Saturday 23 August 2014


At Worldcon I had the pleasure of moderating a panel featuring Harriet McDougal (Robert Jordan's widow), Maria Simons (one of his assistants) and fantasy authors Wesley Chu and Peter Brett, who spoke about the influence of Wheel of Time on their works. However, there was a fair amount of discussion by Harriet about the new companion volume to the series. This can be summed up as follows:
  • The Wheel of Time Encyclopedia is dead! Long live The Wheel of Time Companion as it will now officially be called.
  • The book will be 350,000 words long (comparable to several of the novels in the series; the longest, The Shadow Rising, is 389,000 words).
  • The book will feature a lot of new artwork, arranged by Irene Gallo at Tor.
  • Publication date likely to be November 2015.
  • The book will feature all of the already-published maps and also some new ones, including one of Thakan'dar.
  • The book will have a large vocabulary of the Old Tongue, with a minimum of 1,000 words.
  • The book will feature character profiles and sketches for almost every character in the series. Even Bela has her own entry.
  • The book will be written from a post-AMoL POV. It will have spoilers for the entire series.
In addition to info on the world book, Harriet revealed some more details generally about the series:
  • The series is finished and done. Tor offered a lot of money and tried to persuade Harriet into doing more, but Harriet put her foot down and said no. The Wheel of Time ends with A Memory of Light and the companion volume.
  • There were several unfulfilled contracts when Robert Jordan passed away, including for the Seanchan trilogy. Apparently the money involved was massive, worth many times the value of Harriet's house. Tor worked with the estate to re-write the contracts to substitute the companion book instead.
  • Robert Jordan wrote one line about the planned Seanchan trilogy: Mat Cauthon playing dice in a grubby alleyway in Ebou Dar (not verbatim). That was it.
  • Harriet named about 75% of the chapters in the series.
  • Harriet vocally re-enacted Bela's death-whinny from AMoL.
  • The panel spent an intense five minutes arguing about Bela's death. When I tried to suggest that we talk about the human characters who died, no-one was really interested. It was all about the horse.
  • Jordan tried to protect Maria from spoilers in the work he had her do for him. She eventually persuaded him she could handle them. Almost the first thing he then gave her was Verin's full backstory. This was somewhere around the time Path of Daggers came out.
  • The oddest research request was Jordan asking how babies feel when they are born. This was eventually used in the bonding scene in Winter's Heart.
  • The movie/TV rights situation is beginning to become clearer. Red Eagle sold the film rights on to Universal and it now looks like the rights could return to the Jordan Estate at some point. There is apparently interest from other companies in the rights given the success of other fantasy projects on TV and in film at the moment.
All in all, a good panel and some interesting stuff came out of it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing all this! It sounds interesting indeed. :)


Silentmajority said...

If the Companion piece is written in a post A Memory of Light point of view then who is writing the POV? Will it be Harriet, or another author?

Nik said...

I've gotta admit I gave up on WoT a few years before Mr. Jordan passed away. It was a huge part of my childhood, and I spent a decade reading and anticipating, but the narrative slowed to a crawl and, if I remember correctly, one of the books only covered a week or two of narrative time. I felt as if the publisher was telling Jordan to milk the series at the expense of the story.

Anyway, interesting news about the Companion. I've thought about getting back into WoT and finishing it ever since I heard Sanderson finished the series, and this may be motivation to re-familiarize myself with everything before diving back in. Cheers.

Brentus said...

Nik, the slow books were annoying when you had to wait a year or more between them, but now that the series is done, it's not that bad since you can go right through them and on to the amazing books that follow. So definitely check out the series again. I'd highly recommend rereading from the beginning if it's been a while.

Ghost said...

I've been hearing about the WoT movie/TV for about 10 years already and thus far...nothing! So don't hold your breath for it; not going to happen.
However a sequel to the series would be nice. The 3 main characters are all alive and the last few books by Brandon Sanderson were very good.

Unknown said...

love it. I wish the story had lasted another 20 years!

Anonymous said...

If you quit reading it, you need to get back into it. I did the same thing because the story line was just dragging. I realized later that there was a reason for all of that - everything in the series is key to everything else. There's so much backstory in each book. I've read the series five times now - getting ready to start on my 6th time after I finish GoT (again). It is just a fabulous, encompassing series and it does take some time to get through it!

Adam Whitehead said...

The TV/movie option has been held up because of the deal struck with Red Eagle, and later the deal struck between Red Eagle and Universal. Apparently there's quite a bit of interest in a WoT adaptation given the success of WoT and the options on Shannara/Rothfuss etc, but the RE/Universal deal prevents anything from happening.

When that logjam clears, I'd expect to see more serious interest. WoT is still the biggest-selling epic fantasy series of all time bar only the Middle-earth books, with a huge international fanbase, so it's clearly going to be adapted at some point.

Unknown said...

Was the White Book of Bad Art discussed? I love the idea of a companion book but I am a little leary based on my bad experience with the previous one. Thanks!


Unknown said...

I am looking forward to TWOT companion, and it looks pretty interesting!

I just hope that Universal or whoever makes the movie does'nt mess it up!

I have to agree with Ghost, that I would like to see a new TWOT sequel or series! I know Harriet is against this, and maybe some people feel that AMOL should be the end completely, though we are already waiting on TWOT companion!

I thought AMOL was a great book and it ties up ALMOST everything in the main series! For example the Dark One and Shadar Logoth are gone but what about Machin Shin and the corruption of the ways? What of Egwenes alliance with the aiel wise ones and the sea folk windfinders made in TOM? Will the next Amyrlin honor that alliance? Then there is the seanchan!

I know we probably will not see any sequels, though I just want to put my thoughts out there! Wishing everyone a happy labor day and a hopefully cool fall season!

Adam Whitehead said...

The White Book of Bad Art was not discussed.

I didn't think TWofRJ'sTWoT was that bad, actually. The pictures were awful, but the text was very interesting and fleshed out the world really well. There was a later UK regular paperback edition with just the text and maps and that worked really well.

Anonymous said...

:) Happy happy :)

Boba Fett said...

Thanks for sharing. I love keeping abreast of WoT news. Nov 2015, here we come!

Unknown said...

I can't wait!

Anonymous said...

The series is/was awesome. I only have two "criticisms" Crown of Swords and Path of Daggers should have been a single book, as should have Winters Heart and Crossroads of Twilight.

Unknown said...

I thought books 7-10 were all pretty good books though mainly books 8-10 have some slow parts and I think everyone (myself 25included)can identify with getting a little bored sometimes! Though I still think all of these books were fun and critical to the story development!
If RJ did try to make books 7-8 and 9-10 into one book each they would be as long as Martins books if not longer! I don't think that these books were as bad as some people make them out to be! KOD-book 11, I thought was pretty sweet as well as books 1-6! Books 12-14 were great books as well, though I don't think BS could have done the job without RJ details as well as creating the series!
Looking forward to TWOT companion, though it will probably be a little while before it comes out! Happy holidays!

Charles Clark said...

TWOT companion looks pretty sweet, and I am looking forward to getting it, though we still have to wait a while. Wishing everyone the best and hopefully a cool fall season!