NOTE: This section is not designed to analyse any of these similarities in detail; it simply records what Jordan has said on this matter.
Cultures and Societies
It's really impossible to say here. The Ogier came from a dozen different sources, at least.
You're welcome. And they are the descendants of the pacifists who were in service to the Aes Sedai in the Age of Legend. If on the other hand, you mean the source of the culture, in my mind, they contain some elements of the Apache, some of the Zulu, some of the Bedouin, and some elements of my own including that I rather liked the fact of making the desert dwellers blue-eyed and fair instead of the usual dark-eyed, dark-complexioned desert people.
They can live in the same ways that the Bedouin manage to live in a desert where you or I would die, and the Apache did so. They make very efficient use of what they find. And if they stay in one place for too long in too great a number they would indeed strip the land bare. But there certainly aren't millions of them in Illian.
Saldaea is based, in part, on a number of middle eastern cultures and several cultures in countries surrounding the Black Sea. In part. The sa'sara, now...
I think it's a toss-up between the ancient Celts, the Japanese of the Shogunites, and France of the 17th Century. But then, there are a lot of bits and pieces that have come from a great many sources. I'm not truthfully certain that the three that I gave you really ARE the greatest influences.
Bits and pieces sometimes. Not the characters, but the nations are sometimes based on bits and pieces of actual cultures and quite often it has nothing to do with any culture that I am aware of consciously.
Well, Mayene is based culturally on the cities of the Hanseatic League, as well as Venice and Genoa when those cities were world commercial powers and city-states in themselves.
Imperial China. Japan during the Shogunites, with strong dollops of the Persian Empire and the Ottoman.
No. The groups are sometimes in ways based on historical organizations. The White Cloaks have a lot of, say, Teutonic Knights. The Aes Sedai organization comes from the way convents were organized between A.D. 1000 and 1800, a time when there was real political power behind convents.
Myths, Legends and Other Influences
Not directly. Influenced by. And not wholly -- there are other influences as well.
There is a big influence (already mentioned) from wide ranging source materials.
Quite a bit, along with other Celtic myths and Norse myths and African and Middle- Eastern, and Hindu and Chinese and Japanese and Native American and even Australian Aboriginal. Plus some others here and there to tell you the truth.
They were intended.
They really aren't referred to any more than many other legends and myths, but they're simply more recognizable to most Americans.
There's very little in the books that's by accident--very little.
The Universe of The Wheel of Time
The name comes out of Hindu mythology, where there is a belief that time is a wheel. Many older cultures believe that time is cyclic, that it repeats. In fact, I believe the best thing the ancient Greeks gave us was (the idea) that time was linear and change was possible.
There are a number of influences from the Bible, but from other sources as well. My work is not overtly religious in any way.
The Old Tongue
It's a functioning language in that I have developed a basic grammar and syntax, and have a vocabulary list that I have devised, some from Gaelic of course, but from languages less often used.. Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese. I try to follow these rules that I've set up, but occasionally I realize I have to invent a new rule because I'm doing something I've never done before. But it all follows the grammar I've devised. As far as the Aiel that I've devised as a culture, they have bits of Apache, bits of Bedouin, bits that are simply mine.
Well, I got the idea for the Old Tongue simply because the core beginnings of this story lie 3000 years in the past -- and I've never heard of a language remaining unchanged over that length of time. We could not understand the English spoken by an Englishman from 1000 years ago, and we'd have difficulty understanding him from 500 years ago, and the same holds true for a Frenchman with his language or a German with his.
The words come partly from Gaelic, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese. The grammar and syntax I believe I invented myself, although it's possible that another language uses the same. Of course, just as with English, I have deliberately put in some very illogical inconsistencies.
There are some 880 basic words -- maybe 900. I got a list of what is considered basic English, which are the 800 odd words of a basic English vocabulary, removed the words that were of no use in the context of my world, came up with words in the Old Tongue in each of those English words, and then added those words that did have a specific context in my world.
There are a number of characters reflected, mythological characters, reflected in each of the books because of the basic theme, if you will, of the books, that information becomes distorted over distance or time you cannot know the truth of an event the further you get from it. These people are supposed to be the source of a great many of our legends or myths, but what they actually did bears little resemblance to the myth. That is the conceit, that time has shifted these actions to other people, perhaps compressing two people into one or dividing one into three as far as their actions go so Rand has bits of Arthur and bits of Thor and bits of other characters and so does Matt and so does Nynaeve, and so do others. And yes Matt does have some bits of Odin, but not exclusively. He has bits of Loki and bits of Coyote and of the Monkey King.
Oh, Mat is a lot of guys. Mat is Coyote and Trickster and a lot of other characters out of myth and legend. He's the reluctant hero; he's a lot of things. He's the bad boy on the Harley. He's a lot of legends.
Among other places, yes.
A great many things -- but in large part, people who are willing to do anything at all for their personal aggrandizement.
Well, there are, and I won't go into details because I want to keep the mythological and legendary roots hidden. I don't want to have people spending more time discussing the legends than the stories! The thing is there are several legends and myths based on such jealousy, on the man who is just a half a step short of another man, the woman who would have been the greatest of her age, but there was another who was just a bit better. That sort of jealousy leads to the worst kind of hatred. When someone can easily defeat you, there's not that kind of jealousy, but when he beats you in a photo finish every single time, that is when emotions begin to curdle and rancour sets in and you find yourself with this festering deep inside that can turn into murderous hatred.
Rand has some elements of Jesus Christ, yes. But he is intended more to be a general "messiah figure." An archetype such as Arthur, rather than a manifestation of Jesus Christ in any way.
Any number of myths from Europe, North American Indians, and the Australian aborigines.
Trinities and threes and multiples of three or seven turn up again and again in mythologies and legends throughout the world and in ceremonies throughout the world. That part is hardly original. It's something that speaks to us on some deeper level. It's so prevalent, it must. It's all pervasive.
The sword forms described in the book are my own creation, but they are based in part on the Japanese art of the sword, and also on fencing as it developed, when it was well on its way to becoming a martial art as we define them today (when it was developing in the Renaissance).
Stones is based on Go, and the actual stones used can vary.
Ahh, yeah. I admit to making lists. I read fairly widely and I read newspapers, foreign newspapers. That is, foreign to me, to the States. Also, the Economist and other magazines that have stories about other countries’ news stories. I'll see a name that isn't the name that I want but I realize if I twist it and turn it inside out and tie it into a knot, it's a name that sounds very nice. It's the name I want. The same way names out of myth and legend that in some cases are twisted or turned or changed and others aren't. I figured most of you are far enough along that you read, that you know Rand al'Thor, al'Thor, yes he is an Arthur analogue. He is also a Thor analogue. Some of you might not have picked that one up yet. And Artur Hawkwing is also an Arthur analogue. Because what I've tried to do is not give you any sort of retelling of myths or legends but to reverse engineer every one of them so that I can give you some version of what might have happened and then have been changed by telling and retelling and retelling and retelling into the myths and legends we have today.