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Rising Star (9/16)

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  1. I actually thought Mat and Tuon had the most believable relationship and interesting romantic relationship in the series (hurrah Knife of Dreams!). Admittedly romance is not a strength of the series, but still. Arguably Rand and Adviendha, were at least as good, I suppose, but the other women really detract from that relationship as well. Plus, Mat is (1) a bit of a sub (2) who likes beating the odds and (3) loves the chase and games, and Tuon is domineering unavailable impossible quarry with hints of great depth, so it works ;). Then, I like Tuon's character in particular a great deal. Of course, I am also quite capable of really liking George Washington even though he participated in chattel slavery--certainly we can find him interesting at least. I thought the discussion in this thread on Matt's tolerance of damane was pretty interesting too! One thing to keep in mind is that, although Matt does not exactly condone the practice, he understands it. He comes from a culture that really does not like channeling, and his fear and distrust (phobia level really) of the one power is a consistent character beat from him from the very beginning. Plus, he is a little dark in general, and is probably the master of avoiding thinking about things that make him uncomfortable. People underestimate (forget) how much the residents of Randland proper fear and distrust channelers (hey, remember that time they *broke* the entire world? and also that time they constantly have disproportionate political power in every culture where they are permitted, in addition to the ability to reduce you to atoms with their minds? PEOPLE DON'T LIKE THEM, and Mat likes them less than most). Hopefully, this attitude will change now that the Dragon's peace is in effect, people have rifles and bombs, and power users are busy growing tasty food and setting up hospitals etc. Plus one of them was Jesus, so there is that. Maybe Mat will come around too. Back on subject, I thought Mat fitting in with the Seanchan (in his...way) was quite consistent too. He is a person living in bad faith--nobody else in the series lies to themselves like Mat does, though Nyneave does this too. It is part of what makes him really fun to read. "Oh, I hate nobles! Rand is putting on airs!" *Now let me wear as much lace as possible and consistently seek out positions of power and luxury* "I hate fighting and battles!" *Time to run into battle with the Aiel and constantly face danger at every turn while laughing* "Those girls will have to fend for themselves, I'm not a hero" *runs to the rescue always* "I'm no bloody leader" *leads everyone always* "I hate Tylin" *has sex with, is attached to, and clearly really misses his time with Tylin [who I condemn, full disclosure, but Matt likes her] "I'm a married man, I don't have interest other women" *eye humps every woman in sight always* "I hate these Seanchan, and all their weird customs and games and nobility" *puts on a battle dress and finds their intrigue it exciting and interesting, if bizarre* I'm somewhere in the middle as to the Sanderson's handling of him. Clearly he didn't do the great job he did with Perrin or Egwene, for example (i.e. better than RJ), but he got the basics and it does not bother me as much as it seems to others. I guess looking forward to Perrin chapters made up for the slight Matt oddness, even though he was my favorite.
  2. Look at that, I remembered my oooooold account password. I think that when I last posted several years ago, I was defending (to popular horror) the Seanchan as a society which is overly condemned (though obviously problematic), so I guess I am drawn to unpopular positions! I logged back in here on a whim after reading the pre-release material, to re-engage a bit to while away the pre-release time and I was surprised by how down this forum seemed on the new books from what I remember. As I have actually really enjoyed watching BS continue to improve with every book he writes (contrast the first mistborn with some of his more recent stuff!) and enjoy his books in general, I had a couple of questions about criticism. Apologies for not wading in and finding them myself. My main question is whether or not we have simply moved past recognizing the ways that BS is much better writer than RJ, and instead are focusing on the ways in which he is clearly worse, which would explain some of the negativity. To whit, would the local BS detractors (especially Luckers and Suttre) agree that Sanderson is (as a starting point) --Better at the female voice, in general --Considerably better at action sequences (tactically, in particular--as in small fights and battles) --Excellent at pacing and at solving narrative problems (my biggest RJ beef) --killing his darlings--nobody likes the circus as much as RJ does even as he is worse at: --rigid detail conformity (at least in this series, small continuity errors, small but noticable diction ones, Aiel in particular--remains to be seen with his own stuff) --dry and subtle wit --unreliable narrators (as in, writing them--this is really the key to Matt's character I have always thought--his humor is situation and dramatic--he says he is retreating while rushing into battle, etc.--but it is played totally straight and Matt never knows. Nynaeve is the other one, but BS does a better job with her (and RJ a worse job), so that is more of a wash). --show don't tell Because that is kind of the breakdown as I see it. What I really would have loved to see is a collaboration between the two authors, whereby RJ outlines, BS edits the outline (cutting, say, half), RJ writes the books, BS punches them up (is there a more under-appreciate skill than the punch-up guy?). Also BS get's first crack at Egwene (at least) and Perrin...maybe darth Rand. At a certain point (if I am right), how frustrated or happy you are will depend on how much you value the first list or the second, I would think. Random topic, I know. But hello to all you folks if you happen to remember me!
  3. Turns out TV is not the best source for legal education. Fewer student loans though! Temporary insanity is treated no differently than a normal insanity defense--it is just the argument that, at the time of the crime, the defendant was not legally sane, but now (at time of trial) he is. If that turns out to be true, then you are correct that the defendant is not institutionalized, because they are no longer insane. They still receive an acquittal though--they walk. You seem to be confusing temporary insanity with extreme emotional disturbance or something, which is usually only a mitigating factor, not a defense. Remember, an insanity defense requires an actual mental disease or defect, not just "I was really really upset/mad/sad/hungry/confused/etc." Perrin ARGUED extreme emotional disturbance to Morgase, which was a mistake on his part, and appeared to receive something like a manslaughter charge, which is roughly right on that theory. He SHOULD have played up the "I'm a werewolf thing" to mean "I was going crazy with voices in my head" not "wolves are my buddies and I get angry when they die. And I ax the crap out of people when angered!" This is why you should not represent yourself in your own murder trial. Perrin was probably not legally sane at the time that he committed the homicides--and probably was still crazy and dangerous for a good bit afterwards. However, he seems to have cured himself by the time of the Morgase trial, so it would not have been needed then. Who needs lithium when you have magic wolf spirit dream guides to treat mental illness?
  4. If he chooses to create characters in a way that is offensive, it can diminish the enjoyment of a book. It takes some readers out of the story when they note that Saldean women are forbidden to learn the sword, despite every incentive to do so, for example. Such a restriction could reflect parochial and sexist views of the world-builder, if there is no sensible "in world" explanation for it. Moreover, to the extent RJ purports to portray offensive ideas as descriptively true or normatively preferable, it is a weakness in his writing. By way of illustration, if I wrote a fantasy novel wherein all the dark skinned characters were noticeably less intelligent than the light skinned characters, and set that book on planet Earth, I imagine my writing would be criticized on those grounds. I think the sexism claim here is that RJ was attempting to write a book with sexist characters, but accidentally revealed himself to be sexist as well. Continuing my prior example, it would be as though I wrote a book where the black characters regarded the white characters as dangerous and therefore worthy of oppression, because of a past historical calamity, but I also wrote all black characters as consistently dumb and dishonest. I would then have revealed myself to be racist, even if my original intention was to expose racial oppression as unjust by reversing historical positions and having black men oppress white. Many seem to think RJ has done just that, because he is attempting to skewer gender oppression, but consistently writes his characters in accordance with old prejudices (men are aggressive and simple, women are shrewish, controlling, and manipulative). Now, I'm not saying I agree with this view of WoT, but if it IS true, then it certainly "has something to do" with the world RJ "chooses to create." This is especially so because it purports to be Earth, and therefore reflect how men and women actually are in our world. It is possible to disagree on at least 2 grounds, and thus defeat this criticism of Wheel of Time. 1: there is a plausible in world explanation for what might seem to be the author's prejudice. 2: women and men actually are different in ways described by the book, and so RJ isn't sexist, he simply writes truthfully. A combination of these views is also possible. Emu, and others, strongly reject the first option, presumably from the belief that men and women are essentially a-priori identical, except for some minor, and mostly irrelevant, physical differences relating to reproduction and muscle density. Others think the differences are broader.
  5. I feel like I posted this before, but I don't see it here so, here goes. Perrin has a strong insanity defense, so long as being a wolf-brother counts as a "mental disease or defect," and based on the general case-law on that term, it would (it's an actual, physical difference between Perrin's brain and a normal brain that affects his ability to function in society). The majority (and most stringent) insanity defense in the US only requires that the defendant had a mental disease or defect that caused him to 1) be unable to know what he was doing or 2) be unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct. If I remember correctly, Perrin was overcome with a wolfbrother induced berserker rage, wherein he was not conscious of his actions, and could not appreciate that they were wrong (or even what they were). Many jurisdictions have an even more lenient standard, which would allow Perrin to be acquitted if he had an "irresistible impulse" to chop people up with his ax, which seems likely here also. Of course, a successful insanity defense means that he would have be institutionalized until he was no longer a threat to himself or others, which seems a just result in this case, for sure. Then again, Andor is a primitive, foolish place, so we cannot expect too much of their stupid monarchy based legal system.
  6. Hey Emu, I almost always enjoy your posts. You clearly spend a lot more time writing them than most people (myself fully included) do, which makes them more lucid than most. Of course, I'm usually at least 3 glasses of scotch in by the time I post, so perhaps that gives me a handicap. Anyhow, your point of view seems to reject evolutionary psychology. Is that a correct assumption on my part? I submit as the basis of that assumption your belief that the sexual dimorphism of humans is limited to things like muscle mass and menstruation, and not anything psychological. If you accept, rather than reject, that reproductive strategies and instincts color the behaviors of any given human, then there is more leeway for significant sex differences.
  7. Did you read Mistborn? I don't know how to do spoiler tags and I don't want to risk anything, but I'm not sure I agree.
  8. Nynaeve and Mat are actually very similar characters too, when you think about it. It is therefore interesting that they went from annoying to fan favorites. Although Mat was much more abrupt. He went from childish and pointless --> an annoying crazy jerk burden on poor Rand --> freaking bamf Odin Son of Battles Guy in pretty abrupt shifts. Until his healing he was really lousy, but then he woke up and and immediately was an awesome PoV ("Play the angles like da said") and also immediately beat up these two awful princes. Was that the first POV we had of him? I think it was. I don't think were in his head pre-healing.
  9. Not necessarily. An alternative is to come up with a magic system that is comparable with interesting combat, if you insist on having combat and armed conflict be important. The Recluce (sic) series, just of the top of my head, plausibly integrates the magic with traditional and (according to your theory) fan demanded medieval style warfare. Sanderson does this well too I think. There are plenty of other examples, I'm sure. Of course, there is a middle path, but there is a large difference between trying SOMEWHAT to make the magic users act in sensible ways, but cutting corners or leaving out some logical extremes for the purpose of solid storytelling (arguably WoT, definitely Feist, Zelazny, Jim Butcher) and utterly abandoning the field (Rowling, whoever rights Dr. Strange, any DnD novel, etc.). I think it is actually much harder in Sci-Fi than fantasy though, because you can't quite "make up the rules" to the same extent. One of the many reasons good Sci-Fi is much, much harder to write than Fantasy.
  10. Emu, you reminded me of how stupid the magic users in Harry Potter are. At least in Randland there are some restrictions, complexity = difficulty, and people occasionally use magic sensibly. Voldemorte just keeps shooting his wand-lazers at rocks that Harry is hiding behind though. He continues to do this even though he knows a) that spell didn't work when Harry was a baby and might not work now, b) their wands interact in weird ways. YOU CAN TURN TEACUPS INTO BIRDS, HOWS ABOUT YOU TURN THE GROUND UNDER HIM TO LAVA? This is what comes of an education system that only teaches people how to perform magic, instead of any science, history, literature, or any other academic pursuit. For that matter, why didn't the death eaters just turn all the oxygen in the room to nitrogen when battling other wizards after casting a "I can breathe nitrogen now" charm? I hate that series.
  11. I think Jordan's explanation for thermodynamics not being violated probably relied on the fact that the OP and channelers work like a river and waterwheel. Technically, the speed of the river is reduced by the waterwheel siphoning off energy. However, since the OP is an almost infinitely vast river, there wouldn't be any noticeable effect. That said, for all practical (not metaphysical) purposes, you can create mechanical energy for free with the OP. Probably why the AoL was so neat--free clean energy for everyone! Yay! Creating a perpetual motion machine would be trivial with the OP. And no, creating a fireball isn't gathering all the ambient heat in an area and concentrating it. That isn't how fire works, for one thing (you would just get really hot air). In RJ's world, for some silly reason, the rapid oxidation of carbon is one of the primal forces of the universe (as is H2O for some also silly reason), and it certainly seems like channelers are able to covert mystical universe driving river energy into fireballs that burn without fuel. That said, I think it's cute that he has an eternally recurring cyclical universe with a God figure and still for some reason cares about one of the laws of thermodynamics. What about entropy buddy?
  12. Perhaps there is a weave that lets your dreamwalk. The ter'angreal that let you do it obviously use the power, after all. However they have always been mysterious to me. Can anything that is done with a ter'angreal be done directly with the power? How exactly do the elements combine to make portals through spacetime or to the memories of the past and future anyhow? Why doesn't RJ have a more fleshed out magic system? We will probably never know the answers do these questions.
  13. I think part of the reason Rand is behaving somewhat oddly is that he is still discovering and coming to terms with who exactly he is now. He makes that remark "I thought I was beyond such anger now, but I guess I have to be angry sometimes too" after A Storm of Light (paraphrased). Indicates that he has found a new peace, but isn't sure exactly how to feel about it/what balance to strike. He also seems a bit...giddy, which I think is totally fair. I mean he was in horrible agony and madness and despair, and then he was suddenly healed and found hope. He can see without madness for the first time in years (?), has hope, doesn't have LTT screaming at him, and is finally not furious all the time. I think after an emotional experience like that, you would both laugh and cry a little more easily for a while until you regained some emotional composure--hence the Tam scene. He doesn't have his barriers anymore so he needs a little time and space before his head is entirely on straight. All this is without even considering the LTT memories. Re: Sanche questioning, I think that made sense along similar lines. He is letting himself feel things again, and he is understandably interested in what HIS OWN reaction would be to seeing Egwene as Amyrlin when he wasn't in a crazed rage void. I think his new mental state and merger with LTT is a puzzle to him, which is part of the reason he spends so much time meditating on a cloud. I think the final Rand outcome will be something like how he was with Egwene really. I thought that scene read quite plausibly for him. He comes in, is curious about Egwene b/c she was a childhood friend, is a little sad at the distance between them (and at using her) but he manipulates her into gathering the world's armies. He does so somewhat formally, but also playfully (his bow and smile after she yells at him for turning his back). As mentioned, he has become very much the noble and philosopher and, well, king. In addition to Moiraine schooling, he has spent most of the series out-smarting people at court and at war and trying to puzzle out the prophesies (with some success). He also founded the first universities in this age. Between that and LTT personality seepage, he was already pretty formal and scholarly--look at how Dark Rand (embarrassingly) treats Tam when he first meets him (before he freaks). Very formal. Now he is still somewhat formal and philosophical, like he always was, he just isn't a huge dick who is brimming with rage all the time, so he is a little more playful and compassionate like how he used to be as a kid in the TR. Felt right to me.
  14. Actually, he might have an insanity defense. The test for insanity varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but a common one holds that a defendant is not guilty if he had a mental disease or defect that caused him to be unable to control his actions or conform his conduct to the law. Perrin has a good case for that, if you count being possessed by wolves a mental disease or defect. I would, because what we are really getting at with that definition is the identifying people who do not have normally functioning brains, around which the laws and expectations of society are designed.
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