Friday, September 30th, 2005
I’ve been rereading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I meant to post a review on books 1-5, then another on 6-10, and then New Spring and Knife of Dreams when I finish them. Well, I’m halfway through Winter’s Heart (book 9) and I just keep putting off those posts. Sigh. Bad blogger.
I’m not going to bother trying to summarize each book. They’re much too long and convoluted for that. I actually have a chart where I’m trying to keep track of the major viewpoints/storylines/characters in each book…I’m not succeeding very well as there are far too many of all three. A very, very simplified summary: The One Power that turns the Wheel of Time is divided into two parts–saidar (female) and saidin (male). Ages ago, the Aes Sedai (those who wield the One Power) bored a hole in the Dark One’s prison. In the process of resealing the prison, saidin became tainted, driving the men who wielded it insane. They nearly destroyed the entire world in their madness. Over the following ages, only women are allowed to channel the power. Men who can channel are hunted down and “gentled” or killed outright. But there is a prophecy that when the Dark One breaks free from his prison, Lew Therin Telemon (also called the Dragon), the greatest of the male Aes Sedai, will be reborn to battle the Shadow at Tarmon Gai’don.
Ages later, a simple shepherd named Rand al’Thor discovers to his horror that he is the Dragon Reborn. The books tell (in excruciating detail) the adventures/exploits of Rand and his friends and enemies as the world moves towards the Last Battle.
This time through the series I’ve found several “Oh, I missed that the first time” scenes, and some interesting observations. In no particular order…
- 1. Robert Jordan has been lauded for his strong female characters. But you know what? He has only two female characters in the entire series! I’m serious. Different names and backgrounds, but only two basic types. His women are all either strong-willed, proud, manipulative, and good, or strong-willed, proud, manipulative,and bad. The poor men are hen-pecked every which way but Tuesday and have no clue what these women are thinking while the women all have knives up their sleeves or use the One Power and think they know everything. There isn’t a single meek, gentle-spirited woman in there. Never a true damsel in distress. Or if a female character is rescued by a male, she rarely says thank-you and usually blames the man for screwing up whatever escape plan she had thought up. The best example is Mat’s continual rescuing of Elayne, Nynaeve, and Aviendha. Not only do they not say Thanks, they proceed to berate the poor guy for messing up their plans. Every time. Any word of thanks is given reluctantly, if at all.2. Jordan has created an incredibly detailed world, but he repeats the same details over and over in every book. Sometimes it feels like he was paid by the word, or that he just cut and pastes whole sections from one book to the next.
3. Every author has a pet phrase. One I’ve noticed is “good stout Two Rivers woolens” or “good stout shoes” or “stout Two Rivers woolens.” Never just “a wool dress.”
4. Speaking of dresses, maybe RJ should have gone into fashion design. He spends a large amount of time describing the dresses and suits worn, down to the flowers embroidered across the bodice or scrollwork up the sleeves. This is both good and bad. Good that he is so detail-oriented. Bad because some scenes are nothing but fashion shows (especially in the world of dreams).
5. I really don’t like Faile. There is very little redeeming in her character. I really liked Perrin (I have a thing for wolves), until he allowed himself to be chained to that jealous little cat. Oh, pardon me. Falcon. She doesn’t deserve a nice guy like him. And Berelain needs to be spayed.
6. In The Shadow Rising, at the big battle between the Two Rivers folk and the Trollocs, the Trollocs shout “Isam!” I’d never caught that before. Isam was the name of Lan’s cousin who was lost as a baby when he and his mother were overtaken by Trollocs. Why would the Trollocs be shouting his name? Hopefully Jordan has a good answer for us.
7. In the same vein, Lord Luc is the supposed Hunter for the Horn who shows up in Two Rivers about the same time Perrin returns. Prince Luc of Andor was Tigrane’s brother (Rand’s uncle), who disappeared into the Blight shortly before Tigrane herself went to the Aiel. Coincidence?
8. I swear, if Nynaeve yanks on that braid one more time, I’m going to scream. I really liked Nynaeve the first few times I read these books (I still like the relationship between her and Lan), but this time through it just struck me what a little shrew she is.
9. Did I mention how much I hate Faile? That whole section with her, Alliandre, and Morgase being captured by the Shaido…why? Totally unnecessary. Except to add almost a full book to the series.
10. This time through, I think Mat is my favorite character. He seems to be the most rounded of the characters, and in many ways (despite his fondness for gambling, wenching, and drinking) is a good guy. He keeps his promises no matter what, he’s trying to be a single father, and he’s the only one that seems to have a sense of humor left. Poor man will probably be made miserable by Tuon. Sigh.
11. Better maps would be very nice. Unless we’re supposed to shell out more money for the companion atlas. And maybe subchapter headings, like Tom Clancy does, so you know who, where, and when. Cast of Characters would be nice too.
But despite having to plow through so much wordage to get at the story, I really do like this series. I’m anxious to see how it ends…in another couple years. Double sigh.