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TWOT likes and dislikes


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I'm back to work after a 6 month sabbatical so probably won’t get the chance to post here any more. I’ve been meaning to do a quick summary of what I liked and disliked about TWOT so here it is. Apologies if this has been posted in the wrong area. Please feel free to move it.

 

Likes
1) World creation - I have never read a series with such a diverse and well thought out world. The TWOT world is massive and RJ spent a lot of time thinking and developing it
2) A light read - For the most part I have enjoyed the simple nature of TWOT prose. Both RJ and Sanderson did not bombard you with complicated sentences or vocabulary
3) Descriptive fight scenes - thoroughly enjoyed the sword forms. I've read a bit of fantasy but have not encountered sword forms described the way they were in TWOT. Though not a sword form, to this day, I adopt "cat crosses the courtyard" when I walk through open public spaces! LOL!
4) Magic - a very unique concept for magic in TWOT. Again very well thought out with flows and weaving used to depict its use
5) Sanderson - I'm glad Sanderson was brought in to finish the series. He did a fantastic job


Dislikes
1) Lack of character development - other than Rand I felt none of the other characters really developed through the series. I found this disappointing as there was a lot of potential here. It would have been nice if some of the main characters chopped and changed around a bit
2) Stereotypical characters - you had the joker, the serious guy, the gollum guy, the wrinkled old women, the bitchy girls etc. What TWOT really needed was an anti-hero. For a time I thought Taim might be a candidate but he also fell into the one dimensional mould
3) Decrease in bad guy power - in the beginning the Trollocs were formidable, myrddraal were beyond fearsome, the Aiel were unbeatable and the foresaken were practically Gods. By the end of the book Joe Bloggs soldier was killing myrddraals by the dozen and even teenage kids from two rivers were knocking of seasoned Aiel warriors. Unfortunately this is a way too common trend in TWOT
4) Slow down from book 8 to 11 - sigh, this almost killed TWOT for me. In fact these books are still a bit of a blur as I had to skim read them
5) A very stupid and forgiving bad guy - Ah come on already. Just kill the cronies and kill your opponents when they're still weak. Why do you want to fight them when they've become strong? Kinda reminds me of Independence Day where the aliens wait till we have nukes before they attack us. Yeah, I know what you're going to say. The DO was trying to turn Rand to the dark side but as a plot element I find this weak. I'd have preferred a DO who was a no nonsense bad ass MOFO

 

Note: These are my opinions. Don't get upset if you disagree! LOL!

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"3) Decrease in bad guy power - in the beginning the Trollocs were formidable, myrddraal were beyond fearsome, the Aiel were unbeatable and the foresaken were practically Gods. By the end of the book Joe Bloggs soldier was killing myrddraals by the dozen and even teenage kids from two rivers were knocking of seasoned Aiel warriors. Unfortunately this is a way too common trend in TWOT"

 

I understand your point, but consider that early on in the series, things like Trollocs and Myrddraals were little more than horror stories for most of the people in Randland (except for the Aes Sedai and the Borderlanders).  All of the main characters haven't even come into their powers and abilities (except maybe Mat with the quarterstaff) when we first meet them, so it makes sense that a single Trolloc might be a formidable opponent at first.  I also kind of liked how the Forsaken were taken down several pegs throughout the series.  They do seem like gods at first, but I like how RJ and BS throughout the series showed that, despite how powerful they are, they suffer from the same weaknesses and flaws as everyone else, and are just as capable of making foolish decisions.  In fact, some of those weaknesses and flaws were what led them to the DO in the first place. 

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I thought Nynaeve developed quite a bit over the series, and Siuan Sanche did a little as well.

 

And Egwene. She changed over time, but it was sort of different. It was more like we saw more of the inner her before and then saw her mostly from the outside later.

 

But mostly Rand and Nynaeve. They did the most growing and changing in the book. Mat seemed to be doing good for a minute, and then suddenly went backwards.

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Likes-

Strong characters

Dearth of characters

Interwoven plot- this is perhaps my favorite part of the entire series. Taking an idea, the Wheel of Time/Pattern, and mentioning in the POV's/narration that each event is woven, and then ensuring it is the heart of the story. Each eevnt triggers the next affecting how the entire series goes. The minute decisions mixed with the larger ones all make the story a great read. Rand when he thinks back to how everything needed to go just right for him to be born on the slopes of Dragonmount, born of a maiden, who was told by the same Aes Sedai that Foretold his birth to Suian and Moiraine in the Amrylin's Study that she had to leave Andor and go to the Waste. Which set into effect so many other ripples that are still felt later in the story- Morgase becoming queen/leaving/abdicating which leads in Elayne, who takes an active role in the Last Battle as the Queen of Andor. And so on and on and on.

 

Dislikes- Slower pace in books 7-10. My first read through of the series (back in 2005) it was complete agony reading 7-10. Now I read them with more appreciation but they still drag. The pace is just too different from the rest of the series, which I think leads into the larger books at the end of the series and the looser pacing at times.

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Likes

  1. The characters: I know a lot of them are stereotypes, but I really do like a lot of the characters (Rand, Lan, Perrin, Elayne, Nynaeve, Galad, etc.), and I like the fact that some characters are very divisive and can be interpreted in different ways (e.g. Egwene, Cadsuane).
  2. The world building: I don't think I have ever read about such an expansive fantasy world which is so well developed.  We have a dozen plus really well developed cultures for nations, there is all the back story and history for each nation as well, and nations which have passed.
  3. The magic system: I like that while being completely fantasy based, the magic system still sticks to rules, and quite complicated rules at that.
  4. The idea of the Wheel of Time and Ages repeating, and the little connections to our time that are dropped in.
  5. The foreshadowing: Its always lovely to re-read the series and pick up on new bits and pieces.
  6. The structure: I like the multiple POV structure, and the switching between different stories which you know are interconnected and will criss-cross over each other multiple times.

Dislikes

  1. Repetitive descriptions of cities, places, etc.: RJ writes well, but his descriptive passages aren't exactly on the level of Thomas Hardy, and it can be tedious to read paragraphs of description of a city's architecture, citizens, etc.
  2. Lack of closure to numerous relationships: I'm really saddened that we didn't get to see a lot of characters reunite.  This isn't just a criticism of the last book - although there are some obvious ones which could only have happened then, e.g. Lan and Moiraine, Siuan and Moiraine - but also of other friendships that have a lot of development only to be abandoned in the second half of the series, e.g. the three Ta'veren, Nynaeve and Elayne, etc.
  3. Some aspects of the ending: particularly the rushed nature of it.  You go from full on, high paced battle action to a juddering halt with just a few pages of epilogue.  It just felt too sudden, and there wasn't enough time for the characters to reflect on their losses and achievements, e.g. lack of reaction to Egwene's and Gawyn's deaths.
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  • 3 weeks later...

This is a great topic idea.  (I know it probably has been discussed many times before, but some of us haven't been around here too long, or haven't kept up with all the discussions.)

 

Here are my thoughts:

 

What I loved about The Wheel of Time, as a series:

 

  1. The World-Building:  I have never read another novel or series of novels where the world was anywhere nearly as richly detailed as the world of The Wheel of Time.  Even novels set in our own world often don't make the setting feel as alive and real as Jordan's fantasy world feels.  The way that Jordan created multiple nationalities and cultures, a complex history going back thousands of years, and literally hundreds of characters who feel like real people, is just amazing.  And he did a great job utilizing the world that he had built, having the characters visit different cities and countries, and having important characters from many different cultures.  The history of the Aiel people and the rich detail given to their culture is possibly the most impressive part of the world-building to me.
  2. The Characters:  This is part of the previous point, but it deserves its own separate point.  I cannot think of another novel or series of novels that even comes close to having as many characters as The Wheel of Time, even if you consider only those characters who recur in more than one scene, or in more than one book.  And even the minor characters are not just one-dimensional throw-away characters.  And the main characters were very memorable.  They weren't all likeable (though many of them were), but many of them were memorable, which I think is perhaps more important.
  3. The Story (up to a point):  The story throughout the first six books, and especially the first four books, was riveting.  Even with the very slow pace of Jordan's prose, I was absolutely glued to those books as I read them -- I just couldn't wait to find out what would happen next.  When I got near the end of book 6, I stayed up all night finishing up the last 200 pages, because I just couldn't put it down.
  4. The Foreshadowing:  I know that Brandon Sanderson commented on this while he was still writing the final books -- how he was very impressed at how things all the way back in the first book subtly pointed to events in the last book.  This will sound similar to my comments on the world-building and on the characters, but I have never read a novel or a series of novels with anything near the amount of foreshadowing, the complexity of the foreshadowing, or the cleverness of the foreshadowing as is in The Wheel of Time.
  5. Robert Jordan's Prose:  While his descriptions often were excessive, I really liked his writing style.  It was formal, but not too formal.  It seemed to fit very well with the type of story that he set out to tell.  And as I know Brandon Sanderson has said, Robert Jordan was a master at the third-person limited viewpoint style of writing (I think that's what it is called), where the book is written in third person, but you see each scene from the point of view of one particular character.   I don't think I had ever read a book with this writing style before reading The Wheel of Time, and it took me a little while at first to realize that that was what Jordan was doing.  But once I understood what he was doing, I was very impressed by the way he did it.

 

What I disliked about The Wheel of Time:

 

  1. The Ending:  I have read two of Charles Dickens' books, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities.  And I don't know if what I am about two say is true of the rest of Dickens' books, but both of those books introduced a substantial number of seemingly unrelated or unimportant plot points that in the end all converged beautifully into a harmonious ending, where even some seemingly trivial plot points turned out to be related to other plot points in important and unexpected ways.  Considering the way that The Wheel of Time was written, with characters or plot points that seem unimportant but then become more important later, and lots of foreshadowing on many different levels, I expected the ending of The Wheel of Time to tie many varied threads together like the endings of those Dickens books.  And it also makes sense for The Wheel of Time to end that way, because the ending happens with a momentous event at the end of one age and the beginning of another age, with a major ta'veren (Rand) at the very center of the action, so that (one would expect) the Pattern should weave all other threads around Rand.  And yet, despite all the valid reasons that I expected this kind of ending, that's just not how it ended, at all.  There were many plot points that were either dropped or wrapped up in a clumsy manner, many things that seem like they should have happened but never did (e.g., a reunion of Rand, Mat, and Perrin all together in one place; or a reunion between Lan and Moiraine; or many other examples that could be given), and many things that seemed important but turned out to be completely irrelevant.
  2. The Ending, Revisited:  I also just don't think that the ending made any sense, philosophically speaking.  I think that Rand should have killed the Dark One, and that doing so would not have somehow turned people into mindless zombies incapable of doing evil (or whatever happened in that vision of a potential future).
  3. The huge slowdown in books 7 to 11 (and especially in books 8 to 10):  As I have said before, if I ever do a re-read of The Wheel of Time, I will definitely be skipping every bit of the "Perrin rescues Faile from the Shaido" plotline, and most likely I will also skip major parts of the "Elayne takes the throne of Andor" plotline.
  4. The Scope of the Series:  While the huge scope of the series is something that I loved (see above), it also creates problems for the reader in trying to keep track of everything.  In my second time reading the series, I read books 1-13 straight through, with almost no breaks between the books.  But I still couldn't keep track of all the plotlines and characters from book to book.  Especially when a character or a plotline would turn up after being absent for two or three books, I would be lost as to the backstory that I needed to know in order to understand what was going on in the present book.
  5. The fact that Brandon Sanderson's prose is so jarringly different than Robert Jordan's:  Maybe it would have sounded bad if Sanderson had tried to emulate Robert Jordan's prose, so perhaps it is best that he didn't.  But there are some small and simple things I think he could have done (like not using contractions) that I think would have made a big difference.
Edited by Paul H
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1) Lack of character development - other than Rand I felt none of the other characters really developed through the series. I found this disappointing as there was a lot of potential here. It would have been nice if some of the main characters chopped and changed around a bit

 

For what it's worth, I thought that there was good character development for Rand, Perrin, Mat, Nynaeve, and Siuan.  Beyond that though, I think maybe I would agree with you.

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Very good posts by Paul and Rhienne, though I won't quote or elaborate on them here, I agree with almost every word.

 

A couple of things I'd add.

 

Likes

1. Mood- While derivative of Tolkien, at times heavily so, the mood, setting, and introductory chapters of EotW made the series very engaging and gave me the feel that I was stepping into a familiar world.  The opening scenes do a tremendous job of setting the stage and introducing key elements for the rest of the series--Aes Sedai, the Dragon, Manetheren--without being overly exposition-y and while keeping me engaged the entire time.  The EotW Prologue through the crossing of Taren Ferry are among my favorite multi-chapter spans in the entire series.

2. Character development- Have to disagree with the OP here.  I won't go into a whole lot of examples here, but seeing Mat and Nynaeve turn from very dislikable characters in the first book or two to arguably my favorites by the middle of the series is quite gratifying on re-reads.

 

Dislikes

1. Foreshadowing- I agree with the others that this is a strength of the series, but at times, it's overused, and saps the drama from later scenes.  The Tower of Ghenjei rescue is a primary culprit, as it had been foreshadowed, and so obviously so, for so long that the actual rescue seemed like a let-down.

2. Interpersonal relationships- Most egregiously, romantic relationships.  The sizable majority of the romantic relationships felt flat and hollow, and developed simply because "This character needs to be with that character."  Perrin and Faile are constantly fighting, and then suddenly when she gets trapped by the hedgehog, it's "If I don't find the Falcon, I don't care [if I die]!"  Egwene and Gawyn barely exchange two words on-screen, and she's clearly more taken with Galad than with him, yet when she gets sucked into his dream, it's because "Their love is so great it leaves no room for nothing else."  Please.

3. The last book- To build on Rhienne's last point (even after I said I wouldn't.)  It was all doing, and no feeling.  I don't care about who fought where, or when the flank almost collapsed, or where the counter-attack needed to be made, I wanted to spend time with the characters that I'd gotten to know and love over 15 years of reading, and think what they thought and feel what they felt, and see how they would grow and change after losing so many friends and going through the greatest ordeal of their lifetimes.  Instead, we got plenty of the former and none of the latter, and I will always, rightly or wrongly, feel a little bit cheated because of it.

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Very good posts by Paul and Rhienne, though I won't quote or elaborate on them here, I agree with almost every word.

 

A couple of things I'd add.

 

Likes

1. Mood- While derivative of Tolkien, at times heavily so, the mood, setting, and introductory chapters of EotW made the series very engaging and gave me the feel that I was stepping into a familiar world.  The opening scenes do a tremendous job of setting the stage and introducing key elements for the rest of the series--Aes Sedai, the Dragon, Manetheren--without being overly exposition-y and while keeping me engaged the entire time.  The EotW Prologue through the crossing of Taren Ferry are among my favorite multi-chapter spans in the entire series.

2. Character development- Have to disagree with the OP here.  I won't go into a whole lot of examples here, but seeing Mat and Nynaeve turn from very dislikable characters in the first book or two to arguably my favorites by the middle of the series is quite gratifying on re-reads.

 

Dislikes

1. Foreshadowing- I agree with the others that this is a strength of the series, but at times, it's overused, and saps the drama from later scenes.  The Tower of Ghenjei rescue is a primary culprit, as it had been foreshadowed, and so obviously so, for so long that the actual rescue seemed like a let-down.

2. Interpersonal relationships- Most egregiously, romantic relationships.  The sizable majority of the romantic relationships felt flat and hollow, and developed simply because "This character needs to be with that character."  Perrin and Faile are constantly fighting, and then suddenly when she gets trapped by the hedgehog, it's "If I don't find the Falcon, I don't care [if I die]!"  Egwene and Gawyn barely exchange two words on-screen, and she's clearly more taken with Galad than with him, yet when she gets sucked into his dream, it's because "Their love is so great it leaves no room for nothing else."  Please.

3. The last book- To build on Rhienne's last point (even after I said I wouldn't.)  It was all doing, and no feeling.  I don't care about who fought where, or when the flank almost collapsed, or where the counter-attack needed to be made, I wanted to spend time with the characters that I'd gotten to know and love over 15 years of reading, and think what they thought and feel what they felt, and see how they would grow and change after losing so many friends and going through the greatest ordeal of their lifetimes.  Instead, we got plenty of the former and none of the latter, and I will always, rightly or wrongly, feel a little bit cheated because of it.

Thank you! In point 3 of your dislikes you have summed up my feelings about how it all ended better than I have even in my own head. We need an epilogue booklet to fluff it out more, I would love it if they brought out an extra few chapters or a novella to explain the characters thoughts, feelings and next few moves, my imagination is great but I keep thinking how it may go next but not quite believing my own version as I made it up and it isn't certain x

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Likes:

 

1.  I am glad the someone finished the story.  I would have been happy with a photocopied version of some notes just to learn how the story ends.  At least we received someone that tried to deliver the story with some meat to it.

 

2.  Excellent turning points in the characters stories.  Each character had one or multiple instances that helped them develope into the character that they became.

 

3.  Fantastic story developed in a wonderful world.  This really deserves multiple lines.

 

Dislikes:

 

1.  The developement of minor characters - while it gave the world depth, but too many minor characters were given too much page time.  This lead to characters hanging around a lot longer even when their purpose was served.  In the end, it left a lot of open story lines that disappointed me since these characters were built up but never received closure.

 

2.  The over development of various storylines - too much page time was spent on Faile's rescue and Perrin tying knots in a cord.  Too much page time was spent on the dwindling supplies of the rebel AS and how hard it was to find candle wax.  I am not saying that the story lines were not needed, but just developed to much while others suffered.  I would have gladly traded page time to learn what Halima was doing to subvert the rebel AS instead of just giving Eg headaches.  I would have traded the page time to learn more about Messana's actions in the White Tower during the split.

 

3.  The Foresaken where wimps - Here you had people that fed entire cities to the Trollocs or turned family members against each other on a city wide basis or developed new creatures for the dark side.  Yes, I understand that they were lacking the technology to pull some of this off, but they still had the knowledge and the experience.  Out of all of them, I would say that Taim was the only one that started to rise to the level of evilness that the stories protrayed.

 

4.  An army of convienience - Yes, the darkside made up an army out of nowhere for the last battle.  No hints, no clues, no dying aiel six books ago saying he saw something.  I would have like it better if the Shaido were recruited en masse for the darkside or if the entire Illian army went over.  I would have been happy with Trollocs or Fades that learned how to channel, but instead I got an army out of nowhere that should have wiped the light side off the map if the second best general ever would have actually been a general during the last battle.

 

5.  Everybondy finding the love of their life - Rand with the three, Mat with Tuon, Perrin with Faile, Egwene with Gaywn, Nynaeve with Lan, Suian with Bryne, Morianne with Thom, Morgase with Tallavnor, Gaul and Chiad/Bair?.  Just way too much love going around.

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3.  The Foresaken where wimps - Here you had people that fed entire cities to the Trollocs or turned family members against each other on a city wide basis or developed new creatures for the dark side.  Yes, I understand that they were lacking the technology to pull some of this off, but they still had the knowledge and the experience.  Out of all of them, I would say that Taim was the only one that started to rise to the level of evilness that the stories protrayed.

 

 

I agreed with everything else that you wrote, but I actually thought the Forsaken were handled perfectly for the most part.  They are arrogant and constantly underestimated the people of the Third Age.  I thought the books did a good job of showing that for most of humanity throughout the Third Age, life was a constant struggle, and the history of Third Age was full of strife, war and hardship.  This made them far more formidable foes for the Forsaken than the people of the Age of Legends, where evil acts were minimal and warfare had been largely forgotten.  The Forsaken never seemed to grasp that concept - they were always focusing on the perceived lack of strength or talent in the Third Agers that could channel, but never really considered the resolve and character of those they were attempting to dominate.  Put simply, the Forsaken had a massive edge in the Age of Legends because of their amorality and the atrocities that they were willing to commit to achieve victory.  I thought that edge was severely blunted in the Third Age, where things like the War of Hundred Years, the War of Succession, the Trolloc Wars and any number of other conflicts were burned into the racial memory of the Third Age's inhabitants.

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4.  An army of convienience - Yes, the darkside made up an army out of nowhere for the last battle.  No hints, no clues, no dying aiel six books ago saying he saw something.  I would have like it better if the Shaido were recruited en masse for the darkside or if the entire Illian army went over.  I would have been happy with Trollocs or Fades that learned how to channel, but instead I got an army out of nowhere that should have wiped the light side off the map if the second best general ever would have actually been a general during the last battle.

This is basically the reason why so many predicted that Demandred was in Murandy rather than Shara - it just felt like it was too late to introduce the Sharans in a big role. Turns out, we were half right - Demandred was in Shara, but it really was too late for them to be introduced in such a big role and have it not seem like an army of convenience. (This also means that Rand's suspicion of Roedran doesn't feel as natural as our suspicion of Roedran did - we narrowed him down to be the last viable candidate based on evidence Rand simply didn't have, and out of story lines of thought that don't make sense for Rand, so his "if not Roedran, then who?" feels out of place.)

 

As for my own story likes, while the character development and prose aren't the greatest of all time, they are good enough, for the most part, and the world-building is very effective, full of minor details that help bring the world to life and give the impression of something bigger than just a mechanism to drive the story forward. The main cast are well drawn and develop well, and there are plenty of well drawn second and third string characters. RJ was also capable of creating characters for people with only very small roles - Pevin the Bannerman, for example, or Mangin the Aiel - characters who had little screen time but were more than just a name and a role within the plot. While RJ did sometimes overdo his love of description, he was able to use his prose to help paint a picture of the world, and to really help tell his story. RJ may not be the greatest fantasy author of all time, still less the greatest author of all time, but he was a great storyteller, even if the story he was trying to tell did sometimes exceed his ability to tell it.

 

As for dislikes, criticism of his difficulty writing romance is justified. Also, while RJ might always have been clear on the endpoint how he was going to get there seems not to have always been so clear, hence some of the problems with the middle books. The ending failed to do justice to what had come before, and left several plot threads feeling irrelevant, while the philosophical thrust of the Rand/Shai'tan argument feels somewhat muddled. The Chosen often feel underpowered as villains, and things generally don't feel that apocalyptic - the evidence is there to show the Light being in a bad way, but the sense of doom is not apparent.

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Likes:

 

1. The world.  I really think Jordan's worldbuilding is unparalleled in the fantasy genre.  Yes, even by Tolkien.

2. The ability to take a familiar story (battle against the Dark Lord to save the world) and turn it into a story of his own.

3. Jordan's writing style was easy to read and kept me engaged even during the slow moving books in the series.

4. The huge cast of characters.

 

Dislikes:

 

1. The ending.  I don't think I'll ever be able to get past how a series that probably totals over 10,000 pages was wrapped up in a short epilogue.

2. Books 8-10.

3. The fact that there really weren't a whole lot of surprises in the series.

4. Too many one dimensional characters. Writing believable characters and interpersonal relationships I think was Jordan's biggest flaw as a writer.

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4.  An army of convienience - Yes, the darkside made up an army out of nowhere for the last battle.  No hints, no clues, no dying aiel six books ago saying he saw something.  I would have like it better if the Shaido were recruited en masse for the darkside or if the entire Illian army went over.  I would have been happy with Trollocs or Fades that learned how to channel, but instead I got an army out of nowhere that should have wiped the light side off the map if the second best general ever would have actually been a general during the last battle.

This is basically the reason why so many predicted that Demandred was in Murandy rather than Shara - it just felt like it was too late to introduce the Sharans in a big role. Turns out, we were half right - Demandred was in Shara, but it really was too late for them to be introduced in such a big role and have it not seem like an army of convenience. (This also means that Rand's suspicion of Roedran doesn't feel as natural as our suspicion of Roedran did - we narrowed him down to be the last viable candidate based on evidence Rand simply didn't have, and out of story lines of thought that don't make sense for Rand, so his "if not Roedran, then who?" feels out of place.)

 

 

I want to split my army of convienience into two parts:

 

(1)  My issue is with the Sharans, and Mr Ares hit the concept how I was feeling too.

 

(2)  I have no issue with the turned, male Aiel channelers, nor the city that they lived in.  A little more foreshadowing would have been nice, but the concept was within the realm of possibility with the information provided.  We knew about the male Aiel heading to the Blight.  We knew about Trollocs doing raids in the Borderlands and taking people back to the Blight (thought to be for the cookpots, but could they have been for breeding purposes with the male aiel??), and we knew about the ability to forcefully turn a channeler.

 

I would have been more happy with an army made up of the standard dark creatures, turned aiel dreadlords, and "human" soldiers that were the non-channeling offspring of the aiel and capture borderlanders.  In theory, enough time would have passed that a decent non-creature army could have been assembled.

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The Chosen often feel underpowered as villains, and things generally don't feel that apocalyptic - the evidence is there to show the Light being in a bad way, but the sense of doom is not apparent.

 

Although I did not feel a real sense of doom in AMoL, I thought TGS especially has a fantastic sense of dread and doom, giving the sense "the end" was nigh.

 

As for RJ's prose, as an avid reader of fantasy for almost 30 years, I would put RJ at his best up against just about anyone in the genre.  I am currently in the middle of re-reading the series, and some of the writing in Books 3-6 is fantastic stuff.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ratswot:  Things are slow right now, so I have time to review and post a bit.  I like your bullet points, and agree, to varying degrees, with all.  I think the WoT "world" is comfortable, because, like GoT, Middle Earth (and many others of this genre)  is based on our own cultural history - the Dark Ages.  Certainly, the RJ follows the "rules" of magic and creatures to a satisfying extent, and he doesn't seem to get carried away with imaginary horrors.  (Thank the Light...Discussions between the Forsaken, Black Ajah, Dark Friends, Slayer, etc. are hard enough to get down.)  About the sword forms, I would like to  find out more about them.  Any idea where to go?  I fooled around with practice swords a little, many years ago (about a year each of kendo and loong kuen) and the forms sound familiar.  Finally, about "stupid and forgiving bad guys": oh yes...one of my pet peeves, and so pervasive, across all media.  Really, I have to grit my teeth when people step over weapons, stand and chat, in the middle of a rescue attempt; and leave opponents capable of slipping up behind them in the next scene.  A good example was the botched rescue to Logain, no?

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This good/bad list could go on forever, so I've only listed some of the major ones.

 

Liked

Most of the characters, a lot of the major one's were well developed

World Building was great

Magic system was great

Culture creations were great

 

Disliked

The middle books 8-11 struggled, 11 did start to pull it back together though

The way gender was portrayed.  Women talking to women was ok, men talking to men was ok, but when opposite genders talked about one another... the ignornace was irritating.

Bad guys being defeated too easily or conveniently

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Liked:

 

1.  The world building.  Robert Jordan did an amazing job of creating the different places, different people, different cultures.  The Aiel, Seanchan, The White Tower, The Black Tower, and all the different and distinct cities.

 

2.  Foreshadowing was top notch up to a certain point.

 

3.  The battle scenes that Robert Jordan wrote like Dumai Wells.

 

4.  Interesting secondary characters, particularly the characters associated with Mat.

 

5.   Robert Jordan did an amazing job setting up the mysteries such as who killed Asmodeus?

 

6.   The Foresaken through the first several books all written by Robert Jordan.

 

7.   The set up of the the Black Ajah and Dark Friends Conspiracy, and how they were connected to the Foresaken.  As well as the politics and other goings-on at the White Tower.  Very well done.

 

8.    The set up of the Black Tower and M'hael.

 

9.    Robert Jordan did very well with character interactions.

 

Disliked:

 

1.  The resolution of the Black Ajah and Dark Friends Conspiracy plot point.

 

2.   The resolution of the Black Tower plot point.

 

3.  Lack of character development for some of the major secondary characters.

 

4.  Perrin's character arc, particularly from the Faile kidnap plot through the end of MEMORY OF LIGHT.

 

5.  The execution of the Last Battle in MEMORY OF LIGHT.

 

6.  Padan Fain's character arc, particularly in the last couple of books.

 

7.   TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

 

8.   MEMORY OF LIGHT

 

9.  Resolution of the White Tower plot point.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Likes:

  • An awesome, rich world to RP in.
  • The description. (Funny story: When I started rereading the books after many years, I laughed out loud when I reached the part in TGH when Rand finds his wardrobe revamped. I didn't even realise before that how much of the description in my own writing style had been influenced by RJ! The man sure did love his costume p0rn.)
  • A lot of really amazing supporting characters. Really. Tam al'Thor, Davram Bashere, Rhuarc, Cadsuane, Verin, Samitsu, Sarene (whom I would have loved to see "diplomatically" spank Harine din Togara as per Cadsuane's orders), Laras, Dobraine Taborwin... and many more, too many to remember right now or list here.
  • The magic system, and the madness of the tainted saidin.
  • RJ's Taim.

Dislikes:

  • Character dynamics in some storylines were really flaming tedious to read. I may or may not be talking about the Elayne/Egwene/Nynaeve (and later just Elayne/Nynaeve) escapades in the early books.
  • All the cases of plot-convenient ~true love~.
  • The "resolution" of the Black Tower arc.
  • Davram Bashere dying (especially if the decision to kill him off was based on the need to plant Faile on the throne of Saldaea, as my perhaps overly cynical brain secretly suspects).
  • Sanderson's Taim.
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Just finished the last book tonight.   :smile:   I did get a bit misty eyed at the end (and also when Egwene died)

 

Likes:

1) The world was excellent - it had a rich and believable history that was worked into the story well.  Most of the cultures were well done and distinct.  The magic of channeling was good, and the saidin/saidar split with the taint was interesting. I felt Jordan brought it all to life.  Well, as much as a fantasy world with trollocs and darkhounds can be brought to life.

2) The main characters were all people I cared about - Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene and Nynaeve, as well as Lan and Moiraine.

3) The scope of the story, with major characters all over the world playing important roles.

4) Many of the battle scenes were well done - I could hear the roar of the Asha'men channeling waves of destruction at Dumai's Wells, and I could feel the tension as the trollocs were attacking Emond's Field,etc.

5) While not all of them were as well developed as they should have been, I did enjoy some of the minor characters as well - Rodel Ituralde, Davrim Bashere, Androl, Valan Luca, Talmanes, etc

6) Since most of the series was a re-read to me, I enjoyed some of the storylines more a second time through.  I liked what Egwene did at the White Tower while a prisoner there, while not liking much of her storyline when I initially read it.

 

Dislikes:'

1) While I enjoyed the breakneck pace of the final book, I felt some of the storylines ended up being rushed and were not given as much attention as they deserved.  I mean, Padan Fain appears out of nowhere 90% of the way through the book after not appearing in how many books before that?  He didn't merit a few pages here and there in books 11, 12 and 13?  He's the one that spurred Rand to leave the Two Rivers all the way back in book 1.  I also mentioned a few others as well in my other thread - what happened with the Song the Tinkers were looking for?  What happened with Elaida after she "performed" for Tuon after becoming damane?  How about Valan Luca and his traveling show?  The Sea Folk at the last battle just had a bunch of people holding the Bowl of the Winds?  Nobody else?

2) The various characters falling in love didn't come across as believable - Nynaeve and Lan, Rand and Min/Elayne/Avi, Egwene and Gawyn and Galad/Berelain (though, I could say on the last one that they're both so attractive...) ,  At least with Mat & Tuon, they had extensive interaction with each other first.

3) The main characters went from country bumpkins from the Two Rivers who were terrified of a single trolloc, ran away shrieking from a single fade and who took what seemed many weeks just to cross Andor to suddenly being weapon masters who killed trollocs with ease and were more than a match for a fade, and also jetted around the continent via gateway a bit too quickly for me.  (Was there much foreshadowing of Mat being a master of the staff until he whipped Galad and Gawyn together?  At least with Rand, we saw him working extensively with Lan on sword training.)

4) The main characters often acting stupidly - Rand being taken by Elaida's embassy, Elayne constantly being captured/threatened ("oh Min said my babies will be born, I have no worries..."),  Rand basically ignoring the Black Tower - sure, I know he had a lot of his plate, but man, he's the most powerful channeler in the world... he couldn't take five minutes a week to travel to & from the Black Tower via gateway?

5) Agreed on the Sharans at the end - would have liked to have seen more with the Shaido.  I thought the Aiel in general were kind of given short shrift at the end, too.  Feared and mighty warriors for the first several books, then superseded by the Seanchan?

6) Too many plotlines in the middle books took too long to resolve.

7) The female characters often seemed one dimensional, though I did like how Nynaeve and Egwene developed throughout.

 

However, I'd say the "likes" far outweigh the dislikes.

Edited by NewJeffCT
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