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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Joshua Hendrickson

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Everything posted by Joshua Hendrickson

  1. The first time I notice Rand directly accessing LTT's memories is in chapter 2 of TFOH. The references to Can Breat and the image of Ilyena are open and obvious and take him aback. However, while Rand spends a great deal of time worrying about going mad (almost as much time as Mat spends fearing that Rand is already insane--he's kind of a jerk about it, I think; it's one of the reasons I don't like Mat much), there is one incident in TDR that really sticks out for me. It's the brief scene where Rand encounters a woman and her entourage, and without warning and seemingly without cause, he just up and beheads her and slaughters the others, then makes their bodies kneel to him. It's not even suggested that the woman was a Darkfriend, even though Rand obviously thought she was. Rand makes the first move. It is such a freaky scene, and although I understand that Rand is at a particularly paranoid time of his life then, alone and hunted by Darkhounds, this is still the one truly insane action he takes (that I can recall). I know that it haunts him--I think it's the main reason he's reluctant to kill female Forsaken or risk the Maidens--but as a moment in his life it seems particularly bizarre and isolated. Really, what was that all about?
  2. This is not so much off topic as tangential to it, but I've been wanting to say this for some time now, and here seems like the best place to do it. The issue of ta'veren is obviously important in the grand scheme of Jordan's world. However, as a plot device, it strikes me all too often as an excuse for coincidence. Also, it doesn't seem to be limited to Rand, Mat, and Perrin. Frankly, Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne--and sometimes Min and many others--seem to be unacknowledged ta'veren, given how often events just seem to fall into place around them. I suppose one could say that Rand's ta'veren effect touches them in particular even at a distance, but that just confirms for me that the whole concept is Jordan's way of tying everything together into a neat package. Jordan once said something that was very interesting to me as a fellow writer, to the effect that the characters in WOT behave always exactly as he wants them to, that he is God of his world. Okay, fine--that's certainly one way of going about the act of creating fiction. But I know from my own experience, and from the confessions of many other novelists, that his kind of iron control isn't common, and is rarely the best strategy. Characters in fiction have a tendency to come into their own life, to make their own decisions, as it were. Yes, writers are the Gods of their worlds, but unless we offer our creations some degree of "free will," we risk our creation ending up dead on the page. Jordan's rigid control, I think, is what causes the series in its second half to descend into tedium--he worked too hard to match all of his disparate elements up into his grand scheme, rather than letting it take its own shape organically. In short, for all its many virtues, WOT is at heart more a contrivance than a dream. I wonder how much of his original conception of WOT came from his own subconscious, or surprised him. I suspect very little.
  3. More annoying things: [Paragraph deleted. Read our code of conduct]4 One more thing: mysteries that just don't matter much. I have only read up through Knife of Dreams, so I don't know as much as everyone else here does. Maybe Demandred's secret identity has been revealed, or maybe not. But to go by the discussion here, it would seem that Jordan/Sanderson admit that Demandred's secret identity doesn't even appear "on screen" until at least TGS. If that is the case, then what the hell good is the mystery? If there aren't any clues to be gleaned, then a mystery cannot be solved, and the ultimate revelation is meaningless. Same with Mesaana: I gather her secret identity has been revealed by now, but the only clue I remember--something about a fringe on her dress?--doesn't seem to be planted anywhere else for an observant reader to notice. (Maybe I'm wrong about that.) The problem with these clueless mysteries is the lack of suspense. Real suspense is when we readers know something that the characters don't. There just isn't enough of this in WOT. I'll give an example of suspense done well: in Gene Wolfe's four-volume series THE BOOK OF THE LONG SUN, an important character is revealed, halfway through, to the reader alone and in a subtle fashion, to be an alien invader disguised as human. We then get to spend the rest of the series watching this disguised alien interact with other characters without any of them having a clue, but we live in dread for them because this character is so smart and charming and almost entirely unsuspicious--though we get hints of nefarious doings which we alone can recognize. When his evil alien nature is finally revealed to everyone, near the very end of the story, it is done in a manner which completely changes the game for everyone, and sets us up for the major themes of the story's sequel, THE BOOK OF THE SHORT SUN. That's how it's done, people. Imagine, say, that Demandred is Mazrim Taim. Yes yes, I know, Jordan/Sanderson and others have ruled him out as a possibility, but just for the sake of argument: imagine that we readers discovered this, say during the course of LORD OF CHAOS, but the secret was kept from Rand and the others. Now that would create a terrible sense of suspense, us knowing that a Forsaken was leading the Ashaman! Mesaana in the White Tower should be suspenseful, but since we don't know which one she is, it is just another meaningless mystery to stretch out over hundreds of pages. All too often in WOT, when Jordan does shoot for a variety of this suspense, we are treated to mysterious characters that seem obvious to us and who should be obvious to our heroes--take Lord Luc being Slayer, for example. Luc is so obviously a villain in disguise that there is no suspense at all--we know damned well he's up to no good, and Perrin seems almost dumb in the way he hates and distrusts Luc and yet is surprised when he learns that Luc is Slayer. Sometimes, Jordan gets it right: Egeanin befriending Nynaeve and Elayne is a good example, and the moment when Domon reveals that Egeanin "do be Seanchan!" is a terrific and memorable one just because we've been waiting in suspense for that revelation to come, and to see how the Supergirls react to it. Okay, rant over. I like WOT, but it's good to get these things off my chest. Over the course of thousands of pages, irritations do tend to build up a head of steam.
  4. Comment on Moghedien: In THE WORLD OF ROBERT JORDAN'S WHEEL OF TIME, it is stated that Moghedien used to be an investments advisor, an occupation which remains mysterious to contemporary historians. LOL! Moghedien, a Wall Street type! That's so perfect for the Forsaken who never takes risks unless she is certain of the outcome. Businessmen are notorious for wussing out when market conditions are "uncertain"--as if life is ever certain, the big babies. Not to mention their corrupt habit of rigging the game so that their risks pay out for them when they win, and the losses are absorbed by others when they don't. Again, laughing out loud!
  5. The things I love most about fantasy novels are the maps. I thrilled to THE HOBBIT'S map of Wilderland when I was a kid. I own the old Atlas of Middle Earth and the Atlas of the Land (and would love to see an Atlas of WOT). I am writing my own fantasy novel, and I've lost count of how many times I have happily drawn and revised the maps for my Rydlorypt. The single best thing about THE WORLD OF ROBERT JORDAN'S WHEEL OF TIME is that map of the global world, complete with scale grid (although, since it isn't on a Mercator projection, it has some pretty severe problems, including polar regions that are apparently 25,000 miles wide!). What I am wondering is this: did Jordan ever give any specific information about the geography of the world After the Breaking in comparison to the world Before the Breaking? If he didn't, then what are the best-informed theories out there? Is Seanchan a severely cracked North and South America, or is it a flooded Eastasia and a risen Indonesia? Is the Main Continent a broken North America, or is it an Asia with Africa and Europe under the waves? I recall reading once that Shayol Ghul used to be an island in a warm sea--could that have been Iceland, in an AOL post global-warming? The vastness of the Aryth Ocean strikes me as a misleading clue, since Western Seanchan and Shara seem to be separated by, at best, a couple thousand miles of the Morenal Ocean. So who knows? I'm eager to hear any and all theories and/or Jordan-supported facts.
  6. One of his best for sure. I'm glad that some other people on here read Banks, the guy's created an amazing sci-fi universe. Have you read his latest release, Surface Detail? I would put it up as his second best book, behind PoG. Compelling story, some awesome scenes with Culture warships, and it actually's got some nice philosophy in it. I read Banks's novel FEERSUM ENDJINN many years ago. I liked the world he created in it, but looking back, I can scarcely believe I got through it. The phonetic spelling used in half of the book was really off-putting. Someday I imagine I'll tackle his "Culture" novels. Thanks for the warning about JOHNATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL. I like novels that aren't light reading (and the last book on my list, Wyndham Lewis's THE CHILDERMASS, is by reputation extremely heavy reading), and I'm really looking forward to it.
  7. Apples and oranges. I like both WOT and ASOIAF for their individual qualities. They aren't really that much alike. Speaking as a writer currently working on my own epic fantasy, which is definitely nothing like either WOT or ASOIAF, this kind of comparative nitpicking amongst readers is a bit saddening. Should I one day have fans of my own work, I would hope that they would not compare my TO DEFY THE WALL to WOT or ASOIAF or THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN or GORMENGHAST or THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Individual novels from individual writers working from individual visions for individual purposes--that's what it comes down to. Besides, as the great graphic novelist Alan Moore has said, "All stories are true." Yes, they are. And apples and oranges both taste good.
  8. Which Death? Terry Pratchett's or Neil Gaiman's? Or maybe some other Death character?
  9. Right now I'm rereading WOT for the 5th time. I'm in the middle of TSR right now. Over the last year I read Milton's PARADISE LOST, Bronte's WUTHERING HEIGHTS and Waugh's A HANDFUL OF DUST. Also LORD VALENTINE'S CASTLE by Robert Silverberg. Amongst graphic novels, I read PREACHER by Garth Ennis, LOST GIRLS by Alan Moore, and ZOT! by Scott McCloud. Some literary criticism from David Denby and James Wood, including THE WESTERN CANON and JESUS AND YAHWEH by Harold Bloom. Biggest of all these reading projects was my umpteenth reread of Gene Wolfe's SUN books, twelve volumes in all. Although I intend to keep up with WOT until I catch up with everyone else (I've only read through KOD, though I have TGS and TOM waiting on my bookshelf), other books on my shortlist of novels-to-read include JOHNATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL by Susannah Clarke, I CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves, and THE CHILDERMASS by Wyndham Lewis.
  10. So why do so many people hate Faile so much? (I think Perrin's quest to rescue Faile from the Shaido is dragged out much too long and gets very dull, but that's not the same thing as hating her character.) The love between Perrin and Faile is strong and genuine. Yes, she acts like a jerk to Perrin during the early chapters of TSR, but that is because Perrin is wrong: wrong in his stupid stoic a-man's-gotta-do-etc. attitude, and wrong in his "strategy"--giving himself up to the Whitecloaks is morally indefensible. You have to stand up against self-righteous monsters like the Whitecloaks, or anyone who believes not only that they are absolutely right, but that anyone who doesn't join them is absolutely wrong. Faile's behavior isn't pleasant, but she is right. Ain't love grand? Anyway, I just reread the scene in TSR where Faile breaks through Perrin's stoic front and gets him to bawl like a baby, grieving for his parents. In some ways, this is the single most moving scene in all of WOT, not only because of the tenderness that Faile shows and the vulnerability that Perrin reveals, but because here is real loss, the actual deaths of people that a main character cares about. The near total lack of such loss in WOT is one of its gravest flaws, but RJ begins (barely) to atone for that lack with this scene. This is my fifth or so reading of WOT, and my old judgment stands: TSR is the best volume in the series by far.
  11. Semirhage is my favorite. She just creeps me out the most, in the way that present-day serial killers creep me out. Also, I like that she was a cruel secret sadist long before she ever swore oaths to the Dark One, even before the drilling of the Bore--proof that evil is not really external to mankind, as fantasies like WOT frequently suggest. Her evil seems purest somehow of all the Forsaken, and all the worse for being so often quiet and calm. Asmodean is my next favorite. He had depth and variation that I don't see in the other Forsaken. Also, as an artist turned evil turned reluctant instructor, he's easy to identify with, for me if not for everyone. I really wish Asmodean had not been killed after one bare volume's worth of action (and the twitting secrecy of his killer's identity irks me still as really unnecessary). He could have become the most interesting of the Forsaken by far. As the Mad Scientist of the Forsaken, Aginor really fascinates me, but he was killed off too quickly, and I don't like Osan'gar (or Aran'gar or Cyndane or Moridin for that matter--the whole plot device of the Dark One resurrecting dead Chosen long after their usefulness has been extinguished along with their lives, well, it annoys the hell out of me, and I consider it one of WOT's greatest flaws). Ishamael was a great and spooky threat during the first three books, and his scene at the very beginning of TEOTW was classic, an excellent taste of things to come. Also, his status as the one Forsaken who was never (or only partially) bound is fascinating. However, three epic duels with Rand were a bit too much. Also, I know he was more than a little insane, but the way he kept cackling "Fool!" was just too old-fashioned and rather silly. Lanfear, for all her secretiveness and craftiness, was even in her early scenes as Selene in TGH always a bit too unsubtle to be very effective as a character, I thought. Despite that, her single-mindedness about desiring LTT was a strong trait, and her death at the hands of Moiraine was one of the most satisfying climaxes in all of WOT. Demandred is pretty interesting in his mysteriousness. Despite what others on this forum say, I still wonder if he is Mazrim Taim. Moghedien had a striking first appearance and an interesting run as the collared slave of the Supergirls, but after the mindtrap thingy I start not to care. Graendal, Mesaana, Rahvin, Be'lal, Sammael, and Balthamel (despite his freaky first appearance and fantastic death at the hands of Someshta) all feel like filler to me, especially Be'lal.
  12. I wish I could help you. I own crummy falling-apart paperback copies of most of the books, but I can't spare the money it would take to send them to you in the mail. However, I would really like to encourage you to write your book all the way to the end no matter how dull or bad it turns out to be. If you have the urge to become a novelist, give it a whirl. I wrote my first novel (800+ pages) when I was your age, and wrote several more novels before I turned 20. They all sucked--some more than others--but they gave me the practice I needed to become a serious writer. I'm in my early 40s now, and I'm still not published, but I know that the work I'm doing now is serious and professional, and only a couple of drafts away from being worthy of publication. Don't give up!
  13. I just finished rereading chapter 26 of TSR, one of the most important events in all of WOT. I can't believe I never noticed this before, and I can't think of anyone else bringing it up, though probably some have. (It might go under the heading of The Big Unnoticed Thing, which I hear has something to do with Mat's spear, though I don't know what, and at any rate I have only read up as far as KOD so I don't know what is revealed or what happens past that point.) My realization is this: Mat is a variation on the myth of Odin, from Norse mythology. First there's the hanging from Avendesora, which is reminiscent of Odin's experience (and which was probably originally drawn from northern cultural adaptations of early Christian crucifixion stories). Second, there's the fact that Mat is supposed to lose an eye at some point (which may have happened in TGS or TOM; I don't know); Odin sacrifices an eye to gain wisdom. Mat's broad-brimmed hat is similar to Odin's. But most of all, and what struck me so hard upon this rereading, is the inscription on Mat's spear. The writing is framed by two ravens, and references thought and memory--and Mat says of the (Aelfinn? or Eelfinn? I don't recall which ones the Fox folk are) "I'll give them 'thought and memory'". Odin is accompanied by two ravens, Hugin and Munin, which are Thought and Memory. I can't believe I'm the first to notice this, so I'd love to hear others weigh in on the subject. Jordan's weaving of many strands of myth and history just gets more impressive to me the more I read WOT. It's that, more than anything else, I think, which makes WOT great, and which helps to outweigh the series' many flaws.
  14. "Ghoetam, sitting beneath Avendesora for forty years to gain wisdom." Ghoetam = Gotama Buddha
  15. From there, there is nothing at all odd--why shouldn't Faile comment on Myrdraal being involved with something going on in Illian--and with a farmboy blacksmith at that? As for her referring to them as Fetches, Lan himself has used the various colloquial terms for Myrdraal. Fade, Halfman, Lurk, Eyeless, Fetches--all mean Myrdraal. If Lan, the ultimate Borderlander, casually uses these terms, why would it be odd for Faile to? There is no mistake there. Alright, I defer to your greater knowledge (as an administrator, you surely spend much more time considering and studying WOT than I ever will). It is not a mistake. But to me it surely sounded out of character for a borderlander.
  16. I feel like Comic Book Guy just for introducing this topic, but it's probably not the first of its kind in this forum. There are mistakes (not typos) that I've seen in reading TDR and TSR. A minor one is in TSR, Chapter 8, when Elayne is said to release saidin, rather than saidar. So Jordan goofed the two forms of the One Power--it's not the only time he did that, I'm sure. A more careless one is also in TSR, in Chapter 16, where Loial talks about running into another Ogier in Tear, by name of Laefar. He refers to him by this name twice. Then, a couple of pages later, he refers to the same character as Faelar. Jordan transposed the consonants--not a common mistake for him, but one that happens when (I speak as a writer here rather than as a fan) a writer loses himself in an overabundance of minor details. Careless, but not a big deal. However, less forgivable is a moment in TDR where, having encountered the Darkhounds in Illian, Faile says of Old Grim and the Wild Hunt that she thought that was just a story, and worries about "Fetches." Faile is Saldaean, a borderlander, and the daughter of Davram Bashere. There is no way she would have anything other than a full working knowledge of Shadowspawn, growing up that close to the Blight. Elsewhere, of course, she boasts of her upbringing, but at that moment Jordan essentially forgot who she was and where she comes from. That, I fear, is just inexcusable--he knows his own world better than that. Any other examples readers have noticed?
  17. I read The Shadow of the Torturer. It didn't excite me enough to continue on to Claw. Nothing really happened plot-wise. And the writings was just too hard for me to get into. It's one of the draw-backs of the first-person POV. It can lead to being dragged from the scene. Children. Sewers. I thought that was obvious actually. Sorry you didn't care for SHADOW OF THE TORTURER. Wolfe uses the first-person perspective almost exclusively, but for me it draws me in--seeing the world from the point of view of someone who presumes the reader knows as much as the narrator makes the world at once more vivid and more cryptic to me. It can be difficult, though. I agree that THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN is not a plot-driven novel, but then, I am not always terribly keen on plot-heavy novels. Detail, subtlety of presentation, and inner-character development matter a great deal to me, while connecting all actions and motives matter less. As for IT, you refer to the children in the sewers. I presume you mean the act of sexual magic the children commit in order to escape. I thought that might be the scene. It's not for everyone, sure, but to me, it is the single boldest scene King has ever written, and is by no means pornographic (or pedophiliac) or even erotic. Rather, it gets to the heart of magic, which is, as King made clear in the novel's dedication, what IT is all about. I think it is brilliant and moving. But that it can offend many people doesn't surprise me--that's the risk with moving into such bold, dangerous territory.
  18. I recall Egwene's child in the World of the Test-For-Accepted-Terangreal was named Joiya, which of course was also the name of one of the Black Ajah. Also, I can recall the name Bili being used for at least three different people, two of whom were minor characters and one being the name of the character in the children's story "Bili Under the Hill."
  19. I wont read him after reading Thomas Covenant rape a girl. Same reason I wont read King after the disgusting scene scene in It. I recommend Gene Wolfe's THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN, followed by THE BOOK OF THE LONG SUN and THE BOOK OF THE SHORT SUN. Or if you want something more strictly fantasy in the sword-and-sorcery mode, try Wolfe's THE KNIGHT and THE WIZARD, a terrific two-volume novel. I am curious--what was the "disgusting scene" in IT that bothered you so? I mean no criticism of your tastes. It's just that IT is my favorite novel of all time. In your posting, you repeated the word "scene" so that the actual scene in question was totally unidentified. I really am curious--what was the scene? (I have an idea, possibly ... but I won't reveal it until you answer me, if you choose to do so.)
  20. I do admire RJ's skill at creating and adapting curses from different cultures; they're fun. I do think, though, that they were conceived of originally with a purpose in mind--that of keeping the books safe for the kiddies. Same goes for the kid-gloves handling of sex and sexuality.
  21. Probably a mistake, but as far as I know, THE WORLD OF ROBERT JORDAN'S THE WHEEL OF TIME hasn't been updated since it was first published, around the time of ACOS, years before COT came out, so don't blame RJ and Teresa Patterson.
  22. Wow, Vambram, we agree! I too thought the ending of THE DARK TOWER was most appropriate, and I was the only one of my friends who'd read it who thought so. Given what Roland Deschain really was, it was the only ending he could honestly expect, if he had only had the imagination to think it through--which, of course, he didn't. It was beautiful, poetic justice.
  23. BERELAIN. She seems to exist just to give other women a hussy to hate. She serves no useful purpose in Perrin's storyline. SEVANNA. And all of the Shaido. Sure, the story can use evil Aiel, but there's no earthly reason why anyone should put up with her at all. And there always seems to be at least ten times more Shaido than any other Aiel clan, no matter what numbers are actually claimed. GALAD. The worst kind of Christian ... ahem! I mean Whitecloak. A beautiful, sincere goody-goody who can outduel anyone else. Except as an example of a good man who is genuinely hateful, I fail to see what point he serves in the story. MORIDIN, CYNDANE, ARANGAR, OSANGAR. And any other dead Forsaken whom the Dark One brings back into the story long after their usefulness has been extinguished along with their lives. The introduction of Moridin is the point in WOT where I started to lose patience with Jordan's pacing and plotting. He really should have stuck with using the surviving Forsaken alone.
  24. Your opinion is valid, and quite a few people share it--and it's not as harsh as, say, Harold Bloom's opinion of King. I do not share your opinion, and it seems to me that consensus (for all that matters, if at all) holds that King's chief quality is as a storyteller. What I wonder is how, when you deride his "plots, characters, settings, and themes" as "quite pathetic," you can also claim that "as an author in the literary perspective he is quite talented"--all in the same breath. Are you saying that his prose style (which King himself has dismissed as "the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries") is first-rate, but his subjects aren't worth writing about? Just not sure how you get there. For myself, I like King a lot--in fact, IT is probably my favorite novel of all time--certainly not the best one I've read, but my favorite all the same, for personal reasons. I don't think his characters, settings, plots, etc. are always particularly original, though his themes can get surprisingly deep, and his stories are involving. I just think your assessment of King sounds ass-backwards. My opinion. And I don't think I'm too harsh.
  25. Cerebus, from Dave Sim's great graphic novel CEREBUS. He's an Aardvark (don't ask--it's both very simple and very complicated), but he has quite a resume of occupations over his life: Sorcerer's Apprentice, Barbarian, Kitchen Staff Supervisor/Security Chief, Diplomat, Prime Minister, Memoirist, Accidental Husband, Prime Minister again, Pope, Rapist/Husband For a Few Minutes, Chosen One Who Ascends to the Moon, House Guest, Fugitive, Chosen One Who Ascends Through the Solar System and Ends Up On Pluto, Barfly, Bartender, Divine Inspiration to an Unstable Prophet, Fanboy of a Suicidal Writer, Sheepherder, Star Athlete, Messiah to Three Crazy Disciples, World Ruler, Husband Yet Again, and finally Doddering Old Father of an Evil Son. That's Cerebus. Check him out sometime. Hey, his story is only 6000 pages long.
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