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Quality Discussion Thread

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Warning, this will be long.

 

I'm currently 28 years old, and picked up the series right after ACOS came out, ~17 years ago.  Growing up, I read each of the first seven books at least a dozen times apiece, posted on WOTmania, and was in general highly invested in the story.  That continued as I grew older, and I was heartbroken at the news of Jordan's passing.  With Sanderson's selection, I was hopeful, but still very much concerned about how the quality of the series would hold up.

 

Unfortunately, those concerns proved to be well-founded.  Characters were mangled, the language altered, and many of the scenes cringe-worthy.  Mat's letter to Elayne stands as the single most egregious example, and the worst couple of paragraphs in the entire series, though there are plenty of others.  All these elements combined to make TGS and TOM deeply flawed books, yet the story and strength of character was enough to keep those flaws from being fatal.  I could, and did, re-read them with a fair amount of pleasure, wincing at the mis-steps, but still enjoying the journey and speculating about the end.

 

With AMOL, we get the worst of both worlds, Sanderson's lousy writing without the story and development to which we've become accustomed.  In my mind, it stands as the single-worst volume in the series, with the next-worst (COT) only barely glimpsed in the rear-view mirror.  Sanderson's many and glaring flaws as a writer are still on display--the hokey, juvenile sense of humor; the pandering to fans; the abysmal word choice and prose.  Most of these scenes have been discussed in this thread already, so I see no need to rehash them.  Suffice it to say that I think Sanderson is a poor writer, and will not be touching any of his other works anytime soon.

 

That said, if those were the only, or even the worst, flaws in this book, I would be doing backflips.  Much as I hate to admit it, the majority of the blame for AMOL lies with RJ, who bungled the story and bungled it badly.  There were lots of reasons why, though most of them, as with Sanderson, I could have overlooked.  There are two here that I'm going to focus on, Egwene's death and the overall emotional impact of the volume.

 

Egwene first.  I will begin by acknowledging that not all deaths should be or are meaningful, that good people die for bad or no reason, etc., etc.  And, as a generality, that's a perfectly valid rule.  However, it is not valid within the universe that RJ has created and crafted for 20+ years.  Good people, or at least good people who are graced with a prominent role in the story, almost never die in Randland, and when they do, it's for good cause and purpose.  Within WOT, or really fantasy literature as a whole, there are two ways to fulfill that purpose: 1. Taking out a foe equal or greater to yourself, or 2. Emotional fulfillment.  The first one requires little explanation.  Moiraine taking out Lanfear (had they actually died), Lan killing Demandred (had Lan actually died), and Shomesta weeding out (ha ha!) Balthamel are all good examples.  The second is a little more complicated, but is most often achieved with a redemptive death, e.g. Ingtar or, reaching into LOTR, Boromir.  The best deaths in the series, Verin's and Eldrene's (of legend) combined the both.

 

So does Egwene's death fit either of those criteria?  The answer is clearly "No."  To clarify, "a foe equal or greater to yourself," refers more to the narrative importance of the foe within the story than to numbers or power.  I don't care what Taim's new status was, or what tools he was using--he was, within the story, a jumped-up Dreadlord who (nominally) served under Rand for the majority of the story, was never cloaked with the power or intimidation of one of the Forsaken, and was never couched as a threat to Our Heroes outside his part in the Turning.  No homicide attempts, no dark plots threatening to ensnare them, no seduction to the DO, nothing.  Same with the nameless Ayyad she torched--no role in the story, no emotional impact, no points (cf, Amayar, suicide of).  Egwene for Taim is not a fair trade, no matter how many other random channelers you throw in.

 

The emotional fulfillment was even more lacking, and this was where things were especially bungled.  By striking Gawyn down, you give yourself a golden opportunity to have her enraged and desperate to reach her husband, striking down Ayyad and dreadlords left and right, drawing too heavily or taking too many wounds in the process, and dying at Gawyn's side as he draws his last breath.  Trite?  Sure, but it's trite for a reason: because it works.  It would have been touching, moving, and emotionally satisfying.  Instead, they chose to let him die well beforehand, take Egwene back and coddle her a little bit, give her some cheesy advice, and then sent her back out with nothing but anger.  Anger even could work, if it were a "Wrath of a Vengeful God"-type moment where she wreaked havoc on the person (to wit, Demandred) who killed Gawyn.  But no, the object of the rage was utterly disconnected from what had occurred with Gawyn.  So instead, we got a death totally disconnected from any sort of emotional response, and therefore devoid of any emotional impact save what the reader felt for Egwene herself.  The writing replaced actual emotional connection with Egwene for simple pity over her fate, and robbed the reader of what should have been a highly moving scene.  This is without even mentioning the absurdity that Lan is busy getting run through, Galad having his arm chopped off, and they both manage to survive with miracle Healings while Egwene dies from simply exhaustion/overdrawing.

 

The second, and greater, problem, and one I touched on in the previous point, is that the story was almost entirely about doing rather than feeling.  This has been another weakness of Sanderson's, kind of like "show, don't tell" on a broader scale, but was so embedded throughout the narrative that I tend to place the blame on RJ instead.  The book had a lot of action in it.  In and of itself, that's not a bad thing, although I did find it a bit repetitive.  What was a bad thing was that the book became so absorbed in that action that they forgot to take the time to show us the people.  Take out Rand's farewells, which were mostly well-done, Tam at the bier, and Olver's reunion with Noal, and there were little to no moving or significant interactions between characters.  There was no character development, no emotional displays, no strong feelings anywhere.  Sure, a character might feel angry, or worried, or relieved, but nearly all of those emotions grew out of the necessities of survival, either of the character or the army as a whole, rather than the character's own personality and background.  Others have commented on secondary characters all seeming the same in this volume--I think that's a direct result of the lack of disparate motivations and emotions throughout.  It was simply like the soul was sucked out of the characters and, accordingly, the book itself.

 

This was most egregious in the book's treatment of love.  After Rand's grand revelation at the end of TGS, one thought that love would play at least some role in the final book.  Instead, it was systematically hunted down and destroyed.  Egwene's wedding was cut.  Rand didn't get married prior to TG.  Tuon expressly said she didn't love Mat.  Affectionate interactions between loving characters were few and far between.  I could be mistaken, but I don't believe the words, "I love you," were uttered once in the entire 900 pages.  In Rand's farewell to Egwene, when she gets mad about him always treating her like a child, how about, "I was trying to remind you of when we loved each other," as his response instead of whatever fumbling reply he actually made (don't have the book at hand.  Too bad Perrin wasn't there.  He'd always know what to say to girls!)  Instead, it was like RJ had a checklist of each major character, with a box for "alive" or "dead" beside each name, and so long as he checked one of those boxes in the reader's presence, that was enough.  It's not.  Ultimately, RJ and/or BS made the worst mistake an author can make in AMOL: they focused on the what instead of the who, and absolutely wrecked the story in the process.

 

That's all I have to say for now.  Don't expect anyone to read that, much less respond to it, but feel better for getting it off my chest.  Suffice to say, the quality of this book was p**s-poor, and I could almost wish it had never been written.

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I enjoyed this book very much. I do feel lack of key prophesies (women on a boat, crystal throne...) were disappointing as i was waiting for them to happen. I also felt the end was way to rushed.

 

 

I bet I will like it much more the second time.

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Really good points about Egwene's death, Gen.  I mostly agree with everything you just said.  Though I find it very hard to place blame on RJ for how this book turned out.  How can you blame a guy for how his series turned out when he didn't get to write the last 3 books?  That is just grossly unfair IMO.  Particularly, when this series was very much based on the climax and so much was left to the very end.  Judging by the 11 books he wrote, I have full confidence that RJ could have given us a fanastic last 2-3 books had he finished them.  I dont think that everyone would have agreed with how everything turned out, but it would have been great nonetheless.

Edited by Mark D

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Egwene first.  I will begin by acknowledging that not all deaths should be or are meaningful, that good people die for bad or no reason, etc., etc.  And, as a generality, that's a perfectly valid rule.  However, it is not valid within the universe that RJ has created and crafted for 20+ years.  Good people, or at least good people who are graced with a prominent role in the story, almost never die in Randland, and when they do, it's for good cause and purpose.  Within WOT, or really fantasy literature as a whole, there are two ways to fulfill that purpose: 1. Taking out a foe equal or greater to yourself, or 2. Emotional fulfillment.  The first one requires little explanation.  Moiraine taking out Lanfear (had they actually died), Lan killing Demandred (had Lan actually died), and Shomesta weeding out (ha ha!) Balthamel are all good examples.  The second is a little more complicated, but is most often achieved with a redemptive death, e.g. Ingtar or, reaching into LOTR, Boromir.  The best deaths in the series, Verin's and Eldrene's (of legend) combined the both.

 

So does Egwene's death fit either of those criteria?  The answer is clearly "No."  To clarify, "a foe equal or greater to yourself," refers more to the narrative importance of the foe within the story than to numbers or power.  I don't care what Taim's new status was, or what tools he was using--he was, within the story, a jumped-up Dreadlord who (nominally) served under Rand for the majority of the story, was never cloaked with the power or intimidation of one of the Forsaken, and was never couched as a threat to Our Heroes outside his part in the Turning.  No homicide attempts, no dark plots threatening to ensnare them, no seduction to the DO, nothing.  Same with the nameless Ayyad she torched--no role in the story, no emotional impact, no points (cf, Amayar, suicide of).  Egwene for Taim is not a fair trade, no matter how many other random channelers you throw in.

You really need to read that scene again. She took out the majority of Sharan channelers and stopped the Pattern from unraveling. By majority, I mean hundreds by the way.

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Warning, this will be long.

 

Egwene first.  I will begin by acknowledging that not all deaths should be or are meaningful, that good people die for bad or no reason, etc., etc.  And, as a generality, that's a perfectly valid rule.  However, it is not valid within the universe that RJ has created and crafted for 20+ years.  Good people, or at least good people who are graced with a prominent role in the story, almost never die in Randland, and when they do, it's for good cause and purpose.  Within WOT, or really fantasy literature as a whole, there are two ways to fulfill that purpose: 1. Taking out a foe equal or greater to yourself, or 2. Emotional fulfillment.  The first one requires little explanation.  Moiraine taking out Lanfear (had they actually died), Lan killing Demandred (had Lan actually died), and Shomesta weeding out (ha ha!) Balthamel are all good examples.  The second is a little more complicated, but is most often achieved with a redemptive death, e.g. Ingtar or, reaching into LOTR, Boromir.  The best deaths in the series, Verin's and Eldrene's (of legend) combined the both.

 

So does Egwene's death fit either of those criteria?  The answer is clearly "No."  To clarify, "a foe equal or greater to yourself," refers more to the narrative importance of the foe within the story than to numbers or power.  I don't care what Taim's new status was, or what tools he was using--he was, within the story, a jumped-up Dreadlord who (nominally) served under Rand for the majority of the story, was never cloaked with the power or intimidation of one of the Forsaken, and was never couched as a threat to Our Heroes outside his part in the Turning.  No homicide attempts, no dark plots threatening to ensnare them, no seduction to the DO, nothing.  Same with the nameless Ayyad she torched--no role in the story, no emotional impact, no points (cf, Amayar, suicide of).  Egwene for Taim is not a fair trade, no matter how many other random channelers you throw in.

 

The emotional fulfillment was even more lacking, and this was where things were especially bungled.  By striking Gawyn down, you give yourself a golden opportunity to have her enraged and desperate to reach her husband, striking down Ayyad and dreadlords left and right, drawing too heavily or taking too many wounds in the process, and dying at Gawyn's side as he draws his last breath.  Trite?  Sure, but it's trite for a reason: because it works.  It would have been touching, moving, and emotionally satisfying.  Instead, they chose to let him die well beforehand, take Egwene back and coddle her a little bit, give her some cheesy advice, and then sent her back out with nothing but anger.  Anger even could work, if it were a "Wrath of a Vengeful God"-type moment where she wreaked havoc on the person (to wit, Demandred) who killed Gawyn.  But no, the object of the rage was utterly disconnected from what had occurred with Gawyn.  So instead, we got a death totally disconnected from any sort of emotional response, and therefore devoid of any emotional impact save what the reader felt for Egwene herself.  The writing replaced actual emotional connection with Egwene for simple pity over her fate, and robbed the reader of what should have been a highly moving scene.  This is without even mentioning the absurdity that Lan is busy getting run through, Galad having his arm chopped off, and they both manage to survive with miracle Healings while Egwene dies from simply exhaustion/overdrawing.

 

The second, and greater, problem, and one I touched on in the previous point, is that the story was almost entirely about doing rather than feeling.  This has been another weakness of Sanderson's, kind of like "show, don't tell" on a broader scale, but was so embedded throughout the narrative that I tend to place the blame on RJ instead.  The book had a lot of action in it.  In and of itself, that's not a bad thing, although I did find it a bit repetitive.  What was a bad thing was that the book became so absorbed in that action that they forgot to take the time to show us the people.  Take out Rand's farewells, which were mostly well-done, Tam at the bier, and Olver's reunion with Noal, and there were little to no moving or significant interactions between characters.  There was no character development, no emotional displays, no strong feelings anywhere.  Sure, a character might feel angry, or worried, or relieved, but nearly all of those emotions grew out of the necessities of survival, either of the character or the army as a whole, rather than the character's own personality and background.  Others have commented on secondary characters all seeming the same in this volume--I think that's a direct result of the lack of disparate motivations and emotions throughout.  It was simply like the soul was sucked out of the characters and, accordingly, the book itself.

 

This was most egregious in the book's treatment of love.  After Rand's grand revelation at the end of TGS, one thought that love would play at least some role in the final book.  Instead, it was systematically hunted down and destroyed.  Egwene's wedding was cut.  Rand didn't get married prior to TG.  Tuon expressly said she didn't love Mat.  Affectionate interactions between loving characters were few and far between.  I could be mistaken, but I don't believe the words, "I love you," were uttered once in the entire 900 pages.  In Rand's farewell to Egwene, when she gets mad about him always treating her like a child, how about, "I was trying to remind you of when we loved each other," as his response instead of whatever fumbling reply he actually made (don't have the book at hand.  Too bad Perrin wasn't there.  He'd always know what to say to girls!)  Instead, it was like RJ had a checklist of each major character, with a box for "alive" or "dead" beside each name, and so long as he checked one of those boxes in the reader's presence, that was enough.  It's not.  Ultimately, RJ and/or BS made the worst mistake an author can make in AMOL: they focused on the what instead of the who, and absolutely wrecked the story in the process.

 

That's all I have to say for now.  Don't expect anyone to read that, much less respond to it, but feel better for getting it off my chest.  Suffice to say, the quality of this book was p**s-poor, and I could almost wish it had never been written.

I disagree.

 

On Love: There were plenty of moments where love played a major role on screen Perrin searching for Faile.... Berelain and Annoura and Galad.... Mat and Tuon's relationship (honestly, its a different kind of love but that's how real love is between people - its not always weeping and golden streams of light and all that junk), the growing relationship between Pevara and Androl which was fantastic, the moments between Rand and Aviendha etc etc.  There were plenty of heartwrenching moments and they all had to do with Love ... but yes the focus of this book was Sacrifice (which is part of Love) and that to me was the powerful message in the book.  Life without sacrifice, without suffering, is life without real love, without real choice - empty and lifeless like Rand's world without the Dark One - that was this book's message for me - that love is not all roses and happiness and a raging sea of emotion but is more about duty and sacrifice and making the difficult choices and noble sacrifices - Love IS about doing.  Rand tried to take that away from everyone, wanted to take it all on himself, because of his love.  But so did everyone else in the story. 

 

As for Egwene's death - she died taking out Taim and one of the most powerful sa'angreal ever, and saving the world from annihilation by Balefire.  I would say that's a pretty big foe and accomplishment.

 

I cried during this book more than any other that I've read in a long time.  I had tons of emotional fulfillment in it, and am sorry you didn't have the same experience. 

Edited by ozimandias

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In hindsight, I feel like I should have prepped a boil & bite prior to reading Amol...

_____

Granted it was early this past morning when I turned the last page, so I could have glazed over it, but how do you go through a sub-plot where you pair up Perrin & Gaul to quest through TAR, have Perrin end up leaving Gaul in TAR, then prior to his(Perrin's) return have a scene wherein he states to Gaul's femme fatale that if he finds him(Gaul), he'll bring him back here(Mayene), make it back into TAR, have a PoV from Gaul, who then ends up STARING PERRIN IN THE EYES, and then through the last page of the book, as far as I know, is still picking his nose, holding his wounded side together, stuck in TAR.

If I missed it, okay that's on me - If I didn't.... *cough


What the f*** a*s f*** of a bum-f*** kind of sh*t-hole job of writing is that?! Well hey! Couldn't spare the words in order to wrap that up? That's okay, Perrin can still find the time to warp in and out of TAR to move a cadre of other Aiel to more defensible positions, and you know, run back and forth across the continent in TAR, post-TG looking for Faile. Gaul? Who's that? Ppssshhh! Established element leading to completely non-nonsensical, easily, EASILY could-have-been-tied-otherwise, loose end.... Phaw!

Oh god, at least I finally got to know for sure that a worthless throw-away character never seen prior, on-screen, who has no participatory action whatsoever from that point on, wasn't who some super-fans thought he was, though. Thank Jebus for that scene's inclusion, instead of attention to what could hardly be so miniscule as to be referred to as a 'minor detail'

Perrin: Ugh, I need to get back to it
Chiad: Um, if you see Gaul
Perrin: Yeah, if I find him I'll bring him back here
Gaul: OMG it's Perrin! Huzzah! *looks Perrin in eyes
Perrin: DDDdddddduuurrrrrr...

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Anyone else think that the 3 book split wasn't necessary and that it could have possibly been told in 1 massive book.

Lets face it aMoL was stuffed with battle scenes which whilst being good got a bit boring after 400 pages or so.

Dark Rand Arc and epiphany/Egwenes rise to the top

Mat saves Moraine/Perrin battles Slayer

Seanchan attack/black tower

Field of Merrilor/ massively reduced 4 front battle

Last Battle/rand v dark one

Aftermath

 

Could if been done in one book. Smaller font? 1400 page book split into 2 but simultaneously released. Also could have been worked on a lot more a d not have taken so much time to get released.

Happy the end is here but at times the journey has been a chore and defintely could if been handled better.

 

Not sure if this is the right place for this so mods do what he do if so.

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No need to cram all that in one book but yeah, I believe half of the last three books could've been cut. Two books or one book split into two volumes would be ideal.

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Cem, the problem is more half to two thirds of the preceding five could have been cut too. A lot of what Sanderson did admirably was painfully reverse Jordan's bloat since ACOS or POD

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Cem, the problem is more half to two thirds of the preceding five could have been cut too. A lot of what Sanderson did admirably was painfully reverse Jordan's bloat since ACOS or POD

Have to disagree. While the series got away from Jordan clearly during the tPoD-CoT(although the quality of the writing never suffered) swing KoD reversed it and he had things pointed in the right direction. There was an appaling amount of filler in these last three books and even larger structural problems. The books sped up do to where we were in the story arc more than anyting else and the same would have happened under Jordan. We will have no idea how good Brandon on this point until we see him at a similar spot to CoT in his own Stormlight archives.

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I'm with Suttree. CoT sucked, it's the worst in the series but you can't cut parts out of it and expect the story to be same. You have to change the plot to do it. Brandon's books are not that way. Cut certain parts and no one would've noticed.

Edited by Cem Önal

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Cem, the problem is more half to two thirds of the preceding five could have been cut too. A lot of what Sanderson did admirably was painfully reverse Jordan's bloat since ACOS or POD

Have to disagree. While the series got away from Jordan clearly during the tPoD-CoT(although the quality of the writing never suffered) swing KoD reversed it and he had things pointed in the right direction. There was an appaling amount of filler in these last three books and even larger structural problems. The books sped up do to where we were in the story arc more than anyting else and the same would have happened under Jordan. We will have no idea how good Brandon on this point until we see him at a similar spot to CoT in his own Stormlight archives.

Agree with this.

 

Someone on a forum here in Ireland said that the book felt like reading a a gemmell book and I have I to agree.

 

Sanderson is a talented fantasy author and is improving all the time but he let himself down at times with these books. It was a no win situation for him though.

 

Jordan's books were at times bloated but the character interactions felt more real, Egwenes daring Tuon to put on an adam actually saying dare being one that stuck out for me.

Androl was super deadly at everything! One of the characters that he had a major input on and some if his exploits were exciting and inventive but didn't sit well within the story. Androl was cool for the sake of it.

 

 

The biggest issue I have with the book was that I skimmed sections of it! There was too much focus on battles, tactics and general warfare. I think the massive last battle chapter should of been the only fighting to the forefront. It would of been more interesting and stood out more. All the previous stuff could of went on in the background or with little snippets povs.

 

Taim was a let down.

Logain was a let down.

Demandred was okay.

Moggy was pointless

Moraine criminally under used and so was Nynaeve!

Fain!!! It that was the ending Jordan envisioned for him he should of been killed off ages ago.

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I'm with Suttree. CoT sucked, it's the worst in the series but you can't cut parts out of it and expect the story to be same. You have to change the plot to do it. Brandon's books are not that way. Cut certain parts and no one would've noticed.

Most of Gawyns scenes are totally superfluous.

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Exactly. You can remove them altogether. We know what a mess Gawyn is, we don't need to see more. Just show him learning about Egwene's imprisonment and be done with it. There is no change to the story.

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Androl wasn't quite Mary Sue lol, more Forest Gump. I mean, he went everywhere, did everything, but was a reluctant leader. Egwene was me, me, me, me, me!

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I don't think Jordan had any children that could later finish it up with the diligence and respect it deserved. Too bad. Well, I mean, I enjoyed the last 3 books, but say I had read TGS first, I would not have gotten into the series with the same level of dedication.

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