That’s a good question, and I answer it in a blog post over at BookThing. There are spoilers in that post for at least the first seven books, and probably more as time goes on and I expand on it. But for now, head over there for the full details.
I’m trying to avoid reading any spoilers about the whole Wheel of Time series. My intent is to finish the books before I learn any of the significant details about how it all turns out. This is mainly because my anger, and reason for stopping when the books were new, is that it appeared Jordan wasn’t going to answer any of the questions he himself had raised. I now hope that Brandon has, but I want to RAFO, not see too many spoilers.
That means I have to be careful when searching the web to see if any of my new theories, spawned during my re-read, are original. I risk finding out that they’re true or false but only based on later stuff I’ve not read.
So here’s a couple of random thoughts that may be true or disproved already.
One Man – Three Bodies
Lews Therin was a mighty man, battle leader, strong in the One Power, etc. However, Rand doesn’t really seem to know much about battle, no reason he should, he’s quite young. He is however very strong in the One Power. Mat on the other hand, can’t channel, but has come into the possession of an awful lot of knowledge that makes him a great battle leader. I’m not totally sure where Perrin fits in yet. But perhaps this time, the Wheel has spun out three men, all ta’veren, and split the skills between them. This seems to have confused the response from the evil guys, never knowing if they should be killing all three, or working with all three. It’s almost as if the Light needed a way to get an edge.
One Woman – Three Bodies
If the theory of Lews Therin is true, I wonder if the Wheel has spat out Ilyena Sunhair as multiple women? Perhaps Elayne, Min and Aviendha?
I mentioned on twitter that I was re-reading or in some cases, reading for the first time, The Wheel of Time series. Someone remarked they didn’t know how I had the patience. Can’t argue with that – some parts of the series are infuriating, as I’ve already expressed. Well there’s a really simple thing that keeps me reading. I’ve so far, generally, avoided all spoilers about the books I’ve not read, including the ending.
That means for me, many of the mysteries are still mysteries (especially as Jordan himself failed to resolve many of them before his untimely death).
Chief among those (pun intended) is what’s going on with the Aiel. I’m in the middle of The Shadow Rising at the moment, and we get what I think is a pretty good summary of what the Aiel are about. I love the Aiel, and discovering their origin is really interesting. Of course, I’d already read this bit, but I’m sure there’s more. There must be more. I want there to be more. So I read on, hoping that Jordan or Sanderson give us more information about the Aiel, and what they were up to.
That goes for many other things and people too, Moraine, Mat, Lan, Verin, so much back story and stuff to explain there, that I really hope there are reveals and closures in later parts of the series.
I think, what I will enjoy most, is once I’ve finished the series, finding some comprehensive online resource describing the truth about everything in Randland and burying myself in it. There’s a rumour Jordan’s widow is planning an official encyclopaedia. I really hope that happens.
There are spoilers below, covering the first four Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan.
The Wheel of Time books are complex on many levels. They’re complex in and of themselves in terms of the world and story, and they’re also complex in terms of their broader existence in the world. They were written and released at a time when the Internet was really taking off, and many, many people talked about the books on early web pages and Usenet. The connection to the author through those routes was something new for many people, probably including Jordan himself.
There’s been a lot written about the books, both about the issues of feminism they seem to raise (or misogyny and misandry depending on your view), and about Jordan’s ‘errors’ as a writer. Personally, I think he needed a much stricter editor, and the books from around 4 or 5 onwards would have been a lot better.
You’ll also find people screaming about how the characters are stupid. Especially in terms of female and male interactions, and in not sharing what they know. Too often you might feel if they had just shared what they knew then the Shadow would have been defeated more easily. The whole male/female thing is just infuriating, where all the characters seem to have no clue how the other gender operates.
However, I see those two things as part of the plot, or the world structure. I hope there’s some allegory in there, and some comment on how the world was broken and now the genders don’t trust each other (we’ll see if I’m right when I finally finish the series).
What irritates me far more than those, is when characters that are not stupid act in a stupid way. I can never work out if Jordan thought his readers were stupid, if he thought his characters were stupid, if he was trying to be subtle and failing, or if he just never noticed what he was writing (and his editor didn’t speak up).
The moments in question pull me right out of the books, and make me want to punch the furniture. During the particular sequence I’m going to describe in a moment, I killed at least one stuffed pillow on the sofa.
- Perrin, Morraine, Lan and Loial have been traveling towards Tear, and they travel through Illian. While there, they learn that one of the Foresaken has risen to be ruler of Illian at some stage, they’re not sure when.
- Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne are also traveling towards Tear. When they get there, they find the Black Ajah already ensconced.
- In Tear, they hear of a High Lord who has risen through the ranks in weeks, despite no one ever hearing of him.
- They learn that he is Foresaken.
- During a discussion on one particular page, Elayne, Egwene, Moraine, Nynaeve discuss why Rand should go to war. One of them (I can’t recall which) says something about Rand not having a choice, and who knows which other nations Foresaken have decided to take a controlling interest in. It is obvious from the discussion that all the women realise this is something very real, very likely, and very dangerous.
- That conversation finishes, and Moraine leaves. On the very, next, page, there is a discussion about how Elayne’s mother, The Queen of Andor, has a new adviser no one has heard of and the Queen appears to be in love with him.
- Not one of the girls puts two and two together. They just totally dismiss it. Not one of them thinks ‘hang on a stark raving minute, but we were just discussing how the Foresaken might try and control nations, and now, Andor, one of the most powerful, has a new adviser to the Queen that until a few weeks ago no one had heard of‘.
We don’t know when Mat told Elayne and the others of this new adviser. We have to assume it was not in the presence of Moraine, since Mat avoids her like the plague. So, we can forgive Moraine for not knowing about it here, but the three girls have absolutely no excuse.
These are the same three girls who have hunted Black Ajah, captured two of them, escaped from the Senchean, seen horrors beyond telling and are not, in any way, stupid. Why then, does Robert Jordan write them in this way, with moments of complete stupidity. Is it meant to be that way, or is it accidental? I don’t know, but it’s seriously irritating, either make them dumb, or make them clever but at least be consistent.
This is only one example – there are plenty more, when some obvious fact or notion is overlooked by everyone involved (and all the characters suffer, not just these three), for reasons that can only be described as stupidity, when at other times the characters demonstrate a perfectly reasonable amount of intelligence.
It’s one of the things that makes the series hard for me – I could cope if Jordan ever explained the stupidity, if he made it obvious it was intentional, or if he just said it was a mistake, but unless something is revealed in the last 5 or so books that I’ve never read, it’ll continue to drive me mad when I do try and read them.
Why Jordan? Why are the characters so inconsistently stupid and blind?
I recently read and reviewed Just Another Judgement Day and The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny by Simon R Green. The reviews will be up on BookThing soon. I avoided any spoilers if at all possible in those reviews, but it should be obvious I was less than impressed. In this post, I’ll rant about why, and there will be spoilers. I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to moan about an author’s work, since they’ve put a lot of effort into it and I’ve basically done fuck all with my life. That’s why I’ve tried to keep the reviews slightly more objective. However, this is my blog, and I just need to vent about some stuff.
You have been warned – Nightside spoilers incoming!
Just received this press release.
New Award Categories
When we established The David Gemmell Legend Award For Fantasy it was with the intention of subsequently introducing further award categories to cover other aspects of the fantasy genre. We are now pleased to announce two new, additional awards, to be presented at next year’s ceremony. They are –
The David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Newcomer
The David Gemmell Ravenheart Award for Best Fantasy Cover Art
The Morningstar Award will give recognition to emerging talent in the field of fantasy fiction. As David Gemmell always took a keen interest in new writers, and helped many onto the path to publication, we regard this as an appropriate category to add, and one we feel sure David would have approved.
The Ravenheart Award will honour the best fantasy book cover art. The importance of fantasy cover art deserves admiration, as do the artists who produce it, yet there is no major UK award acknowledging this. The Ravenheart Award will fulfil that role.
Like the Legend Award, the winners of these new awards, for best debut author and best cover/artist, will be decided by popular vote. The first Legend Award, for best fantasy novel of the year, presented at a ceremony in London in June of this year, garnered an incredible 11,000 votes from around the world. We are confident that the Morningstar and Ravenheart awards, which are being created with the full approval of the Gemmell family, will be greeted with no less enthusiasm.
Details of the process whereby these new awards will be administered can be found on our website.
Our aim is to establish, over time, a set of awards covering all aspects of the fantasy genre. Launching this pair of new awards takes us a step nearer to that objective.
The 2010 David Gemmell Awards ceremony will again be held at The Magic Circle headquarters in London, on Friday 18th June.
Please feel free to contact either of us if more information is needed.
Stan Nicholls (Chair)
Deborah Miller (Awards Administrator)
In October I proclaimed I would be writing a 50,000 word novel in November to take part in NaNoWriMo. So, how well did I do? If you’ve been following my blog you’ll notice a complete lack of updates after I posted this. Yes, that’s right, I made it as far as two days and 1868 words before I stalled.
After those two days I had decided I didn’t actually like the story. In fact, I’d started worrying about that before I even started writing it when I was doing the plot outline in October. I’m not going to blame that for my lack of writing though, nor am I going to blame the cold I had early on, or the worry about my visit to the dentist.
Basically, I didn’t really enjoy writing. I enjoyed thinking about the plot and coming up with ideas and problems, but I didn’t enjoy the process of converting those little ideas into a story, developing them.
I’m not sure if that means anything. I just wanted to say it. Anyway, for those who care, the 1868 words show up after the link (or right NOW if you’re using a feed reader).
No progress on the novel today, in fact, negative process. I don’t like the story, I don’t like where it’s head and I’m not sure I even like the genre.
Or the hero.
That can’t be good huh.
In the spirit of NaNoWriMo I’m not going back and editing the stuff I’ve written. No time for re-writes. However, I am going back and re-reading it (to keep consistent) and to see how I well or badly I think I did certain bits.
There’s one bit I’m pleased with so far (yes, I know, early days). In the first major conversation of the story one guy is doing a lot of talking and is clearly agitated. Twice I went to write “so and so, clearly agitated” and stopped myself, and instead, I wrote these.
Philip sat down again, clasping and unclasping his hands.
Philip stood, and then sat down again almost immediately.
… his hands returned to gripping his knees tightly.
Hopefully I got the show don’t tell bit right.
Had a bit of a burst, got the main character in to a chat with his first contact, and that conversation drove the word count up. Hopefully it drives the story along and doesn’t sound like I’m just telling a story.
NaNoWriMo word count:1868