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 Post subject: My Final Thoughts on The Wheel of Time
PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2022 1:57 pm 
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King of Cool
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So, on Thursday, I finally finished the fourteenth and final volume of The Wheel of Time, A Memory of Light. I technically began it in August, but at a snail's pace, I read the first one in August, the second in October, and the third in November. I didn't really begin reading it in earnest until January 1 of this year. I read the final 11 volumes, back to back, from January 1 to March 24, taking an average of a little more than a week for each volume, I often finished one volume and started the next one on the same day.

Having finished it, I feel both a sense of accomplishment and a bit of sadness that it is over. My single biggest complaint about the series is that it is much too short, even after more than 12,000 pages and 4 million words, I still didn't want it to end. It will take all the willpower I can muster to not go back to "The Eye of the World" and start the whole thing over again.

I regard it as probably the best fantasy series ever written, this might sound blasphemous to some, but I think it puts Tolkein to shame. This is the kind of thing Tolkien wanted to write but was never able to accomplish,

I don't think there is a single bad volume in the bunch, except perhaps the prequel 'New Spring' which technically isn't part of the series. New Spring is just dull, dull, dull, although that might be mainly because it was part of an aborted effort to make a "prequel trilogy", which, let's be honest, would likely have been more than a trilogy. If Robert Jordan was alive today, he would no doubt be publishing the 8th or 9th volume of this '"trilogy".

Brandon Sanderson's co-written volumes are noticeably in a different style, but he did a good job of taking Jordan's written and dictated notes about how he wanted the story to end and turning it into a compelling narrative. I know that Sanderson was hired to complete the series, but if I have a complaint about the ending it would be that it is much too rushed. It would be better if he could have extended it into 5 or even 6 volumes rather than 3, but I understand why he didn't, even though it would have been a better story, it would have exceeded his editorial mandate. We will probably never know exactly how much of those last three volumes were written by Sanderson and how much of it was written or dictated by Jordan that was incorporated wholesale into the text without alteration. According to Sanderson, the entire epilogue to A Memory of Light was dictated by Jordan before he died. I certainly do not agree with the claim that Sanderson 'fixed' what Jordan did, because I don't believe anything needed to be "fixed", it merely needed to be resolved.



I saw a video that had some experts on fantasy literature ranking the most difficult fantasy books to read. The Wheel of Time was ranked near the top, not because of the length, but because of the difficulty remembering all the important details of the story. There are more than 2,000 named characters, and there are chapters written from the perspective of 147 different characters. Often, characters were introduced in a perspective chapter, I would read a name and become confused 'am I supposed to know who this character is? :scratch: ' And some of these perspective chapters introduce characters who appear only in that one chapter and are never mentioned again. This makes the story hard to follow.

Also making the series difficult to read is the long foreshadowing used, there are details or characters that are mentioned, and then not mentioned against until 5.6.7 or more volumes later, and often there isn't even an attempt to remind you of this detail when it is mentioned again. Despite my use of references such as the "The Wheel of Time Companion" (a kind of encyclopedia of the series) and fansites like TarVallon.net, I feel like I probably missed at least half of the story, if not more. I do intend to read it again, probably next year.

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 Post subject: Re: My Final Thoughts on The Wheel of Time
PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2022 3:10 pm 
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Some Poor Bibliophile
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I sincerely congratulate you and rejoice at your good fortune in committing yourself so thoroughly to something that was, ultimately, so rewarding for you.

Keep this up and you will approximate my own reading style/pace (30 books, plus or minus, since 18 Jan, page count varied, 300+-600, all SF. I think).

As to your judgement on WoT's place in the pantheon, I, not having read it, cannot comment. I could conjecture. I will not. It is yours to cherish.

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Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher."


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 Post subject: Re: My Final Thoughts on The Wheel of Time
PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2022 6:20 pm 
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King of Cool
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GKC wrote:
I sincerely congratulate you and rejoice at your good fortune in committing yourself so thoroughly to something that was, ultimately, so rewarding for you.

Keep this up and you will approximate my reading style/pace (30 books, plus or minus, since 18 Jan, page count varied, 300+-600, all SF. I think).

As to your judgment on WoT's place in the pantheon, I, not having read it, cannot comment. I could conjecture. I will not. It is yours to cherish.


Well, I would say that either you like this kind of epic fantasy story, with thousands of characters and hundreds of invented words, or you don't. Most of the complaints I have read about the series amount to 'I just don't like epic fantasy, well, fair enough, I don't like vampire or zombie stories,

Some people praise Tolkein for his world-building, but many misunderstand what he did. Some think that he created all the maps, invented languages, details of daily life like calendars because he was trying to make Middle Earth seem realistic. This is almost exactly the opposite of the truth. In fact, from childhood, he had a hobby of creating maps of imaginary worlds, creating imaginary history, and later liked to invent new languages, he created Middle Earth because he wanted a place for all those things to exist.

When I say he 'puts Tolkein to shame' I don't mean that he is a better, more important, or more influential author, indeed, literally every fantasy author, including Jordan, owes a debt to Tolkien, and while reading The Wheel of Time, especially the first one, it is possible to pick out things that were taken straight from Tolkien. Sometimes, it is obvious, and sometimes, it is subtle. The Lord of the Rings has
the Misty Mountains, The Wheel of Time has The Mountains of Mist. In The Lord of the Rings has Gandfalf apparently die while protecting the Hobbits from a Balrog and then come back in the next book. The Wheel of Time has Thom Merrin protect the heroes from a Fade and apparently die, only to come back in the next book. In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo is stabbed by a Nazgul and the wound never really heals. In The Wheel of Time, Rand al Thor is stabbed by Podar Fain, and the wound never really heals. Etc. But Jordan doesn't stop with The Lord of the Rings, he draws from many other sources as well, including Narnia. But Jordan does a great job of imitating Tolkien, but he doesn't just copy Tolkien, he builds on and expands what Tolkien built and takes the genre in new directions. Which is the ultimate tribute I think, to not just copy but to expand and build on.

.

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 Post subject: Re: My Final Thoughts on The Wheel of Time
PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2022 9:47 pm 
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Some Poor Bibliophile
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Doom wrote:
GKC wrote:
I sincerely congratulate you and rejoice at your good fortune in committing yourself so thoroughly to something that was, ultimately, so rewarding for you.

Keep this up and you will approximate my reading style/pace (30 books, plus or minus, since 18 Jan, page count varied, 300+-600, all SF. I think).

As to your judgment on WoT's place in the pantheon, I, not having read it, cannot comment. I could conjecture. I will not. It is yours to cherish.


Well, I would say that either you like this kind of epic fantasy story, with thousands of characters and hundreds of invented words, or you don't. Most of the complaints I have read about the series amount to 'I just don't like epic fantasy, well, fair enough, I don't like vampire or zombie stories,

Some people praise Tolkein for his world-building, but many misunderstand what he did. Some think that he created all the maps, invented languages, details of daily life like calendars because he was trying to make Middle Earth seem realistic. This is almost exactly the opposite of the truth. In fact, from childhood, he had a hobby of creating maps of imaginary worlds, creating imaginary history, and later liked to invent new languages, he created Middle Earth because he wanted a place for all those things to exist.

When I say he 'puts Tolkein to shame' I don't mean that he is a better, more important, or more influential author, indeed, literally every fantasy author, including Jordan, owes a debt to Tolkien, and while reading The Wheel of Time, especially the first one, it is possible to pick out things that were taken straight from Tolkien. Sometimes, it is obvious, and sometimes, it is subtle. The Lord of the Rings has
the Misty Mountains, The Wheel of Time has The Mountains of Mist. In The Lord of the Rings has Gandfalf apparently die while protecting the Hobbits from a Balrog and then come back in the next book. The Wheel of Time has Thom Merrin protect the heroes from a Fade and apparently die, only to come back in the next book. In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo is stabbed by a Nazgul and the wound never really heals. In The Wheel of Time, Rand al Thor is stabbed by Podar Fain, and the wound never really heals. Etc. But Jordan doesn't stop with The Lord of the Rings, he draws from many other sources as well, including Narnia. But Jordan does a great job of imitating Tolkien, but he doesn't just copy Tolkien, he builds on and expands what Tolkien built and takes the genre in new directions. Which is the ultimate tribute I think, to not just copy but to expand and build on.

.



What, given what you likely know about my fiction reading foci, do you think my opinion of the epic fantasy sub genre might be, generally?

As to my opinion of WoT, that, as noted, has to await my reading of it. And, as you recall, I only possess 5-6 volumes, though I bought all for my offspring, who was quite hooked by it, early on. So far, your parallels make it seem at least as good as SWORD OF SHANNARA. You account it a jewel and so it might well be, for me. I'll borrow them back.

As to the "why" and "whence came" of LOTR, yes, generally. I know you recall that I first read it, 1965-ish, joined the Tolkien Society of America and the Mythopoeic Society, 1970-ish (boxes bulge with their and related journals and my shelves groan beneath Tolkien related tomes. Anent which, I recently read an interesting book on JRRT, John Garth/TOLKIEN AND THE GREAT WAR. If you are not familiar with it, I commend it to you. It more than touches on an aspect of the gestation of ME that I did not know in detail. If you are familiar with it, you probably beat me to it.

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"I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher."


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