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June 22nd, 2008, 04:55 PM #1
Book 5 is where it all starts to go wrong!
I am hesitant to start a new thread in this forum. The Jordan-Lovers will just say I'm totally wrong, and the Jordan-Haters will just say Jordan sucks. But I'm giving it a try, anyway.
First of all, I really enjoy Jordan, and when I first read these books (8 years ago, when I was 21) he was by far my favourite modern fantasy writer. Since then I've read others (including Martin, Erikson, and Hobb) and I see things a little differently. However, I still really enjoy the Wheel of Time, and have been doing a re-read. Upon this re-read, I've been trying to decide where things started to go wrong (and if you think nothing is wrong at all, then there's probably no point in reading any further). These were my thoughts on the re-read so far:
Book 1 - Awesome.
Book 2 - SO awesome.
Book 3 - The lack of Rand is lame, but still... pretty awesome book!
Book 4 - Totally awesome, maybe the best?
Book 5 - Here's where the problems begin....
Let me expand: I know that Jordan defenders (and Brian Sanderson who is writing Book 12) have agreed that if Jordan had continued to focus on Rand, it would have gotten boring. After all, how long can we read about Rand's near infinite power, his inability to hurt women, and his fight against insanity? However, I disagree! Rand's POV has always been the most interesting and exciting, but not just because of Rand. It's because Rand is at the CENTRE of the most important events in the WoT world, and when we are reading about Rand, we are really reading about the WoT! The problem with the Nynaeve/Elayne/Egwene subplots (and some other subplots as well) is not that they totally suck, but that they are just not as interesting as the major events.
Now, for a while this was okay. For example, in Book 2 when Nynaeve and Company get captured by the Black Ajah on Toman Head, it's pretty interesting (and relevant, in terms of Black Ajah, Seanchan, and a'dam plot points). In Book 3, when Nynaeve and Company head to Tear to hunt the Black Ajah, it's still good. It feels like a detective story or something, and it's a nice counter-plot to the Rand storyline. But in Book 4, when Nynaeve and Company go to Tanchico, it's starting to feel formulaic and forced. I mean, seriously, all of that just for a "male a'dam" that is totally unecessary and gratuitous to the plot? Hundreds of pages, just for that? Sure, there was still some Black Ajah, and the introduction of Moghedien, but it did NOT have to take so many pages.
In Book 5, however, it truly becomes awful. And before you bite my head off, let me say this: I LIKE NYNAEVE! She is a great character, although the braid tugging gets old fast, and her rambling internal monologues become annoying. But she's a great character. Still, what on earth was the purpose of Nynaeve & Co.'s storyline in Book 5? Several hundred pages of them joining a travelling circus? Valan Luca was funny, but still... it could have taken place in 2 or 3 chapters at most, and the book would have been a lot stronger. And what WAS the point of it all? At least in Book 4 they were searching for something, however contrived, in Tanchico. This time, they were trying to find Salidar.... Nynaeve had already read about Salidar in one of Elaida's letters.... BUT SHE JUST FORGOT THE NAME OF THE TOWN!!!!!! Seriously?! That's the best Jordan could come up with?!? She just forgot!?!?! Hundreds of pages of filler (yes, for the first time, it is absolute and total FILLER) while Nynaeve tries to remember the name of a town she forgot! Pointless! I am honestly interested in seeing ANYONE provide a reasonable defense of this storyline in Book 5.
For these reasons, Book 5 took me THREE MONTHS TO FINISH! I finally finished it today, and the last 200 pages were awesome as usual. SO awesome! The conclusion is great, multiple Forsaken are dealt with, and there are hugely important events concerning Rand, Moiraine, and Lan. Book 5 could have been just as good as any of the other volumes... EXCEPT for the unecessary filler with Nynaeve & Co.
I won't even get into the later books, and how boring Perrin's pursuit of Faile becomes, or how silly the re-incarnation of the Forsaken is, or how annoying it is that Jordan spends 6 more entire books dealing with the freaking SHAIDO. I really think he should have focused more on the world politics, and Rand uniting the world, rather than allowing the minor plotlines to take over the entire story. A balance would have been good, but I honestly think he lost that balance.... And although there were hints of this in Book 4, it really starts in Book 5.
I am planning on re-reading Book 6 as well, but I don't think I will re-read any further than that. I will simply wait for Sanderson to provide the final volume to the series, and hope that it's enjoyable. And, one last time, I ENJOY the Wheel of Time, so don't label me as a Jordan basher. I just feel that this re-read has made it very clear to me where the problems begin.
Last edited by Evil Agent; June 22nd, 2008 at 04:58 PM.
June 24th, 2008, 04:33 AM #2
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- Aug 2001
- Queensland, Australia
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The reason they joined the circus was to get away from Galad. He hated them and so was unlikely to search there. They stayed with the circus as it was safer to do so than travel by themself and yes Ninnie couldn't remember the name. From memory she only caught a glimpse of the name before the letter vanished and at the time she wasn't aware it was important.
Last edited by ChrisW; June 24th, 2008 at 04:42 AM.
June 24th, 2008, 01:42 PM #3
I didn't have such a huge problem with Nyneave forgetting the town's name. After all, human memory is a weak, fragile thing. It actually bugs me to death how some novels' characters have near-total recall. However, I will agree that reading about Nyneave's and Elayne's escapades in the circus really tested my patience.
It's been a few years since I read it last, but to my recollection Book 6 is excellent. I'm not gonna say there was no filler, but again, based on what I recall it was pretty well all necessary storytelling.
The truly pointless storytelling really starts with book 7. You've only dipped a foot in it so far; you'll have taken the plunge when you finish book 7 and realize that the plot hasn't moved forward at all. Books 8 and 9 are frustrating in the extreme (though there are parts I enjoyed of both, particularly book 9's ending) and book 10 is a total slog (an entire chapter written around a young woman taking a bath? Was Jordan on barbiturates?).
Thankfully book 11 is a bit more kinetic, but I still can't recommend this series overall. I'm a fan, but I don't want to piss people off by recommending something they will likely find boring and pointless. I think there's something to be said about the phrase "Book 11 is more kinetic." Think about that. Book 11.
June 25th, 2008, 01:35 PM #4
ChrisW, I understand the "reason" for joining the circus. But did it have to take so bloody long? HUNDREDS of pages! That's why I call it filler. Especially compared to Rand's story in Book 5, which is still fascinating and exciting.
And just to clarify, I've read all 11 books. I'm just doing a re-read. And yes, truly pointless storytelling does begin around Book 7. For example, the Bowl of Winds. What an awful, completely pointless storyline: Weather starts getting too hot. Is it the Dark One touching the world? Yes! Okay, not bad so far.... But, guess what... turns out there is an angreal somewhere in Ebou Dar, that can fix this! So let's spend one or two books walking around Ebou Dar looking for it, and then when we find it, we'll use it, and that's the end of the hot weather problem. YAY! Now let's spend 3 more books watching Elayne gather support for her coronation as Queen of Andor.
The Bowl of Winds was not necessary, but the far worse crime is that it wasn't even interesting (I remember the characters themselves being bored silly, sitting in Ebou Dar, waiting for the Pattern to bring the Bowl to them somehow). And did we really need multiple books and HUNDREDS of more pages watching Elayne fight for her crown? Rand already won it for her, FIVE BOOKS EARLIER!!!
June 25th, 2008, 03:08 PM #5
From What I remember.
I havent read this series in a long time but I thought the series was good up till at least the end of book 6. Where the first Aes Sedai kneel, I think that is one of the most powerful moments in the series. Also the stone of tears parts in book three I think were my favorite.
June 25th, 2008, 08:24 PM #6
June 25th, 2008, 09:07 PM #7
I think 5 was somewhat weak, although the Second Battle of Cairhien and the blitkrieg-like ending with the assault on Caemlyn more than made up for the fricking circus. I thought 6 was stronger and 7 was as strong, and then it all fell apart in 8.
The most unbelievable thing that RJ did was, after hearing about the sheer number of readers who hated the circus in 5, he brought them back for two whole novels
June 26th, 2008, 10:34 AM #8
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- Mar 2002
While it is true that the first real hints that the series was going downhill appeared in Book 5, I concur with the notion that the real problems started in Book 7.
I don't think the problem has much to do with whether Rand was more often in the spotlight or less so. The problem in Book 5 and subsequent books was the shift of focus from clear character goals to subplots and then I'd even say sub-subplots, many of which are A) dreadfully boring and B) utterly pointless. The Shaido are a particularly glaring example, Jordan came up with a whole host of excuses why they weren't annihilated many books earlier than it actually happened but it was obvious he needed them in order for Perrin to have any important task (and for other less important plot points). Personally I don't mind subplots (if I did, I don't think I would have ever got past the first books of WoT anyway) but there is a moment when one says that enough is enough. I think the fact that the main characters actually kept in touch more before they had teleportation (Travelling) than after is quite telling about the change in approach by the author.
June 26th, 2008, 08:45 PM #9The Shaido are a particularly glaring example, Jordan came up with a whole host of excuses why they weren't annihilated many books earlier than it actually happened but it was obvious he needed them in order for Perrin to have any important task (and for other less important plot points).
That's the baffling thing about WOT. Jordan needed 12 books to finish his huge story with all of its plot intricacies and at the same time he needs to come up with a task for Perrin to do. It's like he needed to invent crisis (bowl of the winds?) to keep the characters occupied through 12 books.
So why didn't he just eliminate all of that crap and make the frakkin series shorter?
June 27th, 2008, 03:02 AM #10
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- Jan 2008
Wheel of Time isn't about Rand rescues the world single handed (pun intended), it has never been. On the contrary and RJ explained it over and over again, but people do not listen. He felt, according to his FAQ and blog, that the focus became to much on Rand that's why he pushed other POVs forward. His idea of how it should be RJ demonstrated in the cleansing of saidin clearly. (Winter's Heart)
And could he have wrapped the story line in less books? For sure, but he loved to describe his world in great details and there're people, like me, who couldn't get enough and the books couldn't be long enough at that time of reading. This days maybe I'd frown upon this circus business but I'd been having great time reading the books and wouldn't want to miss anything. 'Where's no shadow you can't see the light' or how the saying goes.
That's why I wouldn't recommend WoT to impatient people.
Last edited by argon; June 27th, 2008 at 11:22 AM. Reason: ...
June 27th, 2008, 10:36 AM #11
June 27th, 2008, 12:14 PM #12
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- Jan 2008
Moiraine interchangeable? Nynaeve interchangeable? Avienda interchangeable?
No, I don't think so.
And yes, RJ as a male author wrote WoT for male readership in mind, I think, so that the female characters lack some plausibility, on purpose or not, that may be criticizable but it's the way he wrote them. *shrug*
Do you know a man who understands a woman? See!
June 29th, 2008, 12:54 AM #13
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- Nov 2001
I can appreciate some of your criticism of book 5 but I would like to make some distinctions. I thought the parts involving Valan Luca's circus were in themselves good and showed Jordan's humor very well. The episode I think did a good job of developing Nynaeve's and Elayne's personalities. Some other interesting developments too occurred like those with Birgitte, the progression of Elayne's ability with ter'angreal, and the development of Galad as a character. I think it was the part where I also first came to appreciate Jordan's sense of humor. For me Jordan is one of the most severely underappreciated humorists in popular fantasy. The time Nynaeve was pushed into dressing up in a red dress and becoming Birgitte's target I thought was hilarious. That's why I say I do not mind the circus.
What I didn't like were the transitions. Jordan I think took too long moving Nynaeve and Elayne from Tarabon to the circus and then moving them on from there to Salidar. The chapter that sticks out in my mind as being a major bore was the one where they are on the boat to Salidar. I guess some clues were probably included in it pointing to Moggy, but it seemed to go on and on and I was already anticipating their arrival in Salidar so the seemingly needless wait was interminable. If Jordan had cut out some of the excess detail, the Nynaeve and Elayne storyline I think was actually pretty good.
I think what really makes the Nynaeve and Elayne storyline seem bland though is the inevitable comparison that takes place with the competing alternate storyline involving Rand and Asmodean. That storyline was so full of potential. I remember during my first read I couldn't wait until the story shifted back to Rand because the tension inherent in that situation there was intense and rife with possibilities. On rereads though the anticipation I had on the first read through had abated and I appreciated the other storylines better.
Last edited by Bond; June 29th, 2008 at 01:03 AM.
July 6th, 2008, 09:27 PM #14
Now, I love Wheel of Time - its core plotline is fascinating. WoT is the best series I have ever read - but there are parts that could be sufficiently improved.
July 7th, 2008, 07:45 AM #15
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- Jan 2008
argue that. Still, to me they are without much meaning.
Because at the end of the day what stays in memory? Page count? Indeed not.
I don't know if you know the feeling to be lost within a story. People disapprove that much escapism
but I don't care. All I know is that there are many scenes which are still vivid in my imagination,
because they were described in such love to details, despite that I read them years ago. That, as I
said in my other post, I wanted to read on and never stop. You say it's rambling, I say that's the
essence of RJ's success. At least with people like me. He wrote with heart, even if it sounds strange
and overblown to many. There are books I've read recently I can't remember names of second
characters or the plot properly. I'm sure you would call the authors excellent due to the fact that they
wrote in brief and none-describe. But you see, I can't remember much of the books so what's the point?
So, I don't know if RJ was a good writer but he gave me hours of joy and plenty of moments to
remember. I haven't found another author who have made such impact on me.
As a side note: I'm reading "The Dispossessed" by Ursula LeGuin, to get my brain working and even if
I simply adore this woman, and always have, I doubt she will ever leave such imprint on my mind as RJ.
The world acclaims Ursula as an excellent writer.
I hope my rambling was coherent enough, if not sorry that's best I can do now.