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2.7.6: Missteps (Errors Along the Way)

[NB: Typographical errors are, in general, not listed. There are too many of them, and they are often corrected in later editions.]


Rob Bauer points out that the length of a week for TEOTW and TGH does not match with that used in later books. Steven Cooper confirms the discrepancy:

Basically, what we know boils down to this:

  1. TEOTW and TGH are clearly written with our standard calendar of 7-day weeks and 30/31-day months in mind.

    The clearest indication of this is when Moiraine is talking to Nynaeve in [TEOTW: 21, Listen to the Wind, 264]: "You felt nothing special at the time, but a week or ten days later you had your first reaction to touching the True Source." The phrases 'a week' and 'ten days' must obviously refer to different lengths of time here.

    Also, Egwene and Nynaeve spend thirteen weeks training in the Tower before Liandrin lures them away [TGH: 38, Practice, 452]. Since they started training just after Sunday (the summer solstice), it makes sense for her to refer to "the first chill of approaching autumn" later in the chapter. If RJ was using a 10-day week in this book (i.e. 130 days of training compared to 91), they would be right in the middle of autumn here.

    There are plenty of other indicators in the first two books that RJ started the series using our standard calendar -- these are just the most obvious. It's impossible to construct a consistent timeline for these two books if the later 10-day week is assumed.

  2. LOC and books after it are equally clearly written with the 10-day week, 28-day month calendar being used.

    This calendar is specified explicitly in the Glossaries of LOC, ACOS and COT. All of the references to weeks and months from LOC onwards fit this new calendar -- for example, Myrelle's answer when Egwene asks her how many days she has had Lan: "Only two weeks," Myrelle replied. "Today is the twentieth." [ACOS: 12, A Morning of Victory, 237]

  3. Therefore, somewhere between writing TDR and LOC, RJ changed his mind about the calendar for some reason.

    TDR has so few indications of how much time elapses between events that even to construct a timeline at all is a very speculative exercise (it's by far the hardest book in the series to do this for).

    From Chapter 2 of TSR onwards there's enough information to construct an accurate timeline, but neither TSR nor TFOH enable us to tell whether RJ was using the old or the new calendar -- whenever "weeks" and "months" are mentioned, they're used in a vague rather than an exact sense.

    I'd say it's most likely that the notion of a different calendar for Randland occurred to RJ during the writing of LOC. Hence the sudden appearance of a glossary entry for the calendar in that book.

From The Eye of the World

In TEOTW, Thom teaches Mat and Rand to juggle. By the time they reach Caemlyn Mat can perform "six ball circles".

Which David Mortman interprets as a six-ball shower, and says: "No way. You could probably count the number of people in the world today who can shower six balls to a performance standard on the fingers of one hand. Assuming there are any. I've only twice seen a five ball shower done well. It's certainly not something somebody could learn in a few weeks."

Rachel Collier, however, disagrees: "A six-ball shower isn't actually that uncommon. My ex-boyfriend was a serious (professional) juggler, and has juggled nine (I saw him - it certainly wasn't graceful, but there were nine), which he says could possibly win him a world record if he could get in more than four full juggles which is the current record. Apparently eight is pretty rare, but seven is more common and six just takes a little skill and some practice. I agree with you though, that many of Thom's juggling feats are awfully farfetched - given that nine is the VERY top number anyone has juggled now, when RJ mentions 10 and up to 14, I think, it's unbelievable - do you suppose RJ doesn't know anything about juggling, or is he just making Thom an even cooler guy by making it such a mind-boggling feat?"

In [TEOTW: 13, Choices, 190], Thom is telling Rand about the Heart of the Stone: "None but the Great Lords of Tear can enter there, and they never speak of what lies inside." In reply, Rand asks, "Is the Dragon supposed to be a Great Lord of Tear?" Everywhere else in the series, the rulers of Tear are referred to as "High Lords". [Steven Cooper]

What about those Warders in Caemlyn around Logain in TEOTW? [TEOTW: 42, Remembrance of Dreams, 535] Didn't Moiraine say that they were all Red sisters? Reds don't have Warders! RJ's answer, as reported by Tony Z: Moiraine never mentioned the sisters escorting Logain (not all of whom were Red). The ones with Logain weren't in Caemlyn at the time (evidently they stayed with the army, which stayed outside the city). Moiraine was referring to those that were in Caemlyn.

In [TEOTW: 51, Against the Shadow, 639] Ba'alzamon/Ishy shows Rand a vision of his foster mother, Kari, in which she is described as "dark-eyed and beautiful". But Tam told Rand Kari had grey eyes. This was used to argue that the "Kari" in the vision was not the real Kari, but an Illusion conjured by Ishy. However, the color of Kari's eyes in the vision has been corrected to grey in later printings of TEOTW, so apparently it was merely a misstep, rather than a subtle clue.

From The Great Hunt

Ba'alzamon's goals: [TGH: 47, The Grave Is No Bar To My Call, 563] "But this time I will destroy you to your very soul, destroy you utterly and forever." Maybe he forgot [TGH: 41, Disagreements, 497] "Fool! You will destroy yourself!" where he stopped Rand from burning himself out. Ba'alzamon is either forgetful, confused, or trying to appear so. [Morgan Donald Scott]

Why does Moiraine wear her great serpent ring on her left hand in [TEOTW: 2, Strangers, 22-3] and [TDR: 3, News from the Plain, 26] and on her right hand in [TGH: 4, Summoned, 39]? I can think of four possible reasons:

  1. a cunning plan by Jordan to make us believe sweet, innocent Moiraine was at the Darkfriend social.
  2. Moiraine has an evil, identical twin sister who wears her ring on the other hand.
  3. It's Moiraine's ring and she can wear it on whatever hand she damn well pleases.
  4. none of the above. [Damien Cole]

When Rand returns Thom's harp and flute to the gleeman in Cairhien, Thom grumbles: "You could at least have kept it (the harp) in tune" [TGH: 26, Discord, 323]. For travel, harps (and many other stringed instruments) are ALWAYS detuned -- the tension on the strings is reduced to prevent string wear and possible snapping. [Erica Sadun] {NB: In later printings, this has been corrected, with Thom saying, "At least you weren't fool enough to try keeping it tuned."}

On pointless tasks: "Lan sat under a tree sharpening his sword; the Warder gave Rand a careful look, then a nod" [TGH: 49, What Was Meant To Be, 574]. Jim Shaw wonders why he was doing that, since he told Rand that sharpening is unnecessary for Power-forged weapons: "Blades that will not shatter or break, and never lose their edge. I've seen men sharpening them - playing at sharpening, as it were - but only because they could not believe a sword did not need it after use. All they ever did was wear away their oilstones" [TGH: 1, The Flame of Tar Valon, 5]. (It's clear from Rand and Lan's conversation further down the page that Lan's sword is Power-forged as well as Rand's.)

From The Dragon Reborn

In [TDR: 6, The Hunt Begins, 63], the beginning at-camp scene, Perrin tells Min that he loves her like a sister--and that he has no sisters of his own. In [TSR: 29, Homecoming, 333], his two sisters and his brother are killed. [Erica Sadun] {NB: this has reportedly been corrected in later printings of TDR}

In [TDR: 41, A Hunter's Oath, 388] Perrin is remembering a confrontation between Moiraine and Zarine. "Once she learned the girl thought they would lead her to the Horn of Valere, ...then her cold blue stare had taken on a quality that made him feel he had been packed ..." Which left me wondering whose cold blue stare? Both Moiraine and Zarine have dark eyes.[Aline Thompson] The quote continues "The Aes Sedai said nothing, but she stared too often and too hard for any comfort.", implying that it refers to Moiraine. [Joe Shaw] [TEOTW: 2, Strangers, 22], [TGH: 4, Summoned, 38], [TDR: 6, The Hunt Begins, 55], [TSR: 3, Reflection, 71] and [TFOH: 2, Rhuidean, 68] all describe Moiraine as having "dark eyes", and [TDR: 33, Within the Weave, 319], [TDR: 35, The Falcon, 333], and [TSR: 2, Whirlpools in the Pattern, 40] describe Faile as having "dark, tilted eyes". {NB: this has also reportedly been corrected in later printings of TDR}

Metallurgy Mistake, from John Palmer and Don Harlow: Maybe others have noted this metallurgy mistake, as an engineer this bugged me. In the Dragon Reborn, when Perrin takes a day at the Smithy, he notes the three quenching media: "As soon as he had made the hot-cut, he tossed the glowing metal into the salted quenching barrel. Unsalted gave a harder quench, for the hardest metal, while the oil gave the softest, for good knives." [TDR: 50, The Hammer, 506] Wrong. In order of resultant hardness, it goes Oil, Water, Salt Water, with Salt water yielding the hardest blade because of best heat transfer and higher boiling point than plain water. Oil is softer because of slower heat transfer but is commonly used for cutlery because it causes less thermal stresses and a tougher blade. (won't break from shock) Salt water quench is definitely a harder quench than fresh water. It's due to the higher boiling point of salt water precluding the formation of an insulating vapor layer over the steel which slows heat transfer from the steel to the water.

Hey, what's the scoop with Shadowman steel? First, Thom Merrilin runs into a Fade and it left him "a little present of a stiff leg." Then after the fight where the Aiel come to the rescue of the girls: [TDR: 39, Threads in the Pattern, 382] "Shadowman steel kills," Aviendha said, "it does not wound." Finally, Rand's thought while fighting a Fade: [TSR: 10, The Stone Stands, 132] "That black metal could make wounds that festered, almost as hard to heal as the one that ached in his side now." Is there something that I'm missing, like it just kills Aiel, or does this qualify as a Jordan mis-step? [Dash Wendrzyk] {NB: the obvious explanation is that the Fade did not stick Thom with its sword; the Fade just smacked him one, instead.--Pam}

From The Shadow Rising

From Steven Cooper: "There's an error right at the beginning of TSR. The standard opening paragraph has "a wind rose in the Caralain Grass", and then in the next paragraph we have "North and west the wind blew... North and west... to the Shining Walls... Tar Valon." However, a glance at the map will show that to get from the Caralain Grass to Tar Valon, the wind should be going north and east."

Guillaume Bergeron wonders what happened to the dream ter'angreal in Tanchico. When leaving Tear to go to Tanchico, Elayne and Nynaeve keep all of the T'A'R ter'angreal they had gotten from Joiya and Amico, since Egwene doesn't need them. They bring them along on all their travels through TSR and TFOH, and subsequently to Salidar, where Elayne ends up copying them for the Salidar Posse in LOC.

However, when in Tanchico, Moghedien pays the girls a visit [TSR: 46, Veils, 525-526]. She starts off by Compelling them, then asks them to empty their pouches. She then asks if they have ter', sa' or angreals in their rooms. Elayne clearly thinks of the ring that's fastened on a leather cord around her neck, and dismisses it, since it is not what Moggy asked. BUT, they still have the other two, which should have been in their room. It's even said in that scene that Elayne and Nynaeve told Moggy about the ter'angreal they had stolen. So if they weren't in the Supergirls' rooms, where were they?

[TSR: 47, The Truth of a Viewing, 531]: During the Tower Coup, Siuan's Warder gets killed. She doesn't notice until she sees his dead body. [Michael Hanneman] This cannot be because she was shielded, because in LOC, Cabriana and her Warder are being tortured by Semirhage in different rooms. Cabriana is shielded, but she still feels it when her Warder dies. [Lars Kremers]

Courtenay Footman tells us more about the Siuan's Warder incident: This has been the subject of extensive discussion here. The consensus has come down to three possibilities: 1) Jordan screwed up. 2) Being shielded interferes with the bond. IMHO, this last is refuted because Jordan gives a different explanation: 3) Siuan was distracted by other things going on at that moment: [LOC: 30, To Heal Again, 427], Siuan thinks "Alric, her Warder. Her dead Warder, murdered when Elaida deposed her. She could lie--the Three Oaths were still gone--but some part of her bond to Alric, a bond flesh to flesh and mind to mind, had been resurrected. The pain of his death, the pain first masked by the shock of what Elaida intended and then buried by stilling, that pain filled her to the brim." It seems to me that there is no choice but to accept this statement. Whether one believes that Jordan meant this all the time, or that this is just an after-the-fact rationalization of a mistake, seems to me to be a matter of personal opinion.

From The Fires of Heaven

Something very strange happened between 10 and 20 years ago. In [TGH: 4, Summoned, 49] the Amyrlin says to Moiraine "I am the fifth in a row raised to the Amyrlin Seat from the Blue." Two pages earlier, we learn that Siuan Sanche has been Amyrlin for ten years. In [TFOH: 15, What Can Be Learned in Dreams, 214], Moiraine says to Egwene: "In a few months it will be twenty-one years since we began the search for the Dragon Reborn. Sieren Vayu was raised to Amyrlin shortly after, a Gray with more than a touch of Red in her." [C. Footman] This has been admitted by RJ as an error. "The correct sequence is: Kirin Nelway (Brown) 922-950 NE; Noane Mosadim (Blue) 950-973 NE; Tamra Ospenya (Blue), 973-979 NE; Sierin Vayu (Gray), 979-984 NE; Marith Jaen (Blue), 984-988 NE; Siuan Sanche (blue), raised 988 NE. The correction is being made in the body of TGH and in the glossary." [Carolyn F., I think] The quick succession of Amyrlins prior to SS is discussed in further detail in ACOS.

This is not actually an error, but left here to prevent people from continually bringing it up. It's been pointed out multiple times that in [TFOH: 6, Gateways, 122], Rand is looking at the keys and thinking that the female one is at Cairhein, and the male one no one knows where, even though we know that the male Choedan Kal sa'angreal is buried near Cairhien, and the female on Tremalking. However, this is NOT what Rand is thinking. The actual quote is: "The female figure could do the same for a woman, joining her to the female equivalent of the great statue he hoped was still almost completely buried in Cairhien" [emphasis added].

In [TFOH: 36, A New Name, 409], Birgitte tells Elayne "You saved my life, Daughter-Heir of Andor. I will keep your secret and serve you as Warder." But later in [TFOH: 47, The Price of a Ship, 550] Birgitte verbally scolds Elayne for telling Cerandin she was heir to a throne, and doesn't believe it until Nynaeve makes an offhand comment in [TFOH: 49, To Boannda, 570]. {NB: By the 5th edition hardcover, Birgitte's statement was changed to "You saved my life, Elayne. I will keep your secret and serve you as Warder." - Steven Hillage}

Rand balefires Rahvin, erasing his actions, etc. However, none of Rand's injuries, all sustained at the hands of Rahvin, disappear--they were instead Healed by Nynaeve afterwards. [TFOH: 55, The Threads Burn, 672-3] [Sean Hillyard] {NB: Joel Gilmore went to see RJ at a book signing in Australia (21 September, 1999), where RJ told him, in specific reference to the battle with Rahvin, that when someone is BFed, the constructs they make in T'A'R do not disappear, but instead fade away slowly over time.}

From Lord of Chaos

In previous glossaries, it says that the AS cannot sense in what direction her Warder is. In LOC, Alanna does just that. What gives? Edward Liu says that, at a signing, RJ said that the ability is not exact, but something like they can only sense distance (and, I guess, direction) in that the feeling of the other person becomes stronger or weaker. Tony Z. said RJ said the Glossaries are in error, and that there are references in other books to AS sensing the direction of their Warders.

In [TPOD: 2, Unweavings, 67], Elayne "sensed Birgette somewhere off to her left, roughly southwest she thought... Careane, part of a protective circle gathered around Sareitha and the bowl, cocked her head almost as if listening, apparently her Cieryl was to the southeast." Also, in [TFOH: 36, A New Name, 408], it mentions that Birgitte can sense the direction of Elayne (so the other way round): "I can... feel you. I think I could close my eyes and point to you a mile away." [Daniel Rose]. Joe thinks RJ changed his mind, to put it charitably.

In [TFOH: 52, Choices, 624] when Moiraine hands Rand two letters, just before the Big Scene at the docks, their (the letters') seals are described as having the imprint of Moiraine's Great Serpent Ring. Later on, in [LOC: 40, Unexpected Laughter, 516], when Thom receives his letter from Moiraine, the seal is now some sort of wide-spreading tree topped with a crown. [A.M. Gabutero]

In the LOC Glossary, under linking, it says that in mixed circles less than 13, a man must control the flow, and that there must be more women than men in circles greater than two [TFOH: 34, A Silver Arrow, 390]. However, in TFOH Nynaeve overhears Lanfear, Graendal, Sammael, and Rahvin discussing their plan against Rand. In particular Sammael is to tempt Rand into attacking and the other three would link to overwhelm him. [Emma Pease] At a signing, RJ said that the LOC glossary entry is wrong. It is certainly different in the ACOS entry: 43 vs 34, and the numbers where men can equal or exceed women are changed. Still doesn't explain the TFOH gaffe. [John Novak]

From A Crown of Swords

We encounter more closely two of Liandrin's 13 in this book, Falion Bhoda and Ispan Shefar, and learn Falion was white and Ispan blue. We also have a mention that Rianna was also white (which had been mentioned in earlier books). However, Joiya Byir was also white which means we now have three former whites among Liandrin's 13, yet we are told that two and only two of each Ajah except red went with Liandrin. What gives? First could it be a simple typo? I don't think so as both Falion and Joiya acted as I would expect whites and because Rianna is mentioned several times as being white. Second, could it be a Jordan error? Possible, but I would think it a fairly major blunder as I would hope he would have who is who in Liandrin's group clearly marked from the beginning. Third could it be deliberate? If so, this means either Verin is mistaken about who was from which Ajah and I can't see Verin making this mistake, or she deliberately gave the girls misinformation. [Emma Pease] {NB: In later printings of TSR Joiya is transformed from a "cold White" to a "characteristic cool Grey". No doubt RJ wanted her as a White personality, but when it came out in the FAQ he had three, he went "Oh shit. Now which one did I kill off already so I can change her to something else?" At any rate, the suspicions connecting this with Verin ought to be erased, since it's been retroactively corrected. [Michelle Haines]}

Timing problem: There is an inconsistency in ACOS regarding Colavaere's coronation. In [ACOS: 4, Into Cairhien, 117], Dobraine says, "The ninth sunset after her coronation already. She wasted no time." However, in [ACOS: 5, A Broken Crown, 125], Colavaere says, "Nine days ago at sunrise I was crowned Queen of Cairhien." This is a contradiction because the first statement includes the current day as one of the nine, while the second doesn't. [Steven Cooper]

In [ACOS: 13, The Bowl of the Winds, 263], Aviendha introduces herself as "Aviendha of the Nine Valleys sept of the Taardad Aiel." She's previously been from the Bitter Water sept, from when we first meet her [TDR: 38, Maidens of the Spear, 361] onwards. Now here's the interesting bit. The Maiden that Nynaeve Heals in [TDR: 38, Maidens of the Spear, 368] (Dailin) is first referred to as being from Aviendha's sept and clan; i.e. the Bitter Water Taardad. Later, she's referred to as being from the Nine Valleys sept. So what gives? Two errors that are fortuitously similar, or a particularly odd attempt at retconning an old error? [Andrea Leistra] {NB: This error has reportedly been corrected in later printings to give Aviendha's sept consistently as the Nine Valleys sept.}

From The Path of Daggers

The chronology of the Seanchan attack on Ebou Dar is inconsistent between ACOS and TPOD. In ACOS, the finding of the Bowl, the Seanchan invasion, and the wall falling on Mat take place on the day after the Festival of Birds. In TPOD, chapters 1-6 are described as taking place two days after the Festival. Since these events must clearly all take place on the same day, one of the books is wrong. From other evidence, it's clear that TPOD is the one that's in error. [Steven Cooper]

From Winter's Heart

In [WH: 12, A Lily in Winter, 297], Min meets Birgitte and recognizes her: "'You're Birgitte Silverbow!' Min breathed... 'I saw you at Falme!'" Her recognition is confirmed by her second sight, which shows thousands of auras and images around Birgitte, that Min was certain "indicated more adventures than a woman could have in one lifetime". The problem is, Min met Birgitte prior to this, when Nynaeve and Elayne brought Birgitte with them to Salidar [TFOH: 50, To Teach and Learn, 590]. What's more, Min discusses Birgitte with Elayne before she leaves for Caemlyn: "'Does she really believe she's Birgitte out of the legends? I mean, the bow and the braid - every tale mentions those, even if the bow isn't silver - and I can't think she was born with the name'" [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 30].

RJ answered this question in the online COT Prologue interview:

Q: In Winter's Heart, Min doesn't recognize Birgitte, but they were in Salidar at the same time. What is the story there?

RJ: No story at all. In Salidar, Min knew Birgitte as a adventurer, you might say, but not until Caemlyn did she realize that Birgitte was, in fact, BIRGITTE BY GOD SILVERBOW!

Although, if that's the case, why didn't Min see thousands of images and auras the first time she met Birgitte? One possible rationalization is that Birgitte hadn't been a Warder for very long when Min saw her in Salidar; maybe the host of images that accrue around AS and Warders hadn't appeared yet for Birgitte.

In [WH: 32, A Portion of Wisdom, 602], Nynaeve is telling Rand about her ter'angreal. As she is telling him about the Well she actually demonstrates its use by channeling a flow of Air to touch his face. One would expect the guards to raze the inn to the ground after that, but nothing happens. Perhaps the detection part of the ter'angreals doesn't work with that small an amount of the Power? [Kjell Stahl]

While in Far Madding, Rand tells Alanna to send Rafela, Merana, Bera and Kiruna to negotiate with the Haddon Mirk rebels in Tear, thinking: "Those were the four besides Alanna whom Min said he could trust" [WH: 25, Bonds, 491]. However, Michael McCarthy points out that it was Faeldrin, NOT Kiruna, who was one of the five AS Min told Rand were "in your hand" [ACOS: 34, Ta'veren, 534]. {NB: Bob Kluttz reports that this error was corrected in the paperback edition of WH, with Rand sending Faeldrin instead of Kiruna.}

Dame Not-Appearing-In-This-Battle: What happened to Erian Boroleos at the end of WH? She was in Cadsuane's Company when they went to Far Madding [WH: 23, To Lose the Sun, 452]. She went with Rand to Shadar Logoth; in [WH: 35, With the Choedan Kal, 630], Rand tallies up the members of his party, noting "Verin and the other five Aes Sedai who had sworn to him, and the four who were Cadsuane's companions." The "other five" are Elza Penfel, Nesune Bihara, Beldeine Nyram, Sarene Nemdahl, and Erian Boroleos. Cad's Cadre is Daigian Moseneillin, Corele Hovian, Merise, and Kumira (who do not seem to have last names). But Erian apparently takes no part in the battle at Shadar Logoth. [Sydo Zandstra]

RJ acknowledges the error in the COT Prologue interview:

Q: Was Erian Boroleos meant to disappear during the battle at Shadar Logoth or was that a mistake?

RJ: Erian Boroleos was not meant to disappear. In my notes, she is placed guarding those with Cadsuane who cannot channel and not too pleased about it (there are reasons why she was chosen out for this, which I won't go into here), and there is even a note (under CHECKS AND CORRECTIONS, a category I use to make sure that I haven't blinked at the wrong time) to make sure of mentioning her in passing. It didn't happen, for which, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I was so certain that I had done it, that I didn't find out I hadn't until the paperback came out, but a correction will be made.

From Crossroads of Twilight

While ruminating about Galad's behavior in Samara, Elayne thinks to herself: "Galad fancied Nynaeve, or had for a time - it was hard to imagine he still felt that way, with him a Whitecloak, the Light only knew where and doing what - but the truth was, he had started that war to rescue his sister" [COT: 12, A Bargain, 307]. However, it was Egwene Galad fancied; he respected Nynaeve, but there is never any indication that he was interested in her romantically. What's more, Elayne knew this: she told Egwene that Gawyn liked her (Egwene), but that he would never pursue a girl that Galad had shown an interest in [Peter Reid].

Jim Mansfield has thoughts on weevils and the winnowing thereof: "Winnowing has two meanings: its original meaning, to remove chaff from grain by the use of air currents (i.e. throwing up of the chaff/grain mixture in the wind and letting the wind carry away the lighter chaff), and its metaphorical meaning, to separate the good from the bad. In a Boolean sense, it can mean 1) OR 2) ... but not 1) AND 2)!

"Grain weevils are small, but not nearly as small or light as chaff (wheat husks). The bugs are 3-4 mm long, which makes them about as big as wheat grains and probably just as heavy. 'Winnowing' out grain weevils from grain would not work using the same method one uses for removing chaff from wheat. Also, as grain weevils are interior feeders, they are not likely to be dislodged from the grain kernels by a simple throwing up in the air."

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