Author Topic: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)  (Read 4942 times)

Jason R. Peters

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Books 1 through 4 are phenomenal, I enjoy them every reading, and I've lost count.

Books 12-13 were superb, even jaw-dropping at particular moments in a series I thought held no more surprises.

Even books 10-11 were decent.

But what the hell happened to books 7-9, and to a lesser degree, 5 & 6 also?

Each time one of these books came out, I devoured it, just thankful there was more of the series to read. But in my current pre-AMOL read of the whole series, these books are sticking in my throat like dry bread. It feels like a heavy obligation to choke them down, yet when I read books 12-13, though they were thankfully sparser and easier to follow, there were still characters I could not remember from before. Why is person X with person Y again? I had no idea.

At the time, I figured Jordan was just dragging the series out to profiteer. But when it was revealed that there was a clear outline and notes for AMOL for Sanderson, I thought maybe Jordan did have a larger vision.

Books 1-4 are hard-hitting and transformative for the characters. After that, the series just becomes a soap opera. Is it just me?

I mean, in book 7, Jordan felt is necessary to explain who Lan was to the reader. Same for Wise Ones. By book eight, I'm finding the political implications of every syllable's inflection and every eyebrow twitch of Cha Faile named characters tedious at best.

I'm mid-book-8, and finding it hard to continue. Particularly since I know that by book 12, things haven't changed much. Morgase is still in Perrin's camp; I thought that came much later, but here it is in book 8. Along with every hint that "Maighdin" is actually Morgase. Yet these hints do not play out until Chapter 26 of Towers of Midnight, four 1000-page books later. It becomes hard to remember what else happened in the interim (oh the Shaido were at war with them... again...) and I have the sinking feelings it's because almost nothing happened.

The "Maighdin" thing is just an example. The continually looming threat of the Shaido, the Seanchan, and the White Tower divide are all things that are present in books 7-11, but not resolved until Sanderson took up the mantle.

It isn't just the length without progression that chafes. The plot also seems self-contradictory in these books.

Rand chases Perrin away in a big fight so that nobody will think Perrin is connected to the Dragon Reborn...just as Perrin is sent to act as Rand's emissary to The Prophet. Well, is he an enemy or an emissary? Which does their plan intend?

Dashiva, whom I never even realized was a Forsaken until I devoured some WOT FAQs and wikis, attacks Rand in Path of Daggers. But when Rand is at the edge of death in the end of Crown of Swords, Dashiva is quite helpful in making sure Rand survives. Non sequitur.




« Last Edit: June 11, 2011, 05:41:57 PM by Jason R. Peters »

Tasslehoof

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2011, 08:32:16 PM »
I'm reading the series right now too, and I totally know what you mean.  Although, I only think its book 8 and 9 that are awful.  Winter's Heart is just BRUTAL.  Yeah sure its "cute" how much Perrin plans to rescue Faile, but really?  He couldn't have just done it?  It takes an entire book for him to get through it, and it seems completely unnecessary in the grander scheme of things.  We clearly already know Perrin loves Faile.  Ugh.

I'm currently on the 7th, and dragging it out because I really enjoy this one, and I know that Path of Daggers and Winter's Heart are horrendously boring.  I've reread the series a couple times now, and I couldn't tell you what even happens in the 8th one that's important.  I thought 5 and 6 were still quite good, he gets most of the Aiel behind him in 5, and develops the Aviendha love story.  In the 6th one, he develops his hate for Aes Sedai because of being caught and put into a box by them.  And he also develops a better understanding of Lews Therin in the 6th one.  Both of those (and the 7th one where he cleanses Saidin) are all vital.
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mtbikemom

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2011, 09:33:35 PM »
I suggest reading the awful books' summaries in Encyclopedia WOT, or other sites with god summaries, and skipping to the better books to read in full.  It is telling how few lines there are for each chapter for books 8-10.  Then, go back and read the few chapters that are crucial, maybe, in those books.  Skip all the Matt/Tuon scenes and everything with Elayne and politics and EVERYTHING having to do with Perrin.  Should be more enjoyable.  Or just listen to them, if your library can get the recorded books.  Makes it much easier to get through.  Thankful that the later books are worth it all.

Tasslehoof

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2011, 03:16:45 AM »
I look forward to Matt scenes.  I think the reason I hate Perrin's in the 8th/9th is because he struggles with the "axe or hammer" mentality for way too long.  I just got so tired of hearing his thoughts about it, just pick one ffs. :/
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Jason R. Peters

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2011, 04:42:11 AM »
That and I just find Faile to be the most bossy, angry, moody, ridiculous woman. I don't see one thing to like about her.

So Perrin went from being awesome (circa book 3) to:

1. mooning over a woman I can't stand (and screwing up even in the ways I can figure her out)
2. brooding over the axe/hammer thing and now
3. unable to figure out Balwer's or Maighdan's identity for FIVE STRAIGHT BOOKS
4. running from the wolves
5. Don't call me Lord/take the banners down

I used to love Perrin and now he just repeats himself book after book.

Matt/Tuon was the first interesting thing that happened in a LONG time. Almost the only thing I enjoyed about the final books authored by RJ.

And yes, books 5/6 sure have redeeming qualities. But I always remembered how the "major point" of book 6 was Rand in the box, yet on this reread I discovered 95% of the book is done before he's even captured. Not how I remembered it, but how I remember it certainly highlights the important portion: Rand captured.

I actually did some WOT-encyclopedia perusing already because there were things I couldn't figure out or remember (or maybe just keep in my head long enough) from RJ's prose. Some characters go so long without scenes (because there are so damn many) and then they even change NAMES so I have no idea who Cyndane/Selene/Lanfear/Mierin/Keille and Dashiva/Osan'gar/Aginor/Ishar are unless I have my concordance handy.

Not to mention by the middle books the characters you THOUGHT were dead, thus simplifying the plot, are not dead, they are all back. So all of Rand's careful maneuvering and epic battles in the original books...

...didn't matter.


Tasslehoof

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2011, 05:51:43 AM »
THANK YOU!  I reread the 6th one last week, and said to my friend who also read the series "Wasn't book 6 ALL about Rand being captured?"  I swear when I originally read it, he was in a box for like 400 pages, but its really only like 60.

Perrin running from wolves/being a lord irks me too, its very irritating.  Also, its not so much that I don't like Faile, its that I hate how he always "smells how jealous she is".  Its such a bitchy move, it bothers me everytime they bother to talk about it.  Perrin will be sitting in on a meeting with Rand and the Wise Ones, and all Perrin can think about is how his wife smells jealous.  Jesus man, get your act together.

Yeah, I also thought it was a little much that, unless they were killed with Balefire, every Forsaken could return to life, as a different person.  And I was pretty confident Lanfear was done for, but apparently not.  I felt she had a very fitting end, but now she's back getting tortured by Moridin.  It just gets old.
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Morsker

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2011, 06:59:40 PM »
These are popular complaints I've seen in the fandom since the books were first released, especially that Perrin and Elayne's plotlines were too far of a diversion from the real story. Brandon even analyzed this, and thinks it's due to an overabundance of characters, which leads to entire books where no one's plotline progresses very far (what WoT did), or entire books where some characters never appear (what ASoIaF did). There's no way anyone knows to solve the problem with writing style alone; it's unavoidable if there are this many characters.

I think it would've been a blessing to kill off Perrin and Elayne before the consumed so many pages.  :D Perrin was awesome up to book 4, and Elayne was fine as a supporting character to Nynaeve before she ran off on her own. The only shame is that they lived longer than that!

Tasslehoof

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2011, 07:50:53 PM »
I think the only reason they couldn't be killed off is because of how important Perrin will be for the Last Battle.  At least thats what it sounds like from all the Prophecies/Foretellings.  Min's predictions kind of prevent Elayne and Perrin from dying too :/
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Peter Ahlstrom

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2011, 05:22:49 PM »
I really don't mind the books. (Though I suppose that could be seen as damning praise.) This morning I finished listening to the Crossroads of Twilight audiobook on my morning commute, and it did a fine job of what I intended it to do: give me the Wheel of Time story in 20-minute chunks twice per day. I'll start on Knife of Dreams on my way home. I don't really think of these books as complete books (because really, they aren't) but just as parts of the overarching story. There are some parts in there I really really like, such as Pevara and her group, and the Mat and Tuon chapters.
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Jason R. Peters

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2011, 11:58:07 PM »
Moving to audiobooks is how I made the middle ones tolerable during my last readthrough, which was around the time book 10 was released. I could get through them much faster by doubling up my reading efforts, making the books faster-per-day if not faster-per-sentence.

Also, Jordan's use of intimate voice, extremely close 3rd-person makes the audiobook more fun to listen to (for me) than the prose to read, particularly with the talents of Michael Kramer and Kate Reading. They bring the characters to life.

I think Jordan's close voice is part of the reason books 1-3 are so charming with just 3-4 viewpoints, and it just gets out of hand with so many.

Some of these chapters in book 8, I like what HAPPENS but I am having a lot of trouble reading paragraph after paragraph to get to the meaningful bit. I think if Jordan had adapted his style to match more characters, this could have gone much faster. Rand's and Mat's chapters could stay as detailed as they were before, but for some of the political maneuvering (Aes Sedai rebels, Forsaken, Shaido, Perrin, various royal families) a few scant paragraphs going straight to the bombshell cliffhanger would've made these books FLY by comparison.

I'm sure that's not what Jordan wanted to do, and if he started doing it as early as, say book 5, his fans who loved the in-depth character thoughts would likely have rebelled. So this all just theorizing ex post facto to improve my own fiction.

In book four, Jordan was my hero, and in book sevenI wanted to strangle him. I can't think of another author I've had such a love/hate relationship with.

When I read that Sanderson was going to attempt to emulate Jordan's style as much as possible (pre book 12), I thought:

NOOOOOOO! Write them in YOUR style!

But in the end, he had to cater to the fans, so can't fault that, and in the end his style is a hybrid any, which can't be avoided.

It is telling that of my fantasy-reading co-workers, only one made it past book 7. And I think she, like me, was reading them as they were released. The idea of reading 7 more books with as many characters is just exhausting to would-be-new-fans.


mtbikemom

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2011, 03:07:59 AM »
Yeah, it's true that the Matt/Tuon progression was better than much of the other stuff going on, and I wanted so much to enjoy it.  Matt finding himself linked to, and then learning to love, what was something like an alien being.  A skinny, dark-skinned oddity, one of the most powerful humans in that world, and Matt, most everyone's favorite character, slowly falling in love.  It could have been delicious.

Unfortunately, their chemistry just didn't ever work for me.  Maybe it's because RJ didn't develop Tuon enough.  I think this is an excellent example of leaving a character entirely too mysterious/inscrutable and sacrificing likeability.  I'm still hoping for a satisfying payoff there.   But I'm still not sure the cultural differences can be realistically overcome.  It's a little like a Jew falling for Mengele's daughter, y'know?

However, I've always been very tolerant of Gawyn and Egwene, really enjoying their relationship arc, and thrilled with the most recent payoff there.  So, go figure.  I also love Cadsuane and feel that her perspective has been justified.  I think almost everyone began to see hope for Faile's return from obnoxiousness during her little adventure with the Shaido.

I remember reading that RJ called one of the books (CoT?) a failed experiment, referring to the timeline backtracking.  I didn't mind Winter's Heart because it was so much better than the book that preceded it.  That and New Spring were a huge WHEW for me.  And Kramer/Reading's pronunciation in the audio books really improves about then.  They must  have discovered the online audio resources or something.  Maybe a clinic with Team Jordan?  Something happened.

Jason R. Peters

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2011, 08:35:21 PM »
Cadsuane's perspective paid enormous dividents recently. I applaud Jordan's vision for that, but in the thick of books 6-8 I can't help wondering if this character is just Moiraine v.2.0.

Similarly, I applaud Jordan's foreshadowing the events at the Tower of Ghenjai in book thirteen as early as Baerlon in Eye of the World.

But in both cases, I can't help noting that it wasn't until Brandon Sanderson took over the series that we got to see the arc complete. I grew very jaded with Jordan during those middle volumes, and I still can't help wonder if he dragged it out just to profiteer.

But while Rand's decisions seem to matter a great deal in book 2, I can't say that Egwene's decisions matter on a chapter-by-chapter level whatsoever in book 8. Do they matter on a series-long scale? Of course. But reading chapter after chapter of her political maneuriving (with a relatively simple, if satisfying payoff in the end) is incredibly tedious.



Like you, I remember Winter's Heart as being the first of an improved quality

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2011, 12:06:51 AM »
<I>Even books 10-11 were decent.</i>

I think you mean 11 is decent.  10 is considered the worst in the series so much that's it's more fact than opinion.

Also 5 is my favorite in the series, and 6 is my third favorite.  6 probably has more important plot developments than any book in the series, except maybe the last couple.

mtbikemom

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2011, 01:38:01 AM »
I think books 8 and 10 are considered the real stinkers.  (Path of Daggers and Crossroads of Twilight.)  Books 9 and 11 are disliked by many, but 6 and 7 had their molasses-slow spots.  My favorite was 4, The Shadow Rising.  Can't beat Rhuidean.  I also have to agree with Brandon's posts that the climax of the first book was not the greatest.  Seemed tacked-on because it was, I guess. 

Jason R. Peters

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Re: Anyone else have trouble choking down middle WOT books? (spoilers)
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2011, 02:00:35 AM »
<I>Even books 10-11 were decent.</i>

I think you mean 11 is decent.  10 is considered the worst in the series so much that's it's more fact than opinion.

I was prepared to disagree with you (out of hopeful optimism that a horrific book wasn't still ahead of me), but I caught wind of the Amazon.com reviews of book ten. OUCH.

The top-rated five-star review is actually a tongue-in-cheek criticism.

I'm 93% through book 9. Crud.