Friday, June 18, 2010

Adam Roberts' sharp and witty criticism of Wheel of Time

I relish Adam Roberts' criticisms of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I'm slogging along, barely able to keep up with the one-book-per-month guilty pleasure/onerous chore of TJ's Wheel of Time Challenge. (see my footer.)

I was spoiled by George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I thought other popular fantasy writing would be up to those standards. Au contraire, mes amis.

I love how Adam puts it:
...stylistically it’s the same hideous jumble, the same self-parodic bloat. Jordan is a writer who writes ‘this fire was not at all small, and the room seemed not far short of hot, a welcome heat that soaked into the flesh and banished shivers’ [343] because he is constitutionally allergic to the phrasing ‘a large fire warmed the room.’ He thinks the former sentence is more precise and therefore evocative. He’s wrong. That's not precision, it’s a finicky fussing textual aspergers, a style that can see nothing but details (and, more to the point, nothing but a certain very limited palate of details – colours of clothing, speed of movement, types of food, gradations of heat and cold—never the telling details great writers master). It is a style wholly incapable of illuminating penetration or evocation.
Go, Adam! Poor thing, he has to keep repeating this point on every WoT book review. But he does find spicy, fun ways to say it. I am looking forward to what he makes of Brandon Sanderson's work completing the series. From the snippets I've read by Sanderson, I'd say he's a much better writer.

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