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  #1  
Old 10-24-2012, 08:59 AM
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Default Wheel of Time Literary Critique

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.

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  #2  
Old 03-21-2013, 03:54 AM
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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?
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Old 03-21-2013, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by yks 6nnetu hing View Post
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?
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Old 03-21-2013, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by yks 6nnetu hing View Post
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.
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Old 03-24-2013, 09:59 PM
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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

Quote:
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).
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:37 AM
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....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.
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:45 AM
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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.

Quote:
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.
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Old 03-25-2013, 12:04 PM
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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.
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Old 03-25-2013, 12:31 PM
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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.
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Old 03-25-2013, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Garak View Post

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.
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:28 PM
Garak Garak is offline
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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.
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Old 03-25-2013, 05:23 PM
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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!
  #13  
Old 03-26-2013, 04:55 PM
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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.
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Old 03-26-2013, 05:42 PM
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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.
Quote:
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.
Quote:
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.
Quote:
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.
Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
  #15  
Old 03-27-2013, 12:00 PM
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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.
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:09 PM
EvilChani EvilChani is offline
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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.
  #17  
Old 03-28-2013, 01:15 PM
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Easy now.

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Old 03-25-2013, 08:45 PM
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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.

Last edited by Dom; 03-25-2013 at 08:47 PM.
  #19  
Old 03-25-2013, 09:56 PM
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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.
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Old 03-26-2013, 12:45 AM
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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

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.
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