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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Quality Discussion Thread


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Towards the end of your post you touch on allusions to our world and ask what they mean. It really is just fleshing out the feeling of this being our world and time being a wheel. The Wheel of Time turns...myth fades to legend. Queen Elizabeth-Alsbet Queen of All, Mother Theresa-Materese the Healer, Mosk and Merk, Artur Paendrag-Arthur Pendragon etc. We know that each turning has the same basic pattern but the fine details vary greatly each time around. It's why I was always so incredulous when people would claim Rand would kill the DO or that this was actually the "last battle". The whole concept was pretty central to Rand's struggle and his epiphany on DM.

 

 

 

Oh right, I get that. But what I mean is I was hoping he was going somewhere with it. For example, if the way that the legends were twisted reflected some inner truth about our own world, or if the particular myths chosen from our world interlace in some way to reveal a deeper meaning by what was chosen and what was not. Or if we saw more of the same myth replayed so some inner essence of the myth was distilled, revealingl a truth about human nature. How would this work? I don't know, but then I'm not a writer.  As it is, it seems to me that Jordan just thought it would be cool to have the Wheel of Time replay the same myths, but ... so what? It always felt like a technique in search of a reason. And by the way, I'd be happy if someone could prove my impressions wrong and reveal some deeper meaning in what Jordan did.

 

Another opportunity along these lines was Birgitte - what does it mean that she was pulled out early? Would she be the same person? What does her storyline mean without Gaidal? I feel like more could have been explored here. If Jordan wasn't going to exploit the technique of myth's repeating, then presumably the next idea this leads to is fate. Certainly fate is explored in the book - the pattern, etc. But I can't say in a way that is new or interesting or hasn't been done over as pretty much every "pop" fantasy book seems to touch on fate.

 

As far as "well I don't expect much/it's a guilty pleasure so I'm not really disappointed by the changes under Sanderson", I wasn't trying to wave off these complaints, but rather trying to explain that in this class of fiction, for me, there are other attributes that I think are more important.

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You guys really hated the book huh? Honestly it seems like you hated the last three. Did they have issues? Yes, but you guys are acting like they were horrible. I like AMOL. I liked all three. They finally moved the plot. We finally saw a resolution. I don't think RJ would have resolved every sub plot. Not in three book. Characters died. Did we really expect everyone to live. It was the Last Battle. The ending of an age. Too many battle scenes? It's the Last friggin Battle. Did you all expect random hair pulling, more baths and cups of tea. We finally saw a Forsaken actually seem kinda scary. Was it perfect? Hell no, but was it as bad as you all seem to believe. IMO no. No matter who finished the series folks would say it's off... the pacing is wrong... that characters are wrong. It was RJ's story. No author could have written it like him. Under the circumstances I think Sanderson did a decent job. I'm glad I got to read AN ending. It may not be THE ending we all would have gotten from RJ, but I can live with it.

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Anyone else feel that the flaw in Vora's s'angreal was a convenient invention? I mean, we never heard about this before and almost all angreal have that buffer standard. Really it seemed like Brandon saying, "Oh yeah, Eg's gotta die, better make something up!"

At 1st I thought this as well. When considering it a bit more I realised that every Sa' angreal seems to have the same buffer problem, our at least some major flaws. We don't get confirmation of this with Demandred's Sa' angreal, just a guess from Taim's POV.

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You guys do realize that you are the 1% amongst millions right? Its over the story is told. It is done.

So? That it is over doesn't make it any less worth discussing. That most people aren't interested in discussing (most aren't even interested in reading the series) is really neither here nor there.

 

You guys really hated the book huh? Honestly it seems like you hated the last three. Did they have issues? Yes, but you guys are acting like they were horrible. I like AMOL. I liked all three. They finally moved the plot. We finally saw a resolution. I don't think RJ would have resolved every sub plot. Not in three book. Characters died. Did we really expect everyone to live. It was the Last Battle. The ending of an age. Too many battle scenes? It's the Last friggin Battle. Did you all expect random hair pulling, more baths and cups of tea. We finally saw a Forsaken actually seem kinda scary. Was it perfect? Hell no, but was it as bad as you all seem to believe. IMO no. No matter who finished the series folks would say it's off... the pacing is wrong... that characters are wrong. It was RJ's story. No author could have written it like him. Under the circumstances I think Sanderson did a decent job. I'm glad I got to read AN ending. It may not be THE ending we all would have gotten from RJ, but I can live with it.

This is the quality discussion thread, not the "I liked it/disliked it" thread. Given that we are here, in this thread, to read and take part in discussion as to the quality of the last book, then surely it is only natural that we would be less interested in brushing issues under the table than we would be in a different thread. I agree that RJ probably wouldn't have finished in three - more likely he would do one in two volumes. Yes, characters died, the characters RJ decided would die, not that that is relevant to the matter at hand, because death is not an inherent indicator of quality, one way or the other. The last book did some things right and some things wrong. This thread is for discussing those things, not discussing how much we enjoyed is despite its flaws. Yes, this book gave us the Last Battle. I didn't expect hair pulling, no, I expected a battle. What I didn't expect was so many hundreds of pages of battle that it was just tiresome to read. There were good moments, but a lot of it was just too much. It became boring and repetitive - is that really desirable in a battle scene? In the climax to the book? We had a 200 page chapter of fighting. How much plot advancement did those two hundred pages encompass? It was fairly minimal, in all honesty. The book had merits, of course, and I certainly don't feel that following the series has been a waste of time, but in a discussion revolving around quality, focusing on issues of quality is only to be expected. If you don't want to discuss quality, there are plenty of other threads to follow without dragging this one off topic.

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It was great to get an ending to this great story.

 

There are obviously numerous plots that are not dealt with, and with the amount of content that has been put into WoT there was just no way they could all be answered. That being said I had a few things that did not sit right with me.

 

 - Why was Bashere killed off and then mentioned as a side note?  He has been Rand's go to man since book 3/4 and his death is merely mentioned in passing.

 

 - Why would we be given pages/books of foreshadowing about Logain's prophesized "greatness" (thank you Min) for him to do almost nothing on screen?  Yes he may go on to lead the Asha'man, but we do not actually get to see that.  He did almost nothing in AMoL.  He did not even square off with Taim which was a duel that has also had tons of foreshadowing.

 

- Mat's entire relationship with Tuon has been completely bogus to me since it began, but I always had in the back of my mind that somehow in the end it will make sense.  Well I am at the end, but it still does not make sense.

 

 - PERRIN SLEPT THROUGHT 99% OF THE LAST BATTLE!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 - Going along with the previous point, the wolves connection part of Perrin's character has been one of the coolest things about him.  However we did not get any of the heart wreching Perrin calling out to the wolves for help and leading the pack into the fray of battle that we got a taste of in previous battles.  Yes we got to see Perrin working in the wolf dream and yes the wolves were helping in the last battle and they saved Rodel, but remember how bad ass Perrin was at Dumai's Wells.  I just do not understand how that was left out of TG.

 

Anyways, these are just a few of the things I can think of right now, there were also some really great things about the story (Ogier battle songs!).  I feel that there was just so much content that no matter what some things were going to get left out and some people were not going to like that.

 

At the very least we have an ending we can all talk about :)

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Although I like most of the aMoL, I think the end is rushed. We didn't see Elayne's reaction to Gawyn's death nor some meeting between Rand, Perrin and Met. It's OK if it's done like that on purpose in order to leave us imagine those scenes, but I believe it would be more in WoT spirit if there was a scene or two more with details. I guess Perrin's situation is most detailed and it's obvious that some more scenes are missing.

 

Now here's a suggestion - The Lord of the Rings has some additional chapters which detail party members more (what happened to them after the main story) and some situations, so WoT would need couple of more chapters like that. 

 

PLEASE WRITE ADDITIONAL CHAPTERS which explain what happens next with some of the caracters. If you care about your fans you would do this.

Edited by DrunkenWarder
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Anyone else feel that the flaw in Vora's s'angreal was a convenient invention? I mean, we never heard about this before and almost all angreal have that buffer standard. Really it seemed like Brandon saying, "Oh yeah, Eg's gotta die, better make something up!"

At 1st I thought this as well. When considering it a bit more I realised that every Sa' angreal seems to have the same buffer problem, our at least some major flaws. We don't get confirmation of this with Demandred's Sa' angreal, just a guess from Taim's POV.

I'm pretty sure that's not true.  Most angreal and sa'angreal have the buffer.  That's why the lack of a buffer in Callandor is referred to as a flaw.  If Sarkanen also had one, I'd chalk that up to Sanderson inventing it, since he wrote both in.  Seems like a deus ex machina device to me. 

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Rane, I'd take your point more seriously if you could give examples of major angreal's, all of them specifying buffers.

 

You are saying "most have the buffer" but I don't remember buffers being mentioned very often.

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You are saying "most have the buffer" but I don't remember buffers being mentioned very often.

 

Buffers aren't mentioned often because it is expected that every sa'/angreal has one.  The way Cadsuane and Rand discuss Callandor's flaw, it comes across that this is pretty unusual.  In fact we are led to believe that this is the only known sa'angreal that lacks a buffer.  Given that by the end of the series only a handful of sa'angreal have been named, it seems quite a bit coincidence that Vora's sa'angreal also has the same problem.  Not completely impossible, but extremely unlikely. 

 

The only thing I can think of is that I'm sure I read somewhere that the reason behind Callandor's flaw was due to it being hastily made during the War of Power.  I don't know whether Vora's sa'angreal was made at the same time?

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You are saying "most have the buffer" but I don't remember buffers being mentioned very often.

Buffers aren't mentioned often because it is expected that every sa'/angreal has one.  The way Cadsuane and Rand discuss Callandor's flaw, it comes across that this is pretty unusual.  In fact we are led to believe that this is the only known sa'angreal that lacks a buffer.  Given that by the end of the series only a handful of sa'angreal have been named, it seems quite a bit coincidence that Vora's sa'angreal also has the same problem. Not completely impossible, but extremely unlikely.The only thing I can think of is that I'm sure I read somewhere that the reason behind Callandor's flaw was due to it being hastily made during the War of Power. I don't know whether Vora's sa'angreal was made at the same time?

Yup we know Callandor and the lack of buffer is certainly not the norm. It was a simple manufacturing flaw.

 

Interview: Oct 28th, 2005

KOD Signing Report - Jason Wolfbrother (Paraphrased)

Jason Wolfbrother

Was Callandor constructed during the War of Power?

Robert Jordan

Yes.

Jason Wolfbrother

Was it used in the War of Power?

Robert Jordan

Yes, that is how the flaw was discovered.

Jason Wolfbrother

Why didn't they ward/buffer Callandor?

Robert Jordan

The flaw with Callandor is simply a manufacturing flaw. He went on to talk about how they were at the end of their tech age with only a few sho-wings and jo-cars left. A couple of shocklances were still around but they were not as prevalent as they had been. Anyway they had been mass producing ter'angreal, angreal, and sa'angreal, and there are bound to be flaws with the products. The flaw with Callandor is simply one such flaw.

Footnote

This is specifically referring to the lack of a buffer.

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You are saying "most have the buffer" but I don't remember buffers being mentioned very often.

 

Buffers aren't mentioned often because it is expected that every sa'/angreal has one.  The way Cadsuane and Rand discuss Callandor's flaw, it comes across that this is pretty unusual.  In fact we are led to believe that this is the only known sa'angreal that lacks a buffer.  Given that by the end of the series only a handful of sa'angreal have been named, it seems quite a bit coincidence that Vora's sa'angreal also has the same problem.  Not completely impossible, but extremely unlikely. 

 

The only thing I can think of is that I'm sure I read somewhere that the reason behind Callandor's flaw was due to it being hastily made during the War of Power.  I don't know whether Vora's sa'angreal was made at the same time?

Also, we've seen Vora's sa'angreal used many times in the books and the lack of a buffer was never mentioned. Given that that is a pretty huge thing, one has to wonder if the whole thing isn't a last minute creation.

 

Also, I believe that Cadsuane refers to Callandor as lacking the "standard buffer". I think it's in TPOD Chap 21

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Okso this is my last time posting in here. I realized my problem with the plot [holes]. I understand Harry Potter is not everyone's cup of tea but if you like it hope this analogy works.

 

 

To me the ending of AMoL, better yet the Wheel of Time, is like if in Harry Potter the deathly hallows were never talked about. They are still there and still serve the same plot importance but nothing is explained about them. Harry just somehow kills Voldemort at the end and we are left wondering, how did that horcrux stone bring his parents back as ghosts...why could Voldemort not kill Harry. These would have made for good discussion but it does not make for a complete story. I did not care that there was not a 19 years later scene or that that we did not really see what happens after the LB but i would have like to have a better understanding of the end.

 



 

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As for why the Angreal hasn't been discovered to have no buffer, how often does an Aes Sedai use so much of the power that they would take in that much?
 

Would they be aware they COULD go farther? What if a channeler doesn't they can go past the safe area unless they actually do? 

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As for why the Angreal hasn't been discovered to have no buffer, how often does an Aes Sedai use so much of the power that they would take in that much?

 

Well there were a few references to Egwene using as much of the power as she could hold. You would think something would have been noticed in that situation. Then we have the fact that it has no buffer thrown in like a band-aid at the very last second. I personally feel as if it could have been handled better. Edited by Suttree
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But Storm, what you are saying is all speculative.  We KNOW that angreal have the buffer and it is standard in the manufacturing process.  This is shown by the fact that the the lack of said buffer is referred to as a flaw. 

Regardless of that, though, the fact that it was literally at the (Egwene's) last minute that we find out that Vora's wand had no buffer makes this look like a hasty, left-field addition, even if it wasn't.  So, that is sloppy writing.  I mean, how hard would it have been to have Eg think at ANY point earlier in the book when she was using it that she had to be careful not to draw too much? 


Speaking of earlier use, I seem to remember her drawing on it very deeply before.  Something along the lines of "completely full" or "as much as she could".  My memory is off and I can't look it up, but that seems to be an inconsistency.  In any event, it could have been the place to add in the internal Eg monologue about the lack of the buffer. 

Edited by rane008
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@Suttree: I think I'm pretty much in agreement with you, but I'm a bit confused about the blunt/unpolished prose. I really can't see how this can be an objective standard. What is the test for "polish"? How much is too much? At what (ahem) point does prose cease to be blunt?

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HThis is one of the primary reasons that I place this series in the guilty pleasure column for me, rather than a "serious" work of fiction.

Oh, I'm not suggesting RJ's work stands up outside of genre as someone like Peake's does. When you start talking about great writers such as McCarthy, Pynchon or DeLillo they are just on a different level. To be clear if I hadn't come to these books at such an early age I doubt they would have had the same impact. Now when I see authors like Bakker it really shows what is possible in terms of fantasy writing that can hold up to the type of scrutiny usually reserved for "literary texts".

 

Suttree:

 

While I agree with you that Sanderson's prose is not good, I don't agree with your argument that the quality of prose can be evaluted 100% objectively.  Certain aspects of it undoubtedly can be -- such as, for example, grammar, overruse of passive voice, and so on.  But other parts of it are subjective.  You listed three authors you believe are "great" and on a different "level," but I don't like the prose written by any of them.  I tried to read McCarthy's Road several times, and found the prose to be so bad that I was unable to continue.  On the first page (as far as I got), he overuses the device of fragments.  Now, a fragment can be an effective way to convey sudden unexpected events, or particularly strong emotions.  But when nearly every sentence is a fragment, the device loses its effect and just becomes annoying.  I've also tried to read Pynchon and DeLillo, and have never be able to get into their prose, or "style" as another poster put it.  Atonement is another modern book that I was unable to finish because I thought the prose was too pretentious and trying too hard to be "literary."  In contrast, among more modern writers I think that Saul Bellow has amazingly good prose. 

 

I'm not trying to say I am right McCarthy and you are wrong, only that we have different opinions, and both opinions are reasonable.  

 

Jordan in general had quite strong prose, I believe, and unlike you I'd place him near the top of the fantasy authors I've read.  (Disclaimer:  I have not read the Gene Wolfe or other work you cite, but would like to.)  The only fantasy author I've read with better prose is Rothfuss, but I like Jordan's story more, and so Jordan outranks Rothfuss on my list of fantasy authors.  Whether a more "straightforward" or "flowery" style works best may depend on what the author is trying to convey.  If it is supposed to be epic and awe-inspiring, I tend to think the "flowery" style that Jordan used works better.  If the writing is meant to be persuasive (such as in a lawyer's brief) the more straightforward the prose the better.  There is no one style that is best for all situations. When Jordan wrote at his best, in parts of the Eye of the World, the ending to The Great Hunt, large portions of A Shadow Rising, the conclusion to Lord of Chaos, and the conclusion to A Winter's Heart, I also felt that important stuff was happening. and was blown away by the power of the language.  A more straightforward tone would not have had the same affect, at least on me.  

 

I am apparently the only person that thinks the quality of the writing is better in Crossroads of Twilight than in A Knife of Dreams, though, so keep that in mind.  :)

 

I completely agree that fantasy is capable of being great fiction.  People use too narrow a definition of "fantasy" when evaluating it.  If "fantasy" means a story that contains fantastic elements, fantasy has been around for as long as humans have been telling stories.  Look at the Illiad and Odyssey.  Or Faust.  Or Shakespeare's Macbeth or A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Every time someone claims that Tolkien created the fantasy genre I sigh.  Tolkien undoubtedly inspired a lot of the modern fantasy stories that we read, but the genre in no way began with him. 

 

Hopefully this post won't be chastised by the moderator as off-topic.  It relates to a number of points made by a number of posters, even if it doesn't directly discuss AMOL.  (I agree with the majority viewpoint on this topic that the book wasn't up to par.)

 

(Not that it's relevant or should matter, but if anyone cares I majored in English, and as a lawyer I write for living.)

Edited by Treemaster
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(Not that it's relevant or should matter, but if anyone cares I majored in English, and as a lawyer I write for living.)

 

Heh.  I, too, am a liarlawyer (barrister), and I am intimately involved with the concepts of objective, subjective and relative truth, as well as outright fibbing :)

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This is one of the primary reasons that I place this series in the guilty pleasure column for me, rather than a "serious" work of fiction.

Oh, I'm not suggesting RJ's work stands up outside of genre as someone like Peake's does. When you start talking about great writers such as McCarthy, Pynchon or DeLillo they are just on a different level. To be clear if I hadn't come to these books at such an early age I doubt they would have had the same impact. Now when I see authors like Bakker it really shows what is possible in terms of fantasy writing that can hold up to the type of scrutiny usually reserved for "literary texts".
Suttree:

 

While I agree with you that Sanderson's prose is not good, I don't agree with your argument that the quality of prose can be evaluted 100% objectively. Certain aspects of it undoubtedly can be -- such as, for example, grammar, overruse of passive voice, and so on. But other parts of it are subjective. You listed three authors you believe are "great" and on a different "level," but I don't like the prose written by any of them. I tried to read McCarthy's Road several times, and found the prose to be so bad that I was unable to continue. On the first page (as far as I got), he overuses the device of fragments. Now, a fragment can be an effective way to convey sudden unexpected events, or particularly strong emotions. But when nearly every sentence is a fragment, the device loses its effect and just becomes annoying. I've also tried to read Pynchon and DeLillo, and have never be able to get into their prose, or "style" as another poster put it. Atonement is another modern book that I was unable to finish because I thought the prose was too pretentious and trying too hard to be "literary."

But there is a difference betwen prose being objectively polished or unpolished, verse what you simply like or don't like. To be clear I agree that prose isn't entirely objective. Point being though for someone like McCarthy you can say you dislike his style, you can't say it his prose is bad. Especially when it won the Pulitzer Prize for literature and the prose was specifically referenced as one of the major reasons. For instance famed critic Harold Bloom who has spent his life researching such things had this to say:

 

"there are four living American novelists I know of who are still at work and who deserve our praise". He claimed that "they write the Style of our Age, each has composed canonical works," and he identified them as Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, and Don DeLillo. He named their strongest works as, respectively, Gravity's Rainbow; American Pastoral and Sabbath's Theater; Blood Meridian; and Underworld. He has added to this estimate the work of John Crowley, with special interest in his Aegypt Sequence and novel Little, Big saying that "only a handful of living writers in English can equal him as a stylist, and most of them are poets...only Philip Roth consistently writes on Crowley's level".

Just a few examples of solid prose from my favorite author, who is very different from RJ.

 

Cormac McCarthy "The Orchard Keeper"

Far down the blazing strip of concrete a small shapeless mass had emerged and was struggling toward him. It loomed steadily, weaving and grotesque like something seen through bad glass, gained briefly the form and solidity of a pickup truck, whipped past and receded into the same liquid shape by which it came.

Notice the economy of words and natural cadence. The figurative language is also fresh and vivid and doesn't reach too hard.

 

Here in the an example from "The Road" his prose is almost perfectly minimalist with incredible clarity.

 

On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

& another that approaches poetry in how it sounds and the literary devices he employs.

 

The Road

In the morning they came out of the ravine and took to the road again. He’d carved the boy a flute from a piece of roadside cane and he took it from his coat and gave it to him. The boy took it wordlessly. After a while the man could hear him playing. A formless music for the age to come. Or perhaps the last music on earth called up from out of the ashes of its ruin. The man turned and looked back at him. He was lost in concentration. The man thought he seemed some sad and solitary changeling child announcing the arrival of a traveling spectacle in shire and village who does not know that behind him the players have all been carried off by wolves.

Edited by Suttree
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But there is a difference betwen prose being objectively polished or unpolished, verse what you simply like or don't like. To be clear I agree that prose isn't entirely objective. Point being though for someone like McCarthy you can say you dislike his style, you can't say it his prose is bad. Especially when it won the Pulitzer Prize for literature and the prose was specifically referenced as one of the major reasons. For instance famed critic Harold Bloom who has spent his life researching such things had this to say:

 This seems to me to be an excellent definition of subjectivity!  Each Pulitzer Prize is awarded by a panel of judges by majority vote.  Now the opinion of such a panel is one which carries a great deal of authority and worthy of the greatest respect - but without an unvarying standard against which to measure, it is still subjective.

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As I said above certain aspects of prose are subjective and I never meant to imply otherwise. As Treebeard agrees however there are objective measures as well. The technical quality of prose and lack of polish(what we are discussing for Sanderson) would certainly fall into that second category.

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As I said above certain aspects of prose are subjective and I never meant to imply otherwise. As Treebeard agrees however there are objective measures as well. The technical quality of prose and lack of polish(what we are discussing for Sanderson) would certainly fall into that second category.

 

And I'm afraid that's the part I don't understand (which I am prepared to concede may be due to my lack of education in the area of literary criticism).  What is the objective standard for polish?

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