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  #121  
Old 03-21-2013, 11:36 AM
Dom Dom is offline
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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.
  #122  
Old 03-24-2013, 09:59 PM
Garak Garak is offline
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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).
  #123  
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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  #124  
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.
  #125  
Old 03-25-2013, 12:04 PM
Garak Garak is offline
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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.
  #126  
Old 03-25-2013, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Garak View Post
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.
  #127  
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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  #128  
Old 03-25-2013, 03:35 PM
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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.
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Last edited by suttree; 03-25-2013 at 04:15 PM.
  #129  
Old 03-25-2013, 04:28 PM
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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.
  #130  
Old 03-25-2013, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Garak View Post
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!
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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.
  #132  
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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  #134  
Old 03-26-2013, 03:13 AM
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guys... again. Please keep it on topic of Bernard Cornwell's influence. your posts might be moved, otherwise.
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  #135  
Old 03-26-2013, 11:23 AM
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If anyone is interested let's move the discussion over to "Literary Critique".
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Old 03-26-2013, 04:40 PM
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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

Quote:
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.

Quote:
“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.”

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
  #137  
Old 03-26-2013, 04:46 PM
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Please do move these posts if you can because I'm enjoying this discussion.
  #138  
Old 03-26-2013, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by fionwe1987 View Post
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, 05:27 PM
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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.
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Old 03-26-2013, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Garak View Post
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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