...and reasons why authors should especially read it.
My partner's a huuuge WoT fan and convinced me to give it a go. Well, without giving any spoilers (I've only just started book four, so please no spoilers!), I can say that I curled up on the couch and opened the first page. After a loooong prologue that I enjoyed enough to finish (and it left sooo many questions!), I flicked to chapter one... and was immediately back in the Shire. While I don't know if this was a wise move of Jordan's or not, I enjoyed my trip to the Shire (*cough* The Two Rivers *cough*). This gave the first quarter of the book a cosy feel and I got lost in the pages. However, the plot seemed generic - how can my partner LOVE this? I thought. But I read on, following the book's one POV character (well, just about!), and things got interesting. Overall, though, I really enjoyed some aspects even though I would say the book wasn't wow.
So, that doesn't sound like a good way to start a thread titled "Reasons to read WoT". Fear not. After constant cajoling from my partner, I picked up book two even though I felt there were better adventures I could go on in other books. Well, that went right out the window from chapter... three or so onwards (I can't remember exactly)! Suddenly, I discover Jordan had made a wrong decision - or a right decision, in some respects - to start the opening of book one very Tolkienish. It left Tolkien behind and became its own thing - a beast of a monster, with a world very different - and a society very different - to other series. The plot just spiralled and left me whizzing through the chapters, enjoying tons of new POVs (from characters I already knew) and moments of awe and wonder. Book three has gone exactly the same way, and has turned out to be my favourite. I've been assured I will like book four even more.
So, since I’d heard a lot about the negatives of WoT over the years, I thought I would start this thread to balance that. In fact, I think Jordan is a true master. Everything he does has been so top notch, and his world is so rich and vivid, I don't care that his prose is only "plain glass" as opposed to "stained glass", as Brandon Sanderson calls it.
So, here are the things writers can learn from Jordan:
1) Worldbuilding. It's absolutely jaw-droppingly amazing! Rich world, beautifully described, vast, with lands that really feel unique. People sound different depending on where they come from, and they look and act different from each other. And some ideas/places leave you in awe of their sheer creativity and beauty!
2) Characters. They feel fresh and original, and have proper cares and interests that have shaped them - and continue to influence them, for good or ill. Yes, characters change and grow. Also, the characters aren't intrinsically "good" or "bad", or - what seems to be preferred these days - "grey". They're human. Understandable. Relatable. Emotional. I like them all, so far, though one POV character - who starts from book three onwards - does seem to stand out, for me, because he's a fun, active character who's got free-reign to do what he wants instead of being herded and prodded by the world's puppeteers (yes, there are some people who try to... push people to follow what they want them to do). Saying that, even his reactive characters are loveable because of the situations they're in, and that's incredibly hard to do. Most reactive characters are boring, because they follow and nod, not leap off the page like Jordan's do.
3) Plot. This is up there on-par with Jordan's worldbuilding. His interweaving of epic plotlines works seamlessly through the novels I've read, and collide into each other at the end of every book - with spectacular, world-changing results. The plot is so epic in scale, even if it is a "farmboy needs to save the world" plot. There's not a single chapter that is wasted or "filler". I've learned a lot about plotting from reading it, because I realise that chapters I thought were needed in my novel really aren't up to par - at all; whenever Jordan opens a new chapter in someone else's POV, we're whisked away by mystery or action within pages. There's always something unexpected and gripping going on all the time, along with a huuue over-arching plot. Really, if a writer wants to learn how to make an amazing epic fantasy, this book is a must-read. I place it higher than GRRM (whose prose seems quite dry in comparison). Also, the ending to book three just leaves you.... wow. Oh, I wish I could say! Jordan has turned something on its head and left me dreading - and excited – to find out what the real... issue(? Can't think of a better word – I’m tired) is like.
4) Prose. Wow. Just... wow. I know I said Jordan was "stained glass", but that has no effect on how his writing makes you feel. I find his writing cosy like no other. It's writing that isn't dry and bland. It evokes feelings in the reader and really captures a sense of the place he's writing about. And if you're reading with your reader's brain instead of your writer's brain, the descriptions really flesh out the world - and some of the images created leave you with such a feeling of wonder. Writers can learn a lot from him about word use and richness. I see so many wannabe authors being very... technical... in their writing, for want of a better word, picking the best words for the job required. But Jordan goes beyond this and his prose comes to life.
Now... I'm going to go out on a limb here and say something. I might regret it later, once I've read the whole series, or you might come on and say I'm wrong, but... all these people that complain about how Jordan's stories are slow and have too much worldbuilding in them... I think the few-book lag that I've heard about in the middle of the series is the cause of it. I can't see how anyone could hate it, otherwise. Right now, where I am in the series, I have nothing but awe and amazement that one man can pull off such a well-paced, well-plotted, intricate, epic story with loveable and exciting characters. Everything is first rate. I wonder if old fans would be less harsh if they’d not had to wait two years plus between weak books. I'll find out, I suppose... Oh, and my partner says the series finishes strongly, so that bodes well. I look forward to my adventure!
Right! After that long post, I’m off to rest. I hope I've convinced some to give the series a try.
EDIT: And please, no spoilers in this thread for people who haven't picked up the books!
To be honest I just can't remember. I read the books about ten years ago, and the only things that stuck with me were what I disliked about it. Certainly nothing in it was as shocking as I've read in a number of other books.Hello, Gumboot. Thanks for posting here.
I'm sorry you haven't enjoyed WoT as much as I have. For me, the series holds so many surprises and exciting moments. Without giving spoilers, can you not think back to book four and certain... events that happened? Did you not feel shocked and amazed? Everyone I know who's read the series LOVES tat about the series. One person even had the same reaction as me - to put the book down after one such moment just to reflect on the amazing/shocking thing that had just happened.
I can see that as appealing to people. Personally I don't really enjoy "prophecy" and "foretelling" and all of that. It's a very overrused fantasy element.And there's so much to puzzle out in the series - so many different types of prophecy, foretelling, viewings, fox/snake sayings, etc. those are some major reasons why I read it - I love puzzling them out. And you DO get answers in these books - you're not kept waiting and waiting - yet more puzzles turn up to keep you guessing.
I'm sorry but, just because a writer claims to have spent a long time planning a story doesn't mean that A) they actually did (*cough* George Lucas *cough*) or B) that they're actually sticking to that plan *cough* George RR Martin *cough*. Alternatively, maybe he planned a structureless meandering plot line from the outset, which is in some ways worse. Some people quite enjoy those sorts of stories, but personally I don't. By about book 4 it was obvious the story was going to delve off into pointless tangents a lot.And considering Jordan spent a year planning and world-building this series before he wrote a single word, I think it would be unfair of anyone - not referring to you specifically, Gumboot, but to all those people in threads around here - who say that the plot is directionless and meandering.
An epic ending doesn't forgive 900 pages of pointless fluff.I've found the plot always heads where it needs - with some surprising additions along the way that add even more twists and turns and threads. And Jordan's fantastic at endings. Barring one book, all his ending so far have been epic (esp. book six).
I'm glad you do; it's a great thing when you find a series that you can bond with so strongly and really experience. I have no objection to those who enjoy it. I just don't. Different tastes.I think one of Jordan's strengths, personally, is how he makes me feel. He excels at bringing out emotion in readers through character interaction, internal conflict, external conflict, and moment's of amazement. This beyond anything is why I love the series. As a writer, he's taught me how to aim for such moments that bring out feelings in a reader. He's taught me never to be happy with my plot, that there can always be more surprises that really deepen the world and conflict. I've exclaimed out loud sooo many times, and shouted at characters not to do something or they'll get hurt, or yelled at things happening that I just couldn't handle. This is well done, so well done. It's one of the reasons fans adore the series.
Again, it's great that you can get that out of the series. A lot of people don't, obviously.As for his characterisation, I know I'm fighting a losing battle against those who hate the series for precisely this reason, but I've grown to love the characters. I know that sounds lame to character-haters, but it's true. I see the way the characters interact, the way the world divides males and females and how they very much don't understand each other in this Age (perhaps in future/past Ages, they did - ot that males were on top?). I love that Ny is reckless and proud and impatient and loyal - it sets her up for some interesting conflicts. I love that Egwene changes so much and is humbled by certain things. I love that Elayne is too proud because of her station, even though she can be frustrating at times; she very much thinks in terms of "As the Daughter Heir of Andor, I should do this...", which sometimes rubs me up the wrong way. But I like that it does. I like that at times I'm frustrated by the people because of their flaws and misunderstandings. As I've said often, it shows me that I care. I'd rather have a love-hate relationship with them than a "I couldn't care less" one. I could list my loves/hates about the men, too...
You should definitely cherish that first reading of the remainder. I re-read series' I really enjoy, but no re-read is ever the same as that first reading. Too many "read"s in that sentence...Oh yes! The writing. Well, the thing about my first post was that - surprise, surprise - I wrote it when I was very tired one night, in one go, and I should have waited till the next day before posting it. There's a couple of little parts I would change, although the gist of it is there. As regards Jordan's writing, I know it's not literary. I know sometimes his choice of words trip me up. Yet, personally, it has something I've seldom encountered: cosiness. The way he describes things - places, peoples, past Ages - feels like it's described by someone who loves them. He adds little touches here and there about the world, or a character, etc. I think what it comes down to, for me, is that when I pick up one of his books, I smile because I feel like I'm returning to somewhere cosy, where I'm in safe hands. I already know in the future I will look back with fondness of my Jordan days. Some days I'm sad because I know it will be over in five books.
I've often thought about it, but the problem is I'd have to start again from the beginning, and it's a lot of reading to commit to when I have so many other options to pick. Jordan belongs to what I think of as immature fantasy; that classic high fantasy genre of the 80s and 90s. Writers like Feist, Goodkind, Brooks, Eddings and so on. I read all of them as a teenager, and quite enjoyed a lot of it, but fantasy has matured dramatically since then and so have my tastes.So, my question to you would be: would you ever pick up the series, knowing that Sanderson took over and, according to some, really drove the plot on and picked up the threads that dragged - the threads even Jordan admitted he would have shortened if he could, looking back - and knowing you're nearly at the end? I'm on the book you quit on, yet I have no intention of giving up. I love it. And I've heard that, although book nine starts those slow threads, the ending is what we've all been waiting for. I can guess what ending that will be, and I'm soooo excited at finally reading the event happening! But then, according to some, book ten just explores character reactions to that major event, which is why it doesn't work (or didn't for those who waited years between books). Then, after that, you're racing to the end...
I think your mistake there might be to assume "mass-market" or "top-selling" has anything to do with it. Indeed, it's a mistake to assume I rank any fantasy. None of my favourite authors write fantasy:Oh! One more thing. If this series doesn't appeal to you or you as a writer, what mass-market commercial fiction series does? I'm curious to know what you would recommend as the best top-selling series, to see how different it is to WoT.
And that is why you can't always trust what others say. You just have to decide if it sounds interesting to you, and go ahead with it. There's nothing wrong with going against the grain once in awhile. Sometimes you are going to love what everyone else says is wonderful, and sometimes you're not. But its our differences that make us interesting.Thank you, LW! That's a really lovely thing to say!!! I often feel like I'm flogging a dead horse, but I just can't stop. I was so blown away by how much I fell for this series when I'd always seen all the negative thread titles here and written it off. I couldn't believe how unfair this board seemed for something I ended up loving more than anything. So I set out to see if anyone wanted to jump on the "Sure, I'll give it a go" bandwagon.
I hope you're doing well, LW. It's nice to see your name around again. I always miss regulars if they leave for any length of time.
Sorry but I can't agree with a word of this paragraph. If you strongly disagree with Leisha then I disagree with your statements to the ends of Jordan's world and back again. Jordan's worldbuilding is anything but derivative. "Structureless plot" - utter rubbish.I think anyone who wants to write fantasy should certainly give the series a read; it is the most successful fantasy series of all time, after all.
Having said that, I have to include myself as one of those who wouldn't recommend the series. I strongly disagree with all four of your points about Jordan's writing; indeed his superficial and derivative worldbuilding, his appalling characterisation, his structureless plot and his repetitive prose is precisely why I gave up on the series somewhere about book eight.