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Ryan is re-reading the WoT


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#21 nikomis

nikomis

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Pahn Kahl

Posted 22 February 2012 - 07:40 AM

I wouldn't worry too much. I plan to slow it down after I'm done with TSR. Don't want to finish too long before the release of AMoL, and there are plenty of other books that I want to read. (BTW, if this is your first read through, what are you doing in here? I'm spoiling stuff in the entire series here, not just the books I've read up to.)


Because Books 1-9 were spoiled for me a decade ago before I even started, and I roleplayed on a WoT MUD back then without having read the books.

Effectively, I know a lot of the major details ahead of time, but I'm enjoying catching the little interactions.
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#22 Ryan

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Idrian Monk

Posted 28 February 2012 - 12:10 PM

I have finished the penultimate chapter of TDR. There's a lot of material that I have yet to comment on. That's in part because I haven't had much to say. So, this post will be a bit sparse. And mostly it will be full of griping.

First, I will comment on the introduction of Fail. (There is no "e" on the end of her name. I don't know what you're talking about.) Fail is annoying. And while she is mostly good for Perrin, her disappearance in later books brings out the darkest parts of him.

Mat is interesting. His transformation from an ignorant farmboy into a man of the world feels too rapid to me. And his prowess with the quarterstaff literally came out of nowhere. Where was *that* during the first book? And while I'm at it, I may as well comment on Perrin's mysteriously-acquired fighting prowess. It makes no sense that he would go from having no experience to being able to best a Myrddraal, or a dozen Whitecloaks, without ever practicing. Honestly, Rand's progression is the only one that makes any sense. He at least trained, and he is the only one that fights realistically based on the amount of experience he has.

And speaking of mysteriously-acquired prowess, I'm not a fan of the "One Power Instinct". Nynaeve, Elayne, Egwene, and yes, Rand accomplish entirely too much on instinct alone. It's almost as if Jordan wants to have his inexperienced characters do awesome things that they have no right to, so he invented this concept of Power Instinct to explain it. In the case of fighting prowess, he doesn't even bother to try and justify it.

The result is that the Aes Sedai who had to actually work for their abilities look incompetent. The Forsaken look incompetent. Shoot, Ishamael looks most incompetent of all. How could he possibly have failed to kill Rand? I mean, he only had three chances, and Rand has no experience. Ishamael has 3000 years of experience and access to the True Power. It is inconceivable that Rand should win against that, especially as easily as he does.

Enough of that. A lot of characters get minimal introductions here that become later on. Every Aiel, I'm looking at you. Not to mention Juilin Sandar. I'm noticing that this is a theme in these books. It is impossible to say which incidental character will become important later, and which are just one-offs.

My final frustration centers on Moiraine. She looks incompetent and hypocritical in this book. Hypocritical, because she demands that everyone tell her everything, which she picks and chooses what to tell others. Incompetent, because she can't keep up with the Pattern, but tries to pretend that she is in control anyway. That is, of course, a general failing of Aes Sedai: a refusal to acknowledge any failing on their part, resulting in them looking like a clown. I expect better from Moiraine. We get better, in later books. Perhaps she grows as a result of the events of this book? It's hard to see her growth because she gets no viewpoints, but looking closely, it is there.

I'm excited to start The Shadow Rising. I love that book so much. :)
Nobody likes a sham, except when it comes to poo.
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#23 Ryan

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Idrian Monk

Posted 10 March 2012 - 02:25 AM

I've been reading TSR. Like, a lot. I'm about 2/3rds of the way through. As I've said before (maybe not in this thread, but in another): TSR is my favorite book, and even though it's the longest, it reads like one of the shortest.

Let's start with the beginning. TSR is odd in the series in that it's the only one that starts with chapter 1 and not a prologue. But, here's the funny thing: TSR's "chapter 1" reads exactly like every other prologue in the series (except perhaps the first, which is special). And the other funny thing: chapter 2 begins with the wind, but without context. You get the tail end of a wind scene that obviously got chopped off when it was decided not to have a prologue.

It's not a very well-done edit. The seams where they cut and transplanted are still visible. I'm curious as to why it was done. Did the prologue fall out of favor in the publishing world for a bit?

Anyway, the prologue chapter 1 is a solid reminder that the world is not divided into good people and darkfriends. Case in point: Elaida. Completely on the side of the light, and working very hard to ensure the Last Battle is won. But she's completely, monumentally, disastrously wrong about how this is to be done. Also: more than a little crazy.

Or take Dain Bornhald. Putting aside that he's a whitecloak and thus, by definition, not quite right in the head: he wants good things (justice, the eradication of darkfriends). He's just tremendously misinformed and plain blind stupid.

Moving on, the beginning of this book is quite slow. Dull, even. I think it had to be this way because of the book's structure. All of the characters had to decide to depart the Stone in three different directions, which means a lot of thinking and talking and not a lot of doing. Also, Jordan has to repeat his lengthy and detailed Setting of the Scene three times over. But the end result is worth it. Three stellar plotlines, far flung and far removed from each other, each with multiple climaxes of its own.

The Shadow Rising is actually a lot like three books in one. What if Jordan had written them sequentially instead of cramming them together? Would that have been better? I want to say no, but I also kinda want to say yes too.

Anyway, Rhuidean is epic as always, but surprisingly, it's Perrin's story that I have enjoyed most on this read through. Fail is an apocalyptic dingleberry, of course, but the Scouring of the Shire Two Rivers is such a deceptively complex bit of storytelling. You've got the Whitecloaks, and Padan Fain, and Slayer/Luc/Isam (Slucisam?), all with their own goals, and into it steps Perrin, reluctant leader, Wolfbrother, ta'veren; and he totally kicks everyone's butt. Even Fail's.

The other character whose development I'm watching closely is Egwene. I am a little impatient with the Wise Ones' slow pace of instruction WRT tel'aran'rhiod. I mean, everyone says it's dangerous, but it's not often shown to be all that dangerous. The main characters blunder about in it all the time with no ill effects at all.

And speaking of the wolf dream, Perrin thinks offhandedly to himself at one point that he might like to live there when he dies, like a wolf. Foreshadowing that he is going to be bound to the Wheel and the Horn? Man I hope so.

Anyway, right now Trollocs are attacking Emond's Field. Gotta go read before I go to bed. :)
Nobody likes a sham, except when it comes to poo.
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