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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

GenPender

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    Give them the bayonet
  1. Very good posts by Paul and Rhienne, though I won't quote or elaborate on them here, I agree with almost every word. A couple of things I'd add. Likes 1. Mood- While derivative of Tolkien, at times heavily so, the mood, setting, and introductory chapters of EotW made the series very engaging and gave me the feel that I was stepping into a familiar world. The opening scenes do a tremendous job of setting the stage and introducing key elements for the rest of the series--Aes Sedai, the Dragon, Manetheren--without being overly exposition-y and while keeping me engaged the entire time. The EotW Prologue through the crossing of Taren Ferry are among my favorite multi-chapter spans in the entire series. 2. Character development- Have to disagree with the OP here. I won't go into a whole lot of examples here, but seeing Mat and Nynaeve turn from very dislikable characters in the first book or two to arguably my favorites by the middle of the series is quite gratifying on re-reads. Dislikes 1. Foreshadowing- I agree with the others that this is a strength of the series, but at times, it's overused, and saps the drama from later scenes. The Tower of Ghenjei rescue is a primary culprit, as it had been foreshadowed, and so obviously so, for so long that the actual rescue seemed like a let-down. 2. Interpersonal relationships- Most egregiously, romantic relationships. The sizable majority of the romantic relationships felt flat and hollow, and developed simply because "This character needs to be with that character." Perrin and Faile are constantly fighting, and then suddenly when she gets trapped by the hedgehog, it's "If I don't find the Falcon, I don't care [if I die]!" Egwene and Gawyn barely exchange two words on-screen, and she's clearly more taken with Galad than with him, yet when she gets sucked into his dream, it's because "Their love is so great it leaves no room for nothing else." Please. 3. The last book- To build on Rhienne's last point (even after I said I wouldn't.) It was all doing, and no feeling. I don't care about who fought where, or when the flank almost collapsed, or where the counter-attack needed to be made, I wanted to spend time with the characters that I'd gotten to know and love over 15 years of reading, and think what they thought and feel what they felt, and see how they would grow and change after losing so many friends and going through the greatest ordeal of their lifetimes. Instead, we got plenty of the former and none of the latter, and I will always, rightly or wrongly, feel a little bit cheated because of it.
  2. Agreed. It seemed like the plan was, "We're going to send a huge force to quickly wipe out the Caemlyn Trolloc army, use blocking forces to pin the other armies in place, then concentrate against them in turn and destroy them." I don't know why you would need to set up blocking forces when you can travel instantaneously, or why your first focus would be the enemy in Caemlyn, as they're either pinned down already by needing to occupy the city, or will weaken themselves considerably when they leave it, but let's set that aside for right now. It is--on the surface, once those flaws are overlooked--a decent enough plan. But then what do they do? Send their absolute weakest force to Caemlyn, with no significant force of channelers, and then proceed to fight them by demonstrating in front of the city and then drawing them on a long-drawn out chase that (IIRC) goes on for over 100 miles before forcing an engagement. Hello! Was anyone actually paying attention at that meeting? This is the exact opposite of what everyone agreed they were going to do. The plan itself wasn't perfect, but the execution was wretched beyond belief. Easily one of the more frustrating parts of a very frustrating book for me.
  3. Well, in driving him to Dragonmount, yes, to an extent. However, what I meant (and probably didn't articulate very well) was the actual decision-making process/internal monologue that Rand experienced at that point. As I recall, he thought over a couple of things Tam had said, asked himself "Why do I fight?" and then landed on the "So we can love again" thing without a whole lot of additional reasoning. While I thought VoG was a good scene, it didn't resonate quite as much for me as it could have because the "love" theory was couched in general terms rather than those specific to the WoT and Rand's experience. I think if he had reflected on why other people he knew fought, and pulled up examples of the other characters acting out of love, it would have been more effective. Nynaeve, thanks to both her character and proximity to Rand, would have provided a nice source for such reflections. There's one instance in TGS (I believe) in which he tells her something to the effect of, "Thank you for caring for my people," which would have been a nice starting point, but it's never brought up again (again, as I recall). I think if she had engaged in more of that throughout her time with Rand and pushed him harder to do the same, it could have been tied in on Dragonmount and given her more of a purpose over the course of that arc.
  4. Good original post. I've noted a similar trend, although not specifically with regard to Nynaeve, on past threads. In those posts, I've argued that RJ's Cast of Thousands was a strength of the series that allowed for a lot of depth and interesting crossover encounters, it always hampered his ability to give all (or even the primary) characters fulfilling story arcs throughout the series. Nynaeve is a very good example. Throughout the first half of the series, she's undoubtedly a central character, co-hosting, if not leading (and I would argue she was the dominant personality over Elayne) the girls' arcs in TGH and TDR, and then Tanchico and the Bowl. Somewhere around Book 9, however, she loses her agency. It's not that being wtih Rand is a bad thing--on the contrary, I think their interactions are some of the strongest in the second half of the series. The problem is that she doesn't do enough in that role. Had she played an integral part in pushing him to the Veins of Gold resolution, it would have been worthwhile. Instead, that was accomplished by Rand, pretty much by himself, without her. Given the love Nynaeve consistently demonstrated (if in her own way) for the Emond's Fielders, she could have been set up as an effective foil for Darth Rand over those few books. Instead, she was reduced to his adjutant. Is it one of the biggest problems in the series? No, but there was a lot of wasted potential there.
  5. Voted TFOH simply because I like Mat's gratification (slightly) better than Perrin's, but those two are very close. Like several others who have posted, however, I like to view the books as a series of arcs and rank them that way. TEotW, TGH, TDR- These books, obviously have a very Tolkien-esque feel and are woven together by the recurring Ishamael battles and Rand's struggle with his identity. Focus is on world-building, and, despite the various awful things that happen to the characters, they have a peaceful, innocent feel to them. Battles are written on the sky or fought by legends, all the mishaps are healed or corrected (Mat and the dagger, Egwene and the Seanchan), and there's a charm to the storytelling that instantly established a sense that something special was happening here. I rank this arc second, with a huge gap between it and third place. TSR, TFoH, LoC- Here's where the story begins to lose its innocence. That's driven home most bluntly (IMO) in the scene where Perrin is returning to Emond's Field after being ambushed by the Trollocs, and the villagers are calling for their missing loved ones. Death and bloodshed are now a part of the series--whether at Dumai's Wells, Cairhien, or the Two Rivers--and all those people aren't going to die redemptive deaths like Ingtar's Last Stand. Tragedies now leave scars: Perrin's family, Mat's hanging, and Rand's growing insanity from the box. This arc is the clear #1 choice. ACOS- I put this one by itself because it doesn't seem to fit with either the preceding or following, and strikes me, while still a good book, as RJ's first real misstep. While, unlike in CoT, a fair amount is accomplished, it doesn't tie in with the previous arcs and doesn't lead into new ones. Memory may fail me here, but Rand's behavior seems better fitted to pre-LOC Rand rather than the one who's about to enter the downward spiral of PoD. The Bowl of the Winds always seemed like something for Nynaeve and Elayne to do, rather than being a character-driven necessity. And Egwene, well I don't remember her accomplishing a whole lot here. A good book in a vacuum, on reflection, I'm not sure how well it fits with the rest of the series. PoD, WH, CoT- Two factors combine to make this the most-hated arc in the series, the common complaint over not enough happening, but also the increasingly darker tone of the series. And the latter is where I think RJ made his biggest mistake of the series--he took all the joy out of it. Many of the victories are fractured or incomplete--Rand vs. the Seanchan, Rand vs. the Asha'man, Perrin vs. the prophet--and even those that are fulfilling are marred by tragedy or give the characters little to no time for celebration. Contrast the cleansing with the Battle of Emond's Field, or even Dumai's Wells. At Emond's, many people have died, but Perrin sees Faile again, sends off the Whitecloaks, and even gets to meet a cousin of his when he thought his family was lost. Very moving and touching. At Dumai's, there's no celebration after, but the moment he breaks out of the box and thinks, "I'm the Lord of the Morning," you feel the triumph and vindication, as well as get to share in a "Wrath of An Angry God" moment. At the cleansing, Rand and Nynaeve are unconscious, the Aes Sedai are weeping over their dead, and Cads isn't even sure the Source is clean. The reader does, and gets the accompanying thrill of satisfaction, but not being able to share it with the characters robs the moment of a good portion of its emotional heft. This arc ranks last, by a long shot, among the RJ material. KoD- Another one that stands alone. KoD finally breaks through the drudgery and wraps up ton of story lines, and no doubt (again, IMO) would have been the strong lead-in to the race to the finish line had RJ survived. Alas, that was not in the cards, and the jarring tone and (at times) character portrayal of TGS precludes this from being grouped with it. A great book, but destined always to be a what-if. TGS, ToM, AMoL- I have little complimentary to say about Sanderson's style, and will pass on offering a critique. Suffice it to say that TGS and ToM did an adequate job of bringing the series to a head, but the wretched abomination that was AMoL all but ruined the story for me. I may at some point pick up the series for yet another re-read (which would be approximately my 15th), but it would take something remarkable for the pages of these last three will ever see the light of day again.
  6. This is a good point. With respect to Bela, all I meant was that we've seen this character (yes, I get it, she's just a horse...) do inexplicable things and, tongue in cheek as it is, there were at least some hints that Bela wasn't just some ordinary horse. She's been a source of centering for the Two Rivers folk and the silent guardian during many points of the story. Even if RJ's notes say "Bela dies," why are we left with the image of her in a cookpot, Trollocs and others gnawing on her bones. What other image would we have after 300 pages of disgusting unrestrained violence? Even if RJ intended for Bela to die, there's no reason for Brandon to leave it at that. An arrow in the flank and that's it, Trolloc food. Nothing else. For all of the themes of hope and strength of soul through rebirth, this character's death certainly fell short. Instead, we get Rand riding away smoking a pipe. And I get that it's TG. Characters will die and we'll be sad. But that's no reason why those characters shouldn't get the proper respect they've earned over the past 20 years. It's not the EVENTS, it's the way they were conveyed to us. I'm sad Bela died and I wish she would have lived to enjoy beautiful meadows of the 4th age in all of her super-horse glory, but I'm even sadder that the way her death was communicated to us didn't rise above the violence porn that Brandon disturbingly and inappropriately used throughout the book. Finally got caught up on this thread. An excellent post (one of many made over the past week or so, particularly those by batcaver). Other posters have pointed out the excellent--quick, yet moving--way RJ handled Nalesean's death. One line, yet written in a far more subtle and touching manner than anything in AMoL. I would further submit Ingtar (with Rand giving him the Shienaran benediction and Hurin gasping right before the group runs off) and Hopwil/Kimura (sp?) (Daigian weeping while holding the former's body, Verin and the AM woman praying over the latter's) after the Cleansing as others. For all RJ's flaws as a writer, they demonstrate a deft touch and aptitude that Sanderson simply doesn't possess. No, you can't have your characters dropping everything in the middle of the battle to mourn. But if, on hearing of Egwene's death, Mat had exhaled deeply, swayed over his ashandarei as if on the verge of collapse, and had some thought about, "I wish she'd gotten to do x/I should have saved her by y/I'll always remember when we did z," it would have carried a satisfactory emotional punch. Instead, to the best of my recollection (which may easily be incorrect, as I have no desire ever to touch AMOL again), he simply thought, "I can't think about that now, have to manage the battle." That's too easy, and doesn't provide for any sort of response or release. Not interested in parsing out the blame between RJ/Team Jordan and Sanderson. The end product was a massive disappointment, regardless of who was responsible for what. While I understand that their options were limited, I do think the choice of Sanderson was a mistake, and not simply due to his shortcomings. Maybe it's regional bias, but WoT was a Southern story crafted by a Southern writer, and his replacement should have been a Southerner as well. To touch briefly on the battle scenes, I found them boring and repetitive, and I say that as someone who's read over 100 books on the American Civil War. Dozens, if not hundreds, of pages easily could have been cut from those sections.
  7. Tip of the cap to you, sir. Didn't expect that user name to draw much (read: any) recognition here. Sadly, I agree with practically every word of Threepy's and GrrAaagh's posts.
  8. Warning, this will be long. I'm currently 28 years old, and picked up the series right after ACOS came out, ~17 years ago. Growing up, I read each of the first seven books at least a dozen times apiece, posted on WOTmania, and was in general highly invested in the story. That continued as I grew older, and I was heartbroken at the news of Jordan's passing. With Sanderson's selection, I was hopeful, but still very much concerned about how the quality of the series would hold up. Unfortunately, those concerns proved to be well-founded. Characters were mangled, the language altered, and many of the scenes cringe-worthy. Mat's letter to Elayne stands as the single most egregious example, and the worst couple of paragraphs in the entire series, though there are plenty of others. All these elements combined to make TGS and TOM deeply flawed books, yet the story and strength of character was enough to keep those flaws from being fatal. I could, and did, re-read them with a fair amount of pleasure, wincing at the mis-steps, but still enjoying the journey and speculating about the end. With AMOL, we get the worst of both worlds, Sanderson's lousy writing without the story and development to which we've become accustomed. In my mind, it stands as the single-worst volume in the series, with the next-worst (COT) only barely glimpsed in the rear-view mirror. Sanderson's many and glaring flaws as a writer are still on display--the hokey, juvenile sense of humor; the pandering to fans; the abysmal word choice and prose. Most of these scenes have been discussed in this thread already, so I see no need to rehash them. Suffice it to say that I think Sanderson is a poor writer, and will not be touching any of his other works anytime soon. That said, if those were the only, or even the worst, flaws in this book, I would be doing backflips. Much as I hate to admit it, the majority of the blame for AMOL lies with RJ, who bungled the story and bungled it badly. There were lots of reasons why, though most of them, as with Sanderson, I could have overlooked. There are two here that I'm going to focus on, Egwene's death and the overall emotional impact of the volume. Egwene first. I will begin by acknowledging that not all deaths should be or are meaningful, that good people die for bad or no reason, etc., etc. And, as a generality, that's a perfectly valid rule. However, it is not valid within the universe that RJ has created and crafted for 20+ years. Good people, or at least good people who are graced with a prominent role in the story, almost never die in Randland, and when they do, it's for good cause and purpose. Within WOT, or really fantasy literature as a whole, there are two ways to fulfill that purpose: 1. Taking out a foe equal or greater to yourself, or 2. Emotional fulfillment. The first one requires little explanation. Moiraine taking out Lanfear (had they actually died), Lan killing Demandred (had Lan actually died), and Shomesta weeding out (ha ha!) Balthamel are all good examples. The second is a little more complicated, but is most often achieved with a redemptive death, e.g. Ingtar or, reaching into LOTR, Boromir. The best deaths in the series, Verin's and Eldrene's (of legend) combined the both. So does Egwene's death fit either of those criteria? The answer is clearly "No." To clarify, "a foe equal or greater to yourself," refers more to the narrative importance of the foe within the story than to numbers or power. I don't care what Taim's new status was, or what tools he was using--he was, within the story, a jumped-up Dreadlord who (nominally) served under Rand for the majority of the story, was never cloaked with the power or intimidation of one of the Forsaken, and was never couched as a threat to Our Heroes outside his part in the Turning. No homicide attempts, no dark plots threatening to ensnare them, no seduction to the DO, nothing. Same with the nameless Ayyad she torched--no role in the story, no emotional impact, no points (cf, Amayar, suicide of). Egwene for Taim is not a fair trade, no matter how many other random channelers you throw in. The emotional fulfillment was even more lacking, and this was where things were especially bungled. By striking Gawyn down, you give yourself a golden opportunity to have her enraged and desperate to reach her husband, striking down Ayyad and dreadlords left and right, drawing too heavily or taking too many wounds in the process, and dying at Gawyn's side as he draws his last breath. Trite? Sure, but it's trite for a reason: because it works. It would have been touching, moving, and emotionally satisfying. Instead, they chose to let him die well beforehand, take Egwene back and coddle her a little bit, give her some cheesy advice, and then sent her back out with nothing but anger. Anger even could work, if it were a "Wrath of a Vengeful God"-type moment where she wreaked havoc on the person (to wit, Demandred) who killed Gawyn. But no, the object of the rage was utterly disconnected from what had occurred with Gawyn. So instead, we got a death totally disconnected from any sort of emotional response, and therefore devoid of any emotional impact save what the reader felt for Egwene herself. The writing replaced actual emotional connection with Egwene for simple pity over her fate, and robbed the reader of what should have been a highly moving scene. This is without even mentioning the absurdity that Lan is busy getting run through, Galad having his arm chopped off, and they both manage to survive with miracle Healings while Egwene dies from simply exhaustion/overdrawing. The second, and greater, problem, and one I touched on in the previous point, is that the story was almost entirely about doing rather than feeling. This has been another weakness of Sanderson's, kind of like "show, don't tell" on a broader scale, but was so embedded throughout the narrative that I tend to place the blame on RJ instead. The book had a lot of action in it. In and of itself, that's not a bad thing, although I did find it a bit repetitive. What was a bad thing was that the book became so absorbed in that action that they forgot to take the time to show us the people. Take out Rand's farewells, which were mostly well-done, Tam at the bier, and Olver's reunion with Noal, and there were little to no moving or significant interactions between characters. There was no character development, no emotional displays, no strong feelings anywhere. Sure, a character might feel angry, or worried, or relieved, but nearly all of those emotions grew out of the necessities of survival, either of the character or the army as a whole, rather than the character's own personality and background. Others have commented on secondary characters all seeming the same in this volume--I think that's a direct result of the lack of disparate motivations and emotions throughout. It was simply like the soul was sucked out of the characters and, accordingly, the book itself. This was most egregious in the book's treatment of love. After Rand's grand revelation at the end of TGS, one thought that love would play at least some role in the final book. Instead, it was systematically hunted down and destroyed. Egwene's wedding was cut. Rand didn't get married prior to TG. Tuon expressly said she didn't love Mat. Affectionate interactions between loving characters were few and far between. I could be mistaken, but I don't believe the words, "I love you," were uttered once in the entire 900 pages. In Rand's farewell to Egwene, when she gets mad about him always treating her like a child, how about, "I was trying to remind you of when we loved each other," as his response instead of whatever fumbling reply he actually made (don't have the book at hand. Too bad Perrin wasn't there. He'd always know what to say to girls!) Instead, it was like RJ had a checklist of each major character, with a box for "alive" or "dead" beside each name, and so long as he checked one of those boxes in the reader's presence, that was enough. It's not. Ultimately, RJ and/or BS made the worst mistake an author can make in AMOL: they focused on the what instead of the who, and absolutely wrecked the story in the process. That's all I have to say for now. Don't expect anyone to read that, much less respond to it, but feel better for getting it off my chest. Suffice to say, the quality of this book was p**s-poor, and I could almost wish it had never been written.
  9. Pretty much how I feel. Maybe my expectations were too high, but that was not at all what I was hoping for.
  10. I had little to no emotional reaction to Egwene's death, simply because the scene was so poorly developed and handled. My response was, essentially, "Wait, really? No, that can't possibly be for real," followed by an "Oh, that sucks" once it was confirmed. Saddest moment is probably Bela's death, as foolish as that sounds. Most horrific was Elayne's capture. Most of the rest of the deaths fell a little flat to me.
  11. Interesting. I finished a re-read of ToM yesterday, and liked it quite a bit better than TGS. The main problem with ToM, in my opinion, is that so many sections were so obviously written by RJ, and the difference between them and those done by Sanderson (or perhaps done by RJ and then not properly edited, though I tend to doubt that) is so jarring that it took me out of the story. At times, I'd find myself trying to decide which author had written a certain section--though in truth, it didn't require much thought--or, in a Sanderson section, how it should have been written, rather than focusing on what was actually happening, which is a shame. As for the OP, others have adequately pointed out the lackluster prose, lack of subtlety, and juvenile humor, so I won't spend any more time dwelling on those. I'm grateful to Sanderson for finishing the series, and look forward to reading the final installment, but won't be able to read it, or TGS or TOM, without a sense of regret.
  12. Circles are simultaneously being given far too much and far too little weight in this discussion. While they certainly would not function as nuclear weapons, they would provide a tremendous advantage to the Aiel and co. in head-to-head channeler battles. By virtue of joining a circle, channelers can make themselves virtually unshieldable, and thereby uncapturable, while giving themselves the capacity to pick off (via shielding) individual damane at their leisure. Provided there's enough cover/skill from the circle leader that they're not blasted at the outset, the circle would very quickly be able to put any Seanchan channelers out of commission. The effect of Travelling on logistics is also overstated. Randland is rapidly moving towards Civil War-era armies, with cannon, railroads, and rifles. McClellan's army on the Peninsula (~110,000 ready for duty) consumed 600 tons of materials a day. No, that's not a typo. Six Hundred Tons a Day. Two years later, Grant's wagon train in the Overland Campaign stretched 70 miles, and that was with orders for stripped-down baggage and supplies. With Seanchan channelers unable to form circles and thus form massive gateways, they will have to divert hundreds, if not thousands, of damane to constantly hold open gateways to allow for that flow of supplies, which takes that many off the battlelines. Moving men would be easier, but still difficult. Really, the only way the situation seen by Aviendha would come to pass is through a doomsday scenario. The first vision, and therefore the start of the war, seems to occur no more than 25 years beyond TG (Bruan is still alive, Padra is clearly quite young, she notes that "17 years without war" is too long, etc.). However, Tuon has been dead for years, apparently after having united the Seanchan mainland, and the rest of the High Command seems to have died out during TG: there's no mention of Mat, Elayne, Aviendha, Rand, Egwene, Nynaeve, or any other channelers in prominent positions who should have still been alive even in the later visions and would have had a palpable impact on the war effort. Pair that with the Seanchan's ostensibly quick invention of rifles, or at least some sort of sidearm, and the stage has been set for the Aiel to be crushed. As a final point, the Aiel's Maidens of the Spear and related, for lack of a better term, breeding customs also put them at a distinct disadvantage in a long-term war where population growth and regeneration are going to be major factors.
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