Good Ol' Narg...

Viktara Fen

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Viktara#4874
In my reread of TEotW I was reminded of Narg, the only trolloc, so far as I am aware, to ever talk in the common tongue. As we all know, he also speaks a line in the Trolloc language: "Vlja daeg roghda."

In 1995 or 1996, I wrote to Robert Jordan to ask him a whole pile of questions, mostly about Trollocs and their society. He wrote me back and provided several pages of information about the communities, what sort of culture they had, whether their nature was mutable or fixed due to their close connection to the shadow, whether they had free will, and all of that. It was really informative, and I passed it around the lunch table at school to share with my friends who were also reading the books. I might have also posted the info to AOL at the time.

To my infinite frustration, I lost that letter in a move, and I did not have a scanner at the time, so I never backed it up. It also never seemed to make it into any of my backups in the form of a retyped text file or, if it did, it got eaten by one data loss or the other many years past.

What I do remember, however, is that I asked what "Vlja daeg roghda" meant. He did not give me a word-for-word translation, possibly because I was a minor at the time, but he did remark that it was an incredibly profane and "not very nice at all" (I think that was the wording) insult leveled at Rand. So basically Narg was trying to say something nice-sounding in Rand's language, but was snarling (what I imagine to be) F-bombs at him in a language he was unlikely to understand.

Did anyone else ever get any confirmation from RJ regarding what that phrase means?

(Also, if I somehow do miraculously turn up a copy of that letter somewhere--it would surely take a miracle--I'll be sure to share it.)
 

Maibella ni Rhoiden t'al'Varrak

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Oh wow, what a treasure that letter would have been! :cry
Thanks for sharing this little bit of insight into good ol' Narg. :D
 

Viktara Fen

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High school me was very, very upset to have lost it, yeah. :( Adult me, who is even more devastated to have lost such a useful primary source, sees how I could have prevented the loss, in hindsight, but I can't bring myself to be too hard on kid-me. Losing that letter, a letter I got from Raymond E. Feist, and a great deal of my own writing (poems, journals, etc.) for which I had no backups was punishment enough...and I have, in the decades since, learned that the money I pay for backup services and the time I spend on scanning and keeping up with local backups is well worth it. More than once I've also saved a client's butt because I had a backup of the work I did for them years earlier. So I suppose that's a silver lining.

For what it's worth, here is what I do remember, though it should all definitely be taken with a pound of salt until or unless I can find that original text (which well may mean it will remain conjecture and/or anecdote forever):

Hazy Half-Memories from My Letter from Robert Jordan, ca. Late 1996 or Early 1997:
  • "Vlja daeg roghda" was an insult or curse of some kind and either was profane enough for Jordan to decline translating it or, given that it appeared in TEotW (which, IIRC, has some Old Tongue with irregular word order and such, e.g. the text on the Horn), perhaps might not have had a specific direct translation.
  • I asked about the inherent nature of Trollocs and whether they could ever serve the Light, or even just not serve the Shadow. IIRC, he replied that they are, by nature of being so directly shaped and influenced by the Shadow, not "redeemable," in that you could not, say, take an infant Trolloc, raise it away from other Trollocs, and have a "good" adult Trolloc, and you could not have an instance of a Trolloc turning to the Light. (I remember being very frustrated by this answer.)
  • In his comments on Trolloc settlements and society, IIRC, he mentioned that, among other things, Trollocs have some village-like settlements in the Blight (I forget whether he mentioned where, or in what concentration). I seem to recall a description of simple huts and structures made of hide, bone, and similar materials. Other details were described (crafts and industry, I think), but I do not remember them clearly enough to be any more specific than that. I have some very particular mental images of these villages based on the description I was given, but like everything, they are very subject to the haze and warping of time.
  • I asked about female Trollocs. He replied that yes, there are female Trollocs, but Trolloc gender roles are strictly divided, and they do not go to war. Female Trollocs remain in the settlements and bear children. They enjoy carrying and bearing offspring. (I remember being very frustrated by this answer, too.)
  • I think I asked Jordan whether, in theory, a Trolloc could ever channel, and I think his answer was that they could not.
There was somewhat more, and I recall there being quite a bit of detail. Sadly, it is all even more vague and muddy than the generalities listed above. I had also asked if we were going to see more Shadowspawn POV chapters in later books (i.e., in Book 8 and beyond), and I think I expressed my frustration that Narg had only had that one shining moment of glory in TEotW. ;)

Aagh, now I'm frustrated all over again!

Well, now I have a mission, I guess! :laugh: Likely a hopeless one, but one never knows. I needed a good excuse to go reorganize the old hard drive pile and check my old spindle of backup CD-Rs...and see if any of those old floppy disks are still good, and if I missed anything last time I consolidated that stuff. Hm...:reading
 

Maibella ni Rhoiden t'al'Varrak

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This makes me even more stressed about my current project of cleaning out my basement - I'm FORCING myself to throw some things away, and now I'm panicking again. :laugh:
 

Viktara Fen

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Oof, I feel this. I cleaned out a lot of paper clutter some years back. It was very tough for me to turn loose of the originals (writing notes, support documentation for my thesis research, etc.), as I am a Keep All The Things sort of person, but at the time I had access to a really good scanner, and it helped a lot to be able to keep the information, even if I didn't keep the boxes and boxes of poorly organized paper. I haven't had to consult that information often in the years since, but when I have, it's been pretty easy to just pull up the relevant PDFs with a quick search. These days, I periodically scan stuff, add it to the virtual "paper pile," and let go of what originals I can...which keeps the bedroom closet from reaching sufficient density to collapse into a black hole. XD

I wish you the very best with the basement project! :)
 

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Whether you find it or not; what a lovely share. There is so much room in the WoT for more details, stories, characters, and more. Thank you!
 
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I have a very large stack of papers from my early writings that I’m keeping because I can’t just throw it out. But I’m sure I’ve lost things before, or thrown things out I thought I didn’t need.
 

Viktara Fen

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Viktara#4874
I have a very large stack of papers from my early writings that I’m keeping because I can’t just throw it out. But I’m sure I’ve lost things before, or thrown things out I thought I didn’t need.

I feel this one! I have definitely been guilty of throwing out things I did not think I'd need or want, but later did. These days, if I have any doubts at all, I move stuff to a "holding tank" area for a while to see if my attitude about it changes, and I scan and archive the files even if I think I won't need the information later.
 

Viktara Fen

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Viktara#4874
Incidentally, for those of you who might be following along, I have had no luck so far in scouring my backups and paper boxes. However, it seems that the College of Charleston Library's James O. Rigney, Jr. Collection is the posthumous home of Jordan's papers, which include correspondence and computer files. I have sent them a message asking whether it might be possible that his reply to me exists in their collection and, if so, whether I would be able to secure a copy of it or even be able to visit in person to examine it for my personal use. It's a long shot, and it might be covered by the collection's restriction on the availability of certain materials until 2037 even if it does exist...but if that blasted information exists anywhere, it'll be with his papers, and I am not above driving all the way to Charleston, SC, to fetch it if I have to. I'll let you know what they tell me!
 
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I’m invested now!! I hope it works out :love
I wonder why there’s a hold until 2037?
 

Viktara Fen

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Viktara#4874
I’m invested now!! I hope it works out :love
I wonder why there’s a hold until 2037?

The website linked above indicates that it's at the donor's request. My guess is that since the collection contains notes, correspondence, and unpublished work, it's to ensure that the estate has had plenty of time to use or publish any of that as they see fit before essentially opening it wide to any member of the public who asks to see.
 

Viktara Fen

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Viktara#4874
An (especially prompt) update!

From the special collections folks:

Hi [Name],

I'll check the collection Tuesday to see if that letter exists. I don't think your past addresses are necessary (or names, if [Full Legal Name] is enough to help me). To be clear, I'm searching for Robert Jordan's response to you, right?

I will say that this manuscript collection comes with some strict restrictions concerning reproduction of materials. We can discuss that later if I find the letter.

Best, [Name]
Special Collections

I'll update here again when they get back to me. I hope the restrictions permit me to share the contents with everyone if they're able to find them!

ETA: I received their post-search reply! Alas, they do not have the letter:

Hi [Name],

Unfortunately that letter does not exist in the manuscript collection. All the correspondence is strictly business related--publishers, agents, illustrators, etc. There is no audio correspondence, either. Sorry I couldn't be of help.

Best,

[Name]

Well, nuts. I suspect that's the end of the line for the saga, but if I turn up anything more, I'll be sure to share!
 
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Thanks for sharing @Viktara Fen You've done everything you could to find your letter and although you haven't been able to retrieve it (thus far) I'm thankful you took the time to share what you could.

...Reading the answer from special collections again. "All the correspondence is strictly business related..." So how about the fanmail? There must have been more. Maybe that part of the correspondence (if he even made copies) was not part of the manuscript collection?
 

Maibella ni Rhoiden t'al'Varrak

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Oh wow, I'm bummed they didn't have it but I'm glad you thought to check with them anyway.
 

Viktara Fen

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So how about the fanmail? There must have been more. Maybe that part of the correspondence (if he even made copies) was not part of the manuscript collection?

That frustrated/confused me, too, Yurjan Gaidin. I guess it wasn't part of the collection. I would have thought that he might have kept such things, but I suppose he didn't. That or the estate didn't include them in the collection even if he did keep them. At least we know now what sorts of things the correspondence archive contains, and that's valuable information if nothing else.

I have several more ideas, though they are extreme long-shots. The first is that a friend of mine from high school might have made a copy of the letter back then, since one of them did ask to borrow it overnight, if I recall correctly. It is also remotely possible that one of my oldest backups might have it hiding somewhere unexpected, but I need to boot up one of my old computers to check again, assuming the disk is still good. Finally, I seem to remember posting the information to the AOL message board back then. That board and any record of it are long since gone unless some individual saved those data on a personal computer, but it might be possible that someone might have cross-posted the information to UseNet, in which case an archive of that post would exist. I'd recognize the specific questions and answers if I saw them. I didn't post to UseNet back then, but some folks on the AOL boards did. All of those are probably less likely than my winning the lottery, though...but at least let it never be said that I am not exhaustive when on a mission. ;)
 

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What about the wayback machine of the aol message board if you know the URL?
 

Viktara Fen

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Viktara#4874
What about the wayback machine of the aol message board if you know the URL?

That is an excellent idea, Alora Gaidin! Alas, that board didn't properly exist on the World-Wide Web as far as I am aware. It was part of AOL's walled garden system, and one didn't navigate to it using what we now consider modern URLs. It was less like an ISP and more like a huge BBS that one dialed into. The Web browser was a totally separate thing you launched on top of the AOL program to access websites at that point if you were connecting to the Net via AOL. So all that taken together means that I think the Internet Archive wouldn't have been able to access it, although I believe it did exist by that time. I could be wrong about the URL thing, but my understanding is that one needed AOL's client to navigate to any addresses.

Some material did survive from AOL's old system on derelict dial-up servers when Archive Team went looking to back up AOL's legacy servers some years ago, but my understanding is that it was spotty at best, and difficult to access. As of 2018, the legacy servers are now all offline. Sadly, even if Archive Team managed to scrape the right part of AOL in their attempt to back it up before the servers went offline, I do not think the WoT board in question would have been part of the surviving material, so far as I am aware, because AOL took it down on us sometime after A Crown of Swords dropped, and the RP group moved to discussions via email chains.

If we somehow had the old numerical address for the forum, we could check AT's data dump, but I suspect that information, if it exists, will be difficult to locate.

Now that said, there's at least a fun little silver lining here. In scouring all my old backups, I somehow actually found a scrap from that post-board period: A single AOL-formatted email from July 1997 that was part of an RP sequence involving an expedition to Rhuidean. I recognize some of the screen names in the header info, including my own, and it looks like it was a post I had saved so I could consider it and write my reply to it offline (y'know, back when somebody might have needed the phone for something in the meantime). We had apparently just been jumped by trollocs and I was being moody and broody because I was a teenager and of course I was. :laugh: Somehow that weird little file slipped in with some other files from my old Mac Performa and a small dragon's hoard of repurposed free AOL floppy disks.

Sadly, I have no sign of the letter or even my original letter to Jordan, but at least I do have a fragment that provides a date for the post-message-board period on AOL, which helps to constrain any searches I do on UseNet (which is thus far turning up nothing, alas), so that is something at least.

I aim to keep digging in some progressively less likely spots, and all suggestions are welcome. It's the least I can do for Good Ol' Narg to keep on hunting. ;)
 

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Haha, this is awesome :D Thank you for posting about this, and for reaching out to the special collections folks.
 

Viktara Fen

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Glad you had a good time with it, Ilissa Sedai! And yes, at least we've got what little I could remember, and we have what I learned from the Special Collections staff. Part of me is a bit bummed I didn't have an excuse to get on the road to drive to Charleston for an archive dive, but perhaps someday! :laugh:
 

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Glad you had a good time with it, Ilissa Sedai! And yes, at least we've got what little I could remember, and we have what I learned from the Special Collections staff. Part of me is a bit bummed I didn't have an excuse to get on the road to drive to Charleston for an archive dive, but perhaps someday! :laugh:
Thank you so much for sharing what you remember. For what it's worth, it matches perfectly with what I've gathered from the series. I taught a class on Trollocs a few years ago. If you read through my class lectures, especially the later ones, you'll see what I mean.
Class can be found here.
 
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