The Dragon Reborn – Robert Jordan

I started this book while I was well into Infinite Jest and I needed something else that I could read with the brain turned off so that I could sleep afterward. Infinite Jest was getting me obsessed and The Dragon Reborn was perfect and made me sleep rather peacefully. With such premise one would think I’m already putting the book under a negative light, but that’s not completely true. I’m not masochist, I read slowly and have no time to read (and comment) books that I think are terrible, so if I finished even this one it means that I have at least enjoyed it to an extent. The kind of extent of enjoyment is a key element that I think is rather important not only from my personal perspective, but also in defining what is that makes this series so widely successful and popular.

It is accessible, I’ve already said this before and it’s an important element, but what is truly meaningful to understand is something that was exposed in a snarky review written by this Adam Roberts guy and that I’m quoting:

The writerly-technical term for this is ‘padding’; but the prolixity is such a fundamental part of what Jordan is doing that I suspect it misses the point to object to it. I was reminded a little of Scott, and his swaddling swathes of garrulous prosifying (except that, unlike Scott, by bulk, about half of Jordan’s padding is dialogue). It has specific textual effects; and the one that struck me, on reading through it, is of upholstery. It’s a comfortable sort of style, like settling into a bath; a mix of stiff little archaic touches and chattily modern waffle.

Putting aside the (deserved or not) snark, what rings true for me is that reading this series is kind of pleasant. The comparison with settling into a warm bath is the most fitting he could imagine and one of the most important elements to which I ascribe the success of the series. Calling it in a different way, I’d define this perk as redundancy. It’s the redundancy that stands out in this series and in this book in particular, and that is a strength because in the same way the prose can soothe and ease into a bath, the redundancy helps to ease into a fantasy world and induce “immersion” (fitting word, thinking of baths). This redundancy, despite its negatives, is used as a quality here. It’s not just redundancy of prose style, but also reflects in the way characters are portrayed (idiosyncrasies that have fallen now into parodies well known among readers, with the infinite tugging of braids, smoothing of skirts or all three male protagonists convinced how the other is better dealing with women) and even the worldbuilding.

About worldbuilding. I’m still waiting. I’ve read how the series goes much deeper into describing the world and its cultures. The second book in the series opened things a bit and made them look more interesting and convincing than just a Tolkien-translated world, but this third book doesn’t really expand anything. Characters move and visit some key cities but the way these are described doesn’t add any meaningful depth beside listing some traits and differences. Which brings me back to the redundancy. Cultures are described in a simplistic way, mostly observed through the eyes of characters who know nothing about them, but this helps to define the perimeter of the setting. Nothing in the book appears out of the grasp of the reader. We get to know things in a way that is never staggering or unmanageable and, soon, we build familiarity. Familiarity leads back to redundancy and both have the effect of easing into the story and tag along. This is why it works. It comfortable and familiar, tension is kept under control and the redundancy helps to never feel like missing something important. The more the familiarity builds up, the more the ease into reading. Then he, Jordan, lets it flow.

It flows well even if I consider this book sensibly worse than the second in the series (that I thought was much better than the first, since it was starting to flesh out the world instead of simply mimicking devotedly Tolkien). In a total of 700 pages, the 650 in the middle are a very boring travelogue that doesn’t really add enough to the story to be considered entertaining. The second book had travel, but somehow Jordan was able to put at least something meaningful in each chapter, forming a deliberate structure that I thought was keeping the book going relatively strong. This one is just more ephemeral in meaningful content, it relies too much on the characters’ personalities which I also thought were particularly weak this time. While I didn’t overly noticed the characters’ idiosyncrasies in the first and second book, I felt as if this one was itself a parody of everything readers complain on forums and reviews. An endless stream of repetitive actions and thoughts that were themselves kind of circular and leading nowhere. This gave me a feeling of stall that made the travelogue even worse.

Bad habits in the writing style flare in this book, much more than the second. The whole first section of the book is one long coed sleepover with not one redeeming feature. The plot is rather stupid and utterly fails to build up a mystery that was already revealed as it formed. Characters and plots gets sensibly worse as they get separated and lack the friction and build up between each other. In this book they move on on separate stories too soon and by the time they converge there are only six pages left. The supporting cast is also thinner so, as a whole, I thought this one book failed to build something relevant. It felt too unwound and going nowhere.

Yet there’s something that I consider positive: characters evolve. Even if the book oozes immobility in plot, worldbuilding and characters, at least something happened between the books. This is important because it’s part of a strong thematic aspect of the book that I consider successful: there’s no turning back. As the series starts you see from the perspective of these farmboys and girls too scared of adventure and that would rather just return to their normal life. The book exposes enough of that familiar life so that it is familiar for the reader as well, so you get the feeling of how the scenery changes, you feel some of that estrangement and then nostalgia for the initial bucolic world. All stories seem built cyclically so that defeating the evil will bring you back right to the start and the happy life. Suspect builds, on a series of 12+ books, about plots being cyclical as well, one book copying the one that precedes it with slight changes. Instead despite the redundancy of certain aspects and structure, I felt that the characters are definitely moving on, that there’s no return and that the plot has at least a direction and that isn’t simply folding on itself and repeating. There’s a process of maturation that, even if it doesn’t fully affects personalities (being characters rather dumb), at least affects their roles.

I got again a certain satisfaction toward the last 60 pages, with the convergence. It feels like things start moving again and have a point. Jordan has still the quality of weaving the tapestry and having a control of the big picture, so when the pieces actually move in context this is satisfying, but the satisfaction didn’t last long because the actual final confrontation was stupid. Here comes the usual abstract battle between Rand and the evil guy, leading to one big revelation that left me completely indifferent since it changes absolutely nothing nor feeds any purpose. It’s just one unnecessary deus ex machina that fails even to build surprise (one also wonders why “evil guy” tries to strike Rand only the one moment when Rand is able to strike back). All characters are particularly retarded in this part, even worse between each other which made me dislike this (brief) reunion I was awaiting. Mat himself transformed for the whole book into a walking deus ex machina who can seemingly do everything simply because he’s “lucky”. So he pulls every kind of stupid stunts, makes plots align “by chance”, and even becomes an undefeatable warrior with a staff confronting veteran soldiers and whatever comes on his path. Boring, and on top of a character whose insubordination comes so much as a stereotype that I found it only annoying and arid. A character used poorly. Along Zarine, another character who could be at the very least fun, but that is destroyed by reflection upon Perrin, whose reaction to Zarine is totally pathetic and, simply, dull & unfun. It fizzles. Like damp fireworks.

This book puts aside much of the lore and infodumps that I at least enjoyed in book 2. They were at least shaping things up. Here instead there’s a dearth of ideas supporting the 700 pages. No new ideas, nor novelty in dealing with old ideas with potential. There’s some repetition. Only a very brief glimpse toward the end at the nature of evil, still done better in book 1 & 2. The bad guys are more willingly to say the truth than the good guys. There’s still a gray area that makes the bad side vaguely more interesting than just a stereotypical foe, something that works because Jordan takes it from a deeper truth coming from the real world, but that isn’t used well or up to the potential in this book.

I’m aware book 4 is considered by many the best in the series and adding some to the worldbuilding. Up to this book the setting has been traced not unlike the characters, with very typical and broad traits “borrowed” from real-world culture and often without original twists. I’m waiting for depth or even breadth. The characters still mostly don’t work for me. The traits that define them not only aren’t convincing but they also get annoying and I find myself enjoying a lot more supporting characters (Zarine here despite the mishandling of potential, Thom a bit less than usual since he’s been downplayed so that Mat could put his super powers on display, Loial, Liandrin, Min). I still enjoy the broad scope that sporadically surfaces and hints at more. If anything I found this third book as the most juvenile of the three while I hoped things would have progressed, even slowly, toward a more convincing (and engaging) maturity. Not all is lost and I still enjoyed the book enough to make to the end (and peeking at the first chapter of Shadow Rising, where’s the prologue?).

There are various aspects I forgot to comment, one I wanted to add: I’m aware that the careful description of clothes has been criticized and considered excessive. I don’t agree, up to this book there’s always a purpose when it is used. The way people are dressed is a way to recognize who they are. Not only it differentiates cultures, but it also defines social structure and roles, and what you can expect from who’s in front of you. I don’t know if Jordan lingers too much in later books but here it’s done deliberately for a reason and provides infos that are useful in context. Another aspect is that, as I said at the beginning, I find Jordan extremely easy to read. I can read it before I go to sleep and when I’m tired. Not so much with other writers. There are fantasy writers that I enjoy much, much more than Jordan, yet Jordan is the one I return to more easily. That’s why when I begin to read just the first chapter of the next book there’s always the risk I won’t stop ;)

Sanderson’s Way of Kings – Please say something true.

These things truly irritate me, and it irritates me even more the way people SWALLOW IT ALL without blinking. Or are ready to be paladins of lies and defend those lies with all they have. The complete lack of truthfulness or even the lack of consideration that the public may DESERVE truthfulness (and how the bullshit relies completely on the fact that they know the public has a memory span of just a few seconds).

Why the fuck in this world there’s absolutely no one left who speaks straight and devoid of hidden agendas or personal interest?

But when you fling so carelessly bullshit up in the air, sometimes it comes back down.

So let’s look back, with straight quotes, at the reasons that Sanderson, Harriet and Tor used to justify the split in three books for “A Memory of Light”:

How did the decision to divide this final book into three parts come about? Was it a publishing necessity, a story necessity, or something else?

Harriet: The material that Jim left was very capacious, and Brandon saw after working with it for a while that he could not complete it in less than a total of 750,000 words. This is probably an impossible thing to bind – unless we sold it with a magnifying glass. 250,000 words is in fact a fat, or Rubensesque, novel. You will notice that 3 x 250,000 equals 750,000. So… part of the decision was based on making a book within the scope of binding technology. The major part of the decision was to get ALL the story that Jim left out there for us all.

somehow get to 750k by the March deadline that Tom had said was about the latest he could put a book into production and still have it out for the holidays.

Tom felt that we NEEDED to provide them a book in 2009.

However, in this scenario (400k book), you end up releasing two fractured books, and the bookstores are mad at you for their size. (Which may translate to the bookstores ordering fewer copies, and fans being mad because they can’t find copies as easily as they want)

When I’d mentioned 400k to him once, he’d been wary. He explained to me that he felt 400k was unprintably large in today’s publishing market. Things have changed since the 90’s, and booksellers are increasingly frustrated with the fantasy genre, which tends to take up a lot of shelf space with very few books. There is constant pressure from the big chain bookstores to keep things smaller and thinner.

(March 2009) Last night—Monday night—I pulled an all-nighter finishing up THE GATHERING STORM and sending it off to Harriet and company. In essence, the book is now complete. I suspect there will be another hasty round of revisions this weekend, but the book really needs to be in ASAP. We’re already over-deadline in getting it in, and Tor is going to have to pay overtime at the printer in order to get it out in November. (Tom has already said he’d do this, so it’s not a big issue, but every day counts. Hence the all-night revision marathon.)

So the reasons they used exactly a year ago to explain a split in three books were:

– A 400k book is too big to publish.
– The publishing market and retailers are pushing for smaller books. Big doesn’t sell anymore.
– If the book was coming out before the end of the year, then the final draft had to be completed by end of March.

Now fast forward to March 2010. Brandon Sanderson announces he has a huge 10 book epic series lined up. Published by Tor. The first book is 425k words long. It is coming out in August, but he hasn’t even completed the final draft yet (but no delays expected).

POINT ONE: This book is the start of a longer epic.
KINGS stands at 425,000 words right now. I’ll be trimming that down to (hopefully) 380–390k when I do the next draft. (Which will be the final draft.)

In case you don’t know, THE WAY OF KINGS is my next novel, set to come out August 17th of this year.

All the difficulties and market’s demands waved a year ago are completely gone. Maybe because those difficulties never existed and were completely made up in order to justify the three book split and hide the true motivation that was obviously less palatable than portraying heroic publishers working the printers overnight in order to deliver the book as soon as possible to the worthy reader.

This is the spin I hate. How they flaunt themselves as saviors and how everything is boasted as something exceptional just to serve their public, in the public’s own interest. When it’s just the MERCHANT speaking here, not the writer. And there isn’t even one truthful word when you have a merchant speaking.

In the end this irritates me but doesn’t matter. The problem here is how these guys expect everyone to swallow their bullshit and then forget about it. Why if something is done for a legitimate business reason it can’t be told plainly for what it is? Why the need to spin and mystify?

In August I plan to buy the book and read it ASAP and enjoy it. I have good expectations about it and I hope it will be so good that I’ll look forward for all the 10 books. I’ll read the book without any prejudice and really want it to be great. But I also hope he drops all the bullshit and speaks straight when he wants to promote his books. He can do good promotion even without flinging bullshit everywhere.

The wail of the Wheel of Time

If the decision to split “A Memory of Light” in three different books in order to milk the franchise didn’t reveal a particular intention, this may even to the loudest and dumbest apologists.

Brandon Sanderson has written another piece where he explains he WILL WRITE the outriggers (Dune-like) as long Tom covers him with money while he unloads all responsibilities on Harriet.

The reasoning is quite interesting:

It would be very hard to let someone else write it. Almost as hard as it would be to let go of another series.

This being Sanderson expressing his own feelings, and one wonders how JORDAN would feel about Sanderson writing his stuff.

Translation: he already stabbed Mr Jordan once, and he’s the most fitting to do it again.

What is irritating is the complete lack of sincerity and the continuous attempts to justify what he does without taking ANY responsibility for his choices. It’s Tom that wants the books, it’s Harriet that will decide if they will be made. He’s just the passive writer with no choice but to save the day.

The outriggers being another three books, the prequels another two. He’s set for a great career.

A Memory of Light rant part 4

Discussing on the forums about the argument that too big books aren’t convenient in this economic climate and that bookshops are threatening Tor of not carrying the book (or order many less copies) because it would use up too much shelf space (and so justifying the split of the book in three), I brought a few examples with evidence of the contrary:

– The fourth book in the Wheel of Time series is still one of the best selling of the bunch today, even if it’s the biggest book.

– Tor is re-releasing Glen Cook’s Black Company books as HUGE omnibus and retiring the single-book editions. This AGAINST the will of the writer who liked better the old versions (300 pages). These new omnibus apparently sold well and more are planned to come out.

– To someone stating that Erikson’s doorstop novels weren’t selling well for Tor, at least initially, I replied that Tor is re-releasing the first book in the series as tradeback, with the original UK cover, this May.

– Tor also recently signed a deal to publish all current and upcoming books from Esslemont (Erikson’s spin-off), so proving again that Erikson is becoming quite profitable (in spite of the horrendous covers and inappropriate overall treatment at Tor).

Today someone pointed at a comment of Daniel Abraham that pretty much negates all justifications of the contrary:

For the New Fantasy Project, Tor has expressed a preference for larger volumes along the Erickson/Martin/Jordan doorstop tradition. I’m comfortable with that. There are some real advantages to the great long story that the relatively short novel doesn’t have. There are some challenges too.

As you can see, all justifications are bullshit and just an attempt to fool customers. To put all this in perspective, this is (one of) the justifications written by Sanderson:

When I’d mentioned 400k to him (Tom Doherty) once, he’d been wary. He explained to me that he felt 400k was unprintably large in today’s publishing market. Things have changed since the 90’s, and booksellers are increasingly frustrated with the fantasy genre, which tends to take up a lot of shelf space with very few books. There is constant pressure from the big chain bookstores to keep things smaller and thinner.

It’s just a convenient thing to say when your original intent is to milk a successful series for as many years to come as possible. All that is being said is secondary.

Tor: stop acting like clowns

A Memory of Light rant part 3.

Considering how things are going, an advice to Sanderson: just shut the fuck up. It’s better.

After Tom Doherty “expressed his happiness” about how much it is cool to split a book in three (and multiply the cost for customers by the same number), and both him and Harriet tried to deceive and excuse the split by stating wrongfully that it couldn’t be made, while avoiding to answer why it couldn’t be split in two.

Now we got another blog from Sanderson explain how everyone should be grateful to Tor and Tom Doherty:

Tor is going to have to pay overtime at the printer in order to get it out in November.


How could I ever doubted of the fairness, moral integrity and dedication of a so great publisher -not publisher, SAINT- who’s willingly to pay overtime at the printers so that they could deliver this precious book to us in November? How?

How could such an extraordinary feat be achieved? Delivering a book in, let’s count, more than seven months?

I’ll tell you how. This is from Martin:

I am trying to finish the book by June. I think I can do that. If I do, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS will likely be published in September or October.

If he finishes the book in June, he expects it to be in the shops for SEPTEMBER OR OCTOBER. That’s three or four months.

Erikson is in a similar situation. He’s yet to finish the book and the publisher still aims for a release the first week of September.

INCREDIBLE! Two miracles!

Or maybe this is the kind of extraordinary feat is the norm in the industry as they are expected to do a good job, and not just a poor one. And surely those publishers aren’t going around bragging about how they can publish a book in seven months. Because doing a good work is not extraordinary, but it’s what you expect from an industry that doesn’t try to aim for mediocrity.

A Memory of Light: Follow-up to outrage

Two aspects still stand after all the discussions on the forums and blogs:

1- I consider going above 700k excessive. Before Jordan died the book was tentatively scheduled for a late 2008 release. When he died fans expected that he was, if not near the conclusion, well into the book. So the fans were expecting another writer to be called to COMPLETE the book and fill the missing parts. Months later there was a SHOCKING revelation that no one has taken for what it meant simply out of respect. Jordan was nowhere near the end of the book. In fact he was nowhere even near the middle. He left 50k words of prose and a bunch of notes and an outline that fans suppose/hope is well detailed. The truth (and I say this because telling the truth is more respectful than telling lies) is that Jordan wouldn’t have possibly completed the book. Not a chance since he wrote 50k in two years. This means that Sanderson wasn’t going to complete some missing parts, but he was going to do the GREAT MAJORITY of the work.

Now, with the recent growth of the book to excessive levels (we moved from a target of 400k to 800k in just a few months), we are looking at a book of 800-900k against 50k written by Jordan. This can’t be anymore possibly be called “completing” a book. Not even co-writing. Since it seems that the majority of those 50k Jordan wrote are the prologue and last chapter, then it’s likely that the middle book of the new trilogy will have NO JORDAN WORDS in it. Every passing month Sanderson bit a bigger piece of the pie. If we make a proportion WITH THE WHOLE series and all eleven books Jordan wrote, Sanderson, with one book, is writing a 21.4% of the thing. More than twenty fucking percent. This isn’t about closing plot threads following Jordan’s outline, this is about taking the task to a whole new level. This is FAR from the idea of completing the book, and month after month Sanderson is taking more for himself. Way past the essence of the initial deal and respect for Jordan. It isn’t about carefully respecting the original work and write exactly what is needed to give the book a proper conclusion within what is possible with what Jordan left. It is about taking control and writing a new tangent.

Have the courage to take Jordan name off the cover. Because he is surely not the writer of THIS book.

2- I’m extremely annoyed with the rhetoric being used, including Harriet.

To the complaints about the three volumes split people across forums are replying with “it was impossible for one volume”. No one is answering WHY THE BOOK COULDN’T BE SPLIT IN TWO.

This defies logic. It’s a stupid argument and exposes a lack of truthfulness.

This piece from Harriett is offensive of intelligence:

The material that Jim left was very capacious, and Brandon saw after working with it for a while that he could not complete it in less than a total of 750,000 words. This is probably an impossible thing to bind – unless we sold it with a magnifying glass. 250,000 words is in fact a fat, or Rubensesque, novel. You will notice that 3 x 250,000 equals 750,000. So… part of the decision was based on making a book within the scope of binding technology.

The argument used to counter those who complained about the split in three is saying that the book was impossible to bind in one. So they are going to bind it in three.

“You will notice that 3 x 250,000 equals 750,000”? No. I notice that you are bullshitting me. Why, if the book couldn’t be done in one, couldn’t it be done in two? Why aren’t you answering that?

Because this is also a fraud. Because this is a deceit and “impossible thing to bind” is, obviously, NOT the TRUE reason behind the split. That’s all. And they are too cowards to admit what is the true reason. Hypocrites.

Those are the two main points. If Jordan wrote 50k and an outline, then writing 900k means going WAY BEYOND the original intent Sanderson was given. Secondly, while the split in two was justified by a so huge book, a split in three is just evidence of publisher’s greed that trumps respect for a writer to whom they owe a lot.

Quotes from the forums:

Stego: The man stood up from his seat and shouted to a room of fans that it would be one more book, he raised his voice louder and gesticulated and stated that if it had to be the size of three phone books, so be it. He would make sure it happened, publishers be damned.

When I asked him about it later, he stated that no matter what happened, no matter what he had to do, he would make sure it was only one more book. What is hard to grasp about that? TOR and Sanderson are going against his wishes.

Have you read the garbled ramblings that were The Wheel of Time 7-10? TOR would let him get away with anything. But now that he’s dead, they feel as if they can do whatever they damn well choose.

Gyrehead: I guess my point is, for good or ill, this is no longer Robert Jordan’s A Memory of Light but rather the Estate of Robert Jordan’s A Memory of Light. If Sanderson was comign in to fill in the blanks it would be one thing. But he’s not. He is essentially writing the book with a leaping off point of Jordan’s overall scheme and a few passages already written. That is it. This book is for Jordan. Or more for Tor making money and the bleating fans who long before Jordan was even ill fretted and moaned and wet themselves in frustration as to when the series would be finished. Not how. Not how well. But just when. Now they get their wish. Because “finishing” the series is what was the most important thing. In fact such comments exist in this thread. Neverminding the head in the sand approach to the fact that the series will remain unfinished in terms of Robert Jordan writing the book and getting his clearly grandiosely deluded belief it would be one book (especially as Jordan in Atlanta was already talking about over 1200 pages post-manuscript publishing before he did more than organize the files he had left over from the last book).

I respect Jordan’s work. I even had a liking for him despite his overinflated opinion of himself. Mainly because even with all his one book more foolishness before he even put pen to paper (Jordan was the last author that should have written to order), he still took all his fame and glory as a writer as a huge unexpected privilege and never ever took that for granted. And I will even read Sanderson’s Tor Inhouse fanboi special franchised “ending”. But in terms of respecting Jordan’s wishes? Well that train left the station long ago since Tor went aahead with Harriet’s guidance and input and took the route of having Sanderon write the book. Write the book. Not edit it . Write it. The fact that the book will bear Jordan as “author” smacks more of V.C. Andrews than it doesn’t. It is Brandon Sanderson trying to pretend to be Robert Jordan and hoping that all those fans who just wanted it done no matter what , no matter by what author, will line up, baa quietly and pony up the lucre for the tome no matter how thick and no matter many volumes it takes. This was about Tor managing to make a profit and a very concerted effort to just please fans eager to suck at the teat of WoT even if it is wetnurse offering the pap. Worrying about Jordan’s wishes? Even if he had written it in full or significant part? WEll why does he get that accord? I mean WoT as it is, is still my favorite series as a whole. And it no doubt will remain so for some time to come if not in perpetuity. But I still think silly posturing and blowhard over expectations deserve to be ignored politely. Whether it is a living deluded guru like Goodkind or an author I feel we lost well before his time like Jordan. death doesn’t turn stupid, or at least in this cae foolishness, into sanctity.

I should say that regardless of the above, I think that Tor shouldn’t make any decisions until Sanderson finishes the whole book. Because it should be treated as a whole book no matter how many volumes it takes to do the final book. The approach now in what is being reported is that even with a “natural” cut off point that Sanderson seems so happy about, it ceases to become a single volume even in spirit if he stops writing.

A Memory of Light: a mountain of bullshit

I knew I was right when I said that bad rumors were true rumors, and to expect pointless justifications.

Here’s the press release:

Harriet McDougal said on the process behind A Memory of Light: “The scope and size of the novel was such that it could not be contained in a single volume.


President and Publisher of Tor Books, Tom Doherty, also expressed his happiness with A Memory of Light, saying: “It is a magnificent closure to a great American epic fantasy whose journey began almost twenty years ago. There is no way Robert Jordan would have squeezed it to a single volume, and somehow it seems fitting that what began as a trilogy will also end as one.”

Unrespectful bullshit.

Followed by Brandon Sanderson own long apology list:

By this point, I’d already warned Tom and Harriet that I saw the length being very large, but I hadn’t told Tom the 700-800k number. When I’d mentioned 400k to him once, he’d been wary. He explained to me that he felt 400k was unprintably large in today’s publishing market.

Bullshit. Their catalog is filled with similar unprintable books, even bigger.

Tom and I were on a panel together, talking about AMoL. I noted that (by that point) I had around 250k written. He said something like “Ah, so you’re almost done!” I looked chagrined and said “Actually, I feel that I’m only about 1/3 of the way there, Tom.” He blinked, shocked, and then laughed a full bellied laugh. “It’s happening again!” he exclaimed. “Jim sold me one book that somehow became three, and now it’s happening again!”

Said while his eyes were turning into dollar symbols. What an awesome way to milk all those stupid fans out there!

I started to lobby Harriet subtly, pointing out that previous Wheel of Time books had been 380k, and perhaps that would be a good length for each Volume of AMOL, if it was cut.

It is quite obvious that a book exceeding 500k is getting unhandy. I have Atlas Shrugged that is 600k crammed in 1000 pages. The book actually still sells a lot (for all the idiot claims about too long books), but it’s unhandy. You could add more pages and adjust the typeset for a better result, but I’d put a limit at 500k or so.

What ISN’T obvious at all is that A Memory of Light needed 800k. This is bullshit. This is about a writer and a publisher capering in the air to find the fanciest justification for just one thing: greed.

Greed to put the hands on someone else’s work and make it one’s own. Greed for money. Greed for publicity and attention. It’s taking advantage of someone else’s work.

One thing is to take up the job, read carefully all that is written, and try to complete the book the best way as possible. Another is to start enjoying being part of the process and decide to go all over the place. Because you feel that what you are writing is now entirely yours. And so start to see all the possibilities and enjoy adding whatever you want. The bigger the book, the more “Brandon Sanderson”‘s property grows, owning more and more of the series. He isn’t anymore a guest. He wants to be co-owner. Every month he takes another chunks and justifies another growth. Every month he asks more and rises the stakes.

800k taken out the 50k or so Jordan left isn’t anymore completing a book. It’s writing a new tangent that goes in a totally different direction.

800k doesn’t mean “cool, that gets us three books”. 800k screams for something gone wrong.

800k doesn’t mean “write more, we have three volumes to fill now”. It means, okay let’s make two. Whatever goes beyond, needs to be cut.

Boycott A Memory of Light. Do not buy it.

Confidence in Brandon Sanderson doing a good job: -100%

Saying that this is the book Jordan wanted to write is the same as saying that Kevin J. Anderson’s Dune books are the books Frank Herbert would have written.

Sanderson reviews “heritage”

I mean Brandon Sanderson, the one who’s going to complete Robert Jordan’s last book in the Wheel of Time.

On his blog he’s writing down comments about his reading through the entire series before he starts doing the real writing. Quite interesting.

I’ll probably only do one post for the first book, then, which is a tragedy, since it has long been one of my favorites of the series. I also feel that it will be VERY important to writing Book Twelve. The Wheel turns; ages become new again and ideas return. I feel that the last book of the series should have numerous hearkenings back to this first book; that will give a sense of closure to this section of the Pattern and fit with the motif of the Wheel’s turning.

That’s just my gut instinct, and I’m not promising anything specific or even referencing material from the Twelfth Book. I’m only speaking of my general feelings as a writer, but Mr. Jordan’s notes are far more important than any of my instincts.

On this point I disagree. The WOT is also a growth novel. From the point of view of Rand the main theme is about how things escalate and get out of hand. So while he always thought he would become “adult” in his village, he doesn’t return and is rather forced to grow and start seeing everything under a different light. Along with despair and responsibility.

This to say that, imho, the first book should return in the last as a distant memory of childhood. You look back at things with some curiosity and fondness, but, as it happens, also with a sense of estrangement. It’s a weird mix of feelings, and it’s also shared ground between ALL readers. As all of them started reading this series so long ago, and looking back is both familiar and yet very strange.

So more of the sense of “closure”, I would give it a sense of mismatching. Things that won’t return, along with a sense of loss. I think that a complete “happy end” without tradeoffs doesn’t fit well the series.

On the rest he writes I agree, especially on his view on Nynaeve.

The Wheel turns…

Some rectifications on my almost-review of “The Great Hunt”.

My concerns about the plot threads not being wrapped up in a satisfying way with the conclusion of the book should be lessened. In a discussion on westeros forums (where I repeated some concepts I wrote in my review) some readers who have read the story further confirmed that the plot holds well, and what seems “random” or unexcused will be instead explained later, when some mysteries will be unveiled. I tend to believe this because other observations they made make sense.

Considering those points raised (some starting here) I actually think the story is more clever than I expected. While I thought the villain was one of the silliest and stupidest ever created, I think in the end the story will show him for what he actually is: …patient. Because up to the point I’ve read either he’s incredibly stupid, or he has a deeper, more clever plan. It can be interpreted both ways because till now he was easily defeated. But what if the defeats is also part of the plan?

So I guess I have to trust Jordan a bit more, and with this I’m eager to read the third book as soon as possible. I really didn’t expect to be so excited :)

Oh there are always reasons. Though its never obvious. One strength of the series, that isn’t lost even in the later books, is that it is highly consistent, and most loose ends are never left hanging. The flip side is that this doesn’t always happen in one book. Hence my statement that WoT is more like one long story. Never believe that the books are self-contained.

Another positive is that because Jordan is never obvious with the answers, the series is immensely re-readable. Each time you read the book again, you’ll find another layer of meaning to the story. You can enjoy it as brainless entertainment. But if you want to read deeper into the text, you’ll find that the books still hold up, with a lot of themes very well developed.

Yesterday also arrived the news about what will happen with the 12 book now that Jordan left it incomplete. Brandon Sanderson, another fantasy writer, will try to put the pieces already written together under the assistance of Jordan’s wife, and Tor will release the book in the fall of 2009. So two years from now.

I’ll quote here the interesting pieces of an interview with the author and some other taken from the forums, since he likes to interact with the community (which I always think is extremely valuable even for a “lonely” profession like a writer):

Congratulations on receiving this landmark opportunity. How are you feeling?

Honestly? I’m feeling daunted. And still a little sad. There was only one person who could have written this book the way it was supposed to be written, and he is gone now. I think I’ll do a good job (to be honest, I think I’ll do a great job) but I can’t do the job he would have done. Nobody can.

Tor could have hired a ghost writer to do this book, and then could have released it under Mr. Jordan’s name only, pretending that the book was nearly finished by the time of Mr. Jordan’s death. I think it is to their credit that they didn’t. Readers deserve to know what they are getting. My goal will be to stay true to the themes, characters, concepts, and general stylistic choices that made these books so successful without trying to mimic the smaller details of his style.

I intend to use EVERY BIT of actual written text from Mr. Jordan, and in intend to follow those outlines as exactly as possible. I’ve been told that there is a substantial amount that I will have to come up with, but I will always have a guide–if only a few lines or dictated explanations.

I just wanted to let you know that I have now seen the notes, and while I can’t say anything specific without breaking my NDA, I will say that the notes are in far better shape than I had expected. Mr. Jordan’s staff are very skilled, and they have complied an outline for me that goes scene-by-scene. After reading through it, I’m confident we can produce a book that Mr. Jordan would have been pleased with.

Also, I DO finally know who killed Asmodean, and I promise to include it in the book to finally answer that question for you.

Also, I WILL be more detailed in my descriptions for this book. I may need a fleet of people to help me get the clothing descriptions down, but I’ll do it!

This book will be one volume, but it’s going to be long. How long? I can’t say yet. Longer than any book I’ve published, I’m certain. However, I’m also very certain we can make it one book. It will not be split into two volumes. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s how to FINISH.