Can I read over 3,000,000 words in six months (and keep my job and friends)?

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Still Bore-ing

Book; 6: Lord of Chaos
Chapter; 30: To Heal Again
Character Groups;
Salidar        Camelyn       Cairhien     Somewhere in Tear  
Nynaeve     Rand            Egwene      Mat             
Elayne        Aviendha      The Aiel     Olver
Birgitte                                            The Band of the Red Hand
For Light's sake! Somebody DO something! Half a book of you all just sitting around! 
Oh, Thank-you Nynaeve, Well done.                     

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Bore

Book; 5: The Fires of Heaven 
Chapter; THE END 
Character Groups;
Caemlyn            Salidar           
Rand                  Nynaeve
Mat                    Elayne
Egwene             Thom
Moiraine            Julin
Lan                    Siuan
Aviendha           Leane
Well, after two weeks of furious reading, I am now only 6 days behind schedule instead of a fortnight. Yay me!
The Fires of Heaven heralds a change of style for the WOT books. The first four have all run thus; Dark One tries to affect the world, Scooby gang sets forth to thwart the forces of evil (albeit by many different routes), Rand meets and defeats one or two of the Forsaken (the Dark One's ancient and powerful generals of which there are thirteen), there is much rejoicing. However, this formula got a little squiffy at the end of book 4 when instead of defeating the Forsaken-du-jour, Asmodean, Rand, along with another Forsaken, Lanfear, bound him into service. As such, Asmo has been hanging around all book, teaching Rand how to use the Power before his ignorance kills him. 
Also, in Fires of Heaven, events speed up dramatically. Books 1 through 4 have taken roughly a year and a half of the ill-defined Randland calendar (seriously, not even the characters know what the exact date is) but if my Foretelling serves me well, Books 5 through 9 take up only a few months. And just as well, because it's going to be a sweltering few months.
A quick review. Our story started on Winternight, a spring festival supposedly held after the snows have melted and the first green shoots are in the fields. Except that winter won't leave and the ground is still frozen. Cue heroic journey to the north, two Forsaken dead and spring returns. Through an accident with a magic pillar, the main core of the gang actually skipped over the following autumn and after taking out Forsaken number three they hid in the mountains for the winter. End of Year one, end of book 2. They spend the following spring chasing Rand across the continent and the summer in the southern coastal city of Tear, complaining about the heat. Then they go to the Aiel Waste and complain about the heat there too. Obviously the Dark One was listening because now they are back in Randland, it should be autumn, but summer has decided that winter owes it some time in lieu.
And here, at last, I come to my point. While the change of pace is very welcome, and even I wouldn't want to read a series of fourteen brick-shaped books that amounted to little more than a series of mini-boss fights, the middle volumes lack the focus and direction of the others. Basically, the Big Bad for the next three books is global warming and it's just not very exciting.
Anyway, I made my bed and I shall sleep in it, safe in the knowledge that at least book 6 has Perrin in it, who has been sadly lacking for the last 890 pages and hope that Mat finally gets a little less whiny and actually does something.  

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Twisted Tounges

Book; 4: The Shadow Rising
Chapter; 39: A Cup of Wine
Character Groups;
Aiel Waste      Tanchico       Two Rivers          
Rand               Nynaeve        Perrin
Mat                 Elayne           Faile
Egwene           Thom            Loial
Moiraine          Julin             Verin
Lan                                      Alanna
Aviendha                             divers Warders, 
                                            whitecloaks, trollocs and alarums.

A blip in the schedule could make it appear, to the untrained eye that I was a bit behind in my WoT marathon. It may seem that I should, at this point, be well into book 5 when I am in fact still in the depths of book 4. Do not be alarmed! The twin demons of redecoration and a fortnights holiday have been vanquished and normal service can now be resumed. 

To that end, I would like to discuss language. The good, bad and ancient. In a slight departure from my normal worship of all things WoT, I'm going to do some complaining.

As I have previously stated, in Randland there are as many dialects and accents as there are countries, probably more since people are sometimes described as using 'street' or 'noble' speech. However, there is only one actual language and everyone can understand everyone else. 

Now this might be fine if it was just the main continent. After all, we are lead to believe that all human beings currently alive are descended from the (relatively) small number of survivors of the cataclysm that ended the previous Age. However, the horizons of the world have expanded in the last few books. The Seanchan have appeared from beyond the ocean with their strange creatures and stranger ways but although a lot of their speech is in italics, they are understandable. It has since been revealed that they are the descendants of an invading army sent across the Aryth Ocean a thousand years ago and assumed lost. All right, so they started off speaking the same language but it has barely changed? In a millennium? I couldn't understand William the Conqueror. Mostly because he'd be speaking french, but still.

Now we have the Aiel. The Aiel are a warrior people that live in a vast desert. They are descended from a sort of honoured servant class from the Age of Legends, although very few of them know that. In the past 3000 years, they have had very little contact with the outside world and most of what they have had has been stabby-stabby in nature. And yet, AND YET, they are easier to understand than the Seanchan.

Here is the crux of my argument. Through a series of fascinating events, Mat can now fluently speak the Old Tongue. This was the language spoken in the Age of Legends (therefore, what the Aiel should have spoken) and seems to have been in use for about a thousand years afterwards. In present day, it is only known by scholars and certain nobles, to everyone else it is so much gobbledigook, like Latin. So where did the 'new tongue' come from and how did it develop simultaneously in separate cultures? 

English, as it is spoken today, would be unrecognisable to, say, a 1000 year-old Anglo-saxon, because of the influence of other languages, cultures and their swords. If everyone in the world spoke the same language, how would new languages form?

Yes, I know this is nit-picking as an extreme sport and yes, I know it is only a book but when the rest of this fantasy world is so carefully constructed, it strikes me as odd that something so central to the plot could be overlooked.

I'm not going to stop reading though!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Propher-see Propher-2

Book; 3: The Dragon Reborn
Chapter; 55: What is written in Prophecy
Character Groups;
Everyone, everyone currently important anyway.

Hallo world. Technical difficulties have forced to remain in analogue mode for the past week. Still, never mind eh? Where were we? 

Right, these Prophecies then.

First, there is the Karaethon cycle, more commonly known as the Prophecies of the Dragon. These are the prophecies of Randland, told by precogniescent Aes Sedai in the years after the Breaking of the World (as the madness of the male channelers became known). These are the ones best known to our heroes and the ones that Rand is actively trying to fulfil. They include a cheery little rhyme about herons and dragons, lots of talk about blood and rocks and of course, the sword in the stone bit that I discussed last time.  

The Seanchan have their own version of the Karaethon Cycle with a number of omissions and additions that just makes it all the more annoying that they really don't get on with the locals. If everyone just sat down around a table and talked it over, everyone would have a much clearer idea of what was going on.

Next there are the Shadow Prophecies. The only part of these that we have heard seemed to refer to the events on Toman Head at the end of book 2 and have apparently been completed. Presumably, there are more to these prophecies but whether we will ever see any more of them, who can say? (I'm not being coy, I genuinely can't remember. They probably aren't very good then.)

One that we have only heard tiny snippets of so far is the Rhuidean Prophecy. Technically, we do not even know its name yet but I'm going to use it anyway, so sue me (please don't). Rhuidean is the only 'city' in the Aiel waste (another thing we don't technically know yet) and the Aiel have crossed the mountain range known as the Spine of the World for the first time in 20 years in search of their prophecied one, He Who Comes With The Dawn. "One born of the Blood but not raised but the Blood. Raised by an ancient Blood not ours". That's Rand by the way, He of the Many Capital Letters.

The mysterious Sea-folk have the Jendai Prophecy. All we know of them so far is that they are traders and prodigious sailors. Lately they have been ditching trade however, and searching for someone called the Coramoor. Guess who that might be.

Then there are the new prophecies. Veritable Cassandras are popping up left right and centre. Min, of course, sees all kinds of cryptic things around anyone around her, the latest being a hawk and a falcon sitting on Perrin's shoulders, the hawk holding a leash. Perrin himself, in gaining more control over his wolfbrother powers is having intense dreams that eerily mirror events in the waking world. Egwene has now been revealed as a Dreamer we can expect plenty from her. Dreaming (with a capital D, obviously) seems to be second only to Foretelling in the prophecy manufacturing business and of course dreams are satisfyingly vague and keep the theory mills running. 

So there we go, the future 101. It isn't called the Age of Prophecy for nothing you know!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Prophe-see, Propher-do

Book; 3: The Dragon Reborn
Chapter; 39: Threads in the Pattern
Character Groups;
Murandy    R. Manetherendrelle   R. Erinin    R. Erinin too  
Rand          Perrin                          Egwene      Mat  
                   Loial                           Elayne        Thom
                   Moiraine                     Nynaeve  
So, last time I made mention of the complexities of Seanchan society (pronounced SHAWN-chan, frustratingly) but I‘m not going to elaborate on that one until they rear their shaved heads again in a few book’s time.
Today, I want to talk about prophecy. And first I think I need to bend my first rule and fill in a little background.
Three and a half thousand years ago, the world was a peaceful and prosperous place. Channelers used their power (men using saidin and women using saidar) to perform great works and create an incredible quality of life for every level of society. Technologies were cheap and non-polluting, medicines were quick and effective and life expectancy, particularly for the channelers, was measured in centuries. Then, a researcher thought she had found the impossible, a brand new source of power, seemingly from outside the universe, which could be used by men and women equally without the divide between saidin and saidar. Of course it went horribly wrong and the Dark One was let loose on the world causing the collapse of society.
In the ensuing world war, one man rose to lead the forces of Light against the twisted mutant constructs of the Shadow. This man was Lews Therin Telamon, AKA the Dragon. The war culminated in the Dragon leading 100 of his most loyal men, all channelers, to seal the Dark One back outside the universe and save the world. They succeeded, sort of. On the plus side, along with the Dark One, they also trapped thirteen of his strongest followers in the seal. On the negative side, all 100 of the Dragon’s men went completely and violently mad, soon followed by every man who could channel in the whole world. Since then, any man who can touch saidin eventually succumbs to insanity and will destroy anything and everyone around him before he dies. Understandably, such men are feared and hated and an entire branch of the Aes Sedai spends their time seeking them out and ‘gentling’ them before they can do too much harm.
 To rub salt in the wound, in the years after the madness it was prophesied that the Dragon would be born again to both save and destroy the world again. The Dragon Reborn is Rand al’Thor and he is not overjoyed at the prospect.
There are lots of Dragon prophecies, and he has different names in different lands so no one has the full set. One of the best known ones in Randland is that the Stone of Tear (a fortress widely believed to be impenetrable) will never fall until the sword, Callandor, is in the Dragon’s hand. Just to complicate things, Callandor is kept inside the stone. (Yes, yes, I know, the chosen one is revealed by pulling the sword from the stone, it’s even a magic sword.) Anyway, in order to prove to himself that he really is the Dragon, Rand has gone AWOL and is heading for Tear with Perrin, Loial, Lan and a fuming Moiraine hot on his heels.
Hmm... I think I will turn this into a twofer. More prophecies next time folks!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

ID please...

Book: 2; The Great Hunt

Chapter: 50; After. THE END!

Character Groups:
Mountains of Mist            Almoth Plain
Rand                                 Mat
Perrin                                Egwene
Loial                                 Nynaeve
Moiraine                           Elayne
Lan                                   Verin
Min                                   Hurin

Well, Mr. Jordan certainly crammed a lot into the last third of that book, like, a whole four months. But, as I have to keep reminding myself, I am not trying to summarise the plot here. 

While the ever expanding ensemble cast are taking a well deserved winter break, I would like to take a moment to go off on a bit of a tangent. You see, The Great Hunt took the scooby gang out into the wider world and one of the themes of the book was the apparent decline of humanity. As can be seen on the map of Randland (as the main continent has become lovingly known) huge swathes of land are unclaimed by any nation and most of the action in book 2 takes place in the spaces once occupied by the extinct nations of Hardon and Almoth. 
I should point out that this map was coloured in by my own fair hand after the analogue fashion because I don't own any picture type programmes more complex (or indeed other than) MS Paint. Anyway, it was quite fun, I should to more colouring in.

Sorry, back to the point. 

What I was struck by is that while the people of this continent (and, it is revealed, others) share a common language and religion (in the loosest sense of the word) each country has its own distinct appearance, mode of dress and cultural norms. Here are some that we have come across.

Cairhien (KEYE-ree-EHN): The nation of Moiraine's birth. Technically she is a noblewoman from the former royal house of Damodred but prefers to be known just as an Aes Sedai (House Damodred lost the throne in embarrassing and bloody circumstances). Cairhienin are described as short, fair skinned and dark haired. their soldiers shave and powder the front halves of their heads and the nobles wear dark clothes with slashes of bright colours across the front of their dresses or coats. the women wear huge skirts and tall powdered wigs. they speak in clipped tones with an almost musical accent. So Cairhienin look Chinese, dress like pre-revolutionary French nobility and sound Welsh.

Andor: Most of the Hobbits, sorry, Emond's Fielders were born in Andor as were Min and Elayne. I have always thought of Andor as Elizabethan England, especially since Queen Morgase is described as a beautiful and fierce woman with a mass of curling red-gold hair and a habit of sending people who upset her to the headsman.

Shienar: Shienar is the newest of the Borderlands, the chain of northern countries sworn to protect the world from the Dark One's Blight encroaching from the north. They are a warrior people who favour fighting from horseback and topknots. Shienar has only been a true borderland for about 50 years, since the still more northern kingdom of Malkier (which Lan happens to be technically king of) was swallowed by the Blight. 

Aside from that, we know that Taraboner women wear their hair in hundreds of braids with beads on the ends that clack whenever they move their heads, Domani women wear scandalous dresses and Aiel are tall, red-haired and deadly.

Of course all of this pales in comparison with the complexity of the Seanchan... 

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Moon River

Book; 2, The Great Hunt

Chapter; 30, Daes Dae'mar

Character Groups:
Cairhien                     Kinslayers Dagger     Tifan's Well       Tar Valon
Rand                           Mat                           Moiraine            Egwene
Loial                           Perrin                        Lan                   Nynaeve
Hurin                          Ingtar                                                  Min
Selene (sometimes)    Verin                                                   Elayne
                                  Various soilders

See what I mean about the characters? Bear in mind that I am only including characters in the list that are important to the overall plot arc, since chapter 16 that number has gone from 10 to 14, not counting the soldiers, and I have actually left out a few because they aren't that important just yet. I have decided to include locations for each group, just to stop me getting lost! To keep to rule 2, I will not be describing new characters any more unless I have something interesting to say about them.

For example, Verin. Verin (or Verin Sedai to give her her full title) is another channeler. She belongs to the ancient, female only, order of channelers called Aes Sedai, which I believe I have mentioned before but not explained. Aes Sedai are subject to three oaths. 1) To speak no word that is not true, 2) to make no weapon for one man to kill another and 3) not to use the One Power as a weapon except in last defence of you life, that of your Warder...yadda yadda, the list goes on. The point is that Aes Sedai are bound to these oaths in such a way that makes them as much a part of a woman as her own skin, once sworn they are unbreakable. 

Or are they? A few chapters ago, Verin uttered a harmless little sentence that, it seems, broke the first rule. This is one of the great mysteries in the series. 'Did Verin Lie?' has been discussed on forums and blogs as long as there have been forums and blogs and the answer was a long time coming. This is in fact the 'longest delay' between event and explanation that I mentioned in a previous post. When I finally read the resolution, I curled up in a ball and giggled manically, earning some very strange looks from my sister.

Now for Selene. When I first read tGH in...oh... 2001, I found Selene absolutely fascinating. she pops up seemingly out of nowhere spouting cryptic phrases and giving off an air of knowing so much more than everybody else. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and on this read through I just found her a bit annoying. This could be because now I know what she is up to, (much as I would like to, I can't erase my knowledge of the future books and start again) but I think it is just that in ten years my tastes have changed.

I was wracking my brain trying to find a succinct way of explaining this and it came to me quite suddenly. Selene is River Song (I'll assume that you have seen the most recent series of Doctor Who). She turns up out of the blue being all enigmatic and twirls out hero around her middle finger. She refuses to tell us anything while hinting at everything and when the big reveal comes, its a bit of a let down (if not a bit nonsensical). At least Selene vanishes as easily as she appears whereas River seems to have become a fixture.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Have YOU got the Horn?

Book: 2; The Great Hunt

Chapter: 16; In the Mirror of Darkness

Character Groups:
Rand           Perrin                   Egwene             Moiraine
Loial            Mat                      Nynaeve            Lan
Hurin           Ingtar
                   Various soilders

Here is a question. What do the "infinite improbability drive", "Narrative Causality" and the "Chevalier Effect" have in common? That's right children, they are all ironic plot devices that allow a story to take great leaps of logic or justify enormous coincidences without breaking the mechanics of the world in question. (For those who are interested, the guilty authors are Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Robert Rankin respectively. The late, great, Mr. Adams actually scores a twofer in my library with the "interconnectedness of all things" in the Dirk Gently novels.) There is probably a proper, literary name for this sort of thing and if anyone knows it, feel free to tell me, but I shall call it a McGuffin.

With that in mind, what are ta'veren? You do catch on quickly, they are the WoT McGuffin, although in this case there is rather less of the irony.

About half way throught tEotW, Loial revealed that Rand, Mat and Perrin are all ta'veren, people whose very presence bends chance, luck and fate around themselves, and now no-one seems to be able to shut up about it. To be fair, it is quite elegant. Ta'veren fit perfectly into the mythology and can be used to explain pretty much anything. How did Perrin meet the only man in the world who could teach him the talk to wolves? Ta'veren. How was Rand separated from anyone who would recognise the signs of his channeling just as those signs showed up? Ta'veren. Mat hasn't done anything too obvious yet but eventually he becomes the most blatent ta'veren of the three, although not the most powerful.

Now, in other news, you may have noticed the list of characters above is getting bigger and more complicated. From here on in, this becomes a major feature of the WoT books. Smaller characters appear and disappear, the major characters bounce about all over the world. The reason I put the current groups at the top of each entry is that I find it the easiest way to keep track of the story, certain plot threads are always attached to certain groups. Today's new additions are Hurin, Ingtar, and a group of Shienaran soilders. Ingtar and the Shienarans are not to interesting right now but I'd just like to say a few words about Hurin. 

Hurin is a Sniffer. He can smell violence and track murderers by scent. He joins the Great Hunt of the book's title to track the Darkfriends and Trollocs that have stolen the fabled Horn of Valere. Nothing wrong with that really, but Hurin has always seemed such a flimsy character. All there seems to be to him is his ability and his obssesion with fawning over "Lord Rand" (long story). He mentions that he has a wife but otherwise there seems to be very little to him. Now it could be that his only purpose in the story is to go missing with Rand and Loial so that Perrin can have a chance to shine as a fake "Sniffer" or that he is there to make Rand accept some responsibility for once but when every other character in the series, even the walk on parts, seem to be so fleshed out, Hurin grates.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

An Ending

Book: 1; The Eye of the World
Chapter:  53; The Wheel Turns. THE END!
Character Groups:
So that was the book that was. Having slapped the forces of evil around a bit, our heroes have returned spring to the land faster than Aslan himself could have managed.
Those of you who are paying attention may have noticed that a new name has appeared in the character list. Loial (a name I was saying wrong for years until a character said that he was “as loyal as his name” or some such) is the runaway Ogier that despite being ninety years old, is considered too young to be out in the world on his own. In order to continue avoiding the elders of his home stedding, legendary sanctuaries that the Ogier rarely leave, he has tagged along with Rand et al in the hopes of finding adventure. He is not disappointed. For some reason, whenever I read a description of Loial, 10 feet tall, wide mouth, long eyebrows and tufted ears, I can’t help but visualise the Luck Dragon from The Neverending Story.  
Something I have always loved about these books is that each time I read them, I spot something I missed before.  First time, of course, you miss things because they are deliberately ambiguous or their significance is not immediately apparent. Second time, you spot the events that happened before there was any exposition. This is something that happens a lot in WoT, the longest delay between event and explanation that I can think of off the top of my head is eleven books, about three years for the characters. But even now, on my umpteenth read through of a book I first read ten years ago, I read something that the significance of which had completely passed me by before.
In the space-warping climatic Battle of Tawin's Gap at the end of tEotW, where [!!SPOILER WARNING!!] Rand uses the One Power to destroy a Trolloc army in a wave of fire and brimstone, a voice rings out in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS (which makes it all the more embarrassing that I have missed it before) saying that “ I WILL TAKE NO PART. ONLY THE CHOSEN ONE CAN DO WHAT MUST BE DONE, IF HE WILL”. Whose is this voice? For the life of me I cannot remember any time where any of the characters have remarked on this moment, I don’t even think it has come up in Rand’s PoV chapters. The only other things the voice said are “IT IS NOT HERE” and “NOT HERE” so that is nice and coherent. It some times seems to be answering Rand but the responses do not seem to make much sense. Is it the Creator? The Power itself? I could theorise for ages but I will restrain myself.
Moments like this send happy chemicals straight to my nerd brain. Rest assured, I will be watching very carefully for anyone speaking with caps lock on.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Hungry like a Wolfbrother

Book: 1; The Eye of the World

Chapter: 30; Children of Shadow

Character groups:

Rand         Moiraine           Perrin
Mat           Lan                   Egwene
                 Nynaeve           Elyas

After a series of very unfortunate events involving Trollocs, Myddraal (the aforementioned Dark Riders) and heat-seeking death fog, the wonder team has become separated. Thus begins my favorite ten chapters of this particular book.

First though, a few words about that there death fog. Mashadar is, I feel, one of the best monsters in the world of the Wheel. As big as a city, mindless and hungry, it is not even a creature of the Dark One like all the other evil things we have seen so far. It was born of the hatred and jealousy that destroyed the city of Aridhol two thousand years previous and now hunts in the ruins. Appearing at sunset as a glowing mist that rolls in thick tendrils through the streets, if it touches you, you die, screaming. Even Trollocs and Myddraal are reluctant to enter Aridhol (now called Shadar Logoth or Shadow's Waiting). Just think, misshapen half -man-half-beast creatures and men who can instill paralysing fear with a look are mortally afraid of something created by human beings.
Also, in the otherwise terrible Wheel of Time computer game, Mashadar was absolutely terrifying.

Right, back to my ten favorite chapters. In this section of the book, we finally get to see inside the heads of someone other than Rand. We had a section from the PoV of Nynaeve which was all very... angry... but I'm mostly interested in Perrin. Now, this will be a good way to check if my lovely boyfriend actually reads this, but I used to have a bit of a crush on Perrin. He is tall and strong with a mass of unruly dark hair and a beard. Perrin looks roughly the same (see what I did there Jon, dear?).

Up until this point, Perrin has been a bit of a background character and you would be forgiven for wondering what he is doing here at all but it turns out there is a lot more going on under that mop of a hairdo than is immediately apparent. He is a thinker is Perrin, the quiet type, but he can still rise to the challenge when necessary. As he and Egwene make their way across the wilderness in the company of wild men, gypsies and wolves (yes, wolves) he begins to show his natural leadership and determination, as well as some more interesting abilities.

Thats right, its superpower time! We already know about Moiraine and Egwene being Channelers (read magic, the force, whatever makes you happy) and can now add Nynaeve to this group (although that just makes her angry) but so far, apart from the odd... er... odditiy, the three central chaps have only demonstrated a remarkable ability to nearly get killed at every turn.

Well now we know, Perrin is a Wolfbrother. Able to see, hear and smell with wolf-like sensitivity as well as communicate with the noble beasts themselves. In Elyas, he manages to find into the one person in the whole continent that can teach him how to use those abilities, what are the odds eh?

Friday, 9 September 2011

Lord of the Wheel

Book: 1; The Eye of the World
Chapter: 20; Dust on the Wind
Character Groups:
So the magnificent seven have sallied forth from The Shir... sorry, the Two Rivers with Dark Riders on their tail and a singing, soul-sucking batman in the skies.
Other, better people than me have pointed out the parallels between The Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time, I think there is even a book that boasts the fact as a cover quote. The seven that flee the Two Rivers can be directly related to characters from early in The Fellowship of the Ring. The four locals, Rand, Mat, Perrin and Egwene are the Hobbits (though at this point, you are not supposed to be able to tell which is which) Moiraine is Gandalf and Lan is the expert woodsman with a mysterious heritage. Thom is... well... Tom, and herein lies my point.
Tom ‘Bloody’ Bombadil was the character that almost made me put Fellowship down and walk away. He was BEYOND annoying with his stupid singing and his creepily cheery disposition. Thom Merrilin, by contrast, is just cool. Sure there is still singing and stories but they rarely go on for more than half a page and always seem relevant. Another factor may be that he keeps more knives about his person than is reasonable and can make them appear and disappear with a wave of his hands.
I would say that the characters are the main reason that I prefer WoT to LotR. Even though they are in many cases so obviously analogous, I just like them better as people. I actually CARE about their hopes and fears. A few chapters ago we were introduced to Min, a tomboy soothsayer who gives whole new meaning to the phrase ‘love at first sight’. Clapping eyes on one of our heroes, she knows that she is destined to fall hopelessly in love with him. She accepts that it is unavoidable but doesn’t just moon over him. Actually, the lovebirds’ first conversation ends in him fleeing from her in terror. I like Min. You just don’t get that kind of characterisation in Tolkien, especially in women.
The thing with WoT is that this similarity to LotR could be very deliberate. One of the central tenants of the world is that time is cyclical hence the ‘Wheel of Time turns, Ages come and pass...’ bit. There are seven ages on the Wheel and the shape of history in each is roughly the same each time it passes. Current events are happening in the Third Age, The Age of Prophecy, which was preceded by the Age of Legends, an idyllic time of peace and prosperity. It could be said (and has been) that the adventures of Frodo, Sam, Gandalf and the rest were simply the events of eight Ages ago, the last time the Age of Prophecy came through. I know this probably sounds like I’m making excuses but there are other hints that something like this might be going on. Maybe I’ll get a chance sometime to talk about Lenn, who flew the moon in the belly of an eagle made of fire, and his daughter, Salya, who walks among the stars (a story from the Age before the Age of Legends some say!)  

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A Beginning

Book: 1; The Eye of the World.   

Chapter: 9, Tellings of the Wheel 

Character groups:

Rand          Moraine         Nynaeve         Thom
Mat            Lan                Egwene

 "The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past..."

So begins each book of the Wheel of Time series and they have become almost a meditation for me. I read those words and I can shut out the rest of the world and focus on a different one.
That paragraph can also tell you quite a lot about what is to come. You can expect cryptic phrases, sparse explanations and a liberal sprinkling of Capital Letters.

To be fair, the first few chapters of tEotW (The Eye of the World, get used to the acronyms) are actually quite heavy on the exposition, even if it is history 101 for the last 3000 years rather than current events. To be honest, its pretty impressive how these people can know, so certainly, what happened over three millennia ago when we in this pitiful dimension can't be absolutely sure of what happened last week! We have learned about cataclysms, prophecies and the fall of the great nation once occupying our heroes' homeland but only had a few paragraphs about the war going on in the next kingdom over! Oh well... I'm sure it will turn up again later if it was important.

We have also been introduced to most of the main characters at this point. Rand is a shepherd, Mat is a farmer and Perrin is a trainee blacksmith. Nynaeve is the Wisdom (village healer) with an anger management issue and Egwene is her new apprentice, just allowed to braid her hair signifying that she is now old enough to marry, a revelation that terrifies Rand. Thom is a travelling performer. Moraine and Lan are the mysterious strangers revealed to be a powerful Aes Sedai and her Warder (magically empowered super-soldier) when all hell breaks loose in the quiet farming village of Emond's Field. Well, not all hell, but a large enough portion of it to make an impression on the terrified villagers.

So I'm nine and a half chapters in and the players are in place. Normality has been torn down clearing the way for the band to get on with some serious sword and sorcery stuff. After all, that's what we are all here for right?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Wheel of Time Turns...

Alright, I know I said that the first update would be on the fourth but I felt the need to post a bit more pre-amble.
First, some rules.
1.       No summaries.
It is not my intention to write the York Notes for The Eye of the World here. There are much better places (and much better people) doing that sort of thing. Thirteenth Depository is running a detailed and expansive chapter by chapter summary of The Gathering Storm at the moment, the length of which sometimes seems to be trying to rival the chapters themselves. If word counts are your thing (and, lets face it, if you are reading Wheel of Time, they are) I direct you to Thirteenth Depository.
Also, I read uncommonly fast, even if I say so myself. Normally I can polish off a WoT book in less than two weeks. With each book having around 50 chapters, I would need to post an update 3.5 times a day. Not only is this impossible with current technology but as I may have mentioned, I would like to keep my job and friends for the duration.
2.       No Epics
This one is simple. I shall endeavour to keep the word count of each entry below 500 words. This is because I know I can go on a bit and a bit of self imposed discipline can only be a good thing.  
3.       No Slacking
I will post an update at least once a week. Really. I mean it.
There we go. Them's the rules. And what do we do with rules children? That’s right, we break them.
Now, where's my book...?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Mission

Hi, my name is Lucy and I am a WOTmaniac. (Hiiii Luuceee)

Not that I need (or want) help. Instead, I choose to embrace my addiction and even attempt to spread it around the world (MWA-HA-HA!) or at least, around my friends (mwa-ha-ha?).

The mission? Attempt to re-read the entirety of the Wheel of Time saga before the final instalment, A Memory of Light, is released in March 2012-ish. That is thirteen books ranging from 226,687 to 393,823 words each, plus prologues and epilogues, in just over six months.

The last time I completed a re-read was in the run up to book 12, The Gathering Storm in 2009, it took me five months. Can I finish the extra two books in just one extra month?

In the words of the late, great Robert Jordan; Read And Find Out!

The first update will be on the 4th of September. Feel free to read along!