Quick Reads: The Eye Of The World ch. 2 – 4

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Chapter 2: Strangers

After all that excitement about Shai’tan and mysterious dark riders, it’s time to settle down for some scintillating small-town gossip and wholesome antics!

Worry was not uncommon for the Village Council these days, not in Emond’s Field, and likely not in Watch Hill, or Deven Ride. Or even Taren Ferry, though who knew what Taren Ferry folk really thought about anything?

Taren Ferry is, if I remember correctly, the place our heroes get to in like two days on horseback (with some magical assistance, to be fair). I don’t know why they’re talking about it like it’s the dark side of the moon or why none of them have ever been there before. Surely you’d go and have a look, at least once, just for the hell of it?

There’s some guff about Mat having gotten up to some shenanigans and the village council suspecting him of whatever, I’m not going to go into it (I warned you all this book is boring).

Toward Rand her motherliness extended to warm smiles and a quick snack whenever he came by the inn, but she did as much for every young man in the area. If she occasionally looked at him as if she wanted to do more, at least she took it no further than looks, for which he was deeply grateful.

We get it, every woman in the village wants to bone Rand. Fear not, for soon damn near every woman in the world will want to bone him.

The upshot of this chapter is that two strangers have arrived in the village: a seemingly high-born woman named Moiraine and her bodyguard, a dudely dude named Lan. Rand and Mat have a run-in with them after spotting a mysterious raven (it’s mysterious because they throw stones at it and it steps aside, or something).

Rand’s gaze fell to the woman who had spoken. She, too, had been watching the flight of the raven, but now she turned back, and her eyes met his. He could only stare. This had to be the Lady Moiraine, and she was everything that Mat and Ewin had said, everything and more.

The Wonder Boys don’t learn this until a bit later, but Moiraine is an Aes Sedai who has come to whisk them away to a life of adventure. At least she’s not another twinkly-eyed pipe smoking wizard. Jordan spends like a million words describing her appearance and clothes (this will become a recurring thing), but the short version is that she has a strangely ageless look and is terribly impressive indeed. She claims to be in Emond’s Field to study “history”, as the Two Rivers region wasn’t always the remote backwater it is now.

“As the Wheel of Time turns,” Moiraine said, half to herself and with a distant look in her eyes, “places wear many names. Men wear many names, many faces. Different faces, but always the same man. Yet no one knows the Great Pattern the Wheel weaves, or even the Pattern of an Age. We can only watch, and study, and hope.”

Moiraine talks a whole lot about the pattern and the wheel and the pattern that the wheel weaves and the weave of the pattern that’s woven as the wheel turns. It’s very repetitive, although to be fair it’s not entirely pointless fluffery– the concept of “the pattern” is a tangible reality in the setting that sometimes has important plot implications.

“That was Lan,” Ewin said throatily, as if he, too, had been holding his breath. It had been that kind of look. “I’ll bet he’s a Warder.”

“Don’t be a fool.” Mat laughed, but it was a shaky laugh. “Warders are just in stories. Anyway, Warders have swords and armor covered in gold and jewels, and spend all their time up north, in the Great Blight, fighting evil and Trollocs and such.”

The above information is entirely accurate. So all of these facts about the outside world have filtered down to the Two Rivers completely intact, but for some reason not the part where they’re actually real.

(Warders are linked to Aes Sedai through magics and have various physical and mental enhancements as a result)

The peddler had come at last. Strangers and a gleeman, fireworks and a peddler. It was going to be the best Bel Tine ever.

I sure hope something ironically tragic doesn’t happen to ruin the festivities!

Chapter 3: The Peddler

I should probably mention that each chapter in a Wheel Of Time book is accompanied by a little drawing that denotes which major plot element or viewpoint character the chapter focuses on. It’s a neat little touch. This chapter has what appears to be a sort of horn thing, and it’s actually a pretty huge clue about something that happens later, although there’s no way you’d be able to tell on a first read through.

If the introduction of a new character is accompanied with a piece of chapter art that hasn’t been seen before it’s a pretty reliable indicator that they’re going to play an important role. If the story seems to be deliberately downplaying them as bit players, odds are good they’re actually Forsaken in disguise (the Forsaken pop up in disguise a lot to troll the heroes).

In general, the artwork’s meaning is fairly easy to figure out, although some of them can refer to several people or concepts. If you’re into that sort of thing, there’s a bit of meta-fun to be had in working out what exactly they’re referring to in more ambiguous chapters.

The man on the wagon was Padan Fain, a pale, skinny fellow with gangly arms and a massive beak of a nose.

Will this be the sort of book that equates goodness with beauty?

(Yes, although women who are too beautiful or attractive in the wrong way are likely to be allies of Shai’tan, if they’re not the Sexy Enchantress Forsaken wearing a glamour)

Everyone loses their shit when this dude shows up because he’s the peddler carrying the fireworks. I am thankful that Jordan didn’t refer to him as a tinker like Rothfuss did with his equivalent.

Every bit as important was word of outside, news of the world beyond the Two Rivers

And yet the existence of the army of beast-men that rule the north hasn’t filtered down as anything other than legend. No, I won’t stop harping on about this.

“I had been thinking you were going to stay out on the farm through the whole Festival,” Perrin Aybara shouted at Rand over the clamor.

Perrin here is our third brotagonist, and is directly involved in some of the most boring plot threads of the entire series later on (apparently for a huge chunk in the middle he does literally nothing of importance). He will be playing the role of the Big Strong Guy Who Is Actually Kind Hearted.

Padan Fain delivers the news that war has broken out in Ghealden, triggered by the arrival of a man claiming to be the Dragon Reborn. The crowd helpfully supply some quick exposition to get us up to speed on the significance of this:

“Just as bad as the Dark One!”
“The Dragon broke the world, didn’t he?”
“He started it! He caused the Time of Madness!”
“You know the prophecies! When the Dragon is reborn, your worst nightmares will seem like your fondest dreams!”
“He’s just another false Dragon. He must be!”
“What difference does that make? You remember the last false Dragon. He started a war, too. Thousands died, isn’t that right, Fain? He laid siege to Illian.”
“It’s evil times! No one claiming to be the Dragon Reborn for twenty years, and now three in the last five years. Evil times! Look at the weather!”

Many people have claimed to be the Dragon Reborn and raised armies to sally forth and conquer the land, but all were defeated. This particular one has the ability to channel (use magic), so he’s going to be a target for the Aes Sedai (female channelers, and the only legitimately recognised magic users in this part of the world).

I will say I quite like how this book sets up the world and handles exposition; it’s a bit clunky at times, as we saw above, but it does a good job of getting you up to speed.

This is a decent village of decent folk, and it’s bad enough to have Fain here talking about false Dragons using the Power without this Dragon-possessed fool of a boy bringing Aes Sedai into it. Some things just shouldn’t be talked about, and I don’t care if you will be letting that fool gleeman tell any kind of tale he wants. It isn’t right or decent.”

For some reason the people of the Two Rivers are mightily suspicious of Aes Sedai and their tricksy ways. This ends up being a never-ending source of trepidation among our heroes later.

Ghealdan. Tar Valon. The very names were strange and exciting.

More Arthuriana here. Tar Valon (the Aes Sedai’s home base) is likely supposed to be analogue of Avalon.

Still, it must be different out there, beyond the Two Rivers, like living in the middle of a gleeman’s tale. An adventure. One long adventure. A whole lifetime of it.

Gosh do you think Rand will come to realize that adventure isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and long for a return to his simple rural lifestyle?

There’s some more expository dialogue and we learn that some people believe that the Dragon Reborn will actually save the world instead of destroying it, appearing during humanity’s greatest hour of need, but expressing this opinion isn’t popular with the forces of orthodoxy so it’s generally not said out loud.

“You think they’re really Darkfriends?” Mat was frowning thoughtfully.

“Who?” Rand asked.

“Aes Sedai.”

You can probably work out what Darkfriends are. Now, why would someone willingly serve a being of ultimate evil and his asshole cronies? The answer will disappoint you!

“You are just stupid enough to do that, aren’t you, Matrim Cauthon?” Nynaeve al’Meara stepped into their huddle, the dark braid pulled over her shoulder almost bristling with anger

Our fourth protagonist has appeared (there are a lot of main characters in these books). If you decide to read the rest for yourself you’re going to be hearing a whole lot about Nynaeve and her braid.

Nynaeve (also an Arthur reference) is Emond’s Field’s village Wisdom (wise woman/healer/seer/soothsayer), a position she attained at a prodigiously young age as she’s only slightly older than Rand et al.

Slender and barely taller than Mat’s shoulder,

It’s mentioned earlier that Rand is half a head taller than Mat, so either Rand and Mat are giants or Nynaeve is unusually short. I’ve noticed a lot of authors tend to have all of their male characters hulking over the female ones for some reason.

I suspected something of the sort about Bili Congar at the time, but I thought you at least had more sense than to try taunting him into such a thing. You may be old enough to be married, Matrim Cauthon, but in truth you shouldn’t be off your mother’s apron strings. The next thing, you’ll be naming the Dark One yourself.

So let’s just get this out in the open: most of the women in these books are incredibly annoying and frustrating to read about for reasons that only become fully apparent in the following volumes, and many people regard Nynaeve as the worst of the bunch. I actually disagree with this– despite having a bad case of the same Unnecessary Asshole Syndrome that tends to afflict Jordan’s female characters, she doesn’t get pulled into the vortex of his authorial obsessions to nearly the same extent.

Blood and ashes, I—”

Here’s a quick primer on Jordanian dialogue: if the character is male just have them say “Blood and Ashes! Light! Burn me! Blood and Ashes, light take you! Light!” over and over again, with the occasional exclamation that they just don’t understand women, whereas if they’re women pepper their dialogue liberally with “Apron strings! Woolheads! Men, am I right? Such woolheads!” And then make them fold their arms under their breasts or thrust their chins out.

The stick in her hand was thick at one end and a slender switch at the other

An ominous warning of things to come.

Egwene stood a few paces behind the Wisdom, watching intently.

Ah, Egwene. For a long time it seems like she’s not going to be annoying, but then around book four or so she falls down the Jordan Hole and never recovers.

she could at that moment have been a reflection of Nynaeve’s mood, arms crossed beneath her breasts

Did you think I was joking about the arm folding thing?

Rand has another attack of the puberty jitters (and is still just as mystified by it) but manages to ask her to the prom dance with him tomorrow at the Bel Tine shindig.

“Just because someone is old enough to marry,” he muttered, “doesn’t mean they should. Not right away.”

“Of course not. Or ever, for that matter.”

Rand blinked. “Ever?”

“A Wisdom almost never marries. Nynaeve has been teaching me, you know. She says I have a talent, that I can learn to listen to the wind. Nynaeve says not all Wisdoms can, even if they say they do.”

Listening to the wind, eh? Wonder what that could be about.

And did you catch that thing about people not marrying? Could this be a fantasy series where women don’t have to pair off into relationships, where they aren’t defined solely by the adjacent men in HA HA NO of course not.

“Wisdom!” he hooted

Suddenly, Rand turned into a giant owl. Everyone was very surprised.

Rand manages to get Egwene mad at him by acting weird and possessive when she shows enthusiasm for the idea of having an independent life (women, right?).

Chapter 4: The Gleeman

Does anyone else think “The Gleeman” sounds like the stage name of of the lead singer in a glam rock band?

Thom The Gleeman comes hurrying out of the inn and everyone is like “wow a gleeman” and he’s like “ya I know”.

He gestured imperiously at Rand and the others with a long-stemmed pipe, ornately carved, that trailed a wisp of smoke. Blue eyes peered out from under bushy white brows, drilling into whatever he looked at.

We’ve got a pipe and bushy eyebrows, people. I’m issuing a level 5 twee alert, be on the lookout for the presence of finger magic.

Thom comes from more high-falutin’ places than the Two Rivers and thinks everyone there is a narrow-minded yokel. Which, to be fair, is pretty much true.

Now you’re a lovely lass. You should have rose buds in your hair. Unfortunately, I cannot pull roses from the air, not this year, but how would you like to stand beside me tomorrow for a part of my performance? Hand me my flute when I want it, and certain other apparatus. I always choose the prettiest girl I can find as my assistant

Actually I take back what I said about Mat, Thom is the fantasy Han Solo character.

I am here for my art.” Suddenly he thrust a finger at Rand. “You, lad. You’re a tall one. Not with your full growth on you yet, but I doubt there’s another man in the district with your height

Rand is nineteen, he should be fully grown by now. And if he’s already taller than everyone in the town (more than a full head taller than Nynaeve, remember) then what, is he going to be like seven foot when his late-blooming growth spurt hits?

I get the feeling these character were originally meant to be way younger. They come across more like 13-14 year olds, and when Egwene and Nynaeve start training as Aes Sedai later (spoiler, that happens) the whole thing comes off more like Fantasy Boarding School than the quasi-monastic order it’s supposed to be (I believe one of the characters even comments on this, only to have it clumsily hand-waved).

In wars, boy, fools kill other fools for foolish causes. That’s enough for anyone to know.

This Thom guy seems like he has hidden depths.

The point is, you’re an axe handle across the shoulders and as tall as an Aielman

My, several characters have now commented that Rand doesn’t really look like anyone else in the village, or his father. I wonder what this could possibly mean?

(The Aiel are a desert culture, by the way)

“Tell us about Lenn,” Egwene called. “How he flew to the moon in the belly of an eagle made of fire. Tell about his daughter Salya walking among the stars. Tales of Materese the Healer, Mother of the Wondrous Ind”

[…]

Tales of Mosk the Giant, with his Lance of fire that could reach around the world, and his wars with Elsbet, the Queen of All

In case it’s not obvious, these are references to Mother Teresa, the space race and the Cold War (Lenn and Salya are astronauts John Glenn and his daughter Sally Ride, Mosk is Moscow and his lance is an ICBM. Elsbet is Queen Elisabeth). Our own time is vaguely alluded to as being “the Age before the Age of Legends”, although since the cyclical nature of history is a big thing in this series it’s quite possible that these myths originated in other cycles.

Normally when stories set in the very far future (which is also the past– wheels, how do they even work) reference contemporary times it comes across as extremely hokey, but I actually quite like these mentions. They’re not immediately obvious at first glance, and they show clear signs of the sort of corruption you’d expect history to undergo after long periods of time, ie neither of the astronauts mentioned went to the moon and positioning Queen Elisabeth as “queen of all” and Moscow’s enemy is obviously conflating the Cold War with the period when the British Empire was at its peak.

I find this kind of thing fascinating, since it’s likely that some of our own myths are based on historical events. For example, it’s been suggested (although for obvious reasons none of this can be verified) that the story of Noah’s ark and similar flood myths from nearby regions originated from an actual catastrophic (although not worldwide) flood event, or that the wide diversity of dragon-like creatures in many cultures may be due to discoveries of dinosaur bones. Even if none of that is true, the idea that stories and images that persist to this day could be echoes of the very distant past is exhilarating.

While Thom is impressing everyone with some juggling Moiraine wanders over and he has an odd reaction to her. She in turn refers to him as “Master Bard”; he earlier told Rand and co that he used to be a court bard, but Moiraine was nowhere nearby. Sure seems like these characters know each other!

Surely [Egwene] could see the world outside was no place for Two Rivers folk. Listening to tales of adventures, even dreaming about them, was one thing; having them take place around you would be something else again.

Rand stop being boring.

Egwene looked at Rand as if she were going to speak, then darted after the Wisdom instead. Rand knew there must be some way to stop her from leaving the Two Rivers, but the only way he could think of was not one he was prepared to take, even if she was willing.

Rand stop being a possessive weenie.

“Battles interest me,” Mat said

So much foreshadowing. You can picture Jordan pulling a giant troll face as he wrote this.

Why, if we get up to the Taren, we might even see soldiers, or who knows what. Even Tinkers.

Oh wait, I forgot there are totally tinkers in these books. Except they’re even more offensive than the Rothfuss ones! They show up later.

After some more blabbing Tam and Rand head back to the farm, Tam strangely insistent about it despite their earlier intentions to spend the night in town. It turns out that other young men saw the strange black-cloaked rider as well, and Tam is evidently genre savvy and realises that when the call to adventure intersects with the doomed hometown the results aren’t pretty.

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28 thoughts on “Quick Reads: The Eye Of The World ch. 2 – 4

  1. zephyrean

    > I find this kind of thing fascinating, since it’s likely that some of our own myths are based on historical events.

    I do, too, but the Amerocentrism (why do the faux-British fantasy people tell legends about the American astronauts who “lost” to Gagarin, Titov and Tereshkova?) and the lack of any content tie-in that should but almost never accompanies such details kill the fascination like whoa.
    Do the characters discover ancient artifacts which are mundane or sci-fi items? Do they tell direction by stars which are really satellites on almost-geosynchronous orbits? Do they, in their medievalesque crafts, recycle and repurpose advanced industrial materials which owe their existence to modern, lost and forgotten since, extraction/manufacturing technologies? Is their “magic” actually nanomachines which have infected everything and formed a colossal super-organism that responds to specific stimuli? Do the immortal villains at least make clever, possibly ironic references to Earth culture?
    If not, it’s just a “lololol did you get it? did you? hurrr I’m so clever” mental masturbation so beloved by geekbros.

    [An actually cool series which makes use of this twist and its exact opposite — framing myth as actual sci-fi history — is Julian May’s Pliocene Exile. The social politics are absolutely abhorrent (the author is an absolutely batshit Catholic and her hate for LGBT people suffuses everything), but damn if it isn’t some fine and creative science.]

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Quick Reads: The Eye of The World ch. 5 – 8 | Doing In The Wizard

  3. R.S. Hunter (@rshunter88)

    I made it halfway through this book before dropping it and never looking back. I read through Tor’s recaps all the way through book 4 or 5 and it made me even happier I never read more of the series. The pacing and the women stuff would definitely get under my skin.

    Reply
  4. Archibald van Winkle

    I must say that your approach to this read-along is inferior to the previous in my opinion. It was fun to be experiencing events as you experienced them FOR THE FIRST TIME. Your reactions and comments were priceless. This iteration just doesn’t have the intrigue because I can FEEL that you are forcing reactions and things to say because you’ve read this before. Plus, it kills the drive to want to explore further when a minor event is dripping with your commentary about future and past events that aren’t supposed to be known yet. Reading your speculations and extrapolations about certain things is entertaining because I’m getting a glimpse into the workings of another mind, having to draw conclusions as I do.
    I don’t know. It just kills the tone and mood for me. Just a personal quibble.

    I hope this gets voted a pass. We’ve all seen LoTR, and the entertainment value just isn’t the gold-standard it is when you, Ronan, are as wet-around-the-ears as us.

    Also, I have to, rather verbosely, mention this little annoyance of mine.

    What is the deal with male authors having such a hard time writing women? Does the author think that just because a woman has a vagina that suddenly she is from a different planet or something? Women do have different hormones than men, yes, and this brings their brains to have a slightly different chemistry, yes, but not to the point where they act like a different species.

    The problem seems to come in two flavors.

    The author writes all women with a pattern, i.e. the exact same. All female characters will react to a given situation the exact same way, with maybe a different fashion choice, or selection of words. These women will also likely only have a handful of roles in the world they can occupy with any sort of deviation being convoluted.

    The men in said story will likely be diverse with many roles and mindsets and philosophies. What is so hard about transferring this property onto women? They ARE THE EXACT SAME SPECIES! Any gender roles were assigned by society. Sure there are the places where men do handle themselves arguably better than women, like in a straight-out strength contest, but this is only because women are chemically and physiologically inferior to men when it comes to muscle mass. On the other hand, women tend to have more endurance than men, so the differences balance themselves out. This is not to say that the perceived ‘inferiority’ of women isn’t due to ancient men purposely casting women in the roles we see as traditional these days to purposely invite the assumption they were the ‘superior’ sex to establish a spot at the top. You know, classic castration anxiety. I raise this question because where, in nature, is it evidenced that women are ‘supposed’ to be the figure who rears the kids? Because they have the breasts(nursing ability)? In Seahorse-land, the males carry and take half the responsibility in raising the young. So with the balance that nature maintains in all things, where sis this sense of ‘different roles’ come from? It’s all part of the labor of life, work to be done to continue life. It’s not like situations or problems are coated in a male-or-female-only receptive membrane.

    My point is that most males fail to take five minutes and try to place themselves into the shoes of a woman. I don’t know why. Maybe it is an extension of the human tendency to be completely self-fucking-centered. It’s an act of laziness mixed with no fucks given. They know how THEY would react in a given situation, so why can’t women too?

    This, I think is the root of the problem with male authors in fantasy failing at writing women. (Not just fantasy. Many great male authors in other niches of literature wrote predominantly males characters, perhaps due to self-awareness about not knowing women. Fyodor Dostoyevski, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain. It usually took a woman author to write women. The Bronte Sisters, Jane Austen.) They write as if they know how the female character would act(as they would), but as it’s going on the paper, something in their writer’s brain is sounding an alarm. They don’t realize that their mind is recognizing ‘Wait, this isn’t how a woman would react. The endless memories of interactions with, or observations of, women tells you this is wrong.’ So, they come up with some convoluted way to get the alarm off in their head, usually by writing some sort of bias or fetish into the character, so it melds with their own thoughts better.

    Thus, they have a fix they quickly apply to any situation involving a female character(besides, you know, actually mentally spending time in her shoes), so you get convoluted female characters.

    The other flavor is when women are written in tropes of reality. Stereotypes. Which, when thought about, really is an extension of the first flavor. Basically, male authors seem to find something abhorrent in taking time to fill the shoes of a woman.

    Use a tiny bit of empathy, any at all, and one should be able to get a basic feel for what a situation feels like in another’s skin. We all have the same basic emotions and drives and reactions which any author worth his salt should be sensitive to; unless you are incredibly obtuse.

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  5. Nerem

    I don’t think it ever amounts to anything and my reading it gave me constantly contradicting feelings on whether or not he’s retconned this sort of stuff out or it’s back in suddenly.

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  6. dbrvnk

    “Tell us about Lenn,” Egwene called. “How he flew to the moon in the belly of an eagle made of fire. Tell about his daughter Salya walking among the stars. Tales of Materese the Healer, Mother of the Wondrous Ind”

    Question: is this foreshadowing of any kind? Like, all the characters are named after Arthurian mythology and you’ve quoted this whole thing the book goes on about time being circular. So is this setting up for a later moment when Rand al Thor does something and we’re supposed to be like “Oh I see, so that’s how we got the story of King Arthur pulling the sword from the stone” or whatever?

    Or is it just clever anthropological wankery along the lines of Body Ritual Among the Nacirema and will never be mentioned again?

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      There is totally a magic sword that Rand acquires from a place called The Stone. Whether or not that counts as “clever” in any way is up for debate.

      Reply
      1. Fibinachi

        wait what? Oh god the blade was in the Stone all along and he ends up pulling it out of the Stone and that’s the moment he realizes he’s actually…

        Blink blink. Wow. I just got that, twelve years too late I… I don’t know if that’s actually clever or just silly. Huh.

        Reply
  7. Ida

    Hi! I’ve been a lurker since the WFR review and I feel like I finally needed to comment. I’m a HUGE WoT fan (mostly due to childhood nostalgia, admittedly), but I’m looking forward to see you spork it because, well, it kind of deserves it.

    Just a few comments: I don’t get why so many thinks Egwene’s mom is hitting on Rand, especially when the description of her “wanting to do more” comes immediately after a long and wordy paragraph about how all the women in Emond’s Field baby Rand because he doesn’t have a mother and they think he needs one, since Tam is a man and men are useless and all that. She doesn’t want to sleep with him, she wants to adopt him. (He’s supposed to be eighteen, by the way, not that that makes his behaviour any less childish.)

    The first few chapters are an admitted ripoff of Tolkien, the foreshadowing is heavy and Jordan was, by all accounts, a massive troll.

    I adore Nynaeve personally. She’s awesome, and she’s deliberately written to be a hypocritic bitch so she can have some genuine character development. As for the other female characters, well… yeeeaaah. Except for Min, Birgitte and Pevara. They’re pretty cool.

    I don’t agree that this series lay heavy on the “good is attractive, evil is ugly”… thing. Pretty much everyone in this series is attractive (and get described in great detail; I lost count on how many times the writing waxed poetically about the great handsomeness of Demandred and Rahvin) and the few who aren’t come from both sides. That said, this series is really hung-up on appearances and, yeah, really likes talking about it. And about stuff in general.

    Anyway, long comment is long. I hope you decide to do this as a regular sporking because I really want to see what you have to say when the real madness starts.

    Reply
  8. A. Noyd

    Actually, when I “reread” (actually, listened to the audiobook) of TEotW a few years ago, it seemed like Nynaeve was actually the best character of the book. Pasted-on annoying tics aside, her thoughts are better developed and she is shown working out how to achieve her own goals where the other protagonists aren’t nearly as deliberate about anything. And since she starts off with a past and a career she’s built for herself, it makes it more interesting when she has to adjust to what her experiences signify outside her community’s (improbable) isolation.

    Reply
  9. Nerem

    Yeesh. I think the comparison to a Light Novel protagonist is pretty on the nose, though at least LN stuff tends to go for actually astonishingly interesting and original settings if they’re fantasy based.

    Reply
  10. Lissa

    I seem to recall another epic fantasy that began with a quaint small town throwing a celebration with fireworks. What was it called again…?

    Reply
    1. Signatus

      I don’t quiet recall fireworks, but I remember reading Eragon and thinking; “Isn’t this just like WoT?”. Paolini made such a shameless copy of varying elements I’m still wondering why he didn’t get sued for copyright infringement. In the book Eragon lives with his uncle, who is a farmer, in a house away from Carvahall, the main town, and at the beginning of the book there is a festival of sorts with bards and stuff. The fact that Eragon is the Chosen One and has a mysterious past isn’t helping much either, although that’s such an archetypical Chosen One stereotype it’s not that relevant any more.

      I know the guy was fifteen at the time. It shows, it really does. Problem is he hasn’t grown out of that even when he’s over twice that age.

      Reply
  11. Pook

    I remember a few years when I tried to read this book, all I knew of Wheel of Time was that many referred to it as the greatest of the Tolkien clones. I didn’t think they meant it literally.

    Reply
  12. reveen

    I’ve noticed this weird snarled up complex towards women in these books that fan get drawn into. On one hand, a lot of people find the female characters really annoying, and a lot of the Watsonian criticism of them tends to be tinged with sexism. On the other hand, it seems like a lot of realize that they’re written that way and find that frustrating. But I don’t see many making that mental leap to realizing that the women are annoying because the writing is hugely sexist. Probably because people think that these books aren’t sexist. Because the women do things and are in positions of authority, and are therefor Strong Female Characters written by someone who respects women, all the while people decry these same characters for the things that supposedly make them “strong”.

    To make it even more complicated, apparently a lot of the women in the series are based off of Jordan’s wife, who he actually loved and didn’t go through a messy divorce with or something. The ability to draw readers into your own neuroses about women without them realizing it is nothing to sneeze at writing wise I guess.

    For my part, I tend to actually like really pushy or stuck or what have you female characters. Partially due to schadenfreude towards the reactions to them in and out of universe. Because I guess I’m kinda of a sadist that way.

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      The women in the books trouble me on two (main) levels: the first is that they’re so obviously being built up as powerful as set-up for shoehorned-in fetish material later, and the second is that even if you strip that away the building-up mainly involves them acting like assholes for no apparent reason.

      When you have chapter upon chapter upon chapter of Aes Sedai snapping at people, twitching their shawls in irritation and undermining each other it gets absolutely infuriating to read about.

      Reply
      1. Lissa

        I remember reading a very caustic review of this series ages ago, and wondering if the female characters really spent that much time tugging their braids, folding their arms under their chests, bickering, and spanking each other naked. The first three actions seem like they would drive a reader crazy to read over and over, and the fourth one is so obviously authorial fetish material that I wonder why his editors didn’t nix the spanking.

        Reply
        1. ronanwills Post author

          I would also dearly like to know what his editor made of that. Like, I wonder if at some point he just came out and said “Look, there’s going to be a lot of spanking in these books. There just is. it’s non-negotiable. Just ignore it.”

          On the other hand Jordan once wrote Conan stories, which came from the pulp magazine environment where awkwardly sticking BDSM material into stories was apparently widespread, so perhaps everyone involved was just used to it.

          Reply
      2. braak

        @Ronanwills Also, I don’t know if you ever read his Conan stories, but he doesn’t awkwardly shoehorn the fetish material into those; they’re built right on top of it from page one.

        Reply
      3. reveen

        The funny thing is, the heavy amount of BDSM in the Conan stories was shoehorned in by Howard to please the editor of Weird Tales, from what I understand at least.

        So presumably the Goodkinds and Jordans read Weird Tales as kids and thought this sort of thing was a crucial ingredient to a “ripping good yarn”? I dunno.

        Reply
  13. Pingback: Quick Reads: The Eye Of The World Prologue + ch.1 | Doing In The Wizard

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