I am coming up on the end to the first Wheel of Time book, 50 pages to go. I have to say I really like it.
However, the prologue is big on the 'Huh factor', not to mention the 'who cares'? It has such dense description and incomprehensible happenings. When I picked it up years ago, this is what stopped me. But from Chapter 1 on it's an easy read. But it really doesn't get good until halfway through the book. That's quiet a bit to ask of a reader.
What makes me roll my eyes is the LOTR references. I keep thinking, "Does he think I wouldn't notice?" The plot does veer in a different direction but it's all thinly diguised.
While the people of the Two Rivers arenít hobbits, they have a similar rural mentality, Rand is Frodo, Mat is Merry, Perrin is Pippin, while at the same time, they play on the sword/bow/axe triad of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. Yeah, Randís destiny is vastly different than Frodoís, but itís like looking into a funhouse mirror. Lan serves as Aragorn, Thom shows a side of Gandalf, while Moraine functions as a blends some of Gandalfís role, while being Galadriel-like. There is no Samwise, but Eugwene seems to function as a Rosy Cotton, sort of a what if, Rosy tagged along? Then there are the equilvents of Sauron, the Nazgul, the Orcs, the Ents. In an underwhelming twist, the peddler that came to the Two Rivers, functions as Gollum, though he is human.
Baerlon is like Bree. I forgot the name of the ruins, but that functions as the place where group splits into three, going in three directions. In a reverse plot, part of what happens in Moria happens in Whitebridge. The Blight seems to be Mordor. What have I left out?
The story does go in its own direction, but as I said, there are so many references and nods, itís like looking at a funhouse mirror.
It's easy to compare things when you blur the lines of vagueness and deny each thing its unique flavor. If I wanted to, I could destroy the uniqueness of absolutely everything I've read or seen, comparing it to something else.
Perhaps, in part, because I've rea through to book nine, the comparisons you've made seem laughable. First of all, Tokien's characters are all incredibly superficial. There is never any depth to them. I was sure that by the first book we had already seen more depth than we saw in the entire LOTR trilogy, but perhaps some of that came later.
There were no women in LOTR, either. At least, not any worth noting. Perhaps this is from the POV of a woman, but I find no comparison at all between the women of Two Rivers and anyone at all in the LOTR.
The sword, axe, quarterstaff thing is reminiscent of the entire fantasy genre. What impresses me about the series, though, is that the characters actually learn to use them as time goes on. This is soemthing that is almost always ignored or brushed over in other fantasy.
Prologue: That never should have been written. It only makes sense after you've read several books. I reread it a few years ago and all of a sudden I understood, but the first run-through there is no way.
Rand: Frodo and Rand have almost nothing in common. That they both come from rural villages and begin as the "average joe" means nothing to me except this: Readers like starting with this character, with someone they can relate to and grow with. It is a common writing device, no more.
Matt and Perrin: I don't remember them much in the first book so I don't want to speak too absolutely about them. I know they are unidentifiable in later books after they change so much. In this case, Merry and Pippin area lso Tokien's true change characters, but keep in mind that Tokien wrote a milieu story, not a character story.
All fantasy borrows from TOkien. He pioneered the field. But Whereas in many cases I cannot find the difference between the modern fantasy and the pinoeered classic, in Jordan's books I have to look harder for the similarities. I have no trouble finding differences, mostly in depth, scope, and characterization.
I humbly suggest trying to read the book for its own merit and I encourage you to continue reading. Yes, you'll find the typical fantasy themes of good, evil, and the like, but I think you'll find more than that.
Oh yeah, and stop after book five. At least until JOrdan finishes the series. That is, if he ever does.
Isn't that the way with many long series? Bringing it to smooth landing is a feat. Usually the author drops the ball and disapoints-- thier only human.
Zelanzy did that with the 10th Amber book, Farmer did that with the last Riverworld and World of Tiers book. Anthony did that with his last Mode book. Card did that with his latest installments in the Alvin and Bean series.
I read the first one and like it, but it left me with no real desire to read the other 30,000 or sequels. Too much epic fantasy, creating a world in which every blade of grass must be described in great detail instead of really pumping life into the fantasy epicís characters who inhabit said world.
My buddy is hooked on them just because he wants to see an end. He readily admits that absolutely NOTHING has happened in a long, long time.
Sounds like what I've been told happened with Brooks' Shannara books. I only read the first one (SWORD OF) and since I was still in "finish every book you start" mode, I kept picking it up after each disgusted "this is a LOTR ripoff!" reaction. The only thing I liked about that book was the sword at the end, and I'm not sure it was worth wading through the rest of it to get there.
I have been told that the subsequent Shannara books go in their own direction and are not so Tolkien-derivative, but I never wanted to try them.
Maybe people who start a fantasy series and appear to be ripping off LOTR need to set that book aside until later books are written. Then, if they go back and rewrite the first book so it is more in tune with their own vision and adventure, it might be better.
And maybe this could be something else fantasy writers could be wise to watch out for in their own writing?
You got further than me. I started the first Shannara long ago and found it too lacking in originality. Somewhere near the gathering of the Dwarves, where they begin to discuss thier quest, I stopped.
I have a friend who read Brooks and Jordan before Tolkien, so they really liked it.
I did manage to read Brook's first Landover novel. Barely. It had more originality. But some characters the fumbling magician and the man-turned-dog Abernathy were too cliche.
Disclaimer: The Wheel of Time series is far to long.
Ok, with that out of the way I can comment on the things that I think Jordan has done a very good job on.
World building: This is one of the most intricate and rich fantasy worlds I have ever been in. I say that, because(at least for most of the books)I feel like it is a place I have visited. Like the trip I took to Jackson Hole this summer on my bike. The only world builder better than Jordan (in my opinion) is Tracy Hickman(Weis included, but I think Hickman does most of the world building in their partnership).
Characters: Although it has been stated here that Jordan's characters are Tolkein rip-offs, I don't buy that. The Characters in Wheel of Time series are much more complex, and get even deeper as the story goes on, and on(I couldn't resist). Anyway, There isn't any comparison in my book. Jordan's characters are very much "stand alone" charcters. I guess you could tie any group of characters to Tolkein if you tried hard enough. It's a group of people on a quest for heaven's sake! How many profiles can there be? At some point all fantasy characters have been done. That is why TSR has the profiles or classes they do for D&D. You can only make one PB&J sandwich. Oh sure, you can change-up the jelly, but at the end of the day it is still PB&J!
It is a Loooong series, get over it! Read it if you like, or not. I happen to think that there is a lot of good information and things to learn from Jordan's work(for better or worse). What a great learning tool for fantasy writers. If you can't see the benefit in it, you are missing out, especially if you write fantasy.
Remember, The Wheel of Time is a trilogy. When you finish the third book, you can stop. Really. The trilogy ends there.
All the rest are books written for nut-job fans so that they won't kidnap Jordan and break his legs with a sledgehammer. If you're not in that catagory of fan, you do not need to read them. They're fun, but they do not exist to bring the story to an end, ever.
Thanks for the slight concession with "concise," HuntGod I was being slightly tongue in Cheek with Tolkein but really I could lay the same criticism at Brooks' or McCaffery's door too. though in truth both those authors have done a good job creating different storylines for their universes. Posts: 514 | Registered: Nov 2005
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You don't have to stop, just understand that after that there isn't anything left to be resolved in an Aristotelian sense and nothing ever really is.
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The only thing that keeps me reading the books are that some of his secondary protag's, specifically Mat and Perrin, become interesting and I do want to know what happens with them. The rest of the characters could leap off a cliff and it wouldn't bother me.
Oh and in the last one, Knife of Dreams, Egwene's story actually becomes interesting.
I am interested in all the original cast stories, but have become increasingly frustrated with the number of POV chapters from minor characters, most of whom I can't keep straight anymroe.
Posts: 3567 | Registered: May 2003
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I also think that GRRM fixes this by killing some POVs outright and making new ones. This keeps from stringing the story lines along for whole books. (though granted FFC was different but GRRM admits it)
According to Wikipedia on The Eye Of The World, under the heading, Themes and allusions, it says, "Robert Jordan has stated that he consciously intended the early chapters of The Eye of the World to evoke the Shire of Middle-earth in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings."
I'm halfway through The Great Hunt, I really like it quite a bit. It does break away from Tolkien eventually...
The wheel of time is CRAP!! I hate those books!! I just have to say it AGAIN.. sorry if anyone thinks this unbecoming.. but man what crap. I don't have much better things to say about the brooks series. Oh well. If u want to read a nice long fantasy series... that does have its moments of suck/boring/preaching... but mostly over all good... Take a look at the sword of truth series.. Long as Sh*t.. but GOOD.. Oh.. I love those books. Anyone else??
Also.. while we're on the subject, allow me to say, also again, that if ure looking for a fantastic series read.. you can't do any better than the Dark Tower. Seven books of pure genius and fantastic. I love
I must humbly disagree with you regarding the Dark Tower Series. I couldn't get past the first book. Here is a book where (in my opinion) King does everything wrong. There really isn't any redeeming value to any of it. Oh I guess there may be a moment or two, but the book as a whole, is just that, a hole. A large sucking one at that!
There isn't a single character to connect with, and the setting... what setting? It is pretty much non-existant. I think even King says he thought the book would never sell. He has to my knowledge gone back to re-write the first book twice, just to make it more coherent. (I am sure of once, but was told it was twice. I'd have to investigate to be sure.)
Now from what I've been told, the series really doesn't start until the third book. I am just not willing to invest the time with King to get to book three.
I think you might be able to draw some parallels from Jordan to King in this sense. King took the first few books to get the series started, and Jordan started off well but ended after the fourth book. Both authors have books going nowhere. Again, I'll state that this is my own opinion. I also realize that in cases like this, an opinion is only good until it leaves your lips, or fingers in this case. So no worries.
I will agree on the Terry Goodkind series however. Those are pretty good!
Nope, Dark Tower isn't the best thing since sliced bread.
... Volume II: The Drawing of the Three is one of King's very best books. Period.
Volume IV: Wizard and Glass was also extremely good.
I agree with King's assessment that the style of the first volume didn't gel with the rest of the series. A few years back he revised it, but I haven't read it yet, so can't comment on whether or not it's an improvement.
Volume III: The Waste Lands, whilst containing some nice vignettes, is a turd of a book.
Five and six are enjoyable entertainments, and I haven't yet read the denoucement.
Top five King titles?
Pet Sematary It Eyes of the Dragon Hearts in Atlantis The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordan
And for sheer knock-about fun try these King titles:
The Regulators The Talisman (with Peter Straub - the sequel, Black House, is fun too) The Dark Half Misery
King titles you should BURN on sight and never so much as read the blurb on the back of them:
Gerald's Game Needful Things Insomnia Dreamcatcher 'Salem's Lot
[This message has been edited by Paul-girtbooks (edited January 31, 2006).]
Eyes of the Dragons is stupendous. Wheel of Time goes nowhere after book 4.
But I have to say that the Sword of Truth lost it around book five. That's when I started wondering if Richard would ever get around to killing Jagang (four books later, it's still not going very far) and Richard started preaching really (deadly...the last one I read was Faith of the Fallen, and Richard's political opinions are laughable, not to mention that he manages to convince everyone that they're true in record time). Don't ever ever start one of your characters preaching. Kills the book.
Well, there comes a point in the life of a successful open-ended series where it ceases to be writing and becomes a marketing concept.
Even though I've only read the one book of it, I admire J. K. Rowling for (apparently) sticking to a plan to keep "Harry Potter" at only seven books. (I read the other day she's written a non-Harry book...when it'll be published, the writeup didn't say.)
I read the parts that make up King's first "Dark Tower" book when they were published in "F & SF"...they were okay but somehow, and even when I went through a period of obsessive reading of all of King's work I could find, I was never motivated to pick up further volumes.
I do have a reluctance to put money down on a series with no ending in sight. (There are libraries for sampling, but the libraries I frequented didn't carry any volumes of this particular King work.)
More recently, I did pick up and read a "revised" edition of Volume One...again, it was good, but I didn't pick up the others.
Now that it's complete (apparently), I may pick it up and peruse it...someday...
Well... whatever. You love what you love, and that's how it is, correct?
Oh well. I don't hear anything on the last 2 books in the Dark Tower.. maybe you couldn't make it there.. but those are the sweet, creamy, rewarding center of the series. Yeah... the first book was kind of strange... oh well.. praise it for its oddness and not because it was lord of the rings book IV.. thats what I say.. but of course I guess I'm an optimist.
On a side note... and this is way off the topic of the thread... who else here thought the His Dark Materials trilogy is the greatest thing they've ever read by someone who isn't tolkien, king, or goodkind (or rowling... cuz she F***ing rules the school)...
I find it funny that people always cite Faith of the Fallen as being the sword of truth book where everything really starts going downhill. While it's true that it does start getting a little preachy, I personally had no trouble powering through the book because despite the preachyness it really grabbed my attention and made me care. The book before that on the other hand, Soul of Fire, almost stopped me dead in my tracks with chapter after chapter focusing on irrelevent side characters that didnt interest me at ALL (Fletch? Feltch? What was his name?)
Similarly, Pillars of Creation almost lost me until I realized that yes, its not about Richard, it's about someone else. Once I accepted that I got to care about the new character and I thought it was pretty good as well. All in all, still a very good series I think (I havent got to the last two yet)
Wow, Leaf...we definitely disagree on the "last two books" point. I absolutely adored the Dark Tower series....until book 5. I figured he got tired of the series and decided to wrap it up as fast as he possibly could. At least, that's what it read like. What a disappointment.
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Hahah... wow. Two very different opinions. I hope EVERYONE doesn't share your opinion, because if theres any quality or feeling of any book(s) ever, I would want mine to be similar to The Dark Tower (the book)... It is very like the poem (hollow men) by t.s. eliot. They have a very similar, end of the world, apocalyptic feel, which I just love. (Obviously it isn't the goal of every one of my stories to feel like that.. I was just making a general comment.) Also a brilliant rider who inspires me and I want to learn from is... THOMAS WOLFE. The whole Anabasis in the front of 'O, Lost' is possibly the greatest thing ever written, ever, in the whole history of writing. Check it out, kids.
There are 7 books in the Dark Tower Series. He definitely didn't finish it up "quickly" with Wolves seeing how that is one of the largest books in the series.
As to not having a connectable character...thats in the eye of the beholder issue for you. I like Roland alot. I'm not like roland at all and there are parts of him that I could never be I'm more of Jake like man myself with a tinge of eddy's loonyness thrown in or vice versa.
Anyway I like WOT until RJ starts recapping everything in book 6 like I've never read the books.
Everyone hates those stupid WOT books but there's always like 2s helves cleared just for Jordan at every major bookstore = success!= ..me jealous also... Posts: 147 | Registered: Oct 2005
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Bah, since everyone else seems to have an opinion, some of which I disagree with, I think I'll post my own.
I hated the Sword of Truth books. I felt that Terry Goodkind tried every conceiveable way to put in things that glorified the ugliest things that humankind is capable of and portrayed it as just another thing we need to swallow as being a part of life or the way things are. Don't get me wrong, bad things happen to people but it was almost like he reveled in the violence/gore/masochistic things he wrote about. I got to book three before I was so repulsed I took the book back to the library the same day.
In regards to Terry Brooks, I agree that the Sword of Shanarra is very heavily influenced by LOTR, as fully admitted by Brooks himself. He wrote it at a time when Tolkien was hot, hot, hot. I read it recently and scene for scene I could identify LOTR. However, past that, Elfstones and Scions are excellent books. Elfstones always makes me cry at the end. I haven't had a chance to read the new Shanarra books so I couldn't tell you about those.
Ok well, there it is. I'm back, sort of, from my self-required maternity leave. Hi, all!
I think that the Wheel of Time series obviously isn't for everyone. Yet, I absolutely loved it when I read it.
The problem we seem to come to is that everyone always wants constant action and excitement. That's not what WOT is about. Jordan spends an enormous time developing his characters and its world in the most fascinating way. Personally, it just takes a little time and empathy to really get into these sections. Then the plot is quite complicated, with multiple stories going on at the same time. These things really lead to a spectacular and powerful climax that really outdoes most other things I've read.
As far as him being like Tolkien, I really fail to see the comparison beyond the first book. Jordan's world is so complex that there is little beyond the basic themes of fantasy that are really in common with Tolkein.
Doesn't an enormous amount of fantasy imitate Tolkein anyways? I mean, you can go on about how Terry Brook's books are so lacking in originality, but I really don't think he was going for originality. He was using the basic constructs that Tolkein setup and creating his own plots out of them. There's nothing wrong with that, Tolkein was good stuff. So, I don't mind Terry Brooks, even though you almost have to be in a certain mood to really enjoy him. And for those who think he doesn't have originality, read the "Running With the Demon" series...strange stuff, but rather interesting and original (as far as I can remember...its been a while).
So I would say that anyone who really wants an interesting and detailed world to explore, just try reading the series and be patient with him--try to feel the characters. Personally, I've never found a more real and vivid world.
Well, I finally finished The Great Hunt. I'm pretty hooked. Last night, I went to the library and picked up The Dragon Reborn. Volume 2, does veer into an original direction, the Tolkien parallels, seem mere nods here and then.
For instance, Thom is essentially a nod to Gandalf. Gandalf was a parttime gleemen, but with fireworks. He sacrifices himself against a vicious monster in the middle of the first volume and comes back in the second. So does Thom. The difference being that Thom does little else in the second volume but make an appearance, whereas Gandalf came back stronger than ever.
So far, the prologues are tough to tackle at first, at least the openings. As always, Jordan begins with incredibly dense description that I don't care about. The Great Hunt's prologue distances itself from the reader, by having the viewpoint character named "the man who called himself Bors" who we eventually learn in Volume 3's prologue is the leader of the Questioners. How is that not withholding in volume 2? At least, volume 3's prologue is more intriguing, taking the reader into the mind of the Whitecloak's leader.
I hope we get to follow a character's descent into becoming a Darkfriend. So far, every Darkfriend viewpoint character was already that way when we meet them. Ingtar was a bit of a twist, but his reasons did not seem credible to me. After seeing how the Darkfriends are treated by thier superiors, I don't see what draws them into it, nor why they don't try to get away from it.
[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited February 14, 2006).]
quote:I think that the Wheel of Time series obviously isn't for everyone. Yet, I absolutely loved it when I read it. The problem we seem to come to is that everyone always wants constant action and excitement.
I would disagree here.
What people want is closure. Did you read book 10? NOTHING happens. It was terrible.
Nothing has happened since book 7.
Do I want constant action? No.
Do I want descriptions of pottery, lace, dresses, hair pulling, sniffing, tea, brewing tea, harvesting tea, making tea, drinking tea, sipping tea, smelling tea, etc? Hell no.
Also, Jordan's characters seemed deep at first, but when we are still told how stupid men are, and how much smarter women are, it gets a little old.
Jordan, IMO, is just milking the series for all its worth. I will never spend another $ on a Jordan book, period.
rcorporon---I agree with everything you've complained about, especially the battle of the sexes bit; I had to pretend that it didn't exist after book five.
And yet...I absolutely love the Wheel of Time. I have no explanation for it, except maybe that I didn't start reading it until a couple years ago, so I haven't been waiting sixteen years for Jordan to wrap the damn series up. Book Ten had just barely come out when I finished Winter's Heart, and that one was such a disappointment. Fortunately, in number eleven, stuff happened! There was closure for Mat and Perrin's quests, and it's finally in the open that Rand's crazy. The best part: there's only one more book to go.
Just one, and the Wheel of Time is over. Trust me.
And Chris, the prologues only get longer. Around Lord of Chaos, they get to be sixty to eighty pages on average. The upside, is that most of the time, they center on people you already know.
I haven't read Terry Goodkind yet, though I intend to. The thing is, from what I hear, Goodkind isn't done with his series yet either, and I'd rather finish up with Jordan before I get stuck on another fantasy epic. I can only take one looooong series at a time. Otherwise, headaches.
I'm willing to be proved wrong, but I don't think it's likely to happen in this case. If there's only one book's worth of material to cover before the series is finished, then Jordan is going to postpone writing it till he's safely dead. Perhaps he'll go back and write an entire book from the perspective of a character who becomes a Darkfriend.
As for the motives of Darkfriends, I know too much about humans to find them even slightly unbelievable. Unintelligible, yes. But people end up like that all the time. If you read past the trilogy proper, you'll at least find out why people almost never quit being Darkfriends. As for what draws them in at the beginning...I can't answer a question like that. C. S. Lewis might have touched on it in That Hideous Strength, along with an essay/oration by the title of The Inner Ring.
I think that Jordan is going to keep multiplying characters (and respawning...er, ressurrecting dead ones) till the very end. Of his life, not the series