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I actually am curious if we can get specifics as to what BS described as the "GRRM moment".  I cant think of any moments like that in the series that were not clearly written by RJ.  Unless I am massively mistaken...

Its Birgette being beheaded. 

 

Other than the fact that it involves someone being beheaded there is absolutely nothing GRRM like about what happened to Birgette.  It happened on a battle field and was comitted by a known enemy.  It might have been sad but there was nothing shocking about it.  Then whatever emotional resposne there might have been dissapears instantly when the horn is blown.  That is so far from being a GRRM moment that if that is what BS was referring to I must wonder if he ever read anything by GRRM.

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I actually am curious if we can get specifics as to what BS described as the "GRRM moment".  I cant think of any moments like that in the series that were not clearly written by RJ.  Unless I am massively mistaken...

Its Birgette being beheaded. 

 

Other than the fact that it involves someone being beheaded there is absolutely nothing GRRM like about what happened to Birgette.  It happened on a battle field and was comitted by a known enemy.  It might have been sad but there was nothing shocking about it.  Then whatever emotional resposne there might have been dissapears instantly when the horn is blown.  That is so far from being a GRRM moment that if that is what BS was referring to I must wonder if he ever read anything by GRRM.

 

Any other ideas then?

 

It seems like the best candidate to me even though I struggle to think of hardly any of chapter 37 as BS's work.  I'm pretty sure the shocking and sudden death of a beloved character was all he was referring to when he said GRRM moment.  And then add in the beheading to it as well and it matches even closer.

 

What exactly were you expecting in a GRRM moment?

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I disagree that that is the purpose of stories like WoT. And disliking a character is a terrible reason to want them dead.

 

From my favorite author, a quote you'll probably enjoy: "Some people -- and I am one of them -- hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm. Doom should not jam. The avalanche stoppin its tracks a few feet above the cowering village behaves not only unnaturally but unethically." -- Vladimir Nabokov.

 

For "great literature," however you define that, I think that idea holds. But for The Wheel of Time -- which is, at its core, a children's story; I started reading it at age 15 when A Crown of Swords came out, and I already felt I was too old for the series -- it doesn't. This story is written in the tradition of medieval romance tales like the Arthurian legends and the works of the Pearl Poet, where virtue is always rewarded and vice is always punished. The Wheel of Time is, at its core, an extremely, almost unimaginably detailed world created to house a simple morality tale. Under those circumstances, disliking a character isn't just a good reason to want them dead; it's basically the only reason. 

In a book where virtue supposedly wins, the only reason a character should die is because they're annoying? ROFL!

 

As for the rest, I think its a specious argument to say WoT is not Noabokov, so its a children's story. WoT is far from a morality tale. I'm hard pressed to find a children's morality tale that accepts that evil is a part of mankind, and forcibly removing it isn't good. And if virtue is always supposed to be rewarded, then of course Egwene wouldn't have died.

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Guest PiotrekS

 

Let me explain myself a little then, without forcing you to picture my thought process too well, as the process is messy and the experience might be unpleasant.

First, I don't care much about plot resolutions.

Second, TGS contained Hinderstrap and fragments such as this one: "She felt it each time she thought of what this woman was doing to the institution she loved. " or "Egwene was all Ajahs" and plenty more. I don't care if it was written by Brandon or RJ. If such phrases were foodow7 products, I'd have spent half a day in the toilet. Sorry if somebody likes that style of writing. For me it was torture, especially the cheesiest plotline possible- Egwene's one.

 

Ah. Well, I guess, if I'm reading something for prose style, then I'm reading Nabokov, not a fantasy novel. Hinderstap was terrible, but I took that as BS' growing pains on writing Mat, which he got better with as time went by but never quite mastered. As to the Egwene stuff; agree to disagree -- I loved the White Tower reunification, and Egwene was easily my favorite female character in the last three books, after having mostly been indifferent to her earlier in the series. Her death really, really pained me in aMoL, because she was really the only female character I truly hoped would live to see the other side of the last battle -- I much rather would have seen Nynaeve, Cadsuane, Aviendha, Elayne, and Tuon die in the most ignoble ways possible than see Egwene die. 

As to Egwene - let's agree to disagree. Different planets, hell, different galaxies.

 

I disagree about the prose style - you're not giving fantasy enough credit, as there were authors who wrote wonderfully, e.g. Ursula Le Guin or, in his special way, Terry Pratchett. As to Nabokov, well, since he's the fauvorite author let's leave it at that. Try Bulgakov if you haven't yet.

 

Ninderstrap shouldn't have been there at all, irrespective of whether it was Mat, Periin or whoever. Zombies?!!! Should have been cut out. Pains in writing Mat were there but they don't explain this terrible scene. 

 

 

Let me explain myself a little then, without forcing you to picture my thought process too well, as the process is messy and the experience might be unpleasant.

First, I don't care much about plot resolutions.

Second, TGS contained Hinderstrap and fragments such as this one: "She felt it each time she thought of what this woman was doing to the institution she loved. " or "Egwene was all Ajahs" and plenty more. I don't care if it was written by Brandon or RJ. If such phrases were foodow7 products, I'd have spent half a day in the toilet. Sorry if somebody likes that style of writing. For me it was torture, especially the cheesiest plotline possible- Egwene's one.

 

Ah. Well, I guess, if I'm reading something for prose style, then I'm reading Nabokov, not a fantasy novel. Hinderstap was terrible, but I took that as BS' growing pains on writing Mat, which he got better with as time went by but never quite mastered. As to the Egwene stuff; agree to disagree -- I loved the White Tower reunification, and Egwene was easily my favorite female character in the last three books, after having mostly been indifferent to her earlier in the series. Her death really, really pained me in aMoL, because she was really the only female character I truly hoped would live to see the other side of the last battle -- I much rather would have seen Nynaeve, Cadsuane, Aviendha, Elayne, and Tuon die in the most ignoble ways possible than see Egwene die. 

Egwene's death was particularly effective because of all the characters, she was the one with the clearest plans for the future. All through her reign as Amyrlin, she's been the one to not just plan for the Last Battle and leave it at that. She planned a lot for after. And that makes her dying so much tougher. Though it may well by that by dying so heroically, she cemented her legacy, and assured support for her reformist ideas. After all, nothing adds weight to your ideas more than dying a legend.

In real life I would say they'd build her a nice statue in WT grounds, then go back to their old bickering. That's what usually happens when a great leader dies.

 

 

Indeed. I would add that the many character "revivals" removed some value from the ending. Faile, Galad, Lan... all these people seemingly "died". Then they were shown to be alive again. Its kind of cheapened the end a little. For a cataclysmic, world-ending battle, the body count among the major characters was less than it could have been. In fact, I felt that Perrin's character arc, in particular, was ill served with Faile's return, and Faile's own heroism given a less fitting end.

 

Real life does not have happy endings. Entertainment like the Wheel of Time exists to allow us to vicariously believe that happy endings are possible. If I want to read stories of good people dying, I'll look in a newspaper. 

 

That said, I totally wouldn't have minded Faile dying, because she was a terrible, terrible character.

Total agreement on first paragraph, I feel the same,

Total disagreement on the second - Faile wasn't that bad. There are many characters who are much, much worse. For example Egwene  :baalzamon:  

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Ah. Well, I guess, if I'm reading something for prose style, then I'm reading Nabokov, not a fantasy novel.

Why on earth would it need to be an either/or situation. We have modern fantasy authors such as Bakker, Erikson and Rothfuss that are doing it well. That is wihtout even touching on people like Mervyn Peake, Gene Wolfe and John Crowley.

Edited by Suttree

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Ya I actually prefer the WoT style over GRRMs style.  I really disliked getting attached to a character and wanting to read more from his perspective and then having him killed.  I agree that leaving ALL of the deaths to the last 300 pages wasn't necessarily the best approach either though.

 

Not to go too far OT, but in ASoIaF a grand total of one major POV character (out of twenty!) actually permanently dies in the first four novels (not counting the prologue characters), so I've never really understood this criticism at all.

 

Any other ideas then?

 

Siuan dies very offhand (caught in an explosion and dies with no-one noticing). Gawyn is perhaps a tad more likely: he is defeated in battle, left with a bloody wound and ends up bleeding out pointlessly on the battlefield. Another one might be Rhuarc: being mind-controlled by Graendal and having to be killed by a former friend and ally is more like GRRM in attitude (but not really like any specific events in his books).

 

The comparison to GRRM is rather strained, however. Steven Erikson is a much better match. It kept occuring to me that A Memory of Light is what The Crippled God (the tenth and final novel in Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series) was supposed to be but wasn't: 100% action, climax and convergence. Aside from the grossly inferior prose (Erikson is one of the best prose writers in the genre when he's on form), A Memory of Light out-Eriksoned Erikson, which was quite amusing.

 

 

Why on earth would it need to be an either/or situation. We have modern fantasy authors such as Bakker and Rothfuss that are doing it well. That is wihtout even touching on people like Mervyn Peake, Gene Wolfe and John Crowley.

 

Bakker does great, semi-literate prose in the epic fantasy format.

 

Rothfuss...doesn't. I don't rate his prose skills as much better than Jordan's (though he's certainly better than Sanderson, though sadly he's also way more rambling), and he's certainly not as good as Bakker, Erikson, Martin, Wolfe, Peake, Vance etc. Rothfuss gets props for his Wolfe-like skills of plot misdirection, but he's certainly nowhere near Wolfe's league when it comes to prose.

Edited by Werthead

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The next series I will likely read is going to be Bakker's...and I've delved into them slightly so far and I really dont see how or why his prose is considered superior to RJ's.  RJ definitely seems to have a significantly more vast vocabularly that's for sure.

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The next series I will likely read is going to be Bakker's...and I've delved into them slightly so far and I really dont see how or why his prose is considered superior to RJ's.  RJ definitely seems to have a significantly more vast vocabularly that's for sure.

 

No-one folds their arms under their breasts, tugs on a braid or takes a bath during moments of high tension in Bakker. Bakker has his (very many) faults, but in writing style he's working at a level somewhere between Frank Herbert and Tolkien, definitely not Jordan's level (which I find reasonably entertaining, but definitely flawed). And the moral/philosophical issues Bakker is working with are simply of a far more sophisticated order than what we got in WoT (which often veered to the over-simplistic).

 

One thing Bakker definitely is is extraordinarily grim. He makes GRRM read like David Eddings. Be prepared for real, unrelenting bleakness. Well-written, highly thought-provoking bleakness, but it's not a series where you are going find much joy or hope.

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Hey Wert, curious as to what you think of "Little Big"? Crowley doesn't seem to get mentioned as much as some of the others these days but I personally think it is a very important work in modern fantasy.

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Not to go too far OT, but in ASoIaF a grand total of one major POV character (out of twenty!) actually permanently dies in the first four novels (not counting the prologue characters), so I've never really understood this criticism at all.

 

I walked away from ASoIaF in the beginning of the second book, when Yoren died. That was too much from me. Arya had lost her father, her sword teacher, and now the guy who was protecting her and taking her to the wall; heaping that much cruelty on a character was just too much for me to put up with in a fantasy series. 

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Ah. Well, I guess, if I'm reading something for prose style, then I'm reading Nabokov, not a fantasy novel.

Why on earth would it need to be an either/or situation. We have modern fantasy authors such as Bakker, Erikson and Rothfuss that are doing it well. That is wihtout even touching on people like Mervyn Peake, Gene Wolfe and John Crowley.

 

Because, by definition, a fantasy series is more about plot than about literary style; otherwise, it wouldn't be a series. Coming back and revisiting characters, by definition, means that you're focusing on those characters or the world you've created rather than on prose style. 

 

The only solitary example I can think of where a truly great work of literature, which stands on its own terms as a masterpiece of language, had a sequel was Catch-22, with Closing Time. I honestly have no idea what to make of that one. I don't know a single person who's read Catch-22 and doesn't think it's one of the greatest books ever written. I don't know a single person who's read Closing Time, full stop. So that one's got me befuddled. But other than that, trying to imagine the existence of a sequel to Ulysses or The Grapes of Wrath or Pale Fire or Brave New World just doesn't make sense, because revisiting the same world or the same characters kind of defeats the point of the whole book. 

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Not to go too far OT, but in ASoIaF a grand total of one major POV character (out of twenty!) actually permanently dies in the first four novels (not counting the prologue characters), so I've never really understood this criticism at all.

 

I walked away from ASoIaF in the beginning of the second book, when Yoren died. That was too much from me. Arya had lost her father, her sword teacher, and now the guy who was protecting her and taking her to the wall; heaping that much cruelty on a character was just too much for me to put up with in a fantasy series. 

 

OT, but it must be said...

 

I suggest picking up the series again. With the exception of Jon Snow, there is no character that is as awesome as Arya. Yes, she went through hell, but she is a scrapper and a survivor. With every challenge life throws at her, she grows stronger (without her turning into a Mary Sue like she-who-must-not-be-named from WoT). Her story is well worth the read. Of course, I say that after having thrown the last book at the nearest wall...but that had to do with Jon, rather than with Arya.

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Sorry but that doesn't hold water never. We have already provided two series that fit the bill within the fantasy genre in Peake's "Gormenghast" and Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun".

 

Additionally looking at the literary greats you have someone like Cormac McCarthy(arguably America's greates living author) with his "Border Trilogy".

 

I suggest picking up the series again. With the exception of Jon Snow, there is no character that is as awesome as Arya. Yes, she went through hell, but she is a scrapper and a survivor. With every challenge life throws at her, she grows stronger

This. Although I had to cut part out ;P

Edited by Suttree

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Hey Wert, curious as to what you think of "Little Big"? Crowley doesn't seem to get mentioned as much as some of the others these days but I personally think it is a very important work in modern fantasy.

 

It is, from what I've heard. However, I haven't read it. It's on the pile somewhere and I should get to it somewhere between now and the heat death of the universe :)

 

 

I walked away from ASoIaF in the beginning of the second book, when Yoren died. That was too much from me. Arya had lost her father, her sword teacher, and now the guy who was protecting her and taking her to the wall; heaping that much cruelty on a character was just too much for me to put up with in a fantasy series.

 

Is that cruelty or growth? Arya gets a lot put on her shoulders, but that's part of her character arc and takes her to where she is in the fourth and fifth books, which is a long way from where she started.

 

Also, just because something is 'a fantasy series' does not mean it has to be easy to read, or should not have literary ambitions. ASoIaF is primarily about Power and each of the five novels has tackled it in a different way and re-examined it in a different light, as successfully (if not moreso) than any short 'proper' literary book tackling the same subject.

 

Because, by definition, a fantasy series is more about plot than about literary style; otherwise, it wouldn't be a series. Coming back and revisiting characters, by definition, means that you're focusing on those characters or the world you've created rather than on prose style.

 

That depends on the series. Many series can be equated as single novels, split into serialised volumes due to length and publishing/economic pressures, exactly like how Tolstoy had to serialise War and Peace and how Dickens had to serialise all of his novels in the 19th Century. Taken as a whole, they can be compared to any literary works. I agree that the overwhelming majority would be found wanting (certainly Jordan would, despite taking War and Peace as inspiration), but the likes of Mervyn Peake and Gene Wolfe (and possibly M. John Harrison, though I am not a fan) would certainly not.

 

Anyway, this seems to be drifting off-topic. Based on the topic title, I think we can bring in other authors to compare how AMoL and WoT as a whole stack up to them (I'd love to see a comparison discussion with Erikson, as he's the only other big fantasy series which has finished recently), but not go too far down this literary/fantasy side-discussion.

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OT, but it must be said...

 

I suggest picking up the series again. With the exception of Jon Snow, there is no character that is as awesome as Arya. Yes, she went through hell, but she is a scrapper and a survivor. With every challenge life throws at her, she grows stronger (without her turning into a Mary Sue like she-who-must-not-be-named from WoT). Her story is well worth the read. Of course, I say that after having thrown the last book at the nearest wall...but that had to do with Jon, rather than with Arya.

 

Oh, I know what happens to her. After I gave up on reading the books, I read the entire ASoIaF wiki page so I would know what ended up happening to all the characters. I just couldn't put myself through developing an emotional attachment to characters if I knew they were going to be treated so poorly; don't really have that problem if I'm just reading events on a wiki page rather than reading through the entire book to really get to know the characters. 

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Sorry but that doesn't hold water never. We have already provided two series that fit the bill within the fantasy genre in Peake's "Gormenghast" and Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun".

 

Additionally looking at the literary greats you have someone like Cormac McCarthy(arguably America's greates living author) with his "Border Trilogy".

 

I suggest picking up the series again. With the exception of Jon Snow, there is no character that is as awesome as Arya. Yes, she went through hell, but she is a scrapper and a survivor. With every challenge life throws at her, she grows stronger

This. Although I had to cut part out ;P

LOL. We actually agree on a character being awesome. Hell must be very cold today.  ;-)

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Sorry I disagree. We have the Black Tower series. We have Tolkiens Hobbit and LoTR series. We have Homers Battle of Troy.

Again, I really liked WoT. It avoided many 'male dominance' traps, or characters that weren't believable. I just feel dissatisfied with the end. It was done hastily.

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OT, but it must be said...

 

I suggest picking up the series again. With the exception of Jon Snow, there is no character that is as awesome as Arya. Yes, she went through hell, but she is a scrapper and a survivor. With every challenge life throws at her, she grows stronger (without her turning into a Mary Sue like she-who-must-not-be-named from WoT). Her story is well worth the read. Of course, I say that after having thrown the last book at the nearest wall...but that had to do with Jon, rather than with Arya.

 

Oh, I know what happens to her. After I gave up on reading the books, I read the entire ASoIaF wiki page so I would know what ended up happening to all the characters. I just couldn't put myself through developing an emotional attachment to characters if I knew they were going to be treated so poorly; don't really have that problem if I'm just reading events on a wiki page rather than reading through the entire book to really get to know the characters. 

 

Then you must have always despised Rand in WoT, because that man is treated poorly from day one and, until now, it has been rammed down our throats that all he had to look forward to was a miserable, painful death. Nyn gets treated like crap as well, starting around tFoH (when her so-called friend terrorizes her and she becomes the punching bag for all females with overblown egos) all the way through ToM (I was very pleasantly surprised that she actually got a happy ending with Lan instead of having the man she loved ripped away from her and being left alone and friendless, since I was convinced Rand would die as well). The worst part is that Rand and Nyn don't suffer then end up in a better place (until this final book)...they just suffer and get treated like garbage, so reading their arcs is flat out painful when you care about them. Seeing Arya suffer sucks, but there is payoff and she gets to a better place from it.

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Then you must have always despised Rand in WoT, because that man is treated poorly from day one and, until now, it has been rammed down our throats that all he had to look forward to was a miserable, painful death. Nyn gets treated like crap as well, starting around tFoH (when her so-called friend terrorizes her and she becomes the punching bag for all females with overblown egos) all the way through ToM (I was very pleasantly surprised that she actually got a happy ending with Lan instead of having the man she loved ripped away from her and being left alone and friendless, since I was convinced Rand would die as well). The worst part is that Rand and Nyn don't suffer then end up in a better place (until this final book)...they just suffer and get treated like garbage, so reading their arcs is flat out painful when you care about them. Seeing Arya suffer sucks, but there is payoff and she gets to a better place from it.

 

1: Other than Moiraine (who comes back) and Ingtar (arguably), neither Rand nor Nynaeve ever have mentors / close confidants die on them in the series before the end.

2. Neither Rand (for basically the entire period between TDR and ToM) nor Nynaeve (for the entire series before ToM) are particularly sympathetic or especially likable characters. 

3. Neither Rand nor Nynaeve are 8 year olds. 

 

But in fairness, I should probably bow out of this conversation; it's a bit beyond my ken. Outside of the Wheel of Time and the first book-and-change of ASoIaF, I've never read any fantasy, so I can't really make comparisons. 

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One of the problems, of course, is that whatever RJ did write in the last three books wasn't written in leisure or allowed to simmer in his mind for weeks as he puffed on a pipe and pondered whether to change a word from 'tempest' to 'storm.' In his heroic efforts to get as much of the story down for us as possible there likely wasn't the usual opportunity for second thoughts, self-editing, and such. There wasn't time to trash mediocre scenes and start from scratch. Etc etc.

 

I imagine that Robert Jordan, with his extensive book collection, sword collection and other knickknack's collected from a lifetime of war & adventure, isolating himself in this world of his as he continued to create and mold the world of Randland.

 

Brandon Sanderson, however, was on twitter the entire time.  I don't think he ever lost himself in the story.  The lack of dedication shows.

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I'm just saying that while RJ undoubtably lost himself in the story... He probably also usually spent much more time picking and choosing what parts, what order, what flow, what tone, etc to show us than he was able to do for the sanderson material Pure speculation, of course, but probably much truth to it seeing as he spent much of his final time in hospitals and not hunkered down with his books, knickknacks, and swords.

 

 

My point is that even the pure RJ stuff may not be what RJ actually would have wanted published in a perfect world.

Edited by Gavin Doyle

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Street, I have to disagree with you on that.  Not to diminish your opinion, but the idea that people can't multitask or can't be fully dedicated without ignoring everything but the specific task is wrong and always has been.

 

As an easy example, L.E. Modesitt Jr.  Who is one of TOR's most prolific authors.  (Seriously, guy has four Fantasy Series plus assorted Sci-Fi going for Tor, over 60 titles published and currently available.  Usually finishes two-three books a year).  While he does focus on writing, he does so not on one specific books or series, from reading his blogs and interviews he seems to hop about, pondering the current state of affairs, researching for one book while he's writing another.  His work is amazing and his attention to detail is equally impressive.

 

So while you may or may not approve of how Sanderson finished the books, or might have certain issues with parts, to say that being on twitter some how equates to a lack of dedication is not remotely appropriate or accurate.  Some people have to focus and be single minded in a task, others can't do it write if they don't look at multiple jobs at once or otherwise distract themselves just a bit.

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Quote button seems broken for me so I'll just respond openly:

 

I agree with the comment about the GRRM novels.  At first I was captivated, but then two issues with them began to develop.  The first was the cruelty and darkness of the entire story.  It really was not pleasing to read.  Like someone else mentioned, if I wanted to read about terribleness like that I would open the local papers.  The second problem I had was that I honestly had a hard time finding a reason to keep reading.  I legitimately just wasn't too interested and got bored.  There was no grand quest and no grand real direction.  It was just a story about the lives of various people and you really had almost no idea where they were going.  Hell, when you thought you had the good guys and the bad guys figured out you were wrong half the time.  I realize this is the appeal to many people, but it went a little overboard in my mind.  The reason I enjoyed WoT so much was because it was genuinely a nice story to read and enjoy.  It's a feel good story.  In my mind, a perfect story would be somewhere between.  Somewhere close to the WoT but with enough reailsm injected into the story to give it more life.

 

Wert:

 

What you describe really doesn't have anything to do with prose in my mind.

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