The Wheel Weaves One Long and Arduous Story

Wheel of Time

I’m about to finish reading the third book in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time story, and I have little interest in continuing to the next book in the saga.  By now,  I had hoped the stories would pick up the pace, and raise the stakes, but I’m just not feeling it.  It’s too bad, because there is a lot to like.

Synopsis

After a catastrophic night in the village of Two Rivers results in a visit from the Dark One, farm boy Rand, and his four village friends, blacksmith Perrin, wily Mat, and wisdom-in-training Egwene, take to the road with a mysterious Aes Sedai and her Warder. The small town kids undergo a series of dangerous and eye-opening experiences that shake off their naivete and hint that they may have larger roles in the drama of mankind.

What I liked
1. Strong female characters
These ladies don’t need saving, and are arguably the most powerful and dangerous characters in books.  They save themselves, pursue their enemies, all while scolding the male characters for any misguided rescue missions.  In one case, the three female leads abandon their male rescuer to continue their mission– and without a thank you, nonetheless.

2. Evident foresight
Just like the wheel weaves threads of time into a fabric that is overarching, yet methodical, Robert Jordan weaves his story with the same farsightedness.  He sprinkles in details that seem important enough to remember, although they may not prove important for a couple of books.  That said, I only read the first three books, so maybe I’m wrong, but I get the sense that Mr. Jordan had a fully-realized plan for his characters.  Of course, I felt the same way about Lost, and look where that got me.

3. Epic epicness
I love stories that build new worlds, new ideas, and elaborate on basic sci-fi/fantasy themes.  I especially love it when those stories maintain the same strong characters throughout the series, and that series stretches on forever and ever.  I think this series goes on for something like 10 books, so one could really dig in and hunker down in these stories for awhile.  I chose this series for that reason alone.

Weaknesses
1. I don’t care
I’m three books in, and I still don’t care about these characters.  Maybe too many threads have been woven for me to build a real relationship with these characters, but I have read other epic novels and felt stronger connections with other characters.  To me, these characters fall flat.

2. Quick and easily-resolvable climax
The past three books have lacked much suspense throughout the meat of each novel. That is, until the very end of each book, when the main protagonist faces the main antagonist.  The final battles are sudden, quick, and a little bit “deus ex machina,” during which the main character triumphs, mainly due to magical influences unknown to himself, and to the reader.  I’m sure this is all building to a greater understanding of the magical world that Jordan has created, but, like I said, I just don’t care.  By the end of each book, I find myself thinking, “Is that it?”

3. Did I say I don’t care?
I just don’t care.

However, I am excited to begin Hugo award nominee His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik,  Just the first few pages have proved promising, as it moves quickly with an interesting premise.  And it has a dragon.  A dragon that can talk.

And I already care about him.

And I want to him to come live in my backyard.

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