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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Xeratul

My Take on the RJ/BS Split

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I think the end CAN be told in three books, but that a lot more needed to be put in tGS and TofM for that to be the case (i.e. that some of the fat needed to be trimmed, which could have done without cutting content purely through polishing and refinning the work, and then more worked in).

 

Because certain things happened very quickly in TGS and ToM, a lot of people seem to think that they didn't have any unnecessary "fat" like RJ's books did. They do, it's just that it ended up in other places. (I'll save that discussion for another post though since it isn't what I wanted to post about...)

 

Unlike Luckers, I don't have any super secret info or insight, but here's an old interview quote that I found pretty telling and set off some warning bells for me at the time.

 

Brandon: I've gotten around 1500 emails about TGS so far. (Of those, by the way, only one person didn't like the book. I'm not arrogant enough to assume that person is the only one--I'm guessing that most who didn't like the book didn't feel the need to email me and chew me out for it.)

 

Of those 1500, only a handful mention Mat. However, he IS the one brought up the most often. Oddly, it's almost exactly divided between people saying, "I love how you did Mat, he's my favorite part of the book," and people saying, "I loved everything about the book, except Mat didn't feel right."

 

That has been very interesting to me. One thing this does for me is that it actually relieves a big burden off my back, because it means that I did everybody else right. It also means that Mat is noticeably different to a small number of people. Was this done intentionally? No, it was not. I worked on Mat like I worked on all the rest of the characters, and I feel as close to Mat as I feel to the rest of the characters. I asked Harriet, and she said, "You did Mat perfectly. Don't change him."

 

Two things bother me about this.

 

1. Because Mat was the only character Brandon received complaints about, he thought that meant he got everybody else right. I disagree with that conclusion—I think it's more that Mat is an incredibly popular character (maybe even the most popular character) with very vocal fans. They also raised a fuss when RJ left Mat out of an entire book. If Mat is missing or feels off, it will bother many people to the degree that they will write in to complain about it despite fandom's general reluctance to say anything negative about Brandon's writing, especially to Brandon himself. For a long time, "we should just be grateful we're getting AMoL at all and not complain" has been the prevailing attitude in fandom. It still is.

 

2. Harriet told Brandon, "You did Mat perfectly. Don't change him." This bothered me far more than #1. I think TGS and ToM were not as good as they could and should have been, but Brandon isn't the only person responsible for that. If fans hadn't spoken up, Mat would most likely never have improved at all. It also makes me wonder if Team Jordan and the beta readers give Brandon any critical feedback at all.

 

I know some people think AMoL will be much better than TGS and ToM because Harriet asked for more time. But I never got the impression that Team Jordan had realized Brandon's writing needed more polish, only that they wanted a less stressful schedule and more time to fix minor issues like typos which many people complained about after ToM. I think Brandon mentioned at some con that they had so little time to give ToM a final check, they even missed some chapters.

 

So, to quote Verin: "Always plan for the worst, that way all your surprises will be pleasant ones." It's better not to expect too much of AMoL or we might just end up disappointed.

Edited by sleepinghour

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I am so glad I just read for the enjoyment factor. To sit and have the time to pick apart which scene was written by who and why this or that character now seems changed...If I was that, I would not enjoy reading !!!

 

Did the books hold my attention ? YES

Were they entertaining ? YES

Did they draw me into the story ? YES

Am I glad this is being finnished and with the first 3 questions being fulfilled: ABSOLUTLY !!

 

Most people just seem to want to bash BS. Well guess what, he's NOT RJ !! Get over it and read for the enjoyment. Be happy this will have an ending. I am reasonably certain this will have an ending to one or more charcaters that I don't like. Well, would'nt be the first book I read where I thought something should have been done different. It's also not the first series I've read by multiple authors. 200+ books on my shelfs, I've rad them all !!

Read for enjoyment? Yes, that's what we do. But saying that, some of us feel that we would have gotten more enjoyment out of the books had a bit more effort, a bit more time, and a bit more work gone into them. It's not about just wanting to bash BS, it's about offering an opinion on the series and his work. There were things he could have done better. Had he done them better, I, for one, would have enjoyed the books more. Would you rather shrug and say good enough, or try and get the author to write the best damn books he can? Surely the books being more enjoyable is beneficial to reading for enjoyment? Surely Brandon, as an author, can take more pride in pushing himself to produce a better book than he has produced before than he would from merely producing one which was good enough to satisfy people? And 200 books is nothing to brag about. I have acquired (and read) well over a thousand books over the last ten years alone. And I don't consider myself a fast reader - I'm sure plenty of others can eclipse that modest achievement.

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Unlike Luckers, I don't have any super secret info or insight, but here's an old interview quote that I found pretty telling and set off some warning bells for me at the time.

 

Brandon: I've gotten around 1500 emails about TGS so far. (Of those, by the way, only one person didn't like the book. I'm not arrogant enough to assume that person is the only one--I'm guessing that most who didn't like the book didn't feel the need to email me and chew me out for it.)

 

Of those 1500, only a handful mention Mat. However, he IS the one brought up the most often. Oddly, it's almost exactly divided between people saying, "I love how you did Mat, he's my favorite part of the book," and people saying, "I loved everything about the book, except Mat didn't feel right."

 

That has been very interesting to me. One thing this does for me is that it actually relieves a big burden off my back, because it means that I did everybody else right. It also means that Mat is noticeably different to a small number of people. Was this done intentionally? No, it was not. I worked on Mat like I worked on all the rest of the characters, and I feel as close to Mat as I feel to the rest of the characters. I asked Harriet, and she said, "You did Mat perfectly. Don't change him."

 

Two things bother me about this.

 

1. Because Mat was the only character Brandon received complaints about, he thought that meant he got everybody else right. I disagree with that conclusion—I think it's more that Mat is an incredibly popular character (maybe even the most popular character) with very vocal fans. They also raised a fuss when RJ left Mat out of an entire book. If Mat is missing or feels off, it will bother many people to the degree that they will write in to complain about it despite fandom's general reluctance to say anything negative about Brandon's writing, especially to Brandon himself. For a long time, "we should just be grateful we're getting AMoL at all and not complain" has been the prevailing attitude in fandom. It still is.

 

It bothered me too, and Luckers as well, for the same reasons. Peter brought up that argument in the comments on one of Brandon's Facebook statuses, and I felt the need to respond. Luckers jumped in too. If it makes a difference, Peter 'liked' my response, but in retrospect I'm not sure if he 'liked' it because he thought I was saying that people were overreacting where Mat was concerned because they are Mat fanboys, or whether he 'liked' it because he recognized it as a valid counterargument to Brandon's logic.

 

2. Harriet told Brandon, "You did Mat perfectly. Don't change him." This bothered me far more than #1. I think TGS and ToM were not as good as they could and should have been, but Brandon isn't the only person responsible for that. If fans hadn't spoken up, Mat would most likely never have improved at all. It also makes me wonder if Team Jordan and the beta readers give Brandon any critical feedback at all.

 

It made me wonder the same thing. In a way, I can understand their position; this was not an easy project to sell for many reasons, despite the fact that you could argue that most of Brandon's present success is due to the WoT opportunity. It's definitely debatable, and from Harriet's perspective I can understand why she might have drawn lines, doing her best to encourage Brandon as much as possible and make sure he is happy/comfortable...and my impression of Maria is that she follows Harriet's lead. Again, not inside info; just my impression from her interviews and whatnot.

 

There is another element playing into it all, and that is RJ's perspective on the relationship between writer and editor. Clearly, that relationship had to be changed to accommodate the situation we have here, where Brandon is trying to finish RJ's story. But Brandon has talked some about the Hollywood way of doing things, multiple contributors with different ideas of what the story should be, and different motivations, and how he thinks the novel is far superior as a story-telling vehicle for that reason—the story is one person's vision of the story, and therefore more coherent and meaningful. I think that putting a not-quite-HCFF fan like Brandon in the driver's seat is, despite all the notes and outlines, somewhat dangerous (despite being necessary). And while clearly Harriet knew RJ better than anyone else on Team Jordan and has been with the books all this time, you can tell from the public interviews, both incidentally and by her own direct admission, that her WoT-fu is not anywhere near Maria's. She relies on Maria for that (just as Brandon does). And yet, I suspect that Maria is not very critical at all beyond continuity errors, and Brandon has said in the interviews many times that he has arguments with Maria about continuity issues. By all appearances they are friendly arguments, and Brandon sometimes has a point, but it paints something of a picture of what's going on there. They've also said multiple times that characterization is Harriet's role, while continuity is Maria's role (and Alan is basically her assistant, by her own words in the Luckers interview). I'm assuming that Maria plays a role with characterization only by telling Harriet what she thinks about it, and I doubt she does so directly to Brandon. The situational politics seem to require that characterization be filtered through Harriet.

 

I'm not sure if there's anyone to point fingers at here, though I tend to think that, previous to the weirdness we've seen lately, Brandon has the most power to change the situation for the better. I realize that most WoT fans don't care about the issues some of us have with the books. That's great. I'm happy they can enjoy the story completely. I'm not concerned about it because I worry about my own enjoyment level when reading the books. I worry about it because I believe the problem is surmountable, and there is only one chance, and because I want WoT to have a long-lasting legacy worthy of its genius. If AMOL is anything like TGS and TOM, I don't think that legacy will be very lasting. If it does last, it will always be with a caveat, and I wonder if the caveat being the climax/conclusion of the story is not an insurmountable problem. That is not to say there is nothing good in TGS/TOM. Clearly there is, or none of us would still be here. And of course, it's not Brandon's fault that RJ died before finishing his story. Some would argue that RJ could have finished it before he died if he hadn't done a lot of filler writing. IMO it's not really about pointing fingers so much as it is trying to get the attention of whoever has the most power to fix the problem, and begging them to care. Sometimes posting on forums is the only power we have, feeble as it might be.

 

Prologue/Chapter 1 spoilers:

 

 

I thought there was some good prose in both, particularly in the wind scene, but the chapter 1 excerpt in particular needed some more feedback. I thought the wind was mostly well-written, but there were a few jarring details, none of which were necessary to the story, all of which could have been done differently so as to avoid those little speedbumps. RJ was not immune to writing wonky details, but it's frustrating when there are several on the same page.

 

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I am so glad I just read for the enjoyment factor. To sit and have the time to pick apart which scene was written by who and why this or that character now seems changed...If I was that, I would not enjoy reading !!!

 

Did the books hold my attention ? YES

Were they entertaining ? YES

Did they draw me into the story ? YES

Am I glad this is being finnished and with the first 3 questions being fulfilled: ABSOLUTLY !!

 

Most people just seem to want to bash BS. Well guess what, he's NOT RJ !! Get over it and read for the enjoyment. Be happy this will have an ending. I am reasonably certain this will have an ending to one or more charcaters that I don't like. Well, would'nt be the first book I read where I thought something should have been done different. It's also not the first series I've read by multiple authors. 200+ books on my shelfs, I've rad them all !!

Read for enjoyment? Yes, that's what we do. But saying that, some of us feel that we would have gotten more enjoyment out of the books had a bit more effort, a bit more time, and a bit more work gone into them. It's not about just wanting to bash BS, it's about offering an opinion on the series and his work. There were things he could have done better. Had he done them better, I, for one, would have enjoyed the books more. Would you rather shrug and say good enough, or try and get the author to write the best damn books he can? Surely the books being more enjoyable is beneficial to reading for enjoyment? Surely Brandon, as an author, can take more pride in pushing himself to produce a better book than he has produced before than he would from merely producing one which was good enough to satisfy people? And 200 books is nothing to brag about. I have acquired (and read) well over a thousand books over the last ten years alone. And I don't consider myself a fast reader - I'm sure plenty of others can eclipse that modest achievement.

 

And the bolded line is the one that is so laughable. There is simply no way whatsoever that Brandon could have satisfied the referred to people. There would ALWAYS, no matter how good a job was done have been something for them to complain about. It's just impossible for them to not look for was to slate Brandon Sanderson.

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There is simply no way whatsoever that Brandon could have satisfied the referred to people. There would ALWAYS, no matter how good a job was done have been something for them to complain about. It's just impossible for them to not look for was to slate Brandon Sanderson.

 

I see you are still struggling with a fairly simple concept that has been spelled out for you in great detail. Literary critique ≠ disrespect. To be clear, at this point you are insinuating the people who have offered their opinion on the problems with these two books have some sort of vendetta against/reason to tear down BS's work? What would make you feel even remotely qualified to make the bolded accusation above?

 

This focus on the posters as opposed to refuting the criticism with your own viewpoint on the work comes across as extremely distasteful. The people you are referring to are long standing members of the WoT community, some of whom have done a great deal of work for the fandom. It truly saddens me that we live in a time where dissenting opinions lead to calls of "hating" or "bashing". As a result instead of an informed debate on the merits of BS as an author we get more and more absurd posts like the one above.

Edited by Suttree

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There is simply no way whatsoever that Brandon could have satisfied the referred to people. There would ALWAYS, no matter how good a job was done have been something for them to complain about. It's just impossible for them to not look for was to slate Brandon Sanderson.

 

I see you are still struggling with a fairly simple concept that has been spelled out for you in great detail. Literary critique ≠ disrespect. To be clear, at this point you are insinuating the people who have offered their opinion on the problems with these two books have some sort of vendetta against/reason to tear down BS's work? What would make you feel even remotely qualified to make the bolded accusation above?

 

This focus on the posters as opposed to refuting the criticism with your own viewpoint on the work comes across as extremely distasteful. The people you are referring to are long standing members of the WoT community, some of whom have done a great deal of work for the fandom. It truly saddens me that we live in a time where dissenting opinions lead to calls of "hating" or "bashing". As a result instead of an informed debate on the merits of BS as an author we get more and more absurd posts like the one above.

 

Silencing criticism might be interpreted as denial of valid reasons for said criticism.

Edited by Theodril

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There is simply no way whatsoever that Brandon could have satisfied the referred to people. There would ALWAYS, no matter how good a job was done have been something for them to complain about. It's just impossible for them to not look for was to slate Brandon Sanderson.

 

I see you are still struggling with a fairly simple concept that has been spelled out for you in great detail. Literary critique ≠ disrespect. To be clear, at this point you are insinuating the people who have offered their opinion on the problems with these two books have some sort of vendetta against/reason to tear down BS's work? What would make you feel even remotely qualified to make the bolded accusation above?

 

This focus on the posters as opposed to refuting the criticism with your own viewpoint on the work comes across as extremely distasteful. The people you are referring to are long standing members of the WoT community, some of whom have done a great deal of work for the fandom. It truly saddens me that we live in a time where dissenting opinions lead to calls of "hating" or "bashing". As a result instead of an informed debate on the merits of BS as an author we get more and more absurd posts like the one above.

he also does have a point that having BS's name on the books instead of only RJ would bring extra criticism of the book and place the blame on the author. When CoT was a horrible read, the book got some complaints but few were blaming RJ the way BS is getting flack. He becomes an easy scapegoat since he is not RJ. You can't really blame the author for not knowing what he is doing if it is his creation...

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There is simply no way whatsoever that Brandon could have satisfied the referred to people. There would ALWAYS, no matter how good a job was done have been something for them to complain about. It's just impossible for them to not look for was to slate Brandon Sanderson.

 

I see you are still struggling with a fairly simple concept that has been spelled out for you in great detail. Literary critique ≠ disrespect. To be clear, at this point you are insinuating the people who have offered their opinion on the problems with these two books have some sort of vendetta against/reason to tear down BS's work? What would make you feel even remotely qualified to make the bolded accusation above?

 

This focus on the posters as opposed to refuting the criticism with your own viewpoint on the work comes across as extremely distasteful. The people you are referring to are long standing members of the WoT community, some of whom have done a great deal of work for the fandom. It truly saddens me that we live in a time where dissenting opinions lead to calls of "hating" or "bashing". As a result instead of an informed debate on the merits of BS as an author we get more and more absurd posts like the one above.

he also does have a point that having BS's name on the books instead of only RJ would bring extra criticism of the book and place the blame on the author. When CoT was a horrible read, the book got some complaints but few were blaming RJ the way BS is getting flack. He becomes an easy scapegoat since he is not RJ. You can't really blame the author for not knowing what he is doing if it is his creation...

 

Do you mean to say that RJ was never criticized for being long-winded and for dragging on with the series? And was there ever any criticism of books 7-10? Did readers not complain about Elayne's arc and her Andoran houses details?

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There is simply no way whatsoever that Brandon could have satisfied the referred to people. There would ALWAYS, no matter how good a job was done have been something for them to complain about. It's just impossible for them to not look for was to slate Brandon Sanderson.

 

I see you are still struggling with a fairly simple concept that has been spelled out for you in great detail. Literary critique ≠ disrespect. To be clear, at this point you are insinuating the people who have offered their opinion on the problems with these two books have some sort of vendetta against/reason to tear down BS's work? What would make you feel even remotely qualified to make the bolded accusation above?

 

This focus on the posters as opposed to refuting the criticism with your own viewpoint on the work comes across as extremely distasteful. The people you are referring to are long standing members of the WoT community, some of whom have done a great deal of work for the fandom. It truly saddens me that we live in a time where dissenting opinions lead to calls of "hating" or "bashing". As a result instead of an informed debate on the merits of BS as an author we get more and more absurd posts like the one above.

he also does have a point that having BS's name on the books instead of only RJ would bring extra criticism of the book and place the blame on the author. When CoT was a horrible read, the book got some complaints but few were blaming RJ the way BS is getting flack. He becomes an easy scapegoat since he is not RJ. You can't really blame the author for not knowing what he is doing if it is his creation...

 

People DID get pretty sharp about CoT. That being said, if KoD had come out and was, if anything, worse than CoT, then I think it would have grown very harsh. Mind you I don't actually believe CoT was all that horrible a read, its just that nothing happens in it, which was a result of the CoT/KoD split. But meh.

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But where was the blame put? Were people complaining about the book only or were they saying RJ ruined the series

Edited by shortkut

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But where was the blame put? Were people complaining about the book only or were they saying RJ ruined the series

 

Starting with The Path of Daggers there was a lot of criticism towards RJ about him losing his way and making the series bigger than he could handle. He did receive criticism for his writing. It's not so bad on rereads, I suppose, but given the wait time between books there was a lot of frustration, and while I love the series and don't skip anything, I do think the criticism was somewhat justified at the time.

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But where was the blame put? Were people complaining about the book only or were they saying RJ ruined the series

 

They were doing both.

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well I have a friend and we started the series together in mid 90s he left the series around path of daggers and even after constant imploring he read a few chapters of Cot and gave up on he series. H was pretty scathing in his comments when he left and he was not the only one. Problem is that so many people do not have as much emotional investment in this series as some of us old crazy people. We people have lived, breathed and WOT have been very important to us. We love RJ and Wot almost as a cult. I am being very presumptuous here but MOB I said that I am not going to respond to you, try to show some compassion and understanding that there are other people and they have opinions and feelings hat are at least as acute as yours. try not to hurt them by making baseless accusations.

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I think there is a saying that would fit in this discussion " taste is like the buttocks - parted" ( don't know if it is so in English direct translated it from Swedish) what i see in this discussion is a lot of people who trying to convince each other that their pro or anti BS ( mainly) statement is objectively wrong based on fact and on a weird sort of fandom democracy that obysly states that the majorty of a fandom elite has some judgement right over the main mass . to apply this sort of kvasiobjetive method on this dissociation is ludicrous. the focus shall be - or must be totally subjective. Please for the sake of readability present clearly stated arguments witch have baring in the texts and uttermost RESPECT any point of view. ( i realise that i may stand out as a know-it-all but that fine with me)

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But where was the blame put? Were people complaining about the book only or were they saying RJ ruined the series

 

They were doing both.

to be honest the only complaints i saw against Jordan was that he was being long winded... Which is funny because BS is getting flack for doing the opposite.

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But where was the blame put? Were people complaining about the book only or were they saying RJ ruined the series

 

They were doing both.

to be honest the only complaints i saw against Jordan was that he was being long winded... Which is funny because BS is getting flack for doing the opposite.

 

Come on mate. After CoT there was a widespread belief that RJ had lost control of the series. It went far beyond just saying he was long winded. People forget because KoD was so strong and had everything pointed in the right direction.

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But where was the blame put? Were people complaining about the book only or were they saying RJ ruined the series

 

They were doing both.

to be honest the only complaints i saw against Jordan was that he was being long winded... Which is funny because BS is getting flack for doing the opposite.

 

The general theme of the complaints were that Jordan was spinning out the series, either because he'd lost control of the series and gone nuts, or to rob his loyal fans of all their hard earned money. Of course these complaints have no more basis than the claim that Brandon split the books for the same reason. The reality was that Jordan simply had a terrible sense for how many words it would take to tell his story, and we see that as each of the books got bigger and bigger until we got to tPoD and splits began to occur... poorly. As a result tPoD and CoT both have very little occur because they read like precisely what they are--the first half of a book.

 

In that sense, Brandon actually did a far better job than Jordan. His split left each book as an actual book, with a full arc.

 

Either way, in regards to Mistress of Baal's presentation that people shrug aside Jordan's failures and focus on Brandon's... that was never true, but there are indeed shades, and one of them is this--even if you regard CoT as the worst thing ever written, Jordan had backing him the fact that he had produced a good WoT book in the past, and he brought it back together with KoD. Brandon so far produced tGS, which like CoT had issues, and then took a big step further down with TofM. And those two exist in a vacuum.

 

Unfortunately, yes, that will display its own gradings on the issue at hand. It's not fair--Jordan had a learning arc in writing the Wheel that Brandon was brought into late--it's like expecting a first year med student to perform brain surgery, but that perception is there and will plague him--which is why I do sympathise with him when he says that 'I can't do this as well as RJ', but at the same point its also why I do not understand why he follows that thought with a shrug and the decision to not try. I personally would never blame him for not being as good as RJ, but I don't understand why he hasn't looked at this as an oppotunity to learn...

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Luckers I think that you nailed it right there. Issue that most of us have with BS's writing is not as much as he is not RJ or he is not writing as well as him. it is more like his attitude, "That is it I am not going to do any more".

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Another things that bothers me is the attempt to pass off characterization weaknesses as character development, or responding to criticism of out-of-place words and phrases like 'blasted' or 'bloody ashes' by saying things like "I've always been fascinated by the way language shifts over time..." etc.

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Another things that bothers me is the attempt to pass off characterization weaknesses as character development, or responding to criticism of out-of-place words and phrases like 'blasted' or 'bloody ashes' by saying things like "I've always been fascinated by the way language shifts over time..." etc.

 

+1 The language thing, even if its not just a cop out and Brandon genuinely was doing that, he still shouldn't be experimenting with the Wheel.

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In my humble opinion he should never have been allowed to work on his own stuff until after he was done with wot. It made him ride on two boats at the same time.

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1) I don't think anyone is in a position to disallow him from any such thing. 2) It was Tom Doherty who wanted him to release a full-size novel the same year as TOM. 3) I'm not convinced it would have been a good thing for Brandon to work on WoT all the time until it was done. I think he has burn-out issues as it is.

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Then what do you want me to say about the people who selected a burnt out writer to write perhaps the most important epic of 21st century and it should have been part of his contract. it was not like if people were lining up to read his books were they?

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