MistbornAlpaca

Is It Worth It?

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I've read the Eye of the World, and I'm wondering if I want to continue with the series, I've heard both good and bad about it. Is it worth it to read the rest of the series? Knowing myself all too well, I'll probably read it whatever you guys say, as I can't leave anything unread or unfinished, but I'd like to have a good idea of what to expect as I go in, (as i probably will)

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If I were to re-read TWoT, I'd:

- Read books 1-6, through "Lord of Chaos", which I tore through in rapid succession when I first picked up the series in 1999.

- skim read or read chapter summaries of 7-8, as the pacing gets reallllly slow. There are some good parts in there, but I really feel like a good editing could compress them together into "A Crown of Daggers" or "The Path of Swords".

I remember actually liking #9, Winter's Heart ...

...and being REALLY annoyed at #10, Crossroads of Twilight, for largely rehashing everything from Winter's Heart but from different POVs, until the cliffhanger ending. It felt like #10 and #11 could have been edited into one really good book as well, and I could simply have done without a few "same scene, different POV" type chapters, which was at least half of the book.

Book #11, Knife of Dreams, felt rushed to me, like he had been prodded to GET ON WITH IT ALREADY, wrapping up stuff that had been foreshadowed, hinted at, or foreseen in various visions for ten books (spanning 15 years of publication time) so rapidly and simply that more than once, I was like, "Really? THAT was all about THAT? Huh."

Then we found out why - Mr. Jordan was tragically terminally ill.  And so books #12-14 were semi-ghostwritten by Brandon Sanderson.

 

Edited by robardin
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WoT is one of those series that strikes me as having been easier to read and digest as it came out than it is now. It's fourteen books, thousands of named characters, probably hundreds of viewpoint characters, interwoven prophecy and ta'veren shaping and all that crushed together in a muddle that is pretty hard to keep straight if you're just going one book to the next.  Some of the characters are annoying as hell.  Some others are fantastic and don't get on screen as much.  There are times you want to take the main characters by the neck and shake until some semblance of wisdom and intelligence falls into place because they can be alarmingly hard headed and stupid at times.  But holy crap is it a ride to remember.

I say that as one who liked the story and read it to the bitter end.  I've read every book in the series at least a half dozen times, and all of those prior to book 12 more than 10 times.  It's worth the effort, imo, because it is a whole, it more or less fits together, and there are things that happen late that have been set up since the first few books.  It's honestly kinda miraculous it fit together as well as it did.  My personal opinion is that somewhere along the road, around book 7 or so, Jordan lost his way on how to get from where he was to where he intended to be - he said all along he knew how it was going to end.

So if you can put up with the weaknesses above and the complexity of the thing, it's well worth the time.  If not, or if frustrating characters annoy you too much...then just pass it up and move on to other stuff.

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 This is many people’s opinion about the book, and while I see where they are coming from, I did enjoy the series.

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Are you a fast reader? 

Then WOT is 100% worth it. 

Are you a slow reader? 

Your mileage will vary. 

 

The most valid criticism about WOT is that it is bloated - there’s too much world building that isn’t necessary to the plot. You go through a ton of stuff that really shows you how real and well realized this world is... but it slows the books to a crawl at several points. 

If you, like me, are a lightning fast reader? Not a problem.  You blitz through those, love the world building, and get right back to the key plot sections. 

If you are NOT a fast reader, then you have to ask yourself this question: do you enjoy worldbuilding enough to let it slow down the plot? Because if you do, you’ll be just fine. 

 

There’s a strong argument to be made that WOT needed trimming. It would probably be a better series if it were 2-3 books shorter. But I love it anyway. 

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I definitely had some real problems with WOT, but they were more about the characters than the world building. Many people, myself included, think that Sanderson probably got some of his workdbuilding inspiration from Jordan.

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i was thinking about this the other day... Growing up with these books I was as excited for the next one to come out as I am for Stormlight Archives now. I devoured them as soon as they came out. I agree with @robardins assessment as far as the books go enjoyment wise.

Personally... I would not recommend them. I enjoyed them and there are great moments, But the Overall story feels lackluster to me especially knowing the ending. Now I am not knocking Brandon Sanderson for finishing the books, I am eternally grateful that he gave me a ending when I was afraid I would never get one. But so many things didnt feel right to me at the end it felt... off I dont know how to explain it. It felt too long for what it ended up offering. And maybe its because Mat never did feel exactly the same once Brandon took over (which once again I am not blaming him for) and that was a large reason I read the books. I can't put it into words but I'm glad that I am done and there are things I would rather read and reread.

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There are a few other threads on this same topic here on the Shard, but they're probably a couple years old. The opinions in them run along the same lines as those who've posted here, IIRC. Here is my 2 cents.

First, I fully admit that I am not at all the demographic that Jordan was writing for (which seemed to be teenage boys). Also, I only started WoT after Brandon took on finishing the series - - I wanted to read "everything" he writes.

My WoT experience: Book 1 was a little juvenile but OK. Books 2-4 each got a little worse. Book 5 was just bad. By the middle of Book 6 I realized that I was literally forcing myself to read something I did not enjoy at all, just to get to Brandon's books. (I disliked all the main characters and literally wanted them to die gruesome deaths. The only character I liked was the wolf Hopper.) So at that point I switched strategies and just read Leigh Butler's re-read (I think it's on Tor.com), and used the online Wheel of Time Encyclopedia to help me remember what all the people/places/stuff was. That enabled me to read Brandon's volumes, Books 12-14, which were OK but nowhere near as good as his own stuff.

Main WoT criticisms: Waaaay too many naked people hitting each other with sticks for no apparent reason. Worldbuilding for several of the societies was far too unbelieveable. Lengthy and excessively florid descriptions of people's clothing, hair, and physical appearances (literally, it would go on for a whole page, about dresses). Most of the characters were extremely immature and never changed much. All the female characters had basically the same personality with only minor variations.

With all that said, I am really glad that there are folks out there who liked these books, and especially folks who've been drawn into the fantasy genre because of WoT. It shows a lot of perseverance to have read all 14 books all the way through - I couldn't do it, and my hat is off to anyone who could!

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I honestly quite liked the books, and so I feel like I have the burden of defending them here. I'll simply address most of the points above from the perspective of someone who read Sanderson for his job on WoT, not vice versa.

The middle books, as has been said, are a slog. This is fairly unanimous, even among more pure WoT fans. There are a few specific plot threads which feel too much like Eragon and not WoT-quality fantasy. That said, I actually appreciated how one book was mostly spent in the previous book but from different points of view. It gave us a sense of what the events looked like from those not directly involved in them, and answered the question of "What was everyone else doing while these characters did something big?" which otherwise tends to pop up.

Jordan was a master of foreshadowing. There are so many things early on which don't make that much sense, or don't seem at all significant, until later on. And most of the time you don't think back and realize their import.. You only notice on a reread. This is one of the things which I feel Jordan did much better with than Sanderson does.

Jordan's tendency to give the entirety of the scene was something which I actually really liked. As Erunion mentioned, if you're a fast reader it's entirely tolerable. You get the action and plot at a good pace, while also getting so much more of the scene. It also lends itself to so many more literary tricks where it physically places you within the world. Like where the characters don't notice something immediately, until they go back to it.. With the long descriptive texts, often you don't notice everything unless you're specifically looking for it. And so when Jordan tried to hide something, it was hidden. The characters didn't notice X and X happening, and neither do you, despite it being written in black and white on the page. And then the character notices, there's a break in the natural flow of the sentences, and it registers. You go back and read the description, and you realize you should've seen it.
 

WoT had many characters with flaws -- many characters I hated. I found that to be a decent thing. I'm very antisocial, and actually like very few people I meet in the real world. I felt that it was good to have a series where the protagonists didn't have to be well-liked. That said, I really think he could've done a much better job on the female characters. There were maybe 3 different female characters copy and pasted. And maybe, just maybe, done something about Emo Perrin.. I do feel like most characters had some degree of character development though. This is most easily visible in Nynaeve and the Three Ta'veren, but it is present in others as well. People transition from their original aims and intents into vastly different people, while the original threads are still visible.

The worldbuilding was good. It felt like an actual world with actual nations with actual people - Not a world created for the purpose of telling a single tale, but rather, a single tale told within a preexisting world. Much like Arda felt. I would've liked to see a bit more on certain parts of the world, though. It seemed like most of the book took place within the central nations, and we didn't get much on the far East and West.  "Worldbuilding for several of the societies was far too unbelieveable. Lengthy and excessively florid descriptions of people's clothing, hair, and physical appearances (literally, it would go on for a whole page, about dresses)." This is true, from a modern perspective. Except many of these societies are variations on actual mid-medieval societies, and aren't far-fetched and all. Once again, to me it feels more like realism within the world. Societies are complex, not simply a minor variation on our modern Western civilization or a stereotyped Eastern/African/Middle Eastern civilization.. Rather, they have the true variety present within real societies.

Naked people hitting each other with sticks for some reason? This was probably something that was way emphasized in Leigh Butler's re-read. There was nudity in the books, except I don't remember a single scene with naked people hitting each other with sticks. Most of the nude scenes were decently tactful and had some explanation. Of course, there were a few which really seemed to be more of insert-author-kink-here than a sensible, tactful nude scene..

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As someone who started A New Spring in December and just finished A Memory of Light, I would say definitely read them. The series as a whole is fantastic, and though there are characters that grate at certain points (i.e. Mat at the beginning or Nynaeve through the middle) the overall read was highly enjoyable. There are some fantastic characters, and the rather vast buildup does have a suitable payoff in the end.

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I loved every minute of the Wheel of Time series. I like reading through a good thick book. These books are long but descriptive. I wouldn't change a single thing. The nice thing about the books is that you can go at your own pace. I felt like it was easy to switch to a different book and then come back.

My favorite characters were actually Matt and Nynaeve. I liked that they had funny quirks like nynaeve tugging on her braid or Matt being such a rascal. I don't want to give away any spoilers but my advice would be to give the Eye of the World a shot to see if you like it. Good luck!

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I also have been torn on beginning this journey, because it seems like one of those series that constantly comes up and obviously Brandon holds it rather highly. That being said, I remember listening to Eye of the World on audiobook probably 10 years ago and feeling like it was too tropey, so I never read the second book. At the time though, I was semi-allergic to anything that felt too Tolkienish. But, lately I've felt compelled to try again but am still unsure haha. The "problem" is there are just so many books, that are fairly long, and it's quite a time investment. 

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On 2/23/2018 at 7:58 PM, recneps said:

That said, I really think he could've done a much better job on the female characters.

This is putting it mildly. Some of the stuff that happened, especially with Perrin an Faile, made it pretty impossible to like any of the female characters in that series.

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I started EoTW in April, and just finished AMoL. It is worth every second on the long and winding road that is WoT. It was one of the best fantasy series I've read since the Cosmere. Even the Slog has its enjoyable moments. Jordan has taken Rowling's place in my holy trinity of Fantasy authors: Tolkien, Jordan, and of course Brandon Sanderson.

Note: it may not yet be your time, I tried, and failed to read EotW twice before I could really get into the series.

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18 hours ago, Wyndlerunner said:

I started EoTW in April, and just finished AMoL.

Kudos to you, took me 6 years and I am a relatively fast reader. The slog was too much. Needed a break every ~2 books. 

Mostly enjoyable read, but I wouldn't do it again :P 

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I'd say I enjoyed about 80% of it, really disliked about 10% of it, and 10% was ok.  I'd recommend it for anyone who enjoys epic fantasy and has a lot of time to read.  There are unlikable characters in the series, but that makes it more real.  Typically, I read as an escape from the real world, and this series is so immersive it is easy to escape into.

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14 minutes ago, Lidolas said:

I'd say I enjoyed about 80% of it, really disliked about 10% of it, and 10% was ok.  I'd recommend it for anyone who enjoys epic fantasy and has a lot of time to read.  There are unlikable characters in the series, but that makes it more real.  Typically, I read as an escape from the real world, and this series is so immersive it is easy to escape into.

Agreed! I was reading the guide book the other day, and I realized, "holy crap. Someone actually came up with all this, it just feels so real."

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Start reading book 1 and keep reading until it stops being fun for you; maybe you will finish it, maybe not. A lot of great stuff in there, along with a lot of boring, unnecessary,  and annoying stuff as well. Currently approaching the end of Winter's Heart and I think I will be able to finish the series, but will probably never read them again.

Edited by Ammanas
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On 11/22/2017 at 1:28 PM, Mulk said:

Some of the characters are annoying as hell.

Like maybe Nynaeve?  I swear if i have to hear "good stoute two-rivers woolens" one more time...  I'm not finished with the series, but I feel like I'm suffering through it to get to Brandon Sanderson's books.  That said, this just gives you the feeling of epic ness and I feel like it's good.

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That sounds like a swear. "Gah, Good stout Two Rivers woolens!!! You stole my copy of Mistborn, Again!!! By good stout Two Rivers woolens sake, STOP STEALING MY BOOKS!!!"

Edited by Dr. Jacques Rodriguez
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I've found it worth it so far. I'm on book four, is my assumption correct?

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@MistbornAlpaca I’m currently about halfway through book 7, and I would say it’s been worth it so far. I think I’ve started to hit the slog though, because it’s gotten kind of a little boring, but books 4-6 were good enough that I’m pretty invested into the series now that I want to finish. 

I will admit that other people’s complaints about female characters are well deserved. 

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It's like one of Brandon's Stormlight books if it was 14 books long. By that I mean that there is a ton of set up and world building (as well as pointed sniffs and page long descriptions of wardrobes) for 11 books & then the classic Brandon avalanche takes over for the last 3. I discovered Brandon by reading his installments in TWoT and frankly think the series is worth it just for the end.

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The best scene is in the 12th book, if you keep going, it gets better.

Edited by Dr. Dapper
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