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Midnight Reviews


JenniferL
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I have to say BS did an awesome job with this book and I look forward to the next 2.  He kept to his style and didnt try to copy RJ completely.  If you havent read any of his books it takes a bit to adjsut to his style compared to RJ's but it never took away from the book at all.  (I like the person who commented on how bad BS's style was and such....like they've written a best selling trilogy?)  I found myself getting completely caught up in the story as usual with past RJ books.  Kudos to BS to an awesome job!

 

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(I like the person who commented on how bad BS's style was and such....like they've written a best selling trilogy?)
Is that in any way relevant? You can't dislike something unless you've sold more copies of your book? Well, I don't see how you can praise it. After all, where's your bestselling fantasy trilogy?
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I have to say BS did an awesome job with this book and I look forward to the next 2.  He kept to his style and didnt try to copy RJ completely.  If you havent read any of his books it takes a bit to adjsut to his style compared to RJ's but it never took away from the book at all.  (I like the person who commented on how bad BS's style was and such....like they've written a best selling trilogy?)  I found myself getting completely caught up in the story as usual with past RJ books.  Kudos to BS to an awesome job!

 

Aww, thanks (its always nice to be liked).

 

Bottom line is Brandon has some things in his writing he needs to improve if he wants to be more than just "good"

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I have to say BS did an awesome job with this book and I look forward to the next 2.  He kept to his style and didnt try to copy RJ completely.  If you havent read any of his books it takes a bit to adjsut to his style compared to RJ's but it never took away from the book at all.  (I like the person who commented on how bad BS's style was and such....like they've written a best selling trilogy?)  I found myself getting completely caught up in the story as usual with past RJ books.  Kudos to BS to an awesome job!

 

Aww, thanks (its always nice to be liked).

 

Bottom line is Brandon has some things in his writing he needs to improve if he wants to be more than just "good"

 

BS's works have been nearly universally praised.  His earlier stuff (Mistborn + Elantris) was considered some of the  best fantasy to come out in years.  And it appears that TGS will go down as one of the WoT books with the best critical reception.  In the face of that, saying that he needs to learn so much about how to write fantasy books seems wrongheaded to me.

 

You have to be real careful differentiating between "His writing needs to improve" and "I personally find some things annoying about his writing style".  For example, I hate Earnest Hemmingway.  I just can't stand how the guy puts sentences together - its like nails on a chalkboard to me (his plots are fine, I just hate his prose).  But I'm not going to go running around telling everybody that Hemmingway needs to learn how to write a sentence.  I chalk it up to his style just not meshing with me, which can happen.

 

Plus, lets not pretend that RJ was some kind of paragon of greatness in terms of his writing itself.  I think we can all agree that we like RJ's works a lot, but lets be honest: there were some fairly noticeable problems with his writing itself.  He repeated some phrases over and over and over until it became a parody ("thinking with hair on chest" etc).  His characters interacted in ways that were completely predictable after a while - many characters have been static in most ways for thousands of pages.  He kept getting bogged down in minute details.  RJ was right up there with Tolkein (and way above anybody else) in terms of his fantasy world creating, but I think its unfair to pretend that his writing itself was pure greatness.  It was good, but not without its problems.

 

All in all, I think that BS's writing itself is certainly not substantially worse than RJs.  The issues he has vs RJ are different, but to notice all the areas where he is weaker than RJ without giving credit for areas in which he is stronger is unfair I think.

 

 

 

As to his characters - yeah, Mat is a bit off.  But Mat was a sideshow this time around, and BS pretty much nailed the major plot points.  So I can live with it and hope that he improves on Mat by the next novel.  Complaining about single words seems a bit much to me, especially since it was shown above that some of the phrases people were complaining about were actually used by RJ earlier.

 

Complaining about some of the other guys is a bit strange to me.  I mean, Talmanes isnt one of the 100 most important characters in the series.  Complaining because the 137th most important character is slightly different is just too much.  Plus, its not like the guy had any personality to begin with really.  I think it just goes to show how set in stone and unchanging some of RJ's characters were by the end - people are really bothered and really notice changes in a minor character who has a handful of paragraphs dedicated to him.

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I am forced to concur with some of the reviews on how Mat was portrayed... I think the idea is in the right area, but it's the dialogue that really let me down.

To me he sounded a bit like One-eye.

That's also funny because of the many allusions that Mat is going to lose one eye...

 

A coincidence, you think? :P Maybe it was intentional! ;)

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I have to say BS did an awesome job with this book and I look forward to the next 2.  He kept to his style and didnt try to copy RJ completely.  If you havent read any of his books it takes a bit to adjsut to his style compared to RJ's but it never took away from the book at all.  (I like the person who commented on how bad BS's style was and such....like they've written a best selling trilogy?)  I found myself getting completely caught up in the story as usual with past RJ books.  Kudos to BS to an awesome job!

 

Aww, thanks (its always nice to be liked).

 

Bottom line is Brandon has some things in his writing he needs to improve if he wants to be more than just "good"

 

BS's works have been nearly universally praised.  His earlier stuff (Mistborn + Elantris) was considered some of the  best fantasy to come out in years.  And it appears that TGS will go down as one of the WoT books with the best critical reception.  In the face of that, saying that he needs to learn so much about how to write fantasy books seems wrongheaded to me.

 

His stories are good (though not on the level of the real "best to come out in years" - Lynch, Bakker, and Abercrombie).  But his writing is good, not great.  You can write great fantasy by combining good writing with a great story idea (Sanderson); you can write great fantasy by combining great writing with a good story idea (see Gaiman's Neverwhere, for example), but to write truly elite fantasy, you need to combine great writing and a great story idea (Gaiman's American Gods, Lynch's Lies of Locke Lamorra, Jordan, GRRM, etc.)

 

Right now, Sanderson is at the "great idea, good writing" stage.  There's no shame in that.  But his writing doesn't (yet) have the lyricism of a Gaiman or Jordan (or Pat Rothfuss), or the subtlety of any of the above.  I think the former is probably not correctable or learnable; I think true lyricism is an innate skill, an inborn sense of the ebb and flow of words, how they can best wash over and polish the reader when he is immersed in your world. But subtlety . . . that can be learned.  Right now, Sanderson is not subtle.  He spoon feeds the reader the characters' thoughts and struggles and intentions.     

 

You have to be real careful differentiating between "His writing needs to improve" and "I personally find some things annoying about his writing style".  For example, I hate Earnest Hemmingway.  I just can't stand how the guy puts sentences together - its like nails on a chalkboard to me (his plots are fine, I just hate his prose).  But I'm not going to go running around telling everybody that Hemmingway needs to learn how to write a sentence.  I chalk it up to his style just not meshing with me, which can happen.

 

Sure, but what I'm talking about isn't style - how the words meld together, etc.  It's substance - the way he imparts information.  Again, look at the scene with the sul'dam.  He doesn't just show the reader the tears, he tells us why they're there.  "Show, don't tell" is one of the first rules of great writing.

 

Plus, lets not pretend that RJ was some kind of paragon of greatness in terms of his writing itself.  I think we can all agree that we like RJ's works a lot, but lets be honest: there were some fairly noticeable problems with his writing itself.  He repeated some phrases over and over and over until it became a parody ("thinking with hair on chest" etc).  His characters interacted in ways that were completely predictable after a while - many characters have been static in most ways for thousands of pages.  He kept getting bogged down in minute details.  RJ was right up there with Tolkein (and way above anybody else) in terms of his fantasy world creating, but I think its unfair to pretend that his writing itself was pure greatness.  It was good, but not without its problems.

 

RJ's problem was in repetition - which, honestly, is an editorial flaw as well; that's something an editor needs to catch, and prompt the writer to correct.  But the words themselves had a beauty to them, and beyond that he was a master of "show, don't tell".

 

As to his characters - yeah, Mat is a bit off.  But Mat was a sideshow this time around, and BS pretty much nailed the major plot points.  So I can live with it and hope that he improves on Mat by the next novel.  Complaining about single words seems a bit much to me, especially since it was shown above that some of the phrases people were complaining about were actually used by RJ earlier.

 

Agreed.  It's not a major complaint, just something I hope he fixes by book 3 (though "saidared" should be taken out back, shot, the remains burned, the ashes buried, and the ground the ashes were buried in sown with salt and then struck with a tactical nuclear weapon).

 

Complaining about some of the other guys is a bit strange to me.  I mean, Talmanes isnt one of the 100 most important characters in the series.  Complaining because the 137th most important character is slightly different is just too much.  Plus, its not like the guy had any personality to begin with really.  I think it just goes to show how set in stone and unchanging some of RJ's characters were by the end - people are really bothered and really notice changes in a minor character who has a handful of paragraphs dedicated to him.

 

I actually think he got Talmanes exactly right.

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I'm very much inclined to agree with Kivam here. Brandon's writing jarred me in places. The over use of 'child' by Aes Sedai and Mat's humour being the big ones, but they are pretty minor gripes--there was always going to be problems resulting from 'Not-RJ' writing it.

 

I'm a bit less forgiving of his fan-fic moments--constantly having a character reference events in his past is not someone with the full backing of the Jordan estate should be doing. And, specifically in reference to what Kivam was saying, he seemed to be desperately seeking to give out information about topics the fans have been discussing in detail. The characters have long soliloquies in which they dismiss succinctly each side of an argument before reaching a conclusion. It distracted me, and again felt a bit amatuerish, as if BS was concerned about looking like he knew what he was talking about. He doesn't need to dismiss fans arguments, he just needs to show what is the case.

 

As Kivam said, 'show, not tell'. In full, he needs to calm down, and just write the story. These problems seem to be based in pandering to the fans--he needs to let go what the fans think and not try so hard (he doesn't actually have this problem in his own work, in my opinion).

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I guess I'd agree with some of the nitpicking about the characters, but that really didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book at all.  Naturally hardcore fans are going to recognize subtle differences in even the most successful transition between authors.  Most of the things mentioned so far really are the most minor bones of contention when you consider the situation and how amazing it is that the death of the author didn't completely destroy any hope of the series continuing in an acceptable manner.  Not that I'm saying Sanderson doesn't have room to grow with certain characters, i.e. Mat, but I think the amount of things he got right exceed realistic expectation. 

 

I don't know how the book would have turned out had Jordan written it, but frankly it's difficult for me to believe at this point that he'd have achieved the kind of pacing and energy that TGS ended up with.  I don't want to knock him, it's his series, and he won me over with it over and over again.  However, considering the overwrought amount of detail and purple prose he'd filled the last several books with, while relatively few real plot related events took place, how could he have not done the same or much more for the ending of the series?  I flipped when I read that after KOD there was to be only one more book. Years of plot stagnation, and now it's just going to end?  I think that if he were to maintain consistency in his own style, the "last book" would have had to be at least 5 books long.  I'm glad to have 3 more books, but only because TGS has convinced me now that they will finally come out in a reasonable amount of time and will move at a satisfactory pace. 

 

Most of this has little to do with Sanderson's own writing style, but at this point timing is clearly an issue with WOT.  The book he cranked out in such a comparatively short amount of time was really top notch as far as I'm concerned.  How much work he had to do on his own I don't know, but I think this one stands up to some of the best int the series.  I think it's clear that he immersed himself in this world and the notes left behind as much as he could have in the time allowed, and then didn't dally about hitting the keyboard.  Hat's off, Mr. Sanderson.

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OK, I've read about half of the rest of the reviews, I'll read the rest after this.

 

I liked the book.

 

And that is a disappointment in itself. I NEEDED to LOVE the book. I don't. I could date this book, but I definitely don't see me marrying this book or even keeping a serious relationship with this offering. I might not even add it to my facebook.

 

Parts of this book I really really liked, but some parts just were very disturbing.

 

I will have to focus upon the Hinderstap sequence for a bit. As was said before, Mat really was a distraction.

I apologize if I do not remember who noted this: "Mat is a rogue, not a jester."

I could not put it any better. Everything that is funny or amusing about him is because what he does is to amuse himself, not others. This is why his dialogue was so very wrong. The contrast with some of the great, even wonderful writing was so jarring. I really didn't see the point in going into great detail with the Hinderstap sequence at all. It has already been well established that creepy stuff involving towns and villages happens. The whole thing could very well have been handled with a brief flashback or a POV rehash. Spending even one chapter to describe what happened, coupled with the character and dialogue inconsistencies, just made it a real low point for THE ENTIRE SERIES. Redundant, distracting...on the verge of nonsense. I had no sympathy or empathy for anyone in the entire sequence. If it was meant to be creepy, I didn't get that. I didn't get a lot of what was going on in these pages.

 

I was really enthralled though by almost all of Egwene's scenes. Even the little dialogue inconsistencies and the like in these scenes couldn't detract from how satisfying the arc was. Sheriam-DISPATCHED...awesome. Verin felt rather abrupt, but I actually like things like that. You have to throw in feints and jabs to set up power shots and combos. RJ was big on this towards the end. Elaida suffering a Galina-like fate, just priceless. Back to Egwene though...I really have been very intrigued with her since she was first raised the rebel Amyrlin. The whole arc was well done to the end and the reunification was inspired. It felt, dare I say it...Obama-like. lol, let us stay the political commentary yeah yeah ok. [These days will be legendary!] I loved that. Wanted to marry that.

 

Rand I felt was appropriate, though I did get a little sick of the repetitiveness of some of his inner dialogue, I understood where it was all going. And I thought it appropriate that he ended up on to of Dragonmount and this is where the Lews Therin voice gained his sanity and merged with Rand.

 

I really did feel a satisfaction post read, but the things that bothered me about the book bothered me a lot. I have to think that this book should have been worked on longer.

I am willing to conceded that the amount of material gives the impression that three volumes may be needed to finish, but then again...I found a lot of the material to be over-elaborated and at the same time insubstantial. Meanwhile movements that could have easily been expanded were at times short.

 

I feel that Sanderson really should have been given more time, so as to allow him to think more upon balance and editing.

Also it confirms as someone said before that RJ really was the true voice in all of it. Not TOR and associates, not even Harriet or a talented author like Sanderson-

I am well convinced that this was RJ's tale all the way, and that it is left lacking at this point. A sad shame it is.

 

Sanderson appears to have Cadsuane'd this. As capable as he is- his efforts have basically ended in failure at this point.

 

He was charged with doing the impossible and I think he should have been given the time to make a proper attempt at it. He was supposed to write something sublime and at points it did feel like something approaching it, but it really fell far short for me.

 

What I feared would happen essentially has, but I will admit that the material isn't possible to contain on one volume. The thing is, I really do believe that just from the material in this first book, I'm almost certain with proper time and editing, it would definitely have been plausible to do it in two books as a compromise.

 

I would have waited till 2011 for it too. I think if done properly the real first book of two would have come out in 2010, and then the next would be out in 2011. 2012 is fine by me too.

I will continue to read in hopes of it all turning out better. If I could I would suggest that Sanderson get tough and really dig in not taking no for an answer. Take the time and give us a product that is worth it all.

Right now I really do think that we as fans have kind of been sold short.

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I'm a bit less forgiving of his fan-fic moments--constantly having a character reference events in his past is not someone with the full backing of the Jordan estate should be doing.

 

I honestly didn't notice any more of this than in previous books, not that I kept count. It certainly wasn't enough to draw me out of the story, and nowhere near the amazing skill that Terry Goodkind has developed(I'm currently reading book 8 of SoT, aka Reader's Digest version of books 1-7 + an entire culture of retards that TG has created for the sole purpose of spouting more Ayn Rand).

 

And, specifically in reference to what Kivam was saying, he seemed to be desperately seeking to give out information about topics the fans have been discussing in detail. The characters have long soliloquies in which they dismiss succinctly each side of an argument before reaching a conclusion. It distracted me, and again felt a bit amatuerish, as if BS was concerned about looking like he knew what he was talking about. He doesn't need to dismiss fans arguments, he just needs to show what is the case.

 

As Kivam said, 'show, not tell'. In full, he needs to calm down, and just write the story. These problems seem to be based in pandering to the fans--he needs to let go what the fans think and not try so hard (he doesn't actually have this problem in his own work, in my opinion).

 

I'm inclined to agree here. The one moment that stuck out to me was the fulfilling of the Siuan and Gareth sticking together viewing. I don't think Jordan would have added the dialogue that they had about fulfilling the prophecy, rather let us figure out that the prophecy had been fulfilled.

 

I hate that I'm focusing a bit too much on the negative though, as there were so many things that he got right. I thought that he nailed both Rand and Egwene's story lines. I couldn't have been happier with how they both progressed.

 

As for Mat, I am a little worried about ToM from what we saw in TGS. Personally I think BS should write Lightsong(Warbreaker) and then once he's done replace all instances of the word Lightsong with Mat and add in a few Matish curses. The two aren't exactly the same, but I think Lightsong is much closer to Jordan's Mat than is Brandon's Mat.

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I think it was in character actually for Suian to comment on the predictions of Min coming true since she was obessesed with what Min could see while she had her in the Tower and she was Amrlyn.

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I'm inclined to agree here. The one moment that stuck out to me was the fulfilling of the Siuan and Gareth sticking together viewing. I don't think Jordan would have added the dialogue that they had about fulfilling the prophecy, rather let us figure out that the prophecy had been fulfilled.

 

Yeah, RJ in hindsight was a great deal more subtle about such things. I doubt Siuan would actually explain the ENTIRE prophecy to Bryne with him sitting there calmly as she spouts a bunch of crazy talk about a person he barely knows or can reference having the power to foresee the future. Normally Siuan would be cryptic as an Aes Sedai is wont to be and say something to the effect of "She was right, you know Gareth..." And he'd be like "Who?"

And whatever she would say after, it would never be that clear to Bryne anyway so she'd normally just say she'd explain later, they have Egwene to rescue still and they don't have time to go on about visions from a woman he doesn't really know.

 

A very positive thing I can mention was Verin's meeting with Egwene. It started with a very suspenseful tone and it maintained that tone. I was very proud of Verin, if that sounds weird...it's true. It was almost tender. She came full circle with Egwene, finally trusting her with her treasure, to fight on for her. Verin really did shine here and I loved the abruptness, the brevity, yet the sense of sweet fulfillment and Verin really explained what the Brown Ajah really was. I was thrilled.

 

In a similar way I was pleased with how quickly and abruptly Sheriam and Elaida were dispatched. Finally! lol

 

If I could criticize RJ a bit, I do think he was guilty of meandering with the Aes Sedai, sending mixed messages with them in regards to their status in the world. With the sequences in this book, I think I feel more secure in my regard for them. Sanderson did a very good job of arranging that change in this volume. There wasn't a Tower sequence where I wasn't enthralled, and I found to my surprise that I've been waiting to feel this way about Aes Sedai again since probably the Shadow Rising.

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