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WinespringBrother
10-24-2012, 07:59 AM
To prevent various threads from going off-topic with discussions/dissections/complaints/criticisms of RJ and BS's writing styles, we have created this thread to cover any related posts. All posts from other threads regarding this subject will be moved here. This is a spoiler thread for all books through AMOL so no spoiler tags will be needed. Any inflammatory posts will be subjected to editing or deletion at moderator discretion. Please keep this discussion constructive and civil.

Thank you!

Zombie Sammael
10-24-2012, 02:57 PM
I listened to it first of all, and couldn't get over how bad the reading was. It had this bizarre sing-songy quality to it as if the reader was a ham actor performing Shakespeare in iambic pentameter. It was very off-putting. For that reason I didn't really notice the flaws in the dialogue, but transcribing it later it did feel very much like RJ's writing... just not RJ's best writing, sadly.

Tollingtoy
10-24-2012, 03:09 PM
I've been so desperate to find out what happens in this story that I've been much less critical of Brandon's writing than some have. However, this chapter and the Mat chapter that was released are laughably bad. The dialogue is very banal and forced to such a degree that I have laughed out loud while reading it.

It is very disappointing to see this happening and I pray that the full book does not share many of these characteristics. I get "not trying to emulate RJ's style", but it should still be written well. I have never read any of Brandon's other work, is it as bad as this is?

I like what Terez said earlier, because it quite literally feels like fan fiction

Davian93
10-24-2012, 03:10 PM
I've been so desperate to find out what happens in this story that I've been much less critical of Brandon's writing than some have. However, this chapter and the Mat chapter that was released are laughably bad. The dialogue is very banal and forced to such a degree that I have laughed out loud while reading it.

It is very disappointing to see this happening and I pray that the full book does not share many of these characteristics. I get "not trying to emulate RJ's style", but it should still be written well. I have never read any of Brandon's other work, is it as bad as this is?


No, he's actually pretty good at writing his own characters for the most part.

The Way of Kings (his foray into epic fantasy along the lines of WoT) is a solid first book of a series.

suttree
10-24-2012, 03:21 PM
No, he's actually pretty good at writing his own characters for the most part.

The Way of Kings (his foray into epic fantasy along the lines of WoT) is a solid first book of a series.

This to me is a big part of what is so dissapointing. Some people fly to BS's defense saying "he's not trying to sound like RJ!!!", yes we understand and have all read the same interviews. It's not that he isn't doing as good a job as RJ can, it's that he's not doing as good a job as Brandon can. I was excited about the extra time taken this go round but based of what has been released so far I have very little hope that this will turn out well. This is the final book upon which RJ's legacy will be judged and just getting to read the end of the story is not good enough. Pretty bummed to be honest.

sleepinghour
10-24-2012, 05:07 PM
At least we have the upcoming Rand/Aviendha sex scene to look forward to. That should play to Brandon's strengths as a writer. :D

Aran'gar and Delana began to exchange affections on the chaise.

Great Lord of the Dark
10-24-2012, 06:53 PM
Of course, after the last year dissecting Jordan's writing, I have no expectation that anyone's writing comes close to Jordan's, so disappointment with new chapters is hard to come by.

Brandon's style is direct and blunt by turns, but entertaining. The effect is no worse than X-Men or any comic which gets a new writer every year.

What I find most interesting is that he is being skimpy on description, and jumping points of view within every chapter. This likely means a lot of ground has to be covered, and he's trying to create excitement through brevity, by being to the point so as to lead you through the section quickly and ramp up the pace of the book. By starting at a breakneck pace, it'll be harder to pull back for any introspection without wrecking the intesity he's trying to craft. That'll be trouble. I expect most of the book will follow the pattern he's set up here. Also, by starting off with a bang, the scale of battles should only ever get bigger, leading up to the final conflict. this is either going to feel jumpy, or it will have an intensity that drives us to read, read, read as fast as we can. I think we'll overcome the jumpiness very soon.

Logain as the last man standing of the Black Tower seems like a mirror plot for Rand vs. the Dark One. We'll either get a clue as to how he's supposed to win, or a warning about the big mistake he's about to make as the result of Logain's plotline.

The double bond makes total sense. From the get-go, men and women working together have been how the greatest works were done. The One Power itself symbolizes this. After driving a huge wedge between the males and females in The Fires of Heaven, there's been a slow reconciliation. The ultimate expression of men and women working together is the double bond, and the circle. This arrangement is central to the final conflict, and was planned long ago. There's a reason we haven't seen long points of view from anyone in a special male-female circle or bond.

Overall, it is always jarring going straight from Jordan's writing to Sanderson's, but still enjoyable. The major symbolism is in the plots, the lesser symbolism in the descriptions. If Brandon does fewer examples of the symbolic descriptions, he can't escape or deviate from the major plotlines, and he writes a mean action sequence. It feels awkward here, but it should feel smooth later on.

Thanks Tor for the audio, Brandon for the words, and uploaders for the transcript. A10/V10.

Dom
10-24-2012, 06:54 PM
Dom—That reminds me of something that bothered me in the prologue that I never mentioned. Androl thinking about how clever Emarin was with insults. If your characters are being clever with insults, you don't have to insult the intelligence of your readers by saying so, nor do you have to diminish the maturity of your character by having him say so.

Yes, that's it exactly. It's the KevinJAndorsonitis all right.

It's like Brandon can't just put "insert a really clever insult here" as he drafts, and later actually spend the necessary time and intellectual effort to come up with one.

In that respect, his and plotting and writing are terribly lazy. He doesn't take the time to polish his dialogue. Instead of making the effort to come up with a very intelligent exchange and demonstrating the intelligence by adding subtext and inner thoughts of the POV character, he just writes a stupid line and spells out the character is supposed to be very intelligent. It's very annoying.

The other very bad and lazy habit he's developped is that instead of making the effort of studying the thought patterns, the little languages quirks that made each character unique, he seems to go through a personal/cultural catalogue or checklist. The way Brandon writes Aviendha, you'd think she came out of the Waste a few days ago, not to mention that it's like she's going in circles, thinking about the same topics since TGS. He's got few RJ-written POVs to work with, so he keeps using the same Aiel cultural stuff over and over again (mind you, when he invents new ones or picks some from the notes he tries to integrate, it's generally even worse...). It's astounding the space Brandon loses giving us information and observations that not only don't fit well, but that so late in the series we don't need all the while not making the efforts of including the stuff we would need. Those inner thoughts are vital, they each followed a unique pattern and they played a large part in making the characters feel like who they were. And the number of extraneous scenes, and extraneous action during scenes (must we "see" each and every messenger a character sends or receives? What happened to character noticing the other left an unopened letter on the table?)) is simply astounding, it's like Brandon never heard about ellipses (except, in his own books he's perfectly able to do that it's rather like he's never really managed to get a proper level of control over the WOT project, it continues to overwhelm him)

I'm surprised every time someone comments Brandon writes "shorter" than RJ. His scenes are shorter, but he's got tons of stuff happening on screen that RJ would have simply cut, to refer to those events via other POV, if the readers really needed to know... Gawyn's inflated arc is a prime example - it's appalling how many POVs and pages Brandon has needed to write that story. Typically, we might have gotten one Gawyn shortish POV in Dorlan (typically prologue stuff) where he learned Egwene's captive, and he is thorn, and then nothing until suddenly he interrupted a Siuan/Bryne scene with a sudden arrival, his growing frustration mentionned only via observations of Siuan from then on (we didn't need a Lelaine scene making completely irrelevant and stupid inquiries about orchards in Andor (!) we just needed a reference by Siuan that Lelaine was manipulating Gawyn, until as a last resort Siuan went to him for the rescue. For the rest, we needed one confrontation with Egwene, and one conversation with Elayne or Bryne or Siuan, not three scenes of the same whining and self-pity, with each of them in turn...

There's an amazing amount of fluff (like most of the new Pevara scene...) and too little substantial stuff in what Brandon has written. Really not surprising he's taken three big books when RJ planned one really huge one (which likely would have ended up split over two WH-sized volumes after he finished the whole, because of publication constraints)

Ieyasu
10-24-2012, 07:16 PM
Instead, he seized her! She was pulled into a tempestuous link

And the tempest's start again... I was hoping to make it through AMoL book without seeing that word... guess not...

Seriously, he needs a new thesaurus.

The link brought with it a storm of awareness.

I just KNOW that used to read: "a tempest of awareness"

so maybe they DID actually try to take out all the instances of tempest in the manuscript... but I wont believe it till I read it...

I am starting to get a bad feeling about this conclusion... I hope it does the series justice.

Ieyasu
10-24-2012, 07:22 PM
Now there is a storm of criticism, funny that.

Would you say its a tempest of criticism?

Weiramon
10-24-2012, 07:24 PM
That should play to Brandon's strengths as a writer.

Aye, that sets the blood pounding. As good a romp since the Affairs of the Hart and Stag.

kivo
10-24-2012, 08:34 PM
Yes, that's it exactly. It's the KevinJAndorsonitis all right.


C'mon man, KJA? That's a low blow.

Logain is coming to kick ass and take names. Looking forward to it.

Dom
10-24-2012, 09:55 PM
C'mon man, KJA? That's a low blow.

Logain is coming to kick ass and take names. Looking forward to it.

He's a much better storyteller than KJA in many ways, and I would never compare his own novels to KJA's (not that he would mind, Brandon thinks KJA's great), but they're still comparable in some aspects, and they share a few irritating habits as writers (including their reliance on way too many scenes, with too redundant stuff in them). It's a a bit of a puzzle with Brandon, as unlike KJA who does it all the time Brandon did it only for WOT, as if he had a lot of problems envisioning the project he had not conceived himself as a whole. His own books are much better balanced and structured, but the WOT books reads as he wrote them, disparate and often not very balanced story lines hastily assembled together in awkward ways.

neurotopia
10-24-2012, 11:31 PM
As bad as the writing in Chapter 2 is, it is understandable for the characters in that situation. I would still never compare it to the abortions KJA produced in the Dune saga.

Tedman
10-25-2012, 02:00 AM
Dom—That reminds me of something that bothered me in the prologue that I never mentioned. Androl thinking about how clever Emarin was with insults. If your characters are being clever with insults, you don't have to insult the intelligence of your readers by saying so, nor do you have to diminish the maturity of your character by having him say so.

TT—I doubt it. I think Logain sent them both in to inspect, like Rand did with Naeff, one by one.

This is what my friends and I call the Dune effect.


If you were making fun of Dune, it is basically the same thing.

Paul - "I know Gurney I'm sitting with my back to the door... I heard you, Dr Yueh and Gurney coming down the hallway"
Thuffir - "Those sounds could be IMMITATED"
Paul - "I'd know the difference..."
Thuffir - yesss maybe he would have
Paul - yes I would have
Thuffir - Yes... yes he would have

The one line of italics is what RJ would write. The next two is what Brandon adds.

1Powerslave
10-25-2012, 05:37 AM
Would you say its a tempest of criticism?
I don't know if either of those words suffice on their own, maybe it's time to bring them toghether to accurately describe the storming tempest of criticism. Storm Tempest. Wait, Dread Tempest!

neurotopia
10-25-2012, 10:18 AM
How dare you sir.

He started with the X-wing Star Wars novels. Get your god damn facts straight.



Which were at least entertaining by the virtue of my comparative lack of expectations. With Dune I expect something more insightful and deep, not a ticking-off of plot points and calling it a day.

Davian93
10-25-2012, 10:25 AM
Which were at least entertaining by the virtue of my comparative lack of expectations. With Dune I expect something more insightful and deep, not a ticking-off of plot points and calling it a day.

Though it should be mentioned he is also responsible for the abortions that were the Admiral Daala SW books...aka Jedi Academy Trilogy. Those books were pretty much the nadir of early SW novels. Up there with Truce at Bakura for fan-fic level of writing ability.

GonzoTheGreat
10-25-2012, 11:06 AM
Ahhh! I tell myself again and again to make allowances for BS - but no. This stuff is just depressing. I know it's not RJ so am alert for every little thing and getting thrown out of the story all over the place. And I know this and am trying to stop myself. AND I have what feels like the collective voice of Theoryland in my head reminding me of each issue. At this rate AMOL will drive me crazy ....
That's the point, isn't it?
It will get worse and worse, until you feel like abandoning all hope. And then, when you're totally at the bottom, you'll remember that RJ wrote the end. Hence, "a memory of light".

Sid
10-25-2012, 11:10 AM
That's the point, isn't it?
It will get worse and worse, until you feel like abandoning all hope. And then, when you're totally at the bottom, you'll remember that RJ wrote the end. Hence, "a memory of light".

But how are we supposed to know that if we're not told explicitly that it's a metaphor?

GonzoTheGreat
10-25-2012, 11:51 AM
But how are we supposed to know that if we're not told explicitly that it's a metaphor?
Read and find out.

Res_Ipsa
10-25-2012, 12:07 PM
Though it should be mentioned he is also responsible for the abortions that were the Admiral Daala SW books...aka Jedi Academy Trilogy. Those books were pretty much the nadir of early SW novels. Up there with Truce at Bakura for fan-fic level of writing ability.


There is Timothy Zahn for SW writers, and then there is everyone else.

neurotopia
10-25-2012, 03:54 PM
Though it should be mentioned he is also responsible for the abortions that were the Admiral Daala SW books...aka Jedi Academy Trilogy. Those books were pretty much the nadir of early SW novels. Up there with Truce at Bakura for fan-fic level of writing ability.


Ugh I had forgotten about those. Thanks for that. :p

The Angry Druid
10-25-2012, 09:12 PM
My hopes that aMoL won't suck are dimming fast.

While I didn't hate it, maybe my expectations have been lowered to the point that I can no longer be disappointed.

BS and Team Jordan seeming to miss essential facts about a man-woman link, who initiates, seeing the flows, etc. was jarring, and kind of pathetic given we saw it in one of the great scenes of the series.

I mean, wouldn't any author (or editor) make sure that both scenes comported with each other? I guess not. Still, that is mind blowing.

Elayne not being able to sense Aviendha, and getting her channeling back would also seem to be less obvious errors, but errors nonetheless.

And in typical BS fashion, every character is made to act foolish. Androl and Pevara (who are both supposed to kick ass) talking about small stuff (and ground they should have covered long ago) instead of how to get out of the predicament they are in. Did Pevara ever make her suggestions?

Ditto Avi and Elayne. And Elayne cursing in semi-public seemed a bit our of character. But she was far to flippant for me about Caemlyn being lost. I know Avi had already gone to the Wise Ones, so I'll let her off the hook a little bit.

Still, I think both POVs could have been added into the prologue with little effort and about 6-10 more pages less some of the silliness. In a book where we heard so much good stuff had to be left out, the inclusion of so much flotsam and jetsam, already, is disturbing.

EDIT: Not that RJ didn't include a lot that many deemed unnecessary, but it always added richness and detail. This was just added inanity. Avi sneaking? What is the point? She'd been with Elayne for months in Caemlyn, all the guards knew her, no chance she gets turned away?

Crap, here I was trying not to be too critical (and my initial reaction wasn't that bad), but the more I think about it, the worse it gets. RJ's better stuff, I can read over and over and enjoy, some of this, though...

Landro
10-29-2012, 02:10 PM
Audiobooks aren't really my thing. I hope I'll enjoy the written version better.


On the topic of Brandon being good/bad at writing the books. I'd like to say the following: Who else could have finished the series? Who could/would have set aside his/her own works for the thankless job of finishing another author's series? GRRM? not likely given that his own fans are already complaining about the delays his side projects take.


I almost forgot to brag about predicting the double bond more than a year ago :)

kivo
10-29-2012, 06:04 PM
On the topic of Brandon being good/bad at writing the books. I'd like to say the following: Who else could have finished the series? Who could/would have set aside his/her own works for the thankless job of finishing another author's series? GRRM? not likely given that his own fans are already complaining about the delays his side projects take.


People lose sight of this when they compare Sanderson to Jordan. Jordan finishing the series was sadly not an option. Sanderson needs to be compared to the realistic alternatives, which include the types of authors who write Star Wars and Star Trek books as these are folks who write in other people's series. Another realistic option is the series is never finished.

I believe he has done as good a job as anyone could reasonably expect if not better given the circumstances.

FelixPax
10-30-2012, 10:11 AM
Audiobooks aren't really my thing. I hope I'll enjoy the written version better.

Indeed.


On the topic of Brandon being good/bad at writing the books. I'd like to say the following: Who else could have finished the series?

Simply put, Harriet choose the wrong writer to finish her husband's epic work.

Brandon Sanderson didn't get it five years ago. Let alone now even. Brandon Sanderson didn't understand how World of Time was structured, then.
Brandon Sanderson and Team Jordan never did create a WoT metaphor index. This is one reason why TGS, ToM and AMoL books have been generally off overall--Character Voices, Imagery, Tone. (How do I know this? A Peter Ahstrom tweet months ago, to my twitter handle @TinkerPride.)




Who could/would have set aside his/her own works for the thankless job of finishing another author's series?

Thankless job?

What relatively new author wouldn't jump at the chance to receive a good contract? Let alone a fan base of millions readers?

No writing Wheel of Time books is a path to fame and riches. "The Chosen One" has done this very thing.

Unfortunately "The Chosen One" writes fan fiction. "The Chosen One" writes in Plain Chant. :rolleyes:

Tsofu
10-30-2012, 10:31 AM
Unfortunately "The Chosen One" writes fan fiction. "The Chosen One" writes in Plain Chant. :rolleyes:

AMEN to this sentiment! Thank you, FelixPax, for stating it so succinctly.

Tsofu

Terez
10-30-2012, 11:17 AM
Nah, RJ wrote in Plain Chant. Brandon writes in Common. :p

SauceyBlueConfetti
10-30-2012, 12:06 PM
Brandon Sanderson didn't understand how World of Time was structured, then.

this is priceless coming from you.


I love the snarkiness and slams on Brandon...any lame theory, drivel, nonsense can be explained away later as BRANDON DIDN'T GET IT and I am right, this is wrong, omg what a travesty...and on and on and on.

Whatever. If you all hate it so much, maybe we need a separate forum for folks who just want to bitch about the writing. Or, you could just not bother reading anymore. This is getting tiresome HERE.

Isabel
10-30-2012, 12:12 PM
yeah, it does seem that the new hype is criticising Brandon:D

I do agree with some or even most of it, but still....
It's kind of weird that all the free stuff we got has such a bad response and make people more worried about aMoL.

FelixPax
10-30-2012, 12:12 PM
Nah, RJ wrote in Plain Chant. Brandon writes in Common. :p

Chuckles, you have a sharp point. Common. :(

At times "The Chosen One" can dive into in Plain Chant. Where? See AMoL Prologue. Why? It's veiled.

Terez
10-30-2012, 12:20 PM
this is priceless coming from you.


I love the snarkiness and slams on Brandon...any lame theory, drivel, nonsense can be explained away later as BRANDON DIDN'T GET IT and I am right, this is wrong, omg what a travesty...and on and on and on.

Whatever. If you all hate it so much, maybe we need a separate forum for folks who just want to bitch about the writing. Or, you could just not bother reading anymore. This is getting tiresome HERE.
Likewise, you could stop reading this thread if it bothers you. Sometimes people need to vent.

FelixPax
10-30-2012, 12:21 PM
yeah, it does seem that the new hype is criticising Brandon:D

New?

Disagree. I've noted numerous problems with "The Chosen One" writings for WoT. Its just been a sad experience to read WoT, the past five years.

"The Chosen One" is not a peer of Robert Jordan's quality. Wish it was different, but its the truth.
He lacks a poet's apt use of language.

Terez
10-30-2012, 12:23 PM
Isa bitched about Brandon before it was cool. ;)

Isabel
10-30-2012, 12:24 PM
Felix: I do consider it a hype now. The critisism is still valid, but there is much more now that after TGS came out.

I am not talking about individual complaints, but looking at the reactions on different forum now its like a hype, everyone is doing it.

Isabel
10-30-2012, 12:26 PM
Isa bitched about Brandon before it was cool. ;)

I don't think i was that vocal about it or even posted much about it. I did mention stuff I didn't like. I still think Brandon does his best.

However, I think there were others who really bitched about it before it was cool.
I think Dom was one of them.

And I do think there was some critisism about the timeline after TGS.

GonzoTheGreat
10-30-2012, 12:28 PM
Sanderson has the problem that he has to continue the work of another writer. Usually, at best, that results in a book that seems written by a committee (see the Dune sequels, for instance). In this case, it is still quite good, but, admittedly, not of the same consistent quality that RJ on his own managed to achieve.

FelixPax
10-30-2012, 12:29 PM
Whatever. If you all hate it so much, maybe we need a separate forum for folks who just want to bitch about the writing. Or, you could just not bother reading anymore. This is getting tiresome HERE.

When a person sees a series they have enjoyed for 20 plus years reduced in quality. Its bothersome, especially when a person "knows" they could have done much better.

Robert Jordan once had a similar feeling to other authors prior works, before becoming an bestselling author. It's not an unique observation.

SauceyBlueConfetti
10-30-2012, 12:32 PM
When a person sees a series they have enjoyed for 20 plus years reduced in quality. Its bothersome, especially when a person "knows" they could have done much better.

Robert Jordan once had a similar feeling to other authors prior works, before becoming an bestselling author. It's not an unique observation.

No it is not unique. But it is boring at this point and...has nothing to do with the actual story being discussed. Points of fact being argued as to whether a dual bond is accurate is on topic, and interesting. Comments that Brandon is the "wrong choice" are pointless here after the first 10. And there are those *ahem* who will use this as a pitiful excuse to say their ideas are accurate and the writer is wrong.

More power to you though. Ultimately, it is all just entertainment.

Davian93
10-30-2012, 12:35 PM
this is priceless coming from you.


I love the snarkiness and slams on Brandon...any lame theory, drivel, nonsense can be explained away later as BRANDON DIDN'T GET IT and I am right, this is wrong, omg what a travesty...and on and on and on.

Whatever. If you all hate it so much, maybe we need a separate forum for folks who just want to bitch about the writing. Or, you could just not bother reading anymore. This is getting tiresome HERE.

Hell, even I agree on that point.

FelixPax
10-30-2012, 12:35 PM
More power to you though. Ultimately, it is all just entertainment.

An entertainment option which has finally lost a hardback book sale to this long-time fan.

Terez
10-30-2012, 12:36 PM
I don't think i was that vocal about it or even posted much about it. I did mention stuff I didn't like. I still think Brandon does his best.

However, I think there were others who really bitched about it before it was cool.
I think Dom was one of them.

And I do think there was some critisism about the timeline after TGS.
Your loudest criticism was for the split, which I thought was unfounded criticism at the time, considering how most fans felt about the prospect of RJ actually finishing it in one more book after KOD. In retrospect, I can see that there is a lot of filler, and I think they might have tried a little harder to make the structure work with two books.

I have been fairly consistent with my criticism, but I used to hedge it differently. I'm not so sure Brandon does his best at all any more, and I'm also not so sure it's all his fault. I believe it could have been a whole lot better, and I'm not talking about picking a different author. Or anything to do with theories, for that matter.

Isabel
10-30-2012, 12:41 PM
My posts about the split was mostly before TGS was published.So I don't really count that:D

I do think the books could have been better, but that would have meant writing all the books together and than correcting all the errors.
Or take much more time between the books to correc the errors.

However, all options would have negative effects.

Davian93
10-30-2012, 12:51 PM
I am thinking that Brandon will be very, very happy when he is done with WoT and he can actually get back to his own work.

I also suspect that he will not be very active in future WoT events after aMoL is published.

Casabamelon
10-30-2012, 12:59 PM
Usually, at best, that results in a book that seems written by a committee

I think this is the heart of the problem. Sanderson is not writing the book. Sure, he's the primary author and has his name on the cover, but Harriet, Maria, et. al, all have a very large hand in what goes into the book. Sure, Harriet was RJ's editor and wife, so she had a larger hand than most, but WoT is still RJ's baby, and he has final say. Not so with Brandon. Anyone who has worked on a committee knows that a committee is a sure fire way to guarantee mediocrity.

Carp. Now I can't remember if Harriet has two T's.

FelixPax
10-30-2012, 03:14 PM
In retrospect, I can see that there is a lot of filler, and I think they might have tried a little harder to make the structure work with two books.

Disagree.

There are reasons for very single Robert Jordan WoT Chapter, just as Brandon Sanderson has sought to do the same thing.

What seems to be filler to some readers, is not filler, how ever error ridden it happens to be.


I have been fairly consistent with my criticism, but I used to hedge it differently. I'm not so sure Brandon does his best at all any more, and I'm also not so sure it's all his fault. I believe it could have been a whole lot better, and I'm not talking about picking a different author. Or anything to do with theories, for that matter.

On point one, "The Chosen One" hands and mind have been wandering elsewhere: Literary polyandry.

On point two, its partially a question of methodology and talent. His failure of methodology insight has corrupted his thousands of hours of persistent effort. Related he publicly stated, he could not write in the style of prose original author. That's a separate talent limitation, and should have been a red flag to Harriet McDougal. Why? It shows an underlining limitation of understanding how Robert Jordan structured his master narrative.

"The Chosen One" did not understand the power of prose, as Robert Jordan did and E.O. Wilson does.

Terez
10-30-2012, 03:24 PM
"The Chosen One" hands and mind have been wandering elsewhere: Literary polyandry.
I wouldn't blame him entirely for that; he was enthusiastically encouraged to publish more books by Tom Doherty. Of course, Brandon had to take breaks from writing WoT so he didn't go crazy, but I tend to think they went a bit overboard with the publishing during this time period.

1Powerslave
10-30-2012, 04:46 PM
I haven't thought of that aspect, but writing in a committee would be very crippling in many ways... Yet, my mind has instead wandered in the other direction. That perhaps Harriet has been uninspired and a bit lost and not putting in her best effort. Perhaps feeling that she can't blame Brandon too much, thinking he does his best, and not expecting RJ quality from him, and so letting things pass... I'm thinking she maybe should've gone harder at Brandon, and that that would have been helping him. Now she may have been backing off, letting him do his thing and not stopping things like Hinderstap. Course I have no idea, but that is the direction I think it went. A new situation for all involved. For this project Brandon needed to listen to critical examination. Though not from bitching fans of course, but from people like Harriet and a few close WoT experts.

kivo
10-30-2012, 07:23 PM
Well, sheeeeet. Maybe Harriet should just sell the Wheel of Time to Disney.

FelixPax
10-30-2012, 07:46 PM
I'm thinking she maybe should've gone harder at Brandon, and that that would have been helping him. Now she may have been backing off, letting him do his thing and not stopping things like Hinderstap.


Hinderstap is consistent with Robert Jordan master narrative.

Souls are falling to Earth. From where? The TAR.

What's a literary clue?
Nightlily's owner's name, given in KoD Chapter 1: Nemaris.

(Nemaris is a wordplay on the Greek deity Nemesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemesis_%28mythology%29). Nyx is wordplay for Nynaeve al'Meara character. Just as Nyn is a Hebrew name for Nynaeve al'Meara.)


Why? The Dark One arrives in the TAR first. How? All-Time exists in the TAR. Birgitte even claims this at Falme. However a problem exists, the Dark One's invasion of Earth's TAR, will transform a TAR to a timeless dreamless place.

It's a choice of death in the TAR, or a chance at life on Earth for dead souls. Even Ogier souls, as their Steddings are tied to Earth's very being.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nynaeve has a problem.

How to flee Earth, without Dreaming and or Channeling saidar, saidin & the True Power?


Possible speculative solution:

Use the Tinker's Lost Song, to operate a Portal Stone to flee to a new World--a new Dream.

yks 6nnetu hing
10-31-2012, 06:05 AM
yet again it's proven that no good deed goes unpunished.

While we at TL highly appreciate and support free thought and free speech, please take into account that this is a site dedicated to the discussion and fandom of the Wheel of Time books. Yes, sometimes we're not happy about certain aspects of the books (most frequently when a nifty theory gets obliterated) and certainly everyone has a right to their opinion; but please keep the negativity in perspective with the big picture? Brandon Sanderson has taken time out of his own career to finish the work of Robert Jordan. He's doing a remarkably good job stepping into the mind and world of another person. If you think you can do better, fine: you're welcome to write your own Fantasy series, and when you're at #1 on the Times list you can come back and tell us "I told you so". Until then, please stop the virulent bitching?

GonzoTheGreat
10-31-2012, 06:34 AM
If you think you can do better, fine: you're welcome to write your own Fantasy series, and when you're at #1 on the Times list you can come back and tell us "I told you so".
Almost worth it, just to hear the reactions. But it would too much hard work for only a momentary pleasure, which is of course the only reason why I don't do this.

Zombie Sammael
10-31-2012, 07:24 AM
When a person sees a series they have enjoyed for 20 plus years reduced in quality. Its bothersome, especially when a person "knows" they could have done much better.

Robert Jordan once had a similar feeling to other authors prior works, before becoming an bestselling author. It's not an unique observation.

(emphasis mine)

Master of the lightnings, rider on the storm,
wearer of a crown of swords, spinner out of fate.
Who thinks he turns the Wheel of Time,
may learn the truth too late.

FelixPax
10-31-2012, 09:52 AM
Yes, sometimes we're not happy about certain aspects of the books (most frequently when a nifty theory gets obliterated) and certainly everyone has a right to their opinion; but please keep the negativity in perspective with the big picture? Brandon Sanderson has taken time out of his own career to finish the work of Robert Jordan.

Are you claiming B.S. decided to write three WoT book out of the goodness of his heart for five years? For Charity? :rolleyes:


Disagree. B.S. market of readers was much much smaller before taking Harriet's offer. B.S isn't clueless, he knew by writing WoT books it would increase his sales of Mistborn, Warbreaker and other prior released books (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandon_Sanderson#Short_works). He even stated all his previous books, hit sales highs upon The Gathering Storm's release. Brandon is as much a Capitalist as a Writer. (He's stated this repeatedly in the past.)

How do you think Brandon was able to purchase a bigger house, after TGS? Harriet's contract pushed his income to a new level.

I'm wish Brandon well in his writing career. However I stand by my viewpoint, he should not have been chosen by Harriet to finish the WoT series.

FelixPax
10-31-2012, 12:31 PM
(emphasis mine)

Master of the lightnings, rider on the storm,
wearer of a crown of swords, spinner out of fate.
Who thinks he turns the Wheel of Time,
may learn the truth too late.

You want an essay to answer your quotation's subject?

Your above quotation is as important to AMoL book, as this earlier Verin's quotation spoken to Egwene al'Vere:


(1) Truth burns and sears. (2) Hope fails before truth. (3) A lie is our shield. (4) Who can stand against the Heart of the Dark? (5) Who can face the Betrayer of Hope?

The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 21 'A World of Dreams'


(1)(2)

The first two lines setup plot arcs. Rand will die, before the true blind Dragon soul saves his People. Two sunsets in a day, one by Rand/Ishamael dual faced being, the second by Warder Valan Luca. Hope is lost between the two sunsets in a day.


(3)

The third line, setups marriage(s). Who's marriage(s)?


Tenobia si Bashere Kazadi, the Shield of the North.
Matrim Cauthon, as Artur Hawking was known as "the Shield" (LoC, Chapter 22).
Siuan, "shield of the Amyrlin's stole".
Logain.

Each will wed in AMoL book.
To shorten this thread, I haven't listed the many other 'Shields' included in this grand lie, who will wed soon.



(4)

Who is the "Heart of the Dark"?

Ishamael, who is now known as Moridin (In Old Tongue it means, Death).

Ba’alzamon (bah-AHL-zah-mon):
In the Trolloc tongue, “Heart of the Dark.” Believed by most, erroneously, to be the Trolloc name for the Dark One. See also Dark One; Trollocs.

The Shadow Rising, Glossary


(5)

Robert Jordan was tricky with the true identity of who the "Betrayer of Hope" is. It is NOT Ishamael. Ishamael's memories and knowledge is limited and possesses errors, see TPoD Prologue--Moridin POV.

Lews Therin's memories describe the 'Destroyer of Hope' being Sammael, not Ishamael or Moridin. What did Sammael do? Betray. Create a lost of Hope. Who is Sammael is now known as? 'The Creature' as of ToM book.

“Sammael,” Rand said, but not in answer. He was just speaking the thoughts that drifted through the Void. “I remember when he was first named Destroyer of Hope. After he betrayed the Gates of Hevan and carried the Shadow down into the Rorn M’doi and the heart of Satelle . Hope did seem to die that day. Culan Cuhan wept. What is wrong?” Asmodean’s face had gone as white as Sulin’s hair; he only shook his head mutely. Rand peered at the pavilion. Whoever was speaking now, he did not know her. “Is that where they are waiting for me? Then I should join them."


The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 44 "The Lessor Sadness"-- Rand al'Thor point of view, with Asmodean, Lan, Sulin.


Yes in a way Padan Fain Mordeth Sammael is a Hero. Its being fights against the Dark One.

Sammael is consistent in betraying a side in every Age. Being it, the Light or the Dark. He seeks independence. He seeks 'the Power'. He seeks control over his own Dreams. He seeks his own Dreams, his own Creation.

Note: Padan Fain Sammael Mordeth concept of 'The Power' is as the Aelfinn and Eelfinn define 'the Power' to Matrim Cauthon previously.

Hugh the Hand
10-31-2012, 01:11 PM
You want an essay to answer your quotation's subject?

Your above quotation is as important to AMoL book, as this earlier Verin's quotation spoken to Egwene al'Vere:





(1)(2)

The first two lines setup plot arcs. Rand will die, before the true blind Dragon soul saves his People. Two sunsets in a day, one by Rand/Ishamael dual faced being, the second by Warder Valan Luca. Hope is lost between the two sunsets in a day.


(3)

The third line, setups marriage(s). Who's marriage(s)?


Tenobia si Bashere Kazadi, the Shield of the North.
Matrim Cauthon, as Artur Hawking was known as "the Shield" (LoC, Chapter 22).
Siuan, "shield of the Amyrlin's stole".
Logain.

Each will wed in AMoL book.
To shorten this thread, I haven't listed the many other 'Shields' included in this grand lie, who will wed soon.



(4)

Who is the "Heart of the Dark"?

Ishamael, who is now known as Moridin (In Old Tongue it means, Death).




(5)

Robert Jordan was tricky with the true identity of who the "Betrayer of Hope" is. It is NOT Ishamael. Ishamael's memories and knowledge is limited and possesses errors, see TPoD Prologue--Moridin POV.

Lews Therin's memories describe the 'Destroyer of Hope' being Sammael, not Ishamael or Moridin. What did Sammael do? Betray. Create a lost of Hope. Who is Sammael is now known as? 'The Creature' as of ToM book.




Yes in a way Padan Fain Mordeth Sammael is a Hero. Its being fights against the Dark One.

Sammael is consistent in betraying a side in every Age. Being it, the Light or the Dark. He seeks independence. He seeks 'the Power'. He seeks control over his own Dreams. He seeks his own Dreams, his own Creation.

Note: Padan Fain Sammael Mordeth concept of 'The Power' is as the Aelfinn and Eelfinn define 'the Power' to Matrim Cauthon previously.

Do people typically ignore these posts? Valan Luca as a warder? I thought he was a hero of the horn or some nonesense? Just like Mat has been reborn as Oliver..........

1Powerslave
10-31-2012, 01:17 PM
Do people typically ignore these posts? Valan Luca as a warder? I thought he was a hero of the horn or some nonesense? Just like Mat has been reborn as Oliver..........
If you want to ignore a user's posts you can put them on the ignore list.

Zombie Sammael
10-31-2012, 01:36 PM
If you want to ignore a user's posts you can put them on the ignore list.

Except if they are a mod.

Landro
10-31-2012, 01:39 PM
I'm wish Brandon well in his writing career. However I stand by my viewpoint, he should not have been chosen by Harriet to finish the WoT series.

Could you perhaps name some better candidates instead?

Yaunzaul
10-31-2012, 02:27 PM
It is pretty amazing to suggest someone else would do a better job. RJ is dead. Therefore, no matter who took the job there was always going to be problems. The only one who could have finished it the *exact* way it was intended is dead.

Yeesh. Enjoy the ride folks.

1Powerslave
10-31-2012, 03:22 PM
Except if they are a mod.
I didn't know that. I tried to add myself to my ignore list to confirm, and sadly it wasn't possible. Wait, how did you come to know that? :D

Ieyasu
10-31-2012, 03:27 PM
Could you perhaps name some better candidates instead?

Harriet herself... any anonymous ghost rider... anyone who listens to criticism rather than dismissing it all as sanderson says... there is nothing special about sanderson on this project, it has made his career, but at the expense of someone elses work. It would have done the same for any other noob author they choose, but perhaps they wouldnt have the arrogance to ignore negative criticism when he fucks up. Perhaps someone else wouldnt try to ride the coattails so hard...

EDIT: by ghost rider i mean ghost writer... lol

I didn't know that. I tried to add myself to my ignore list to confirm, and sadly it wasn't possible. Wait, how did you come to know that?
Cuz he tried to ignore Terez lol...

Davian93
10-31-2012, 03:29 PM
That's pretty stupid. Harriet is an editor, not a writer. She'd be the first to tell you that.

Honestly at this point, the criticism of BS is going overboard.

I am annoyed at some of it too but really, its time to lay off of him.

Also, its complete BS that its "made his career". He was already 2 full books into Mistborn before RJ even died. He was already well on his way to establishing himself as a name in the industry before he was picked.

Ieyasu
10-31-2012, 03:41 PM
That's pretty stupid. Harriet is an editor, not a writer. She'd be the first to tell you that.

Honestly at this point, the criticism of BS is going overboard.

I am annoyed at some of it too but really, its time to lay off of him.

I have been following this series since the hard cover release of The Great Hunt. I am more than entitled to express my opinion after 23+ years of purchasing into this franchise, especially when i see it going to hell. And especially in a thread that has been created solely for that purpose. I said years ago when he picked up the contract that I would wait to see how he does... sadly hes not doing so hot now, and it both scares me and hurts me. If you dont want to see it, then you should do as Terez suggested and not look at this thread... neh?

You think Harriet cant write? You do realize she is a poet, right? I think she would have done a better job than sanderson is doing. Though I think it might be hard for her to write in her late husband's world because of the issue of loss... As an editor, I think she is more than capable of writing. As the other poster asked for other candidates, I made my suggestions. As a published author herself, and a long time editor, what makes you think she is incapable of writing?


EDIT:
Also, its complete BS that its "made his career". He was already 2 full books into Mistborn before RJ even died. He was already well on his way to establishing himself as a name in the industry before he was picked.

It did make his career. He was a nobody that very few ppl ever heard of, now hes a best seller based solely on usurping WoT fame. His books will continue to be best sellers solely because of the exposure he received from the WoT project. There is nothing wrong with that, but trying to act like this scrub was a somebody before hand is ridiculous. You yourself acknowledge that he was in the process of establishing himself, not already established. WoT is what established him, not his own work. His own work has benefited immensely because of his WoT exposure, not the other way around. WoT made his career and made his name big, not that young adult piece of crap mistborn series...

Davian93
10-31-2012, 03:45 PM
I have been following this series since the hard cover release of The Great Hunt. I am more than entitled to express my opinion after 23+ years of purchasing into this franchise, especially when i see it going to hell. And especially in a thread that has been created solely for that purpose. I said years ago when he picked up the contract that I would wait to see how he does... sadly hes not doing so hot now, and it both scares me and hurts me. If you dont want to see it, then you should do as Terez suggested and not look at this thread... neh?

You think Harriet cant write? You do realize she is a poet, right? I think she would have done a better job than sanderson is doing. Though I think it might be hard for her to write in her late husband's world because of the issue of loss... As an editor, I think she is more than capable of writing. As the other poster asked for other candidates, I made my suggestions. As a published author herself, and a long time editor, what makes you think she is incapable of writing?

Poetry=/=Epic Fantasy

Editing=/=Writing

I know these are hard concepts to understand. As to your opinion, of course you are entitled to it. Just as I am entitled to call it stupid.

Durvasha
10-31-2012, 03:47 PM
I have been following this series since the hard cover release of The Great Hunt. I am more than entitled to express my opinion after 23+ years of purchasing into this franchise, especially when i see it going to hell. And especially in a thread that has been created solely for that purpose. I said years ago when he picked up the contract that I would wait to see how he does... sadly hes not doing so hot now, and it both scares me and hurts me. If you dont want to see it, then you should do as Terez suggested and not look at this thread... neh?

You think Harriet cant write? You do realize she is a poet, right? I think she would have done a better job than sanderson is doing. Though I think it might be hard for her to write in her late husband's world because of the issue of loss... As an editor, I think she is more than capable of writing. As the other poster asked for other candidates, I made my suggestions. As a published author herself, and a long time editor, what makes you think she is incapable of writing?


I do not know about other things, but I think she is incapable of writing WOT, because she was not chosen to write it. By herself and by people who knew her, who had seen her work.

Ieyasu
10-31-2012, 03:54 PM
Poetry=/=Epic Fantasy

Editing=/=Writing

I know these are hard concepts to understand. As to your opinion, of course you are entitled to it. Just as I am entitled to call it stupid.

It was a suggestion, I did not say it was the best one, merely better than sanderson's bullshit hack fan-fic. If I (and everyone else in case you were speaking to ppl in general rather than just me) is entitled to our opinions, why are you telling me to lay off of him? You know he doesnt read negative criticism anyway... and if you dont like it, then I suggest you follow Terez' advice and simply not read it...

Terez
10-31-2012, 04:09 PM
I think Harriet probably never considered writing it. She has the gift of good prose, to be sure, but writing a story is different from writing a poem. I've done both, and enjoy both, but writing a novel is a very time-consuming, long-term project. On top of that, Harriet's WoT-fu is probably not as good as Brandon's is, despite the fact that she edited it. And Brandon's fu is, even after years of practice, not that great.

On top of all that, while most of us long-term fans suffered emotionally from RJ's death, it might be helpful factor in a few orders of magnitude for Harriet and imagine what she was going through at the time she had to make the choice. I wish she had waited a little longer, not because I think she should have necessarily picked someone else, but because that would have given her some time to plan a little better. Some of her early comments made it clear that getting to work on AMOL helped her manage her grief, though, and I can respect that.

Zombie Sammael
10-31-2012, 04:09 PM
I didn't know that. I tried to add myself to my ignore list to confirm, and sadly it wasn't possible. Wait, how did you come to know that? :D

Been ignorin' mods since the day after I got here. ;)

Ieyasu
10-31-2012, 04:13 PM
I think Harriet probably never considered writing it. She has the gift of good prose, to be sure, but writing a story is different from writing a poem. I've done both, and enjoy both, but writing a novel is a very time-consuming, long-term project. On top of that, Harriet's WoT-fu is probably not as good as Brandon's is, despite the fact that she edited it. And Brandon's fu is, even after years of practice, not that great.

On top of all that, while most of us long-term fans suffered emotionally from RJ's death, it might be helpful factor in a few orders of magnitude for Harriet and imagine what she was going through at the time she had to make the choice. I wish she had waited a little longer, not because I think she should have necessarily picked someone else, but because that would have given her some time to plan a little better. Some of her early comments made it clear that getting to work on AMOL helped her manage her grief, though, and I can respect that.

Yeah, I mentioned her personal loss. I do not know that if they picked anyone else anything would be different at all... i jsut dont like the directions its going in now and can only blame sanderson... I think the best bet would have been to pick a ghost writer... atleast the last 3 books wouldnt look different on my shelf then...

Davian93
10-31-2012, 04:14 PM
Yeah, I mentioned her personal loss. I do not know that if they picked anyone else anything would be different at all... i jsut dont like the directions its going in now and can only blame sanderson... I think the best bet would have been to pick a ghost writer... atleast the last 3 books wouldnt look different on my shelf then...

The appearance of your bookshelf definitely should have been the first consideration...

Ieyasu
10-31-2012, 04:53 PM
The appearance of your bookshelf definitely should have been the first consideration...

It is far from my first consideration, but it does bother me. Some of these books have been on my shelf for over 20 years, yes, I care how they appear on it. It is the reason I havent bought the leather-bound editions, because the spines are not uniform. The titles do not align, some are horizontal, some are vertical. Those things bother me, perhaps it isnt important to you... but I care about how it looks on my shelf. Hopefully they will come out with an entire special edition series that does have unity in appearance. But that is just the OCD in me peeking out, and has nothing to do with what a shitty writer sanderson is, or how badly I feel he is handling this last book. The other thing I hope is that they actually spend some time on editing this time around... the quantity of spelling errors in the past two books has been absurd, and I havent seen the same in sanderson's other works, nor was it so rampant when Jordan was alive... I dont know who to blame that on ultimately, as the editors should catch such... and yet its sanderson who is submitting them full of typos etc.

I am not going to lay off of him just because it hurts your fanboy feelings. He took up this mantle and I do not feel it is too much to ask that he maintains the standards that were set out in the previous 12 books... standards that have been slipping down successively with each book sanderson has published in this franchise. With each book he has lowered the bar, and the arrogance in saying he doesnt listen to criticism about it is akin to Terry Goodkind thinking his Sword of Truth series isnt fantasy...

Davian93
10-31-2012, 05:05 PM
... the quantity of spelling errors in the past two books has been absurd, and I havent seen the same in sanderson's other works, nor was it so rampant when Jordan was alive... I dont know who to blame that on ultimately, as the editors should catch such... and yet its sanderson who is submitting them full of typos etc

At this point, its just comical criticism. Editing issues are the fault of the Editor, not the submitter. If a team of editors led by Harriet is missing these errors, that's on them, not the author...especially given the lack of errors in Brandon's own work.

fdsaf3
10-31-2012, 05:30 PM
Here's my two cents on the issue.

First, it's been hashed and rehashed (hey, welcome to Theoryland!) that Brandon doesn't have "the voice" of certain characters. To me, that's whatever. It's not possible for another author to 100% recapture the voice of another author's characters. Get over it.

Second, for those of you lambasting Brandon - you must be wearing one hell of a pair of rose colored glasses. RJ was far, far, far from a perfect writer. I respect the man and admire his work, but let's take a step back here. If we're going to criticize Brandon for poor writing, you'd sure better hold that magnifying glass up to RJ's prose.

Terez
10-31-2012, 05:52 PM
Some of us have. And even Brandon doesn't try to pretend that there's not an objective difference, tastes aside.

Landro
10-31-2012, 06:04 PM
I think we can all agree that we would have preferred if RJ had finished the series. Harriet would have wished for that even more than us fanboys and fangirls. Unfortunately that is not possible.

RJ left his legacy in Harriet's hands. There's an old interview where he stated that if he'd die before finishing the series, he wanted all his notes to be burned. Obviously, he changed his mind. He choose to let Harriet pick a writer to finish his work and she did. Maybe he urged her not to wait too long but that's just speculating.

RJ's shoes were big and not easy to fill. Myself, I cannot even imagine starting the task of fishing a series like WoT even though I know quite a lot about it. (perhaps more than Brandon before he had access to RJ's notes) I can see why other writers might have declined the offer to finish the books. Perhaps other writers have been approached but it would have been unwise to announce that.

Brandon had some level of success with his own books before he was announce as the writer to finish WoT. His sales have, without a doubt, profited from it. I think he would have done well even if he had declined the offer, although at a lower number of sales. As Cory Doctorov pointed out, the biggest obstacle for any artist is to overcome obscurity and this certainly helped Brandon overcome his obscurity. It's interesting to note that GRRM had the same problem when a game of Thrones was first published. (GRRM owes a lot to RJ's endorsement)

I think most established writers would much rather work on their own worlds than on somebody else's, but you'd still want a writer with at least several books published. Brandon fit the bill. If you know of any candidates who would have done better, I'd love to hear it. So far all people have come up with are 'some other noob writer' and 'a ghostwriter'.

Brandon's work has it's flaws. He was originally a fan like us and has his favorites among the cast as a result. He's also made some continuity errors but he's in good company because RJ did the same.

Let's just be glad that many people have spent a lot of time and effort to deliver the conclusion of RJ's story. If you call yourself a long time fan and claim you won't buy aMoL, I call your bluff.

Zombie Sammael
10-31-2012, 06:09 PM
Here's something else: RJ at his worst is not as good as Brandon at his best.

There are points where RJ's characters descend to caricatures; they're Terry Pratchett-esque, comparable to David Eddings. During these times his prose style slips as well, and it's often with his female characters when doing a very close, almost first-person point of view. This is particularly evident in Crossroads of Twilight, hence why it's one of the less well-liked books. The characters begin to seem indistinct, all thinking in the same way. To me it's one of the series' biggest flaws, especially with the newer and less-developed characters. How many times has it been commented that all Aes Sedai are the same selfish, scheming, short-sighted types? That's a flaw in the writing, because while RJ certainly wanted common traits to the Tower-trained characters, he did not want them to seem indistinct.

Brandon, in his own works and in WOT, does not have this problem - even in the POV we have from Chapter 2 (not denying that has its own set of problems, but the specific problem with voice I'm talking about is not one of them). Pevara remains unique, as does Elayne, as does Egwene; Rand does not read like Mat, whatever your problems with Mat, and he even manages to make Perrin stand out.

At his worst, Brandon is not as accomplished a writer as RJ could hope to be. But RJ's skill does not begin where Brandon's ends. There is substantial overlap between them.

Sid
10-31-2012, 06:19 PM
I'm getting it from the library. I was going to buy it, but the stuff they released already made me change my mind. Other than the Isam section from the prologue the quality ranged from below average to laughably bad.

Their claim to use extra time to 'do it right' this time looks like a bold-faced lie from what we've gotten so far. Continuity issues, characters regressing to how they were in early books rather than progressing forward, and banal dialogue are issues that seem to have become worse, rather than better.

So yeah, if anything I'll wait for the paperback to come out unless the ending is so mind blowingly fantastic that it was worth this mess to get there. I did make a bookshelf around when TGS was going to come out specifically for my full paperback collection of the series, and it'd be a shame if I had to keep my 'A Storm of Swords' in the last spot to make it all fit properly.

Tollingtoy
10-31-2012, 06:46 PM
Brandon Sanderson has taken time out of his own career to finish the work of Robert Jordan. He's doing a remarkably good job stepping into the mind and world of another person. If you think you can do better, fine: you're welcome to write your own Fantasy series, and when you're at #1 on the Times list you can come back and tell us "I told you so". Until then, please stop the virulent bitching?


I'm not one of the Brandon haters and I'd rather have a finished story than an unfinished story, but to say that Brandon was doing WOT fans some type of favor by taking this on is absurd. The amount of money and notoriety that he has received from finishing the WOT more than outweighs some people criticizing him on a message board. Even if it was incredibly hard for him to do this and even if people's complaining hurts his feelings, I'll bet all those extra copies of TWOK he sells will make up for it

Zombie Sammael
10-31-2012, 06:47 PM
So yeah, if anything I'll wait for the paperback to come out unless the ending is so mind blowingly fantastic that it was worth this mess to get there.

"This mess" being a prologue, two chapters, and excerpt. Oh, and the prologue was pretty good. Do try to keep some perspective, people. I'm sure Tor would leave to release the super-awesome section where Rand seals the Bore using Callandor (or whatever), featuring some of RJ's best writing since Moiraine's speech in TEOTW and largely unaltered by Brandon or any of the editors. Unfortunately, they can't, because that would BE A MASSIVE SPOILER. They have to release the first chapters, and by necessity, these are set-up.

Sid
10-31-2012, 08:45 PM
... You're implying the stuff released thus far isn't a mess? I guess I honestly don't know what to say to that.

Zombie Sammael
11-01-2012, 05:58 AM
... You're implying the stuff released thus far isn't a mess? I guess I honestly don't know what to say to that.

I neither said nor implied that. Stop trying to put words in my mouth.

Sid
11-01-2012, 09:21 AM
Just to clarify, I guess I should have said 'the mess' rather than 'this mess'. If what's been released so far is any indication, there will be a whole lot more to slog through, unless for some reason they decided to promote AMoL with the worst parts of the book to whet people's appetites for the ending.:confused: I find that pretty doubtful, so I think it's a safe assumption that the powers that be either didn't realize that it's not good, or didn't care enough to fix it, and we can expect more of the same for a large portion of AMoL.

greatwolf
11-01-2012, 04:25 PM
But what's the point in complaining? Just to let off steam? I bitched really hard when the decision to split the books came because I thought it could change things. I thought then that BS didn't understand the series and why he needed to end it quickly. Tampering with what you don't understand, well of course it was a flop on the way. But later I hoped and prayed I would be wrong.

Brandon can't channel. He's no gleeman. And he's liable to cut off his foot with an arrow! There was never much hope for it unless you gave him time to understudy what RJ had done over the course of a lifetime. Maybe six months to understand channeling alone. How long for the great game? How to be a general, much less a great one?

Its done. All that's left now are edits. BS can't change much now and most of this criticism is years late to do the series any good. We can hope though, that the ending won't be too bad. Can you imagine Demandred being clobbered by Leane? Or even Sorilea with an angreal? Lets just hope.

GonzoTheGreat
11-02-2012, 04:38 AM
Can you imagine Demandred being clobbered by Leane? Or even Sorilea with an angreal?
Sorilea with a candlestick in the pantry.

greatwolf
11-02-2012, 02:12 PM
Sorilea with a candlestick in the pantry.

Aiel don't have pantries Gonzo. Don't give BS any ideas. :)

GonzoTheGreat
11-03-2012, 04:51 AM
"Aviendha with a knife* in the pantry" has been one of the favorite answers to the Asmodean Mystery for quite a while. I suspect that BS heard about that, probably before he even started writing the last couple of books himself.

* Or sometimes another weapon.

AbbeyRoad
11-03-2012, 02:23 PM
I haven't read any of Brandon's work, besides what he has added to tWoT. As such, I have no idea how well Brandon manages his own characters and his own storylines when he has the primary vision of the project. However, I have seen him manage RJ's characters and storylines, and I'm unimpressed, but not shockingly so. I never expected Team WoT to find an exceptional writer to finish RJ's work; they are very few and far between, most stay away from the fantasy genre, and the ones who don't have their own high profile projects to complete. So I sifted through some of the surprisingly juvenile writing (at times) and was pleasantly surprised by some of the more competent writing (at times). I will say my biggest disappointment with Brandon isn't his failure to nail down character voices (which would have been impossible for him), or his contradictions and errors (which is the fault of the editing team; far too much material to expect a new author to know), but his lack of any apparent subtlety. RJ was a "show me, don't tell me" style of writer, and Brandon has all of his characters announcing their thoughts and feelings, motivations... everything. Terez explained it perfectly; RJ has his characters say clever, funny, and insightful things, while Brandon has his characters announce that what they're saying is clever, funny, or insightful. It is a remarkably unrefined writing style, and is the biggest issue I have with any of the books; it makes his characters seem 1-dimensional and completely unrealistic, which was a strength of RJ.

To those saying he's not trying hard enough, I find that thought process highly unlikely. The WoT fan base is much larger than his own; he would be a fool not to attempt to complete the work as well as his ability provides. I don't think he's "not trying hard enough." I think what we're given is him trying very hard, take that as you will. In my opinion, he took on a project an order of magnitude above his writing ability (and who wouldn't? What a wonderful opportunity for a young writer), and is doing his best; I'm okay with that. I certainly won't buy his independent work, and his contribution doesn't hold up to the level of scrutiny that RJ's does (who wasn't an extraordinarily well-rounded writer by any stretch of the imagination, himself, but was an excellent story-teller), but I don't hold them to the same standard, much the same way I don't hold RJ to the standard of Twain or Orwell.

Honestly, I always thought the series would have been better suited to hire an anonymous ghost writer (of which there are plenty competent) with the ability to mimic writing styles. I would also have preferred to see them edit out the extraneous plotlines and focus on condensed plot material to finish in one book, or two if absolutely necessary.

Terez
11-03-2012, 04:39 PM
Zombie mentioned earlier the caricaturish nature of RJ's characters. This is something I have been talking for years, and Brandon even went so far as to disagree (http://www.theoryland.com/intvmain.php?i=36#19) with me on that. But even RJ's caricatures are far more realistic characters than Brandon's stage actors. But I realize that all these little things that pull you out of the story are easier to ignore for some people. I found it difficult with TGS and TOM, but it's gotten to the 'impossible' point for me.

Zombie Sammael
11-03-2012, 05:05 PM
Zombie mentioned earlier the caricaturish nature of RJ's characters. This is something I have been talking for years, and Brandon even went so far as to disagree (http://www.theoryland.com/intvmain.php?i=36#19) with me on that. But even RJ's caricatures are far more realistic characters than Brandon's stage actors. But I realize that all these little things that pull you out of the story are easier to ignore for some people. I found it difficult with TGS and TOM, but it's gotten to the 'impossible' point for me.

I'd reiterate that neither the staged characters nor the caricatures are constant. Moiraine, for instance, always seems to be unique, even as Novice Moiraine. Siuan, on the other hand, is often indistinguishable from Nynaeve, who reminds me for all the world of Granny Weatherwax (there may be an essay in that). That's how I was able to keep reading through COT and through parts of TOM (the plot has also carried it for me through TGS and TOM).

I had something else to say, but it's slipped my mind, so I'll just leave this here and either post or edit it in later if it comes back.

Tedman
11-04-2012, 01:07 AM
Ever since I first posted what I thought the problem was (and so glaring in Mat), I went back and did a full reread.


I can't state it any better than when I first wrote "seeing things through Mat's(whomever) eyes when in the past we would be an observer, and then be an observer when we should be seeing through Mat."

I think some of what we (those of us, those precious few) think is good writing in the case of Egwene\Perrin is because of the structure of the characters.

I think we have people like Moiraine and Mat (Rand at times), who I don't believe Brandon would write well, I think Pevera SHOULD be an AS like Moiraine. Like with Mat, there is a way you wish the world was, but practicalities dictate sometimes vastly different responses then what you'd wish. Mat doesn't want to be a General, sits and thinks about it and figures out the way hes doing things, etc. Perrin and Egwene are blunt and straight forward, made even more apparent to me by how much training, and help, Egwene soaked up to be the person she now is manipulating the hall etc.


Is it any surprise that the first real adventures of the group occur in a pairing of Eg + Perrin and Mat + Rand?


We all at first think that Moirane and Nynaeve is an opposite pairing, but is it really? More and more I think they're exactly the same, and think about the world in as close a way as they can be for the opposite places they grew up in.

Luckily I think BS got a pass on Rand because hes been Dark Rand for most of one book and heart! CAPTAIN PLANETTTTTT for the next book.

All of the books are in some sense about balance, and I think that the characters all have initial journeys with those who they can gain something from, and then they go on to find their balance such as in the example of Perrin and Faile "Where he was a blunt and leveled lance at charge, she was a subtle cavalry bow."



TLDR: I hope RJ wrote the Moiraine stuff.

greatwolf
11-04-2012, 09:00 AM
Luckily I think BS got a pass on Rand because hes been Dark Rand for most of one book and heart! CAPTAIN PLANETTTTTT for the next book.



Yes, but wrongly timed. Plotwise, RJ said the forces of light were "on the ropes" as per KoD. But since then, Rand's actions and mannerisms have hardly been that of a leader of a side on the ropes. He's fixing things like a guy mending a spare, spare wheel. No urgency!

Imagine setting up a meeting with Egwene and taking a stroll through the countryside to get there, when he could have travelled or sent a messanger. Or he could even send nynaeve and you get nyn in the tower at the same time.

You don't need to be too clever to write most of that. Just write the plots, put them together, reread and then rewrite, tightening and compressing the plot and enriching it at the same time. And then do it again, and again!

I believe this is the way RJ did it, its simple but effective but time consuming. And you need to love what you're doing to get you through the tedium. But the results are usually worth it.

ETA: The urgency toward TLB has been lost. Even in TL, the dicussion has been somewhat muted compared with preTGS discussions.

Aulis Vaara
11-04-2012, 01:41 PM
Imagine setting up a meeting with Egwene and taking a stroll through the countryside to get there, when he could have travelled or sent a messanger. Or he could even send nynaeve and you get nyn in the tower at the same time.

On the flipside, Lews Therin Telamon lost because he rushed in. Rand now knows this and needs time to think things through. You can't rush that. And rushing other things prevents you from thinking. That part is definitely not a mistake, I think. That said, I wonder if team Jordan actually has a timeline of what Rand did during those thirty days.

A fortnight would've been more than enough, especially since two weeks in Randland is twenty days.

Dom
11-04-2012, 02:27 PM
Yes, but wrongly timed. Plotwise, RJ said the forces of light were "on the ropes" as per KoD. But since then, Rand's actions and mannerisms have hardly been that of a leader of a side on the ropes. He's fixing things like a guy mending a spare, spare wheel. No urgency!

Imagine setting up a meeting with Egwene and taking a stroll through the countryside to get there, when he could have travelled or sent a messanger. Or he could even send nynaeve and you get nyn in the tower at the same time.

I disagree with both your specific examples, those two scenes had their importance, and both likely came from RJ's outline (the symbolic association between Rand and apples goes back to the first chapter of EOTW. Tam grows fine apples, and turns them into the finest brandy (spirit of the apple) around. Tam's brandy has to be used with moderation, it can drive "sick and insane", however, used right, it makes you come back to your senses. Both the metaphors surfaced in the series. Mat and Rand once went crazy sick on Tam's brandy, and once RJ had the usually sensible Marin "taken by the dragon" and given a shot of brandy to return her to her unflappable self. In a sequence of LTT's youth memories, orchards appear again.

First, walking down the mountain and reaching Tar Valon going through the fields, seeing first hand the effects of his darkness, resonated strongly. It's with simple symbolism like this RJ added depth and mythologic relevance to a series that's hardly a deep psychological work. Show, don't tell. It's there, for the readers who care for such things, for the others it's Rand walking through fields, and that it reflects deep changes in Rand is not hammered on the head.

Tam and his orchard and brandy are the symbolic image for the character development that the difference between Rand and LTT was that this time he had been raised better. Beyond aspects such as mirroring the DO's powers and the "dragon is one with the land" etc., the scene in which Rand's mere presence makes apples grow and ripe "magically" is symbolic of his first step of his adulthood. Like Tam he can now grow apples and work to turn them into fine brandy. He's ready for fatherhood etc. It symbolized the epiphany and its success. This orchard was also meant to be a symbolic return to Rand's roots, which was parallelled for each character around the epiphany timeline: Egwene had gone back to being a serving girl, and was brought back to the Tinkers she met in EOTW, an encounter that had brought back her spririts and optimism. Mat was brought back to his trickster roots (the badger scene, and his tricking of the Finns) and Perrin realized he was at once king, leader husbdan and master-blacksmith.

As for the face-off between Rand and the Amyrlin, that was momenteous and long-planned (Elaida had foreseen it). The impact of the scene was diluted, I think, because this was probably supposed to be THE scene in which Rand relinquished his "earthly/political" power. He's no longer sees himself as some kind of Emperor above the rulers, he's the Champion of the Light at their side, their guide for the LB, not their king. Rand had understood that he couldn't be the dictator LTT had become in the WOS, in that scene he gave up all contention to be the leader of Aes Sedai (and Asha'man), acknowledged who Egwene was genuinely and voluntarily, and it was also a call for her to step up and fill the traditional political role the Amyrlin Seat.

However, I fully agree Brandon largely "killed" the feeling of urgency, IMHO it just didn't happen by having scenes such as this.

RJ had inflicted COT us, then sped things up in KOD in order to get all his ducks exactly aligned for AMOL. In order to keep a promise about a deadline that should never have been promised in the first place, Brandon convinced Harriet he could shuffle all the ducks around and come up with a first book for the promise date. He made a big mistake, and it's my main grievance with his work on the series.

RJ had planned a sudden and no doubt shorter spiraling into darkness and stagnation, tying everything into one big and ever tightening knot. AMOL was to have a intensely frustrating first act, where we would have wanted to slap sense into the characters quite a few times. Rand was entering the realm of Graendal who had orders to drive him insane with frustration. He had Semirhage as prisoner, dealt with that frustratingly - the readers having in mind the errors of Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene with Moghedien. Etc.

That storyline wasn't bad, but it was too long for the spiraling effect RJ had in mind. Too many episodes, too many POV switches to Egwene's storyline, too many Aviendha chapters (RJ never felt the need to give her a full POV cycle, and she didn't need one in TGS. Typically, we would have seen her punished and avoiding Rand through other eyes (Min's Rand's), and later we'd finally get her POV explaining what it was about, and sending her to Rhuidean.)

Egwene's storyline was "worse". It's mostly RJ, Brandon told us, but it's also mostly first draft RJ, and RJ diluted and stretched to accomodate changes Brandon made to the various timelines. Brandon used so many episodes with Rand, and many of those required breaks and jumps, days became weeks and weeks became months. And for all that, he didn't manage to properly use Graendal and Aran'gar as background threat as RJ had set up in KOD. RJ's set up was that Graendal got orders from Moridin to drive Rand insane with frustration but that Graendal's ally Aran'gar was a false one, planning to interfere with Graendal's network of agents to get Rand killed. LTT memories expected Graendal-style schemes, but there was dangerous/unpredictable interference by Aran'gar... Nothing came out of that, Graendal's schemes to fulfill her mission from Moridin remained disappointingly undeveloped.

Brandon's "loose" Rand storyline pushed the meeting with Tuon way forward on the calendar, and thus Egwene's story had to follow this timeline as well if Brandon was to have his Seanchan attack in the book. RJ had made a hugely surprising compromise with his usual storytelling in KOD, with his "Egwene super chapter" that summarized well her captivity. Brandon wasted that by returning to step by step storytelling, which seriously undermined the effect of gloom and doom and lost of control. RJ had even tied his hands with Elaida's dinner by announcing its timeline, Brandon found a way around this by having two dinners (that's not speculative, he said he split the scene), the events happening with RJ during the sole dinner now happening much later at the second dinner. Again, this speaks of RJ planning a more succinct yet more exciting, dramatic and suspenseful Egwene arc. She had her first big moment in the first punishment scene, then she went to the dinner full of clever intentions and midway she lost control and failed, and Elaida got beserk, in front of Meidani, who reported this to the Sitters/BA hunters. Egwene ended up in a cell, unable to achieve anything anymore yet refusing to be rescued. Siuan's frustration was mounting fast, the KOD set up with Lelaine played out far more dramatically and urgently with Egwene in much bigger trouble. Meanwhile the envoys to the BT left, again with a feeling of doom as Pevara's arc had begun where it belonged chronologically, following on the epilogue scene in KOD. To add to frustration, Logain had been left in Tear by Rand, useless to anything.

Instead, Brandon turned this into a storyline advancing like a snail, with many gaps serving no dramatic purpose except accommodating a stretched out Rand storyline. And we got repetitive scenes of Egwene talking to sisters to fill it up - taking months to achieve slowly what she was to have weeks at most to do, before Elaida decided to execute her. And Brandon used mostly just the core events RJ had drafted, apparently not seeing fit to actually flesh out the absent side events RJ had no yet created, that he used to add to the core only in later drafts... Lelaine's blackmail of Siuan barely played out, the fact Lelaine (obviously) maneged to get included among the embassy all the women (but Siuan/Sheriam) she had identified as secretely oath sworn to Egwene wasn't even mentionned until the final events of the storyline, when Lelaine's scheming to replace Egwene was no longer relevant. What a dramatic flair... That was supposed to serve to show us Lelaine was moving for the Seat and fast, and had just deprived Egwene of all the pawns she could move from captivity on the rebel political board but Siuan and Sheriam... but the necessary reveal of Lelaine as the (new) Blue Ajah Head to increase one more notch her authority on Siuan/Sheriam was pushed.. to the Glossary. That should have left Egwene with only one solution, and it was to come clean to Romanda and make an alliance with her to forestall Lelaine, yet another thing there were seeds for in Romanda's KOD POV but that Brandon didn't use. Romanda would have been angry and reluctant, adding the dimension that she may or not go along, and if not there was now another woman scheming to remove Egwene.

In the meantime, more and more Sitters and important sisters came to visit Egwene in her cell, Elaida was spiraling like Rand into darkness and insanity. Visits would have included Meidani (with a variant of the contact between Egwene and BA hunters, coming to investigate the dinner incident and what exactly Elaida had done as that suggested that after all Elaida might be BA...) and Alviarin (RJ had her go to Silviana as a plot device to bring her in contact with Egwene... Brandon wasted that), perhaps even an intriguing visit by Danelle - providing the important "oh shit, She really is Mesaana. What is she up to now?" factor. Instead we got a slow-mo and boring Lelaine half-hearted plot that didn't provide its desired effect, envoys gone forever without anyone too worried, a misplaced Pevara storyline diluted by having skipped a book after the KOD epilogue scene, Romanda (revealed as level-headed, skeptical but essentially loyal and genuinely concerned with the future of the Tower by her KOD POV) simply went back to pre-POV personality, and barely appeared. The rest of the rebel AS but Siuan simply vanished from the plot. Egwene had the Head of the Black Ajah and a nasty Forsaken near her, and yet that whole threat was completely pushed under the carpet, as the threat set up by Alviarin closing on the BA hunt and motivated by the DO's Hand in person was discarded, the last nail in the coffin of credibility... Alviarin spending well over a month after Talene vanished without dealing with the Sitters she identified as controlling Talene? No way.

All this because Brandon didn't manage to write a tight enough Rand storyline, delaying the meeting at Falme and thus forcing Egwene's story to finish a few weeks later that that, in time for the Seanchan attack. That also created another problem... the natural dramatic spot for Aviendha's Rhuidean vision #2 was right before Rand meets Tuon, when the odds of a real "Peace of the Dragon" was real and imminent. Brandon instead have Aviendha an arc and delayed her departure... because she couldn't return until Merrilor.

So TGS completely messed the alignment of RJ's ducks, and was made even heavier by including completely useless Perrin/Mat "prequels" of Brandon's invention.

It's pretty clear Jordan's first Mat scene is the one in the bar in Caemlyn. Surprise... Mat's already there, and he's got a mysterious letter, and still has not met Elayne, then the gholam attacks.

Then as the plot progressed, we learned Verin provided travelling and the letter is from her, and Mat has made promises about it to her. Intriguing, very intriguing.

Then Mat finally met Elayne and put the dragon scheme in motion. He dealt with the gholam, met Brigitte and then he was ready to leave for Ghenji.

It was... an ultra compact storyline, one in which we had the explanation for why Mat wouldn't leave Caemlyn until a certain date, and yet one in which RJ could simply make ellipses as nothing happened.. Mat was just...waiting. Rand was falling in darkness and seemed to desperately need Moiraine, Egwene was in a cell and perhaps about to be executed and yet Mat was just... waiting. The effect of frustration could be increased by delaying the reveal about his promise to Verin, leaving us with little to figure out why Mat was taking his time like this... There was a whole "Verin has delayed Mat for X days with a letter when it's becoming urgent he does some things... Why, oh why.. Shit.. she's not BA, is she?" factor playable in there. But no... again we got a stretched out storyline because Brandon had to live with his TGS timelines on the one hand, and because he had to get a book out of two storylines Jordan had set up to be fairly short and packing a punch in frustration and a feeling of block and stalling...

As it was the same with Perrin... RJ had set things up in KOD so his Asha'man could not provide travelling for weeks... just long enough to delay him until he moved to Andor. He even expedited the Masema stuff in the prologue, leaving only Galad to deal with... Perrin was stuck with over 100,000 refugees, bumped into the WC, got himself embroiled in the whole trial affair. RJ worked chronologically, so this was the opening of AMOL (thus the prologue scenes...). A first group of chapters to set things up, a return with a few more chapters later, then the resolution.

I'm sure the notion of dreamspike #2 and bringing Graendal in this storyline is Brandon's inventions, again to match the timelines and to expand Perrin's story to book length. Slayer was probably sent originally because of Masema's failure, to kill Perrin. Perrin sped up his training with Hopper to deal with that. Eventually that brought him in pursuit of Slayer to Tar Valon, where he bumped on Egwene's battle with BA/Mesaana, who striked not weeks after the WT reunification but on the night of Rand's epiphany. Then Perrin felt the call of the wolves on DM, witnessed the epiphany. He went back, the knot broke at the trial, he made his Hammer, fought and reached Andor. Shortish, efficient to frustrate but not over stretched and full of redundant chapters, advancing like a snail...

That's another casualty of a book split Brandon improvised, before finishing a first draft of the whole thing, put it all together as a book and analyzed it, worked to balance it out, spot where this needed tighening, what was missing etc.

He painted himself in a corner with TGS and paid for it with TOM which is an astoundingly bad novel (full of good episodes if too many, it's as a whole it's a disaster), with a structure worthy of an amateur attempting his first novel. The BT completely out of place (and chronology), characters forced to appear in two story lines several weeks apart, and out of order... Land artificially forced to advance like paralyzed snail with a procrastination syndrome, Aviendha forced to go spend weeks "meditating in the desert" after she got an urgent, terrible vision for the Aiel.. and when she finally returns it appears her "mediation" didn't do much to deepen and clear her view of things... Terrible storytelling, way below Brandon's standards.

The way Brandon split the material totally undermined what RJ had in mind, with the four main stories becoming dark and bugged down together, piling up to great effect on the reader, the Shadow advancing and the Light totally stuck, in the ropes. Perrin's story and Mat's story, told after the reader knew the "knot" was split open by Rand's epiphany lost much interest and purpose. The whole thing read as "they're making time before Merrilor". That Moiraine might be needed in relation to Rand's darkness stopped working as the red herring it was intended to be (to hide the fact Mat's not coming to Merrilor either, possibly). Aviendha's vision stopped making much sense.. it's not even a plan of Rand to impose a peace on everyone anymore, it was a "darkening Rand" plan from KOD Cadsuane had warned him seemed unwise and would be very impopular (a set up for Aviendha's vision right before Rand met Tuon). Having the epiphany happen in TGS was bad enough (ideally the book wouldn't have been split, but the next best thing to stay closer to the intended dramatic effect was to end it on the Seanchan attack and Rand vanishing from Tear...) , but Brandon made it worse by opening TOM with the announcement of Merrilor and in a month. Again that was done to match the timelines Brandon had desynchronized, and to leave room for pretty useless (and even detrimental) Egwene episodes.

RJ's midbook, prior to Merrilor was to pack one hell of a punch. The built up frustration lead to an explosion...The Shadow invaded the Borderlands, Rand vanished after nearly killing his father...Egwene, just released, paid for Rand's failure at Falme and got attacked by the Seanchan, Perrin was about to face a stupid trial and wouldn't be there for Rand (another red herring, but foreshadowed), Mat destroyed the gholam and left for Ghenji, the expedition made bleaker by Birgitte's last minute revelation she found no way out and died in there. Egwene reunited the Tower, destroyed the BA but Mesaana remained and would strike soon.Then the avalanche... Mat in Ghenji, Elayne rising to the Sun Throne, Rand's epiphany, Egwene defeating Mesaana, Perrin witnessing Rand and forging his Hammer, fought to save Galad and his Asha'man able to channel again left for Andor.

A few chapters earlier, we were heading for a wall, the Light finished as the LB started, and suddenly we landed in a wholly different book. Time had run out, Rand was fully aware of the Light's weakeness and determined to put an end to dithering. He left himself but a few days to fix what urgently needed fixing... starting by a visit to Egwene, then the Bordermen, a brief visit to AD, a face to face with Logain to put him officially at the head of the Asha'man, stepping down as their "figurehead" who hardly had been the leader he should have been to them.

But painted in his corner, Brandon needed Rand to give Egwene a whole month to do what she had the resources to do in a week. A mere week before he broke the seals. The month is another thing that ended up diluting the little that was left of the feeling of urgency and the drama. Rand feels pulled to the break the seals and move for SG and yet he goes and gives Egwene a month before Merrilor. That's a month of useless side events with Bloodknives and scenes that suddenly turned a side player RJ used sparingly into a main player (Gawyn, of course), a month of Tuon doing nothing, a month of Rand doing not much (leading readers to now expect several crucial things have happened in the interim with Rand, or with Logain. Newsflash: there will be none.) A month for Egwene to take her time for meetings, a month for filler material like Nynaeve's test (it's not important, the important event was Elayne managing to dither. It's a set up for the soon to happen clash between Elayne and the WT. It's part of the Manetheren variant surrounding Elayne... the Band, her city in flames, her armies far from home, her planning actions aimed at the rescue of her people... the Hall, playing Testuan's role, will countermand Egwene's orders to send the armies to Andor. For the crisis to play out, I suspect it's important Elayne is not yet raised and Oath bound, that she can deny the Hall authority since they don't consider her AS yet. Denied by her allies (Rand, Egwene, Aviendha won't help except with rescue/evacuation) Elayne's going to unwittingly make an alliance with the sole ruler offering to help her fight the Shadow around Caemlyn: Roedran of Murandy. His price: Elayne will come with her armies, her new miraculous weapons, her channelers should Murandy face a Seanchan attack. Elayne will enter this pact secure in her belief the Seanchan are being dealt with by Mat and they won't attack Murandy, let alone during the LB... but Demandred will make very sure this attack comes. He will provoke an invasion by attacking the armies at his borders, and Fortuona might give him his battle, seing this as a virtually risk-less practice campaign to train her troops and generals to use the new found Travelling ability before she moves for bigger preys.... Demandred loves his proxy wars.. but he won't foresee what's coming for him, and the Band and Elayne : the Prince of Ravens. Following a "running gag", either Mat will save Elayne's ass, or it's the time she will save his. It's Mat who will bring Elayne "back into the fold".

Read as Brandon wrote them it's not as obvious, but a very good exercise is to read TGS/TOM in parallel, the chapters in chunks, more in the style of the late-series, and following more or less the chronology. It's extremely apparent when one does this how slow and bloated and full of misplaced and redundant scenes TGS and TOM are. It's better than reading TGS and TOM in succession (TOM as it stands is barely readable, IMO) but it's still very clunky - but at least you see better there was the first 2/3 of a very good WOT book in there, just one needing a lot of streamlining, cuts and polishing to become great. And the sad thing is that Brandon's novels are a fair indication he's capable of having achieved that, but the price would have been to have the guts to delay release of the first volume until Brandon was done drafting AMOL at least until Merrilor, and could look at the whole, trim the fat, optimize everything, and then decide how best to publish it, as one huge book or two volumes, with a few months apart if necessary for publishing considerations. It would not have solved other problems, but it would have solved what's the essential one for me: a very bad call on how to divide the material, sacrificing storytelling to meet an artificial self-imposed deadline. The mess wasn't so apparent with TGS, which stood well as one book, or did until TOM brought to light what the full story was really supposed to have been.

Zombie Sammael
11-04-2012, 03:57 PM
So, Dom, what you're saying is everything good was RJ and everything bad was Brandon?

That doesn't actually work - I remembered my second point as mentioned above. Apart from a few times here and there where it's been mentioned, or where it's blindingly obvious, we do not who wrote what, let alone how it was structured or intended to be structured. All of the best scenes might have been written by Brandon. Bear in mind, RJ was deathly ill when he was writing AMOL. His illness will have affected his writing ability - I recall reading about George Orwell writing 1984 and not realising until he sat down to write how much his illness actually affected his work, so I don't doubt a physical illness like RJ's would have had the same effect.

To address a couple of specific points: Mat just appearing in the inn would not have made sense and been most unlike RJ in the WOT series. It's clear another scene was needed there, one that according to your theory hadn't been written yet. That was Brandon's job - to write the bits that weren't yet written. There was an entire team of editors and assistants to arrange the novel, including the woman closest to RJ.

Second specific point: the structure you suggest, with a sudden spiral downwards into the Shadow, would not have worked from a story point of view. It would have looked like the most horrible deus ex machina. Prior to the events of the end of KOD and TGS, the light was winning; saidin had been cleansed, the Blight was retreating, and the Forsaken were ever diminishing. To go from that to the sudden failures of crops, rotting of food, disjointed seasons (for the third time as... farce again?) would have been incredibly jarring. A more gradual descent into darkness was necessary to build up the final moves in this long game - the exact same reasons there are few Rand POVs in TOM.

Unfortunately, Brandon will get all the blame and RJ all the credit. That's the way it will be, and he knew it was to some extent a thankless task when he took it on. But I don't believe RJ had anything close to a finished novel that would have worked on any level before he died, and I don't believe it was a simple matter to put together what was left with a few extra scenes to glue it all. I think we are living in the best of all possible worlds, and - as much as we all wish RJ had lived - we will get the best possible AMOL.

Davian93
11-04-2012, 07:37 PM
On the flipside, Lews Therin Telamon lost because he rushed in. Rand now knows this and needs time to think things through. You can't rush that. And rushing other things prevents you from thinking. That part is definitely not a mistake, I think. That said, I wonder if team Jordan actually has a timeline of what Rand did during those thirty days.

A fortnight would've been more than enough, especially since two weeks in Randland is twenty days.

LT didnt rush in. He led the forces of the Light in a 10 year war and made a last-ditch effort to prevent their complete collapse when he had no other options remaining. His plan did work...just at a great cost. He basically punted the ball 3500 years into the future for Rand to finish.

fdsaf3
11-04-2012, 09:40 PM
Prior to the events of the end of KOD and TGS, the light was winning; saidin had been cleansed, the Blight was retreating, and the Forsaken were ever diminishing.

Not to be nitpicky, but you're going to have to do one hell of a lot more convincing if you want to describe the situation at the end of Knife of Dreams as "the Light winning". If anything, the Light had managed to slow the descent.

That's all I really wanted to say about this, I guess. Now, back to your previously scheduled discussion (which I find fascinating, by the way).

Cortar
11-05-2012, 02:31 AM
Literary critique?

How about we discus the fact neither Brandon or RJ were able to make the Forsaken anything but comical.
RJ did a great job on their backstory. When they were first introduced, for a few books, we were actually terrified of them. Then...

A handful were killed by untrained, weak channellers, without killing anyone or doing any real damage.

One captured in a place where she had 100s of years of training in...

One THOUGHT to death by a half trained girl.

Another broken by a mere spanking? One who was supposedly an EXPERT on psychology and breaking people and shaming her was enough to hurt her? Really...

And HOW many people did they kill in this Age? A handful of no names and unimportant people. The entire cast of main characters are still alive (a little worse for the wear, but alive). Even the one person who was "dead" is now alive again. Im not even worried for TG because we all know everyone will make it through a-okay.

Rand is going to die, but will come back to life and be okay.

Matt has a "future book shield" on him.

Faile isn't pregnant so its incredibly doubtful Perrin will die (if she were I could see him dying then his son taking up his mantle, but as is he is probably safe)

Egwene will live to rule the AS

Nynaeve and Lan will probably live and rule happily ever after in the now Blight free Malkier after TG

Aviendha will live because she has to have her children.

Min will probably live and live happily ever after in whatever hole in the wall place that Rand goes to after TG. She is really the "true" love of Rand, it seems like the other two are just part of the love triangle for political reasons (that the Wheel decided, not them).

Elayne is really the only one in danger of dying. I really am expecting her to die either in childbirth or right afterwards, I mean this has been foreshadowed so obviously and frequently...

EDIT:
Oh and Lolial lives to write his book.

and I guess Thom and Moriane are up in the air, but the way this series is going, after the work it took to put them two together, its doubtful one of them will die. Its either both or neither, and I am leaning towards neither.

GonzoTheGreat
11-05-2012, 03:13 AM
Second specific point: the structure you suggest, with a sudden spiral downwards into the Shadow, would not have worked from a story point of view. It would have looked like the most horrible deus ex machina. Prior to the events of the end of KOD and TGS, the light was winning; saidin had been cleansed, the Blight was retreating, and the Forsaken were ever diminishing. To go from that to the sudden failures of crops, rotting of food, disjointed seasons (for the third time as... farce again?) would have been incredibly jarring. A more gradual descent into darkness was necessary to build up the final moves in this long game - the exact same reasons there are few Rand POVs in TOM.
The Forsaken do not actually matter. They have one purpose, and one purpose only: to keep the forces of the Light busy while the DO is making his own preparations for his actual escape. And in that, they've been quite good. Sure, some of them fell by the way. Do you truly think the DO cried about that, the way that Rand mourned Moiraine?

The retreat of the Blight may have been an attempt to sucker in the Borderlanders. If they'd taken advantage of it and send major forces north, then the Blight could have returned to its former position and those armies (and civilians, maybe) would have been left stranded in hostile territory.
Or it may be that the Blight is something like the EOTW for the DO: a storage place for Dark Power, from which he can draw strength in a hurry to do other things. If that's the case, then the retreat of the Blight would actually be why the DO could do all those other disruptive things.

Zombie Sammael
11-05-2012, 05:39 AM
Not to be nitpicky, but you're going to have to do one hell of a lot more convincing if you want to describe the situation at the end of Knife of Dreams as "the Light winning". If anything, the Light had managed to slow the descent.

That's all I really wanted to say about this, I guess. Now, back to your previously scheduled discussion (which I find fascinating, by the way).

You are picking the wrong nit. The end of KOD, with Rand partially blinded and maimed by Semirhage, Egwene captured and imprisoned in the Tower, was certainly a bad situation for the Light. Prior to that, all signs were that the Light was winning. That's why I said "prior to the end of KOD".

The Forsaken do not actually matter. They have one purpose, and one purpose only: to keep the forces of the Light busy while the DO is making his own preparations for his actual escape. And in that, they've been quite good. Sure, some of them fell by the way. Do you truly think the DO cried about that, the way that Rand mourned Moiraine?

The retreat of the Blight may have been an attempt to sucker in the Borderlanders. If they'd taken advantage of it and send major forces north, then the Blight could have returned to its former position and those armies (and civilians, maybe) would have been left stranded in hostile territory.
Or it may be that the Blight is something like the EOTW for the DO: a storage place for Dark Power, from which he can draw strength in a hurry to do other things. If that's the case, then the retreat of the Blight would actually be why the DO could do all those other disruptive things.

The Chosen are more important than you think:

THE CHOSEN DWINDLE, DEMANDRED. THE WEAK FALL AWAY. WHO BETRAYS ME SHALL DIE THE FINAL DEATH. ASMODEAN, TWISTED BY HIS WEAKNESS. RAHVIN DEAD IN HIS PRIDE. HE SERVED WELL, YET EVEN I CANNOT SAVE HIM FROM BALEFIRE. EVEN I CANNOT STEP OUTSIDE OF TIME. For an instant terrible anger filled that awful voice, and—could it be frustration?

As to the retreat of the Blight - the Dragon is one with the land, and the land is one with the Dragon. The Dark One can't just "sucker" withdraw it and extent it like that. No doubt the reason for the retreat was because at the specific time I'm thinking of, the wound in Rand's side had settled down, prior to being cut again by Fain - an early "who thinks he turns the Wheel of Time may learn the truth too late" incident, by the way.

greatwolf
11-05-2012, 02:49 PM
@Dom,
My point was the loss of urgency. There's a way you write a stroll that bring an urgency to it even when it takes forever to reach the destination. I don't think the loss was delibrate i.e not because he wanted to slow things down but rather he had too many things to tie up and he didn't realize how much he'd missed and overlooked.

If it had remained one book, he might have been more focused on HOW to end it and seen more that he's missed. But anyhow...

The retreat of the Blight may have been an attempt to sucker in the Borderlanders. If they'd taken advantage of it and send major forces north, then the Blight could have returned to its former position and those armies (and civilians, maybe) would have been left stranded in hostile territory.


Maybe not. I think Ishaemael is to the shadow what LTT is to the light. One is tied to the land and the other to the DO. He got hurt and the blight retreated. Later retrieving lost ground was probably judged to be a bad idea because it could help unite the fol behind the dragon. And they've gone to great length to sow discord.

Tollingtoy
11-05-2012, 09:51 PM
Quite frankly, I don't understand all of the hate. Dom makes good points about the sequencing and I can see how it could have been done better, but we also don't have the third book to compare it to so I think that it is unfair to criticize that until we know for sure what happens.

The new chapters have been pretty bad, no doubt, but as I reread TGS, I still find it to be a very enjoyable read. It is not a dense as RJ's work, but I remember that being a breath of fresh air for someone who had almost given up on the series after COT. I have not read TOM since it came out, so I can't comment there and maybe my opinion will change, but TGS is not nearly as clunky and quite honestly bad as the chapters from AMOL that have been released. Is that because maybe RJ wrote more of that one or did Brandon kind of get lost in the whole mass of WOT?

Dom
11-06-2012, 03:17 PM
@Dom,
My point was the loss of urgency. There's a way you write a stroll that bring an urgency to it even when it takes forever to reach the destination. I don't think the loss was delibrate i.e not because he wanted to slow things down but rather he had too many things to tie up and he didn't realize how much he'd missed and overlooked.

If it had remained one book, he might have been more focused on HOW to end it and seen more that he's missed. But anyhow...


Yes, we're pretty much in agreement. It seems I've given the impression I think the first part of the book would have been very short and the primary reason why I thought the book has lost the sense of urgency it's because the storytelling is "looser". But it's not. I had more in mind a length at around 60-to-70% of the combined TGS/TOM for the first two acts of AMOL, and I think it's more the matter of the structure that undermined the feeling of urgency.

A lot of the sense of urgency was lost in TOM because of the Epiphany setting a deadline/timeline. Egwene and Rand triumphed, you entered TOM expecting similar ending for Mat-Perrin and you had a timeline for it, and knew beforehand they'd face the effect of Rand's fall in darkness too somehow. TGS had more of the urgency, and the sense of frustation as the Light seemed stuck and spiraling down, because it was becoming less and less obvious as it went on how Egwene and Rand could possibly extricate themselves from the messes they were in and we didn't know for sure they would by the end of the book.

TOM was a a wholly different affair. You knew from the get go nothing astoundingly major for the Light could occur until around the time of the epiphany, and that this marked the real breakthrough for the Light. Not only that, but we went into the book learning almost immediately that all lead to summit where Rand intended to break the seals and launch the LB, that the Shadow had began the invasion north but nothing more. Then there was the fact Rand went and put everything on standby for one more month... All this combined made it damn hard to believe the Light was in the ropes and had to move on urgently.

In hindsight it was easy enough to avoid that, Brandon just had to use the Seanchan attack/Tower Reunion for the TGS climax and end Rand's story line with his vanishing in utter darkness from Tear, then return to him at the proper chronological point in TOM, keeping the epiphany, the battle with Mesaana, Rand's to Egwene and the announcement of Merrilor as one of the TOM climaxes.

Dom
11-06-2012, 03:52 PM
we also don't have the third book to compare it to so I think that it is unfair to criticize that until we know for sure what happens.

We have Brandon's pre-split comments to go by. He already saw "Merrilor" as the only natural breaking point to split the book in two (originally it was primarly a question of length, not deadline) if he needed. It became three because he managed only to write two story lines up to Merrilor when the deadline to finish the whole book came. Brandon's first wish was to push the deadline to let him finish the two other story lines up to Merrilor. That was what Harriet was about to decide when Brandon suggested ways they could modify the timelines of events and use Egwene's/Rand's story lines for a first novel. IMO, that's what was the bad "good idea". I think Brandon miscalculated badly what sort of second book it would leave him with, notably the real impact on the remaining material of including Rand's epiphany in TGS.

The new chapters have been pretty bad, no doubt, but as I reread TGS, I still find it to be a very enjoyable read.

TGS's good enough. My original feelings for it were very different. My original review was on the whole very positive except for a few points, like Perrin's stuff and Mat's feeling like "prequels" and not really fitting (it felt to run counter to the effect Brandon was trying to achieve with Rand-Egwene, stand in his way). The other two points were, IRRC, a slight disappointement over the "loss of scope" in the Rebels/WT story lines due to all the minor characters vanishing, and a larger disappointment due to the Moridin-Graendal interaction in the prologue that made me expect Graendal would lead Rand into a maze, and attempt to mess up with this Seanchan plans. But she was on the whole absent, everything brought down to Rand being unable to get his hands of the merchant's council. That was really not what I was expecting from Rand entering the nuthouse Graendal had turned AD into, which I had been early awaiting since reading KOD (and earlier, I could wait for the time when Rand would be faced with Graendal). RJ had never disappointed me with his use of Graendal, Brandon really disappointed me on this. But I still liked very much TGS, was far more forgiving than later about some minor gripes like continuity mistakes etc. It's while I read TOM, which really didn't do much for me despite its good sides, that I became totally appalled, and very frustrated, by the way Brandon chose to divide the books. I had not realized until I read TOM what Brandon had done, that immediately reminded me of RJ's mistake with the way he organized the story to cover in WH/COT/KOD.

It's all very personal reactions, of course. I know tons of people who had few problems with TOM, and others who had wholly different issues than mine with it.

yks 6nnetu hing
01-16-2013, 07:02 AM
So, I ws considering making a separate thread but in the end it's about writing style, so decided to post here instead. This post is not about Brandon Sanderson's writing style but rather the influences from Bernard Cornwell, who helped with some aspects of the Last Battle.

To start off, I enjoy the individual styles of Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and Bernard Cornwell - all of them, individually a lot. That said, those styles do have overlap but they're still very different:

RJ is descriptive without being lecture-y. His text flows well and most of his characters have real depth to them. He's good with duels and battles/strategy/tactics, though personally I find him stronger in the latter.

BS is more dialogue-oriented, and in his own books, that works really well. He's good with world-building and has overall more levity than the other two. He's excellent with duels/short bursts of fighting but not very good at strategy/big battles. His characters can come off as a bit cartoonish sometimes.

BC, unlike the other two, is not a Fantasy writer. He's one of the best Historical Novelists I've read: his research is always meticulous and the ease with which he transposes Trafalgar or Waterloo into fiction without losing the accuracy of historical events but keeping the tension in the story is unparalleled. That said, he can sometimes come off as lecture-y and his character development isn't nearly as good as RJ or BS. He is excellent at large scale military manouvers and his battle scenes have grit that neither BS nor RJ have. However, duel-scenes are the same as his characters, sometimes fall flat/repetitive.



Now, to the book itself - in aMoL I thought I could detect notes from Bernard Cornwell rather often. For example, the whole "soliders have to eat sometime, they can't just keep fighting for 50 hours in a row" paragraph *I think* came directly from Cornwell, though that's the only full paragraph that I noticed, the rest were elements across the board.

Interestingly, something that RJ had mentioned, BS had neglected but that suddenly came up again in aMoL is the arrogance of cavalry-men (how they think they can do anything). RJ was a bit more subtle in emphasising the archers and infantry, I thought; though in none of the books so far has infantry = pikemen, halberdiers etc. gotten quite so much credit for simply existing, usually they've just been cannonfodder. Or should it be OP-fodder? This happens to be one of Cornwell's pet peeves.

The thin-line defenders vs. large blocks attackers, that's well parallelled in the Sharpe books (the English riflemen vs the French columns) The stomp-stomp of disciplined marching, the sounds of horns/fanfare/whatnot, from the Seanchan arrival also mirror the way Cornwell describes Napoleon's forces in the Sharpe books.

Mercenaries looting corpses - definitely a Cornwell note there.

The idea of sealing and releasing the river *might* also be from Cornwell, he's quite good with terrain manipulation/engineering for battles.

Ishara
01-16-2013, 11:30 AM
Agreed - I thought that the battle scenes benefited a great deal from his influence. They were certainly the most readable (since Dumai's Wells) for me in the series.

Fourth Age Historian
01-19-2013, 08:56 AM
I haven't posted here much, though I have long been a lurker. I noticed my last login was in September of 2010... too long! Now that I'm done, I find that I need some folks to commiserate with. I'm going to start by offering my final review of the series. I didn't do a recent full reread, though I think I will do so again soon with the full knowledge of the end; something I think will be a fulfilling experience. Below I have copied and expanded upon my own review from Goodreads.

Wow... it's over. It's finally over. A Memory of Light was the culmination of a 15-year journey for me (as many as 23 years for the earliest Wheel of Time fans). I find myself satisfied and yet somewhat shell-shocked. I suppose that, as this is the final installment, now would be a good time to offer some thoughts on the series as a whole in addition to those on the book itself.

Full disclosure, I loved this series from beginning to end. I forgave a lot because of excellent world-building, intricate plot, and a vast array of interesting characters. I know in forums dedicated to the series as a whole, negative criticism of Robert Jordan can be taken as something of sacrilege, but understand that my overall experience of the series was overwhelmingly positive, so any negatives I have to say are simply admissions that Jordan was imperfect. The greatest authors have their shortcomings, and Jordan was not the lone exception to this truism.

The Wheel of Time is not without its flaws. After the sixth book or so (some would argue for an earlier starting point to this criticism) the action grinds to a halt, at which point the next several books sometimes feel like stalling tactics rather than real advancement of the story. Having read most of the books more than once, though, I've found that even the worst have wonderful scenes. There's no one book I couldn't stand. One of the things I valued most about The Wheel of Time was that it told its sweeping story from an equally sweeping array of perspectives. Literally hundreds of characters are involved, and while many bemoan this as difficult to follow I find it wonderful. Part of Robert Jordan's brilliance was bringing motivations to the characters who, in any other series, would be merely part of the background. This device made the struggles of the main protagonists seem that much more important, by giving them people to save rather than just a world. The world of the Wheel of Time is honestly the only one in epic fantasy I have read in which the bulk of the people didn't feel like NPCs in a video game, given one line to spout no matter how many times one pokes at them. Without those slow books, that same breadth of experience would not have been possible. The character introduced as a mere plot device was quite rare.

Jordan has taken fair but often overstated criticism for misogyny in tWOT. His female characters do exhibit a certain sameness, and often behave as outdated gender stereotypes. I'm not left feeling, though, that he had a problem with women or found men superior, but rather that he didn't really know how to write believable women. It seems like he must have written all female characters as caricatures of the two or three women he knew best in his life. Perhaps he also was a bit of a misogynist; having never met him I can't say. I do find this to be the deepest flaw with the series, but I also found it easily forgivable. Despite this failing his series never lacked for strong women, at least. I found myself liking many of his specific female characters even if I didn't approve of his general approach to them. I even think that some of them who seemed the worst (Nynaeve comes to mind for me personally) would have been more bearable were they isolated examples.

For much of the series, Rand al'Thor is extremely unlikeable. I didn't think this was much of a weakness, though, as he was always presented as seeing those flaws in himself and struggling to overcome them. I like the idea that heroes can't be perfect, and that extreme pressures can make otherwise wonderful people turn into jerks from time to time. I understand why this made some readers lose patience, though.

One criticism I have heard but completely disagree with is that Jordan's characters don't develop and fail to change despite life-altering events. The line between underdevelopment and out-of-character actions is always razor thin, but I think Jordan and Sanderson navigate it extremely well. The characters for the most part remain true to themselves while adapting to the circumstances they find themselves in; whether expected or not. This seems like what happens to real people to me. Since most of the main characters start out as good people, the redemption stories are left to minor characters. I think a lot of US readers of the last couple decades equate character development with only a few limited types of development, and I think that's why almost every novel takes this criticism from some angle or another.

As for A Memory of Light itself, I don't think the series has been this good since Lord of Chaos. I know, I know... Sando doesn't have the same skill for prose that RJ did. This is true. BUT. Brandon Sanderson's three volumes brought a renewed sense of vitality, and he did a remarkable job of picking apart the dozens of threads and laying them into place. The third was the best for me, and not just because of its constant action. OK, mostly because of the constant action. The central chapter, aptly titled "The Last Battle" is two hundred pages of one sweeping fight. It features death scenes both meaningful and meaningless, betrayals and long-awaited confrontations. The final scene is not entirely unexpected but is cathartic nonetheless.

Sanderson seems to write women better than Jordan, and while he's boxed in by long-established character traits he does well in adding a bit of depth to them. There's certainly more action in his three books than in Jordan's last five, but it's hard to say how much of that is attributable to writing style and how much to the huge amount of material there was to cover.

Now, one flaw to Sanderson's writing was perhaps an overuse of some of the most common fantasy tropes. How many characters were we led to believe were dead? And again, he isn't quite the master of pure prose that RJ was. I feel as though you could see Sanderson's continuing development as a writer happening from book to book.

Of course not every little plot was resolved entirely. For those who care immensely about such things, there will be disappointment. Yet for me, I felt that all the characters who mattered had full story-arcs, even if some were a tad unsatisfying.

I'm sure some will disagree with everything I have said here, and few if any will agree with all of it. But these are just rambling qualitative assessments... so I hope they can contribute to lively debate.

CRAP. Didn't finish my title, "One Reader's Two Cents at the End" is what I was going for.

Fourth Age Historian
01-19-2013, 09:26 AM
Here's my two cents on the issue.

100% recapture the voice of another author's characters. Get over it.

RJ was far, far, far from a perfect writer. I respect the man and admire his work, but let's take a step back here. If we're going to criticize Brandon for poor writing, you'd sure better hold that magnifying glass up to RJ's prose.

Seconded. I don't think anyone defending Sando is trying to say he's a better writer than RJ was. But let's admit to some of the failings Jordan himself had as a writer.

To me, Both Jordan's and Sanderson's work in the Wheel of Time compare favorably to any other Fantasy series. Jordan's is better for the most part, but HIS OWN last few books were not nearly as solid as his earlier volumes.

The man died before completing his life's work, one of the best fantasy has seen, and that's tragic. But he wasn't perfect and Sanderson isn't just some schlub.

Daekyras
01-19-2013, 08:19 PM
hey guys, not sure if this is the right place for this but here goes...

I loved this book. Well done to Brandon for doing something i would have thought impossible in finishing the series with an exceptional good read that ...i'm not sure how to sayit...fits....

One thing steps out to me though and i'm not sure if this is literary criticism but....why are min, aviendha and elayne(Ok, NOT a surprise!) so relentlessly thick in the epilogue?

Seriously, Rand is dead. It is known that they were close to him. Elayne announced in the book her kids were his kids. Min was his ''companion'' for months. The aiel knew that Aviendha was teaching Rand about honour and super athletic snoo snoo.

Despite this all three of them act disinterested or unaffected by his slowly passing away. It's mentioned two or three times that they wouldn't come or didn't seem concerned and even as he was set alight they all look away to the hills.

Surely they would have the sense, or at least two of them would, to ACT as if his death affected them? Even the least intuitive observer would realise something was up. Cadsuane managed to figure it out and god(Rand?) knows how many others....

So is this bad writing or am i just being to critical?

Terez
01-19-2013, 08:29 PM
This is one of the scenes RJ worked on before he died, so it's impossible to know if he would have touched it up in the revision process or not. It felt awkward to me, like he could have made it a little more convincing with polishing. There was the one bit in Elayne's POV about how the onlookers expected some kind of display.

Fourth Age Historian
01-19-2013, 08:35 PM
why are min, aviendha and elayne(Ok, NOT a surprise!) so relentlessly thick in the epilogue?

Surely they would have the sense, or at least two of them would, to ACT as if his death affected them? Even the least intuitive observer would realise something was up. Cadsuane managed to figure it out and god(Rand?) knows how many others....

So is this bad writing or am i just being to critical?

I had the same thought. It led me to wonder if that was their way of intentionally signaling to the others closer to Rand that he was A-OK. Maybe they promised him not to say anything, but they knew they could get the message out that way without breaking their promise. That's pure speculation, of course, and we'll probably never know. But it's one of those things that seemed SO off I thought there must be a reason for it.

Terez
01-19-2013, 10:25 PM
Well, when have any of those three women ever faked emotions in the series? It didn't seem that 'off' to me because I think faking it would have been worse. And they never did figure out Milking Tears. ;)

Dom
02-17-2013, 12:52 PM
Well, when have any of those three women ever faked emotions in the series? It didn't seem that 'off' to me because I think faking it would have been worse. And they never did figure out Milking Tears. ;)

:D

I reacted a bit differently to those scenes. Their attitude made sense to me.

I interpreted the reactions of Min, Aviendha and Elayne as initially arising from pure confusion and caution. They had no idea, I think, of what Rand arranged beforehand with Alivia. Thanks to the bond, either of them figured out Rand's soul was in Moridin's body the instant she set foot in the big tent where Healing was done (I think it's the purpose for having placed Moridin some distance from Rand in the tent).

So then they knew it wasn't Rand dying in the tent, but Moridin. They weren't too sure what to do, and they had to avoid being seen too much together. They had to keep the secret in case it all came down to helping Rand vanish or fake his death. On the other hand, he might just wake up and decide to come clean, and they would have the task to convince everyone this was actually Rand, that their bond proved this (which might have been a more difficult task than it may seem). They might have to protect Rand from a lot of people not accepting this if he chose to come clean, and playing the aggrieved widows deceitfully didn't exactly paint them as honest, transparent and trustworthy.

They were keeping the options open and until Rand woke up and they knew his intent or helped him to make up his mind about what to do, they were determined to hide what really happened from everyone (not to mention they no doubt didn't have a clue about how it happened, nor probably knew for sure if Rand would be fully Rand or believe himself Moridin, or be merged with him in some way when he woke up. They had Min's viewing and the WO's dreams to go by and only that, all the rest was purely uncharted territory. Min had to deal with Rand hiding LTT's memories, now she'd have to deal with the opposite: a man with another appearance hiding Rand inside).

Moridin's death before Rand woke up forced them to go through the fake funeral, and they had to either come clean or play the charade whatever price they might pay for it if the next day Rand woke up and they had to support his statement he was Rand in his foe's body. They chose the charade, but didn't overdo it either by pretending to be aggrieved... the really aggrieved people like Tam, Perrin and Nynaeve wouldn't easily forgive their faked sorrow and pain later if the truth came out, it would have been making a mockery of their own. They didn't tell Nynaeve or Tam etc., but they also didn't lie and pretended sorrow and pain they didn't feel. They knew Nynaeve knew something was up, but would know better than reveal her suspicions publicly - and the way Aviendha reacted to her was meant as a warning. Nyaneve was pissed they were not telling her the secret, but would be far less angry with them later because they didn't deceive her with fake mourning. Cadsuane also suspected something, and kept silent and let them go through the charade. It's quite conceivable others like Tam and Moiraine also suspected something was up from the behavior of the women.

They knew their odd behavior was really starting to attract general attention and spark comments and they could not keep this up for much longer, but they were walking a fine line. After the funeral and people finally dispersed returning to daily life, convinced Rand was dead, it would all become easier. It's while the ceremony was happening Rand woke up, which probably distracted whatever little efforts they were considering to put into acting as expected. He was close enough for them to feel his feelings then... joy and elation, but also caution.

IMO, they had decided to go forward with the public funeral - Rand was not waking up and they had to make the decision to "fake his death" for him, intending to take the intimate circle apart afterward and come clean with the truth now that Rand was "officially" dead.

Even though he left during the funeral, it's probably what they did: tell those who knew him intimately and whom they could trust to keep the secret what really happened.

I would also note that a WO isn't actually expected to fall apart because her husband dies. Aviendha reacted to it like an Aiel would, which would puzzle nearly everyone but Aiel. It's a bit similar with Elayne. Aes Sedai hide what the death of a warder does to them, only other AS know their serenity and aloofness in that situation is just a mask. Of course, for people who know them intimately like Nynaeve, she saw there was no grieving being hidden.. and Min had no such excuse.

Southpaw2012
02-17-2013, 02:37 PM
:D

I reacted a bit differently to those scenes. Their attitude made sense to me.

I interpreted the reactions of Min, Aviendha and Elayne as initially arising from pure confusion and caution. They had no idea, I think, of what Rand arranged beforehand with Alivia. Thanks to the bond, either of them figured out Rand's soul was in Moridin's body the instant she set foot in the big tent where Healing was done (I think it's the purpose for having placed Moridin some distance from Rand in the tent).

So then they knew it wasn't Rand dying in the tent, but Moridin. They weren't too sure what to do, and they had to avoid being seen too much together. They had to keep the secret in case it all came down to helping Rand vanish or fake his death. On the other hand, he might just wake up and decide to come clean, and they would have the task to convince everyone this was actually Rand, that their bond proved this (which might have been a more difficult task than it may seem). They might have to protect Rand from a lot of people not accepting this if he chose to come clean, and playing the aggrieved widows deceitfully didn't exactly paint them as honest, transparent and trustworthy.

They were keeping the options open and until Rand woke up and they knew his intent or helped him to make up his mind about what to do, they were determined to hide what really happened from everyone (not to mention they no doubt didn't have a clue about how it happened, nor probably knew for sure if Rand would be fully Rand or believe himself Moridin, or be merged with him in some way when he woke up. They had Min's viewing and the WO's dreams to go by and only that, all the rest was purely uncharted territory. Min had to deal with Rand hiding LTT's memories, now she'd have to deal with the opposite: a man with another appearance hiding Rand inside).

Moridin's death before Rand woke up forced them to go through the fake funeral, and they had to either come clean or play the charade whatever price they might pay for it if the next day Rand woke up and they had to support his statement he was Rand in his foe's body. They chose the charade, but didn't overdo it either by pretending to be aggrieved... the really aggrieved people like Tam, Perrin and Nynaeve wouldn't easily forgive their faked sorrow and pain later if the truth came out, it would have been making a mockery of their own. They didn't tell Nynaeve or Tam etc., but they also didn't lie and pretended sorrow and pain they didn't feel. They knew Nynaeve knew something was up, but would know better than reveal her suspicions publicly - and the way Aviendha reacted to her was meant as a warning. Nyaneve was pissed they were not telling her the secret, but would be far less angry with them later because they didn't deceive her with fake mourning. Cadsuane also suspected something, and kept silent and let them go through the charade. It's quite conceivable others like Tam and Moiraine also suspected something was up from the behavior of the women.

They knew their odd behavior was really starting to attract general attention and spark comments and they could not keep this up for much longer, but they were walking a fine line. After the funeral and people finally dispersed returning to daily life, convinced Rand was dead, it would all become easier. It's while the ceremony was happening Rand woke up, which probably distracted whatever little efforts they were considering to put into acting as expected. He was close enough for them to feel his feelings then... joy and elation, but also caution.

IMO, they had decided to go forward with the public funeral - Rand was not waking up and they had to make the decision to "fake his death" for him, intending to take the intimate circle apart afterward and come clean with the truth now that Rand was "officially" dead.

Even though he left during the funeral, it's probably what they did: tell those who knew him intimately and whom they could trust to keep the secret what really happened.

I would also note that a WO isn't actually expected to fall apart because her husband dies. Aviendha reacted to it like an Aiel would, which would puzzle nearly everyone but Aiel. It's a bit similar with Elayne. Aes Sedai hide what the death of a warder does to them, only other AS know their serenity and aloofness in that situation is just a mask. Of course, for people who know them intimately like Nynaeve, she saw there was no grieving being hidden.. and Min had no such excuse.


Great way to look at it. I'm sure Rand will end up telling Tam sometime on his own what happened and then the three ladies will tell Nynaeve and the rest. It makes me wonder if in the outrigger novels, if Rand would find himself in Seanchan on his "adventure" and run into Mat somehow.

Dom
02-17-2013, 03:41 PM
Great way to look at it. I'm sure Rand will end up telling Tam sometime on his own what happened and then the three ladies will tell Nynaeve and the rest. It makes me wonder if in the outrigger novels, if Rand would find himself in Seanchan on his "adventure" and run into Mat somehow.

I think RJ meant to be done with Rand after the main series. We could have caught up background stuff alluding to Rand that other characters don't understand, and almost certainly he would have been mentioned perhaps cryptically (if Min remained with the Seanchan), but I doubt RJ intended to use Rand's character again.

Any return of Rand would have undermined the effect created by his final scene, which was very much an allusion to the "lonesome cowboy riding into the sunset" image.

We'll see (or not!) when the actual sentences about the outriggers get released. For now one report make it sound like Mat's wakes in the gutter and Perrin goes to Shara to kill a friend. Another report makes it sounds like Perrin is setting out and wonders if if in the process of his enterprise he might have to kill Mat.

It's all a bit confused right now, to say the least :D Hopefully the exact notes will be a little more explicit. :p I think they're being a bit coy right now about what they really have. I'm pretty sure beside the "two sentences" RJ had left many more small clues about outrigger possibilities in the other files. Brandon for instance is stating that the conversation between Tuon and Hawkwing was important to the outriggers. He's made allusions about Elaida as well. I think they actually know more than merely the two sentences, though I don't think they're being disingenuous when stating they hardly have enough to write them as anything but someone else's story as RJ was not very advanced.

I suspect they are deflecting questions/not encouraging them because Harriet wants to include the few elements found in the notes in the relevant character entries in the Encyclopedia. A bit the same way, they're starting to deflect questions about the various "loose ends", those for which they have answers, recently invoking the facts many might find their way in the Encyclopedia.

David Selig
02-18-2013, 12:55 PM
I would also note that a WO isn't actually expected to fall apart because her husband dies. Aviendha reacted to it like an Aiel would, which would puzzle nearly everyone but Aiel. It's a bit similar with Elayne. Aes Sedai hide what the death of a warder does to them, only other AS know their serenity and aloofness in that situation is just a mask. Of course, for people who know them intimately like Nynaeve, she saw there was no grieving being hidden.. and Min had no such excuse.
But Elayne is not just an Aes Sedai and she didn't lose just her Warder. She had to deal with the grief from the recent deaths of her brother, one of her closest friends, her Warder and the closest thing to a father figure she had for most of her life and who knows how many other people she knew, her babies were this close to being ripped out of her very recently, the pregnancy hormones influence, etc. Crying and looking stricken with grief should've come very natural to her given all this. And if nothing else, surely she knew that not showing any emotion here was a bad move both politically for a Queen and in order to keep Rand's secret.

Marie Curie 7
02-18-2013, 01:35 PM
A bunch of posts not related to 'literary critique' have been split off into a separate thread (http://www.theoryland.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=7885) about things that happen post AMoL. Feel free to continue the discussion there. Enjoy!

yks 6nnetu hing
03-21-2013, 02:54 AM
The characters often felt lost into all of this, and the whole telling often felt "remote", too global, not enough concerned with the experiences the characters were going through.



That's weird. I thought the same but I thought it fit really well with the battle Rand was going through. If all of the main characters had been given the intensity of the Last Battle throughout the book, the whole thing would have read like an episode of Dragonball Z: 20 minutes of "AAAAAAAaaaaaAAAA!!!" "yyyyYYYYYYyyyyeeeeoooowww!!!!!" eyes popping, veins pulsing... while actually nothing happens. Except much longer than 20 minutes, obviously.

So, in that sense I felt like the overall chaos got captured pretty well. That Elayne was declared dead, then was alive and nobody thought HotH? come on, there's noise all about, boom clang, klak! things trying to kill you and you're supposed to have time left over for a metaphysical conundrum?

GonzoTheGreat
03-21-2013, 04:00 AM
That Elayne was declared dead, then was alive and nobody thought HotH? come on, there's noise all about, boom clang, klak! things trying to kill you and you're supposed to have time left over for a metaphysical conundrum?
Wait, what?!?
Do you ever not think of metaphysical conundrums? :eek:

Dom
03-21-2013, 10:36 AM
That's weird. I thought the same but I thought it fit really well with the battle Rand was going through. If all of the main characters had been given the intensity of the Last Battle throughout the book, the whole thing would have read like an episode of Dragonball Z: 20 minutes of "AAAAAAAaaaaaAAAA!!!" "yyyyYYYYYYyyyyeeeeoooowww!!!!!" eyes popping, veins pulsing... while actually nothing happens. Except much longer than 20 minutes, obviously.

So, in that sense I felt like the overall chaos got captured pretty well. That Elayne was declared dead, then was alive and nobody thought HotH? come on, there's noise all about, boom clang, klak! things trying to kill you and you're supposed to have time left over for a metaphysical conundrum?

Except it's not much what I meant by this, and I was talking about the book as a whole, not about the lack of inner thoughts or more personal scenes in the final parts of the battle (though RJ found ways to have those...). I didn't really speak of intensity either.

The "zoom-out" at the end, in Rand's POVs, is one of the better done elements. I've no problem with the last phase of the LB being very chaotic either.

I was talking about the change of storytelling perspective. Up to AMOL WOT had been the stories/experiences of characters forming together this big tapestry. In AMOL, it became more about describing the tapestry itself.

Brandon stuck a great deal to characters who could provide a kind of bird's eye perspective on the progress of each battle and could do so more or less linearly. He told the story of the battles more than he brought us the perspectives of the characters experiencing those battles.

Concrete example: the choice to tell the Bryne/Siuan arc mostly through Egwene's POV instead of showing a few of the same scenes (with Egwene in them) from Siuan's POV. It made their arc very impersonal.

It's one thing that as a leader Egwene had to keep a cool head and not let personal emotions intrude, but that doesn't make her a very interesting POV character, dramatically speaking, to show tragic developments about characters we care about. The same scene would have been completely different if told from Siuan's pespective.

It's more what I meant by several story arcs (eg: Moiraine, Nynaeve, Siuan etc.) feeling "remote"/impersonal.

This was also perceivable in the fact Brandon often chose the most neutral character in some scenes, e.g.: picking Perrin to describe the Rand-Egwene fight and Moiraine's arrival, when the character who would have had the more interesting thoughts and emotions would have been Nynaeve.

It's more obvious on rereads, the first time around the excitement of discovering the plot carries you through better (though honestly the big LB chapter felt really long to me on first read, and it's not that I don't enjoy that sort of stuff when the likes of O'Brien, Cornwell are writing them). What's missing that we previously got (even for the most part in Brandon's previous two WOT books) is more noticeable later, and even more while rereading a few of RJ's books.

Garak
03-24-2013, 08:59 PM
Hi, all.

I'm a new user and as such this is my first post at Theoryland. I thought about creating an account around the release date of A Memory of Light but I was put off by all the Sanderson bashing that goes on around here.

I liked the Wheel of Time quite a bit when I started reading it ten years ago, when I was fifteen, but now that I'm older, I'm afraid that I can see some of the series's flaws. The reason I don't think it's fair to pick on Sanderson the way some people do is that, in my opinion, he actually CORRECTED many of the flaws that made the later books damn near unreadable.

To be clear, I think Brandon Sanderson saved this franchise from a series of bad decisions on the part of the original author and his editors. And while Brandon is by no means a perfect author - he struggles quite a bit with the subjective nature of the One Power; characters who can't channel often act like they can see weaves - his ability to focus the narrative and turn these characters into likable people more than makes up for any little errors he makes. (Once again, in my opinion)

I'm making this post because it seems to me that most of the complaints that are brought against Sanderson are the result of problems that Jordan created and now Sanderson has to clean them up. Most, not all.

For instance

I was talking about the change of storytelling perspective. Up to AMOL WOT had been the stories/experiences of characters forming together this big tapestry. In AMOL, it became more about describing the tapestry itself.

Brandon stuck a great deal to characters who could provide a kind of bird's eye perspective on the progress of each battle and could do so more or less linearly. He told the story of the battles more than he brought us the perspectives of the characters experiencing those battles.

Concrete example: the choice to tell the Bryne/Siuan arc mostly through Egwene's POV instead of showing a few of the same scenes (with Egwene in them) from Siuan's POV. It made their arc very impersonal.

It's one thing that as a leader Egwene had to keep a cool head and not let personal emotions intrude, but that doesn't make her a very interesting POV character, dramatically speaking, to show tragic developments about characters we care about. The same scene would have been completely different if told from Siuan's perspective.

It's more what I meant by several story arcs (eg: Moiraine, Nynaeve, Siuan etc.) feeling "remote"/impersonal.

This was also perceivable in the fact Brandon often chose the most neutral character in some scenes, e.g.: picking Perrin to describe the Rand-Egwene fight and Moiraine's arrival, when the character who would have had the more interesting thoughts and emotions would have been Nynaeve.

It's more obvious on rereads, the first time around the excitement of discovering the plot carries you through better (though honestly the big LB chapter felt really long to me on first read, and it's not that I don't enjoy that sort of stuff when the likes of O'Brien, Cornwell are writing them). What's missing that we previously got (even for the most part in Brandon's previous two WOT books) is more noticeable later, and even more while rereading a few of RJ's books.

That's why any author worth his salt knows better than to create hundreds of point of view characters, each with their own storylines that compete for dominance, in a book series that is primarily about the epic battle between good and evil. It just doesn't work. I have a friend who recently sold a book and he and I talked about something called Conservation of Detail. To put it simply: the more detail you add, the slower the plot goes. RJ added enough detail to bring the plot to a grinding halt for several volumes of this series.

The problem is that an epic story about good vs evil isn't allowed to come to a grinding halt. It's contrary to the nature of the genre. And the last battle especially isn't allowed to come to a grinding halt. You're talking about the final concluding climax to a book series that has lasted for twenty years. It has to be fast, tense and exciting. So, how do you balance the need for fast-paced writing with the hundreds of characters that take up tWoT's pages? In order to keep the narrative moving, in order to keep the suspense and drama alive, you have to focus on a small group of core characters (Rand, Mat, Egwene, Perrin) with maybe the odd one-off point of view for dramatic effect. So, most of the action is focused on the main cast of the early books and then maybe we see Hurin. This is the only way to keep the story moving at a good pace without also creating a book that is so large it breaks the printing press. Remember, physical size limits are an issue here.

To address your point specifically, Dom, we didn't see Siuan or Bryne's point of view during his death scene because there simply wasn't time for it. Egwene is a more important character by several orders of magnitude. Her point of views are more important than Siuan or Bryne's point of views and we also have Rand, Mat, Elayne, Min and half a dozen others to get to. We did some tertiary point of views but Brandon kept that to a minimum to prevent the story from getting bogged down.

And he was right to do it.

If the novel had been written using RJ's method of "big elipses in the telling of the events," the Last Battle would have been boring and tedious. That might sound like a low-brow response but the emotional investment of the readership does matter. Action and excitement are the bread and butter of the fantasy genre. It's not enough for the battle to to simply exist in the story, it has to be described at a pace that evokes the right emotions in the reader. An exciting scene needs to be written at an exciting pace. A slow battle is like a joke that isn't funny. It just doesn't serve its purpose.

Now, there is such a thing as TOO fast (and some of these scenes are) but I've found that the best way to spot a “too-fast” scene is when the action is happening so quickly, you can't tell what's going on. For the most part, Brandon got the pacing just right.

So, when you say “Brandon stuck a great deal to characters who could provide a kind of bird's eye perspective on the progress of each battle and could do so more or less linearly. He told the story of the battles more than he brought us the perspectives of the characters experiencing those battles,” I say that many of these characters who felt impersonal should not have been made into point of view characters in the first place.

For example, take the Black Ajah Hunters. Seaine, Pevara, Doseine, Yukiri and the rest. RJ gave us a story about sisters hunting down the Black Ajah. But what was the point of introducing these characters and that sub-plot if he was planning to have Verin bring about the BA's downfall from the very start? RJ created them without any plan for what to do with them.

It was a sub-plot without a purpose. Once the issue of the Black Ajah had been resolved, Pevara, Yukiri and the rest became redundant characters. However, once a character is introduced, you can't just stop writing about them without looking sloppy in the eyes of your readership. So now, Brandon is left with the unfortunate task of finding something for these people to do.

Brandon Sanderson had to clean up Robert Jordan's mess.

Thanks to RJ's complete inability to maintain narrative focus, when Brandon took over, he was left with dozens of little plot threads hanging loose and the unenviable task of tying up all the loose ends. The last battle is littered with dozens of throw-away point of views just to avoid the appearance of having forgotten about these characters when, in reality, these characters were never important to begin with.

If these minor, unimportant characters had simply remained in the background – where they belonged – then the Last Battle could focus on Rand, Mat, Egwene, Min, Perrin, Elayne, Aviendha, Nynaeve and Lan without being burdened by all these useless tertiary characters. This would allow more time for a personal narrative of all the major point of view characters. (However, in regards to the main cast, the story is quite personal and emotional even with all the excess baggage).

yks 6nnetu hing
03-25-2013, 07:37 AM
....and this is why I put my original post in the Literary critique thread.

Welcome, Garak. We do our best to contain the bashing of any one topic; though there are plenty of people (myself included) that don't see a red haze the moment the name "Sanderson" is spoken (or typed).

The bottom line is, we don't know how the books would have ended if Robert Jordan had finished the series. They might have been better, they might have been worse. However, what we have is what we have and it's pointless to keep complaining about it. Yes, it's "not the same"; that's no reason to fixate on all the tiny little flaws; but if you want to, there's the literary critique thread. Complain to your heart's content. I'm happy that the series was finished, I'm happy (in the broad sense. minus one particular death) with the way it ended. I'm happy with most of the character and sub-plot resolutions and I personally feel that the influence from Bernard Cornwell was noticeable and benefitted particularly the Last Battle.

Dom
03-25-2013, 08:45 AM
Garak,

A lot of your points have already been adressed in the Literay Critique thread.

I understand your perspective, though I don't agree with much of it.

I personally feel that the influence from Bernard Cornwell was noticeable and benefitted particularly the Last Battle.

I've only read a few of his books, but I don't see it. It's RJ's assistant Allan TJ mostly credit for designing the LB's strategy and tactics, and how to integrate it all in the storytelling is mostly Brandon's work. Earlier we had been told by Brandon RJ and Allan had had quite a few discussions about various battles he considered using as inspiration for the LB. Allan fleshed it out and fill the gaps and specifics from the outline, Brandon dramatized it.

It would be a good thing to ask Brandon for specific examples of Cornwell's contributions. My feeling it was far more limited than some believe.

Garak
03-25-2013, 11:04 AM
All right, then I will make a point more in line with the topic of this thread.

A common complaint about AMoL is that the tactics employed in the Last Battle were not very clever or realistic. However, you’re dealing with a fantasy world where entire armies can cross the length of a continent in one day, where hundreds of thousands of beastial creatures, each one with three or four times the strength of your average human being, attack our heroes en masse, where aerial combat is possible through the use of flying lizards and where magic can eliminate hundreds of foot soldiers in a single strike. Why the tactics should be “realistic” under these circumstances is beyond me. You’re dealing with a world that is so unlike our own, it doesn’t make sense to expect the battle scenes to resemble actual historical horseback warfare. In fact, the cavalry and infantry tactics seemed almost irrelevant given everything else that was going on. Cromwell’s influence – whatever it may have been – probably had no positive effect on the story whatsoever.

As for whether or not the tactics were clever…

When two chess masters sit down to play, very few of the moves they make could be called a genuine stroke of genius. For the most part, it’s your standard opening salvo and the time-tested counters to it. One man throws his pawns forward, expecting to lose them, and the other responds with a defensive measure. The moments of true genius happen when one of the players recognizes an opening for what it is and then exploits it. I think we got quite a bit of this with Mat’s point of views. I found his reflections on gambling quite interesting.

Finally, there are the limitations of the medium to consider. A large chunk of this book involves large groups of people standing over a map of the battlefield and planning their next assault. However, in order to truly grasp what they’re talking about, we’d probably need to see a map of the troop deployments for ourselves. Verbal descriptions just don’t do it justice.

Tension and suspense in a story come from a thorough understanding of the consequences of each conflict. It’s easy to get excited about a sword fight because we understand the rules of a sword fight. If our protagonist gets cut, he bleeds to death. We don’t need to visualize every single strike and parry to understand what’s happening. But troop deployments in the hundreds of thousands across an area of maybe a hundred square miles? That’s just too complicated for the mind to visualize, especially when the numbers keep changing. If you can’t understand what’s going on, you can’t really get emotionally invested in it.

This is why I’ve never really enjoyed stories that focus on descriptions of large armies all moving simultaneously. I much prefer battle scenes that involve personal conflict where the character is in immediate physical danger. Galad vs Demandred for example. Or Egwene vs Taim. In my opinion, those scenes were nothing short of riveting.

So, again, I don’t really fault Brandon for not being very skilled with the “large army scenes” because I don’t believe there exists an author who could have done it better. Suttree mentioned the campaign in tPoD. I remember reading those scenes several times and being thoroughly confused as to just what was going on.

There are lightning strikes on the distant hills? And I guess most of them are blowing up Seanchan soliders… I don’t know because Rand is too far away to really get a sense of it. He seems to be more focused on the political maneuverings of the high lords and ladies that surround him and, frankly, I couldn’t care less about that. Also, this scene is diminished by the fact that our point of view character is not actually in danger and so there’s no real suspense. I’m reminded of a song by Roger Waters called “The Bravery of Being Out of Range.” But then tPoD was always a cure for insomnia as far as I was concerned. One of the worst books in the series. Only CoT outdoes it.

At least AMoL gives us scenes like Androl filching the Seals from Taim. There he is, so weak in the Power that most channelers could burn him to cinders with a thought, surrounded by twenty odd Dreadlords with only a thin disguise for protection. Surviving on his wits alone. The suspense in this scene is palpable. I honestly felt my heart speed up.
The scene gives us absolutely no direct violence and yet it’s one of the most exciting moments in the book. Why? Because a character that we like – that I liked, anyway – is put into immediate danger and he has to use his mind to get out of it.

GonzoTheGreat
03-25-2013, 11:31 AM
The scene gives us absolutely no direct violence and yet it’s one of the most exciting moments in the book. Why? Because a character that we like – that I liked, anyway – is put into immediate danger and he has to use his mind to get out of it.
Well, no violence apart from the minor torture weave that Taim had learned from Moridin and demonstrated on Androl.

Isabel
03-25-2013, 01:11 PM
At least AMoL gives us scenes like Androl filching the Seals from Taim. There he is, so weak in the Power that most channelers could burn him to cinders with a thought, surrounded by twenty odd Dreadlords with only a thin disguise for protection. Surviving on his wits alone. The suspense in this scene is palpable. I honestly felt my heart speed up.
The scene gives us absolutely no direct violence and yet it’s one of the most exciting moments in the book. Why? Because a character that we like – that I liked, anyway – is put into immediate danger and he has to use his mind to get out of it.

Umm, I pretend Androl was never mentioned after Winter's Heart. He really is a Brandon invention.
I don't like the fact that Brandon made up a a character for the last book to do a lot. It didn't feel wot to me and didn't fit into the wot world.

So no, i didn't like that scene. I saw it more as: the seals were stolen back by the Ashaman.

suttree
03-25-2013, 02:35 PM
But then tPoD was always a cure for insomnia as far as I was concerned. One of the worst books in the series. Only CoT outdoes it.


Ahh but by what measure? I guess if you aren't concerned with the quality of writing you could say that about tPoD. Again those battle scenes and LTT-Rand dialogue hold some of the best writing in the entire series. May be time for a re-read on your part. For my money ToM was far and away the worst. Blunt plotwork, numerous mistakes, timeline issues and unpolished prose all take away from the couple of cool moments it contains.

I am aware that different people look for different things in their fantasy. It seems as if you favor a hack-n-slash style with less focus on literary quality, which is fine. There is plenty of that out there. As others have mentioned though around these battles the strategies in AMoL were inane at times, the action stalled with endless "battle porn"/trolloc fodder being shredded and entire groups of channelers were simply dropped form the story. It fundamentally changed the nature of the last battle.

As Dom said a number of your points have already been addressed in literary. Your comment about Sanderson "saving" the series is patently absurd however. The pace speeding up has more to do with where we are in the story arc than Sanderson stepping in(notice RJ had already sped things up and pointed them in the right direction as of KoD). We will have no idea whether Sanderson is actually skilled with pace until we see a comparable middle series section in his own Stormlight Archive. After all if people had judged RJ on "pace" after TSR they would have said it was a huge strength. It is also laughable to say "there wasn't time" after the books were split for those other viewpoints. There was a huge amount of wasted space and bloat. We had more than enough time for Dom's suggestions.

Lastly it saddens me that we have reached a place in society in which any critique or dissenting opinion is labelled "bashing". An honest assessment and realistic discussion of an author's work is healthy and should be encouraged.

Garak
03-25-2013, 03:28 PM
Umm, I pretend Androl was never mentioned after Winter's Heart. He really is a Brandon invention.
I don't like the fact that Brandon made up a a character for the last book to do a lot. It didn't feel wot to me and didn't fit into the wot world.

So no, i didn't like that scene. I saw it more as: the seals were stolen back by the Ashaman.

See, this is exactly what I’m talking about. This is the reason I started posting on this site in the first place. People blame Brandon Sanderson for things that are:

a) Not under his control
b) Not actually problems

Now, first of all, I’m not going to try to tell you what you should or should not like. Taste in literature is a very personal thing. So, if you’re saying that you simply didn’t enjoy the Androl story because it just wasn’t your cup of tea, that’s fine. I have absolutely no beef with that. But if you’re holding Brandon Sanderson accountable for the fact that you didn’t like it, then – objectively speaking – you’re blaming him for something that he could not have prevented.

And I’ll prove it to you.

You claim that you don’t like the fact that Sanderson created a new character to complete the Black Tower sub-plot. So, my question to you is this: what else could he have done?

The Black Tower story had to be told and it had to be told from the perspective of someone who was there to witness the events. There’s no getting around that. So, let’s take a quick roll call of all the Asha’man that were still alive as of The Gathering Storm, when Brandon Sanderson took over. Damer Flinn, Jahar Narishma, Naeff, Jur Grady, Fegar Neald. The problem is that none of these characters had had any point of view scenes up to that point.

So, even if Brandon had picked a character that we had already seen, the instant he sat down to write that first POV, it would still feel like a brand new character. There was no way to escape this fact because none of the Asha’man had any point of view scenes that he could draw on for reference. So, really now, what would you have preferred? That he just skip the Black Tower plot altogether?

I suppose he could have chosen Logain as his point of view character but if the notes called for Logain to be tortured and nearly turned, then the Black Tower sequence would have consisted of several chapters of torment followed by a frantic escape for which Logain was mostly unconscious. Not exactly what I’d call good reading.

If RJ wanted to bring a resolution to the Black Tower subplot without resorting to a character that feels like he came out of left field, then perhaps he should have started developing an Asha’man character as early as Crown of Swords. Slowly introduce the character and bring him into the spotlight. However, RJ didn’t do this and once again Brandon had to tie up the loose ends. He could have chosen one of the Asha’man that we had seen through Rand’s point of views but that would have left him with the exact same complaints that he’s getting right now. “It just doesn’t FEEL like RJ’s world.”

Instead, Brandon gave us a new character, with a unique perspective, who goes through genuine growth and change over the course of his story line. Exactly what an author is supposed to do. Androl starts off with a lot of self-confidence issues; he doubts himself because he’s not very strong with the Power and the other Asha’man constantly rub that fact in his face. He’s very reluctant to take charge but once he does so, his natural leadership skills kick in. Skills he didn’t even know where there until he was forced to use them. Androl organizes the Underground Movement into a cohesive force. He curbs many of the bad decisions that the younger Asha’man would have made. He seeks out an alliance with Pevara and through that alliance, he grows close to her.

Their love story was very natural and even heartwarming in a few places because it flowed directly out of the events of the story. Their relationship was defined by what they did, not by the silly Love at First Sight clichés that dominate most of the Wheel of Time relationships. Yes, I REALLY believe that Berelain is just head over heels for Galad,.

Brandon Sanderson could not have prevented introduction of a new character because Brandon Sanderson had no control over the content of Books 1 through 11. He could only influence the last three volumes of this series and if the story line had not been properly set up in the previous installments, then he had to go through all the trouble of introducing a new character, developing him and then bringing his story to a satisfactory conclusion. All of this on top of wrapping up the Rand storyline, the Egwene storyline, the Perrin storyline. So, another relevant issue is that Androl might have been short changed because there simply wasn’t time to develop him as much as Brandon Sanderson would have liked. That said, I still think he was an excellent addition to the cast.

There’s nothing wrong with introducing a new character if you can bring his story to a satisfactory resolution.

So, again, if the Black Tower subplot wasn’t your cup of tea… Well, that’s your prerogative. But I dare you to tell me what you think Brandon Sanderson could have done differently.

fionwe1987
03-25-2013, 04:23 PM
See, this is exactly what I’m talking about. This is the reason I started posting on this site in the first place. People blame Brandon Sanderson for things that are:

a) Not under his control
b) Not actually problems

Now, first of all, I’m not going to try to tell you what you should or should not like. Taste in literature is a very personal thing. So, if you’re saying that you simply didn’t enjoy the Androl story because it just wasn’t your cup of tea, that’s fine. I have absolutely no beef with that. But if you’re holding Brandon Sanderson accountable for the fact that you didn’t like it, then – objectively speaking – you’re blaming him for something that he could not have prevented.

And I’ll prove it to you.

You claim that you don’t like the fact that Sanderson created a new character to complete the Black Tower sub-plot. So, my question to you is this: what else could he have done?

The Black Tower story had to be told and it had to be told from the perspective of someone who was there to witness the events. There’s no getting around that. So, let’s take a quick roll call of all the Asha’man that were still alive as of The Gathering Storm, when Brandon Sanderson took over. Damer Flinn, Jahar Narishma, Naeff, Jur Grady, Fegar Neald. The problem is that none of these characters had had any point of view scenes up to that point.

So, even if Brandon had picked a character that we had already seen, the instant he sat down to write that first POV, it would still feel like a brand new character. There was no way to escape this fact because none of the Asha’man had any point of view scenes that he could draw on for reference. So, really now, what would you have preferred? That he just skip the Black Tower plot altogether?

I suppose he could have chosen Logain as his point of view character but if the notes called for Logain to be tortured and nearly turned, then the Black Tower sequence would have consisted of several chapters of torment followed by a frantic escape for which Logain was mostly unconscious. Not exactly what I’d call good reading.

If RJ wanted to bring a resolution to the Black Tower subplot without resorting to a character that feels like he came out of left field, then perhaps he should have started developing an Asha’man character as early as Crown of Swords. Slowly introduce the character and bring him into the spotlight. However, RJ didn’t do this and once again Brandon had to tie up the loose ends. He could have chosen one of the Asha’man that we had seen through Rand’s point of views but that would have left him with the exact same complaints that he’s getting right now. “It just doesn’t FEEL like RJ’s world.”

Instead, Brandon gave us a new character, with a unique perspective, who goes through genuine growth and change over the course of his story line. Exactly what an author is supposed to do. Androl starts off with a lot of self-confidence issues; he doubts himself because he’s not very strong with the Power and the other Asha’man constantly rub that fact in his face. He’s very reluctant to take charge but once he does so, his natural leadership skills kick in. Skills he didn’t even know where there until he was forced to use them. Androl organizes the Underground Movement into a cohesive force. He curbs many of the bad decisions that the younger Asha’man would have made. He seeks out an alliance with Pevara and through that alliance, he grows close to her.

Their love story was very natural and even heartwarming in a few places because it flowed directly out of the events of the story. Their relationship was defined by what they did, not by the silly Love at First Sight clichés that dominate most of the Wheel of Time relationships. Yes, I REALLY believe that Berelain is just head over heels for Galad,.

Brandon Sanderson could not have prevented introduction of a new character because Brandon Sanderson had no control over the content of Books 1 through 11. He could only influence the last three volumes of this series and if the story line had not been properly set up in the previous installments, then he had to go through all the trouble of introducing a new character, developing him and then bringing his story to a satisfactory conclusion. All of this on top of wrapping up the Rand storyline, the Egwene storyline, the Perrin storyline. So, another relevant issue is that Androl might have been short changed because there simply wasn’t time to develop him as much as Brandon Sanderson would have liked. That said, I still think he was an excellent addition to the cast.

There’s nothing wrong with introducing a new character if you can bring his story to a satisfactory resolution.

So, again, if the Black Tower subplot wasn’t your cup of tea… Well, that’s your prerogative. But I dare you to tell me what you think Brandon Sanderson could have done differently.

Brandon has said that the actions carried out by Androl were to be carried out by several different Asha'man according to RJ. And RJ had already set up a PoV character in the BT to view these events: Pevara (who Brandon didn't do great with anyway). Logain was also around for the needed parts, of course, and both the Aes Sedai bonded to him: Gabrelle and Toviene, had been established as PoV characters. There was also Tarna, another person with a previous PoV who would have been useful. All the pieces to show the BT conflict were in place. Brandon had no need for Androl, and the worst thing is that in developing Androl, he ended up not having space to show the actual battle in the Black Tower!

Dom
03-25-2013, 07:45 PM
But I dare you to tell me what you think Brandon Sanderson could have done differently.

RJ had put in place all the actors he needed at the BT: a bunch of minor figures incl. Androl and TR guys from Logain's faction.

Pevara as main POV character, a character the fans had really warmed up to, who would have to face her worst demons there. You thought the BA hunt was useless? Well, you didn't pay attention. Part of the purpose of it was to set up well Pevara as a character (another part of it was to show us how complex the BA was, and how difficult it would be to hunt them down.. an arc meant to block just in time for the surprise arrival of Verin. Another part of it was that RJ had to set up in advance Egwene's "loyalist" entourage, because he knew events would accelerate a lot after she took the WT and it wouldn't be the time to introduce a whole lot of new Sitters. They might be new people to Egwene, but the readers had to know some of them, and their thinking. Before that, he knew he'd need Sitters to side with Egwene against what Elaida had done to her. All this were part of the purpose of the BA hunt scenes, which was really a very small amount of scenes over many books.).

Toveine and Gabrelle for POV characters, should there be need to show events from the captured Logain's side.

Quite a few well known minor characters from the Rebel embassy standing outside, should anything from that need to be told.

There was a number of players Rand could send as envoy eventually, incl. well loved ones like Flinn and Narishma.

Brandon created Androl not because he needed him, but because he wanted him and wanted to run with a single BT player through the LB.

It's not all bad, much of it was interesting even though it felt less like WOT than like a kind of Brandon novella inserted into a WOT novel. But he really lost control in the end and totally overdid it (and I really wished Harriet would have told him : that's enough Androl, at some point. It became very self-indulging.), spending a ridiculous amount of pages on his own character and his own story, placing him at the core of everything to the detriment of others. Both Pevara and Logain were overshadowed. Logain didn't get a proper arc. He was almost a background player in Androl's arc. He's the one who should have had POVs, and as a prisoner, then after his darkening (that would have come to echo Rand's), it would have been gripping and provide us with a far more personal and chilling vision of the turnings. That story was pushed to the background, to favor the jolly ride of Androl, rife with comic relief that would have been funny in a Sanderson novel but felt out of place in WOT. That's what I liked the least in that story line: Brandon quite destroyed the dark, chilling and ominous mood RJ created with the KOD epilogue. He undermined it with cartoon moments, Innkeeper silliness and running gags about tall tales. It took him forever to make it took a darker turn, and then he went and didn't showed us the resolution... because his dear Androl had left!

I hope you realize how your defense of Androl's full arc totally contradicts what you said earlier about keeping minor players to the background to focus on the main cast.

suttree
03-25-2013, 08:56 PM
I hope you realize how your defense of Androl's full arc totally contradicts what you said earlier about keeping minor players to the background to focus on the main cast.

This...in addition to the rest of Dom's post. Was going to make that very point.

Isabel
03-25-2013, 11:45 PM
I wanted to add that I agree with above posts from Suttree, Dom and Fionwe.

Brandon could have done things differently with the black tower. Tthere were characters in place for some point of views. If brandon felt he had to create androl, than he could have still used other chracters. He went overboard with all the things Androl did and his use of gateways. It didn't fit for me in the wot world, so i pretend it never happened:D

Stating that fact doesn't make me hate Brandon or say he ruined wot.
Brandon and team Jordan gave their best to finish wot. I am very happy that i was able to read the ending and got a clue or sometimes bigger than a clue for the things RJ planned. I enjoyed reading the last books for the first time.
The ending gives me a very happy feeling.

yks 6nnetu hing
03-26-2013, 02:13 AM
guys... again. Please keep it on topic of Bernard Cornwell's influence. your posts might be moved, otherwise.

suttree
03-26-2013, 10:23 AM
If anyone is interested let's move the discussion over to "Literary Critique".

Garak
03-26-2013, 03:40 PM
Ahh but by what measure? I guess if you aren't concerned with the quality of writing you could say that about tPoD. Again those battle scenes and LTT-Rand dialogue hold some of the best writing in the entire series. May be time for a re-read on your part. For my money ToM was far and away the worst. Blunt plotwork, numerous mistakes, timeline issues and unpolished prose all take away from the couple of cool moments it contains.

I am aware that different people look for different things in their fantasy. It seems as if you favor a hack-n-slash style with less focus on literary quality, which is fine. There is plenty of that out there. As others have mentioned though around these battles the strategies in AMoL were inane at times, the action stalled with endless "battle porn"/trolloc fodder being shredded and entire groups of channelers were simply dropped form the story. It fundamentally changed the nature of the last battle.

As Dom said a number of your points have already been addressed in literary. Your comment about Sanderson "saving" the series is patently absurd however. The pace speeding up has more to do with where we are in the story arc than Sanderson stepping in(notice RJ had already sped things up and pointed them in the right direction as of KoD). We will have no idea whether Sanderson is actually skilled with pace until we see a comparable middle series section in his own Stormlight Archive. After all if people had judged RJ on "pace" after TSR they would have said it was a huge strength. It is also laughable to say "there wasn't time" after the books were split for those other viewpoints. There was a huge amount of wasted space and bloat. We had more than enough time for Dom's suggestions.

Lastly it saddens me that we have reached a place in society in which any critique or dissenting opinion is labelled "bashing". An honest assessment and realistic discussion of an author's work is healthy and should be encouraged.

At last a genuine response to my points. Thank You, Suttree.

As per your request, I did reread sections of tPoD that you referenced before making this post. I have to say honestly that I don’t see what you find so appealing about Rand’s dialogue with Lews Therin. Lews Therin is just doing what he always does, which is provide inane babble about war, death and Ilyena. Now, this does not mean that I think Lews Therin is a bad plot device, merely that I can’t see why this particular section stands out as some of the best writing in the series. I think you’d have a point if these scenes provided some kind of insight into Lews Therin – where the voice comes from and what Rand can do about it – but if those little nuggets are present in the narrative, then I didn’t find them. Maybe I’m looking at the wrong chapter. I reread TPoD chapters 21-24

I guess if you aren't concerned with the quality of writing you could say [that tPod was a cure for insomnia]

And this is where I feel you’ve made a mistake in reasoning. It’s not that I’m unconcerned with the quality of writing; it’s that I don’t consider this section of the book to be of particularly high quality. I’m also pretty sure I made it clear that it’s not ‘hack n slash’ action but suspense that makes for a compelling conflict. I even gave you an example of a scene with no direct physical confrontations but with tons of suspense nonetheless. So, while I appreciate your reply, I think it would be wise not to make these kinds of assumptions about each other.

Action is a tool for creating suspense. It’s a necessary tool but it’s not the only tool and it won’t be very effective if the author relies on it to the exclusion of everything else.

I did notice a few things on my read through.

“I expect you to obey, Gedwyn,” Rand said coldly. Storm Leader? And Manel Rochaid, Gedwyn’s second, called himself Baijan’m’hael, Attack Leader. What was Taim up to, creating new ranks? The important thing was that the man made weapons. The important thing was that the weapons stayed sane long enough to be used. “And I don’t expect you to waste time questioning orders.”

“As you command, my Lord Dragon,” Gedwyn muttered. “I’ll send men out immediately.” With a curt salute, fist to chest, he strode out into the storm. The deluge bent away from him, sheeting down the small shield that he wove around himself. Rand wondered whether the man suspected how close he came to dying when he seized saidin without warning.

So, Rand’s perfectly willing to commit murder. Yes, Gedwyn’s a darkfriend but Rand doesn’t know that yet. He also threatened Narishma with death earlier in the novel.

This section is smack dab in the middle of the “Rand is an asshole” phase of the series. A phase that went on far too long and overstayed its welcome by several thousand pages. This is one of the reasons that I hate reading PoD. Because it’s a slow book that describes in intricate detail the thoughts and feelings of a man that I want to kick in the groin. Rand’s head is not a happy place for me to be. The reason I consider this a legitimate flaw in the series and not just a matter of personal taste is because it’s generally accepted doctrine in the literary community that if you turn your main character into an unlikable son of a bitch, you’re going to alienate your readership.

When I first evaluated the Damona Campaign, I was evaluating it as a battle scene and holding it up to the standards by which one would judge a battle scene (Mainly: does it create suspense.)

But there is more than one way to evaluate a scene. So, let’s go through them all.

Do these chapters create suspense? Well, no not really. Rand is not in any physical danger and he’s miles removed from the actual conflict. Any victories that he earns come at the hands of other characters whose POVs we don’t see.

Do these chapters provide any insight into the existence of Lews Therin. Well, no not really. Lews Therin behaves in much the same way that he always has, which is to rant, rave and talk about killing. No new information is provided to the reader. I haven’t posted on Theoryland before but I’m not exactly new to the fan community and I know that the debate about Lews Therin’s voice raged on for many years after the publication of this book; so, it’s not as if these chapters provided us with any answers.

Do these chapters further the plot? No, not really. Rand’s forces fight the Seanchan to a standstill. At the end of the day, everyone goes home but the political situation remains unchanged. I suppose you could say that this excursion gave Rand motivation to seek a peace treaty but I’m reasonably certain that motivation would have existed anyway with the Last Battle looming.

Does it make you feel sympathy for Rand? Not at all. Throughout the entire book, Rand behaves like a raging, egotistical psychopath.

As for the prose… Well, here’s how long takes RJ to say “Rand made a gateway and rode through.”

Less than an hour later, he took hold of the True Source and prepared to make a gateway for Traveling. He had to fight the dizziness that gripped him lately whenever he seized or loosed the Power; he did not quite sway in Tai’daishar’s saddle. What with the molten filth floating on saidin, the frozen slime, touching the Source came close to emptying his stomach. Seeing double even for only a few moments made weaving flows difficult if not impossible, and he could have told Dashiva or Flinn or one of the others to do it, but Gedwyn and Rochaid were holding their horses’ reins in front of a dozen or so black-coated soldiers, all who had not been out to search. Just stand there patiently. And watching Rand. Rochaid, no more than a hand shorter than Rand, and maybe two years younger, was also full Asha’man, and his coat, too, was silk. A small smile played on his face, as if he knew things others did not and was amused. What did he know? About the Seanchan surely, if not Rand’s plans for them. What else? Maybe nothing but Rand was not about to show weakness in front of the pair. The dizziness faded quickly, the twinned sight a little more slowly, as it always did, these last few weeks, and he completed the weave, then, without waiting, dug in his heels and rode through the opening that unfolded before him

Overuse of description and clunky sentences with too many clauses that are mashed together. Most of this section is grammatically incorrect and stylistically poor. This makes for BAD prose. An entire page of text to describe what could have been described in two or three sentences.

These chapters bring nothing of value to the story. They could have been skipped altogether and the series would not have suffered one bit. Put all that together and it equals terrible writing.

On to your next point.

The pace speeding up has more to do with where we are in the story arc than Sanderson stepping in(notice RJ had already sped things up and pointed them in the right direction as of KoD). We will have no idea whether Sanderson is actually skilled with pace until we see a comparable middle series section in his own Stormlight Archive.

Yes, the pace sped up in Knife of Dreams. I’m convinced that’s because RJ’s editors finally found their balls after the negative reviews of Crossroads of Twilight.

I get the impression that you think pacing is the only thing I give Sanderson credit for. No, Sanderson improved almost everything except the prose (which I will talk about later). The characters, for instance, are much more likable in Sanderson’s hands. The dialogue is better. The tone of the series improved with more use of levity to balance out some of the darker scenes. Once Sanderson took over, WOT could laugh at some of its own clichés.

For example:

Rand crossed the bustling open courtyard, walking into the shadow of the Stone’s towering fortifications, then stepped up to them.

“Rand al’Thor,” Nynaeve said, folding her arms as he walked up to them. “You are-“

“An idiot?” Rand finished, sounding amused. “An arrogant fool? An impulsive wool-headed boy in need of a sound ear-boxing?”

“Er… Yes.”

“All true, Nynaeve,” he said. “I see it now. Perhaps I’ve finally gained a portion of wisdom. I do think you need some new insults, however. The ones you use are wearing out like last year’s lace.”

How do I explain how this small exchange accomplishes so much with so few words? First of all, it’s funny. There’s an immediate sense of the warmth and affection between the two characters; you can tell how much Nynaeve cares for Rand and how much he appreciates it. Without a single word of awkward internal monologue, Sanderson articulates their friendship perfectly. Second, this is a small nod to the fandom. Certain character traits – like Nynaeve’s temper – had been overstated to the point where they became cliché. Here, the author treats that problem with a bit of levity.

When an author can say quite a bit while using very few words, that is a mark of literary genius. RJ does the opposite; he says very little and uses hundreds and hundreds of words to do it. Lots of detail is not the same as lots of meaning. I can write you three paragraphs describing the patterns in my carpet; that doesn’t mean I’ve given you any food for thought.

The quality of writing improved when Sanderson took over. In just about every respect.

Now let’s talk about prose.

This is one of the few legitimate criticisms directed at Sanderson because there are moments when his narrator seems to trip over a rock and stumble. For the most part, his prose is adequate. Nothing I would call spectacular but more than enough to keep the story moving. Then, every once in a while, he does something like this:

“Min took a sip of tea. It tasted good!”

Ugh… that exclamation point… Using the phrase “It tasted good!” to describe the tea makes Min sound like she’s five. He’s also a bit too fond of similes that really stretch the imagination. Now, is this a problem? Yes. Does it kill the story? No. Not if he remains skilled in every other department. (Which he does).

Brandon and RJ almost have opposite problems. One is too florid and too willing to expend pages describing the weave of fabric, the other too blunt and too willing to gloss over important details. A lot of people complain about the prose since Brandon took over – and it’s a valid complaint – but they neglect the fact that the prose was never that great to begin with. It’s really an exchange of one kind of mediocre prose for another kind of mediocre prose.

So, why do I think it’s fair to criticize Brandon’s prose and not the fact that he wasn’t able to wrap up subplots for some of the minor characters? Well, it’s simple: prose is something that Brandon has direct control over.

Lastly it saddens me that we have reached a place in society in which any critique or dissenting opinion is labelled "bashing". An honest assessment and realistic discussion of an author's work is healthy and should be encourage.

The key word here is “honest.”

I hope that I’ve demonstrated to you that I’m just as willing to examine Sanderson’s flaws as anyone else on this website. My objection to most of the “criticism” on this site comes from the fact that, more often than not, Sanderson is criticized for something over which had very little control. It’s not fair to blame him for the problems with plot and characterization that existed well before he became an author in this franchise. Nor is it fair to blame him for the consequences that those pre-existing problems had on the books he did write.

It’s almost fair to say that Brandon Sanderson inherited RJ’s literary debts – inherited the promises that RJ made to bring closure to this story – and now we, the fandom, are his creditors. If RJ made promises that he couldn’t keep by creating too many subplots, bringing the story to a grinding halt and losing any sense of narrative focus, then it’s not fair to blame Sanderson for the fact that RJ’s mistakes impacted the final books of the series.

Garak
03-26-2013, 03:46 PM
Please do move these posts if you can because I'm enjoying this discussion.

Garak
03-26-2013, 03:55 PM
Brandon has said that the actions carried out by Androl were to be carried out by several different Asha'man according to RJ. And RJ had already set up a PoV character in the BT to view these events: Pevara (who Brandon didn't do great with anyway). Logain was also around for the needed parts, of course, and both the Aes Sedai bonded to him: Gabrelle and Toviene, had been established as PoV characters. There was also Tarna, another person with a previous PoV who would have been useful. All the pieces to show the BT conflict were in place. Brandon had no need for Androl, and the worst thing is that in developing Androl, he ended up not having space to show the actual battle in the Black Tower!

This, in my opinion, would be an example of one of the many bad decisions that Brandon Sanderson corrected when he took over as the author.

While it's true that I don't have the finished product as a basis for comparison, it sounds to me like what you're describing is a situation where the point of view character is a spectator but not a participant. There are genres where the point of view character is primarily a spectator - although, usually, this is accomplished through the use of first-person narration for the observer who then tells the story in third person - but fantasy is not one of them.

In fantasy, the standard convention is for the point of view character to be an active participant in the story. Could this have worked with Pevara? Maybe but it would have set up a situation whereby the Black Tower was rescued by outside forces. Thematically speaking, it would be the same as what we'd get if Rand had been the architect behind the White Tower's reunifaction instead of Egwene.

Creating an Asha'man character to tell this part of the story is a much better decision. And Brandon did a superb job with Androl.

fionwe1987
03-26-2013, 04:27 PM
I'm aware we're straying off topic... but you found Sanderson's dialogue good? Absolutely no cues on what the characters are thinking or doing, no mention of body language to round out conversations, clunky, short statements... I could go on. Sanderson's weak dialogue has been remarked upon in his own works, and I believe there's even an interview where he admits this is one of the flaws in his writing.

As for Rand in tPoD... he isn't becoming an ass, he's becoming insane. He's intent on his goal of pushing back the Seanchan, and he's becoming unstable at the same time, culminating in him killing thousands of his own soldiers. You're supposed to feel queasy, and question how this person can possibly save the world, and it gives credence to Cadsuane's insistance that if he fought the DO this way, he'd lose. That's the suspense in these scenes. Not a matter of plot but of character.

For comparison, Mat in aMoL is literally gambling with hundreds of thousands of lives. He sending orders in a seemingly capricious manner, and for the longest time, the other characters have no idea that all the death and destruction around them means his plan is actually working. In RJ's hands, I can't help but beleive we the readers would have felt queasy too. We can accept Mat's reasoning, but we'd feel none to comfortable at how much he enjoys the game. We'd also have seen that from the eyes of the other characters, I don't doubt, just as we saw Rand's instability from the PoVs, and actions, of others around him in tPoD.

But we got none of that. Mat was back to charming buffoon. It was one of the major failings of the Last Battle chapter that we never got to see Mat as we saw Rand in tPoD.

As for Cornwell, I remember reading (but can't pinpoint where) that someone asked him about his contributions, and he said he was very surprised he was acknowledged, and implied that his aid was incidental at best. I'll try to get the quote.

fionwe1987
03-26-2013, 04:42 PM
This, in my opinion, would be an example of one of the many bad decisions that Brandon Sanderson corrected when he took over as the author.

While it's true that I don't have the finished product as a basis for comparison, it sounds to me like what you're describing is a situation where the point of view character is a spectator but not a participant.
How do you figure that? Tarna was a woman actually Turned. How is she a spectator? Pevara would obviously not be a spectator. Gabrelle, Toveiene and Logain could hardly be spectators either.
There are genres where the point of view character is primarily a spectator - although, usually, this is accomplished through the use of first-person narration for the observer who then tells the story in third person - but fantasy is not one of them.
You seem to have a lot of "conventions" that I've never seen or heard before. There's no convention that the PoV character has to be likeable as you claimed elsewhere. nor is there reason for not having part of the action told from the PoV of someone not actively in the thick of the action. Authors do that all the time, to allow for varying perspectives on an event.
In fantasy, the standard convention is for the point of view character to be an active participant in the story.
This would be the kind of thing I was talking about... its absolutely not true. Let me take a good example. There a battle in Game of Thrones told entirely from the perspective the mother of a general. She's not completely clueless about the strategy and stuff, but her perspective is not something someone in the thick of the action could provide. Yet, I would argue, that's one of the better actions sequences in the book. GRRM then rounds it out by a more global perspective offered by a person who was on the losing side of the battle reporting to his superiors. The tale of the entire battle is told without once stepping into the PoV of a character who's part of the action in the present.
Could this have worked with Pevara? Maybe but it would have set up a situation whereby the Black Tower was rescued by outside forces.
Umm... no. I'm not saying Pevara would single handedly save the BT. I'm saying she'd be the eyes through which we'll see a group effort which would include plenty of Asha'man.
Thematically speaking, it would be the same as what we'd get if Rand had been the architect behind the White Tower's reunifaction instead of Egwene.
No, it would be no different from seeing bits of the Tower reunification from the PoVs of characters other than Egwene, like Elaida, Saerin, Siuan, etc.

Creating an Asha'man character to tell this part of the story is a much better decision. And Brandon did a superb job with Androl.
He didn't have to create one. We already had plenty of Asha'man characters who had enough screen time before that they could be used to tell the story from within. We have Narishma, Flinn and Logain. RJ intended to have the actions performed by Androl to be spread out among several Asha'man, all of whom could have perfectly served as PoVs for those actions without becoming last-minute supermen who save the day.

And Brandon did okay with Androl, no doubt, but this kind of character development felt way off in the midst of the Last Battle, and totally reduced the significance of Logain, who has been around since the first book, and was already foreshadowed to play a major role. Having a new character eclipse him was a poor choice, and definitely watered down the impact of the Black Tower plotline.

In the end, we get a definite sense of where the White Tower is going because we saw so much of the changes from Egwene's eyes and the eyes of her followers. But Logain was totally pushed to the background, with the result that the Black Tower remains a kind of murky half-story in aMoL. A pretty sad fate for a well developed side plot since LoC.

Garak
03-26-2013, 05:46 PM
I'm aware we're straying off topic... but you found Sanderson's dialogue good? Absolutely no cues on what the characters are thinking or doing, no mention of body language to round out conversations, clunky, short statements... I could go on. Sanderson's weak dialogue has been remarked upon in his own works, and I believe there's even an interview where he admits this is one of the flaws in his writing.

Many authors use a minimalist approach to dialogue. Steven Brust, Terry Pratchett and Roger Zelanzy - to name a few. All of these authors have written books where dialogue goes on - sometimes for pages at a time - without any break in the conversation.

Dialogue is judged by WHAT the characters say, not by the surrounding text outside the quotation marks. Dialogue is held to a different set of stylistic standards from regular prose. If the characters' statements are short and choppy, that is because people often speak in short, choppy phrases. Brandon has shown a remarkable ability to capture the flavour of everyday conversation.

The fact that he doubts his own abilities in this regard is probably a sign that he spends too much time listening to people who don't know what they're talking about.


As for Rand in tPoD... he isn't becoming an ass, he's becoming insane. He's intent on his goal of pushing back the Seanchan, and he's becoming unstable at the same time, culminating in him killing thousands of his own soldiers. You're supposed to feel queasy, and question how this person can possibly save the world, and it gives credence to Cadsuane's insistance that if he fought the DO this way, he'd lose. That's the suspense in these scenes. Not a matter of plot but of character.

That's a fairly weak form of suspense since the question, "Can Rand really do it?" has been in our minds from the very beginning. Turning him into an unlikable character does not heighten the sense of tension.

Moreover, even if your argument was true, it would not change the fact that Rand remained an unlikable character for the better part of six books and that his subplot took far too long to come to a resolution.

suttree
03-26-2013, 06:20 PM
Do these chapters create suspense? Well, no not really. Rand is not in any physical danger and he’s miles removed from the actual conflict.

We are so far apart in our views that I'm not sure it will really help to continue on this topic. I really don't know what to say if you can't see the suspense in those scenes on a number of different levels. Also as for being removed from the conflict.
TPoD
"We’re finished, here. Part of fighting is knowing when to go, and it’s time...Bashere knuckled his thick mustaches with a wry laugh. "You want to find them. Look out there." He swept a gauntleted hand across the hills to the west. "I can’t point to a particular spot, but there are ten, maybe fifteen thousand close enough to see from here, if those trees weren’t in the way. I danced with the Dark One getting through them unseen to reach you. Maybe a hundred damanedown there. Maybe more. More coming, for sure, and more men. Seems their general has decided to concentrate on you. I suppose it isn’t always cheese and ale being ta’veren."

You also seem to forget that there are DFs countermanding his orders and he almost gets murdered.

As for writing quality, not sure how helpful it is to cherry pick a single paragraph. Imagine if you did that with various examples from Brandon's work in the WoT. It would not be pretty.

The chapters highlight Rand's descent into madness and growing megalomania. It's also funny that you would see nothing good in the Rand/LTT exchange and yet credit Sanderson when his dialogue is something that he struggles with mightily. It certainly is not one of his strengths. Not only do the characters often sound exactly the same(see the battle plan scene in AMoL as an example. There literally is nothing to tell the generals apart except their names) but he often just slaps on "random cultural trait" when working the Aiel or Seanchan characters. Then we get to how forced and awkward it often is. No bueno.


The characters, for instance, are much more likable in Sanderson’s hands. The dialogue is better. The tone of the series improved with more use of levity to balance out some of the darker scenes. Once Sanderson took over, WOT could laugh at some of its own clichés.

I honestly don't feel like we are reading the same books. Sanderson's use of levity is often cringeworthy. Even he admits he took it too far, as with Mat..

Brandon
I didn't understand Mat. I tried so hard to make him funny, I wrote the HIM out of him

He took a rogue and turned him into the court jester with his over the top humor. Another example would be the Rand/Mat bragging contest where they almost broke out the ruler.


How do I explain how this small exchange accomplishes so much with so few words?

This certainly is not the norm for Brandon. His "tell don't show" style and seeming inability to use literary devices like ellipsis led to an appalling amount of bloat and filler.


The quality of writing improved when Sanderson took over. In just about every respect.

This is just absurd. The lack of polish and writing quality was such a huge issue after ToM that they actually changed Brandon's writing process to address it and pushed back the release date as they had to make sure they got this one "right". There are many good things you can say about Brandon's work on the Wheel. The overall quality of writing improving is most certainly not one them however.


It’s really an exchange of one kind of mediocre prose for another kind of mediocre prose.

Brandon has been very clear all along that prose is not a strength.

Brandon Sanderson
There are a couple of things that Robert Jordan did, like...there are many things he did better than I do, but there are two things that he did amazingly better than I do that have been really hard to try and approach. The first one is his mastery of description. I...prose is not....you know, I do serviceable prose. I don't do beautiful prose in most cases. I occasionally can turn a phrase, but he could do beautiful prose in every paragraph, and that's just not one of my strengths. Pat Rothfuss is another one who can do that, if you're read Name of the Wind; it's just beautiful, every line. Robert Jordan I felt was like that, just absolute beauty.

Further since the inception of the WoT what set it apart from other fantasy was the strength of RJ's detailed prose. With some of these fantasy conventions you bring up and statements like the above it almost seems as if you are just making things up as you go.


It’s almost fair to say that Brandon Sanderson inherited RJ’s literary debts – inherited the promises that RJ made to bring closure to this story – and now we, the fandom, are his creditors. If RJ made promises that he couldn’t keep by creating too many subplots, bringing the story to a grinding halt and losing any sense of narrative focus, then it’s not fair to blame Sanderson for the fact that RJ’s mistakes impacted the final books of the series.

No on argues that RJ couldn't have used a more stringent editor. Regardless many of your points have already been addressed and it is totally false to say that the major issues people have with Brandon's work are due to RJ's handling of the series.

The fact that he doubts his own abilities in this regard is probably a sign that he spends too much time listening to people who don't know what they're talking about.


Errmm what? :confused:

fionwe1987
03-26-2013, 06:35 PM
Many authors use a minimalist approach to dialogue. Steven Brust, Terry Pratchett and Roger Zelanzy - to name a few. All of these authors have written books where dialogue goes on - sometimes for pages at a time - without any break in the conversation.
You don't need a break in conversation to insert the cues and thoughts that give context to the conversation. None of the authors you mention (at least, I can speak for Zelany and Pratchett) is nearly as barebones as Brandon. RJ overdid it, at times, but Brandon takes it to the other extreme most times, and for a series like WoT, where so much nuance is buried in character PoVs, the absence of these cues totally takes away a lot from the plot. Its also a major reason why Sanderson had to write so many extra scenes. DomA, elsewhere, made an excellent point about how so many Gawyn PoVs would have been more briskly handled by RJ, because he'd show those actions in someone else's PoV, and use their thoughts to let the reader know what was going on. Instead, we got more Gawyn in Brandon's three books than the previous 11 combined, many of those scenes serving little or no purpose.

Dialogue is judged by WHAT the characters say, not by the surrounding text outside the quotation marks.
Huh? The greatest strength of the written medium is that we can see inside the heads of characters to gauge their true intent, have our attention drawn to various physical reactions so we can get an idea of how the dialogue is received, or sometimes be misdirected. Context is all important to flesh out dialogue in literature, and is the means by which authors enrich the dialogue to inform the readers of many things without having to state them baldly.

Dialogue is held to a different set of stylistic standards from regular prose. If the characters' statements are short and choppy, that is because people often speak in short, choppy phrases. Brandon has shown a remarkable ability to capture the flavour of everyday conversation.
Everyday modern conversation, maybe, but even that isn't true. He doesn't, for instance, have characters cut each other off midsentence all that often. In a real conversation, people trail off all the time, especially because of the facial expressions and body language they observe. They make grammatical errors of epic proportions... but I don't see authors being given a free pass on bad grammar in dialogue unless they do it consistently. If Brandon's dialogue is choppy and short for the purpose of verisimilitude, he needs to do so consistently. He doesn't. And he also uses short, choppy sentences in the rest of his prose, which is the true reason his dialogue is choppy.

Take this case, for instance:

“That is Doniella Alievin’s copy of the Termendal translation of The
Karaethon Cycle” Egwene said. “Doniella made her own notes, and they have
been the subject of nearly as much discussion among scholars as the Prophecies themselves. She was a Dreamer, you know. The only Amyrlin that we know of to have been one. Before me, anyway.”
“Yes,” Elayne said.
“The sisters who gathered these for me came to the same conclusion
that I have,” Egwene said...

What is Elayne even saying "yes" to, here? Does she mean "yes, I know"? Does she mean "Yes, you are a Dreamer Amyrlin"? Is she using the word the way we use "okay"? Is she using it as a contemplative filler?

There are several options here, but without context, we just cannot know. Which makes the entire sentence completely redundant. But remove it, and Egwene's transition to a new thought isn't smooth at all.

Then consider this:

“Is it true, Mother?” Nynaeve asked, rising. “About Caemlyn?”
Egwene nodded.
“This is going to be a long night,” Nynaeve said, looking at the wounded still pouring through the gateways.

So Nynaeve's reaction to Caemlyn being taken is... nothing? And Nynaeve can see wounded people puring out of a Gateway... so why does she even have the question? Her asking for specifics is another thing. But once again, with short choppy dialogue, nothing is achieved but a waste of space. We don't get an emotional reaction. We don't see a character learn new information. We don't learn anything either. This is just dialogue to fill a gap.

The fact that he doubts his own abilities in this regard is probably a sign that he spends too much time listening to people who don't know what they're talking about.
:rolleyes:

That's a fairly weak form of suspense since the question, "Can Rand really do it?" has been in our minds from the very beginning. Turning him into an unlikable character does not heighten the sense of tension.
It does. Certainly more than that scene where Androl gets the Seals, since there was absolutely no doubt the plot would end with the Light winning. WoT has never had suspense over how things will end. But how characters will come to the point where they can help the Light win has been the main point of the series.

Moreover, even if your argument was true, it would not change the fact that Rand remained an unlikable character for the better part of six books and that his subplot took far too long to come to a resolution.
I'm not going to deny that there aren't structural issues with WoT, but Rand's arc is one the least offensive, and was actually helped by the slowing of the pace by making his descent from nice guy to heartless, insane maniac more gradual and believable.

Davian93
03-27-2013, 11:00 AM
I wanted to add that I agree with above posts from Suttree, Dom and Fionwe.


So do I.


Also, BS's dialogue is terribly weak. All of his characters come off sounding the same. This is present in all of his own books as well.

EvilChani
03-27-2013, 08:09 PM
While it's true that I don't have the finished product as a basis for comparison, it sounds to me like what you're describing is a situation where the point of view character is a spectator but not a participant. There are genres where the point of view character is primarily a spectator - although, usually, this is accomplished through the use of first-person narration for the observer who then tells the story in third person - but fantasy is not one of them.

In fantasy, the standard convention is for the point of view character to be an active participant in the story. Could this have worked with Pevara? Maybe but it would have set up a situation whereby the Black Tower was rescued by outside forces. Thematically speaking, it would be the same as what we'd get if Rand had been the architect behind the White Tower's reunifaction instead of Egwene.

Creating an Asha'man character to tell this part of the story is a much better decision. And Brandon did a superb job with Androl.

I pretty much agree with the things Dom, Suttree, and others have said on this subject, but if you recognize that the POV character matters, then you have to see that using Androl in every instance was a huge mistake. Why? Because the story at the BT was not Androl's...he was, indeed, a player, but he was not the only one, and he was far from the most important one.

Yes, this plot was the story of the Asha'man saving themselves, of them deciding their fate - as a group - and choosing to fight what seemed an impossible battle. They were outnumbered, the man who the 'good ones' had looked to for leadership (Logain, in case the description is not obvious) was captured and, as far as they knew, possibly turned to the Shadow, and they had Aes Sedai breathing down their necks. The men at the BT were being pushed into a corner from all sides. Androl's POV was useful, but we needed to see other perspectives:

1. Logain's POV was desperately needed. This should have been his story, to some extent. We knew Min's viewings of him showed 'power and glory', and that the future Logain had before him was going to be a very bright one. Instead of showing him being rescued, and the darkness that he felt after what was done to him, we should have seen what was done to him, through his eyes.

His story paralleled both Rand's and Egwene's, but we were not given the tiniest glimpse into his feelings, other than the anger he felt after he was freed, and his determination never to be controlled again. And even that was written poorly. Logain went through hell for weeks, managed to resist what others fell to in mere minutes/hours, and then he managed to overcome the emotional turmoil/depression/fear/trauma he suffered in a very short time. Why? Because he knew, deep down, what he wanted for the Asha'man - and that protecting/helping people was more important, and a more noble way of gaining trust, than trying to force everyone to submit.

His story could've been extremely powerful, if we had seen his experiences from his POV instead of Androl's. Though his choice at the end brought a smile to my face, it was weakly written because all we ever got to see was the anger, followed by the right choice. If we had seen how horrible things were for him before all of that, and had seen more of the transition from one stage to another, his would have been one of the most powerful stories in the series. And his future "glory and power" would've made a lot more sense than "Androl saved the Tower and chose Logain to lead it".

2. Pevara: While I agree with you completely that the BT story is about the BT and not about AS, and I think the role of the AS in this plot should have been minimal, I think her POV could have added a lot to the story. Her bond to Androl was useful and cute, but more was needed from her, not in action from her character - I think the Asha'man were right to want to fix the Tower themselves, instead of allowing the AS to take over, or even take an important role - but in a 'hostile' view kind of way.

What better way to show that the Asha'man are decent, trustworthy men than to show it from the point of view of someone who inherently distrusts male channelers and views them as criminals/enemies/wild animals? Pevara started seeing Androl in a different light due to the bond. Had she had more POVs when other Asha’man were doing some of the things Androl did (and, perhaps, after viewing some of Logain’s torture firsthand and seeing how he managed to resist being turned), then it would have made a huge impact on the reader. To see her moving from “they need to be controlled via a bond”, to “some of them seem okay”, to “they are decent men, but still men so need to be told what to do”, to “they can handle themselves without AS interference”, to “their leader helps people and treats them as equals, and people love them without being forced to accept being bossed around by them!” would’ve been entertaining, as well as being a good way to lay the groundwork for a more cooperative relationship between some of the Aes Sedai and the Asha’man.

3. A POV from another Asha’man who was turned: Had we gotten to see Logain resisting being turned, a good companion POV would’ve been from a man (or an Aes Sedai) who was turned. Show us what happens to them, the pain they go through, and use that not only to add more urgency to the storyline, but to drive home the importance – and the impressiveness – of Logain’s ability to resist.

I could keep going, but I just wanted to give some examples that show why Sanderson’s choice to turn the BT plot into “The Androl Show” was a bad idea. It took what could’ve been a fast-paced, emotional storyline and made it into a shallow bunch of crap. I liked the end result for the BT, for the most part, but the path that got us there was covered in a load of horse crap.

Weiramon
03-28-2013, 12:15 PM
Easy now.

There will come a time when we all long for good old roads covered in loads of horse crap.

Garak
03-28-2013, 01:26 PM
First, an apology to Fionwe1987. I haven't read your reply yet but I would like to retract something that I said in my last post. Two days ago, I told you that the fact that Brandon doubts his skills with dialogue is a sign that he listens to people who don't know what they're talking about. It didn't occur to me until several hours later that it would be perfectly reasonable to assume I was talking about you.

I wasn't.

"The people who don't know what they're talking about" that I was referring to are the numerous people who tweet at him, blog at him and take their personal gripes to Brandon Sanderson himself. These days, an artist cannot create a work of literature, film or music without half the Internet rising up to demand something more of him or her. The point I was trying to make is that Brandon needs to listen to his editors, not random trolls on the Internet. It was never my intention to include you as one of those random trolls and if I've offended you, please accept my apologies.

Discussing Brandon's writing – or that of any author – on Theoryland is perfectly acceptable. It only becomes trolling when you start harassing the author himself.

Now on to the body of my post.

We are so far apart in our views that I'm not sure it will really help to continue on this topic. I really don't know what to say if you can't see the suspense in those scenes on a number of different levels.

I very much agree with this sentiment, Suttree, and I have decided that it would be best to avoid a blow by blow comparison of the pros and cons of tPoD. Not because my opinions have changed but simply because there would be no way to carry out such a comparison without repeating what we've already said. You've listed the things that you like about the Damona Campaign and I've listed the things that I dislike. At this point, I'm content to leave it at that.

The chapters highlight Rand's descent into madness and growing megalomania. It's also funny that you would see nothing good in the Rand/LTT exchange and yet credit Sanderson when his dialogue is something that he struggles with mightily. It certainly is not one of his strengths. Not only do the characters often sound exactly the same(see the battle plan scene in AMoL as an example. There literally is nothing to tell the generals apart except their names) but he often just slaps on "random cultural trait" when working the Aiel or Seanchan characters. Then we get to how forced and awkward it often is. No bueno.

I credit Sanderson for his dialogue because it's often witty and heartwarming. The example that I gave you of Rand and Nynaeve, for instance. That little exchange brought a smile to my face and a few tears to my eyes. Another one of my favourite moments is the “bragging contest” between Mat and Rand. I laughed so hard during that exchange that I honestly had to put the book down for five minutes and sip my hot chocolate very carefully.

Brandon's talent for witty banter is on par with something you might see in a Joss Whedon show. The exchanges between his characters are often very clever. More to the point, Brandon is very skilled at using dialogue to illustrate the relationships between the major characters. For instance, when Rand says, “An idiot? A wool-headed fool in desperate need of an ear-boxing? All true, Nynaeve,” you can sense his reverence for Nynaeve. In his own way, Rand is acknowledging that Nynaeve was right to criticize him during his darker moments, while also using playful banter to demonstrate his affection. Nynaeve is not just one of the many Aes Sedai in Rand's party, she's his friend. Maybe even the older sister that he never had and desperately needed.

This scene works because of the emotions that it evokes in its audience. The author could easily write “Rand saw Nynaeve almost as a sister,” but that is simply a statement of fact. Having Rand act on those feelings makes the sense of emotion palpable to the audience. RJ's characters state their feelings (often in their own heads where it won't do any good) and Brandon's characters ACT on their feelings.

I honestly don't feel like we are reading the same books. Sanderson's use of levity is often cringeworthy. Even he admits he took it too far, as with Mat.

Perhaps that is a case of him feeling guilty over fan reaction. RJ's characters are very serious – often too serious in my opinion – and they lack the ability to laugh at themselves. This, to me, is a serious character flaw. If you can't laugh at yourself, it probably means that you're blind to your own shortcomings. Jordan's characters – every last one of them – were all blind to their shortcomings. This is one of the things that turned me away from the series. To have one or two characters with this flaw is fine, in my opinion, but to make it a universal flaw... Well, that just makes it a world full of unlikable people. I know Jordan wanted to write flawed characters – and I applaud him for it – but giving them all the same flaw was unwise.

By adding the levity, Sanderson gave the characters the ability to stop taking themselves so seriously. Discussions between Rand and Nynaeve no longer feel like a contest of wills. Instead, they feel like two people who love each other working together to solve a problem, each bringing his or her own unique perspective to the table. I'm pretty sure that was what RJ wanted from the beginning but it was Sanderson who made it happen.


He took a rogue and turned him into the court jester with his over the top humor. Another example would be the Rand/Mat bragging contest where they almost broke out the ruler.

LOL

It's funny because I didn't know you were going to bring this up when I mentioned the bragging contest earlier. I've been responding to your post as I read it.

The bragging contest illustrates the brotherly love between Rand and Mat. They're behaving like two young men who grew up in the same house (or in this case, the same village). Mat has become a respected general and consort to the Seanchan Empress while Rand has taken on the mantle of the Dragon Reborn. However, once they're back in each other's company, they turn back into two young boys from Emond's Field.

This is not derailing a character or undoing the progress that character has made. On the contrary, who we were plays a big part in influencing who we are. It's sort of like how when I reunite with some of my high school friends, I start to behave almost the way I did back in high school. That doesn't mean that I haven't grown up; it just means that being in their presence can remind me of what it was like to be a young man again.

That's important. It's important for the author to show more than the messianic figure that Rand has become. The author needs to make it clear that the sheepherder is still in there somewhere or Rand becomes less of a character and more of a force of nature. Same for Mat.

So, yes, the fandom breaks into hysterics because the characters ARE different now that Sanderson is in charge. His approach is very different from that employed by Robert Jordan. However, since I feel that Jordan's approach was flawed to begin with, I don't mind. It goes back to what I said about the characters no longer taking themselves so seriously.

This certainly is not the norm for Brandon. His "tell don't show" style and seeming inability to use literary devices like ellipsis led to an appalling amount of bloat and filler.

I don't know quite how to respond to that because, in my opinion, Brandon shows and RJ tells. As I said above, RJ's characters state their feelings while Brandon's characters act on their feelings.

This is just absurd. The lack of polish and writing quality was such a huge issue after ToM that they actually changed Brandon's writing process to address it and pushed back the release date as they had to make sure they got this one "right". There are many good things you can say about Brandon's work on the Wheel. The overall quality of writing improving is most certainly not one them however.

Better dialogue, a tighter narrative focus, characters becoming more likable, better pacing, scenes that are used to deliberate effect rather than simply taking up space in the book: all of this constitutes an improvement in the quality of writing.

Brandon has been very clear all along that prose is not a strength.

I agree. Neither was it a strength for RJ. RJ's prose is like a sine wave; when it's good, it's very good and when it's bad, it's very bad. But the net average is somewhere in the middle. Brandon's prose, however, remains consistently mediocre from start to finish.

When I listed an example of bad prose, I did not mean to cherry pick, only to illustrate some of Jordan's bad habits. I'm sure you can see why it would not be prudent for me type out an entire chapter. I merely chose a convenient example. There is more than one example of bad prose in RJ's work. There are also many examples of good prose. As I said, it averages out to somewhere in the middle.

However, prose is only ONE aspect of good writing. It's like different sections on the SATs. You can fail vocabulary but if you manage a good performance in math, science and the rest, you'll still come out with a good score in the end. I give Brandon's prose a solid B. It's nothing remarkable but it isn't horrible either. I'd give RJ a B as well.

I'm willing to be fairly lenient on the issue of prose so long as the author tells a good story. Provided that we never reach Stephanie Meyer levels of horrible – and neither author has – I'm willing to judge them on the development of plot and character. I hate to say this since I know it will upset you, but in my opinion, of the two, Brandon is more skilled with plot and character.

I'm sorry, I won't be able to address the rest of your post. I've run out of time on my lunch hour and I don't think I'll be able to reply anymore today. But thank you just the same for a lively discussion. I've enjoyed meeting you.

Davian93
03-28-2013, 02:55 PM
one of my favourite moments is the “bragging contest” between Mat and Rand. I laughed so hard during that exchange that I honestly had to put the book down for five minutes and sip my hot chocolate very carefully.


You see, THIS is why we need Negative Rep around here...

fionwe1987
03-28-2013, 03:24 PM
First of all, I have to thank you for a good laugh. Few posts that I disagree with are so over the top that I can laugh at them. Kudos.

First, an apology to Fionwe1987. I haven't read your reply yet but I would like to retract something that I said in my last post. Two days ago, I told you that the fact that Brandon doubts his skills with dialogue is a sign that he listens to people who don't know what they're talking about. It didn't occur to me until several hours later that it would be perfectly reasonable to assume I was talking about you.

I wasn't.

"The people who don't know what they're talking about" that I was referring to are the numerous people who tweet at him, blog at him and take their personal gripes to Brandon Sanderson himself. These days, an artist cannot create a work of literature, film or music without half the Internet rising up to demand something more of him or her. The point I was trying to make is that Brandon needs to listen to his editors, not random trolls on the Internet. It was never my intention to include you as one of those random trolls and if I've offended you, please accept my apologies.

You should perhaps direct your apologies to the blog reviewer who interviewed Brandon, during which they discussed Brandon's weak dialogue. I find it baffling that you can casually call someone a troll just so you can support your point.

And I don't see how you're willing to write off Brandon either. There have been plenty of criticisms thrown at him, at Twitter or elsewhere, and if he disagrees with the criticism, he has said so.

There is no trolling at play when an interviewer asks an author a legitimate question about his prose. And when an author agrees with the comment, he isn't doing so because he's got a habit of listening to trolls.

I credit Sanderson for his dialogue because it's often witty and heartwarming.
Brandon's writing is witty? I'm going to ask for a sample, then.

For myself, I still remember this as Brandon's attempt at "wit":

She reached into a pocket of her dress, pulling out several pieces of paper. One was the picture of Mat. "You didn't ask where I got this."
"You're Aes Sedai," Mat said, shrugging. "I figured you . . . you know, saidared it."
"Saidared it?" she asked flatly.

:eek:

Have you read other works by Brandon, by the way?

Brandon's talent for witty banter is on par with something you might see in a Joss Whedon show.
You know, Joss Whedon will trun in his grave, when he has one, over that. Brandon's attempts at witty banter barely rises above the level of a college show. The best example of this is actually a character called Shallan in Way of Kings. The only reason a reader gets that she's supposed to be witty is all the characters around her rushing to inform us she is witty.

RJ's characters state their feelings (often in their own heads where it won't do any good) and Brandon's characters ACT on their feelings.
RJ's characters state their feelings? Like the time when Egwene told us explicitly she was falling out of love with Rand? Like the time when Nynaeve told us explicitly she was insecure because she had been given responsibility early in life? Like when Rand told us straight out that he was desperate to prove himself? Oh wait... none of that happened.

Perhaps that is a case of him feeling guilty over fan reaction. RJ's characters are very serious – often too serious in my opinion – and they lack the ability to laugh at themselves.
That's because most of them are not in funny situations. Being able to laugh at yourself is something that comes with maturity, or something you can do in stress free situations. Neither of these fit the characters in WoT. They're mostly young people thrust unprepared into immense responsibility. Most human beings tend to get intense and serious in such situations...

By adding the levity, Sanderson gave the characters the ability to stop taking themselves so seriously.
With perfect timing, since the approaching end of the world is precisely when real people start finding the humor in life... :rolleyes:

Discussions between Rand and Nynaeve no longer feel like a contest of wills.
I beg to differ. You may have whitewashed your memory, but even Brandon wasn't so forgetful of Nynaeve's character to change that in every scene. Barring that one instance where she's taking her leave of him, she does indeed continue to push him when she sees fit. Which is exactly as it should be, because a Nynaeve who's gets mirthful and sunny tempered is boring. She's meant to be a prickly, irritable person whose deep sense of loyalty and great courage enables her friends to overlook those features of her personality. Thankfully, even Brandon didn't change that.

Instead, they feel like two people who love each other working together to solve a problem, each bringing his or her own unique perspective to the table. I'm pretty sure that was what RJ wanted from the beginning but it was Sanderson who made it happen.
Nynaeve and anyone she was nagging about something or the other always felt like that... its incredibly obvious she cared for Rand since about her third or fourth scene in the book. That doesn't turn her into a sappy eyed lackwit around him either.


The bragging contest illustrates the brotherly love between Rand and Mat.
The brotherly love that makes Mat scramble away in fear the moment he discovers Rand can channel? The love that makes Rand cynically plan to use Mat? The love that led Mat to always fear and be weary of Rand? Please.

What Brandon was trying to show, I suppose, was the recognition from Mat that Rand was the guy who was his friend in the TR, underneath everything else. But the fact that the realization just came to him with no rhyme or reason cheapened the entire experience. For Mat to accept that Rand was not mad, and still the same man required the kind of writing Brandon is just incapable of.

He came closer to getting it right when Egwene changed her mind and decided to let Mat have command of the Light's forces. But then, Egwene was always better at trusting Mat than Nynaeve was anyway.

They're behaving like two young men who grew up in the same house (or in this case, the same village). Mat has become a respected general and consort to the Seanchan Empress while Rand has taken on the mantle of the Dragon Reborn. However, once they're back in each other's company, they turn back into two young boys from Emond's Field.
Except they never have, in the past. This scene made a mockery of Mat's character, because he has always feared what Rand had become. He has always been happy to put distance between him and Rand, and he doesn't think Rand is just another boy from Emond's Field. In the very same chapter, Mat thinks:

He had done whatever he could to avoid Rand!...
“Hello, Mat,” Rand said, voice pleasant. Light, he was mad!


Then Sanderson has Mat making jokes about Rand going mad... as if he's ever done that in the past. If he wanted to grow Mat's character to come to accept the changes in Rand, and be comfortable enough that he can make jokes about Rand going mad, he should have actually written that. As it was, suddenly having this humorous exchange between them did disservice to the character, and the scene.

I don't know quite how to respond to that because, in my opinion, Brandon shows and RJ tells. As I said above, RJ's characters state their feelings while Brandon's characters act on their feelings.




“Bah. You and your Asha’man are already crazy,” Mat said, “so what
does it matter?” He glanced to the side. “You look nice, by the way. You’ve
been taking better care of yourself lately.”
“So you do care,” Rand said.
“Of course I do,” Mat grumbled, looking back at Tuon. “I mean, you
have to keep yourself alive, right? Go have your little duel with the Dark
One and keep us all safe? It’s good to know you’re looking up to it.”
“That’s nice to hear,” Rand said, smiling.

This is called telling, not showing. Characters explicitly stating out lout that they care about someone (while, apparently, thinking that they are mad too!).

Tuon stepped forward, Selucia waving a few last finger-talk words toward her. “You will be taken to Seanchan, Dragon Reborn,” Tuon said. Her
voice was collected, firm.
Mat smiled. Light, but she made a good Empress.

Again, telling, not showing. In a similar vein, till Sanderson took over, we didn't get many instances of Siuan directly telling us Egwene was a good Amyrlin. That instead was implied in their conversations, in the way Siuan respected Egwene's opinions while running roughshod over most others'. That is showing, not telling. Brandon does the exact opposite.

Davian93
03-28-2013, 05:02 PM
BTW, on a side note, here is the best scene in the entire books between Rand & Nynaeve. RJ perfectly nailed their relationship here and its brilliant writing:



The Eye of the World
Chapter 16: The Wisdom

He had no idea how long he had been standing there when the door finally opened. Nynaeve stepped out, and gave a start when she saw Lan. The Warder murmured something that made her toss her head angrily, then he slipped past her through the door.
She turned toward Rand, and for the first time he realized the others had all quietly disappeared. He did not want to face the Wisdom alone, but he could not get away now that he had met Nynaeve's eye. A particularly searching eye, he thought, puzzled. What did they say? He drew himself up as she came closer.
She indicated Tam's sword. "That seems to fit you, now, though I would like it better if it did not. You've grown, Rand."
"In a week?" He laughed, but it sounded forced, and she shook her head as if he did not understand. "Did she convince you?" he asked. "It really is the only way." He paused, thinking of Min's sparks. "Are you coming with us?"
Nynaeve's eyes opened wide. "Coming with you! Why would I do that? Mavra Mallen came up from Deven Ride to see to things till I return, but she'll be wanting to get back as soon as she can. I still hope to make you see sense and come home with me."
"We can't." He thought he saw something move at the still-open door, but they were alone in the hallway.
"You told me that, and she did, too." Nynaeve frowned. "If she wasn't mixed up in it ... Aes Sedai are not to be trusted, Rand."
"You sound as if you really do believe us," he said slowly. "What happened at the village meeting?"
Nynaeve looked back at the doorway before answering; there was no movement there now. "It was a shambles, but there is no need for her to know we can't handle our affairs any better than that. And I believe only one thing: you are all in danger as long as you are with her. "
"Something happened," he insisted. "Why do you want us to go back if you think there's even a chance we are right? And why you, at all? As soon send the Mayor himself as the Wisdom."
"You have grown." She smiled, and for a moment her amusement had him shifting his feet. "I can think of a time when you would not have questioned where I chose to go or what I chose to do, wherever or whatever it was. A time just a week ago."
He cleared his throat and pressed on stubbornly. "It doesn't make sense. Why are you really here?"
She half glanced at the still-empty doorway, then took his arm. "Let's walk while we talk." He let himself be led away, and when they were far enough from the door not to be overheard, she began again. "As I said, the meeting was a shambles. Everybody agreed someone had to be sent after you, but the village split into two groups. One wanted you rescued, though there was considerable argument over how that was to be done considering that you were with a ... the likes of her."
He was glad she was remembering to watch what she said. "The others believed Tam?" he said.
"Not exactly, but they thought you shouldn't be among strangers, either, especially not with someone like her. Either way, though, almost every man wanted to be one of the party. Tam, and Bran al'Vere, with the scales of office around his neck, and Haral Luhhan, till Alsbet made him sit down. Even Cenn Buie. The Light save me from men who think with the hair on their chests. Though I don't know as there are any other kind." She gave a hearty sniff, and looked up at him, an accusing glance. "At any rate, I could see it would be another day, perhaps more, before they came to any decision, and somehow ... somehow I was sure we did not dare wait that long. So I called the Women's Circle together and told them what had to be done. I cannot say they liked it, but they saw the right of it. And that is why I am here; because the men around Emond's Field are stubborn wool-heads. They're probably still arguing about who to send, though I left word I would take care of it."
Nynaeve's story explained her presence, but it did nothing to reassure him. She was still determined to bring them back with her.
"What did she say to you in there?" he asked. Moiraine would surely have covered every argument, but if there was one she had missed, he would make it.
"More of the same," Nynaeve replied. "And she wanted to know about you boys. To see if she could reason out why you ... have attracted the kind of attention you have ... she said." She paused, watching him out of the corner of her eye. "She tried to disguise it, but most of all she wanted to know if any of you was born outside the Two Rivers."
His face was suddenly as taut as a drumhead. He managed a hoarse chuckle. "She does think of some odd things. I hope you assured her we're all Emond's Field born. "
"Of course," she replied. There had only been a heartbeat's pause before she spoke, so brief he would have missed it if he had not been watching for it.
He tried to think of something to say, but his tongue felt like a piece of leather. She knows. She was the Wisdom, after all, and the Wisdom was supposed to know everything about everyone. If she knows, it was no fever-dream. Oh, Light help me, father!
"Are you all right?" Nynaeve asked.
"He said ... said I ... wasn't his son. When he was delirious ... with the fever. He said he found me. I thought it was just ..." His throat began to burn, and he had to stop.
"Oh, Rand." She stopped and took his face in both hands. She had to reach up to do it. "People say strange things in a fever. Twisted things. Things that are not true, or real. Listen to me. Tam al'Thor ran away seeking adventure when he was a boy no older than you. I can just remember when he came back to Emond's Field, a grown man with a red-haired, outlander wife and a babe in swaddling clothes. I remember Kari al'Thor cradling that child in her arms with as much love given and delight taken as I have ever seen from any woman with a babe. Her child, Rand. You. Now you straighten up and stop this foolishness."
"Of course," he said. I was born outside the Two Rivers. "Of course." Maybe Tam had been having a fever-dream, and maybe he had found a baby after a battle. "Why didn't you tell her?"
"It is none of any outlander's business. "
"Were any of the others born outside?" As soon as the question was out, he shook his head. "No, don't answer. It's none of my business, either." But it would be nice to know if Moiraine had some special interest in him, over and above what she had in the whole lot of them. Would it?
"No, it isn't your business," Nynaeve agreed. "It might not mean anything. She could just be searching blindly for a reason, any reason, why those things are after you. After all of you."
Rand managed a grin. "Then you do believe they're chasing us."
Nynaeve shook her head wryly. "You've certainly learned to twist words since you met her."
"What are you going to do?" he asked.
She studied him; he met her eyes steadily. "Today, I am going to have a bath. For the rest, we will have to see, won't we?"

That is what good dialogue sounds like too, BTW.

fionwe1987
03-28-2013, 05:10 PM
BTW, on a side note, here is the best scene in the entire books between Rand & Nynaeve. RJ perfectly nailed their relationship here and its brilliant writing:



That is what good dialogue sounds like too, BTW.
When I said that her caring for him is established early on, this is the scene I meant to quote.

It does such a good job of informing us that Nynaeve was fiercely loyal to her own, so ready to jump headlong into the fray to help them. No one had to spell it out. It's implied, and implied well, both through the words they're saying and the non verbal cues around the dialogue.

Wish we had something like this for Moiraine's entrance, or when Rand meets Tuon, or any number of major scenes.

Davian93
03-28-2013, 05:12 PM
When I said that her caring for him is established early on, this is the scene I meant to quote.

I figured as much...its the scene that RJ uses to define their relationship for the entire series. Rand is also the only Two Rivers person that she doesnt treat completely like a child and that is illustrated here as well. She's more like a protective older sister with him.

connabard
03-28-2013, 05:44 PM
^ Easily one of the best scenes in the entire series.
Another one I like between Rand and Nynaeve, despite the fact that it was A) written by Sanderson and B) follows with his lackluster dialogue, is the scene in TGH when Rand finally tells Nynaeve he "knows" (because he doesn't) he will die, after he Balefired Graendels hideout.

Mostly I liked it because it, again, reinforced just how loyal Nynaeve is and how unlike AS, she was/is always fighting for what's best for Rand

Weird Harold
03-28-2013, 06:16 PM
So, yes, the fandom breaks into hysterics because the characters ARE different now that Sanderson is in charge. His approach is very different from that employed by Robert Jordan. However, since I feel that Jordan's approach was flawed to begin with, I don't mind. It goes back to what I said about the characters no longer taking themselves so seriously.

One point for you to consider:

Those of us who have followed tWOT for twenty-some years, did so because we LIKED the way RJ built his characters, the multiple layering of meanings that make re-reading so much fun, and his disregard of "conventions."

I've been reading Fantasy for fifty-five years or so, and have watched "conventions" of the genre change over time. The authors I treasure the most are those, like RJ, who bend and stretch conventions or outright demolish them.

Sanderson's less complex, more conventional treatment of the characters is far less satisfying for those of us who have been with the series from (or near) the beginning. That doesn't necessarily make it "bad," just different.

Garak
03-29-2013, 02:29 PM
You should perhaps direct your apologies to the blog reviewer who interviewed Brandon, during which they discussed Brandon's weak dialogue. I find it baffling that you can casually call someone a troll just so you can support your point.

Well, that's a little rude, don't you think? To simply rebuke someone after he apologizes to you? More to the point, I haven't called any specific person a troll. When I mentioned people harasssing artists on the Internet - not just Brandon Sanderson but actors like Felicia Day, authors like Neil Gaimon and other notable people - I was not talking about this one particular blogger that you've brought up. In fact, that would have been impossible since I didn't know that this blogger existed until five minutes ago.

My point is that some people have a tendency to heckle artists. That doesn't mean that everyone who tweets or blogs about an artist is a troll but I've certainly seen plenty of disrespectful comments on Twitter, Facebook and various blogs throughtout the Net.

People have a tendency to assume that an artist owes them something, to assume that if an artist does not take their feedback into consideration, he has failed to do his job. This is impossible since art, by definition, cannot be a democratic process. As proof, consider our divergent opinions on the issue of Mat's bragging contest with Rand.

If I tell Brandon that he did an excellent job with that scene and then you tell him the scene was an utter travesty, which of us is he supposed to listen to? I can assure you that I'm as honest in my opinions as you are. I'm not praising the man's work just to start an argument. You can't claim that Brandon should listen to your feedback over mine with any hope of remaining objective. (And just to be clear, neither can I). It is simply impossible to accept feedback from all the fans because many fans want contradictory things.

Brandon needs to listen to his editors because editors are professionals who know the standards of good literature. Certainly an author needs feedback - just as an engineer needs someone to check his math - but that feedback should come from someone with the proper credentials.

That doesn't mean that fans can't voice their opinions - they can and should in the proper forums and good editors keep an eye on those forums - but they should not expect an artist to immediately grant their every request. There are many people out there who lash out at artists when they don't get their way and unfortunately, this can have a negative impact on the artist's self-image.

I'd also like you to note that with the exception of a minor slip of the tongue, I've been nothing but polite to you and I would like you to show me the same courtesy. I haven't called any of your arguments laughable or over the top and I've tried to respond to them with an honest summation of my position.

And I don't see how you're willing to write off Brandon either. There have been plenty of criticisms thrown at him, at Twitter or elsewhere, and if he disagrees with the criticism, he has said so.

Yes, but this is another reason why authors need editors. Authors are often too close to their own work. That can make them blind to their failings but it can also make them blind to their strengths.

An exchange between Rand and Min.

"No," Rand said. "You're more vital than all of them. You remind me of who I am. Besides, you think more clearly than most of those who call themselves my counselors. You could be a queen if you wanted it."

"All I want is you, stupid looby."

"Thank you." He hesitated. "Though I could manage without quite so much name calling."

"Life's tough, isn't it?"

That was adorable. So full of tenderness and empathy. When Brandon wrote this converation, he did so for a reason. Probably because these words seemed to fit with the characters in his mind. He could feel the empathy between Rand and Min and he chose words to express it. Criticism might make him doubt his choices but that doesn't mean his choices were wrong. That's one of the problem with putting too much stock in opinions on the Internet. They can make an artist doubt himself in unjustified ways.


There is no trolling at play when an interviewer asks an author a legitimate question about his prose. And when an author agrees with the comment, he isn't doing so because he's got a habit of listening to trolls.

I didn't say that and you know I didn't say that. Please do not put words in my mouth.

Brandon's writing is witty? I'm going to ask for a sample, then.

See above.

For myself, I still remember this as Brandon's attempt at "wit"

She reached into a pocket of her dress, pulling out several pieces of paper. One was the picture of Mat. "You didn't ask where I got this."

"You're Aes Sedai," Mat said, shrugging. "I figured you . . . you know, saidared it."

HAHAHAHA

I love that line! Joss Whedon to the core!

Have you read other works by Brandon, by the way?

Every last one of them.


You know, Joss Whedon will trun in his grave, when he has one, over that. Brandon's attempts at witty banter barely rises above the level of a college show. The best example of this is actually a character called Shallan in Way of Kings. The only reason a reader gets that she's supposed to be witty is all the characters around her rushing to inform us she is witty.

I disagree. About Whedon.

As for Shallan, I never thought she was particularly funny either. Or witty. She was definitely crafty, though she never made me laugh. I'd say that I agree with you but I can't remember her receiving many compliments as to her wit. Maybe from that acolyte who had a huge crush on her but you can't really expect him to have an objective opinion.

RJ's characters state their feelings? Like the time when Egwene told us explicitly she was falling out of love with Rand? Like the time when Nynaeve told us explicitly she was insecure because she had been given responsibility early in life? Like when Rand told us straight out that he was desperate to prove himself? Oh wait... [I]none of that happened.

Oy... These replies are getting so long. It's taken me an hour just to write this one.


Okay.

Egwene DID explicitely state (both in her POV and outloud) that she was falling out of love with Rand.

It's questionable whether Nynaeve ever actually felt insecure about anything. Throughout the first few books, she behaves like a relentless harridan. It's possible to infer a sense of insecurity from her actions alone but her internal POVs seem to shoot that idea in the foot. Most of Nynaeve's innermost thoughts involve naming and categorizing the several doezen types of fool that surround her. Elayne's an impulsive, hot-headed fool, Rand's a stubborn wool-headed fool and so on. The Aes Sedai are all fools. When exposed to her inner thoughts, Nynaeve seems VERY self-confident. So, I think you're assuming the existence of an emotion that was never really there. I suppse you could make the argument that she acts out her self-confidence. And I might have to concede that point. But that's about as far as it goes.

Again, she changes toward the end of the seires but those changes are most evident in the Brandon books.


RJ's characters are very good at acting arrogant.

Rand...

Rand's a tough nut to crack.

I realize that I should amend some of my earlier statements. RJ's characters do act out their feelings if those feelings involve anger, indignation or distrust. But if the feelings involve love, imtimacy, trust or humor, they tend to behave like cardboard cut-outs.

Elayne LOVES Rand but we never see it, we never feel it short her telling us over and over that she does. It's sort of like your complaint that everyone tells us Shallan is witty but she never does anything witty.


Same with Egwene and Gawyn. She LOVES him but there's no real chemistry there. She thinks it (which is what I mean by "states it") over and over but her behaviour is not really congruent with those thoughts. (No, making out with him does not count. Nor does dreaming about having sex with him. That's just a form of stating it with vivid descriptions)

In the later books, Rand often talks about how much he misses Moiraine - and I think RJ really did intend for him to feel that way - but while she was actually present in his life, he mostly treated her like an inconvenience. Again, the closeness might have been there in RJ's mind but his characters don't show it.

In fact, most of his characters seem to openly dislike each other and only tolerate each other out of sheer necessity. They're very good at puffing up their chests when anyone gives them a hair less respect than they think they deserve but openness, empathy, warmth? Those aren't qualities you will find in abundance. This is one of the reasons that I think RJ's characters are detestable people and why I credit Brandon with improving them.

All right, I'm out of time. I'm very sorry. There's just too much to get to.

Garak
03-29-2013, 03:27 PM
BTW, on a side note, here is the best scene in the entire books between Rand & Nynaeve. RJ perfectly nailed their relationship here and its brilliant writing:



That is what good dialogue sounds like too, BTW.

I suppose I should be fair. I've been hard on RJ - not because I wanted to go after the man but because I wanted to illustrate the fact that there were big problems in the series prior to Brandon's arrival - but there was a time when his work was quite excellent. The Eye of the World stands out as one of the best works in modern fantasy that I've ever read. That's how I got into the series. The Great Hunt, Dragon Reborn and Shadow Rising were all excellent books in their own right. There were things that I didn't like about them but I consider most of them to be matters of personal taste and not actual flaws. For instance, it always bothered me that there was so much annimosity between Mat and the girls and I never did care for Jordan's gender politics but those aren't flaws so much as matters of taste.

In my opinion - and I stress that because it IS an opinion - the problems with WoT set in at about Fires of Heaven. Most of the problems that I've talked about in the series were completely absent form Eye of the World.

For instance, Nynaeve had not yet adopted many of her more annoying character traits. The scene you quoted does in fact show some affection between Nynaeave and Rand. Rand does act out his emotions in this scene (fear, insecurity, love for his father).

I do think Path of Daggers, Winter's Heart and Crossroads of Twilight are god-awful books but in my defense of Sanderson, I've made it seem like I hate everything Robert Jordan ever wrote. Not so. His earlier work was quite excellent.

Garak
04-05-2013, 03:29 PM
I had considered posting this in the Brandon Sanderson forum but since it follows from a discussion in this thread, I decided to put it here.

Once again, I'm forced to amend one of my previous statements, this time in favour of Shallan. It's funny, I haven't read the The Way of Kings in over two years but when I loaded up my kobo, I just happened to land on a Shallan chapter.

And it turns out that she is quite witty.

“I assume from your outburst that this topic is wearing on you,” Jasnah said, sorting through her volumes as the parshman withdrew. “You expressed interest in being a scholar. Well, you must learn that this is scholarship.”

“Reading argument after argument from people who refuse to see any other point of view?”

“They're confident.”

“I'm not an expert on confidence, Brightness,” Shallan said, holding up a book and inspecting it critically “But I'd like to think that I could recognize it if it were before me. I don't think that's the right word for books like this one from Mederia. They feel more arrogant than confident to me.” She sighed, setting the book aside. “To be honest, 'arrogant' doesn't feel like quite the right word. It's not specific enough.”

Two uses of body language. (Three if you count Jasnah)

“And what would be the right word?”

“I don't know. 'Errogant' perhaps.”

Jasnah raised a skeptical eyebrow

I don't need to point out why I'm bolding these sections, do I? We're up to four.

“It means to be twice as certain as someone who is merely arrogant,” Shallan said, “while possessing only one tenth the requisite facts.”

Her words drew a hint of a sime from Jasnah. “What you are reacting against is known as the Assuredness Movement, Shallan. This 'errogance' is a literary device. The scholars are intentionally overstating their case.[/b]

“The assuredness movement,” Shallan asked, holding up one of the books. “I guess I could get behind that.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. Much easier to stab it in the back from that position.”

Witty retort # 1


That got only an eyebrow raise So, more seriously, Shallan continued. “I suppose I can understand the device, Brightness, but these books you've given me on King Galivar's death are more and more irrational. What began as a rhetorical conceit seems to have descended into squabbling and name-calling.”

“They are trying to provoke discussion. Would you rather that scholars hide from the truth, like so many? You would have men prefer ignorance.”

“When reading these books, scholarship and ignorance feel much the same to me,” Shallan said. “Ignorance may reside in a man hiding from intelligence but scholarship can seem ignorance hidden behind intelligence.”

“And what of intelligence without ignorance? Finding truth while not dismissing the possibility of being wrong?”

“A mythical treasure, Brightness, much like the dawnshards or the honorblades. Certainly worth seeking but only with great caution.”

“Caution,” Jasnah said, frowning.

“It would make you famous but actually finding it would destroy us all. Proof that one can be both intelligent and willing to accept the intelligence of those who disagree with you? Why, I should think it would undermine the scholarly world in its entirety.”

Jasnah sniffed. “You go too far child. If you took half the energy that you devote to being witty and channeled it into your work, I dare say you could be the greatest scholar of our age.”

I think it's important to note that Jasnah is not praising Shallan's wit here.

“I'm sorry, Brightness,” Shallan said. “I... Well, I'm confused. Considering the gaps in my education, I thought you would have me studying something deeper in the past than just a few years ago.”

Jasnah opened one of her books. “I have found that youts like you have a relative lack of appreciation for the distant past. Therefore, I selected an area of study that is both more recent and sensational to ease you into scholarship. Is the murder of a king not of interest to you?”

“Yes, Brightness,” Shallan said. “We children love things that are shiny and loud.”

Witty retort # 2.

“You have quite a mouth on you at times.”

“At times? You mean it's not there at others? I'll have to...” Shallan trailed off.

And there's number 3. So, again, I must revise my original statement. Shallan is quite witty I had just forgotten some of her better moments.

Garak
04-05-2013, 04:45 PM
So, Suttree got me to reread sections of PoD and I decided to keep flipping through it. It's been about nine years since I read thing and I figured I needed to give it another go. One of two things was bound to happen: either I'd discover a new perspective on the novel or I'd reacquaint myself with the many, MANY reasons why this book should have been revised. I'm sorry to tell you that it was the latter.

I went through the first chapter with a pad and pen, making notes of everything I didn't really care for and found that I had filled two pages of yellow paper before giving up in exasperation while our heroes were still in the Tarasin Palace. I won't share those reflections with you, since I know it will only piss off a lot of people. Instead, I'll keep my critiques to some of the major flaws of this novel.

In some ways, this book is actually worse than Crossroads of Twilight. Crossroads was consistently awful from start to finish but Path of Daggers actually has its enjoyable moments. The problem is that the book shoots itself in the foot every time one of those moments shows up.

Observe:

So, Elayne, Aviendha, Nynaeve and various members of the Sea Folk and Kin use the Bowl of Winds to fix the weather. There's some beautiful description of what they did along with some insight into the inner workings of the One Power. It's a great little scene and then RJ makes it even better by adding a bit of action afterward.


“Shadowspawn!” someone screamed and suddenly women were embracing saidar all over the hilltop. Balls of fire shot up from Merilille's hands, from Carene's and Sareitha's as fast as they could throw. A huge winged shape enveloped in flame tumbled out of the sky, trailing oily black smoke.

“There's another one!” Kirstian shouted, pointing, A second winged creature dove away from the hill, its body as big as a horse, ribbed wings spanning thirty paces or more, long neck stretched out before and longer tail streaming out behind. A storm of fire rained after it, quickest of all from Aviendha and the Sea Folk who made no throwing gesture as part of the weaving. A hail of fire so thick it seemed that fire must be forming out of the air and the thing dodged behind a hill on the other side of the farm.

What a great little sequence

Excellent prose, good description, palpable tension: this is a perfect example of fantasy writing. A soon as the raken depart, Elayne and the others debate what to do in a frenzy and then conclude that the Seanchan must have seen their little display of channeling.

So far so good.

Then we get this...

“Well,” Elayne said, brushing her skirt, “you did say she was a very capable woman.”

“I never said that,” Nynaeve snapped. “I never said 'very!' Hmmph! Where did my hat get to? Thinks she knows everything. I'll wager she doesn't know that!” She flounced off in a different direction than Alise.

Elayne stared after her. Her hat? She would have liked to know where her own hat had gone to – it was a beautiful thing – but really!

Nynaeve running around, searching for her hat? Seriously?

Of course, Elayne isn't much better as she immediately begins fussing with the ter'angreal in their wagon despite the fact that we ALREADY saw her do just that two chapters ago and there's really no reason to believe the contents of that wagon have changed. Moreover, is this really the time to start worrying about ter'angreal?

I guess it is since we also get description of the most leisurely evacuation in the history of literary fiction.

Aviendha took a seat crosslegged on the ground, blotting sweat from her face with a plain linen handkerchief that seemed at odds with her pretty silk riding dress.

Yes, that's exactly what I want in a fast-paced escape scene: sitting around in the grass, making idle conversation. Oh and a narrator that has time to take note of fashion. Instantly, all the tension evaporates.


There were bumps, of sorts, even with what might be rushing toward them. What surely was rushing toward them. Nynaeve getting her blue-plumed hat back was not really a bump, though it almost turned into one; Alise had found it and handed it back, telling Nynaeve to shield her face from the sun if she wanted to keep that smooth pretty skin.

The hat again... Ugh!

I'll spare you the rest – there is more – and get to my point. When you create tension by putting your characters in danger, you should not completely undermine that tension by having your characters fixate on the most frivolous, trivial problems. Nynaeve's hat? I can somewhat forgive Elayne wanting to check on the ter'angreal because keeping them out of Seanchan hands is a priority but one paragraph would do for that. Maybe even a sentence. “She took a quick look inside the wagon and, finding that everything seemed to be exactly where she'd left it, decided to help organize the Kinswomen.” RJ gave us a page and a half of useless description.

This scene would have benefited from a narrow escape where Elayne and Co were lucky to get out with their lives. Raken should have appeared with soldiers on horseback following immediately afterward, men with crossbows taking up positions on the hill and pelting the marath'damane with arrows. Elayne should have immediately jumped into a leadership role, organizing a defense with the One Power.

Then actual damane would show up, forcing her to think fast and use a circle to counter their attacks while Nynaeve got everyone out through a gateway. You could even have a moment where one of the sisters has to be convinced that her life is in actual danger. It should have been fast, exciting and tense.

Instead we got a series of hissy fits from the so-called empowered women of this series, each of them behaving like a complete idiot while they sort out the pecking order. And there's a kind of understated sexism here because RJ seems to be saying that even when women are under the threat of capture and death, they will still place the pecking order above any other priority. Sea Folk filching angreal, sisters sniffing at Kinswomen. On and on it goes. By the time the Seanchan finally arrive, our heroes are all safely settled in Andor.

Add to that some pointless description of scenery, some blather about Nynaeve mooning over Lan and some pointless cat-fights over who should make the gateway and what you have is a complete failure to capitalize on tension from the previous chapter. This chapter seems to be saying “No, no, don't worry. These characters were never in any REAL danger.”

If they can behave like total idiots and still get out with their hides intact, the situation must not have been all that drastic to begin with.

Terez
04-05-2013, 06:01 PM
Loved the hat bit. It wasn't trivial; it was the use of a trivial detail to highlight two things: 1) the building tension between Kin and Aes Sedai, 2) Nynaeve's slow realization that she isn't always the most capable person to be in charge. But even if it was trivial, it's not like it took up a lot of space, and it certainly doesn't make TPOD an 'awful' book. The Bowl sequence gets the most criticism of any part in the book. I didn't find it particularly bad, and the rest of the book is pretty amazing, especially Rand's arc.

I don't think the women are any more concerned with pecking order than the men are. If you're going to read sexism into things RJ wrote, there are some legitimate opportunities, but I don't think this is one of them, nor do I think his sometimes caricaturish portrayal of gender differences is particularly unrealistic, knowing something about the era in which he was raised and the culture in which he lived in Charleston. The odd thing about RJ is that he wanted to be egalitarian, and considered himself to be so, and his attempts along these lines are observable in a number of ways. In other words, I don't think it's particularly logical or helpful to read sexism into everything women do in WoT. There's a debate about 'historically accurate' sexism in fantasy literature; I'm not sure where WoT fits in that discussion. Certainly in a unique place.

Garak
04-06-2013, 04:11 PM
Ah, excellent.

Thank you, Terez; I always appreciate a cordial and detailed reply.

Loved the hat bit. It wasn't trivial; it was the use of a trivial detail to highlight two things. 1) the building tension between Kin and Aes Sedai. 2) Nynaeve's slow realization that she isn't always the most capable person to be in charge.

I'm afraid I must disagree on both counts. At best, the hat shows us growing tension between Nynaeve and Alise; it says nothing about the general state of affairs between Kin and Aes Sedai. The animosity between those groups had been established in earlier chapters. As for whether it counts as some kind of revelation on Nynaeve's part, I'm afraid I just don't see it. Nynaeve walks around stomping, huffing and puffing but this behaviour is no different than it had been at any point since the Dragon Reborn. I found myself wondering why I once disliked Nynaeve so much. In Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight, she was one of my favourite characters: competant, introspective and clever. I asked myself why it was that I once found her so objectionable.

This is why.

Throughout this scene – and many that preceded it – Nynaeve behaves like a complete imbecile on top of being petty, vain and rude. There is no outward sign of any kind of growth on her part and though I appreciate your input, I have to conclude that you're seeing something that simply isn't there.

Which leads me to my next point.

I don't think the women are any more concerned with pecking order than the men are. If you're going to read sexism into things RJ wrote, there are some legitimate opportunities, but I don't think this is one of them, nor do I think his sometimes caricaturish portrayal of gender differences is particularly unrealistic, knowing something about the era in which he was raised and the culture in which he lived in Charleston. The odd thing about RJ is that he wanted to be egalitarian, and considered himself to be so, and his attempts along these lines are observable in a number of ways. In other words, I don't think it's particularly logical or helpful to read sexism into everything women do in WoT.

Those are valid points; so, please allow me to elaborate on my objection to this scene. As I've already stated, Nynaeve displays pettiness, rudeness and complete ineptitude. The fact that she wastes time by fretting about a hat during a crisis proves that she is perhaps the worst candidate for leadership of any kind. However, Nynaeve is set up as a character that we – the readership – are supposed to respect. She is often lauded as a strong empowered woman.

Throughout the entire series, all the way up to Gathering Storm, Nynaeve gets her way by sheer force of personality. She badgers and browbeats other people into compliance; she rarely offers a rational explanation for her decisions and when she does, her logic is full of holes. Most people comply with Nynaeve simply to make her shut up. Moreover, her accomplishments are not really her own in any tangible sense. She was made Accepted by fiat, allowed to skip the novice stage simply because Siuan thought that would make her more pliable. She then left the Tower – despite strict prohibitions against doing so – twice, and upon joining the Salidar rebels was made Aes Sedai by fiat. By her best friend no less. The other Aes Sedai are right to question her because Nynaeve has not not really earned any of her promotions. Her leadership skills amount to “Now you stop being foolish and straighten up or so help me I'll box your ears.”

This on its own is not so bad. The problem is that RJ's women can only display authority by standing with fists on their hips or arms folded over their breasts and scolding everyone else into compliance. They are not leaders because of innate competence but instead because of innate stubbornness. Leadership goes to whichever woman speaks the loudest and talks the sternest. Nynaeve is far from the only woman to suffer from this flaw; Alise, Renaile, Zaida, Cadsuane, Sorliea, Tsutsama and various others all behave in the same way. The only exception is Egwene and the only reason RJ gets credit for that is she does show some genuine leadership skills in Knife of Dreams.

The sexism is in the understated assumption that empowerment = stubbornness (or bullying as the case may be) and this scene is just one such example. Time and again, women are shown to be unqualified for positions of authority – Nynaeve, for example – and yet they are allowed to attain and keep those positions of authority by threatening, cajoling and browbeating their detractors into submission. Since there are so few examples genuinely competent female leadership, the series is almost claiming – in a back-handed way – that women should not be in positions of authority in the first place.

Terez
04-07-2013, 09:42 AM
As for whether it counts as some kind of revelation on Nynaeve's part, I'm afraid I just don't see it.
*shrug* Reading between the lines is one of the main requirements of RJ's books. Which is why his fans don't like having things like this spelled out in too much detail.

Those are valid points; so, please allow me to elaborate on my objection to this scene. As I've already stated, Nynaeve displays pettiness, rudeness and complete ineptitude. The fact that she wastes time by fretting about a hat during a crisis proves that she is perhaps the worst candidate for leadership of any kind. However, Nynaeve is set up as a character that we – the readership – are supposed to respect. She is often lauded as a strong empowered woman.
Her personality was shaped by the people of the Two Rivers who, despite her talents, tended to disrespect her because of her apparent age. She's not often inept; she is in fact often the only person who is thinking straight.

fionwe1987
04-07-2013, 12:32 PM
Ah, excellent.

Thank you, Terez; I always appreciate a cordial and detailed reply.



I'm afraid I must disagree on both counts. At best, the hat shows us growing tension between Nynaeve and Alise; it says nothing about the general state of affairs between Kin and Aes Sedai. The animosity between those groups had been established in earlier chapters. As for whether it counts as some kind of revelation on Nynaeve's part, I'm afraid I just don't see it. Nynaeve walks around stomping, huffing and puffing but this behaviour is no different than it had been at any point since the Dragon Reborn. I found myself wondering why I once disliked Nynaeve so much. In Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight, she was one of my favourite characters: competant, introspective and clever. I asked myself why it was that I once found her so objectionable.

This is why.

Throughout this scene – and many that preceded it – Nynaeve behaves like a complete imbecile on top of being petty, vain and rude. There is no outward sign of any kind of growth on her part and though I appreciate your input, I have to conclude that you're seeing something that simply isn't there.

Which leads me to my next point.



Those are valid points; so, please allow me to elaborate on my objection to this scene. As I've already stated, Nynaeve displays pettiness, rudeness and complete ineptitude. The fact that she wastes time by fretting about a hat during a crisis proves that she is perhaps the worst candidate for leadership of any kind. However, Nynaeve is set up as a character that we – the readership – are supposed to respect. She is often lauded as a strong empowered woman.

Throughout the entire series, all the way up to Gathering Storm, Nynaeve gets her way by sheer force of personality. She badgers and browbeats other people into compliance; she rarely offers a rational explanation for her decisions and when she does, her logic is full of holes. Most people comply with Nynaeve simply to make her shut up. Moreover, her accomplishments are not really her own in any tangible sense. She was made Accepted by fiat, allowed to skip the novice stage simply because Siuan thought that would make her more pliable. She then left the Tower – despite strict prohibitions against doing so – twice, and upon joining the Salidar rebels was made Aes Sedai by fiat. By her best friend no less. The other Aes Sedai are right to question her because Nynaeve has not not really earned any of her promotions. Her leadership skills amount to “Now you stop being foolish and straighten up or so help me I'll box your ears.”

This on its own is not so bad. The problem is that RJ's women can only display authority by standing with fists on their hips or arms folded over their breasts and scolding everyone else into compliance. They are not leaders because of innate competence but instead because of innate stubbornness. Leadership goes to whichever woman speaks the loudest and talks the sternest. Nynaeve is far from the only woman to suffer from this flaw; Alise, Renaile, Zaida, Cadsuane, Sorliea, Tsutsama and various others all behave in the same way. The only exception is Egwene and the only reason RJ gets credit for that is she does show some genuine leadership skills in Knife of Dreams.

The sexism is in the understated assumption that empowerment = stubbornness (or bullying as the case may be) and this scene is just one such example. Time and again, women are shown to be unqualified for positions of authority – Nynaeve, for example – and yet they are allowed to attain and keep those positions of authority by threatening, cajoling and browbeating their detractors into submission. Since there are so few examples genuinely competent female leadership, the series is almost claiming – in a back-handed way – that women should not be in positions of authority in the first place.
Your problem is, you seem to RJ is endorsing this as good leadership. He is not:

Whatever Nynaeve had to say to the Sea Folk, it did not take long. She stalked away from them twitching at her skirts furiously. Approaching Elayne, she frowned equally at Aviendha and at the edge of the cliff. Usually she denied her poor head for heights, but she kept them between herself and the drop. "I have to talk to you," she muttered, guiding Elayne a little distance along the hilltop. And farther from the edge. A little way, but far enough from anyone to avoid being overheard. She drew several deep breaths before beginning, in a low voice, and she did not look at Elayne.
"I... I've been behaving like a fool. It's that bloody man's fault! When he's not right in front of me, I can hardly think of anything else, and when he is, I can hardly think at all! You . . . you have to tell me when I ... when I'm acting the fool. I depend on you, Elayne." Her voice stayed low, but her tone became almost a wail. "I can't afford to lose my wits in a man, not now."
Elayne was so shocked, she could not speak for a moment. Nynaeve, admitting she had been a fool? She almost looked to see whether the sun had turned green! "It isn't Lan's fault, and you know it, Nynaeve," she said at last. She pushed away memories of her own recent thoughts about Rand. This was not the same. And the opportunity was a gift of the Light. Tomorrow, Nynaeve would likely try to box her ears if she said Nynaeve was being foolish. "Take hold of yourself, Nynaeve. Stop behaving like a giddy girl." Definitely not thoughts of Rand! She had not been mooning over him that badly! "You're an Aes Sedai, and you are supposed to be leading us. Lead! And think!"
Folding her hands at her waist, Nynaeve actually hung her head. "I'll try," she mumbled. "I will, truly. You don't know what it's like, though. I. ... I'm sorry."
Elayne nearly swallowed her tongue. Nynaeve, apologizing on top of the other? Nynaeve, abashed? Maybe she was ill.
It did not last, of course., Abruptly frowning at the angreal, Nynaeve cleared her throat. "You gave one to Aviendha, did you?" she said briskly. "Well, I suppose she's all right. A pity we have to let the Sea Folk use one. I'll wager they try to hang on to it! Well, just let them try! Which one is mine?"
With a sigh, Elayne handed her the bracelet-and-rings, and she stalked away, fumbling the piece of jewelry onto her left hand and calling loudly for everyone to take their places. Sometimes, it was difficult to tell Nynaeve leading from Nynaeve bullying. As long as she did lead, though.

fionwe1987
04-07-2013, 12:32 PM
Ah, excellent.

Thank you, Terez; I always appreciate a cordial and detailed reply.



I'm afraid I must disagree on both counts. At best, the hat shows us growing tension between Nynaeve and Alise; it says nothing about the general state of affairs between Kin and Aes Sedai. The animosity between those groups had been established in earlier chapters. As for whether it counts as some kind of revelation on Nynaeve's part, I'm afraid I just don't see it. Nynaeve walks around stomping, huffing and puffing but this behaviour is no different than it had been at any point since the Dragon Reborn. I found myself wondering why I once disliked Nynaeve so much. In Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight, she was one of my favourite characters: competant, introspective and clever. I asked myself why it was that I once found her so objectionable.

This is why.

Throughout this scene – and many that preceded it – Nynaeve behaves like a complete imbecile on top of being petty, vain and rude. There is no outward sign of any kind of growth on her part and though I appreciate your input, I have to conclude that you're seeing something that simply isn't there.

Which leads me to my next point.



Those are valid points; so, please allow me to elaborate on my objection to this scene. As I've already stated, Nynaeve displays pettiness, rudeness and complete ineptitude. The fact that she wastes time by fretting about a hat during a crisis proves that she is perhaps the worst candidate for leadership of any kind. However, Nynaeve is set up as a character that we – the readership – are supposed to respect. She is often lauded as a strong empowered woman.

Throughout the entire series, all the way up to Gathering Storm, Nynaeve gets her way by sheer force of personality. She badgers and browbeats other people into compliance; she rarely offers a rational explanation for her decisions and when she does, her logic is full of holes. Most people comply with Nynaeve simply to make her shut up. Moreover, her accomplishments are not really her own in any tangible sense. She was made Accepted by fiat, allowed to skip the novice stage simply because Siuan thought that would make her more pliable. She then left the Tower – despite strict prohibitions against doing so – twice, and upon joining the Salidar rebels was made Aes Sedai by fiat. By her best friend no less. The other Aes Sedai are right to question her because Nynaeve has not not really earned any of her promotions. Her leadership skills amount to “Now you stop being foolish and straighten up or so help me I'll box your ears.”

This on its own is not so bad. The problem is that RJ's women can only display authority by standing with fists on their hips or arms folded over their breasts and scolding everyone else into compliance. They are not leaders because of innate competence but instead because of innate stubbornness. Leadership goes to whichever woman speaks the loudest and talks the sternest. Nynaeve is far from the only woman to suffer from this flaw; Alise, Renaile, Zaida, Cadsuane, Sorliea, Tsutsama and various others all behave in the same way. The only exception is Egwene and the only reason RJ gets credit for that is she does show some genuine leadership skills in Knife of Dreams.

The sexism is in the understated assumption that empowerment = stubbornness (or bullying as the case may be) and this scene is just one such example. Time and again, women are shown to be unqualified for positions of authority – Nynaeve, for example – and yet they are allowed to attain and keep those positions of authority by threatening, cajoling and browbeating their detractors into submission. Since there are so few examples genuinely competent female leadership, the series is almost claiming – in a back-handed way – that women should not be in positions of authority in the first place.
Your problem is, you seem to RJ is endorsing this as good leadership. He is not:

Whatever Nynaeve had to say to the Sea Folk, it did not take long. She stalked away from them twitching at her skirts furiously. Approaching Elayne, she frowned equally at Aviendha and at the edge of the cliff. Usually she denied her poor head for heights, but she kept them between herself and the drop. "I have to talk to you," she muttered, guiding Elayne a little distance along the hilltop. And farther from the edge. A little way, but far enough from anyone to avoid being overheard. She drew several deep breaths before beginning, in a low voice, and she did not look at Elayne.
"I... I've been behaving like a fool. It's that bloody man's fault! When he's not right in front of me, I can hardly think of anything else, and when he is, I can hardly think at all! You . . . you have to tell me when I ... when I'm acting the fool. I depend on you, Elayne." Her voice stayed low, but her tone became almost a wail. "I can't afford to lose my wits in a man, not now."
Elayne was so shocked, she could not speak for a moment. Nynaeve, admitting she had been a fool? She almost looked to see whether the sun had turned green! "It isn't Lan's fault, and you know it, Nynaeve," she said at last. She pushed away memories of her own recent thoughts about Rand. This was not the same. And the opportunity was a gift of the Light. Tomorrow, Nynaeve would likely try to box her ears if she said Nynaeve was being foolish. "Take hold of yourself, Nynaeve. Stop behaving like a giddy girl." Definitely not thoughts of Rand! She had not been mooning over him that badly! "You're an Aes Sedai, and you are supposed to be leading us. Lead! And think!"
Folding her hands at her waist, Nynaeve actually hung her head. "I'll try," she mumbled. "I will, truly. You don't know what it's like, though. I. ... I'm sorry."
Elayne nearly swallowed her tongue. Nynaeve, apologizing on top of the other? Nynaeve, abashed? Maybe she was ill.
It did not last, of course., Abruptly frowning at the angreal, Nynaeve cleared her throat. "You gave one to Aviendha, did you?" she said briskly. "Well, I suppose she's all right. A pity we have to let the Sea Folk use one. I'll wager they try to hang on to it! Well, just let them try! Which one is mine?"
With a sigh, Elayne handed her the bracelet-and-rings, and she stalked away, fumbling the piece of jewelry onto her left hand and calling loudly for everyone to take their places. Sometimes, it was difficult to tell Nynaeve leading from Nynaeve bullying. As long as she did lead, though.

I can only conclude you don't read the books closely, and just see what you want to see.

Garak
04-07-2013, 02:00 PM
Oh I agree that RJ is aware of the fact that he's portraying Nynaeve as bully. I just don't think that helps his case.

You're right, he's definitely saying that "This is not an example of good leadership." So, what does that tell you when he says that about all of his females and none of his males? (Except Rand)

I'd also say that this counts as reading between the lines.

Terez
04-07-2013, 03:33 PM
Oh I agree that RJ is aware of the fact that he's portraying Nynaeve as bully. I just don't think that helps his case.
It certainly doesn't help yours, though. Again, you've failed to make a true distinction between the men and women of the series; the men are every bit as stubborn. Nynaeve's particular personality has an explanation, which you don't like—fine—but her personality is incredibly realistic, and her it doesn't disqualify her from leadership. Leaders who are both competent and pleasant are few and far between.

fionwe1987
04-07-2013, 04:03 PM
Oh I agree that RJ is aware of the fact that he's portraying Nynaeve as bully. I just don't think that helps his case.
What is his "case" exactly?

You're right, he's definitely saying that "This is not an example of good leadership." So, what does that tell you when he says that about all of his females and none of his males? (Except Rand)
So you found Perrin, who resists leadership and takes its responsibilities reluctantly, and then promptly ignores them when his wife is kidnapped, as a good leader? Or Mat, who always shirks responsibility, and to the end tries to avoid his duties? How about Lan, who runs away from what he has to do fo so long?

There are plenty of men and women in the series who're poor leaders to start with. They all grow into more, of course, but it isn't restricted to women at all. And there are plenty of women who're good leaders, from Siuan to Cadsuane to Birgette to Moiraine. Not to mention Egwene, and Elayne, the characters with whom this is most explored.

I'd also say that this counts as reading between the lines.
No, no it doesn't. Not when it involves selectively ignoring aspects of the book.

Garak
04-07-2013, 04:15 PM
It certainly doesn't help yours, though. Again, you've failed to make a true distinction between the men and women of the series; the men are every bit as stubborn

Yes, that's a fair point - and one of the things that took some getting used to - but the men at least are given leadership positions after they display competence. Once again, except Rand.

Take Perrin for example. He successfully organized the defense of the Two Rivers and that was how he became a Lord. One of the later PoD chapters even shows him making the rounds of his camp, checking on the horses, confiscating Jori Congar's brandy, making sure men attend to small wounds. At one point, Jori Congar even says "Nothing gets past Lord Perrin!"

Or Mat.

Mat became leader of the Band of the Red Hand after he saved them from a gruesome death at the hands of the Shaido. Now,keep in mind that I don't like mid-series Mat any mroe than I liked mid-series Nynaevee. But I will at least acknowledge that the author has justified his authority. Has he done so with Nynaeve?

Nynaeve's personality is horrid because every single one of these characters is horrid. (except Perrin). That's just how characters were written at this point in the series: haughty, self-obsessed and blind to their failings. They didn't start that way - I liked Nynaeve just fine in Eye of the World - but they degenerated.

Garak
04-07-2013, 04:32 PM
What is his "case" exactly?
So you found Perrin, who resists leadership and takes its responsibilities reluctantly, and then promptly ignores them when his wife is kidnapped, as a good leader?

In the beginning? Yes. His reluctance to take on a leadership role was a sign of intelligence. Most of the good leaders didn't want to be in charge in the first place.

There is some merit to your argument regarding Perrn's obsession with Faile. But to me, that's more of a pacing problem than it is a problem with Perrin's character.

Ask yourself a question.

What responsibilities did Perrin ignore?

By the time Faile was captured, Masema was well in hand and that was his only purpose for being in the southlands. I suppose you could claim that it was his responsibility to return to Rand - and he should have sent a messenger by gateway - but there were other prisoners besides Faile. You might say that he was responsibile for their well-being, that it was his job to get them out.

The problem with the Perrin/Faile story is that it's just too padded. Endless chapters about nothing. So, it starts to feel to the reader that Perrin has gone completely off the rails. And he has, in terms of narrative focus. But making the rescue of his wife his number one priority is not ignoring his responsibilities. If RJ had wrapped the story up in a single book - as he should have - it would have seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing for Perrin to do.

As for Mat.

What responsbilities has he shirked? He went to Salidar at Rand's request. He got roped into a wild goose chase for the Bowl of Winds and he was ultimiately responsible for the success of that mission. What exactly did he shirk?

Keep in mind, I think Mat is a real piece of work. Every time he talks about wanting to get away from Rand, I want to punch him. Except, as often as he talks about it, he keeps coming back doesn't he?

Lan?

Lan was never a leader until the very last book and he seemed to do a fine job of it. I'm not sure you can count that though since I'm talking about the RJ books not the Brandon books.

Terez
04-07-2013, 05:03 PM
Yes, that's a fair point - and one of the things that took some getting used to - but the men at least are given leadership positions after they display competence. Once again, except Rand.
See, when you make arguments like this, you make it difficult to give civil replies. ;) Nynaeve was given a leadership position before the story began. What little we know about it suggests rather explicitly that she was given that position for her competence, which was so remarkable that her youth was no detriment to her eligibility for a job that is typically associated with older women. And again, her personality developed as Wisdom of a village where the people used her for what she was good at but had to be forced to take her seriously. She had to develop stubbornness just to get by in the Two Rivers.

Nynaeve's personality is horrid because every single one of these characters is horrid. (except Perrin).So why ever do you read WoT?

suttree
04-07-2013, 05:21 PM
Leadership goes to whichever woman speaks the loudest and talks the sternest. Nynaeve is far from the only woman to suffer from this flaw; Alise, Renaile, Zaida, Cadsuane, Sorliea, Tsutsama and various others all behave in the same way.

If you seriously think that is true when it comes to people like Alise, Sorilea and Cadsuane you really haven't being paying attention. Take Cadsuane for example. Here leadership comes from a lifetime of experience and accomplishments. We see her use a variety of methods(of which bullying is just one) to get results based on the situation. For instance here we see her recognizing that Samitsu can lack confidence and needs to be built up.

CoT
"I expect you to watch her, Samitsu. No more than that. I want to know what one of these Dragonsworn sisters does when neither I nor the Wise Ones are looking over their shoulders and holding a switch. You've always been very observant." Patience was not always her strongest trait, but sometimes it was required with Samitsu. The Yellow was observant, and intelligent, and strong willed most of the time, not to mention the best alive at Healing -- At least until the appearance of Damer Flinn -- but she could suffer the most astonishing collapses in confidence. The stick never worked with Samitsu, but pats on the back did, and it was ridiculous not to use what worked. As Cadsuane reminded her how intelligent she was, how skilled at Healing – that was always nec*essary, with Samitsu; she could go into a depression over failing to Heal a dead man – how clever, the Arafellin sister began to draw up her composure. And her self-assurance. “You can be assured Sashalle won’t change her stockings with*out I know it,” she said crisply.

fionwe1987
04-07-2013, 05:33 PM
In the beginning? Yes. His reluctance to take on a leadership role was a sign of intelligence. Most of the good leaders didn't want to be in charge in the first place.
That's a corny little idea that a lot of fantasy authors subscribe to, but that doesn't make this true. The best leaders in reality are not those who were reluctant to do it, but those who, once they get the job, took their responsibilities very seriously, and refuse to let the "unfairness" of it all stand in the way of doing their best.

And the best leaders in the books are like that. Rand, Egwene, Nynaeve, Siuan, etc. These people didn't shirk their responsibilities once they were made leaders. Instead they tried to use the opportunity they were given to make something happen.

There is some merit to your argument regarding Perrn's obsession with Faile. But to me, that's more of a pacing problem than it is a problem with Perrin's character.
I'm sorry, that a bullsh!t argument. The pacing issues might have stretched out the story, but the core story was what was always intended.

Ask yourself a question.

What responsibilities did Perrin ignore?
All of them when Faile was captured. He didn't do the tasks he was supposed to. He didn't check on his men, he didn't work to keep the camp in good order, he refused to do what he was supposed to do with Masema. Heck, he even refused to do his duty to Aram, a man he was responsible for, a guy who'd taken him on as liege. Perrin turned a bling eye to him, pushing him into Masema's path, and you know the end result. Same with Berelain, who he let spread rumors about him, to the detriment of the respect his soldiers held him in. How is that not atrocious leadership?

By the time Faile was captured, Masema was well in hand and that was his only purpose for being in the southlands.
Having someone "well in hand" means they can corrupt your closes allies now? Well, by those ridiculous standards, you're right, Perrin is a great leader.
I suppose you could claim that it was his responsibility to return to Rand - and he should have sent a messenger by gateway - but there were other prisoners besides Faile. You might say that he was responsibile for their well-being, that it was his job to get them out.
Except if he'd taken Masema to Rand and demanded help in getting Faile back, he'd have got it done quicker. But he didn't go because he didn't want to depend on Rand for this...
The problem with the Perrin/Faile story is that it's just too padded. Endless chapters about nothing. So, it starts to feel to the reader that Perrin has gone completely off the rails. And he has, in terms of narrative focus. But making the rescue of his wife his number one priority is not ignoring his responsibilities. If RJ had wrapped the story up in a single book - as he should have - it would have seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing for Perrin to do.
No, it wouldn't have. Because even then, Perrin would have been thinking that the end of the world did not matter as much as Faile did.

Contrast that to Nynaeve. In KoD, she has come to the realization that Lan feels the need to go do his duty in the blight. This conflicts with her own duty to Rand, and her desire to have Lan near her so she can protect him. Does she ignore everything and say "only Lan matters"? Heck, she could have gone with him to the Borderlands and helped him launch an assault on the Blight, and she could have made a perfectly rational case for doing that. Instead, she worked to enable his sacrifice and make it less meaningless, then went back to her duty knowing that it may well be the last time she sees Lan. That is the standard Perrin should have aspired to, and he fails miserably in comparison.

As for Mat.

What responsbilities has he shirked?
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This has GOT to be the most absurd question someone who has read WoT can ask.

He went to Salidar at Rand's request. He got roped into a wild goose chase for the Bowl of Winds and he was ultimiately responsible for the success of that mission. What exactly did he shirk?
Ummm... that's ignoring a lot of stuff that happened to force him to make those choices. He was running away from Rand and his responsibilities in tFoH, when, entirely by accident, he got thrown into situations that caused him to save Cairheinin and Tairen soldiers, which led to them taking hom on as leader and refusing to let him go on his way. He was stuck in the role of leader, and so he accepted Rand's task for him, screaming and kicking all the way.
Keep in mind, I think Mat is a real piece of work. Every time he talks about wanting to get away from Rand, I want to punch him. Except, as often as he talks about it, he keeps coming back doesn't he?
So? How exactly is this an endorsement for him compared to Nynaeve, who went to the White Tower, which she hated, to protect Egwene? How does this make Mat better than the Nynaeve who, when she realized the Seanchan had attacked Ebou Dar, immediately wanted to run to rescue him, no complaints, no whining, despite knowing that she ran the very real risk of being captured and made a slave for life?

Lan?

Lan was never a leader until the very last book and he seemed to do a fine job of it. I'm not sure you can count that though since I'm talking about the RJ books not the Brandon books.
Lan was supposed to be leading. He didn't. He was forced to be one curtesy of Nynaeve's brilliant scheme. He did a fine job of it because Nynaeve enabled him to do it. Left to himself, he'd have run off to the Blight alone, serving no purpose and wasting his talents. It takes an extraordinarily blind reading of the series to say its down to Brandon that Lan did a good job.

Terez
04-07-2013, 06:16 PM
If you seriously think that is true when it comes to people like Alise, Sorilea and Cadsuane you really haven't being paying attention.
Cadsuane, Alise, Elaida...same thing. ;) Sometimes I wonder why people can't find anything better to do when they're bored than trolling Theoryland.

GonzoTheGreat
04-08-2013, 03:52 AM
Ummm... that's ignoring a lot of stuff that happened to force him to make those choices. He was running away from Rand and his responsibilities in tFoH, when, entirely by accident, he got thrown into situations that caused him to save Cairheinin and Tairen soldiers, which led to them taking hom on as leader and refusing to let him go on his way. He was stuck in the role of leader, and so he accepted Rand's task for him, screaming and kicking all the way.
But Rand hadn't given him such a task before Mat collected the Band. Rand was very clear about that: he did not make any demands on Mat at all. As far as he was concerned, Mat could make his own decisions, and Rand was fine with that.

The only one who actually might have had cause for making claims on Mat's time at that point was Melindhra, and ditching her was indeed somewhat tacky. But then, she hadn't asked Mat's permission for her to join Rand's bodyguard either, so she was doing the same thing Mat did: make decisions without consulting the other.

So? How exactly is this an endorsement for him compared to Nynaeve, who went to the White Tower, which she hated, to protect Egwene? How does this make Mat better than the Nynaeve who, when she realized the Seanchan had attacked Ebou Dar, immediately wanted to run to rescue him, no complaints, no whining, despite knowing that she ran the very real risk of being captured and made a slave for life?
Neither Mat nor Nynaeve were really happy with what they had to do, but they both did what was right.

Nynaeve's leadership was often expressed in the form of teaching, which then led to her students learning how to act independently, even ignoring Nynaeve when the situation called for it. She didn't really like that, but she never changed this approach to life. She did not only teach this to the Kin and to some former damane and sul'dam, she also taught Rand, Mat and Perrin in this way. And Egwene, for that matter, though I think that one was a mistake.
Mat's leadership was more of a military nature, which meant that his pupils had to keep obeying him even when they had learned enough to act independently. Thus Talmanes, who had started out as a somewhat competent nobleman with a small number of followers, ended up as a very good captain in his own rights while still serving as Mat's second in command.

Garak
04-09-2013, 02:01 PM
See, when you make arguments like this, you make it difficult to give civil replies. ;) Nynaeve was given a leadership position before the story began. What little we know about it suggests rather explicitly that she was given that position for her competence, which was so remarkable that her youth was no detriment to her eligibility for a job that is typically associated with older women. And again, her personality developed as Wisdom of a village where the people used her for what she was good at but had to be forced to take her seriously. She had to develop stubbornness just to get by in the Two Rivers.

So why ever do you read WoT?

Do you mean to say that my opinions make you angry, Terez? I'm honestly not sure what to make of that. If anything I've said has upset you, please accept my apologies as that was not my intention.

Why did I read WOT to begin with?

Because the first book was very good and the second was decent. The third was all right and the fourth nothing short of excellent.

The fifth book was mostly enjoyable. The sixth was all right. The seventh was a bit of a misstep but I think every author is allowed to have one or two of those. The eighth, ninth and tenth books were awful and the eleventh better by comparison. (Though, overall, I'd probably put it at about the same level of quality as the sixth).

I dislike PoD through CoT and I honestly believe that those books created many of the problems that fans see in the final three volumes. But WOT wasn't always bad. Not the best fantasy series that I've ever read but – if you were to take the first five books alone – nowhere near the worst. My favourite book in this series is actually Gathering Storm. Just about every scene in that book is a gem. Following that, it's hard to say. Shadow Rising maybe? Or Memory of Light?

See the thing about Gathering Storm is that large chunks of it are actually Robert Jordan's writing. And that goes to show that he can be a truly astounding author if he has someone to rein him in. He seems to need something to balance him out, someone who says “Okay, let's tone down the description a bit, focus more on what's happening.” Brandon provided some fresh air by lightening up the characters and adding a bit of zip to the dialogue.

But I believe the term that best describes the ACoS – CoT era is “protection from editors.” No one ever told RJ no. As a result, things got out of hand with too many characters, too much description and not enough narrative movement. The improvements to his work in KoD and TGS show that even when his health was waning, he was still capable of putting together a good story if he had someone to provide him with focus.

I'm very much reminded of the issues that Gene Roddenberry experienced in his final years producing television. Roddenberry was famous for a very narrow definition of what Star Trek could be and for an almost tyrannical insistence that nothing should ever deviate from his vision. The result was the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation – a season that is famous for poor characterization, laughable plotlines and attempts to be so “unsexist” and “unracist” that the writing staff almost looks as bad as some of the worst members of the Klan.

Eventually Paramount brought in a new writing staff and usurped some of Gene's creative control. The result was the third, fourth and fifth seasons of TNG. To this day, many fans and critics consider those seasons to be sterling examples of science-fiction television. It wasn't that Gene had nothing to offer; it was that he needed someone to provide him with perspective, to remind him that sometimes a writer is too close to his own creation.

RJ needed someone to balance him out. To remind him that you can't just slash and burn through the tropes of the fantasy genre because many of those tropes exist for a reason. Subverting a few of them in key places adds some flavour to your work but outright ignoring them often makes the story look like a disjointed mess.

Terez
04-10-2013, 12:26 PM
Do you mean to say that my opinions make you angry, Terez?
What I mean to say is that your arguments often seem to deliberately sidestep the truth; if not that, then they are the arguments of someone who doesn't actually remember what happened in the books, in which case, why are you arguing at all? But whether it's sidestepping (trolling) or ignorance, it's angering not to me, but as a general rule. You haven't made me angry yet, but you've gotten some pretty uniform reactions from diverse Theorylanders. I get that you want to defend Brandon, and knowing Brandonfans in general I'm assuming this whole argument is personal for you, because it certainly hasn't been very substantive. I don't think that's because you're a person who is incapable of making substantive arguments; I think it's because you're a bit out of your depth when it comes to WoT.

I'm honestly not sure what to make of that. If anything I've said has upset you, please accept my apologies as that was not my intention.
I don't expect apologies; I'm not personally offended. We all have our tastes, but I don't stalk Brandonforums looking for people who hate WoT or think Brandon's WoT books are the best out of all of them; I can't imagine any reason for wanting to do such a thing. I have, however, had substantive discussions about WoT on forums of books that I enjoy, and I would suggest that you do the same, not just for the happiness of the forum, but for your own happiness. I get that Brandonfans want to defend Brandon from his detractors, but Brandon himself has said that it doesn't really help; if you just ignore us, eventually we'll get tired of talking about it.

Because the first book was very good and the second was decent. The third was all right and the fourth nothing short of excellent.
Ah, Brandon's favorite book. It's mine too; I was involved in a MySpace battle years ago for best WoT book and I championed TSR. (The last holdout was LOC.) Good times. Comparing WoT books is hard to do, though. Some thought the first three were the best and it started to slow down with TSR. Some people stopped reading (or at least rereading) the series then. Some thought LOC was like half a book, and stopped reading the series then. Some dropped off with ACOS, TPOD, WH, and COT. There are a lot of conversations about when it went off the rails and how and why. I think you might enjoy those conversations a little more in places that don't say "hardcore fan freaks of the wheel of time" at the top of the page.

I dislike PoD through CoT and I honestly believe that those books created many of the problems that fans see in the final three volumes.
I think RJ's death caused most of those problems. Not all, but most.

GonzoTheGreat
04-11-2013, 03:31 AM
I think RJ's death caused most of those problems. Not all, but most.
Yeah, overall, it would have been better if he hadn't died.

Daekyras
04-11-2013, 05:14 AM
Lan?

Lan was never a leader until the very last book and he seemed to do a fine job of it. I'm not sure you can count that though since I'm talking about the RJ books not the Brandon books.

*Cough* New Spring *Cough*

Daekyras
04-11-2013, 05:17 AM
Ah, Brandon's favorite book. It's mine too; I was involved in a MySpace battle years ago for best WoT book and I championed TSR. (The last holdout was LOC.) Good times. Comparing WoT books is hard to do, though. Some thought the first three were the best and it started to slow down with TSR. Some people stopped reading (or at least rereading) the series then. Some thought LOC was like half a book, and stopped reading the series then. Some dropped off with ACOS, TPOD, WH, and COT. There are a lot of conversations about when it went off the rails and how and why. I think you might enjoy those conversations a little more in places that don't say "hardcore fan freaks of the wheel of time" at the top of the page.



tFoH is the best book in the series. I have tried to convince others of this but I will accept that tSR is a close second. But only because of T.

Garak
04-11-2013, 01:02 PM
What I mean to say is that your arguments often seem to deliberately sidestep the truth; if not that, then they are the arguments of someone who doesn't actually remember what happened in the books, in which case, why are you arguing at all? But whether it's sidestepping (trolling) or ignorance, it's angering not to me, but as a general rule. You haven't made me angry yet, but you've gotten some pretty uniform reactions from diverse Theorylanders. I get that you want to defend Brandon, and knowing Brandonfans in general I'm assuming this whole argument is personal for you, because it certainly hasn't been very substantive. I don't think that's because you're a person who is incapable of making substantive arguments; I think it's because you're a bit out of your depth when it comes to WoT.

I think, Terez, that you should be very hesitant to make the assumption that anyone whose views differ from yours must be either disingenuous or ill-informed. For instance, it's very possible that I might read the same words you have and find an entirely different meaning in them. You see significance in the fact that Nynaeve is indebted to Alise for the return of her hat and I do not. This does not make you wrong. I see a pattern in the way that female authority figures are portrayed and you do not. This does. not make me wrong. Nor does it make either of us right. Not in a universal "this is the only possible answer" sense. It is hubris to believe that anyone who reads the same passage you have must come to the same conclusions about it that you have. Or else they read it wrong.


This also goes for Suttree, by the way, who has told me several times now that I am not carefully reading the text. Just because you draw a conclusion from something that you read does not mean your conclusion is correct. The human mind is an interesting thing and there is a wealth of psychological research that demonstrates that humans are very good at seeing patterns in what is actually nothing more than random background noise.

I see a pattern in the portrayal of certain female characters. That does not mean the pattern actually exists. The fact that you do not see the same pattern is not proof that you just aren't looking hard enough. And likewise for me. My interpretations of Cadsuane need not agree with yours and that fact alone is not proof that I'm not reading carefully enough.

I typed this on a smart phone, by the way, so if there are typos, please bear with me.

suttree
04-11-2013, 01:24 PM
This also goes for Suttree, by the way, who has told me several times now that I am not carefully reading the text.


You aren't. What has become clear is you have a very surface level understanding of the work. Again as I said in my intial post, people read fantasy for different reason and the WoT is perfectly enjoyable on that level.

Also it does mean you are wrong when you try to support your opinion with facts that are either incomplete or flat out incorrect as you have done in this thread.

As Harlan Ellison said: "You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No-one is entitled to be ignorant."

fionwe1987
04-11-2013, 02:23 PM
This also goes for Suttree, by the way, who has told me several times now that I am not carefully reading the text.
I concur with Suttree and Terez, btw. The issue is not a difference of opinion. Its that your opinions are based on incomplete facts. You completely ignore those parts of the story that contradict your views, either because you didn't read the story closely enough, or because that's the way you roll. When people quote parts of the text that directly contradict your view, you rarely respond to that part of their post. That reeks of you ignoring what you don't like.

magiam
04-11-2013, 02:46 PM
Uh oh I was looking for somewhere to discuss this, having just finished it, and everyone on here seems VERY knowledgeable...

For my 2 cents (and I've got to say it to SOMEONE!) :D I feel I want to criticize BS, perhaps unfairly, due to his "2-dimensionizing" of the whole Matt & Tuon storyline.

He, in my view, basically inverted the storylines in respect to their 'ease\enjoyability of reading' factor.

Matt & Tuon, which I found to be an entrancing new storyline in bk 10 (or so), was what was keeping me involved some of the time. Aybaras sidelines were what I was struggling through. And somehow BS totally inverted that, and disappointed me.

Now that's off my chest I think it seems very clear that BS is concluding another authors work in his attitudes toward the characters. I can't think of any other examples (that i'm familiar with) but it seems clear he enjoyed writing the aybara, trankard arcs, and didn't seem to connect with others. I wonder if this is a result of feeling pressure to write the 'outriggers'..

Everyone feels different things when reading the same book, and have contradictory opinions about it, but BS, while completing a task that I thought impossible at about Lord of Chaos (being concluding this series), stayed too far above the fray. I didn't fear the forsaken at all, my odd crush on Tuon evaporated, and I wasn't buoyed up by Moiraines re-appearance (altho the rescue was well done).

AMMOL seemed the less rewarding of BS's contributions, perhaps due to expectations, but I think perhaps due to his approaching writing it with a 'checklist' of objectives in mind, and not giving the characters enough life.. (well other than his favorites) :)

Except for a few grinding sections, I always liked the complexity of RJ's universe. It's more like life. At my last job I worked with a someone (new sub character), we got along (arc developing), then I took another job at short notice. I've got no idea what happened to him. There's loose ends too, he owes me $20.

Davian93
04-11-2013, 03:07 PM
When you create tension by putting your characters in danger, you should not completely undermine that tension by having your characters fixate on the most frivolous, trivial problems.

You'd be surprised what people do in such high-stress combat situations. I know I was the first time I experienced that very special brand of fear/terror.

The hat thing made total sense to me as a result of that...same with Elayne fixating on the wagons.

fionwe1987
04-11-2013, 03:27 PM
You'd be surprised what people do in such high-stress combat situations. I know I was the first time I experienced that very special brand of fear/terror.

The hat thing made total sense to me as a result of that...same with Elayne fixating on the wagons.

Yup. No big surprise that RJ understood this, and included it in his work extensively. The brain does seem to deal with stress by focussing on inane issues that are more immediately solvable.

I remember this friend of mine who was doing his residency, and was paged to handle a crashing patient. This was his first time dealing with a coding patient on his own, and he told me that the thing he remembers most from that time is worrying that he'd be yelled at because his scrubs were wrinkled. He knew that what he was thinking was absurd, yet he couldn't help but think about possible ways to excuse the fact that his scrubs were wrinkled.

Davian93
04-11-2013, 06:08 PM
Yup. No big surprise that RJ understood this, and included it in his work extensively. The brain does seem to deal with stress by focussing on inane issues that are more immediately solvable.

I remember this friend of mine who was doing his residency, and was paged to handle a crashing patient. This was his first time dealing with a coding patient on his own, and he told me that the thing he remembers most from that time is worrying that he'd be yelled at because his scrubs were wrinkled. He knew that what he was thinking was absurd, yet he couldn't help but think about possible ways to excuse the fact that his scrubs were wrinkled.

That's hilarious but not surprising one bit. I can totally get that. I'm guessing Garak has never been in such a situation. RJ, as a combat veteran, nailed that portion of it.

I'd image Weird Harold agrees on that.

Terez
04-11-2013, 11:09 PM
I think, Terez, that you should be very hesitant to make the assumption that anyone whose views differ from yours must be either disingenuous or ill-informed.
I don't have to assume that; you make it clear.

For instance, it's very possible that I might read the same words you have and find an entirely different meaning in them. You see significance in the fact that Nynaeve is indebted to Alise for the return of her hat and I do not.
The comment I made that started this discussion—"See, when you make arguments like this, you make it difficult to give civil replies."—was not in response to that disagreement, now was it? It was in response to something that was demonstrably wrong.

Garak
04-12-2013, 11:58 AM
You'd be surprised what people do in such high-stress combat situations. I know I was the first time I experienced that very special brand of fear/terror.

The hat thing made total sense to me as a result of that...same with Elayne fixating on the wagons.


Perhaps but it doesn't make for good reading in my opinion. Having them freakout or even make the odd frantic, ill-considered decision is fine. But the scene is written with such deliberate slowness and the narrator employs such a lethargic style that I, for one, lose any sense of suspense.

But thank you for your reply just the same.

Garak
04-12-2013, 12:00 PM
I don't have to assume that; you make it clear.


The comment I made that started this discussion—"See, when you make arguments like this, you make it difficult to give civil replies."—was not in response to that disagreement, now was it? It was in response to something that was demonstrably wrong.

In order to support that, I would have to agree that it is, in fact, demonstrably wrong.

Garak
04-12-2013, 01:11 PM
Yup. No big surprise that RJ understood this, and included it in his work extensively. The brain does seem to deal with stress by focussing on inane issues that are more immediately solvable.

I remember this friend of mine who was doing his residency, and was paged to handle a crashing patient. This was his first time dealing with a coding patient on his own, and he told me that the thing he remembers most from that time is worrying that he'd be yelled at because his scrubs were wrinkled. He knew that what he was thinking was absurd, yet he couldn't help but think about possible ways to excuse the fact that his scrubs were wrinkled.

I suspect, Fionwe, that your friend did not start running around like a lunatic, searching for an iron. That would have been equivalent to Nynaeve's reaction. Portraying her frantic thoughts is an excellent move by the author but one expects the hero of a story to take SOME control of herself.

Also

@ Davian

People don't read fantasy for a realistic portrayal of combat. Now, let me be clear: I am not objecting to the fact that Nynaeve thought, “Where's my hat?” in the midst of all this chaos. I am objecting to the fact that the characters seem to have infinite time to bumble about and attend to trivial matters in a scene that should be loaded with suspense. If Nynave had a stray thought about her hat only to put that thought aside because she was too busy stitching someone's wound, THAT would have been just fine. In fact, it would have been the realism that you claim RJ was going for.

Instead, Nynaeve had enough time to search the farm for her hat until Alise finally shoved the thing back onto her head.

This tells us two things.

1) There was no immediate danger.

If there had been, Nynaeve would have been doing something much more important. No danger = no suspense and that is the nature of my objection.

2) In a situation where there is no immediate danger but where a speedy departure is still necessary, Nynaeve does not have the presence of mind to focus on something more important.

My comment about sexism was actually more of an afterthought because it bothers me that RJ consistently portrays his females in this way. And before five or ten of you get all huffy about it, a quote from Lord of Chaos:

“If the world is ending, a woman will want time to fix her hair.”

There's a word for that kind of thinking: sexist.

Back to my point about realism.

People don't read fiction for a realistic portrayal of combat. This is because fiction is, for the most part, a form of entertainment and entertainment is supposed to make you feel happy. Fiction is allowed some acceptable breaks from reality for this reason. To use a few non-Wheel of Time examples: Luke Skywalker does not have PTSD even though he should after losing a hand in such a violent way.

Han Solo is not a quivering ball of frayed emotions after waking up from the carbon freezing process. The crime lab in CSI gets results with greater speed and accuracy than any real-world equivalent. Why? Because it's fun to pretend that violent murderers and rapists can be captured with some UV lights and a deeper understanding of “SCIENCE!!!”

Harry Potter should have had a full-blown mental breakdown several times by now but he hasn't. And why? Because young-adult epic fantasy is not the right forum for that kind of writing. I could go on for hours listing the numerous ways fiction breaks from reality and the various reasons why those breaks are not only acceptable but necessary but I think you see my point.

suttree
04-12-2013, 01:23 PM
People don't read fiction for a realistic portrayal of combat.

Heh. Not a fan of Joe Abercrombie I take it?

Also no idea why you would propose to speak for anyone other than yourself? Care to support the above claim or did you just pull it out of thin air? As for fantay why would you try to put it in a box as if there is only one way it is supposed to be?

Lastly loved this gem...

This is because fiction is, for the most part, a form of entertainment and entertainment is supposed to make you feel happy

I have a lit professor from college that I would love to run the above by and watch him tear it to shreds.

Garak
04-12-2013, 01:28 PM
Support for my claim.

Just because a trope is realistic doesn't mean it's good. There is a reason why we have an entire category devoted to Acceptable Breaks from Reality. For example, The Hero gets shot in the shoulder and dies. The Determinator doesn't come into play, no My Name Is Inigo Montoya, nothing. Realistic, maybe, but that is not what we want a hero to do. That's right, one of the most fundamental character archetypes is usually unrealistic. The important thing when writing a story is that it's believable, not that it's real. Reality Is Unrealistic, after all; often people are so used to tropes that it's reality they find jarring

From

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TropesAreTools

A list of common ways in which fiction deviates from reality

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AcceptableBreaksFromReality

suttree
04-12-2013, 01:36 PM
Errmm please tell me you're not serious. That does not support your claim in the slightest.

Davian93
04-12-2013, 01:39 PM
People don't read fiction for a realistic portrayal of combat. This is because fiction is, for the most part, a form of entertainment and entertainment is supposed to make you feel happy.

People that read crap like Dan Brown would agree with this. People with taste...not so much.

Ivhon
04-12-2013, 01:58 PM
I don't want my heros being superheros. I want them to dissociate during high stress. Talk about building suspense. The level-headed hero that thinks on his/her feet and always saves the day is incredibly boring. I love it when the heros get human and it gets them in trouble...or killed. What if she didn't find the hat and it resulted in them being captured? BAM - all of a sudden we have an inner conflict that must be resolved in the character arc.

Yes, Luke should have some relatively severe PTSD based on the shock trauma of losing a hand and the predicator of some fairly severe attachment wounds. If the SW universe were not designed to be kid-friendly, I think this would have made for a FAR more rich and complex story. But, you know, you gotta have ewoks and clean lines for the kids.

Garak
04-12-2013, 03:06 PM
Errmm please tell me you're not serious. That does not support your claim in the slightest.

The point was to demonstrate the way fiction breaks from reality across a broad spectrum of genres.

People that read crap like Dan Brown would agree with this. People with taste...not so much.

Do you mean to say that I like Dan Brown? I can promise you that I don't. His books aren't my cup of tea. But I've never found catholic conspiracy theories very interesting.

I don't want my heros being superheros. I want them to dissociate during high stress. Talk about building suspense. The level-headed hero that thinks on his/her feet and always saves the day is incredibly boring. I love it when the heros get human and it gets them in trouble...or killed. What if she didn't find the hat and it resulted in them being captured? BAM - all of a sudden we have an inner conflict that must be resolved in the character arc.

Yes, but that isn't what happened is it?

More to the point, do you realy think that would have made for an interesting character arc? Try to picture Nynaeve in a damane collar, saying the words "None of this would have happened if i hadn't gone searching for that hat."

If she had been written that way, I would have lumped her into the too dumb to live category and considered the collar to be her just deserts.

I agree that characters should demonstrate fear and anxiety in the face of looming danger but none of them do this. Nynaeve treats finding the hat as a mild annoyance. Elayne checks on the ter'angreal and then spends a few paragraphs thinking about how they're hers goddamnit! And the Hall has no right to take them away. That seems to be her biggest concern. Aviendha sits down in the grass, makes small talk and then giggles at Elayne's frustration. The rest is nothing more than a summary of the various ways that Alise put hands on her hips, scowled and set the other women about their business. There is nothing inherently suspenseful about any of this.

The closest thing we get to a suspenseful thought is when Elayne notes that she would rather die than be collared. But that isn't enough to carry the scene.

And this goes back to what I was saying yesterday. Suttree, please take note of this. My first instinct was to say "read the scene again and you'll see what I'm talking about." What I've summarized for you above is exactly what happened. However, rather than telling you that you'll agree with me if you just read it again - carefully this time - I think it's important to acknowledge the possibility that I might have missed something and take your responses seriously. I may not agree with you but that doesn't mean you don't have anything of value to say.

Garak
04-12-2013, 03:26 PM
Another point about suspense.

Sometimes something bad has to happen in order for the reader to take the threat seriously. When I suggested that Seanchan troops should have shown up in the middle of their evacuation, it was because the presence of those troops would make the danger real.

What would happen if - in the middle of the evacuation - the first Kinswoman flinched only to look down and find an arrow in her chest. Ivhon, you have a point that the threat of violence can create suspense without violence actually taking place but the problem is that by this point I know RJ.

And he's rather predictable.

Earlier in the novel, Birgitte and Lan made a big fuss about how important it was to leave the Tarasin palace right then and there because the Forsaken could show up at any moment. A looming threat that never amounted to anything.

Moridin was right there but even with him present, nothing bad happened. It becomes like the boy who cried wolf.

RJ: Watch out for Aram. He's getting dangerous. Look at that dark glint in his eye? See it? He could snap at any moment.

Oh there he goes!

And now he's taken an arrow to the chest before he had a chance to do any real damage.

RJ never makes good on his threats so why should I feel suspense just because he's bringing up something else that COULD go wrong?

suttree
04-12-2013, 04:50 PM
r
RJ never makes good on his threats so why should I feel suspense just because he's bringing up something else that COULD go wrong?

:rolleyes:

GonzoTheGreat
04-13-2013, 05:18 AM
Yes, Luke should have some relatively severe PTSD based on the shock trauma of losing a hand and the predicator of some fairly severe attachment wounds. If the SW universe were not designed to be kid-friendly, I think this would have made for a FAR more rich and complex story. But, you know, you gotta have ewoks and clean lines for the kids.
Good point. Olver should've been saved by Ewoks. Then he could have used the Horn to lead them to victory.

Davian93
04-13-2013, 07:51 PM
So...because Lucas was a hack, RJ should have been too?

I guess GRRM is ridiculously popular because he's a hack who follows fiction tropes too, right?

Garak
04-14-2013, 12:32 AM
So...because Lucas was a hack, RJ should have been too?

I guess GRRM is ridiculously popular because he's a hack who follows fiction tropes too, right?

My friend, do you deliberately go out of your way to misrepresent what people say or is this an honour that you've reserved for me in particular?

First, my favourite movie in the Star Wars saga was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. Second, at no point did I ever compare RJ to George Lucas. I used Luke Skywalker's severed hand as a convenient example of one of the many ways in which fiction is allowed to break from reality. I chose that particular example because I've been floating around on this site for several months prior to my first post and I've witnessed you quoting Star Wars on more than one occasion. I knew that you'd be familiar with the story.

George R. R. Martin.

In a previous post, I pointed out that sometimes bad things need to happen to our heroes in order to keep the suspense alive. George R.R. Martin takes this to the opposite extreme. In his work, bad things are guaranteed to happen, particularly to the characters that have become most popular. If you like a character in Song of Ice and Fire, then you can rest assured that that character will be killed, maimed, tortured or psychologically broken. The irony is that this creates the very same problem that RJ struggles with. There is no suspense because you can easily predict the outcome of what is going to happen.

RJ keeps the kid gloves on to the point where Rand is literally saved by a FLOCK OF BIRDS that get in the way of an assassin's arrow. He has literally written deus ex machina into the story as a plot device. GM, on the other hand, slaughters his characters until the cast of the fifth book in no way resembles the cast of the first. Both of these are extremes on a spectrum and both of them are examples of terrible writing. All things in moderation. If you want your reader to feel suspense, then it needs to be clear in his mind that the outcome of this particular conflict could go either way. He should never be too sure that a character will walk out unscathed but he shouldn't expect them to die either. It's a difficult line to walk but many good sci-fi/fantasy authors manage it.

Some examples for you:

Jon Scalzi
Jim Butcher
J.K. Rowling
Peter Brett
Brent Weeks
Karen Miller
Tanya Huff
Tad Williams

and, oh yes...

Brandon Sanderson.

You see, Davian, I'm replying to you with a summary of my opinions and the reasons behind those opinions but all you do is insult me. Your first post to me went to the tune of "this is why we need negative rep." Then you told me I have bad taste. Now, you've decided to put words in my mouth.

You haven't upset me, if that's what you're wondering, but if you can't come up with anything more substantive than repeated ad hominems, I'm just going to stop replying to you. Suttree's views are the polar opposite of my own but I've come to like him quite a bit because he at least presents a reasoned, rational argument. He treats me with enough respect to reply to what I've said and offer his own take on it.

He doesn't have to agree with me for me to like and respect him. You, on the other hand... Frankly, you're rude. The anonymity of the Internet is no excuse for bad manners.

Decide for yourself if you want to continue taking part in this discussion. As far as I'm concerned, we have nothing left to say to each other.

Garak
04-14-2013, 12:37 AM
Also, Davian, I would like you to note your own double standard.

So...because Lucas was a hack, RJ should have been too?

I guess GRRM is ridiculously popular because he's a hack who follows fiction tropes too, right?

In your opinion, George R.R. Martin's popularity is evidence that he is a good writer. (The saracasm in your tone is quite evident).

People that read crap like Dan Brown would agree with this. People with taste...not so much.

And yet Dan Brown was also popular enough to have two blockbuster movies made from his books. Would that not then stand as evidence that he is ALSO a good writer?

Or maybe popularity has nothing to do with the quality of the writing. For God sakes, the Twilight books are popular. That doesn't make them good.

Davian93
04-14-2013, 08:22 AM
GRRM is good because he's a good original writer. The popularity is secondary.

Garak
04-14-2013, 11:29 AM
Whereas I dislike Martin because his story lacks narrative focus and his characters are detestable people. Even my one-time favourites, Arya and Catelyn have been twisted into monstrous versions of themselves. Though, it was nice to see Jaime come back from the moral abyss.

GonzoTheGreat
04-14-2013, 12:11 PM
The main problem with GRRM is that it seems more likely than not that he'll never finish his story.

Garak
04-14-2013, 02:06 PM
The main problem with GRRM is that it seems more likely than not that he'll never finish his story.

That too.

Once again, a problem caused by a lack of narrative focus. Tyrion is sent across the narrow sea on a mission to unite with Daenerys and assist her in her return to Westeros. He rides in a carraige, chats with Illyrio, beds a whore, gets on a boat, suffers an attack by plague victims (I will admit that was kind of cool), beds another whore, gets captured by Ser Jorah, befriends a dwarf, gets taken as a slave and then joins a group of sellswords.

WHEN THE HELL IS HE GOING TO MEET DAENERYS ALREADY?

That's what I've been waiting for!

yks 6nnetu hing
04-15-2013, 01:27 AM
GRRM is good because he's a good original writer. The popularity is secondary.

Whereas I dislike Martin because his story lacks narrative focus and his characters are detestable people. Even my one-time favourites, Arya and Catelyn have been twisted into monstrous versions of themselves. Though, it was nice to see Jaime come back from the moral abyss.

Garak has just summed up why I have no intention of finishing aSoIaF. While the prose is good and the characters are more original than you oh so often find in Fantasy, the lack of narrative focus ruins the entire thing. Eriksson takes this problem of a narrative focus to a whole new level with even worse characters though.

Whatever you say of RJ's issues in CoT, we still get the feeling that the story IS moving forward.

GonzoTheGreat
04-15-2013, 02:08 AM
Whatever you say of RJ's issues in CoT, we still get the feeling that the story IS moving forward.
Even greater difference: you get the impression that RJ knew in what direction he was trying to move. He may have been stuck in mud (or snow, or twilight, or whatever) for a while, but eventually he pulled free and moved on.
Note: I don't think he was actually nearly as stuck there as most people seem to think.

Davian93
04-15-2013, 10:22 AM
As long as he doesnt die before he finishes it, I could care less how long it takes to get there. The writing is good enough and the universe interesting enough that I like reading as much as I can about it.

Same with WoT...until Brandon started butchering the characters...at that point, I just wanted to read the ending.

Garak
04-15-2013, 01:20 PM
I think Brandon improved the characters.

He turned Rand from a tyrant in training to a man trying to hold it all together and cracking under the pressure.

He made Mat funner.

Under Brandon's stewardship, Nynaeve became smart, competent and introspective instead of simply loud and bossy.

I realize you don't agree, Davian; convincing you or anyone else to agree with me was never my purpose here. I started this discussion to make it clear that there are people out there who think Sanderson did an excellent job with the dog's breakfast of a story that fell into his lap. And I am not the only one. RJ is an acquired taste. If you like his approach to fantasy - even Crossroads - that's great. But if you're not so keen on reading endless pages dedicated to the description of dresses, furniture and floor tiles with moments of true character growth sparsely sprinkled over top, you'll probably find Brandon a breath of fresh air.

Garak
04-15-2013, 02:30 PM
Garak has just summed up why I have no intention of finishing aSoIaF. While the prose is good and the characters are more original than you oh so often find in Fantasy, the lack of narrative focus ruins the entire thing. Eriksson takes this problem of a narrative focus to a whole new level with even worse characters though.

Whatever you say of RJ's issues in CoT, we still get the feeling that the story IS moving forward.


True, the plot in PoD - CoT felt like an old man with a walker but there was SOME forward momentum. Personally, I think those three books could have been one book and we'd be just as well off. But RJ is only slow.

GM is random. He gives you a sense of what is supposed to happen. (Arya is on her way to the wall. Something important will happen when she gets there). Then he steers the characters off course (Oh, she's riding around with Beric Dondarrion. But that's okay because I'm sure Martin is going somewhere with this)

The disappointment happens when you realize that he really wasn't going anywhere with that. You put down the book and think "Wait? Why did I spend nearly 300 pages reading about it if she was just going to get captured by Sandor Clegane, escape him and get on a boat to Braavos? This is exactly where she was at the end of the LAST book. She could have gotten on the boat then.)

Rj had a bit of that but not nearly so much.

Davian93
04-15-2013, 02:50 PM
I think Brandon improved the characters.

He turned Rand from a tyrant in training to a man trying to hold it all together and cracking under the pressure.

He made Mat funner.

Under Brandon's stewardship, Nynaeve became smart, competent and introspective instead of simply loud and bossy.

I realize you don't agree, Davian; convincing you or anyone else to agree with me was never my purpose here. I started this discussion to make it clear that there are people out there who think Sanderson did an excellent job with the dog's breakfast of a story that fell into his lap. And I am not the only one. RJ is an acquired taste. If you like his approach to fantasy - even Crossroads - that's great. But if you're not so keen on reading endless pages dedicated to the description of dresses, furniture and floor tiles with moments of true character growth sparsely sprinkled over top, you'll probably find Brandon a breath of fresh air.

To each his own I guess but I pretty much utterly disagree with everything you just said...and I actually like Brandon's own books. (well, Elantris was pretty weak but it was his first effort).

Garak
04-15-2013, 04:33 PM
Elantris was good though certainly not his best. He seems to get a little better with each outing. His best so far seems to be Alloy of Law (in my opinion) and following that either Way of Kings or Warbreaker.

suttree
04-15-2013, 06:08 PM
He seems to get a little better with each outing. His best so far seems to be Alloy of Law (in my opinion)?

You can't be serious? He wrote that in ten days and put it out with minimal revisions and editing. I've literally known people to laugh at how poor the quality is.

As for a character like Mat, as I quoted even Brandon admits he badly botched it. Not sure why anyone would try and argue that point.

The problem with Brandon is he enjoys "slapping words down on a page"(his own words) but not the hard work to clean everything up and polish it. The pace with which the WoT books were rushed out certainly seems to have hampered his growth as an author. I mean I certainly wouldn't have believed TGS was to be his best work in the wheel.

fionwe1987
04-15-2013, 07:47 PM
As for a character like Mat, as I quoted even Brandon admits he badly botched it. Not sure why anyone would try and argue that point.

Didn't you read the song and dance about how Brandon saying that is just him bowing to fan opinions, and that fans are full of shit, and more faff in that line of argument?

I agree with you on Alloy of Law. It was certainly an interesting story, but it was very badly executed. I'm happy Brandon can crank out something like that in 10 days. But that makes the lack of polish all the more inexcusable. If the first draft flows, spend the extra time distinguishing your final product from your first draft. Don't hand in the shoddy work!

Garak
04-15-2013, 08:27 PM
You can't be serious? He wrote that in ten days and put it out with minimal revisions and editing. I've literally known people to laugh at how poor the quality is.

LOL.

You know, Suttree, much as I like you, how about we agree to a new rule. No matter what I say about the quality of Brandon's work, I'm ALWAYS serious.

Alloy of Law was a wonderful story with some great characters and creative use of the magic system in a Western setting. Wax's conflicts were interesting and I was impressed that Brandon was able to surpise me by having him choose Sterris in the end instead of Marasi. However, I'm reasonably certain that Brandon will at some point break up Wax and Sterris and get him together with Marasi. Their love story was very cute. Yes, I said cute.

The fight scenes were excellent, particularly the one that took place at the ball and the one on the train. Brandon's action scenes are usually top notch and one of the things that makes them so excellent is the way his characters make use of both the magic system and the surrounding environment in very creative ways. I really enjoyed the tone of the book; I was in the mood for some light-hearted, high-flying fun.

Wayne was a brilliant addition to the cast and his dialogue cracked me up over and over again. I really enjoy Brandon's eccentric supporting characters. As for Wax, he made an interesting hero. I like that he was conflicted, haunted by Lessie's death and yet trying to move on with his life. I really enjoyed the theme of the novel, which is that you can't escape your core character traits. Wax tried many times to be the perfect model of an aristocrat but that's just not who he is inside. This is something that I can relate to because I've had similar experiences.

I must admit that I saw the twist about Wax's uncle coming but that just made me enjoy it more when it arrived because we got a glimpse of just how EVIL this man is. All things considered, it was a brilliant story: lots of action, lots of humor and some lovely romance. An interesting setting that I've rarely seen before in epic fantasy and some very clever world-building. This book hit every target on the mark. It was brilliant.


As for a character like Mat, as I quoted even Brandon admits he badly botched it. Not sure why anyone would try and argue that point.

Because not everyone agrees.

The problem with Brandon is he enjoys "slapping words down on a page"(his own words) but not the hard work to clean everything up and polish it.

It's funny; that's how I would describe RJ.

Garak
04-15-2013, 10:07 PM
I typed the words "Robert Jordan does not revise" into Google.

I found this.

http://punkadiddle.blogspot.ca/2010/05/robert-jordan-wheel-of-time-10.html

I don't agree with every point the man (woman?) makes but I did laugh my ass off once or twice.

Jordan writes: ‘but then, who would have expected to see Bertholme Saighan walking peacefully with Weiramon Saniago, neither man reaching for the dagger at his belt?' And we read (for reading is in part a process of interpreting writing): ‘but then, who can honestly say they remember who Bertholme Saighan is, or why he should or shouldn’t be walking peacefully with Weiramon Saniago

Exactly!

Feel free to peruse the blog; he did a review for everything up to KoD. Since he seems to be making a lot of the same points I have, let me say this now; I am not Punkaddidle.

suttree
04-15-2013, 10:51 PM
I must admit that I saw the twist about Wax's uncle coming but that just made me enjoy it more when it arrived because we got a glimpse of just how EVIL this man is. All things considered, it was a brilliant story: lots of action, lots of humor and some lovely romance. An interesting setting that I've rarely seen before in epic fantasy and some very clever world-building. This book hit every target on the mark. It was brilliant.

All of that says a good deal about your personnel enjoyment of the story, and very little about the quality of the writing...which was very poor. It certainly is a significant step down from other authors in genre like Bakker or Rothfuss.


Because not everyone agrees.

Perhaps not everyone agrees but you have to admit, an author's own assessment that he "didn't understand the character" and wrote the "HIM out of him" lends weight to the opinion of the overwhelming majority of WoT fans that had issues with it.


It's funny; that's how I would describe RJ.

But we know that quite simply isn't true. Please don't take this the wrong way but it often seems you just pull things out of thin air to argue. Statements like that along with the one saying RJ had the "tell don't show" style not Brandon(you were quickly proven wrong on that) just seem like they are coming from some bizarro world.

Many of us are familiar with the process and RJ would finish some 5-7 drafts/revisions before an editor even saw anything. Any claim that he didn't revise is unequivocally false. As for Brandon after how far the quality and polish dropped in ToM, Team Jordan actually changed Brandon's writing process to be more like RJ's in order to address the issue.

That was the case with THE GATHERING STORM and TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, but it's not how they're doing A MEMORY OF LIGHT. Instead, Brandon is writing a complete draft and then doing a revision or two before sending a polished draft to Team Jordan on December 31st (and that will be the first draft they see). This is more like Robert Jordan's process; he never showed anything to Harriet until it was finished. This does mean editing and revision will take longer, but rushing TOWERS caused a ton of headaches and stress, and Team Jordan and Brandon all want to avoid that this time. They have to get things RIGHT in this final book.

Now Brandon has been very clear that prose is not a strength. Perhaps it will be one day, but his style of writing(slapping words down on a page) isn't helping any. It will be very interesting to see how his own Stormlight Archive plays out. Especially during that mid-late stretch of books that gave both Martin and Jordan such pacing trouble. The difference being Martin and Jordan's prose keep many fans content with the meandering. Sanderson(again by his own admission) does not have that to fall back on.

fionwe1987
04-15-2013, 11:00 PM
The worst thing is, while this type of writing process may fly when writing shorter stories (Alloy of Law, while terribly written, wasn't too bad in terms of entertainment), it can totally destroy a longer novel. Now Way of Kings worked because he let it sit for a long time before rewriting it. When I saw how he spoke about the changes that happened as a result, I hoped we'd see similar commitment to quality for all his work. I do hope he works on Stormlight 2 long enough to deliver a good book, rather than just a quick book.

Davian93
04-16-2013, 08:26 AM
Hopefully BS starts to stray from his typical style of starting a story with 200-300 pages of utter boringness followed by non-stop action for 100 pages for the ending. Pretty much all of his books fall into this pattern. Stormlight started the same way but it was more like 700 pages of boring setup and then 200 pages of non-stop action.

Its his style and its what he likes but it does have some disadvantages when it comes to pacing...particularly when Brandon isn't the greatest at writing that setup to begin with.


Also, I specifically use the word "boring" here because I want to make a point. Authors dont tend to do that type of pure setup because it is boring. Mixing in actual events tends to help move the story along and help it flow better. I like Brandon's books and think he's a good young author but he's still working on finding a style that works for him. Many would call Way of Kings bloated because of that style...and, if not for WoT, no publisher would have ever touched that submission as a result.

SauceyBlueConfetti
04-16-2013, 09:30 AM
Hopefully BS starts to stray from his typical style of starting a story with 200-300 pages of utter boringness followed by non-stop action for 100 pages for the ending. Pretty much all of his books fall into this pattern.

I can't comment much on Brandon, I have only read two of his books. I just started Way of Kings last week...I can't really agree that the first pages were boring. I was hooked pretty quickly with the immediate assasination scenes. I haven't gotten too far in yet though, so it could GET boring :p

RJ could be messy & wander, I think we all know that. He put a bunch of subplots in that likely would have gone SOMEWHERE if he had finished the books. I think his team didn't reign it in as he likely had the authority at that point to say, yeah, you can't cut that bit it WILL be important later, TRUST me. Whether it was or wasn't, we will never know.

BS just didn't have the data, the time or the support to write 4 more books. I never believed RJ was going to finish in 2 books anyway. :( But it would have been nice to see.

suttree
04-16-2013, 10:01 AM
BS just didn't have the data, the time or the support to write 4 more books. I never believed RJ was going to finish in 2 books anyway. :( But it would have been nice to see.

4 more books?!?!? It became painfully obvious he didn't have enough data after the series was split(which it is clear now should have never happened) to fill even that. There was an appalling amount of bloat and filler in these last three books. 1 book split into two WH sized volumes would have been sufficient.

As for didn't have the time, considering he wrote TWoK and other works while working on the WoT don't think that was an issue. Don't get me wrong, the books should not have been rushed out as they were but Brandon had more time if he had wanted to utilize it with more drafts.

Davian93
04-16-2013, 10:51 AM
I was hooked pretty quickly with the immediate assasination scenes. I haven't gotten too far in yet though, so it could GET boring

The assassination scene is a great hook and it helps introduce his magic system in tWoK...then there's about 500 pages of exposition and bloat to go through.

Its worth the read though so be patient with it. Overall, I liked the book.

Garak
04-17-2013, 03:59 PM
Hey, guys.

So, I'm going to replying to Suttree's post. I know there are probably a lot of people who have responded to me - I haven't looked - but I'm going to have to focus on one post at a time. The way my days work, I usually have time for either one long TL post or three or four short ones. So, if I don't get to your posts, please don't take it as a slight. It's not that I don't think your points are valid; it's just that I only have so much time for theoryland and my replies are kind of on a first come first serve basis.

So, Suttree. I took half an hour the other night and outlined all the things that I thought made Alloy of Law a great read. And you replied to me with

All of that says a good deal about your personnel enjoyment of the story, and very little about the quality of the writing...which was very poor. It certainly is a significant step down from other authors in genre like Bakker or Rothfuss.

And I thought "How is it that I can outline all these great attributes of the novel and he still thinks the writing is bad?" It felt a little like if I were to say "This car gets excellent fuel economy, comes with all the latest safety features, AC and cruise control included. On average, drivers go 120 000 miles without any major maintenance." And you go "Yes, but it's still a crappy car."

How can this be?

Well, the obvious answer is that you judge a novel by a completely different set of standards than I do. And you are not necessarily wrong to do so. You might say this entire thread has been an attempt to define the standards of what makes a good novel. So, I thought "let's compare what our standards are."

I'll go first.

I've ranked my standards in order of importance (to me) I consider these standards to be universal - not just matters of personal taste. However, I acknowledge that some people will disagree with me and they may not be wrong to do so.

1) Well-developed, interesting characters.

Characters should be compelling with interesting motivations and a good mix of strengths and weaknesses. Did Brandon give us this?

Yes, he did.

He gave us Wax, a man stuck between two stages of his life and not really able to fit into either. Wax is mourning the loss of his best friend and lover, Lessie. After twenty years in the roughs, he comes back to a life where all of his instincts are not only obsolete but socially frowned upon. As a result, he really has to struggle against himself.

Brandon also gave us Wayne, an eccentric with a unique perspective on just about everything. Wayne's methods are often bizarre but they often pay off.

And Marasi: the schoolgirl who also struggles to make her instincts conform to social norms. And fails.

For such a short novel, this is some fairly heavy characterization. This alone earns Brandon 50% of his final mark. He has now gone from a failing grade to a D-

2) Narrative Focus.

Narrative Focus is achieved by skillfully using the concepts of set-up and pay-off. Events in the story should not feel random. Plot points that are set up in the early chapters should be resolved with maybe one or two left open ended for a potential sequel. Bearing in mind that when it was written, this novel was a stand-alone so the standards are even stricter. Plot points under consideration.

1) The missing train cars

2) The fate of house Ladrian.

3) Wax's role in the society.

4) The captured women and what became of them.

5) The romance between Wax and Marasi.

Did Brandon resolve these plot points? Yes, he did. He set up questions, then answered those questions and then used the answers to generate new questions (thus leaving certain threads open)

For instance, the missing women. Why were they taken? We learn that the women were captured to be used as breeding stock for a new army of Misting warriors and that Wax's uncle was behind the whole thing. But this sparks other questions. It's implied that Wax's uncle is working for some darker power. Who is this person and what does he want with an army of mistings?

Wax and Marasi. In the end, Wax chooses Sterris and forsakes any potential relationship with Marasi. This sparks its own set of questions. How will Marasi cope with this? Can Wax and Sterris maintain a functional relationship given their divergent personalities?

Plot points from the first novel are resolved with new points set up to make room for a sequel.

Brandon has no gone to a solid 70% and is sitting happily with a B-

3) Good World Building. (A necessity of the fantasy genre)

Is the World of Mistborn an interesting place? Do the concepts employed by the author make sense given the world he's created?

Yes, they do.

It's an interesting reinvention of the Mistborn world. We get to see some truly effective use of firearms in fantasy - a real rarity. Allomancy is one of the most interesting and complex magic systems in the history of fantasy lit and when you combine that with feruchemy, you get a system that allows for some unique powers and abilities. Characters never get too powerful because there are hard limits to their abilities.

The tech is an interesting twist and it's nice to see a society that lives and breathes instead of remaining eternally fixed in medieval culture. The new religions that Brandon has created offer some unique perspectives into his characters. One of the interesting points happened when a certain politician ran on a platform of having the magical ability to resist mental manipulation. That was a very subtle touch on Brandon's part. He recognized that magic is not just the stuff of epic quests but rather something that is woven into the very fabric of society.

Add another 10% and Brandon is sitting at a solid 80% of his final grade.

An A-

4) Good Action, Humor and Romance.

Brandon is writing in a genre that focuses on different retelling of the epic tale and those three things are staples of the epic tale.

Let's go through them one by one.

Action.
Good action is more than just shooting up the place and killing all your enemies. Characters should have to think to get out of sticky situations. Usually that thinking involves clever uses of the environment and the magic. (I'm stuck in a dining hall with sharp shooters covering every exit. How can I turn the very furniture into a weapon I can use against my enemies?)

Characters don't have to voice that specific thought. Watching them put their plans into effect is enough to make their intentions clear.

Brandon pulls this off perfectly. He is a master of text-based action.

Humor
This one is a little more subjective because not everyone agrees on what is funny. But some standard tropes are

1) Witty repartee.

This book has it in spades

2) Ironic thoughts/comments

There are a few. Particularly when Wax prays to Sazed and Sazed giggles in the back of Wax's head.

3) Refuge in absurdity.

Wayne.

Now opinions will vary on how effective this is but I was impressed.

Romance.
Good romance is all about making the audience cheer for a certain character pairing. It's not enough to say "These characters are in love, isn't that grand?" You have to pique your reader's interest first.

Did this work for Wax and Marasi?

Yes.

Let's look at how.

One of the interesting dynamics in this story is the fact that Marasi makes Wax feel USEFUL again. Wax's character is rooted in the fact that he NEEDS to be doing something. At first Marasi's feelings are not much more than a schoolgirl crush but she is the only member of the aristocracy to see any value in Wax's rough side. This also makes her a bit of an independent thinker and that goes a long way to make her stand out from Sterris, who is quite literally what breeding has made her.

Marasi is often sweet, kind-hearted and very very bad at conforming to other people's expectations. This allows Wax to feel sympathy for her. However, as time goes on, we also see that Marasi is quick-witted and even brave. Many of the things that made Wax and Lessie a good pairing are also there in Marasi.

Which brings me to my final point in this section. The romance subplot forces Wax to deal with his buried feelings for Lessie. Put all this together and you have a very compelling love story.

A bit of a downer since they don't get together but that just leaves room for a sequel.

Moreover, everything I've said here in the romance section (and the action section) can be traced back to my first point - Well Developed Characters. Look at how much character growth takes place just from the love story. We have themes of loss, grief, moving on, social taboos, learned behaviour vs independent thought and emotional growth. The fact that Wax responds to someone who makes him feel useful tells us a great deal about who he is at his core.

So, Brandon gets another 10% and that takes him to 90% overall. An A+

5) Strong prose

This is where Brandon stumbles. Now, you might be tempted to ask, "Why have I placed this last?" Well, the answer is that this is the hardest standard to pin down. Given the diversity in writing styles, it's very difficult to develop an objective standard of what we can call strong prose. There are certain rules.

Don't use too many sentence fragments.

Don't start too many sentences with the same word.

Don't overuse a single word in a short section of text.

And so on

But authors bend and break these rules all the time. Part of judging the quality of an author's words lies in determining how skillfully that author bends and breaks the rules. For instance, note my second example above, "Don't start too many sentences with the same word."

And yet

"He drew a gun from his belt holster, pulled back the hammer and sighted his target. He squinted as he took aim, then fired a deadly shot" strikes me as some damn descriptive writing.

There are also differences in style to consider. Steven Brust writes in a very minimalist style, RJ's prose is very Dickensian and Jim Butcher employs a style that seems to be the average of the two.

So, what can we say about Brandon's prose? Well, he stumbles over little pieces of description. I gave an example in an earlier post that went like this. "Min sipped her tea. It tasted good!" Something like this could have been touched up to "Min sipped her tea and nearly drew back in surprise at the pleasant taste."

Perhaps this is what you mean when you say that Brandon's writing is poor, Suttree, and in this category alone, I will agree with you. However there are still things that we should consider.

1) Brandon's foibles - while salient - are actually few and far between.

We remember them because they stand out in our minds but it's not as if every single sentence the man writes is a travesty. If you say otherwise, I'm going to have to accuse you of being bombastic. He would never have been published if that were true. Even the queen of bad prose - Stephanie Meyer - is not THAT bad.

For the most part, Brandon's prose is adequate. Not beautiful but certainly not hideous.

2) Other authors - even beloved figures like RJ and GRRM - also stumble.

They just stumble in different ways. Editors can't catch everything because of the issues with stylistic differences that I mentioned above. And yes, that DOES matter.

Sometimes an author is trying to describe a relatively complex piece of information and clarity requires a certain amount of clunkiness. The English language can only be stretched in so many ways.

You might notice that RJ is often criticized for the fact that his females often fold their arms beneath their breasts and arch their eyebrows. And yet, despite the fact that I really don't like RJ's later books, I've never criticized him on this issue.

Why?

Because that those are very natural poses for women to adopt when they're delivering a stern lecture. Just as the English language can only be twisted in so many ways, the human body can only move in so many ways and repetition is somewhat unavoidable.

Not every single criticism out there is a valid one. Not every single literary misstep is a deal-breaker.

3) Prose has to be REALLY, REALLY bad to ruin a story.

Again, the wide variety of writing styles that end up in print show us that there is a very broad definition of what is considered acceptable.

Brandon's prose is mediocre. It is not REALLY, REALLY bad.

So, Brandon has 10% to go to get a perfect 100 from me.

On the issue of prose, I give him a 5% and as far as I'm concerned, this takes Alloy of Law to 95% overall.

An excellent book.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that a lot more goes into judging the quality of an author's work than just the way he puts sentences together.

While I was writing this, I came to the conclusion that we may have to put works by authors like GRRM into their own sub-genre of fantasy. I talked about the fact that Sanderson is writing a retelling of the epic tale; Martin may not be doing that. It occurs to me that he might be writing something that LOOKS like the epic tale but isn't. And maybe that means different standards have to be applied.

I will leave you to consider now

Talk to you soon.

Edit: I'm going to bold the sub-categories so that this post is easier to read.

Garak
04-17-2013, 04:21 PM
So, Suttree, why don't you do the same? List your standards, rank them in order of most important to least important and analyze something that you consider to be a piece of good writing. Maybe Path of Daggers. Or Crossroads if you're feeling ambitious.

Who knows, maybe you'll convince me.

SauceyBlueConfetti
04-17-2013, 04:55 PM
So, Suttree, why don't you do the same? List your standards, rank them in order of most important to least important and analyze something that you consider to be a piece of good writing. Maybe Path of Daggers. Or Crossroads if you're feeling ambitious.

Who knows, maybe you'll convince me.

Maybe discussions of Brandon's OTHER works belong more in the "Brandon Sanderson" forum so as not to spoil stuff for those if us
Who may not have read these works?

Garak
04-17-2013, 05:04 PM
Maybe discussions of Brandon's OTHER works belong more in the "Brandon Sanderson" forum so as not to spoil stuff for those if us
Who may not have read these works?

That's a valid point, SBC, but please bear in mind that it is virtually impossible to carry on a lengthy discussion without expanding the topic into other areas of discourse and that constantly moving the posts may create a disjointed conversation where the reader is unable to follow the logic. I think people can be trusted to abstain from reading if they begin to notice a topic that might spoil something.

Garak
04-17-2013, 05:08 PM
SBC, would you be able to move my post to the Brandon forum and create a link to it from this thread so that people can see my reply if they're so inclined?

suttree
04-17-2013, 05:23 PM
Not sure if this was a topic you studied in school but that isn't really how literary analysis works. Again you are just listing things/breaking down scenes you enjoyed in the story. That does not mean it was well written. Nor does your overly simplistic take on narrative focus say anything about quality. One could hit all the marks listed and still not be well done. It's not just checking things off a list, it's how they are done.

I said my piece briefly as I don't really care much about this book but again the writing in Alloy of Law is almost laughably bad at times. Your example of a good "descriptive" sentence quite simply is not well written or particularly descriptive. There are technical flaws and the work was extremely unpolished(unsurprising given how it was written and the story behind it). Many of the characters(especially secondary ones) were not well developed at all, plot work was blunt and humor more often than not cringe worthy. Brandon rarely fails to use a sledgehammer when a scalpel will do. He rarely trusts the reader and instead grabs their hand and yanks them along with his "tell don't show" style. For instance someone who works with Team Jordan had this to say about Alloy and his writing style...

3:24 AM 1: Brandon..."I'm bored. I want to write about allomancers on a train. Bang, shoot, blam! Fun! Now I'll blog about it. Oh, hi editor? Oh, you read my twitter about a new mistborn book I wrote in 10 days? No, it was just for fun. Oh, you mean you'll pay me six figures for something I wrote in 10 days? Sure. Here you go. Wow. You published it. I guess I better edit it a few times. Now, back to Wot!"

3:25 AM Never really intended to seriously consider publshing that

It came out of a desire to have fun as a break

2: No, but not so different to brandon's actual attitude toward writing

3:26 AM Brandon enjoys the exploration of writing

3:27 AM the first draft, or the literary concepts... the ' Bang, shoot, blam! Fun!'

Where he lacks is in the practical side the editing, the re-writes

To be clear I have never said everything the man wrote has been a travesty. Mistborn for example started off great. TGS was a solid start to his work on the WoT. He often does a very good job with action scenes. That said he isn't in that top tier of modern fantasy authors. There are just too many flaws in his work. ToM was awful and while AMoL had some good scenes it was far too uneven. Hopefully he keeps growing but I do not think he will thank his work on the WoT for helping him all that much. The rushed timeline to get books out only served to reinforce his "slap words down" style.

Also so you have a better understanding of who I think is strong these days in fantasy R. Scott Bakker IMO is the best at the moment. His work holds up outside of genre and rewards careful reading. The world-building is of the highest order, there is incredible depth that allows you to be fully immersed. His prose is top notch, the narrative flows well and dialog rings true. Overall just a very intelligent work with heady philosophical themes.

My two favorite authors in general are probably Don DeLillo and Cormac McCarthy. You want to see perfectly constructed writing, check out either of those two.

I think people can be trusted to abstain from reading if they begin to notice a topic that might spoil something.

Or you could use spoiler tags.

Davian93
04-18-2013, 06:44 AM
And Marasi: the schoolgirl who also struggles to make her instincts conform to social norms. And fails.

Yes, Vin, I mean Shallan, I mean Vivenna, I mean Sarene was a very original character.

Garak
04-20-2013, 04:18 PM
Yes, Vin, I mean Shallan, I mean Vivenna, I mean Sarene was a very original character.

Yeah, just like Elayne... I mean blonde Egwene.

On a more serious note, I'm sorry Suttree, but I think we're going to have to agree to disagree. Part of this is because you're not really giving me anything that I can reply to. In order to continue this discussion, I need to specifics. For instance, you say "Many of the characters (particularly secondary ones) were not very well developed at all, plot work was blunt and humor more often than not cringe worthy." I spent an entire section of my last post discussing the development of the characters with specific examples for how they were developed. Now maybe you disagree with me but in order to carry this discussion, I need to know how they were badly developed. What does it mean for a plot to be blunt? That is a very vague criticism that I can't really respond to. Because I don't even know what you're trying to say.

"Brandon never fails to use a sledgehammer when a scalpel will do."

How?

"He rarely trusts the reader and instead grabs their hand and yanks them along with his tell don't show style."

Trusts the reader to do what? Perhaps you need to grab me by the hand and yank me along to the point you're trying to make. However, I doubt that will help. To be honest, I have a feeling the discussion will go like this:

Suttree: You just don't get it.

Garak: That's because you haven't said anything.

suttree
04-21-2013, 09:26 PM
More than enough has been said, you just refuse to respond anytime someone shows you to be wrong(this has been pointed out to you by a wide range of posters at this point). For instance Brandon's tendency towards bluntness has been highlighted in this thread, as has his "tell don't show" style and cringe worthy humor. Examples have been given for all those things and you pointedly ignored them for the most part. Please do away with this false pretense that you are actually breaking down the work from a quality/literary perspective as you have done nothing of the sort. Again I am assuming this isn't a topic you studied in school based on many of the responses you have given?

As an aside Egwene and Elayne had very little in common. Just a terrible example.

yks 6nnetu hing
04-22-2013, 02:19 AM
This is your mod speaking. Please consider that personal taste is personal taste, there is no right or wrong taste.

now, back to just yks: I hate bananas - they don't taste like anything and the texture is disgusting; and they make me feel uncomfortably full, like they want to get RIGHT out again. But I'm sure lots of other people looooove these disgusting fruits, otherwise they wouldn't sell them in the stores. I also hate Mat with a passion, love Egwene though. I love RJ's prose as well as the storylines... except the one of Mat. That Brandon made him into the caricature that he's always been is absolutely inspired in my personal opinion

suttree
04-22-2013, 10:33 AM
This is your mod speaking. Please consider that personal taste is personal taste, there is no right or wrong taste.


Yup, but once again, personal taste says very little about literary quality.

yks 6nnetu hing
04-22-2013, 04:23 PM
Yup, but once again, personal taste says very little about literary quality.

Which is largely subjective.

I also strongly dislike Hemingway. I find his inner monologues egotistic and whiny, his prose mediocre and his themes not original. There are loads of people, highly professional literary people, who looooove that emo-drivel like it's Twilight.

suttree
04-22-2013, 05:14 PM
Which is largely subjective.

I also strongly dislike Hemingway. I find his inner monologues egotistic and whiny, his prose mediocre and his themes not original. There are loads of people, highly professional literary people, who looooove that emo-drivel like it's Twilight.

Uhhmm no it most certainly is not "largely subjective". Would love to hear you make that statement to a certain lit professor I had. You are still discussing likes/dislikes, not actual quality. Your personnel enjoyment says very little about how skilled the writing is.

Zombie Sammael
04-22-2013, 08:24 PM
Uhhmm no it most certainly is not "largely subjective". Would love to hear you make that statement to a certain lit professor I had. You are still discussing likes/dislikes, not actual quality. Your personnel enjoyment says very little about how skilled the writing is.

This suggests that somewhere, there is some absolutely perfect piece of writing which we can compare all others to, to see how they match up. Is it some religious text, the Bible or the Qur'an? Is it a piece of technical writing, or fiction, narrative or an essay? What sort of register is it in? Is it simple to read, or very difficult, or somewhere in-between?

Alternately, if there is not, how exactly does one measure the quality of writing? Is it graded by a panel of judges like Olympic gymnastics? Is it measured by the amount of writing about said piece of writing, and by whom is that writing written? Must it have some consensus among academics as to its quality? Who appoints the academics to decide? Surely you don't need a degree or tenure to know what sort of writing you think is good or bad? The Silmarillion is a beautifully written book, but it is far more difficult to read than The Eye Of The World, which also contains beautiful writing; is there not beauty in simplicity? If there is, does this make Terry Pratchett as good a writer as JRR Tolkien?

How many adverbs do you need to use in a piece of writing before it becomes "objectively bad"? What about passive sentences? How cleverly do you need to use such stylistic devices to "get away with it"? What about layered symbolism, foreshadow, metaphor, allegory, relevance to reality, reference to religion?

If you can answer any of those questions Suttree, I have a few more for you. In about three thousand years I might have run out, and then you can tell me all about your Professor and "objectively good" writing.

suttree
04-22-2013, 08:41 PM
This suggests that somewhere, there is some absolutely perfect piece of writing which we can compare all others to, to see how they match up.

Blood Meridien by Cormac McCarthy? ;)

First do away with the straw man. Second don't put words in my mouth and certainly don't be purposely dense as you are above. I never said "objectively best" in absolute terms. Nor have ever said or implied one needs a degree to properly analyze quality. Nevertheless it is very easy to objectively tell from a technical(and otherwise) perspective when a book suffers from poor quality. Or do you want to defend "Forgotten Realms" novels as literary classics? Are they exact same from a quality perspective as a book that wins the Pulitzer because some 50 sided dice tosser on a message board "subjectively" enjoys them? Are you seriously trying to tell me that you can't objectively discern the difference in quality between the two?

Zombie Sammael
04-22-2013, 08:56 PM
Blood Meridien by Cormac McCarthy? ;)

First do away with the straw man. Second don't be put words in my mouth and certainly don't be purposely dense as you do above. I never said "objectively best" in absolute terms. Nor have ever said or implied one needs a degree to properly analyze quality. Nevertheless it is very easy to objectively tell from a technical(and otherwise) perspective when a book suffers from poor quality. Or do you want to defend "Forgotten Realms" novels as literary classics because you enjoy them?

If it's so easy to tell, then state what makes it so. What are the criteria?

suttree
04-22-2013, 09:02 PM
So it is true, you like to argue simply to argue. Even when you don't believe in the slightest what you are arguing about.

Again as maybe you missed the edit. Are they exact same from a quality perspective as a book that wins the Pulitzer because some 50 sided dice tosser on a message board "subjectively" enjoys them? Are you seriously trying to tell me that you can't objectively discern the difference in quality between the two? Just stop trolling.

Zombie Sammael
04-22-2013, 09:07 PM
So it is true, you like to argue simply to argue. Even when you don't believe in the slightest what you are arguing about.

Again as maybe you missed the edit. Are they exact same from a quality perspective as a book that wins the Pulitzer because some 50 sided dice tosser on a message board "subjectively" enjoys them? Are you seriously trying to tell me that you can't objectively discern the difference in quality between the two?

I'm not the one throwing about personal attacks.

Are they necessarily bad simply because of what they are? It doesn't seem to matter how good the writing of a Forgotten Realms novel is, or any other piece of licensed writing, it's never going to win a Pullitzer. Does that mean it must be bad writing because of what it is, even if the writing is actually comparable to "literary" writing? Because yet again, you've failed to be able to provide a single example or criterion on which writing should be judged objectively bad, except perhaps for being a "Forgotten Realms" book, from which I infer that you'd apply that to all licensed writing, but forgiven me if I'm putting words into your mouth.

suttree
04-22-2013, 09:17 PM
Nah, not going to be baited. If this is your argument go ahead and grab passages from any one of your favorite Forgotten Realms books and say Don DeLillo's Underworld. Make a case for the literary quality being comparable. If you truly believe it to be true and make an attempt I'll discuss it with you. As is you know very well you are being ridiculous.

For the last time, personnel enjoyment does not necessarily make statement either positive or negative on literary quality.

fionwe1987
04-22-2013, 09:27 PM
Let me get this right: to be able to objectively evaluate art, there has to be a perfect example of that art?

That is complete nonsense. There's no perfect painting or music either. Doesn't mean no one can critique those.

Kimon
04-22-2013, 09:41 PM
Let me get this right: to be able to objectively evaluate art, there has to be a perfect example of that art?

That is complete nonsense. There's no perfect painting or music either. Doesn't mean no one can critique those.

Well there are ways that one can objectively evaluate and analyze art. Say in poetry. One can objectively analyze the meter, the grammar, and the syntax, but if you evaluate the style, the content, and the word choice, therein lies subjectivity.

There are I suppose certain objective criticisms that one could make of BS' novels within WOT, such as say inconsistencies in the personality of Mat, or errors such as the killing of Carlinya prior to the fulfillment of Min's viewing. But stylistic and word choice issues would be subjective. Suttree's criticisms seem more of the latter than of the former.

fionwe1987
04-22-2013, 09:47 PM
Well there are ways that one can objectively evaluate and analyze art. Say in poetry. One can objectively analyze the meter, the grammar, and the syntax, but if you evaluate the style, the content, and the word choice, therein lies subjectivity.

There are I suppose certain objective criticisms that one could make of BS' novels within WOT, such as say inconsistencies in the personality of Mat, or errors such as the killing of Carlinya prior to the fulfillment of Min's viewing. But stylistic and word choice issues would be subjective. Suttree's criticisms seem more of the latter than of the former.
There are objective ways of evaluating style too. Word choice by Brandon in WoT can obviously be evaluated objectively. How is it subjective to say that use of the word "telegraph" is wrong in a world without telegraphs?

Kimon
04-22-2013, 09:54 PM
There are objective ways of evaluating style too. Word choice by Brandon in WoT can obviously be evaluated objectively. How is it subjective to say that use of the word "telegraph" is wrong in a world without telegraphs?

Word choice and syntax are both somewhat gray areas. Use of words like telegraph are anachronistic, and hence could be a source of objective pique, yet whether or not it bothered you would fall more into the realm of subjectivity.

suttree
04-22-2013, 09:59 PM
Word choice and syntax are both somewhat gray areas. Use of words like telegraph are anachronistic, and hence could be a source of objective pique, yet whether or not it bothered you would fall more into the realm of subjectivity.

A mistake is a mistake, whether it bothers one or not.

Kimon
04-22-2013, 10:07 PM
A mistake is a mistake, whether it bothers one or not.

I disagree. The neglect of the Carlinya viewing was an objective mistake. Arguing that the word telegraph is anachronistic is an objective observation. Arguing that the use of that word is clumsy, careless, or a mistake is subjective.

Zombie Sammael
04-22-2013, 10:10 PM
Nah, not going to be baited. If this is your argument go ahead and grab passages from any one of your favorite Forgotten Realms books and say Don DeLillo's Underworld. Make a case for the literary quality being comparable. If you truly believe it to be true and make an attempt I'll discuss it with you. As is you know very well you are being ridiculous.

For the last time, personnel enjoyment does not necessarily make statement either positive or negative on literary quality.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the reason you aren't replying to my questions is because you simply don't have an answer.

To set the record entirely straight: I do not argue for the sake of argument and never have. I argue to test theories or to refute assertions I believe to be incorrect. I also argue to learn. I argued furiously with Terez for over six months before I began to see her way of thinking on numerous points and began to agree with her. You are not allowing me that opportunity, as you seem to have decided you simply can't be bothered to respond to me. It's a shame, as I'd imagine there is potential enlightenment there for one or both of us, but like so many others, you're not interested in a civil discussion. When things descend to this point and people aren't willing to respond properly my heart actually sinks when I see a new post. I reply only out of a misguided sense of duty. I'm not here looking for rows. I'm here to discuss WOT.

Let me get this right: to be able to objectively evaluate art, there has to be a perfect example of that art?

That is complete nonsense. There's no perfect painting or music either. Doesn't mean no one can critique those.

Well, in painting and in music there are certain standards which we can use to evaluate the work: whether the music maintains a consistent key, and how it uses key changes, for example. Or in painting, how close the image is to reality, or how well it conveys the appearance of something unreal. Even here, though, allowances need to be made for style, and for genre, and for intention. A person making a technical drawing may be capable of great artistry, but at the end of the day that drawing serves the purpose of being essentially a blueprint and does not carry with it the same artistic merit as the comic book artist who sets out a double page spread of hundreds of brightly coloured character all dynamically arranged in combat, who whilst certainly drawing from certain principles of surrealism is not attempting to convey the same emotion as Salvador Dali. A piece of music might be considered to be of poor quality if it is repetitive and lacks synthesis between melody, rhythm, and voice, yet this principle disregards the entire movement of minimalism and genre of rap.

To stick with the musical analogy, music for video games is typically composed under commission and the rights retained by the producers of the game rather than the composer. This does not render its quality necessarily any lower as it is often very successful in evoking certain moods and ideas in the player, and it can become very closely entangled with strong feelings in memory, to the point that symphony concerts where the orchestra plays video game music are popular both with musicians and with fans of the games. Is that work necessarily of a lesser quality than a piece intentionally composed for an orchestra? Is John Lennon any less of a genius than Mozart?

Suttree's example of Forgotten Realms books is a poor one because I haven't read them, and nor can I be expected to have read them. We have all read WOT, and yet whilst considered a shining example of the genre WOT does somewhat lack for mainstream recognition either in the form of awards or commercial licensing. And yet only one person seems to be saying that Robert Jordan's writing is bad. So why doesn't it acquire that recognition? If it's good, it should, right?

We all know that mainstream reviewers and academics have prejudices against the fantasy genre, to the point that creative writing students are often barred from creating such works as part of their courses. Yet there seems to be no rational reason for this; magical realists don't suffer the same prejudices and the line between the two is often very blurry indeed. So it certainly isn't genre that makes a piece of writing good or bad.

What is it, then? It seems to me that it comes down to what one is writing for. If creating a technical manual, simplicity and clarity are probably the best markers of quality, and diagrams may be helpful, yet illustration in works of highbrow literature is at best unfashionable; use of simile and description to create imagery is much more highly thought of there. Is such a simplicity of writing preferable in the sort of licensed works Suttree holds in such disdain? The purpose of such writing is simply to entertain, but is that so different, really, from the work of award winning writers? Is their work better because it has purpose beyond that?

To bring it back to WOT, the purpose of Robert Jordan in writing the series is to entertain, certainly. Does he have a purpose beyond that? Certainly he has some commercial motivation, but what professional author doesn't? It seems to me that he does; he has a desire to express the world he has built within his head to others, to inform and to guide them to whatever extent he presumes to, but above all to express himself and demonstrate his skill, such as it is. We can assess the quality of his work based on how successful he is at doing that.

What, then, is Brandon Sanderson's purpose in his writing on the series? It certainly is not Robert Jordan's. His task is to finish the series; put another way, his job is to express RJ's ideas as best he can. We can assess his success in doing this but can we compare his writing to RJ's within the same body of work, or is it unfair to do so given that his work on the series serves a quite different purpose to Robert Jordan's? It's certainly true that there are areas in which both are stronger writers than the other within writing that is unarguably their own, but where there is an overlap, then how do we assess it? Do we compare Brandon's writing to RJ's and find it wanting even though his purpose is different, or do we compare it to his own?

One person's clumsy metaphor is another's stroke of genius. It is harder by far, in my opinion, to assess writing on an objective scale than it is with any other art form, simply because the act of writing defies scale. Writing is about communication, not about marks out of ten. What matter is how well it succeeds in its purpose, regardless of what that purpose might be.

suttree
04-22-2013, 10:21 PM
One could be forgiven for thinking that the reason you aren't replying to my questions is because you simply don't have an answer.

To set the record entirely straight: I do not argue for the sake of argument and never have. I argue to test theories or to refute assertions I believe to be incorrect. I also argue to learn. I argued furiously with Terez for over six months before I began to see her way of thinking on numerous points and began to agree with her. You are not allowing me that opportunity, as you seem to have decided you simply can't be bothered to respond to me. It's a shame, as I'd imagine there is potential enlightenment there for one or both of us, but like so many others, you're not interested in a civil discussion. When things descend to this point and people aren't willing to respond properly my heart actually sinks when I see a new post. I reply only out of a misguided sense of duty. I'm not here looking for rows. I'm here to discuss WOT.


Good God mate, you purposely misrepresented me from the very first post and now you are trying to flip things around. All that and you have the gall to claim the above. You don't lack stones I'll give you that. My posting history both here and at DM speaks for itself so do away with this nonsense(especially given how I've seen you comport yourself in the past). This "woe is poor innocent me" act does not go over well.

For the last time if you truly believe what you are arguing and are looking for "enlightenment" make a serious case for the average Forgotten Realms novel being comparable in literary quality to DeLillo's Underworld or McCarthy's Blood Meridian. Otherwise give over and stop responding. You know your point claiming it is impossible to objectively discern literary quality has no basis in reality.

Lastly more than enough fantasy/scifi has crossed over to main stream reviewers to make your point invalid(McCarthy wone the Pulitzer for a scifi novel and famed critic Harold Bloom has praised many works such as John Crowley's "Little Big" just to use a couple examples). It may have been the case at some point in the past but it is no longer true overall. Saying there is an inherent bias against fantasy even if it is well written does nothing more than hold the genre back.

@Kimon

Using the world telegraph in a world in which they don't exist is a simple objective mistake. Same as when Brandon said Elayne was rallying the "Red Lion" of Andor or when he referred to Darlun as a hamlet, village and town in different chapters.

Kimon
04-22-2013, 10:32 PM
@Kimon

Using the world Telegraph in a world in which they don't exist is a simple objective mistake. Same as when Brandon said Elayne was rallying the "Red Lion" of Andor or when he referred to Darlun as a hamlet, village and town in different chapters.

The Red Lion is an objective mistake. The other two are petty criticisms. Now, can something be petty and yet still objective. Sure. Nonetheless, those two strike me as being more in a gray area between objectivity and subjectivity. The issue is do either of these really rise to the level of a mistake. Certainly referring to a location at one time as a hamlet, and at another as a village, is of no consequence. There is a greater stretch in meaning from those two to town, but that seems more a trifling observation than a mistake. Likewise the issue with the use of the word telegraph.