If Robert Jordan were getting paid a certain amount of money per word, I'm surprised that he hasn't retired to a decadent, hedonistic lifestyle by now. The "Wheel of Time" series is one of those serieses that is good in concept, but the execution is simply hideous. This particular boxed set has the first three books of a nine-going-on-ten series of doorstoppers.
The first problem is Jordan's writing. Some authors can describe a landscape, a person, the atmosphere of a scene with richness, depth, and either spare or lush language. Jordan uses a lot of words, but the result simply feels as if he's giving us a rivet-by-rivet account of every piece of furniture, clothing, and architecture. This does not add a feeling of you-are-there, it simply crams the reader's head with insignificant details, that most authors allow the reader to imagine on his/her own/ (Darnit, I don't CARE about Rand's living room furniture!) He also has a tendency to use bizarre descriptive terms, and repetitive use of certain terms will, eventually, start to really grate on you.
The dialogue is strictly ordinary -- it is neither really good or really bad. The pacing is amazingly bad; in the first book, it is literally a hundred pages before anything actually happens. (A good comparison is this: It's as if the first hundred pages of "Fellowship of the Ring" had Frodo Baggins ambling around Hobbiton, talking pointlessly to his friends and being sniped at by hobbit women).
Two annoying traits of Jordan's world are these: The Dragon prophecy, and the complexity of his world. Anyone with even a quarter of a brain could figure out that Rand is the Dragon, something he and his friends seem blissfully unaware of for a very, very long time. As for the complexity issue, it hinges on the fact that Jordan, in an apparent effort to make his world as realistic as possible, crams as many organizations, terms, and people into his books as possible. This is one of those fantasy books where "less is more," and it's virtually impossible to keep track of it all.
Characterization is sketchy. All claims to the contrary, these books have a heavy sexist overtone, where all the women (except one, thank God) are screechy, picky, whiny harpies who spend a great deal of time yammering about what pains men are. The men, overall, seem to be as clueless as it is possible to be; some of them exhibit individualistic charm, but the hero is as bland as white bread. Supporting characters are, more often than not, annoying and lacking in dimension. The idiot villagers spring immediately to mind.
Perhaps the worst thing about this series is the lack of originality. While many concepts are original, and intriguing in their conception, many more are not. Before reading the "Wheel of Time" books, I suggest you invest in a copy of "Tough Guide to Fantasyland," sadly out of print in the US but still available in the UK. Most of the cliches are the basic things: we have the orc-clones, a Fade, a hero with a lost identity and destiny (think Luke Skywalker, but without a personality), a special sword, a welcoming inn with a jolly inkeeper, a mysterious stranger-wizard-type, a rugged outdoorsy warrior, the necessary pals and sidekicks, a Dark Lord, and so on. If you're an avid reader of fantasy (especially Tolkien) you will soon discover that you've read all this before, and it was more fun the first time.
Not as bad as Dennis McKiernan's Mithgar books, but close. Read Terry Brooks if you're in the mood for generic fantasy; better yet, read Tolkien, or Lloyd Alexander, or Patricia McKillip, or newcomer Cecilia Dart-Thornton. It's not really worth dedicating your brain cells to a fantasy series that will, apparently, never end.
on February 26, 1999
Well, wheni started to read the first book of Wheel of time i really enjoyd, not so much, but as a good fantasy book, so i went to the book store to buy the second and i shocked!! i so 8 books from the wheel of time on the shelf!!! i thought that its a big story and i continued to buy the books, now i finished the sixth book and im very angring!!! because i saw already 14 books in the book store and i looked in the back of the 14th book and i saw that blablablabla and the last sentence said something like this:" Waiting that the dark-master will free from his jail and will stand against the main character for the last battle". i really angry on robert jordan because he took the respected and expencive fantasy books and made from them chip serie that he is continuing. in every book or few books new problem appear and the characters resolving it, and nothing is not happenning!!!! after i finished the 6th book i thought, in what the story went forward and the answer were absoloutly nothing!!! i think that someone need to stop this rediculess serie before it will be late!