

[quote author=Chiyuki Nohara on August 27, 2016, 10:21:01 AM]
It's unusual for me to not finish a novel so I'll probably come back to most of these at some point.

Empire of the Sun - JG Ballard
Stardust - Neil Gaiman
Didn't get very far with these but maybe I just need to be in the right mood. ???

Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake
A strange one but I knew that going in. :o

Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
I'm not allowed to swear, right? Twice in my life I've tried to read this. Twice I've got half way and given up. ::)

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy


Just no. At least it was free with a newspaper. I gave it away. :P

[quote author=Gabriel Kross on August 28, 2016, 12:23:18 AM]
I really recommend going back to Stardust, the movie just didn't do it justice. The movie was good imo but nowhere near the level of the book.

[quote author=Lael Miskeri on August 28, 2016, 01:51:47 AM ]
Return of the Native
Wuthering Heights
Jude the Obscure

Pretty much any Victorian-era novel I have trouble with. And I had to read the above 3 in high school.

[quote author=The Lagomorph Reborn on August 28, 2016, 02:58:25 AM]
I experience something similar with almost any book. I get a third of the way through and put it down for weeks at a time. I'm not really a quick or binge reader and that's on purpose. I love to read for detail, look for foreshadowing, turn back to reread a page or chapter that connects with a later spot I'm at. Often I just don't make the time for books with TV shows or video games cutting into that time. This does tend to happen more frequently when I'm reading Kurt Vonnegut novels. He's easily one of my favorite authors. Sometimes his stories just take a bit longer to get through and hold my attention for periods of time. Didn't have that problem with Sirens of Titan though.

[quote author=Haeva Stone on September 25, 2016, 02:08:11 PM]

I read Eye of the World in 1990 (OK, I started it on 24 December, so I was still pretty much a year late, but at least it was the same year it came out). I got a very strong sense of Lord of the Rings with a little peppering of Dune. I finished the book more because I had a touch of OCD about that kind of thing at the time, but ultimately I thought 'meh'. And that was that. It was in 1994-5 that a friend at Uni recommended the series to me. I did recall the first book (which was a bit less usual), but we have VERY similar taste in our fantasy literature, so I agreed to persist with it. A touch more irony... he hasn't finished the series!

I got 2/3 to 3/4 the way through Game of Thrones and decided I hated it. Not read or seen any of aSoIaF since I last put it down.

It took me a very long time to get through Tad Williams's first Otherland book! I haven't decided whether or not to read the rest of the series, yet.


So, I know it has been quiet around here for a bit. I have a post I'm working on, and will hopefully have up this weekend. (Waiting ...