Standard Start of Review Disclaimer: I'm not much of a rereader. Thus, it has been years since I've touched some of the volumes in the Wheel of Time series. Therefore, there may be some minor details I'm missing or forgetting. I don't care. In fact, I only apologize for such errors because they may in fact have softened me towards this lurching shambling monstrousity of a series. If you perchance find any weaknesses I have forgotten, just think of them and glow happily.
Robert Jordan needs an editor like a bukkake girl needs a wet nap.
I thought about just leaving the review at that, as a sort of testament to how important brevity can be, but unfortunately I can't. Because RJ needs more than an editor - he could also use a beating and advice on creating characters that I don't want to kill and scenes that don't read like they were pulled right from the pages of his crusty teenage erotica jerk notebook.
Part of me doesn't even know where to begin with this. The Wheel of Time series literally spans thousands of pages, contains hundreds of characters and dozens of PoVs, and is packed with intrigue that's almost as psychotically complicated as Hideo Kojima's. Maybe the best place to start is with the fans, or better yet, the ex-fans. There's nothing angrier than an ex-Wheel of Time fan. I don't care if your ex broke up with you because she was dating a retarded pedophile who works as a janitor down at the local Baskin Robbins, I don't care if she gave you one of his stupid but horribly strong STDs, I don't care if you found yourself wiping his drool off the face and breasts of your invalid grandmother, you don't feel as betrayed as Jordan's fans do. You might call this an exaggeration, but think about it - when your ex left you for the Cock that Brains Forgot, at least she didn't take 8,000+ pages and a decade to do it. I can say this, because I feel like I've been the recipient of a long, slow, hard fuck by Robert Jordan. And not the good kind of fuck, the kind where you're lying face down on a bed of nails and maggot-infested garbage as a fat guy wearing overalls reams you out with a meat mallet.
You might think that I've gone a little bit heavy on the description in the paragraph above, but that's just because you haven't read enough Robert Jordan, you lucky fuck. Robert Jordan is the kind of man who will fill pages of prose with descriptions of the uniforms the soldiers are wearing, the color and cut of the dresses the Aes Sedai have on, the hairstyles of everyone in the room, and how many beetles are crawling across the ground. His writing style sort of reminds me of Urkel. At first, it's quaint and charming and quite unlike anything you've ever seen before, but before the end it's become bloated, misshapen and sad to the point that you just wish someone would drive a railroad spike through its forehead and end its travesty of a life. I know more about Egwene's taste in dresses than I do about my fucking major, and while I'm not quite sure if this is actually in the book or just something that came to me while I was
Speaking of Nynaeve, she and her fellow companions deserve special mention. I remember the first cries of praise the Wheel of Time series received. Everyone was practically creaming their undergarment of choice at the idea that Jordan had *gasp* female characters! STRONG female characters! The battle of the sexes! This was somewhere Tolkien had never been before! This was new territory! Now, I'm not precisely sure when people stopped praising the books for this, but I have to believe it was somewhere around the time that they realized every woman in the series was so insanely bitchy and shrewish that any real man would sooner hack his dick off with a rusty spoon than fall into their hands. Then we discovered why Tolkien never went here; because apparently unlike Robert Jordan, his fifteen older sisters had never beaten him up and then poured lye down his peehole.
I hope Jordan doesn't really think all women are like this, because there isn't a likeable or believable one in the bunch. Actually, they all come off as one giant ubercharacter, a multifaceted Samsara-like entity of bitchery and annoyance that fills the universe and seeks only to destroy and dominate that which is male. Some may think I'm kidding, but those who have braved this hell know that I speak true- is there ever even a chapter where one of the female characters does not mention how stupid men are? Is there even one of them that doesn't resort to manipulating, insulting, and abusing the male characters in the books? Once again, I don't exaggerate - I literally mean abuse. One of the three main characters, a man with supernatural luck and lethal skill with a spear, spends a whole book being raped by a horny old queen. He repeatedly denies her and is repeatedly molested anyway. Then there's Nynaeve, who hides beneath her bitchy outer shell the heart of a harpy. I'm not even going to try to justify her because everything she says blends into one long, squealy whine. Of all the girls, Min is probably the nicest - at least she only calls Rand stupid and gets annoyed with him when he doesn't fuck her. No, I'm not fucking kidding, this is the shit that climbed to #1 on the New York Times list. Nynaeve tugged her braid.
Of course, I can't place all the blame on the women, as the men are such unbelievable, galactic pussies that they take this abuse on the chin and come crawling back for more. This trait completely and totally destroys even the coolest of characters. Take Lan, the Warder. Lan is a superhumanly strong and resilient man who kicks ass and takes names. Throughout most of book one he is the Badass on Deck - the guy who flosses his teeth with Trolloc pubes just to prove how tough he is. However, since he apparently can't resist a frostybitch, he falls for Nynaeve, who then precedes to emasculate him and totally destroy him as a character. I know this sounds sexist, but believe me, it's the truth. Lan goes from kicking ass all across the map to literally being a woman's bitch in about book five or six. I'm serious. He's bonded to her through some sort of retardo process I don't want to get into and she spends her time using him as a fucktoy which of course makes Nynaeve TEH FURIOUS. I forget what happens to Lan. I think he gets free and hooks up with Nynaeve, but this doesn't really change anything but whose pussy he's licking. I believe once in a later book he gets to kill a fat lameass. It's such a collossal waste that it's saddening. You couldn't be more insulting of someone's talent if you hired a ninja to mow your lawn or Elton John to fuck your wife.
Lan is just a case study, though. The three protagonists - Rand, Perrin, and Mat - are actually far more pathetic. Of these men, all of whom are about my age, the first two simply can't understand women at all (which is especially sad since Perrin is married and Rand is banging three broads at once) and the last will fuck anything that has a vaguely vagina-shaped hole in it. It's not exactly the most likeable collection of leads ever assembled, and as time goes on, they just get more and more obnoxious. It got so obnoxious that Nynaeve tugged her braid.
Rand is the main character, so we'll start with him. First, as the Dragon Reborn, he's the most powerful male channeler on the planet, wrestling with a power that may destroy him and will surely eventually turn him mad and rot his body as he lives. He has to shoulder the responsibility of being both the savior and breaker of the world, and as nations and people flock to him, he must question who to trust and who to fear. Oh, and did I mention he's 20 and acts 12?
Rand has three women in his life. There's Elayne, who's a princess, a magic-user, and a bitch. Then there's Aviendha: desert warrior, magic-user, bitch. Then there's Min: seer, dresses like a boy, vaguely bitchy (when you look at it this way, Min actually comes off decently). These relationships are so heartbreakingly juvenile and stupid I don't even know where to start. I won't give specifics, because I can't remember them and I wouldn't read this series again unless Selphie herself offered me a hummer. Suffice to say, some highlights include the not-cliche-at-all "must warm her freezing body" sequence, which ends in fuckery and then a promise of no more fuckery. This was with Aviendha, and sadly is the most believable of the experiences. The other two consist of Elayne demanding that Rand give her some of the sweet, sweet honey that Aviendha got and raping him and of Min getting surly and grumpy, wearing progressively tighter pants and raping him. Meanwhile, Nynaeve tugged her braid.
During all this Rand scratches his head and endures their abuse, befuddled at the behavior of these women that he just can't understand! This plays as cute for the first few books, or maybe it's just that I was younger when I read them, but by the time you reach the tenth or so volume and Rand is still behaving like a guilty, confused 11 year old whose teacher touched his peepee, you're praying that he'll either start acting like a man or just go gay and get it the hell over with.
Perrin, if anything, is the worst. There's no hiding it - Perrin got punked. Perrin got punked bad. And it's not like Loial the Ogier pinned him down and forced his Steddingpenis in, Perrin chose to get punked by randomly falling for Faile, or as I like to call her, SATAN'S TITS. Why, I don't know. Faile was an obnoxious girl who was hunting for the Horn of Valere. Apparently, her ability to bitch about anything and everything, coupled with Perrin's furry/submissive nature, made her irresistible to him. Highlights of their marriage include her bitching at him, her getting furious because he never bitched at her BACK, and sex. Which she probably bitches during.
Then there's Mat. A lot of people think Mat is the coolest of the three. I suppose that's true, but it's a lot like saying Boy George was the coolest member of Culture Club. Mat's main caveat is that unlike Perrin and Rand, who are either completely submissive to or outright afraid of women, Mat likes to fuck a lot. He's had so many sexploits that Jordan doesn't even bother to chronicle them anymore. Instead, once or twice or twenty times per book, Mat looks at a female (usually a chubby tavern girl) and muses about how much he'd like to kiss her and pinch her plump cheeks. I think the picture should be clear by now - Mat's a chubby chaser and would probably love the Wheel of Time version of Fat Nat's. Actually, it's not just the fatties, it's pretty much anything that won't fight him too hard or can overpower him. Here are some highlights of Mat's sexxoring career that I remember:
-Kissed/fondled approximately 80000 plump barmaids.
-Made out with Illuminator woman.
-Put the moves on the Seanchan princess.
-Fucked blond-headed Aiel woman who tried to kill him.
-Raped by 20 Aiel women at spearpoint.
-Raped repeatedly by horny old queen.
And there's probably more. The last was my favorite, however, and I return it to anyone who still thinks Mat is cool. The woman dressed him in frilly pink-ribboned jerkins for a month, called him her toy and "duckling," and made him her bitch something on the order of 500 times. It got to the point that he was running around the palace madcap trying to HIDE from her. This is not cool behavior. Of course, I can only imagine the kind of hate this plot situation would draw if the sexes of the participants were reversed, but now's not the time to look at THAT particular double standard. Nynaeve tugged her braid.
Surrounding these heroes is a troupe of characters so broad that they number in the hundreds. I started to count them from an online character list for you, but then I realized I didn't care quite that much. You might be interested to note, however, that there are 135 characters whose names start with A or B. If this pattern holds true, it means the Wheel of Time has about 1565 named characters. No human could possibly hold this much information in their heads at once, so I'm assuming Jordan either has some sort of insane index card system going that fills about 2/3 of his house or is an unkillable space android. This wouldn't be nearly so scary or such a big deal if the characters did not keep reappearing to a hentai-tit-ludicrous degree. For example, Basel Gill is an innkeeper in the first book. By book seven or so, he's roaming about the countryside serving as bodyguard to his exiled queen. Bayle Domon is a ship's captain. He's in the first book and transports Rand and friends. He's in the second book amongst the Seanchan. He shows up later as a Seanchan's woman's bitch in about book six. So in other words, if you're going to be reading the Wheel of Time, it's best to take exhaustive notes. The pickpocket in The Eye of the World page 321 paragraph four will undoubtedly return seven books down the line in the employ of a master assassin.
This feature was kind of charming at first, but Jordan doesn't seem to understand that as his series progresses he needs to stop introducing characters with the appeal and development of your average Juggalo. But instead, he rambles on, putting something on the order of a score of new Aes Sedai in every book, plus keeping the slew of random noble followers that Rand has accquired over the series despite the fact that they do nothing, plus LOOK GANG, A SPUNKY NEW SEAFOLK CHANNELER that you don't give a fuck about. GET DOWN WIT' DA CLOWN. NYNAEVE TUGGED HER BRAID.
A short summary: remember, overall the nations of Tear, Cairhienin, Illian, Andor, Saldea, Shienar, Kandor, and Mayene are on Rand's side, but don't forget that each faction has its own complex systems of hierarchical structures which may be inhabited by those that are in fact NOT loyal to Rand. Don't confuse these guys with the hordes of Aiel clans running about that are loyal to Rand, and don't confuse those guys with the BAD Shaido Aiel, who oppose Rand. Don't confuse the Shaido with the Seanchan, who also oppose Rand, or with the Taraboners, Ghealdanians, and Ebou Dari who fight for the Seanchan but only because they're forced to. None of these people should be confused with the Illuminators, who are neutral, or the White Tower, which is not. In the White Tower the groups of women are divided into Ajahs of various colors - do not get the various members of these Ajahs confused. Oh, by the way, the Tower also fragmented into two, an old-guard Tower and a new, rebel Tower. They both include members of multiple Ajahs, so be sure to remember who is on which side. Also, be careful because there's also a SEEEKRIT Black Ajah which serves the Dark One. Its members are a mystery. Also serving the Dark One are the Forsaken, who only number twelve or so. It's especially important not to confuse them, seeing as how a good third of them have already died and been reborn in different bodies, another third may or may not be dead, and the other third spend their time sitting around and plotting asinine, intricate schemes to betray each other/recruit Rand/destroy Rand which never work. There are the Kin, who can channel and don't belong to the Tower, and the Asha'man, men that can channel and serve Rand. Except for the ones that don't, because the trainer of the Asha'man may be one of the Forsaken in disguise. But all in all, if you can both keep in your head all the specific named characters in each of these groups and whose side they are on, plus recall any innkeep, bartender, or bum on the street who has more than one line in any book, you'll be a long way towards sort of understanding that the Wheel of Time IS A FUCKING STEAMING PILE OF TYRANNOSAURUS SHIT.
It's not that I mind complexity. Hell, A Song of Ice and Fire by Literary God George RR. Martin is quite complex. It's that I mind pointless, useless complexity on the scale that Jordan offers up. Look, at its heart the story is about the battle to make or break the world with the Wheel of Time equivalent of Satan facing down the fireball throwin' Savior of the World. When the chips are finally down and these two are blasting mountains away with streams of Balefire as hordes of Trollocs maraud through the world and fight with desperate humans, is it going to fucking MATTER that Lord Dobraine of Cairhienin doesn't trust the Dragon and is plotting against him? Are we going to need to know that Juilin Sandar, thief-catcher of Tear and fan of the "thumb-thick staff" is in love with the ruler of Tarabon? That the Queen of Ebou Dar is a horny old slut or that Mat wants to kiss Aludra the Illuminator or that Masema, the barely mentioned soldier from book two is insane and has started a Randcult? I sure as hell fucking hope not, or Jordan's great-grandchild is going to have to finish this bloated monster.
If you still doubt that I'm telling you the truth, consider this. A major subplot in one of the books has Elayne, Aviendha, Nynaeve, and possibly Egwene (can't quite remember), all of whom are powerful female channelers who could level a small army on their own, hiding out by MASQUERADING AS MEMBERS OF A MOTHERFUCKING CUNTLOAF TRAVELING CIRCUS. We get to learn in detail the various members of the circus, including the velvet cape wearing owner, Valan Luca. Who, if I remember right, wanted to fuck Nynaeve. Seeing as Carnies are the scum of the earth and make up both 50% of the world's sex offenders and your average hot dog, this is sort of understandable. What isn't understandable is Jordan dedicating something like 50-100 pages to this insane excursion, with descriptions of how the girls carefully learned to channel so they could do tightrope acts and a tally of who did and didn't mind wearing tight satin jumpsuits.
But then, Jordan puts a lot of stuff in the books that doesn't really need to be there, and this leads me back to both my original point, my favorite part of the review, and eventually, the conclusion. Jordan does in fact have an editor, but it's his wife. And while I'd like to believe that she treats her hubby just the same as she would anyone else who fell under her knife, that simply can't be true. She should be ashamed at what she's let get through and for letting this damn thing go on so long with still no end in sight. But this leads into my theory that half the stuff RJ put in the books he never expected to even get through - it was just meant to titillate his wife and encourage her to try new things in the bedroom. There's no other sane explanation for how some of this stuff got in there, because I refuse to believe that at his age Jordan hasn't learned not to talk about his fetishes in public.
Okay, here at my page, we're not exactly Puritan. In fact, we tend to hate censorship of all kinds. But it must be said here that there are places in WoT that are more than a little WHAT THE SHIT-ish. Not because there are actually people having sex, but because there are people not having sex while sexual imagery flies off the page at the speed of light, zonking your poor brain and reducing you to a confused, quivering mass. Here are some memorable examples of this pseudosex
- Everyone in the series is gradually turning into a lesbian. Moiraine was not a lesbian, nor was her friend Siuan, for about the first eight books. Then Jordan wrote a prequel where it is revealed that the two were "pillowfriends" when they got their training in the White Tower. This system, in addition to having the most retarded name ever, was never mentioned before and never affected any of the female characters in the series (Incidentally, this story also featured Lan as some other woman's bitch, but that's not the point here). Nor did it add anything to either character. In the next book, he introduced another lesbian character that no one cares about and made her a lesbian for no apparent reason. If this trend continues, I have to assume that by the end, Nynaeve, Aviendha, Siuan, Moirane, Cadsuane, and Egwene will be writhing together in one kinky, moany, sticky pile as they await the Last Battle.
- The gang heads out into the Aiel Waste, a harsh desert-like area. There, they decide to undergo trials at Rhuidean. Rand and Mat take part in one trial, Moiraine in another. For some reason, Moiraine's trial requires her to strip naked and run through the desert at top speed, breasts flopping. Rand and Mat, allowed to keep their clothes on, spot her and ogle.
- Egwene trains with the Aiel Wise Ones, who are all female channelers. She lies to them and tells them that she is a full Aes Sedai when in fact she is only a trainee. They determine that she must be punished. This entails a spanking with a leather strap by one Wise One in front of all the other Wise Ones. Keep in mind, Egwene is around 20 years old at this point. Yeaaaah.
- At one point Elayne, Nynaeve, and someone else are taken captive by a band of women who are working for the enemy. In an attempt to prevent them using magic to escape, they are tied to beds and force-fed a special drug through a funnel every hour on the hour. This bondage/domination scene grinds on for several pages as they struggle to regain their power in time (by the way, the men of the party, repeatedly called useless, save the day here, and get no gratitude).
- Aviendha and Elayne decide to become sisters. This unique ceremony involves them both stripping naked, kneeling on the floor before each other, and, before a watching crowd of Wise Ones and other assorted Aiel chicks, insulting each other, pulling each others' hair, and slapping each other about the face and breasts. I may be adding the hair pulling on my own, but the important thing is it's perfectly plausible for a scene that's already gone through Sanity Pass and deep into the Mountains of Freako.
And that's all I have. At this rate, Jordan will keep writing books until he keels over dead. Hopefully by that point his fans will have deserted him - you can already tell by the reviews of Crossroads of Twilight on Amazon.com that whatever freakish honeymoon may have started, it's over now. The fans are waking up from a drunken stupor and finding themselves in bed with a fat beast that loves to talk about dresses and how much honey its Aes Sedai friends take in their tea.
And they're running. FAST.
Nynaeve tugged her braid.
If it has been posted before (even though I couldn't find it), my apologies.
This post has been edited by Rhand: 23 May 2011 - 09:10 PM