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Love In The Time of The Dragon


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Well, I'm in Book 4 now and I've hit the first gen-u-ine romantic scene! Between Elayne and Rand.


Over the years, before I even started reading the series, I've been reading different views and responses to WOT. While RJ was still alive, the biggest complaints had to do with the slowing down of the narrative and the lack of any end in sight. Since BS took over, criticisms have shifted. In a way, as more fresh voices have read the series, criticism has become more wide ranging and also more specific. Inevitably, with any huge work of art, after the author dies critics start looking for weaknesses. Some of these criticisms strike me as absurd, accusations of racism or "sexism" etc. But one line of criticism I've seen from many female readers in recent years is that WOT is padded with "soppy" romances and "simpering" women.


I can't speak for the series as a whole but I wonder if there's a generation gap happening here. After all, a female reader now in her 20's has grown up with mostly "ass kicking" action heroines.


Personally, I think RJ was drawing from several traditions that he thought complimented his world and characters. The first would be medieval "romances" that enshrined the values of "courtly love". While WOT isn't overtly medieval in tone, RJ does use elements of medieval literature in his text. Courtly love is all about delayed gratification, there's a lot of long, complex flirtation and pernicious testing on the part of the woman, sometimes even humiliation. That ain't my cuppa, but it certainly did create some lovely stories if you can look at them in context.


I think another influence is 19th Century historical romance, namely Sir Walter Scott. Lan and Nynaeve's love story is reminiscent of Ivanhoe, specifically, and Scott in general. Also from the 19th Century, I think RJ was drawing from the Pre Raphealites, both the poetry and the paintings. These were Victorian idealizations of medieval literature and history, misty romantic tales of knights and maidens. One can also see the influence of Tennyson's Idylls of the King in WOT.


I also see the influence of swashbuckling Hollywood movies from the 1930's and 1940's, like The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Again, these were deeply romanticized adventure yarns with, yep, brave heroes and swooning ladies.


A few observations:


1. Consider the ages and backgrounds of the main characters. They are all quite young, inexperienced in relationships and come from various sheltered backgrounds, either geographically, culturally or socially. I believe that WOT covers about 2.5 years (?) -- correct me if I'm wrong -- so the main characters are barely into adulthood by the time the saga ends. I don't think their behavior is out of line with their age and experience level. Certainly not for a romantic epic.


2. Consider the author. He was clearly a romantic who believed in good and evil (he even chose fantasy as his genre so he could write about that) and who wore his heart on his sleeve. These characters express the imagination of their creator (and "old testament god" at that). I also see the influence of Southern mores and customs, were also very courtly.


Maybe I'll grow weary of these quaint, blushing, romantic scenes. At the moment, I find it a refreshing change from the harsh, explicit content of most post-modern fantasy. But I grew up loving those old movies and medieval tales of chivalry; maybe I've been preconditioned . . .

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The encyclopaedia site tells that Eye of the World begins Late Spring 998 NE and that Towers of Midnight ends Late Summer 1000 NE.

That site is currently being updated.  The updates would probably be finished shortly after the paperback release of Memory of Light.


I recall from somewhere that all female characters were based (in some way) on Harriet; do not remember where nor the exact words.

Do not know whether or not that was similar with male characters.

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