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Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts

Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 4:18 AM (edited 2/7/08 11:18 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
As I'm sure most of you are aware, Brandon Sanderson (author of Elantris and Mistborn) is the author who is finishing book 12 of the Wheel of Time. He is currently in the process of re-reading the series in preparation for writing the last book, and he is keeping a book-by-book blog which I've found interesting, and more than a little bit encouraging. (He has some thoughts on book 12 itself, as well as the Eye of the World blog, here.)

Now, most of the group that read WoT before I did, with the exception of Clair, has stopped reading the books for a variety of reasons. This seems to be pretty consistent with how a lot of people feel about the series: it has remained hugely popular, but there are plenty of people out there who openly hate the series for any number of reasons from the "unfocused plot" to "Jordan's inability to resolve anything" and so on. Obviously I figured Sanderson wasn't a hater (or he wouldn't be the one writing book 12), but nonetheless I took it upon myself to do a bit of research into his mindset regarding WoT.

Some scanning through his forum (yay search feature) makes it clear that while many of his peers dislike the WoT for whatever reason, he has tried to avoid overreacting. He has been critical of the series, but not harshly, and has been reminding people as far back as 2004 that the series is largely responsible for a huge portion of the fantasy being published today. Nonetheless, he isn't the kind of obsessed fan (like yours truly) that re-reads the series in anticipation of each book or anything. He just seems to want to give fair credit where he feels it's due. (In short, he doesn't seem like the type who will find a reason to hate anything that's popular enough.)

So I was pretty encouraged with him writing book 12, between that and his amazing books. (Go read Mistborn now. NOW!) And then he started putting up his WoT blogs, and saying basically everything I want to hear. Since the very people who got me into the series have stopped reading it while I still enjoy it, I've spent a lot of time questioning whether I just try to like the series because of my obsessive personality, whether I see it differently than everyone else, or what. Heck, I see a lot of things differently than Clair, who's the only other person I know in real life that still reads WoT.

Anyway, I have no way of knowing what turned everyone else off to the series, but I had some pretty solid ideas why I like it, and I'm loving Sanderson's blogs because they're basically touching on the same points I've spent a lot of time thinking about (except they're far more eloquently put). I'm writing this post basically just to say "omg Brandon Sanderson is the best author they could have possibly picked for book 12!!11!!!," but I also wanted to mention a few of the specifics of what he's said that resonated with me.

First, he talks about how he sees characters differently than he used to: for instance, he's started to think of Rand, Mat, and Perrin as reckless teenagers more than flawless heroes. And he pointed out, with great surprise, that Nynaeve was his favorite character in book 1. I can't remember if she was my "favorite" at that point the last time I read through, but certainly she's among them, and I used to hate her guts. (I still hate Elayne, though.) He also likes Perrin and Faile, a couple I likewise used to hate but nowadays find rather engaging to read about.

He also specifically mentions the plotline where Egwene is captured by the Seanchan in book 2, which is the storyline that really made me start to like Egwene as a character (and I was rewarded for that loyalty with her outright awesomeness in book 11! Wink). He even specifically mentions that he read the whole book waiting for her to be captured, thinking it took up like half the book, when it was actually just a handful of chapters at the end... which is exactly how I felt last time I read the book.

The third and most important observation he makes is that he realized that the Wheel of Time is not Rand's story, nor is it Rand, Mat, and Perrin's story, but rather it's the story of the end of an age. I've seen and heard a lot of complaints about "where's Rand?" and "I want more Mat!" over the years, but this is something that really doesn't bother me. I like the many, many "side" character POVs, and I find their side plots interesting. I think Sanderson is right when he says that if you don't change your expectations of the series, you're going to be frustrated. (Though you could certainly argue that this is indicative of bad writing. Not that I'd agree, mind you.)

In any case, reading all these blogs has made me kind of want to re-read the series. Book 12 has a tentative publishing date of Fall '09, and with 542 chapters in the full series (including New Spring), I'd finish on August 2, 2009 reading one a night. Hmm...

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 2:56 PM (edited 2/8/08 9:56 AM)
Airclair (1096 posts) Doesn't Play Well with Others
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Thanks for posting this, looks like it's going to be a very interesting read.

That one chapter a night thing is insane I tell you, INSAAAAAAANE! I'm doing a re-read in 09.

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:02 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:02 AM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
I actually started rereading just a week or two ago and am on Book 3 now. So far I've been enjoying it, but then I realize that I never had a problem with the series this early anyway, so we'll see how things progress.

I have enjoyed Nynaeve more as a character than I did the first time through the books, although I really still don't see Rand, Mat and Perrin as reckless teenagers. Elayne hasn't really bothered me so far, but then she hasn't really done anything yet, so who knows on that one.

I think an interesting dialectic that I was too young to appreciate the first time I read the books is the thematic pull between predestination and resistance.

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I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:06 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:06 AM)
Airclair (1096 posts) Doesn't Play Well with Others
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for a second I thought Dowd wrote that and I was like dialectic Dowd? really? lol

Yea I got a lot of that tension in my most recent read through as well, but my favorite character wasn't Nynaeve (though I empathized a lot more since my first read through at 13 or whatever it was) but Moiraine. I felt throughout the book that here is a woman faced with the crushing responsibility of knowing that one of these farmboys will channel and go mad, and she never treats them with anything but respect. I really thought she rocked in the first few books, culminating in book 3 when her role as protector climaxes with balefiring the balls off B'aal =D (I think that was his name, ooh boy it's been a long time)

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:06 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:06 AM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
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I like how you lulled me into a false sense of security there, then busted out your English Major-fu in that last paragraph. I wonder if that's a mind-affecting ability... I certainly failed my save in any case!

And yeah, I don't really think of the three main guys as reckless teenagers either, though I'm quite a bit less sympathetic for them. Well, for Rand. I never liked Mat anyway, until they get rid of that damn dagger. Perrin does seem to be kind of dragged along against his will, and I feel for him a bit.

Also, I dunno if you read Sanderson's blogs, but he does a lot of "I wonder how I'll feel about the later books" too. I guess we'll find out together! For the record, even I admit they do drag, though not nearly as much as they used to (especially because a lot of the "why do we care about this?" stuff has become relevant in the last few books, so it's less boring to re-read).

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:07 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:07 AM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
Personally, what turned me off from the series is Book 8 which was a large book and nothing happened. At all. I gather this was a low point, but it was a lot of pages of low points Smile

I don't have plans to do a re-read because I have way too many books to read as is and just can't afford to spend years reading WoT again.

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Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:09 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:09 AM)
Airclair (1096 posts) Doesn't Play Well with Others
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Yea the series didn't start to developr any of the annoying aspects until Book 7 for me.

Books 1 - 6 were awesome, and there are moments of greatness (a lot of them actually), but the series doesn't really get back to its pure awesomeness until Book 11 for me.

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:14 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:16 AM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
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I'm trying to remember how I feel about the later books, specifically. I know I'm not as huge a book 6 fan as I once was, simply because I find Dumai's Wells as kind of a dark point in the series. Sure, you've got the heroes kicking ass, but really you have Rand turning the corner into true insanity, and a clearly evil Taim turning the Asha'man into killing machines. It's almost like a dark climax in the middle of the series.

I do seem to recall not caring for book 7 much last time through, or maybe I have that backwards, but I definitely enjoyed book 8 more than I expected, because I expected to hate it. If I could remember what happens (other than "I am the storm!") I'd say more. Was book 8 the one where Mat started developing his relationshp with Tuon? Because that storyline, in hindsight, is awesome. And what a payoff.

Book 9 is fine, plenty happens, but Elayne and the "this is what happened during the climax of book 9, from everyone in the world's perspective" format killed it for me. Fortunately, book 11 was made of win.

EDIT: One more reason I'm not comfortable with book 6 - I actually like the Aes Sedai these days. I think it's because they somehow managed to turn out as the underdogs despite being in charge from the start. But they get no respect, they've got Forsaken manipulating them, the tower is broken, etc. I even like Elaida these days. Go Aes Sedai!

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:17 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:17 AM)
Airclair (1096 posts) Doesn't Play Well with Others
Rating: Not Rated
Book 7 annoyed me because it was obviously supposed to be part of Book 6, and just didn't do enough new stuff. I think Book 8 is where Rand goes to Far Madding, which is cool, but otherwise I don't remember that much (other than I am the Storm, which always felt anticlimactic to me).

I loved the battle at Shadar Logoth but loathed the book right after it (that was book 10 I guess?) and the whole Elayne plotline makes me want to kill myself. Book 11 was definitely a return to form.

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:19 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:19 AM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
lol, sorry about that. I even looked at it afterwards and tried to think of a better way to say what was on my mind, but it really encapsulated what I had been thinking.

I haven't read Sanderson's blogs, and probably won't do so unless I'm really bored one day - I don't really have a huge investment in how Book 12 turns out, and have a lot of faith in Sanderson's abilities anyway, so the specifics are not really of interest to me. Sort of the same reason I skip the Extras on most DVDs.

I am increasingly impressed with Mat as a character and find Perrin tolerable, although I don't think he really pissed me off until book 5 or so. I'm definitely of the opinion that Rand is the least interesting of the three. What I like about Mat is that, whereas Rand basically just grew into the person that the Pattern (read: Plot) required from what he already was, Mat basically had to be mutilated in order to become what was required of him. He's also the shadiest of the three of them, and I think it's good that at least one of them displays those properties.

@ Clair - I'm with you on Moiraine, she gets a good deal more empathy from me this time around.

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I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:20 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:20 AM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
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No, Far Madding was also in book 9. I'm surprised I didn't like book 9 much more, considering how much cool shit happens in it. Of course, most of it centers on Rand, who I don't like. The fact that Lan's fight in Far Madding is off screen makes me cry.

As I recall, the opening of book 8 was about the Bowl of the Winds, which is one of those plotlines that I just didn't care about the first time through because I hated the girls and wanted "real" plot to be resolved. But now I find it a lot more interesting, and watching the Aes Sedai interact with the kin is hilarious. But I have no idea what else happens.

(Also, yes, book 10 was the book after Shadar Logoth.)

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:27 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:27 AM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
I don't really remember anything about book 9, although I can sympathize with wanting more screen time with Lan in general.

But so far my biggest problem with the series is Jordan's tendency to give too much screen time. I would have really liked to see just a few cut scenes in the first few books wherein the characters have done a serious chunk of traveling, reflect back on it briefly, and then get to the issue at hand. As it was I felt like I was holding their hands every step of the way, which got a bit annoying.

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I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:30 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:30 AM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
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Matt, I'm interested to see what your reaction will be to Perrin and Faile this time around. I, like everyone else, hated Faile with a passion back in the day, but now I really like their storyline. Especially when they return to the Two Rivers. Although the "rescue Faile" plotline goes on like two books too long (and Faile manages to be more interesting than Perrin during it).

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 3:32 PM (edited 2/8/08 10:32 AM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
Yeah, if nothign else the Wheel of Time certainly resists your wishes for it to "get to the damn plot already!" I think that's one reason I enjoy it more the more times I read it - since I'm not impatient to see what happens, I can just enjoy all the description and whatnot. Of course, if you don't enjoy that sort of thing, there's really nothing for it.

Re: Wheel of Time/Brandon Sanderson Thoughts – February 8, 2008 9:39 PM (edited 2/8/08 4:39 PM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
Just this morning I read my favorite scene from book 3 - the one where Mat, weak as can be from being healed, uses a quarterstaff to beat the crap out of Gawyn and Galad and win their cash. I think I like it so much because it marks the beginning of Post-Dagger-Mat, who tends to be kind of brash and carefree, but things keep working out for him anyway. But the reason things keep working out for him is because he's ta'veren, which is something he *hates* being.

_________________________________________________
I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo

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