As some of you may or may not know, alongside my loves of carpentry, older women, chests used for storage on maritime vessels, and the theory of cosmic censorship, I have been known to enjoy the occasional fantasy novel. While I don’t speak of this often, suffice it to say, the portion of my memory set aside to such things as the wizardly acumen of Raistlin Majere, the geography of the world of Krynn, and the nature of the curse upon Lord Loren Soth, Knight of the Black Rose, is several hundred thousand percent larger than in the average individual.
All of this archaic knowledge however, is dwarfed by the amount of –what I would term fascinating, and what most people I know would term as useless- information I know about “The Wheel of Time” by Robert Jordan. Out of the three times I have referred to Mr. Jordan in this blog, the first two were in reference to his series being directly responsible for me being injured by a sword. The last, sadly, was a reflection on what his series meant to me when I found out about his untimely death.
Robert Jordan passed away before he had a chance to finish “The Wheel of Time,” leaving behind only a partial manuscript of his final book, a computer filled with notes, and extensive outlines. A week ago author Brandon Sanderson was chosen to finish Robert Jordan’s epic, and I, like most fans, was skeptical.
After reading all of Mr. Sanderson’s blog entries on his personal website, and taking a trip to a neighboring county to pick up one of his books (there is not a single bookstore in all of Grays Harbor County. Yes, it’s sad. Yes, it’s true) I would like to reassure the Wheel of Time community that Brandon Sanderson is a man we can trust.
Reason #1: Just look at him
Some men are born conniving liars, murderous hate-filled delinquent malcontents who, upon finding they lack the ability to create beauty, define themselves solely by their ability to destroy it. Upon beholding a work of art such as a stained-glass window, such a man thinks not “how many hours did its maker put into its creation?” but rather appraises its value by thinking “how much trouble will I be in if I break this?”
If you think Brandon Sanderson is such a man, I repeat: just look at him.
Using powers of divination so powerful, it would be more accurate to refer to them as mathematical deduction, I can give you the following fact about Brandon Sanderson.
Fact: Brandon Sanderson has never broken the law in his entire life. Ever. One day, in 1987, while his nose was buried in a book, he almost jay-walked, but thankfully caught himself in time. On the few occasions he has used swear language, he has blushed, felt deeply ashamed, and apologized to everyone he saw thereafter. Also, he is Mormon. No really. I figured this out before I read about it in his blog. Look at him. Even the Mitt Romney’s face doesn’t scream “Mormon!” as powerfully as Brandon Sanderson’s.
Reason #2: He is Mormon
When I spent a summer working on an oil rig in New Mexico, I had the opportunity to learn a great deal about the Mormon religion.
As the only white person on the entire job site, I was made to ride in the bed of the crew truck for the five hours we spent commuting to and from the oil rig each day. While sitting on the truck’s spare tire, wrapped in a small ball, trying to hold in heat so I didn’t freeze to death in the middle of the desert, the rest of the crew would hurl empty beer cans and insults at me through the back window. It was during one such evening of richly undeserved reverse racism, that I was first introduce to many of the principle tenets of the Mormon faith.
“Hey Shrek! Seen any Skin-Walkers lately?” Jason called, laughing an eerie Navajo laugh. It sounded like the heavy pant of an asthmatic dog. Skin-Walkers are a particular kind of demon in the Navajo tradition that have the ability to change their shape by wearing the skin of their victims. My motor-man, Jason, was adamantly convinced that given enough time one was going to jump out of the darkness and eat me. As for the Shrek part… well some people are just assholes.
“I’ll believe in Skin-Walkers when I see one, Jason.”
“I know what you mean. I never believed in ogres until I met you.” Jason then punctuated his insult by throwing an empty beer can at my head, which I dodged, and then he filled the warm truck cab with his evil Indian laughter.
“What the hell is your problem, Jason?” I asked.
“I hate you LDS pieces of shit!” Jason sneered.
“I already told you! I don’t do drugs!” In my defense, we were traveling at over 60 mph, I was in the bed of a truck with wind howling in my ears, and during that summer I was offered meth and other drugs so many times that I was busier than a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest turning everyone down.
“No you stupid ogre! I know you’re a Mormon!”
When I argued hoarsely that I was, in point of fact, not Mormon at all, Jason refused to believe me. As I do not drink, do drugs, sleep with oil field whores, or go to strip clubs I was obviously a Mormon and there was no use denying it.
The gist of the lesson being this: Mormons are the most uncomfortably nice people in the world. They’re exactly like robots who have been substituted for real people, to do the job of being a person better than actual people ever could.
In addition to this, there is actually quite a tradition of Mormons who write high-quality fantasy/sci-fi novels. Orson Scott Card, author of Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, and The Alvin Maker series for one. For another, Tracy Hickman who co-authored: The Death Gate Cycle, The oringal Dragonlance novels, as well as The Dark Sword series.
Obviously this is a large mark in Mr. Sanderson’s favor. While I can’t be bothered to do any actual research on the topic, it is self-evident that there is something in the Mormon religion that causes people to collapse inward and seek escape in vivid inner fantasies where they can live in a better world where Mormons do not exist at all.
Reason #3: He refers to his wife as Pemberly
I imagine police officers hear a lot of interesting names when they make a bust and it comes time to give their detainees a phone call. When given a chance to seek help, sunken chested junkies, rotten toothed tweekers, and roided out rapists no doubt have an impressive catalogue of white trash names to draw upon. The following is a list of the most common names I believe are called in such a situation.
The first and largest group of course would be names commonly held by skanky women who date criminal low-lifes. Examples of such names in no particular order are:
Misty, Brandy, Sandy, Tammy, Amber, Sunny, Denise, Levonne, Spring, Nikita, Shawna, Blaire, Traci, Maroon, Marigold, Periwinkle, Candy, Latrisha, and Sable
Then there are of course criminal buddies with names like:
Spider, Snake, Wolf, Blade, Ripper, and Big John
However, there are also names that have never been requested in any police precinct in the history of the planet Earth. Before I get into any further discussion of this I would like to share the following two Venn diagrams.
To further elaborate on this principle, let us do a thought experiment.
Imagine that there is a man covered with blood, holding a knife in his hand, caught standing above the body of a murdered drifter. Police arrive on scene, take the man into custody, and begin his interrogation….
“Come on buddy, I understand. It’s no big deal. It was just a drifter. You can tell me about it.” Officer Diego Ramirez looks tired. He’s been on duty for the past thirty-six hours, has a chronic migraine, and his wife told him she wants a separation if he can’t get his act together and get transfered out of homicide.
“You’re right. I just saw him there… being so drifterish.” The killer pauses, tasting the word “drifterish” like a piece of candy whose flavor has proven to be so unique he wishes to file it forever in his memory. “I knew I just had to kill him. I had no other choice.”
Ramirez leans forward over his chair. His head is killing him, but he can’t even feel it over the beating of his heart. The perp’s confessing. Open and shut case. “How’d you do it, son?”
“We were in front of a local Best Buy. The cameras probably caught me luring him into my car. I offered him a hot meal. I could tell he was hungry. Ask any of the twelve Eagle scouts that were walking by collecting money for the Salvation Army. They overheard us.” The perp’s eyes gleam like projectors as he recalls the fiendish scene for Ramirez. “Then I drove him out in the middle of the woods, murdered him in front of eight Supreme Court justices with cam-corders, and rolled around in his blood so his DNA would be all over me.” He smiles coldly at Ramirez.
Someone kicks the door open. It’s Captain Johnson. “Let him go, Ramirez. His wife’s here to pick him up. We can’t hold him any longer.”
Ramirez shoots up from his chair like a kicked dog. “What the hell are you talking about, Johnson? He’s singing like a canarie! Forensics is going to bury this guy! Plus, I’ve got a confession right here!” Ramirez picks up the tape recorder on the table and shakes it in his fist.
Johnson takes his time to reply, lights a cigarette, and a blows a haze of smoke over the harsh sodium light of the interrogation room. “I know Ramirez… but his wife’s name is Pemberly. Now all we’ve got is shit.”
As the Greeks say, “quod erat demonstrandum.”
Fancy Fact: That picture of the fancy house is the first thing that comes up on Google Images if you search for Pemberly. That’s how fancy a name Pemberly is.
Reason #4: He bought swords for his wedding. Oh yes. Really. I am not even joking. At all.
Firstly, I would just like to state that I have no idea what it’s like to be Brandon Sanderson. I have never met the man, and have no experience with him outside of his writing. Secondly, I am going to say that I’m going to pretend anyway for no reason other than that I can, and that I have nothing better to do at the moment.
During some part of his engagement, while doing some incredibly Mormon thing (for argument sake, let’s say that he was riding around on his bicycle, wearing black slacks and a white dress shirt, delivering hot meals from his carrier basket to hobos who live in a park near him) Brandon Sanderson had to tell his fiancee that he was bringing swords to their wedding. Let us perform another thought experiment…
While handing a tupper-ware container containing homemade chicken popcorn, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, and peach cobbler to one the park’s oldest residents, Peg Leg Joe (who ironically is named Trent, has both legs, and is actually missing an eye), Pemberly comes riding up on her own bicycle from doing something else that is incredibly Mormon (let’s say she was making shoes for Ethiopian children who live near jagged glass mines).
“Lady Pemberly!” Brandon calls earnestly, as a butterfly dances on the tip of his nose, drawn by his child-like innocence. “How went the shoe-making my fairest one?”
“Brandon, how many times have I told you not to call me that? You’re 31 years old.”
“I cry your pardon Lady Pemberly, but I fear I will incur your wrath further than this. I wish to purchase twelve blades of strongest steel to commemorate our engagement.”
“Are you saying you want to buy swords for our wedding?” Pemberly’s eyes widen in incredulous shock.
“The Lady’s words fly like arrows whose aim is true,” Brandon affirms.
Pemberly’s hands fly to her face, covering her sensory organs, trying to obscure the awful reality of what her future holds. “No,” she mutters. The words is soft, but her breathing has become hard and ragged. “No way.” She draws in a deeper breath, “No way!” she repeats in a terrified shriek. The words slide over Brandon, like water over a rock, touching but not penetrating.
“Your protests hurt me, beloved. If I am not allowed a sword for our marriage every part of me cap a pie, shall ache like the hearts of a thousand broken romances.”
Sobbing, Pemberly falls to her knees, and wails, “How could I have been so blind? My mother was right about you!”
Do you now understand the dedication that Brandon Sanderson has to fantasy and adventure? Like a Russian gymnist, abducted from his parents, and made to train every day of his life for Olympic Gold, Brandon Sanderson eats, sleeps, and breathes fantasy.
In the same way that John Nash experienced sporadic psychotic episodes that sent him looking for codes in common household magazines, I have no doubt there are whole weeks of the year where Brandon Sanderson’s dedication to the magical becomes so powerful that he wanders around his home town dressed in armor, waving a sword, and speaking Elvish to anyone who approaches within three feet of him.
Do you think he’s not going to give his all to the The Wheel of Time now? I bet he goes through five keyboards before he finishes, because he’ll be typing so passionately his fingers will bleed, and cause the keys to stick.