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]

[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]

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

[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]

[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]

[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?
[/quote]

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

[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?)
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[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.
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[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:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5Ws4P_0QQA

Around 10:20 minute mark
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziwBABAlWb8
[/quote]

[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]

[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...
[/quote]

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]

[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]

[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]

[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.
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[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]

[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.
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[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

[img]http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y114/deviant_chee/other/1ec7507d9b53158802ae66ddd0e91711_zpsploixgnx.jpg[/img]

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

[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]

[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]

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

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.
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Made In America Tax

As a general rule, we try to keep The Black Tower out of real-world politics.  However, we were founded as a cosplay society, and this effec...