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A Tremendous Start, But Beware,
This review is from: The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
The Wheel of Time is probably the best-known and most widely read fantasy series other than The Lord of the Rings.
When this book was published in 1988 or 1989, it created a sensation -- a tremendous first volume that had the usual good-evil battle and tons of action but also was filled with magic, history, politics, sociology, cultural background and realistic characters. When I re-read the first five books, I was amazed at the details of history and politics that Jordan provided in his world. Jordan also has numerous protagonists, not just one or two primary ones like many other fantasy writers.
Moreover, Eye of the World features strong men and, through their magical abilities and powerful personalities, stronger women. Jordan has been rightly lauded for the prominent and powerful roles he created for the female characters.
The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising and The Fires of Heaven followed and created a tremendous series such that The New York Times noted that Jordan had come to dominate the genre that Tolkien made famous.
In Eye of the World, the writing is smooth, the various characters and their motivations work well, and there's action aplenty. The sense of innocence and mystery that correspond to the heroes' relative lack of knowledge of their surroundings and the world at large is palpable and realistic.
Unfortunately, starting with Lord of Chaos (book 6), Jordan's creation became unwieldy. Instead of concentrating on following the themes and story-threads of books 1-5 (which combined are more than 3500 pages, hardcover), he created new storylines, bogged down the narrative and halted the pace of the epic. Book 8 in particular is an unmitigated disaster -- 650 pages (hardcover) of wheel-spinning (pardon the pun) with almost no progress to the story. Book 9 began to jump-start the narrative once again.
The series is at 10 books (the tenth will be published in about two months from now) and growing (13 total possible -- it's a common numerical theme in the books), thus the last volume will be published in 2006, at the earliest.
The Eye of the World is great, as are the next four in the series. They are, however, addictive, so know what you're getting into.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 28, 2009 8:46:43 PM PDT
E. Smiley says:
"Jordan has been rightly lauded for the prominent and powerful roles he created for the female characters."
Once I would have agreed with this. The problem is, all these powerful women behave like 5-year-olds; it's not really noticeable in the first few books (or at least I don't remember noticing it--but then I was a teen at the time), but the portrayal of women just gets worse and worse as the series goes along. Now that we're on #11, I honestly believe he has a terrible opinion of women and suspect he put them in these positions just to say "This is why women shouldn't have power!" Jerk.
In short, giving women political and magical power in your world does not make strong female characters. Creating interesting, complex, smart, responsible and ethical women would. But Jordan doesn't do that.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2010 5:29:52 PM PDT
Eleise Theuer says:
Do you really believe that all of the women in The Wheel of Time are immature? Moiraine (the blue Aes Sedai) is the most morally upstanding individual in the series, from what I remember of those readings a decade ago. She is the one who ensures that the main character in the saga is capable of fulfilling his destiny! She even sacrifices herself to save Rand when he is about to get killed! Rand himself was being an idealogue (who chauvinistically couldn't kill a woman even though she had sold her soul to Shaitan and was superlatively evil) when Moiraine saved him. If she is a "5-year-old" or isn't "interesting, complex, smart, responsible and ethical" then Robert Jordan definitely has low standards for wizened Gandalf/Obi-Wan-Kenobiesque characters who formulaically find the "chosen one" and commence his journey.
Posted on Sep 28, 2010 4:10:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 28, 2010 4:11:19 PM PDT
Sharry Dover says:
I have to agree with E smiley. Jordan's Female characters do often seem like exasperatingly petty, whiney children. I loved Moraine's character but feel compelled to point out she is infinitely more mature than any of the other female characters. Saying that I would also point out that being a woman (a rather liberal one) I have the right to say the sreies was brilliantly written and the female characters did not lessen the appeal.
Furthermore I would say it is a pity for anyone to end the series before it is completed. It is a richly told story that is, well, timeless. I enjoyed it as a kid and I enjoy it still. In September 2007 RJ passed away leaving manuscripts outlines and fully written chapter of his last book, A Memory of Light. Tor Fantasy contracted a fairly new author Brandon Sanderson to complete this epic saga. Many were wary of what could possibly happen to this widely loved and revered series when given to a neophyte author. Then we were told said author divided MOL in to three books making fans all the more skeptical. However in the first of the three "The Gathering Storm" not only did BS create an addition true to the spirit of the series, some say (myself included) it is better than any of the previous novels.
I recommend a new reader to try this series only if they understand they are in for the long haul. There are points in the series (book 10 crossroads of twilight) where you have to slog through, but I suggest you grit your teeth and do it it's worth it. I suggest even old disillusioned fans pick up where they left off just so they could read the last three books, they are THAT good.
Posted on Oct 19, 2010 8:09:54 AM PDT
Michael Lee says:
Multiple people have told me that the series was awesome, but lost somewhere along the way. Finally somebody can pinpoint where the series fell flat. So maybe I'll read books 1-5 then 9-13.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2011 6:22:33 AM PST
@Michael - that's cute :). Good luck! 'Cause once you start you really can't stop. You were forewarned! He does maybe one or two epic things in each of the slow books. Oooh, maybe you started reading and you got to Dumai's Wells already :). Double-dog-dare you to put it down! RJ is also well known for putting hints in early books that come to pass in later books, you'd hate to miss those! Though some of those middle ones sure are painful to read, so best of luck in your attempt to skip them.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2012 1:55:21 AM PST
Joshua Buckeye says:
I wouldn't skip any books. Even the worst have important details for the bigger plot.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2012 10:16:34 AM PDT
I personally thought six was good as well. However, do not read books 8 and 10. They are very slow and are good reads if you are thouroughly bored with your life. However, read brandon sanderson's books in wheel of time. They are great. AMOL IS ALMOST HERE. GO TARMON GAI'DON. PEOPLE WILL DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 16, 2013 10:03:38 PM PDT
Michael R. Kretchmer says:
In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2014 11:20:43 AM PDT
Amazon Customer says:
"Jordan's Female characters do often seem like exasperatingly petty, whiney children."
This made me smile. To be fair, though, so do the male characters. Even the White Tower and the Little Tower are really no worse than the House and the Senate here in the States, they just have 7 parties instead of 2.
"I loved Moraine's character but feel compelled to point out she is infinitely more mature than any of the other female characters."
And there is a good reason for this, at least in regards to Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne: comparatively speaking these three are children who know nothing about the way the world works outside The Two Rivers and Caemlyn. Even Queen Morgase isn't sure of her footing once she is operating outside her comfort zone. These are all women with some growing up to do, and Rand, Mat, and Perrin are all dealing with the same kinds of experiences with room to make messes/mistakes: the important thing is that they are all capable of learning from them.
Moiraine, on the other hand, grew up playing The Great Game in Cairhein, which has given her greater insight into human psychology. As an Aes Sedai, she has had the opportunity to test and refine this knowledge in the real world. She has the ability to divorce herself from her own self interests and see the entire board, analyze the pieces, influence them towards optimal effect (much to Rand's continued irritation.) But, more than anyone else in the initial stages of the story, she knows what is at stake, and that it is bigger and far more important than her self. Moiraine has a lot of experience to draw on, whereas everyone else is forced to learn it on the fly.
I also found E. Smiley's comment that she had not noticed the immaturity of these characters upon her initial reading, but that she was a teenager at the time particularly interesting. I would not have been of an age to braid my hair the first time I picked up these books and I thought Egwene was an amazing role model who was very mature, Nynaeve was a bit too stubborn for her own good, and that Moiraine was just too cold to be trusted. I'm fairly certain when I go back to read them now I will credit Moiraine with the patience of the ages and her ability to herd cats while wishing I could give Egwene a good shaking. It's amazing what a few years can do to color the way you perceive things.
(I hope I got the names correct. It has been quite some time since I read any of these books. I am heartened to read that the series may actually be worth completing for more than just my own morbid curiosity.)
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