The fan collective of the Wheel of Time series is incredibly fortunate to have Harriet McDougal with us. She is not only a direct connection to Robert Jordan, the author of our beloved series — who we sometimes affectionately call “the Creator.” She is also an advocate for us in so many ways. She has fought hard to make sure that Robert Jordan’s legacy continues to what it is today, and she has forged her own legacy as not just his editor and surviving wife, but as the helm of Team Jordan.
 
I’ve had a few fleeting interactions with Harriet at JordanCon. Each time, she was kind, always smiling, and willing to listen to messages from fans.
 
My favorite memory with Harriet was from my first JordanCon where she sat in on a writer’s panel. We all sat around a small grouping of tables, and I was surprised to find myself sitting right next to her! It was an informal panel, and I don’t remember the topic to be honest. Somewhere in the panel, the moderator asked everyone to start asking questions of the writers in the room. And someone asked Harriet how Robert Jordan pronounced the name Tar Valon.
 
Was it Tar VA-luhn? (Where the “a” in “Valon” is short, as in “cat” on the stressed syllable.)
Or Tar Vuh-LON? (Where the “o” in “Valon” is short, as in “dog” on the stressed syllable.)
 
This question stuck out to me, because we all began reading this series in a bubble. Fantasy words are an interesting study, because you can make them what you want; but Jordan’s words came with a glossary…most of them, anyway. I remember looking up how to pronounce “Egwene,” “Nynaeve,” and “Aes Sedai” in the back of the Eye of the World when I first started reading the series at the age of 14. But I had just kept going with the other words in my head. This experience gave me the motivation to keep going with my studies in language, and complete a degree in Spanish, while I was struggling with an apathetic teacher at the time.
 
I hadn’t considered that there was another way of pronouncing “Tar Valon” until I engaged with the community a bit more. This question would lead to an answer that peered into the Creator’s mind about something we all loved.
 
I had to know.
 
And, readers, I don’t remember the exact way that she answered, but she said that Robert Jordan had always pronounced it the second way — “Tar Vuh-LON.”
 
I was so excited, because that’s always the way I had said it in my head for over 20 years.
 
To Harriet, from all of us at TarValon.Net, we are so happy to have had you for another year, and we are so grateful for everything you do for us. Happy Birthday!

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