Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Shadow Rising

Book Love Affair blog discussion for this book and the Tor reread outline by Leigh Butler.

I feel like I'm being sucked along in this Wheel of Time epic. I'm not a rabid fan (they seem to be out there) but I am enjoying certain aspects of the story. It's written in a way that moves along well, for plot, and has dreamworld and magic themes that interest me, and I care just enough about the main characters to want to see what happens to them.

But still, I'm sad that there's so little depth of personality in the characters. Sigh.

Least liked scene: Egwene and Elayne chatting like junior high school girls about who's going to go out with Rand -- oh, excuse me -- who "really loves him." (gag me with a spoon, please!) The manipulativeness of the women, their disdain for men (even the women who claim to like men) is tedious. If this was a characteristic of just a handful of the female characters I could understand that as an intrinsic part of the story, but ALL the female characters despise men and talk to them in an egregiously condescending manner. And the men are social bumpkins who are unable to master the schemes of women; they respond like surly children who are constantly being scolded. In a word: there's NO romance going on anywhere in this epic, so move along. In defense, there is this conceit that men have broken the world, and now women are more powerful, but still, there should be some distinctness among characters about this condition of social relations between men and women. Bleah. I'm seriously considering not reading any more of this. The good part is that Rand seems to be becoming more of a man in this book, and he takes responsibility for his own actions, and resists the machinations of the women around him. Yes, the men are never manipulative, it's just the women.

Oh wait, maybe there is ONE female character who isn't SO manipulative: that would be Min. Whew. But she's rather a weakling, mostly a device for foreshadowing.

Most favorite scene: Rand in Rhuidean, a place of power. Experiencing his ancestor's history: good stuff. I really do like all that sa'angreal, angreal, ter'angreal stuff; objects of power. Reminiscent of the Carlos Castaneda books.

Also favorite scene: The takedown of the Amyrlin Seat in Tar Valon. Ooh those evil witches!

I missed Perrin's wolves. I suppose "Slayer"/Luc was doing his darkfriend/forsaken duty, because the wolves would help Perrin? Did I miss the explanation?

I enjoyed Nynaeve's encounter with Moghedien, although the rescue-Panarch-Amathera caper seemed to ride excessively on luck. Sigh.

So, Jordan is leaving a lot unexplained, to tantalize the reader into reading more. Like, "what's up with Mat and those fox-people?"

I have to say: yes, authors manipulate readers, but the reader isn't supposed to resent being manipulated. The reader is supposed to appreciate the artistry of the writer and to feel genuinely emotionally engaged: to feel that something of importance is transpiring, and that you want to see how it all comes out, and go along for the journey. If a character's actions and development don't emerge from the friction between personality and setting, the reader feels manipulated. Characters are sometimes stupid and sometimes smart, and the reader has no confidence which it's going to be, it's all up to the author's whimsy.

I feel like I'm being cheated. I feel like I'm drinking an alcoholic drink that isn't very good, but it's good enough to get me buzzed, but still, I wonder if this is the right use of my time. Perhaps that's the conflict of all escapism, not just "inadequate" escapism.

Grumble. Haven't made up my mind to read more. There are so many other things I want to read, like Tony Judt's Ill Fares the Land.

1 comment:

  1. If you want to read the series read the series. If you don't want to read the series then don't. You shouldn't have to have people make up your mind for you.

    Sorry if it seems a little harsh but it bugs me when people do the whole 'convince me' routine. Cheers!